Saturday, 7 July 2012

Two Trips in One Day!


I turned up at Bull Pot farm on Friday night fully expecting a long evening of 'socialising' followed by a late start and a short trip. Imagine my surprise then, when I arrived to find that caving plans had already been formed, and that they involved two trips and a 7 am start! Becka, James and Jenny were going to dig in Link Pot very early as James and Jenny needed an early getaway. Becka was then planning on doing Peterson Pot to Pippikin Pot with Patrick afterwards. Peterson Pot is not renowned for it's easy walking sized passages and is in found in the Black Book of Misery. Not having done much caving of late, I began to suspect I may have bitten off more than I could chew.

After a 6:45am alarm, and a struggle to force some breakfast down (cold jacket potatoes for some!) we were underground before it is sensible to be out of bed on a Saturday morning (or any morning for that matter). We made good time to the dig in Link Pot, and spent a couple of hours in varying amounts of squalour clearing liquid gloop from a low passage. My arms were soon feeling quite tired.

We were back at the entrance and on the surface before it is sensible to be out of bed on a Saturday morning. James and Jenny headed off and, with clockwork timing, Patrick joined us and we trudged up the hill to the Peterson Pot entrance.

Peterson Pot is (in)famous for Roly Poly Passage. Sinuous, and with a keyhole cross section, you only fit in the top bit, lying down and facing sideways. I was very apprehensive of this bit of cave and luckily managed to end up at the back with no tackle, my only task being to free the tacklesack Patrick was dragging when it snagged, and keep calm if I could. The main problem was when a bend was reached. Facing into the bend would allow my torso to slither round, but then my legs would not be able to bend to get round the corner, necessitating rolling over (if the passage dimensions allowed). Luckily I could usually just about see Patrick's wellies in front of me to work out which way to face! Knowing that taller and wider people than me had been here before certainly helped, but it was nevertheless a mental challenge (not to mention a physical one - by the end my arms weren't much use in freeing Patrick's tacklesack).

After half an hour or so of this 'fun' came the next bit that I'd been dreading, the Skydive. Roly Poly Passage ends about 4m up the wall in a chamber. This is very inconvenient. Luckily a rope is in place, but getting out of the passage without falling headfirst into the floor (or, worse, down the next pitch) is somewhat challenging (there is no room to put SRT kits on, turn around, or swing legs out). I couldn't see what Becka and Patrick had done but I elected for a stylish facing-upwards technique which seemed to work.

A couple of fine pitches later we dropped into the Hall of the Mountain King, and admired it's magnificent clay hermaphrodite sculpture. I was feeling quite broken at this point, my arms were like jelly and my back was sore from bending in ways it's not supposed to. Becka and Patrick seemed to be finding the trip about as difficult as an autumn stroll. The trutchy climbs and squeezes in Pippikin were a real struggle and my pace slowed considerably. The previous time I'd been here I must have been a lot fitter as I'd approached each obstacle with zeal. This time I was questioning whether I had the strength to make it up at all!

We finally battled our way to the surface, after 3.5 hours underground. Becka and Patrick seemed pretty fresh, but claimed they were tired. I didn't believe them. I believed them even less when Becka went for a third caving trip later...

So it turns out I didn't quite bite off more than I could chew; but it was certainly a very large mouthful.

14/7/12 Lancaster Hole
CUCC were up in Lancs doing resuce practice at Fall Pot. Kathryn and I joined them and tagged on the Wilf Taylor's Montagu West round trip which we'd not done before. It's very fun and quite easy with some crawling, nice streamway, climbs and a few formations - just the job! 4 hrs T/U

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