After several trips that probably weren't worthy of being blogged about, I had a feeling this one might be different. Tom and Emma had dreamed up a particularly perverted itinerary for Tom's romantic birthday caving trip: a combination of the Grind Circle, with a long Ease Gill Caverns through trip. The classic 'Greater Ease Gill Traverse' goes from Top Sink to Pippikin Pot. It's possible to do a longer trip by exiting out of Bye George Pot instead, one particularly notable obstacle being a squeeze known as The Backbreaker. Today's plan was Top Sink - Bye George, via the Grind. What better way to spend Valentine's Day?
I don't know what the collective noun for a group of cavers is, but let's say that a gaggle of potholers (9 in total) approached Top Sink at 11am, stripped off oversuits in unison and added to to the water levels in the cave. The first part of the trip went well. Easy and familiar caving, and enough people acquainted with the route, meant that, despite the group size, the landmarks came thick and fast: Holbeck Junction, Stop Pot, the high level series. It would have been perfect were it not for the constant anxiety gnawing at the back of my mind of the difficulties yet to come. We were a sweaty, sticky mess as we abseiled down the 88ft pitch to the start of the day's real objectives.