Yorkshire VII

Alex Seaton, Andy Jurd, Arun Paul, Cecilia Kan, Celia Tinsley, Chris Bradley, Clare Tan, Dave Kirkpatrick, David Wilson, Ho Yan Jin, Jack Halliday, Jack Hare, Jan Evetts, Rhys Tyers, Rita Borg, Sandeep Mavadia

Friday

I figured the best way to celebrate the end of exams is to spend a weekend hiding in caves. We picked up Jan along the motorway and dropped off Peter who was hitching a ride. His cracked and hilarious family gave us a good and possibly overly enthusiastic wave at the petrol station.

Yan Jin

Saturday

Rowten Pot: Alex Seaton, Cecilia Kan, Chris Bradley

Drowning in Valley Entrance: Dave Kirkpatrick, Rita Borg

Dale Head: Arun Paul, David Wilson, Sandeep Mavadia

Penyghent Pot: Some guy called Rich, Andy Jurd, Jack Halliday, Jan Evetts

Saturday morning was stressful: As I gulped down my last mouthful of Morrison’s finest baked beans, Dr Jack grinned smugly and wordlessly shoved ICCC’s little red book into my hands. The message was obvious. It was my job to work out how to divide cavers into groups for the day’s activities. Thankfully Arun sprang to the rescue and between the two of us we were eventually able to negotiate a division of cavers which nobody found too awful. The trip I ended up on was a visit to the sump in Penyghent Pot with Andy and Jan. Rhys and Clare were planning to start later, catch us up underground, then split off to explore some terrifying extension at the bottom of the cave (Friday 13th Series). To be honest, I was pretty happy with this turn of events; not least because we were travelling to the foot of Penyghent in Andy’s car, thereby avoiding the usual minibus related faff.

We set off as the others were loading up the minibus. As we left Andy and Jan started discussing having kids and real jobs and stuff. For once on a caving trip I was feeling positively youthful. As we hurtled along the lanes towards the cave, I slipped off into my own little world, enjoying the Yorkshire countryside zipping past the car window. At some point along the way we entered a village. Without warning Andy slammed on the breaks; stalled the car; and leapt out of the driver’s door. He then proceeded to rush towards a nearby building, turning round to yell “back in a minute”, before disappearing inside. Me and Jan exchanged confused glances and then turned to examine the building Andy had gone into. It was a gray, largely square construction, accessed via a gate adorned with the letters “YSS”. Obviously a caving hut.

After about five minutes Andy returned and asked if we minded another person joining the trip. Me and Jan both shrugged. Andy disappeared inside to return a few minutes later with another guy who introduced himself as Rich. Andy explained that they knew each other from Nottingham then we hurtled onwards towards our destination.

The walk up to the cave was fairly long and very warm in a PVC. To get to the cave from the Bradford Hut in Brackenbottom, we backtracked along the road we came to a path labeled Penyghent; followed this up the hill until we arrived at a stile (which we crossed); then we immediately turned off the path to the left. We walked on dry marshland for around 200 m before coming to a wide, shallow, dry river valley on the right. We walked along the valley for a moment, then stumbled upon the cave entrance.

Once underground, the first real obstacle was a fairly long entrance crawl in running water. This started quite pleasantly, with plenty of space overhead and a nice sandy floor. Over time the floor devolved from sand to gravel and the clearance overhead became smaller and smaller (eventually necessitating flatout crawling). Overall, this part of the trip was not as bad as I had been lead to believe, but I was glad of the second pair of kneepads I had brought. That said, if the weather had been less settled, the experience would have been rather nerve wracking.

After what felt like an age, we found ourselves in a passage where stooping was possible, then sections of walking passage and a couple of short and unremarkable pitches. By this point the group had adopted a state of comfortable silence which was to persist for most of the rest of the trip.

The third pitch was notable in as much as it was quite long (around 50 m), with a relatively constricted pitch head, and a single rebelay around half way down. As Andy started to this, he noticed a group of the cavers prusiking up the pitch but was able to rig things in such a way that we could rig pass on the pitch (which was entertaining). It turned out they were from the Bradford and had turned around before bottoming the cave - intimidated by the rigging.

My experience of this pitch was rendered even more farcical by the fact Jan dropped the lid of his battery case from the top. I was able to orchestrate a valiant rescue by swinging out mid decent to retrieve this from the ledge it had fallen onto, all the while making sure I didn’t collide with a distinctly unimpressed Bradford member who was prussiking past me.

After this the cave presented us with a series of relatively short pitches, separated by sections of smooth rifty passage. The rigging became more and more unorthodox, with a good selection of naturals, various resin anchors, and a few spits (with in situ hangers) all used.

At some point in the journey, but much later than we were expecting, Clare and Rhys caught up with us. Rhys made his presence known by interrupting our zen-like silence with a shout of “HELLO I’M RHYS”. Rich, who was bringing up the rear, just looked at Rhys. I attempted to diffuse the situation by making a joke which was unfortunately not very funny. Jan laughed out of pity. Everyone else stayed silent.

The rest of the journey down is a bit of a blur. I remember Clare and Rhys branching off at some stage, via a rather intimidating free climb, to explore the Friday the 13th Series. After they left the route we were following got more and more slimy, until every surface was covered in sludge for a fairly long stooping section. We eventually arrived at an archetypical Yorkshire sump: Brown, Foamy, and depressing. Everyone was quite disappointed that this was it, so we had a look at the description for Friday the 13th, half contemplating rejoining Rhys and Clare . It sounded spectacularly awful so we abandoned the idea and turned around to head for the surface.

The return journey was uneventful. There were a few smooth, rifty free climbs which were easy on the way down but quite tiring on the way up. The entrance crawl felt about three times longer on the return leg and I was again glad of my 2nd pair of knee pads. All in all, a grand day out!

Jack Halliday

Penyghent - Friday the 13th Series: Clare Tan, Rhys Tyers

‘Are you...intrigued?’

The modest proposal by Clare was to have a look down the Friday the 13th series in Penyghent. I agreed at the time knowing very little about it and without ever having been into Penyghent at all.

A month passed and I read the description in NFTFH several times. I was fascinated by the description of the ‘waterlogged struggle’ particularly as it is preceded by a flat out cobble floored crawl which ‘deteriorates’ into said struggle.

The weekend arrived along with Clare and I was fairly relieved to hear that she was not interesting in diving the four metre sump through to the final section of Friday the 13th. It is only another 50 metres of passage and I am not such a Book Of Death purist as to insist that we do it.

The logistics were unclear until Saturday morning where after tea, breakfast, and faff I wandered into the common room to find that Andy had arranged everything. I should have been far more alarmed than I was. Oh sweet summer child.

Andy would take a team to Brackenbottom and rig to the traditional bottom of Penyghent whilst Clare and I would head up with the Dale Head team and approach Penyghent from the other direction. A classic pincer move. The aim was to give the riggers enough time to get down so that Clare and I could zip all the way down and into the extensions. The price of this proposal? Why, the derig of course.

At the picturesque Dale Head Clare and I made our preparations for the walk over the fell. We decided against wearing our neoprene for the hour long walk, instead carrying our caving gear and minimal tackle. We waited for the Dale Head and FOUL teams to depart and set off ourselves.

The walk is lovely. Not much elevation to gain and I think one of the quieter ways up towards Penyghent on such a nice day. As we neared looming prominence of Penyghent some 100 meters above us we considered our options. We could skirt around the bottom and walk to the cave. Orrrrr we could hide our bags, nip up to the top, and come back down again to continue the walk. We went for option two.

In lieu of photos of the bottom, here is proof of our ascent to the top of Penyghent

We hid the bags behind a dry stone wall and covered them with dry grass to disguise them and then marched up to the peak. We got a couple of comments on the way up about our footwear, wellies and neoprene socks, (‘Them’s not hiking boots’) and about the headtorch tangling around my neck (‘How long are you planning to be out here?’). It was further than I expected with a small walk to actually get to the trig point but we were up in just over 10 minutes and back to our bags in just over 20.

Now we had been to the top of Penyghent, it was time to go to the bottom. We continued on the path, veering off into the fields at the appropriate dry stone wall. It didn’t take us long to find the entrance. We completed the unpleasant task of entombing ourselves in neoprene and PVC and were very glad to be in the cool air of the cave.

The 250 metre crawl is not too bad on the way in. We took frequent breaks to adjust our double kneepads, and my neoprene gloves were I think unnecessary in the summer conditions. A flat out section signals the end so we stashed our extra kneepads on a shelf and pressed onto into easier passage.

The first small pitch drops into a ‘stooping’ passage which is just tall enough for Clare to walk in irritatingly often. We passed a fellow troglodyte at a deep pool exchanging mumbled hellos. At the second pitch the pleasant cave begins in earnest and we dropped the pitches fairly rapidly. We pass more people from this other party, snatching a quick conversation (‘You flew all the way from Singapore for this?!’).

The inevitable happened and we stumbled into the back of our party, queing at a pitch head. We said hello to Mr Jack, Jan and Andy. I introduced myself to a Nottingham caver that Andy snatched from the YSS. According to Mr Jack this was awkward as they had been having a nice silent trip up until them. Some faff involving Andy pulling all the ropes out of every bag and repacking them occured but we were not much delayed in our descent.

We reached the top of the 10th pitch where Clare and I were supposed to leave the others and do battle with Friday the 13th. An awkward looking climb to a tube presented itself but we decided that it can’t be the way as it doesn’t match the description and the climb looks really sketchy (it helps if you read the correct bit of the description as it turns out). Andy helped by doing the climb and declaring the way on to be horrible and therefore correct. We thanked Andy for his assistance and abandoned our attempt to abandon our trip.

In the tube a short crawl over awkward ribs of rock lead very quickly to Eerie Pot. We had brought ropes to rig the traverse over the top but we found the in-situ rope to be adequate. The ropes lead straight across the pitch, requiring a bold leap of faith to access a tube on the other side of the pitch. Zip lining it is an option of course, once someone has had a look at the bolts on the other side.

Here the trial begins. We lay still for a few moments staring at the crawl ahead. I read aloud the description to Clare and we shuddered in sick anticipation. Unwilling to show weakness we both agreed to continue. Willing to show some weakness we both agreed to leave the tackle sack here and hope that the final pitch is rigged. I lead into the crawl.

It begins hands and knees but very quickly the roof lowers and you are forced to your stomach. The floor is covered in large cobbles which alternately roll and jam beneath you as you claw forwards. For the most part it is possible to change the way your head is facing and so is not too intimidating. We reptate along, stopping a couple of times to reconsider our motives and giggle manically. The Book of Death describes this as continuing for 10 to 12 minutes, which is about right. The Book of Death describes the deterioration into a waterlogged struggle but does not offer guidance on how long that lasts other than to imply that it eventually ends.

The deterioration into waterlogged struggle is smooth. The passage does not change at all other than to subtly fill with water. In some ways it makes the crawl easier, as you are now slightly buoyant. In most ways it makes the crawl deeply unpleasant. It gets slightly smaller and there are more places where you must commit to a head direction. Where you can turn your head you must pass your face underwater to do so.

Half way along a column blocks the way and I needed to superman my way through. It felt commiting and left me unable to hold my head out of the water but there was no way to turn around. I assume Clare had an easier time of it but she was a collection of scraping and splashing noises somewhere behind me at this point and neither of us were keen to waste time talking.

I have no idea how long it took us to get through but it was certainly long enough. We dragged ourselves out of the water and into a final flat out section. It thankfully quite quickly became a hands and knees crawl and joined a junction where it was possible to sit down.

We had a rest and examined a plastic tub of peanuts and raisins that we found there. I didn’t open them. Even in a sealed container it seems rather optimistic to hope they will last that long.

Continuing we found ourselves, once again submerged, in the Crawl of Cthulu, a wide and ominous canal. There was enough airspace at the top to keep your torso mostly dry by doing an awkward shuffle on extended fingertips. Initially it was eerily silent but as our wakes met the walls a cacophony of wet slopping noises rebounded. Water sloshing on ceilings is not a reassuring sound and I found it quite disconcerting as it got louder and louder the further in we went.

It seemed to go on for a while. Occasionally the ceiling would lower leaving perilously little space above the water. I mumbled back to Clare that I was not sure how far in I was happy to go if continued like this. She giggled an agreement but coincidentally we sighted dry land and collapsed onto it. A quick review of the survey suggested that we were oh so close to the final pitch (Jason’s) and we decided that we had to see it through.

Out of the water the crawl soon enlarged to walking passage, and there ahead was the pitch. It was quickly obvious that there was no way down, no in situ rope. We peered over the edge at the silty sump and convinced ourselves that it wasn’t worth it anyway. There is no way on at the bottom other than the four metre freedive that we had no intention of doing.

We backtracked to a sitting spot and ate quietly with the long trip out on our minds. I convinced myself for the moment that it would be all plain sailing once we got back on the other side of Pyscho. Just one, truly grim, obstacle between us and the surface. And some pitches and climbs and crawls and derigging. But only one truly grim thing.

Clare led the way back. Cthulu was not so bad on the way out, it’s disgusting noises already faded to normality. In a sign of things to come though I found my arms already tiring and settled several times for semi-floating despite the water that this let into my wetsuit in order to rest them.

Clare was out of sight by the time I passed the raisins and fed myself into the Pyscho. Her distant scraping noises were reassuring though and I found her round a couple of corners, sliding into the struggle. It is surprising how much more tired I felt already. The crawl was significantly harder this time, with a lot more spluttering and splashing. We took a few rests in the water, which we had not really done on the way in.

The flat out section beyond the water was harder still. I was quite used to the water now and particularly the buoyancy. To drag against the ground with my full body weight was an insult. Clare announced that she had gotten to the end and I made the final effort. We lay for a while overlooking Eerie Pot. We both decided we would never go back, as you must after any grim bit of cave. But that was the hard bit over, right? Now just plain sailing up the pitches.

I took the bag and we ziplined back across into the comparatively pleasant crawl to 10th pitch head. We did the dodgy climb and made our way up the nice streamway. We found the 9th pitch and made the plan. I would derig till my bag was full, then Clare would take over. As Clare prepared to climb I found the sling that Andy had planned to use to signify that his group was above and that we could derig. Their ropes from the 10th pitch were gone and the sling had moved quite far so we decided that it was probably still fine to derig. Andy is a resourceful person anyway.

The pitches are fairly easy. However there is a surprisingly forgettable and surprisingly large amount of actual caving in between the pitches. Clare helped me with the bag at several of the harder climbs and I offered a shoulder at one particularly tall and slippery climb.

The bag filled at some point and Clare took over derigging. I went ahead a pitch. I’m not sure which pitch it was but I was quite grateful that Clare was distracted below me as it took me a long time and a couple of rests to pass the rebelay. A very humbling experience. At the top I waited and sang to myself until at the very edge of my hearing I thought I heard Clare very quietly say the word ‘help’. I shouted back ‘HELP?!’. A mumbled reply sounded a bit like yes so I unclipped the bag and abseiled back down to find Clare looking up at me from the middle of one of the many tricky climbs. I offered a hand and she pulled herself up. I nipped back up the pitch, humility forgotten, finding it significantly easier without a bag.

Some caving later we arrived at the bottom of the big pitch. I must’ve looked quite out of it because Clare suggested we have a break. She then produced two cereal bars that she had found in an abandoned glove somewhere in the cave. One was quite palatable, the other sodden. We ate both.

We were now at bag number three. I offered to take two bags, if Clare was happy to continue derigging. People very rarely refuse that sort of offer and Clare was no exception. I began the slow haul upwards.

The next few pitches are either connected or extremely close so it was gratifying to find ourselves at the top of the second pitch quite quickly after an exhausting struggle upwards. This was not aided by the belay placement which favour ropes wrapped around razor sharp flakes 1 meter below the pitch head. Okay, maybe there is just one pitch like that but my exhausted self was in no mood to be reasonable.

The long stooping passage between the second and first pitches had just enough water that dragging two hydroplaning tackle sacks behind me was moderately comfortable. Even so we took several breaks. I think mostly because of my need to occasionally stretch my back from the stooping, though I think Clare appreciated it too. It was also entertaining to watch a 'tidal bore' like layer of water shoot ahead of me in the relatively slow flowing stream, pushed on by the bulk of the tacklesacks.

The first and final pitch passed we sat at the top packing rope and packing away srt gear and generally faffing. Then we rounded the corner and sat again redonning our extra kneepads, putting off the inevitable. “Let’s get the fuck out of here” one of us said. Though this would prove easier said than done.

I was extremely tired and my knees were completely fucked despite the approximately 2cm of neoprene covering them. Apart from the pain in my knees and arms I was surprised to find my core strength failing. Not that I have a strong core, just that I don’t think I have ever crawled and stooped to the point that it hurt.

My world shrank to 4 points of painful pressure, hands and knees, sloshing water, and shimmering brown water in front of my hung head. I attempted to sink into a zen like state of unconscious movement though as Clare pointed out I was quite bad at this because I kept complaining about things and manically giggling. The crawl progressed slowly. We would take a break whenever one of us collapsed into the water. Rising after a few moments, motivated by the thought of being so nearly out.

And then after an eternity we were. Some final combined tactics saw us and all of the bags out of the final grovel and climb and into the glorious sunshine.

I desperately stripped off the top half of my neoprene and basked. We walked down towards Brackenbottom as the sun set to be met by Jack and Sandeep and a vast amount of midges who were the most keen to see us.

I think I would go back, despite saying I wouldn't. I’d like to see the other side of that sump.

Rhys

FOUL Pot: Celia Tinsley, Ho Yan Jin, Jack Hare

Jack Hare, Celia and I headed to FOUL Pot, and I was told that its name was not what it seems. The dolphins, DKP and Rita, went down the sumps at Rowten Pot; Cecelia, Alex and Chris went down Rowten; David, Arun, Nick and Sandeep headed to Dale Head Pot; Andy, Jack Halliday, Jan, Rhys and Clare headed to Penyghent, and the latter two followed on the Friday the 13th Extension. The walk up to FOUL Pot was quite scenic with many birds, sheep and even rabbits. The cave starts with a free climb down that wasn't high enough to require SRT but was a good enough drop to instil the fear of falling. The crawl that followed was unpleasant and especially annoying with the tackle sack. Thankfully, a pitch came soon after and the path opened out. The description said not to trust the ladder that was there, but it seemed all right to me. We then saw a huge orange flowstone at the Octopus Hall, along with cool formations and a helictite growing out of a flowstone.

The tight squeezes along the passage was awful. We couldn’t get through by shuffling sideways, but had to put one hand on the ground, the other hand up while dangling our legs sideways and pulling/kicking/shuffling over. My SRT kit kept getting in the way and it took me awhile to get through. It was worth it though, for the Man O War pitch that followed after was pretty magnificent (although care should be taken because rocks just fall off the wall), and the stalactites were really long and in pristine condition. After the last pitch, the passage progressively got muddier and when it didn’t seem like there was anything left to see, we turned around.

On the way back, Celia and I took off our SRT kit and I went through those squeezes without much difficulty. When Jack said that we were done with the tight bits I was confused because I didn’t think we reached it yet. Removal of SRT kit is definitely recommended, since there is a long stretch of tight squeezes between the second and third pitch and makes the journey infinitely more pleasant. We worked together to get the tackle sacks across, which made it much easier to get through. There was a challenging climb that had no good foot holes or grips to get up, and Jack helped to support my foot. I do apologise for accidentally kicking mud in his face though.

As we walked back, we concurred that it is a cave we’re glad to have gone into, but see no reason to visit it again anytime soon. I’m glad to have gone into the cave while it’s still in pristine condition, and help smooth out the passage for future cavers, in hope that the squeezes will gradually get less unpleasant.

Back at the hut, it was the first time I saw Rhys tired, and he got people to touch his knees because they were significantly warmer than the rest of his legs (and that was true). David and Arun also seemed to have had fun at a dodgy traverse at Dale Head Pot.

Yan Jin

After Rhys' epic trip report above, you might find this one a little humdrum. But FOUL Pot (note the all caps) is a solid little cave, with entertaining variety, some good challenges and a well defined, satisfying end.

I had had my wisdom tooth removed two days before, and was dosed up on lots of paracetamol and ibuprofen for the drive up. I had my heart set on Penyghent, but as the trips began to crystalise in the morning I realised I couldn't do an epic trip and it was necessary to provide an alternative lest we have seventeen people down a single, very wet cave. FOUL Pot has been on my radar even before Winter Tour, when Davey Dubz became obsessed with it (he didn't go this time for unknown reasons). The rigging guide gives very little away, but a well written description on the CNCC website made it seem very doable. Accompanied by Yan Jin and Celia, we strode across Fountains Fell, contouring above a limestone pavement until we found a low point to climb over the wall, and followed the dry streamway down to a fenced off sink.

The 'Octopus'

A short free climb leads to a tight thrutch through immature streamway, and then a flat out crawl in low water to an awkward climb up into a small chamber. I push my tackle sack first, and Celia made it through behind quickly. Sadly Yan Jin's sack got stuck, and she couldn't free it - I went back into the crawl and found no way to turn around, so instead had to go all the way through, turn round and then come back again. An excellent start to the trip. Just beyond the small chamber was the Octopus, a large orange flow stone. There are bolts to abseil down, but the in situ ladder is very sturdy.

Some thrutching later and we reached the second pitch, an impressively deep shaft which is a bit awkward to rig. Down at the bottom we reached the narrow rifts. The CNCC recommends removing SRT gear. I didn't need to, but Yan Jin and Celia were much faster on the way out (when they had removed them) than on the way in (when they wore them) so I do recommend doing this. The first rift is 4 m long, and has to be done horizontally, on your side, with an arm below to keep you from slipping into the lowest part. Once through, I turned round and Celia and Yan Jin passed me the other bags. Unsure of teh way on, Celia then descended too low and her tackle sack was stranded down a tight rift. I climbed down and managed to hook a strap with a foot and just barely retrieve it. The second rift is shorter and easier, but we still needed a bit of a break afterwards - those rifts are tough and could be a real problem for a tired caver on the way out.

We joined the streamway in a crawl, but soon the passage cuts down and the pretties begin. Beautiful calciate flows, meter long straws - this is a really well decorated cave! All too soon it was over and we arrived at the Man O War Pitch. This was the highlight of the trip for me - formed inside a fault, the water has found many ways down, which spiral and corkscrew round each other. The bolts are well placed (though the rock is quite bad) and I abseiled into one of the shafts, looking for the rebelay. This was a beautifully set hanging affair which landed me on a flat bottomed chamber. The way on doubles back immediately, exploiting the fault.

Celia and Yan Jin soon joined me, and we pressed on to the final pitch (using the in situ rope for the very short pitch). The final pitch has an interest traverse down a steep muddy slope, and then drops down a sloping rock wall. At the bottom, a climb through boulders reaches the thick, gloopy mud of the lower chambers. it's clear that in flood the water comes far up the walls, but in these dry conditions it we could make it into the half filled phreatic tube and follow the water until it became too deep and the roof too low. A good end to a Yorkshire cave - a squalid sump.

We ate some Soreen, and I sat cleaning mud from my pantin as Yan Jin and Celia ascended. With three bags and three people we had to stick close together, but we were soon at the tight rifts. Celia and Yan Jin made it thrpugh easily without their SRT kits on - in fact, it was so easy that as Yan Jin emerged from the second rift, she asked when we were going to get to the tight bit! At the top of the second pitch I had a sense of humour/light failure and had to derig lying on my back, arms outstretched with my backup light. Soon we were back up the ladder and out into glorious sunshine, the fields filled with rabbits, birds of prey, lapwings and other wonders of nature.

FOUL Pot is a great trip - for us three, it took about six hours. For a small, fast moving group it could take only 4 hours. For a larger group with more novices, it could be a real epic - the tight bits are comparable to Pippikin, so beware! It's a bit of a drive, but there are plenty of other caves nearby, so it's worth remembering for a group trip.

Jack Hare

Sunday

Long Kin West: Alex Seaton, Cecilia Kan, Rita Borg

Alum to Diccan: Ho Yan Jin, Jack Halliday, Rhys Tyers

Diccan to Alum: Chris Bradley, David Wilson, Jack Hare

Relaxing high up in Diccan

The next morning, I had the pleasure of making breakfast and getting people up, and especially enjoyed whispering “get up” into DPK’s face. We decided on the trips and packed ropes quite quickly, and almost even caved before mid day.

Rhys, Jack Halliday and I went in through Alum Pot and out Diccan Pot, while Jack Hare, David, Sandeep and Chris did the reverse. The short walk up was warm for my standards, and I accidentally but pretty happily went into a waist deep pool in the passage leading to the first pitch (It helped to wash my muddy PVC anyway). The view of the light entering the cave was absolutely spectacular and I felt like I was stepping into another world. Jack had a go at rigging the traverse, and as he was about to descend, he felt like something wasn’t right and wanted to check the length of the rope. Thankfully he did, because that was the 50m rope instead of the 25m one needed and we worked as a team to undo the mess.

The pitch was magnificent and seemed endlessly deep. One part involved descending down a huge boulder that gracefully wedged itself in the crack, and I slipped off that. I was expecting to drop lower which wasn’t a big problem because I was very near the rebelay, but surprised myself and the rest by somehow slipping off to the side of the boulder. After some wringing to put my chest jammer on, I ascended up the traverse and descended again, very carefully this time. The rest of the descend was quite pleasant and beautiful.

At the bottom of Diccan, looking up to Alum

At the bottom, we met David and gradually the rest as they descended from Diccan Pot. It was quite cold and I was thankful that I wore thermals and PVC. Thankfully, the way up was drier than I expected and the waterfalls were not that big. I enjoyed the rebelays because there were nice foot holds to stand on. The traverses were awkward as I sat on one side, extended my legs out to the other and slowly shuffled across. It only dawned on me later that I could have just stood up and put one leg on each side.

We reached a point where the pitch was doubly rigged and Rhys devised a cunning de-rigging plan which had something to do with crossing over Jack as they both simultaneously de-rigged (I didn’t really understand the plan but just smile and nodded my head). On the way down Diccan, Chris unclipped a deviation and we all forgot to retrieved it on our way up.

The rigging was as good as it can be, but the last pitch was long and endless and tiring. At the deviation, I planned to put the rope at the bottom into the krab and remove the top rope, with the guarantee of not losing the deviation sling. However, since it was quite high up the pitch, the bottom rope was heavy and pulled the deviation krab down below my hand jammer and the krab with it. Attempts to shift the deviation krab up was difficult as the hand jammer moved up with it, the weight of the bottom rope pulled the krab down and there were knots and loops at the krab with my jammer (because the foot loop was too long). After a considerable amount of struggling, I finally got it out and tiredly ascended up.

I would rate this trip 80% Type 1 fun (actually enjoyed it in the cave) and 20% Type 2 fun (didn’t enjoy it in the cave but convinced myself that I did on hindsight). After a long day, we reached stores at 1am and headed back. I left contented, knowing that I had a good weekend of caving and company.

Yan Jin

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.