Titan - Treasury Sump - Ann Soulsby

Saturday, 8 March, 2008

Present: Ann Soulsby, Thomas Spriggs, Martyn Grayson, Richard Tooley & Jim Lister

This is probably not a top of the list trip but emerged from one of those trips that started badly and just got worse.

The original plan was to be heading down Titan by 9.00am ahead of other groups organised by Henry of SUSS. We were going down early so as not to interfere with digging operations as requested by the Titan digging team. Our plan was to take diving and photographic equipment down to get some pictures in Major Sump. Jim was then going to dive out of Far Sump while the rest of the group exited via Peak Cavern.

The day started off reasonably well with us all eating breakfast round the tables at the TSG hut at 7.30am. We were changed for 8.00am and Jim ran the equipment Thomas and I up to Titan so we could begin ferrying all the gear to the entrance. He then went back to pick up Richard and Martyn and then off for the keys.

We were a touch late when the keys arrived but the scaffold tool was missing which really put us back. After searching all over the place we decided to try and wiggle the scaffold until it came loose. Luckily we managed this and proceeded down the entrance shaft a bit late but not critical at this stage. Jim went down the next pitch first and took absolutely ages and by this time we had the next group led by Steve Jones of SUSS on our heels. We now had eight people waiting to go down Titan. Eventually Jim shouted rope free so I followed him down and found out that he had a problem with his gear going the wrong side of the loop and he had to pull up all the rope to get it on the correct side ? you know the scenario just when you don?t want anything to go wrong everything does.

Rather than waiting about we decided to start ferrying the gear to Major Sump while the others descended. This went fine but when we got back to the bottom of the boulder choke there was a worrying loud hiss. Jim bolted up but it was too late his diving cylinder was nearly empty ? well that was the end of the plan to dive far sump but what do we do with the diving gear?

We sat down to discuss options and Jim decided that he would come back in the day after via colostomy with another cylinder to enable him to dive his equipment out via Far Sump. Unfortunately we had to abandon plans for the photos as Martyn had to be out by 2.30pm and time was getting on already. We sent Thomas, Martyn and Richard on ahead with the photographic equipment while Jim and I went back to pick up the diving equipment from Major Sump. I picked up vibes from Jim that he really did not want to come back the following day so I asked him if he wanted to try and get all the equipment out today. Silly me he agreed that that would be great so we started looking at what we had got. Jim would have to manage the two cylinders while I tried to pack up diving gear, SRT kits and spare bags!

I decided that it would be easier to wear SRT kits to lift the load in the bags but Jim couldn?t wear his due to his wet suit and having to put his harness on for the cylinders. Eventually we were ready for the off with one massive tackle sack packed to the hilt another one with bits in and two diving cylinders. We duly arrived at the ladders and traverse to Stemple Highway we were both at the top of the ladders when Steve?s group arrived they too had to abandon their plans to climb an aven due to getting down Titan late and having to be out by 5.30pm. Not wanting to hold them up any more we let them pass before struggling across the traverse and up the ladders ? not the easiest even without all the gear we were carrying.

It was a relief to get to some walking passage where the bag could go on the back but all too soon we reached the crawl to the bottom of JH. This was easy for me as the tackle bags glided smoothly but there were continual hisses from behind as Jim struggled along with the cylinders. Whilst having a break at the bottom of JH, contemplating just how much we had taken on the plan formed. We were not too far away from Treasury Sump and Jim had enough air to dive through taking most of the gear with him. This would leave me with a solo trip through Colostomy ? or so we thought!

Spirits on a high we carried on down the ladders into the impressive Speedwell streamway and down the bung. We had just passed Block Hall when Henry from SUSS came running after us. Apparently one of his party who were off to de-rig Titan was now not keen on going out that way and needed escorting out of Peak. I agreed to wait while Jim carried on with all the diving equipment. While we were waiting for Hector to descend Block Hall Mark Wright?s party passed us. Mark was off to show his son Liam the passage that was named after him ?Liams Way?. Once Hector was down he stripped off his SRT kit and Henry offloaded the spare FX2 batteries he was carrying for him and they all went into my tackle sack ? this was not good planning.

We caught up with Mark?s group at Egnaro Aven and had a leisurely trip down Colostomy, Liam?s Way and the Trenches with Mark giving a running commentary to Liam about where we were and the exploration. We arrived at Buxton Water sump to a reception committee; Jim and Richard had come back in to see if we were okay. Eventually exited about 6.00pm ? With thanks to the showcave guides who were concerned enough to stop behind just in case there was a problem.