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Carrock Mine - COMRU Team Practice and Exploration (17/06/07).

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Having been in the midst of COMRU members for the last 3 years or so, the logical progression was to hopefully become a member of the rescue team. This was an opportunity to come along and get to know the other members of the team on a practice.

We all headed to one of the open veins up the fell side which eventually lead underground, here there was a 10m or so sump which gained entry into another stope. The first practice was to have a casualty at the bottom of the sump which was unable to climb back out, so a haulage arrangement had to be implemented. Using appropriate back ups and anchors a Z rig system was rigged up - this allowed through the use of pulleys one person to haul the casualty up. Other members were also required for rope handling and for feeding the various jammers in the system. After the first attempt the procedure was discussed and attempted again in a different manner. Afterwards we had the opportunity to drop down into the stope for a brief explore before carrying on to the next exercise.

Moving slightly back down the fell side we reached an adit level where drilling and placing anchor bolts was practiced, this also presented the opportunity to test a new gas detector - it concluded that petrol engine exhaust gases were bad for you in a vivid display of lights and loud warning bleeps.

Afterwards we made our way down to the low level adit and had the chance for a bit more of an explore. I had not been to Carrock before and it was very interesting to see a more modern mining installation. The level was littered with circular ventilation trunking and electrical switch gear. The hoppers from the stopes above where still made out of wood, but of course on a grander scale than anything you would find in Nenthead. Most of the passages in the level where large and in competent rock, there where a few collapses but these occurred around hoppers and faults in the rock. I was told that it is possible to do a through trip from the adit level above via the stopes and out of the bottom level - a trip for another time.

All our activities had been centred on the east side of the fell, however there where workings of the west side as well, but these where not fully accessible as part of them had been filled in with waste and dammed to prevent water leakage. The waste was particularly nasty - full of arsenic, a by product of the mining activities for tungsten. When we where in the low level, we went to the dam, an interesting sight especially since there was a pin hole in it spraying water. It looked like a scene from a submarine film where part of it was flooded with the classical water spray from a sealed door - all crew eyes on it.....

It was good to see Carrock mine, and another trip at some point is needed to explore it further and to do the through trip via the stopes of course. The COMRU practice part was an eye opener, my participation was minimal, more concerned with handing out bits of gear and carrying it around, however what I saw going on and how the equipment was used was the really interesting part . The basic SRT kit along with a few other bits can be used for remarkable and effective rescue techinques. I can see that there is a lot to learn.