Ogof Draenen Morgannwg Passage trip 03/10/2017

Camera, setups, flash, edits and gallery effects by Tarquin.

This was a solo trip to an otherwise off-limits passage, after consultation with the original discoverers. The purpose was to photograph it to allow other cavers to see the passage (removing the need to visit it in person). Solo trips make it very difficult to set up multiple flashguns, and the passage itself presents numerous challenges, but hopefully they are enough to show the passage for what it really is. However, fewer cavers also means less damage to the extremely fragile formations. Please enjoy these pictures, and avoid visiting the passage yourself - it will be destroyed by visitors.

  1. The first pool, where the passage is taped off. This pool originally had superb rafts, but shortly after its discovery, they had all sunk, as a result of cavers traversing overhead on the sloping ledges, and sprinkling tiny bits of dust and mud into the pool. The tiniest ripples cause them to sink. The rafts all now decorate the bottom of the pool, along with the hundreds that have naturally sunk in the past.
  2. Flowstone between the pools.
  3. Passage between the pools, and one of the very few places where it is possible to stand on dry land.
  4. The second pool, a beautifully deep green blue, presents a very difficult obstacle. This needs to be traversed, with one knee on each wall, desperately trying to grip, without touching the calcite edges, and trying to avoid brushing the gypsum flakes off the walls into the pool. One caver failed during the early exploration, and fell in the third pool. This passage simply could not survive if more cavers visited.
  5. The third pool, which is very deep, with pool fingers (the pointed calcite crystals) on all of the rocks. Very large sunken calcite rafts adorn the bottom. The first half can be bypassed using an oxbow, but the second half needs another diffult traverse. This passage is really hard work.
  6. Surviving calcite rafts in a blind side passage.
  7. Rafts in the side passage. The largest are 30 to 60 cm across.
  8. Surviving calcite rafts on the fourth pool. The main part of the pool sits on a very sharp corner without ledges which makes traversing extremely hard. Somehow these have survived, but much of the water surface is also covered in floating dust which does not naturally belong there.
  9. Cryostal in a little chamber beyond a very difficult traverse, climb and loose choke. Cryostal is a recently discovered phenomenon, but is actually quite common in Ogof Draenen, and can be seen much more easily in other parts of the system. It is formed by precipitation of calcite in supersaturated water pockets in a cave filled with permafrost ice.
  10. Walking-sized rift near the end. This is a rare thing; a section of passage you can walk in.
  11. Rather small stal in the roof.
  12. The end of Morgannwg Passage, very clearly an impenetrable end. There is no point in digging here.