Jamaican Caving Notes
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Golding River Cave
June 6, 2006 - 13:30-17:00 EST
Team: RS Stewart, E Slack, M Taylor, J Pauel, A Yovandich
Notes: RS Stewart
This was our fourth attempt to find and enter Golding River Cave. On the first visit, May 12, 2005, during the Parks in Peril Project, Ivor Conolley, Elizabeth Slack, and I hunted in vain for the "First" entrance. In October of 2005, Adam Hyde, Barb Gottgen and I found the "Second" entrance, but it was blocked by stones that had come down on it from the hillside above. In March of 2006, Guy Van Rentergem, Hilde De Splenter, and I basically cleared the pitch but declined to enter due to questionable stability of the remaining rocks. This fourth visit, we returned with Hilti powerloads and a cordless drill to try to clean up the rest and finally get through.
I wish that I could report that we were successful on this fourth attempt, but this was not to be. When we arrived at the Second entrance, we found to our dismay that even more debris now covered the small shaft that leads down into the stream passage below. The cause of this was obvious - on the slopes of the ravine in which the pit is located, there were many fallen and damaged trees, this brought about by a storm that had passed through sometime since our March 2006 visit. On top of the shaft itself were large branches, large rocks, and dirt, and a couple of metres away was an enormous fallen tree which had dragged the works down from the hill above. This was frustrating, but at least it was now obvious why we had not yet been able to get into the second entrance. We'd been in some doubt whether we had the right spot, since Alan Fincham had told us that the JCC had been in there various times in the 1970's. Apparently, a similar event had happened between the JCC visits and ours in 2005.
We decided to have a go at it anyways, and after dragging away branches, dirt, and whatever rocks we could move, Jan began to drill holes in the first boulder. This was slow-going, as we didn't have a hammer drill, and after much effort, and the draining of two batteries, all we had managed to do was split off about a third of the first large rock. We weren't entirely crest-fallen about this, because at least we had gotten a handle on the technique (our first session at this). What is involved is this: you drill a narrow hole about 20cm deep, drop in a Hilti powerload or two, slide in a steel rod filed to a chisel point, put an old rug over the top, and then whack it with a large hammer. This gives a satisfying pop, and if the hole was deep enough, a chunk of rock splits off (this technique courtesy of Dr Don McFarlane). We almost took out one of Tony Yovandich's eyes in the course of this, as a chip of rock managed to fly sideways due to the hole being too shallow, but we should be able to avoid this in the future. Also, a very large boulder started tipping toward me while I was under it at one point, but stopped moving after only a few inches.
By about 5:00 PM, we called it quits after having done all we could, and hiked back up to the road. A return is planned in Oct of 2006 to tackle it again, this time with a hammer-drill, a generator to run it, and a whole heap of Hilti powerloads.
We're holding off on supplying accurate coordinates for the Second entrance until we've cracked our way through and reestablished access to this site.
The next visit, Oct 15, 2006.
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