Up to Leck Fell (coldest place on the planet) to get changed in the rain. The water welling up from below the fence to Lost Johns' was an early warning to what we were about to experience...
Spent a good hour looking for the cave. Large grey plastic pipe in one of a small series of shake holes about 300m almost due south of LJs, so bear away from the stone wall by about 30 degrees and walk.
Naturally, we had walked halfway to Kingsdale before deciding we had gone too far. The skies darkened as we turned around and the sleet started. It was horrid. You desperately tried to point your helmet into the onslaught, unable to look around as your face was battered by the skicky freezing horror. It started hailing, which was far more pleasent as they generally bounced off.
At the entrance we rigged a dodgy Y-hang in the (gas?) pipe that serves as the entrance, rethreading a double fig-8 through a bolt hole in the plastic, with a sling + krab 'Y' from the other side. P-bolts just below the pipe provided a rebelay where the river rushed down the back of your neck. The pitch was very wet, to the point where 'heavy rain' actually had weight that you could feel pushing on your shoulders. Clewin swung across for the rebelay which led via a dry hang to an extremely unstable boulder slope, anything dislodged tumbling down the main pitch. Nice!
I took over for the next segment of rigging and strung a Y-hang from the P-bolts across the pitch-head offering the direct hang. Abseiled down 10m and I found myself rather at a loss as what to do. The waterfall was brushing my feet, any lower and I would be properly under it. It needed a deviation, but upon bouncing away I found nowt but mud to attach anything to. No P-bolts in evidence, but you couldn't see far - everything that wasn't filled with falling water was obscured by steam. The one pointer I could see was a permanently rigged rope in a dry alcove...
I came up and went across to these exploration bolts, backing things up nice and tight. The hangers were pretty dodge, but the hang was dry. A swing to a rebelay bolt (Mmmm, rusty) and then a further swing around the corner to another Y-hang. These bolts were particularly dodge. I had had enough.
Clewin came down as I tied on the next rope into a Y, I shuffled the far side and got romantically entangled as he passed me by and took the rope bag. Tim and I exchanged pleasentries on the Y-hang (Tim looking rather soggy in his fabric oversuit) as Clewing deployed his suspicious-bolts tight-rigging skills. We dropped down to another rebelay bolt, then swung in to a muddy side passage. The peace and calm was wonderful. A few dotted helictites, instruments of diggage (pick axe, carpet, rubber hilti sheet, hacksaws and scaffolding poles) abounded as well as a suspicious 'is that going to explode?' Daren drum. The air was still and dry, we goubled our chocolate supply and considered what to do.
We believed that we should have been on the other side of the shaft, where you could now see parallel development (Kendel Flyover we presume), which we had no way of reaching from down here. So we choose to make a speedy exit considered how chilled we were, and then possibly pop down LJs to see how they were doing.
Exit was smooth except for a bit of a rope tangle. Entrance pipe was difficult on the way out - our long thigh-bones being exactly the thing you didn't need! Exited into the dusk and light rain. Headed back for the road and bumped into the Rumbling team at LJs. Lyndon joined us for a brief foray, whereas Tim headed back for the warmth of the minibus.
Lost Johns' really is a nice cave! The stream was bigger than I'd ever seen, and there was a frightful 'Thud, Thud, Thud' in the dry old section of the cave of the water crashing down the main pitch. Lyndon came as far as the traverse, Clew and I got to one pitch before battleaxe when we met Paul coming the other way and waited in the little warm ante chamber for a natter. Clewin deployed the Biere D'Or that he'd been chilling in his SRT bag, and I derigged out behind Andy. We managed to break surface just after a sleet storm that had completely whited out the windows of the bus, and got to change in (relative) warmth.
Seemed to get on alright, abandoned the cave when the pits got excessively wet, making a rather short trip. Was eminently doable though, even in the extreme weather.
They got a long way before being turned around by the comedy water levels. With assistance, Andy made it to the backup bolt on the final pitch only by a soaking to the nipple line. Sensibly abandoned at this point, for a smooth exit with a little tea-break halfway.
The NPC was absolutely jam-packed in the evening as Ulsa were using it as the venue for a double whammy birthday party. Wolfed down a delicious Curry (Hmm, with mixed-meat from the Preston Tesco reduced shelf...), and then settled into an evening of drinking (tea for me!). ULSA peeps were a good laugh, and shared their most amazing collection of birthday cakes. I went to bed dreaming of that chocolate smartie cake, smeared with clotted cream...
Grim grim weather. Drove over to Kingsdale in the increasing rain. A sum of z ero caving cars there at Noon, indicating that all the sensible people were tucked up in bed or Bernies. All the cavers dropped out, except for our keen fresher James, who shamed Rik and Andy out into the drizzle and up to Rowten.
Rik managed to leave his shiny Meander in the NPC drying room, so took Tim's rather breezy and arse-ripped fabric monster. He recalled having the spray on the main pitch blow straight through him!
Seems like they had a good enough time, making use of their whistles to communicate above the roar of the plunging river, and getting down to see the torrent disappearing down the sump.
Rest of us escaped to Ingleton, picking up our Harlington award funded lights (so nice, so lovely), grabbed some bigger plastic oversuits for the excess 6-footers that have joined this year, and sampled some house-brick chocolate cake.
Abysmal drive home. Practically had to punt the minibus back to the M6 over frightful puddles. Water was seeping into the foot wells via the breathe holes. I wonder how close we were to flooding? Wind and rain didn't abate till we got to London, nice weather for the minibus unpack!
Jarvist 'he writes too much' Frostrequire('../footer.php'); ?>