Descending the Bowels of Brighton

Present: Jondoe, Loops, Otter, Alias, Little Elvis, dsankt

With a name like Colossus of the South the preconceptions are a little hard to shake. Like Gargantua in Toronto the name alone demands your attention. COTS is a multilevel stormwater/storage system built under scenic Brighton. While the children frollick above a trickle of water flows inside the 6m lower storage tunnel far below. Come hell and highwater the collected rain runs from upper COTS just below street level and drops the 100 odd feet down into lower COTS. Colossus is certainly the right word.

There are plugholes of various sizes which join the upper and lower systems together, one of which tonight we planned to abseil. The specific plughole on the agenda was roughly 80ft tall. It's not a long drop but promised to be fun. Below an unremarkable manhole is a small balcony overlooking a 20ft tall cavity into which part of upper COTS discharges. This circular cavity is known as Eddies Vortex by way of the worker graffiti. In the floor of the cavity is a smaller diameter shaft of ~20ft which drops another 80ft into lower COTS. There are no ladders leading to the vortex but we'd brought 2 ropes and a bunch of hardware.

The bottom of the plughole in Eddie's Vortex. Once again xpro Vevlia 100f scanned at tranny and inverted. Seriously as i...

Neither of our ropes were long enough for the entire drop so my 80ft rope anchored above the balcony to reach the vortex, then the offical Sub-urban Confluence rope was set for the second pitch down the shaft. Two large metal I-beams protruding from the concrete above provided fine anchors even if they were coated in a mysterious substance looking similar to xenomorph blood, minus the hissing of course. The join in the ropes was positioned at the vortex with a spare cowstail as a safety while the user stood at the vortex and changed ropes. This would be Zero's first descent since highschool and the drop alone was more than enough of a deep end to hurl him into without throwing change-overs into the mix.

I descended to the vortex level to slightly reposition the rope join and evaluate the amount of water swirling around the vortex and into the shaft. A small inaccuracy in the stacking of the concrete rings which make up the shaft produced a lip which sprayed the waterfall out. Even on the 'dry' side we'd be getting soaked tonight.

The view from the balcony as a soul is sucked through the vortex into the plughole. Imagine this in torrential flow. Hor...

Wrapped in a ropebag cloak near impermeable to the elements I dangled my legs into the shaft, wiggled my ass to the very edge of the rounded lip and popped in. The rope stretched and I dropped about a foot then bobbed around in Eddie's plughole vapors. I love these moments of freedom just dangling above the drop, slowly taking in the view. SRT has become a significant component of these adventure opening access to things we'd never have imagined in the past. Confluence, NASA, Mineral King... some of my favourite adventures have been built on the backbone of this fragile lifeline.

The abseil was pretty straight forward: cruise down the side until you reach the saturation section, hit the turbo button then scoot to the bottom, lastly jump between the churn blocks out of the downpour. I dropped into what Alias humorously referred to as the 'Bowels of Brighton', easy compared to the likes of Mineral King . Afterwards the Otter dropped in nervously, jerked his way down and reached the bottom. Lucky for him the ropebag-cloak of prot is +1 vs Waterfalls.

Zero teh Otter prepares himself for the plunge into Eddie's Vortex. Notice his fine Cloak of Prot, fashioned from the vi...

Stoop was unable to join us on this trip his excuse being "I've already had a shower". Jd not to be excluded took a shower of his own. From above he shot down quickly through the water, then curiously pushed right out into thick spray just metres from the ground to dangle squarely under the waterfall. It's only water right?

We derigged and stowed the sodden ropes about 4am, piled out of the manhole and began the 45 minute hike back to the vehicle. I vaguely remember arriving home about 7am, waking up Gremlin and rolling into bed. Don't doubt my respect for clean bed linen and personal hygiene I was clean as could be. I just showered in Brighton's finest.
About the author

Found frigid and dying in the snow by a passing missionary at the abandoned Soviet airbase in Choir, Mongolia, little dsankt never had a chance. The Dreams Foundation granted his wish to one day travel the world, thinking he'd only last a month or so. To everyone's amazement he's still going strong. When asked for comment the foundation's treasurer would only say, "The little mongrel cunt just won't fucking die, it's costing us a fortune!"

jannx aka jannx   7 years ago
LoL... that shiny gray rope bag cloak make you look like gigantic garden snail sitting on a bird bath. SeRiousT SRT fun!
imprezawrxsti   7 years ago
hot damn. i need to learn how to abseil. there's a dam overflow here in CO i need to check out. nice story, DS.
ASH   7 years ago
Reminds me of the sewer scenes from blade 2 but better. Really like that vortex image.
dsankt   7 years ago
Haha, thats the Otter not I. A snail // otter crossbreed perhaps?
dsankt   7 years ago
imprez, find a local caving group. Lots have monthly meetups and workshops where you can get started. It's all pretty straightforward and so long as you pay attention to the details quite safe. The financial barriers to entry aren't too high if you split the rope cost (the most expensive component) between a few of you. There will be more uses for it than you ever expected, I guarantee it. SRT brings with it a new way of seeing the world. Thanks ASH.
le snap   7 years ago
I was waiting for your report on this. Man, you should get the shits more often. "SRT has become a significant component of these adventure opening access to things we'd never have imagined in the past" - so true, and probably the main reason why I had so much fun in 2007. It's good to do something, and think, I'd never of done that any other way. Sometimes I think I should take better care of my ropes.
siologen   7 years ago
Harness : 45 pounds 40m Rope: 17 pounds Jumar/whale tail: 30 pounds Abseiling down Eddy's Vortex in a Raincoat: Priceless!
Zero   7 years ago
It was more like a bag over your head!
durgin   7 years ago
faaaaaark! I'd be all hands up for carrying the rope in and handing the burdon of carrying a 200 million trillion kilo wet as fuck rope back out of that thing. 2 points for the rap - 10,000 points for finding a sucka to carry the rope out :D
dsankt   7 years ago
How's the climbing going? You must be super elite 100-points by now. Next I'm in radelaide let's do something.
durgin   7 years ago
I really dig the rope jumps these days ... it's like abseiling instead of clipping a device into the top end of the rope and threading your way to the end, you just tie into the end of the rope and jump off, no excess equipment required - so yeah, a bit like abseiling but really really fast :D if you ever come back to radelaide - we'll jump off of a cliff together - it's the pussies version of base jumping
ian   7 years ago
Just make sure it's not your SRT rope, eh? BTW, look up Dan Osman on YouTube.
dsankt   7 years ago
durgin being a climbing nut I'm sure you're familiar with him, if not as ian said... here's the first video of him I saw.
Jondoe   7 years ago
Echo your thoughts on the rope front. When we first discovered COTS and marvelled at Eddie's Vortex there's no way in the world I would have thought that I'd be whizzing down the sucker one day. :) It was just water right? :P Urg! Brighton's waste water content is probably more questionable than most. Ick.
Ben   3 years ago
It´s an old post but it´s still amazing. You have some really great images from the tunnels under the city...
dsankt   3 years ago
Cheers, the old stuff is sometimes the best and more pure. Before this thing blew up, got big, lost its character.
kieran   3 years ago
where abouts in brighton is this?
Sherman   2 years ago
Hi, Awesome report. Love that last photo. Very ominous. I'd really appreciate it if there was anyway you could let me know where the manhole entrance is to this. You can contact me on if you don't want to post here. Name's Sherman. Cheers!