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 and myself with 6 and 4 trips respectively in a little over two months. The cave offers so much scope for ethical (i.e. pints before 11pm) speedcaving. We wanted to embark on a mission of such ethical purity that it would gain us automatic entry to Opus Dei, assuming the catholic fundamentalists have a caving sub-section. We decided on an Antlers evening round trip with 7:30pm cave entry, with the handicap of 16 cans of Kronenberg to drag through the entrance series.

The logic behind the lager payload was devious. We were thinking about a future overnight camp in OyDC, and in particular we had been musing on the best forms of refreshment for such a mission, and after careful consideration we decided on a cache of lager, a.k.a. "the liquid of life". 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 few other speleologists when the time came. Of course, this being an ethical trip meant that we would not be allowed to drink any of the lager while in the cave. This thought brought tears to our eyes, but our resolve was strong and our hearts were true.

We entered the cave at 19:47pm with Martin in the lead. The lager was in a Dragon bag attached to Martin. After a little mental preparation he entered a zen caving state known as "tractor mode" and roared off, with the 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 on its journey through the bends and squeezes of the entrance series so that Tractor Beale could keep going. It was all hard work, but the righteousness of our project fuelled us. With an emphatic grunt Martin exited the entrance series at 08:29pm. Our time in was therefore 42 minutes, a whole minute faster than our previous cave speed record. We looked at the lager in the bag and we were sorely tempted, but we rushed on, lest the devil should sieze his chance.

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


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