Well, because the various people involved with pushing the Shannon Thang further have been so busy over the last year, doing what they do best, there has been some neglection of the writing up duties… But fear not! Here are some recent articles from two highly-regarded caving publications….
As published in Descent magazine, April 07:
More Leads Than You Can Shake a Stick At.
by Steve Bus
Over the last 12 months or so the Shannon Group have been carrying out some exploration in Shannon Cave. Within this period, at least fifteen trips have been made to the George’s Choke area of the cave, in the hope that a breakthrough can be achieved into the known passageway beyond. Although the digging is going well and a breakthrough is predicted in the near future, we have often been distracted by the many leads which were spotted during the long gear-carrying trips.
During late December/early January a number of exploratory trips were planned for the Mistake Passage area of the cave. On the first trip a bit of awkward climbing and a few well-placed bolts brought Steve (Bus) into a large high level chamber. After a bit of exploration an easier climb up was found. Within minutes of being joined by the rest of the party of Tony (Fat), Steve (Jock), Nigel and Ronan, an interesting phreatic tube was discovered (see photo [coming soon – Ed.] ). The passage led for about 100 m to a large gaping hole. We presume that this leads back down into the main streamway.
On the next trip Steve (Bus) and Eoghan M went looking for scaffolding bars which were deposited previously at the far end of Mistake Passage. At the entrance to Mistake Passage lies the only part of the cave which involves getting wet. Figuring it would be a long digging trip in a wet furry, a bypass was sought. Within minutes a tight rift was pushed into a large chamber which had a rather unappealing rift heading off in an upstream direction. Following this tight (and loose) passage for about 100 m, an awkward climb back down to the streamway was gladly taken. Although the wet section of the cave can now be bypassed, it is predicted that this bit of passage won’t be travelled often, as it easily deserves its new name of Pisstake Passage.
On the most recent trip, one of the high-level chambers was revisited, and after a bit of futering around another large chamber was spotted heading in a downstream direction. Unfortunately no easy access was found and we have no immediate plans of entering it.
All in all at least 350m of high-level passageway has been found in the last year or so. These passages appear to be found anywhere you dare to climb up, though when you look at the roof you’ll understand why more have not been pushed!
A survey of the new passageways in relation to the main Shannon streamway will be made as soon as George’s Choke succumbs to the digging onslaught.
Published in Underground, the SUI‘s publication, Jan 07:
Shannon Cave – An Update
by Steve Bus
Over the last 12 months or so the S3 group (a loose coalition of ex-uni cavers mostly made up from QUBCC) have been carrying out some exploration in Shannon cave. Within this period at least twelve trips have been made to George’s Choke, in the hope that a break-through can be achieved into the known passageway beyond. Beyond this choke is the carrot of 400-500 m of stomping passageway terminating in an undived sump with potentially a few unpushed leads. The dig itself is reputed to be around 20-25m long and has a notorious reputation for trying to entomb unwary cavers.
The first half of the boulder choke has now been shored with copious lengths of connected scaffold bars reinforced with concrete. However, we have now reached the ‘crux’ of the problem – a tight squeeze surrounded by loose boulders. On two of the trips the squeeze was pushed into a small chamber with a huge boulder (solid) making up the roof. Leading off is a small passage between secure boulders where the stream can be heard yet again. Unfortunately the way on has not been found but not all leads were pushed due to a combination of failing lights and the nasty habit of boulders in the squeeze conspiring to entomb us. The end of the small passageway must be very close to the break-through point. Plans have now been made to shore the squeeze before further progress is made.
During the long, long gear carrying trips to George’s choke, a number of high-level leads have been spotted. Several of these have now been climbed and at least 200m of passageway was found. On one particular outing a climb was pushed to 15m above the streamway whereby a ‘bold’ step lead into a high-level oxbow approximately 40 m long. The passage contains many impressive formations but the crowning glory are the helectites, some of which are at least 10 inches long (see photo [coming soon – Ed.] ). These high-level passageways appear to be found anywhere you dare to climb up, though when you look at the roof you’ll understand why more have not been pushed!
A survey of the new passageways in relation to the main Shannon cave will be made as soon as George’s choke succumbs to the digging onslaught.