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CAVING MEET REPORT: Sunday 3rd July 2016

 

Meet Leader:      Parry Pavlis

Attended:           Hugo Brown, Veronique Brown, Danel Cooke,  Jean-Pierre Kannemeyer, Troy Newmark, Debbie Skinner, Donald Stechman, Annalize van Rensburg, Daniel Weinberg & Ron Zeeman

Route:                Philadelphia Tin Mines in D’Urbanvale Hills 

It was yet another beautiful, crisp and clear winter’s morning with the sun shining over the green hills of the surrounding valley… a perfect day for enjoying the great outdoors.  We had obtained permission from the landowners to visit the Tin Mines in the area and assembled at a pre-determined spot on Malanshoogte Road (M58) at approximately 8.30am. After a short walk from the road, up a gentle hill, we made our base close to the main entrance of one of the mine-shafts.  

Once everyone had changed into their caving gear, we made our way into the main entrance to one of the mine-shafts. We knew, from previous experience and from the evidence of quills in the sandy floor, that porcupines inhabit this particular mine. We gingerly proceeded deeper into the system, keeping an eye open for them. We could smell them, long before we eventually caught a glimpse of them, and upon nearing the end of the tunnel, we were met by two adult porcupines, who clearly seemed distressed by our presence. On closer inspection, it became evident why…they were protecting a baby. We stood our ground, and kept very quiet, but unfortunately the baby porcupine’s curiosity got the better of him, and he merrily made his way towards our group. This led to the male charging us with his quills displayed, thus allowing the female to hastily usher the baby to safety. The male continued his charge, and even backed into some of our members before making his way out of the system, when we decided it best to leave them in peace, and steadily made our retreat.

We made our way to another mine shaft close by, which required Ron setting up a 7m steel ladder, enabling us to descend into the entrance of the mine. There were some discarded barbed wire coils blocking the entrance, which had to be removed, before we were able to access the mine safely. Inside we were treated to some skeletons and bones, which seemed to be of small animals like a porcupine and the skull of a bird of prey. After exploring this mine, we made our exit and took a peek into another two vertical shafts…one of which was approximately 45m in depth. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the appropriate gear to explore these vertical shafts, so peeking inside them was all we could do.

By this time, we had worked up an appetite, and we tucked into our respective lunches, while enjoying the sunshine and picturesque views around us.

After enjoying our much deserved lunchbreak, Ron, Daniel & I anchored an abseiling rope around the 10m shaft of the main mine, while taking care not to disturb a network of spiders’ web, delicately positioned around the entrance of the mine-shaft, and crawling with spiders . We had two caving harnesses, which we shared amongst the group, thus allowing everyone a chance to abseil into the mine-shaft. I abseiled into the mine first, and established a base at the bottom, assisting members to climb out of their harnesses, while Daniel was above, assisting members get into the harnesses safely. For a few members, this was their first experience of abseiling into a cave/mine, and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

At around 2.30pm, once everybody had an opportunity to abseil, we called it a day, packed away our gear and headed back down to our parked cars. It was a great experience, with good company & even better memories.

Thank you to all who attended!!

Parry Pavlis

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