11th July 2010 - Tony Brocklebank - SK10798179
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It was fun.
When we got to the entrance Neil said Allan was in charge so obviously we gave Allan all the gear to carry. This ensured the Tackling Team were properly equipped for all eventualities. I offered to go last which allowed me a ciggie break for a while on the surface.
After a fairly lengthy rest at the top of the first pitch, and a bit of a snooze, I found myself at the back of a queue in the upper series traverse – not really what I was expecting. I got bored and went for a wander up Stalagmite Passage (the best bit of the cave in my opinion) and spotted a couple of potential digs I hadn’t noticed before which are now for sale if anyone would like to buy them, I certainly don’t want them, and had another ciggie break. When I got back the queue was still there. This wasn’t going to plan.
I didn’t immediately recognise the site they rigged as being the site of the old fixed ladder – but as it was taken out nine years ago and I probably haven’t used it for ten years or more I suppose it’s not surprising. It used to be somewhere you quickly passed through on the way to wherever you were going. I hadn’t spent as much time there in all the times I’ve been down P8 combined as I did yesterday.
Allan and I had a conversation last week during which we discussed him and Neil going in early to rig. I said there was no point, only two pitches and only takes two minutes to rig each. It turns out I was thinking of the true, second pitch, an easy twenty foot climb with nice simple rigging and an easy take off. Allan and Neil were planning to rig the high level traverse, which to be honest I’ve never seen rigged before, although I’ve done it many times. He was also planning to rig for both ladder and SRT. So he was right – we should have sent him and Neil in two hours early. Never mind.
Anyway, only just over two hours after entering the cave we were all safely at the bottom of Allan and Neil’s alternative second pitch. I think this may be a record?
To my mind if the old ladder wasn’t safe then the two P hangers sticking out of the wall where it used to be need cutting off with a grinder, they produce the most awkward and horrible beginners pitch for ladder or line I can think of in any cave.
Everyone then split up, two groups went to the sump. One didn’t. Everyone got back to the second pitch where most of them had trouble getting back up it. One actually fell off the ladder more times than I’ve ever seen anyone fall off a ladder and yet still got up it undeterred!
Nigel, Richard and I got most of the beginners up the first pitch and managed to run away just before Pete brought any gear out thus ensuring the Detackling Team were properly employed. Nigel even managed to get the ladder off Idiots Leap just before Pete arrived with two bags – an excellent piece of work. I think Nigel and I may have got a bit giggly by then.
Anyway, fun day out. Highlights included Alley’s Double Safe Descender – the principle being you fasten it on the rope and then to go down attach an extra caver to either leg – this is now for sale on Facebook if anyone would like it, Richard and I leaving all our gear at the bottom of the cave ensuring Allan and Neil carried it out for us, Nigel not having a heart attack (and forgetting his oversuit and furry suit Ed.), and of course I’d better not mention Pete not falling down any pitches.
Thanks to everyone who turned up to make it a good day out!
Below 1: Ready to go in Below 2: Second pitch