Another trip to sump 12. This time with a bigger team and the aim of a long digging trip. Our big cylinders were already down by Sump 9 so we only had out 3 Litre cylinders to carry with us. The water levels were fairly high but nothing of concern. Our first problem occurred at sump 2 when my reg blew up - the first stage seat had become displaced. So I continued but with a single valve. We soon reached sump 12 and Phill had the first digging dive, this was very productive and some big lumps of rock as well as gravel were removed from the sump. Steve Marsh and Jo Wisely then met us at sump 12 (To confuse things there were two Steve Marsh's on this trip). The Steve Marsh who was with us then, with his 12 Litre cylinder, dived in sump 12. Phill had cleared all the rocks etc so Steve was left with the difficult job of scooping up gravel. Jo and Steve left to return to the surface, and while the other Steve was in the sump Phill, Andy and I noticed the water levels rise about 2 and a half feet in 15 minutes. The increased flow of water was makings Steve's digging job even harder. As soon as Steve exited the sump we immediately left. We left our larger cylinder above sump 8 as we soon realised speed was of the essence in trying to avoid being trapped in the cave. Our first problem was encountered at the sump 7 by-pass, which was fully sumped. Using my search reel, Phill laid out 10m of line to connect with the sump 7 line which lead us to the surface. Andy came last and reeled in the line. Sump 6 was passed without further problem and sump 5 was gained after some very aquatic passages. Sump 5 was dived and upon surfacing we realized the low passages between here and sump 4 were also sumped. We fortunately found some old dive line, and in conjunction with my search reel we lined most of the passage leading to sump 4. From sump 4 until reaching sump 1 there were no further problems, apart from very high water levels. Sump 1 had to be done using a cylinder due to the flow, increased length and because we had tackle bags. Upon reaching the 8ft water chute there were a semi-novice group trying to get out the cave and I spent quite along time helping them up the very powerful waterfall. An extremely sporting trip. On the surface we thought we were quite privileged to be able to see the amount of water that we did in Swildon's and also so far into the cave. There was water emerging from all, usually dry inlets, and blue pencil passage had a full size stream emerging from it.
Diving: Swildons Hole (02-Nov-02)
Phill Short, Andy Stewart, Steve Marsh
Swildons Hole, Mendip
01:00 dive time hours
While down at sump 12 digging out spoil we were met by the other Steve Marsh and Jo Wisely who turned up to see what we were doing before heading out. While the Steve Marsh who was with us was digging, the water levels were rising rather rapidally, so we made a quick exit in very strong water flow and having to dive and reline lots of the normally dry passages between the sumps. The cave in these conditions is very different.