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Ethical Return to the Antlers 13th February 2002

By Roy Unstone, 25 May 2002
Ogof Y Daren Cilau had become something of an obsession for Martin andmyself with 6 and 4 trips respectively in a little over two months. Thecave offers so much scope for ethical (i.e. pints before 11pm) speedcaving. We wanted toembark on a mission of such ethical purity that it would gain usautomatic entry to Opus Dei, assuming the catholic fundamentalists havea caving sub-section. We decided on an Antlers evening round trip with7:30pm cave entry, with the handicap of 16 cans of Kronenberg to dragthrough the entrance series.

The logic behind the lager payload was devious. We were thinking about afuture overnight camp in OyDC, and in particular we had been musing onthe best forms of refreshment for such a mission, and after carefulconsideration we decided on a cache of lager, a.k.a. "the liquid oflife". For the two of us perhaps three cans each would have been enough,but we added another 10 in the hope that we would be able to tempt a fewother speleologists when the time came. Of course, this being an ethicaltrip meant that we would not be allowed to drink any of the lager whilein the cave. This thought brought tears to our eyes, but our resolve wasstrong and our hearts were true.

We entered the cave at 19:47pm with Martin in the lead. The lager was ina Dragon bag attached to Martin. After a little mental preparation heentered a zen caving state known as "tractor mode" and roared off, withthe lager and myself following. I was struggling to keep up with him,but it was important that I did, for it was my task to unjam the bag onits journey through the bends and squeezes of the entrance series sothat Tractor Beale could keep going. It was all hard work, but therighteousness of our project fuelled us. With an emphatic grunt Martinexited the entrance series at 08:29pm. Our time in was therefore 42minutes, a whole minute faster than our previous cave speed record. Welooked at the lager inthe bag and we were sorely tempted, but we rushed on, lest the devilshould sieze his chance.

We stashed the lager near the entrance to the Old Main Chamber andhurried off towards Big Chamber Nowhere Near The Entrance. After signingin less than an hour after we had entered the cave, we headed for thestart of Epocalypse, taking our time to memorisefeatures for our return. The sprint onwards to the Antlers only took 13minutes and soon we were looking at the strange helictite. Here weturned around and raced out, pausing respectfully for a few seconds nearthe lager before genuflecting and moving on. The entrance series took 48minutes on the way out, our best ever exit time, and we emerged at10:24pm for a round trip time of 2:37. Further opportunity to purify oursouls was afforded by the horizontal sleet we got changed in. But we hadplenty of time in hand and two saintly speleologists found themselves atthe Horseshoe Inn by 10:40pm. Lager had rarely tasted better.

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