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Smallcleugh Mine - Checking Bogg Shaft and Rigging, (12/01/08)

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With the recent fall at Bogg Shaft blocking access to the west side of the Smallcleugh system and its very interesting stopes I had been thinking about installing some permanent ropes so that access could be made via the Caplecleugh Flats around the Middlecleugh North Vein. Tony had also informed me that he had been to the area from the east side, and that some group had actually been doing some work with the fall. They had installed a hand line and a maypole which almost provided access to the chamber in the shaft that intersects the Caplecleugh High Level, however there is still material coming down the shaft and the pole on his last visit was half buried.

Armed with ropes, Hilti drill and bolting gear we made our way to Bogg Shaft via the surface shaft link to the stope on the west side of the shaft. By the time the four of us had got there Karli managed to catch up as he had started late. The sight that greeted us was a bit of a shock, the chamber that you climb up into, to pass between the pipes was completely filled in with material, which extended just past the first ore chute used to gain access back into the Smallcleugh Horse Level. The chute was pretty much covered in rocks and some of the wooden beams across it were smashed. Karli and Pete started to have a dig at the debris, whilst myself, Tony and Wendy looked at the remaining ore chutes, trying to find out which where open and best to rig.

Meanwhile, Karli and Pete had managed to move some of the debris away from the fallout area and much to Karli's surprise he found one of his 'honey' bottles that had been thrown down from the surface. Things are definitely moving and working through the system! At this point we ended up having lunch and then the ore chute was bolted up with a permanent rope. (On the way back out we discovered a slight rub point in the chute so if you use this, make sure a krab is used via the third hanger plate as a deviation). Once we all reached the horse level, we made our way towards the forehead rise, but not via a distraction. Passing a hopper and ladder way, I asked if Tony had ever been up, nope, and he disappeared up it. Shortly we were all up in the stope looking at artifacts. The stope was the continuation of the stope around Bogg's Shaft and it headed back east. The way on was interrupted by some understoping and without using ropes there was no way on. One thing that we did notice was that in the roof you could see arching that looked like it had been cemented? We retraced our route and finally made it to the rise near the forehead which led to the rebelay shaft and the link to Caplecleugh.

At the rebelay shaft, the remaining ropes were sorted out and Tony rigged the pitch. Once he landed in the stopes below, Wendy set of down taking a recovery rope, so that we could retrieve the off cut. All sorted, we parted company. Having sat around waiting for Tony and Wendy to get down, had brought a chill on (a very strong air flow here) and Karli put a brew on for us. After that we proceeded to rig up the 10m rise with a rope, belayed to rails across it. The bottom ladder here was free hanging and really it was only a matter of time until it came away with someone climbing on it - not the best place to have an accident this far in! The said ladder was removed to put temptation away, sorry but you will have to use SRT here from now on. We made our way up to the surface via the 5 pitches, cursing all the way.

It is certainly interesting with what is happening inside Bogg's Shaft and it would be very good to follow it up with a surface visit and decent to see the lay of things up top - is it clear? Karli finding his honey bottle gets the mind jumping to wishful conclusions! It would also be good to hear from the group who put in the hand line and maypole. On another note, on the way down to the Bogg Shaft stopes in the Caplecleugh High Level, Wendy noticed that one of the ropes belayed to the water pipe was badly frayed - this has been removed and there is only one rope now. This could do with getting backed to another point.