Logbook entry: Download and derig in Warren (2010-01-03) at Warren Cave
About happenings on Jan. 3, 2010, Aaron Curtis wrote:
Aaron talked Bill and Nelia into a "quick, easy" tour of Warren. On arrival it was clear there had been a large amount of accumulation. The previously precarious snow bridge was widened into an easy, safe snow slope. On the right hand side, the stair route that Harry rigged involved two ropes: the horrible stiff black and red static line and a thin purple rope of FSTP's. Both had been buried into the new snowslope. The route to the left, which Nial rigged, was encased in snow and ice between the top and the re-belay.
Everyone went down Harry's route. Aaron grabbed data from his loggers and Nelia and Bill took a look around including Whimsicle chamber. They had a good point about Whimsicle; it looks like the remains of an ice lake that is being melted out. The pillars previously thought to be giant icicles might actually be simply sections of the lake which escaped melting.
Then began the difficult rope and gear recovery operation. Aaron went up the lower section of the route that Nial had rigged, hoping he would be able to punch through the snow with an ice axe and free the upper portion of the rope. This proved too difficult without actually hanging on the upper section of rope. Aaron checked with Nelia, who was at the top, whether he was loading the top anchors when he hung on the top section of rope. He wasn't, and was therefore suspended by the friction between the rope and the snow it was frozen into (plus cowstails into rebelay, of course). Uncomfortable with depending fully on a rope that could break free and shock load the anchors, and doubtful at any rate of his ability to free it, he descended and came back up Harry's route, derigged the top anchors, and chopped the crappy stiff black rope where it entered the snow / ice.
The three of them worked for some time to dig out the ropes buried in the entrance snowslope, and eventually manged to pull them out and head home in quite heavy snowfall.
Moral of the story: don't leave ropes in for long at all. These had been in for around a week with no attention.