Rōkokudō (瀧谷洞) cave traverse
Last week-end, I finally had the opportunity to join my caving club for the week-end ; the objective was to go back to Rōkokudō (瀧谷洞) in Chichibu (秩父) in the Saitama prefecture (埼玉県), to change a ladder, and for me to cross the cave from one entrance to the other that we gave up a year ago.
to be able to do everything, the planning was organized differently. The approach walk being 3 hours long and crossing the cave about 8 hours itself, it’s impossible to do everything in the day. So we left Tōkyō early morning to arrive at the parking around lunch time and at the cave’s base camp in the mid afternoon. The time to get geared-up and we entered the cave by the top entrance around 16:00. The plan was to cross the cave and get out by the bottom entrance around 2:00 the next morning to camp there and sleep a bit before going back.
The wooden ladder to cross the abyss at the entrance was even more rotten than 2 years ago with some bars broken. The other solution is to follow the “E route” which follows an extremely narrow bowel to go above. It ends with an exposed move to go above the abyss. But we now secured it with a rope which you tight to your harness to exit safely.
After, we followed the same itinerary than last time to go to “angel fall”, a 50 meters tall chimney where the metal ladder is cut on one side. While we were getting ready to get a rope go through the top anchor by pulling it attached to a left-over cord going through the anchor, one of the knot tying up two sections of the cords detached itself and all the cord and rope fall down on the ground. We had no way to get the rope go through the anchor from the bottom and had to abandon the idea of going up and replacing the ladder.
So we went back in the main shaft to cross the cave and arrive at the “well without water” that we didn’t found last time.
From there it was all new to me and I was really surprised by the cave. In the bottom part, tunnels bring to two very large rooms as big as some cathedrals which is rare for caves in Japan. After two 50 meters rappel down we arrived at the base of the cave, just above the underground river.
As we couldn’t fix the ladder we exit the cave earlier than planned at 00:30. Completely frozen, wet, tired and dehydrated, I was happy to get out to drink eat and sleep.
Next time we’ll have to go back with the gears to climb up “angel fall” and replace the ladder to be able to access again the upper part of the cave and keep exploring…