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Smallcleugh Mine - Wheel Flats Sublevels, (24/11/07)

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We have been down to the sublevel under Wheel Flats a number of times now and still not been able to get up the big rise down there. This time round nothing was going to stop us, so armed with the Hilti drill and 8m of maypole we headed for it. A quick run into Wheel Flats took us to the side passage and manway / hopper which leads to the sublevel some 15-20m below. Rigging up the hopper side we soon were hauling parts of the maypole down. Along the sublevel we had to squeeze through a tightish bulge in the wall, not particularly enjoying the view of large limestone deads loosely locked above. Once through this we reached the beautifully stone lined rise with its arching.

The maypole was assembled, rope attached to the end and I prussiked up to the top of the steep rocky ledge. Here after some tapping around I found a good piece of rock and drilled a few holes to accept our plate hangers. A loop of rope was put in, to act as a holder for the bottom of the pole. A second rope was also put into the anchors so you could get up and down independently of the maypole rope. I transferred over to the anchors, Karl and Pete then got the maypole as high as they could to me. Grabbing hold of it (surprisingly light for 8m) I worked it up the rock face and put it into the rope loop. It easily reached the level. Karl prussiked up whilst I made sure the maypole was not going to go anywhere. This all sounds like a smooth operation, but since I never had done anything like this before I did end up re-rigging a number of times due to over complication. After 2 hours or so I came back down, my legs suffering from pins and needles. Pete went up to join Karl to have a look around.

All in all it was a disappointment, the level did not go anywhere apart from some headings, back fill and an intersection of the main shaft that passes from Smacllcleugh down to Rampgill (turn left out of Hetheringston's nightmare, first shaft on the left)- altogether a much easier way to have got there! However, it was a very good technical exercise. Still no sign of the massive flats shown on the VM plan that almost reach the Ballroom.