Adventures must be done!

Mission DARK VADER (17th Dec 2007)

Hullo everyone, just in case you think I've lost it: I do know that it's Darth Vader usually, but our mission was dark as and it rained so much that I'm tempted to write "Dark Wader".

So, there we were.
Friday night. When 'normal' people party.
In a forest near a highway bridge. When 'normal' people stay indoors because it's cold and rainy.
Geared up with climbing material. When 'normal' people get dressed up and head for the next disco.

Marcel and I had teamed up again to get some 5 terrain geocache done.

First we wondered around a bit cause our end coordinates did not really make sense. Not yet.
But realization dawned on us when we inspected the bridge a bit closer under our flashlights.
The bridge construction is best described by an upside down U profile. A gangway was suspended in this profile, close to one side and running the full length of the bridge. Distance to ground around 20 metres. No cache to be seen though.
We bushbashed up some slope and got under the bridge. A popular hanging-out place for some graffiti artists judging by the colourful sprayings and paintings. Not so bad on close inspection.
But we had not come for art. We had come for the dark side. The illegal stuff.
A little gap in the mesh wire fencing off the entry to the gangway already existed, created by the application of a bit of force. We thus slipped through and proceeded along the planks. There was a railing on both sides, but still the first moments were interesting as there was only darkness beyond. At first we could not make out any cache whatsoever. But then we saw it. Very close. Only 5.5 metres of thin air were between us and the box dangling on some iron step projecting from the opposite side of the U profile.

"Whoa! How are we supposed to get there!?!"

Our plan was formulated pretty quickly. We wanted to build a tirolienne between the cache and the gangway. First Marcel went to fetch the second rope while I searched for some stones to tie to the end of my rope. A clove hitch was a good start to tie in the stone. Then I had another brilliant idea how to get the rope through the iron hoop (sized around 15 by 30 cm). I suspended the end around 5 metres from the gangway and started to swing it back and forth. When it got level with the hoop it let go and it slipped through on first attempt.

The rope looped through the hoop. The little red thing is the cache. The graffiti above is the geocaching sign of the owner "Die Motte" (The moth).

Getting the end back was not that easy. We tried to hook it with our second rope but failed. In the end I got down on the ground and tied rope no 1 to rope no 2. Luckily some wind was blowing the ropes to the stream side, otherwise the wading would have been on the program.
I then used some prusiks and carabiners to build a pulley system. Similar to a crevasse rescue system. Thus we ended up with a tensioned double rope between the gangway and the cache.
We also set up a fully redundant backup with the person on the tirolienne being belayed by the second person, who was itself tied to the gangway.
Finally, time to go for the action. I tied into the backup rope with a figure of eight. Partner check. Then clipped my carabiner into the double rope and added my daisychain with another carabiner to the same rope. Another check on the gates of all involved carabiners. Ready to go. Check the gates again. Just to be sure. Pretty dark below. Getting over the edge was a bit cumbersome. But then I hung there. Feeling good about it. All safe.

Me on the tirollienne.

Happy chappy geocacher

Tugging over to the cache was no big deal. I unhooked the cache and clipped it to my harness gear loops. Back to the gangway. Getting up again was a bit artistic.
Entering the logbook.
Time to switch places. Partner check. Carabiner gate check.
Marcel went smoothly over and put the cache in place again.

Big grin on the mans face!

Fantastic adventure! Awesome!
I say, I'll prefer this to 'normal', boring nights out at any time!