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Gudhamgill Mine - Rise Climbing in the Stopes (05/05/13)

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The last time we were in these stopes was in 2009, and we had wondered what was up some of the rises that we had seen. Since we had a large number of people to hand it was the ideal place to get a maypole kit in easily - many hands make light work and all that. Another thing we wanted to do was to remove the old 6mm poly propylene rope and replace it with a proper one and more anchors across a traverse over a sump and manway. For this Karli had made some very sturdy angle iron plates. The extra people on this trip were Student Pete (not a student anymore, but the name will stick for ever) and a German student caver from Durham university (first trip down an abandoned mine). We met at 10:00 opposite Wellgill Shaft and headed towards the Brownley Hill portal.

After 45 minites or so we had made it to the 'open' blocked rise into the stopes above Gudhamgill Horse Level. We climbed up and made a chain so that the scaffold poles could be passed up easily. Then it was to the hopper and manway, where Karli put in four anchors and a traverse line. A chain was formed again and the poles passed along the traverse. Heading further in, we eventually reached the stacked deads known as Hadrian's Wall. This is the site of the large shaft that goes to the surface with the amazing formations. Past this we went on a bit further and reached the rise. The maypole was erected and we ended up using 2 x 3m and 2 x 2m sections, which was rather much higher than what we thought would be needed. Karli and Pete both took turns at going up, however it was a disappointment. The rise was a blind. It entered through the top of the Great Limestone, and then into the shale beds above it. There was a rubble slope at the top of it, but in the end it was a blind. We had hoped that it connected to the formation shaft or at least gave access to some flats. At least we now know.

After that, lunch was had and we split up. Karli took some photographs of the stope with Sal and Simon, whilst myself and Student Pete pulled out the maypole from the blind rise and moved it over to the lip of a what looked to be a level that we could see at the top of the stope. Pete helped to balance it and Student Pete climbed up. On the first attempt it was a little too short as we had taken a section out and it would have meant that he would have had to lever himself up by pulling on a large rock that had a crack in it. Back down and the pole was moved higher up on the floor and this time Student Pete was able to get up into the level. It turned out to be a short level, about 10m long with a 2m crosscut at the end. Nothing of major interest, apart from a witherite vein running through it and some pockets of sphalerite on quartz.

Some more photographs were taken and we packed up and headed back out. Pete's prediction of the amount of effort was inversely proportional to what we would find came true. There still is the formation shaft to try and get up, but in doing so the formations would most certainly be damaged, coupled with the fact that the floor underneath it is part of the deads wall and rather narrow - maybe not too stable.