Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Exploring Twin Dees

Twin Dees is an incredible place; it begins at the entrance. There is a small pool of blue water in the middle of the woods. White sand slopes to the middle where a small solution tube appears. The tube is around 2’ in diameter, and can be a miserable place. The mission of this dive was to explore the southern lead out of the Beleriand/ Deep Earth Tunnel that was explored and surveyed the week prior to my dive by Brett Hemphill and Andy Pitkin.

The lead is 2800’ back and 315’ deep and requires navigating hundreds of feet of restrictive cave and major restrictions. A dive like this requires many tanks for OC bailout and decompression.  The task of shuttling 9 tanks, 2 scooters, a goody bag of food, spare lights and battery packs along with myself with the rebreather on was quite the task.

Fortunately KUR is composed of great guys and awesome divers.
Eric Deister and Jerry Murphy set me up. They placed an AL40 of O2 in the fitting room, AL80 50% at the fissure, 30/20, 21/35, and 10/65 at the beach.

Derek Ferguson was my entry diver. He placed 2 scooters, my Submerge UV40 and Brett’s Magnus along with my deep bailouts, 2 LP121s with 7/78 in the fitting room.

I entered the cave just before 10:00am on the breather with an al80 entry bottle plumbed in. I had on board O2 and Air for drysuit inflation. All dil was offboard added via an Omni QD.
Entry went smooth, I departed from the fitting room in ~5minutes.

I drove the Submerge Scooters UV40 with viper electronics and towed the Magnus. While the Magnus is slightly faster I do love the way the 40 rides, and the smaller size of the Magnus was more suitable for towing. The slow speeds of the viper were great for the smaller areas of the cave.

At the beach I picked up the bottles the setup divers put in. I put the 120' bottle of 30/20 on the float ball, butt clipped the 21/35 and properly carried the 10/65.

I did a good diluent flush with 7/78 to eliminate any excess nitrogen in the loop and continued onward. I dropped the 190' bottle at the balcony to Middle Earth and descended into the Alph tunnel at ~33minutes.

I made good time in the Alph tunnel only stopping once because the old line can be hard to see on the ceiling. I quickly arrived at the “T” to the Deep Earth Tunnel that is marked with a labeled cookie. I dropped in.

The tunnel was impressive it was relatively wide but fairly tall. The walls were a beautiful white and very soft. Brett and Andy did a great job exploring here. The line made a hard left and was hooked around a large piece of breakdown on the floor, there was a silt stake tied to the line but not placed. This was the spot Brett told me about. I looked left at their line and then right into blackness. I scootered over the breakdown to get a feel for the tunnel, it goes. I looped back to the line placed on the breakdown and dropped my deep stage and backup scooter. I deployed my reel and tied off. The exit was marked with a red line arrow.

I took off with the light and reel in my left hand and the scooter in my right. This has been on my bucket list for years. I was laying line in Twin Dees Cave off of a scooter in huge passage 50' high, 100+' wide. The water was clear with a bit of turbidity. I scanned back and forth looking for the correct route. Ahead a see a large rock spire sticking straight up from the breakdown mass. I did a large scooter loop around it as a line placement. Here the cave got wider. I had a choice, go left or right. I chose left, almost instantly I came off of the breakdown floor and was on a smooth, flat silt floor with no rock.

The ceiling was flat, the walls were chalky and white. I pressed forward a few hundred more feet. The passage made a hard right and dead ended in a large room with a white column in the middle. I circled the column and tied off.  As a reached for my knife I noticed exactly how much my hands were shaking. It was not fear, it was excitement, as Brett says, it is a slow squeeze. Adrenaline was seeping into my system. I was 324' deep, 3300' back, alone in a place where no man has EVER been.  Incredible

I tied off and placed a white arrow at the knot to avoid any confusion about circumnavigating the column.
I deployed my survey book and began the survey out. It went quick with 150 and 190' shots. The 2 page slate was great and avoided page flipping confusion. Black colored knots on the white line were also nice.

My exploration and survey was only 20 minutes, but what a memorable 20 minutes.

The trip out went smooth I picked up my deep stage and backup scooter and hit the door. My first deco stop was 220' in Middle Earth. I completed my 220-190' stop in ME. I picked up my 190' bottle and began the slow swim out decompressing as I went.

Deco out was smooth. I took all of my bottles and scooters to the fissure. At 60' I copied my survey to my wet notes and made a rough sketch. At 50' I took off my scooters before the final restriction.
I spent the next 2.5 hours at 40' in the comfortable confines of the fitting room for decompression.
The suit heater was incredible. I was comfortable the whole time. The support team brought me a sandwich to eat in the air bell and Allen brought an underwater speak to play music. AC/DC Rocks in the air bell at 40'.

I slowly made my way up to 10' through the solution tube, stopping at 30' and 20'. The 80 minutes at 10' was brutally boring with the ipod stuck on repeat…

At the end of the dive I felt great. I accomplished a long term goal. I did an 8.5hr dive to depths over 300' and laid and surveyed ~500' of line in ridiculous cave.