The year 2000 has been a relatively quiet year for caving, with only 3 weekend trips into the inky blackness.
Our first trip was the most interesting. Chris and Andy traveled up to Waitomo, at the invitation of Steve Glasgow, to photograph a new 'secret' cave, provisionally called 'Deception'. (The name arose because the farmer, who's land the entrance is on, would not allow cavers in- so explorer Kieran 'invented' an entrance on a neighbour's property- surveying the cave whilst secretly gaining access by trespassing).
The landowner relented for Steve, so we saw the cave in its almost virgin state (about the 5th visit by cavers).
The cave consisted of a long, slithery, muddy, gloopy passage, which after over an hour's journey became a half- decent cave. Somewhat further along, a beautifully decorated dry passage was what we came to photograph- before too many visits caused deterioration.
The formations were gypsum- incredibly delicate curls oozing out like toothpaste from between the strata of limestone, or frosted icing on the walls. Cave pearls, and delicate crystals lined the floor, and in places, candy- floss like mounds of 'angel hair' (fine, linear crystals of gypsum) had formed.
We spent a tiring 2 days of photographing the cave, and ended up with several roles of exposed film and a few excellent shots!
Another trip to Waitomo saw the three of us taking diving friend Anjali and Jeff on (almost) their first caving trips.
On Saturday, we did some easyish trips, including a through trip down Urenui cave, which included some nice tight squeezes and a load of cave Wetas (sort of primitive crickets) falling on us from the ceiling.
On Sunday, we met a caving friend Andrew, who took us down Slabstone. This is a cave with a pitch requiring SRT (single rope technique), ie. Abseiling down and prussicking up a rope, in this case down the middle of a large waterfall. To their credit, Anjali and Jeff not only coped well, but enjoyed it! True masochists!
Our final caving trip was to Nelson for the 40th anniversary of the Nelson Speleo Group. Mainly a social weekend, with lots of food and booze. Cavers and ex-cavers from the whole history of the group gave talks and slide shows of the 'old days'- frightening to see rotund granny- like figures showing pics of themselves as svelte pretty students caving in the '60s!
We did do some caving, anyway- to Little Harwoods in the Takaka Valley, and Andy also got round to a fantastic paragliding flight from Takaka Hill, 7km to Hale's Knob and back.