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Bar Pot Hallucination Aven

Tuesday May 31st 2016

Members present: Alistair Rollinson,  Joshua Young,  Will Scott

Report by Will Scott

In 1971 cave diver Mike Wooding made a solo trip into the Far Waters of Gaping Gill and pushed his way through a particularly nasty duck to discover Hallucination Aven. On returning to the bottom of Bar Pot he found the ladder had been pulled up, so frustrated he free climbed his way out.

Our adventure into the Far Waters started with tentative plans of where to change into wetsuits and what entrance to use. With exams over it was time to put these plans into action and soon enough the date came round, with a sound night’s sleep at the NPC we found ourselves getting changed in Clapham.

We were unsure about whether or not to take rope given it was the BPC winch meet but to be on the safe side we took our own ropes. Reaching the entrance to Bar at 1100 we saw the BPC plaque, headed over to the winch tent to leave a call out and have a quick chat with Cat, Andy and Chuck.

Using our previous knowledge of the system from our Hensler’s and Disappointment trips we wriggled our way down into Hensler’s New Crawl from South East Aven and followed it along into the Hensler’s Master cave. Stopping off at the junction with the passage through to Hensler’s High Aven Ali and myself reminisced about our trip down Hensler’s Pot. This master cave never fails to amaze me and is definitely on my list of favourite passages.

Soon we found the ladder up to the Far Country; a bouncy ascent and short crawl latter we were greeted by everyone’s favourite squeeze, the Blow Hole. Some minor baling was required, shoving Ali through Josh and I passed the bags containing our wetsuits through. Josh passed the Blow Hole as though there had been no alteration in passage size but for me removal of SRT kit and some huffing and puffing was required.

Following a short crawl to the right we came to Echo Aven; our initial plan was to get changed at the bottom of Echo Aven but Ali suggested it would better to change at the top given the muddy nature down at the bottom of the pitch. Taking our clothes off in the cave was a strange experience to say the least and much laughter, hilarity and even to my surprise some photography ensued. Abseiling down Echo Aven was as enjoyable as ever, dumping our SRT kits we set off into the Far Country proper.

Ali was first through the Southgate duck as he wanted to get some footage, in some sorted of Sid Perou re-enactment. Being his first duck, Josh was naturally a little nervous but he sailed through with apt. I went through on my front blowing bubbles in the water like a child; the water level was considerably lower than my last float through Southgate.

From the Exit of the Southgate duck to Clay Cavern a monumental amount of crawling ensued. The knee battering journey was only made bearable by the minor rest bites in the various cross systems and junction chambers that litter the Far Country. Knee pads are an absolute must for this trip, wearing a 5 mm wetsuit and two pairs of knee pads I was well protected, Josh on the other hand had the least protection on his knees but being the only person I know that enjoys crawling he was in his element.

At India Divide Junction we opted for the sandy well decorated crawl on the left. It’s a very attractive piece of passage and Ali capitalised on this with a few quick snaps. The crawl required careful negotiation of the formations as they aren't taped off. This crawl brought us up into the extremely underwhelming Clay Cavern, this small mud and boulder filled chamber marks the end of the Far Country. At this point my enthusiasm was waning but Ali and Josh were still in fighting form and I followed them into the start of the Far Waters.

The exit of Clay Cavern into the Far Waters involves crawling up and boulder slope and then dropping about 3 meters into a flat out crawl. I attempted the drop feet first but then realised there was no room to move into a head first configuration for the crawl. Reversing I redid the clamber head first, much more successful.
This flat out crawling thankfully soon becomes and a hands and knees crawl through the Penny Arcade. We came upon a small lake that looked like a sump but Ali confirmed that the passage continued with a short crawl through some water to emerge at Bree Junction.

Straight on at Bree Junction crawling through more water brought us to a junction with a canal on the right. Taking this right turn the water levels quickly started to rise and our wetsuits came into their own. As the roof started to come down we all became a little concerned and the feeling of isolation so often associated with this area of the Gaping Gill system really started to set in. Stopping on an island of boulders Josh decided he didn't want to continue but I went ahead to see what was around the corner.

The air space got smaller but still perfectly accommodated my head with helmet on. Turning a corner a horrific duck loomed into view, the air space could only be around 2 inches but putting my hand through a could just about feel the roof lifting on the other side and looking through the airspace seemed to confirm this observation. Ali caught me up and after taking a deep breath I dived through into the air bell, the roof was high enough to comfortably stand. Diving back I told Ali there was room for both of us and we both went through.

Taking his helmet Ali pushed through the remaining 5 meters or so of 4 inch air space passage. We had made it. Hallucination Aven had been achieved and our spirits we very high. No hallucinations were experienced but some minor embracing occurred as we were so happy with our achievement. After some photos we left the small aven at around 1500.

Tanking it back through the crawls of the Far Waters and Far Country we came to the bottom of Echo Aven at 1600. The journey out was a minor slog and we were all feeling it in our knees. Thankfully no one had pulled the ropes up on us and unlike Mike Wooding we made a more orthodox exit. Emerging from Bar Pot at 1800 we strolled over to the winch tent to cancel our call out and took some pride in telling the members of the BPC we had made it to Hallucination Aven.

This trip has to be one of the best I have ever done, the aven is not exciting but the shear effort required to get there gives you a huge sense of achievement. Changing into wetsuits at Echo Aven was an excellent choice, in my opinion it made the trip comfortable in the unavoidable wet associated with these bottom end systems of Gaping Gill.