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I wasn't invited on this particular expedition, which was just as well considering the hassle of getting down to Oman, not to mention the food and beer I consume when I'm there, so there's always this problem of who's going to put me up. However, I'll probably end up in the Hellhole, and Cemal's account is so piquant as to warrant inclusion here.
Cemal's account from late May, 1998
Paul, Erik and I made a day-trip to the Misfa Hell Hole last Friday - and actually plumbed the bottom.
Paul & Erik called round my place at 0630 and off we drove. P + E were well nackered from a late night Nigerian reunion party the night before, and I was hung-over following a session on the booze too closely after Thursday's MTB ride.
We arrived at the hole without incident (unless you count E asking to swap to the rear seats so's he could kip) at around 10.00 only to dissembark the Cruiser to the sound of hissing - a flat! and P had brought only one spare.
We changed the wheel, had a dump each, and took the team' s Aspirin supply. Top of cave by about 11.00 I guess.
As you know, the cave entrance looks like a Hollywood earthquake crack in the ground - about 1.5m across at widest point, and 10m long.
We belayed using slings and nuts, with a deviation across the crack. Pitch one was about 40m, fairly vertical and direct. You end up on a ledge, and proceed longitudinally along it to the next pitch. Not laterally, please note.
Cemal prepares to enter Arch Cave, May 1998.
The rock is very hard and brittle, as evinced by failed bolt placements from previous attempts using power tools. We had Paul's wrist - fortunately highly trained from years of wanking - plus a hammer. A few attempts failed as the metamorphosed limestone shattered, but eventually a pitch-head and Y-hanger were rigged. Pitch 2 - into the abyss. Spooky and yours-truly first down onto a ledge with little pools. Again, the ledge is longitudinally transposed to the next shaft; by now you should be envisaging this thing as a staircase of pitches. Paul rigs a re-belay at the point I left him, after I chanced upon a hanger on the opposite side of the shaft.
Bleah! Paul whizzes past and takes the fucking rope with him. Effectively, I'm stranded and alone. I'm not happy until I get it back, but by that time Erik and Paul are through the 4th pitch via two more rebelays. Finally we're all down, it's 1700hrs, and we scoff like condemned men. Time to re-surface.
Erik, always last up in previous penetrations, is sent off first, haul sack in tow. Me next. Paul to de-rig last, poor bastard.
E gets a bit knackered. Despite my jammer jamming on two bolt passes - caused by the fact that I was too dumb to realise that rope stretch tension was greater than Cemal weight down force - I catch him up. I too have a ball breaking sack, and soon reach Erik's section, where we advised him to leave the bag on a bolt. Paul, ever the hero, will collect it.
We surfaced at 20:00 (ish), stuffed our faces, called the wives and motored home. I slept the whole way.
It's a bloody good cave, and perfic for training.
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