21st-22nd February 2015 - Anton Petho
Saturday 21st Rowter Hole
Apologies in advance for the length of this trip report as I am ensuring I covered everything in enough depth so I don’t have to go back down this hole for a good while!
Now according to Newton’s third law of motion what goes up must come down, however I have recently learnt that for cavers it’s more like what goes down must come up. But the success upon which one surfaces from the depths is dependent on Newton’s second law of motion which defines the law of gravity. These facts become particularly prevalent for a trip down Rowter Hole, as people have stated that getting to the end of the new stuff in Rowter, is easy on the way in as gravity helps to pull you down, but coming back out is a lot more challenging as the same force that pulled you into said hole is now working against you as you try to wriggle out!
For those of you have not seen the article in Decent magazine, last May the Buttered Badgers Pothole Club (BBPC) had one of the biggest break through’s into new cave in Derbyshire for a good while. Rowter is one of the countless lead mines in Derbyshire, the BBPC took up one of our digs from some 20 years ago. They were digging down an old stope which broke out in a small natural stream passage only for it to close down again at a boulder choke, however the sound of rushing water could be heard not so far away and after a bit of perseverance they emerged in a walking stream passage on the other side of the choke, which quickly dropped down into a chamber they named Decision Decisions which has two sumps at either end. Above one of these sumps is a tight narrow rift which is carved out of a mineral vein, rich in galena and calcite, this has been named the Ice Cream Trail, as the climb up above the sump is covered in white calcite and looks like a tub of ice cream has been poured down the slope. The Ice Cream Trail leads to the Father Day Series which bottoms out in the Crystal Orechasm and the Awechasm above, which leads to a well decorated chamber named Sunrise. The main aim of this trip was to get to the end of the Ice Cream Trail and into the Crystal Orechasm, but for me personally I have reached a point where I want to do more trips out of my comfort zone and from the reports of the Ice Cream Trail Rowter would be well suited for this task.
Due to me being limited on transport and other factors we decided on a leisurely meet time of 12:00pm up a Rowter Farm. The trip would include Tom, David Duncan and I, although I invented an extra person for this trip as I thought David Duncan was two people! We quickly got changed and underground as there was a small snow flurry and some sheep were taking a particularly keen interest in us. We shot down the 70 metre mine shaft and set off towards the news stuff. We made excellent time and reach Decisions Decisions in just under an hour and after taking off our SRT gear, we got ready for the Ice Cream Trail. Going down the trail isn’t bad as gravity pulls you into most of the squeezes, except the one I gave up on before, where you have to go from head first to feet first up an steeply inclined tube and then pull like buggary on a rope to drop over a lip and into the next section and onto the last squeeze, which we all got through and reached the top of the Wizard Sleeve, so called because it opens out like a Wizard’s sleeve. Straight after this is a small chamber at the end of the Ice Cream Trail, where in one corner a hands and knees crawl leads to the top of the Orechasm pitch head, it is an interesting pitch head as you emerge feet first into the chamber and the y hand is directly below you, luckily it is made easier by the presence of an etrier. I rigged up my stop and began my descent and met Tom on a traverse line on a rock ledge which leads to another rope going down a short distance to the bottom. Once we had all grouped up on the ledge we went down the final pitch and looked at the next dig the Badgers want to do, which is to make a passage through the boulders at the bottom of the Orechasm. Water can be clearly seen a few feet below and this is believed to link into the Whirl Pool Rising inlet in Speedwell cavern, as you are only 40 metres away from it at this point. Tom wanted to get some pictures while he was down here as there aren’t that many at the bottom, so I prusicked back upto the rock ledge, clipped in and held a flash so Tom could get a picture of the Orechasm in all its splendour. I had decided at the bottom not even to attempt getting up into the Awechasm as I was feeling a bit worse for wears, and also having had a look at how the rope was rigged, in the mother and father of all closed loops I decided I wouldn’t even nowhere to start to get onto my up gear without getting hung up. I therefore decided to go and wait back at the small chamber at the end of the Ice Cream Trail while Tom and Dave went and had an explore. I wasn’t there very long as both Tom and then David got hung up in completely different ways, both decided to abort a trip up and join me back at the end of the Ice Cream Trail. I began my way back up the Wizard Sleeve and got to the bottom of the first electron and climbed up to the first proper squeeze, but it proved to be a lot lot harder for me then it had been on the way in, as that old foe gravity had helped me in. The squeeze is awkward as you first have to climb up an electron and then step off, bend into the squeeze, kick off and thrutch into it, I had several stabs at it only to become what it must feel like to be a beach whale, I decided at this point I may need a bit of assistance and so I let David get through, annoyingly he made it look very easy and so I quickly had another go only to encounter the same problem. In the end it ended up with Tom up the electron acting as a solid place for me to kick off and David pulling me through in a Chuckle Brothers style to me, to you. It was the same story when I came to the next squeeze and had to rely on the kind help of Tom and David to help me through, the problem I was having in both these squeezes was my inability to thrutch enough to be able to get into them. Depsite this and me having a few clatters and bangs we made it to the end of the Ice Cream Trail and back to Decisions Decisions and began the journey back up to the surface.
After de-rigging, we all headed down to the TSG hut in Castleton where we had a shower and warmed up and met Lauren and Purdie, we all then headed to the Castle Inn for a well earned pint. We then retired to the TSG but before bed we set up a small rave in the kitchen and saw if it was possible to play Jenga with a strobe light on!
Sunday 22nd Peak’s Cavern (Devil Arse)
After the events of the previous day and too some degree the night as well most people were feeling quite delicate, so seeing as a Peak key holder was about and Purdie had never been in Peak before, we decided on a leisurely trip round the tourist route and take a few photos. We quickly made are way through the show cave and arrived at the mucky ducks, they were the highest I have ever seen them, particularly the third one which had just enough room to keep your head out of the water, we cracked on upto surprise view and made it all the way to far sump, which compared to when I was there in summer where there was a nice beach and the sump was fairly low, was completely flooded. We then made are way back out of the cave, with Tom and Lauren taking a few nice photos along the way, we emerged to find it a tad nippy on the surface with a snow flurry to go with it. We then headed back to the TSG for a well earned brew and a bit of food before a snowy drive back through the Peaks to home.
Thanks to all who turned out,