Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Caving in a Washing Machine

15/06/13 An aborted trip down Roaring Hole

Wookey, Kathryn and I, joined by Jeremy and Chris, were following a team of Durham cavers into Roaring Hole, a cave notable for its damp boulder chokes. The plan was for us to loiter in Inglesport for an hour or so then head down the cave in Chapel-le-Dale and derig their ropes. We executed the first part of the plan exceptionally well.
As we walked towards the cave we met a gaggle of familiar but cleaner than usual-looking, yellow-suited cavers coming the other way. Durham had aborted below the second choke because it was too wet. After a couple of days of unsettled weather it seemed we had made a poor choice of cave.

Nevertheless, we grabbed their rope and went to look for ourselves. Jeremy and Chris turned round soon after the entrance climb, but the three of use pressed on through the dryish first choke to the first pitch, down which a waterfall was thundering. It turned out that the way on was down a hole in the floor virtually under the waterfall.

Now, I've been through plenty of boulder chokes in my time, and, when they are stable, I have even learnt to enjoy slithering through the small holes and trying to work out the way on in the 3D maze. However, having a torrent of water crashing onto your head, in your face and through your suit at the same time was a very new and somewhat unnerving experience. Luckily the route was fairly obvious, being where the water was flowing. But it was all but impossible to see where we were going. The tacklesack got abandoned part way through the choke, and the three of us emerged at the bottom very wet and somewhat more understanding of why the rigging team had turned round here.

With the possibility of rain later, we didn't want to loiter below the choke too long, so elected to leave the tacklesack and see how far we could quickly get before turning round. After a crawling sized streamway, we arrived at another boulder choke. Well, I think so, but it was hard to tell what it was as another swollen waterfall was tumbling straight into it. I followed Wookey in, and it was immediately apparent that this choke was even worse.

Several squirming metres down, I  looked up, receiving a face full of water, and came to the conclusion that going back up wasn't going to be all that trivial. At that point one of two things happened; I'm genuinely unsure which:

(a) I had a wibble and wussed out of going any further.
(b) I made a rational decision that continuing might be foolhardy and turned round.

Either way, a couple of minutes later Kathryn and I found ourselves above the choke waiting for Wookey. Then we waited some more. And some more. The water had been so loud that Wookey probably hadn't heard me shouting so we assumed he would either wait for a bit and come back or decide to quickly have a look further on in the cave whilst he was there. I went back to my previous point in the choke but there was still no sign of him.

We were now seriously entertaining the possibility in our heads that Wookey might be lost somewhere in the choke or unable to return due to the water. To our great relief, as we were discussing what to do about this predicament, a lamp shone through the waterfall and a dishevelled Wookey appeared. As we had hoped, he had just gone for a look around below the choke (apparently we had turned round a metre or so before it ended).

Chilled to the bone, we made our way back up to the first of the wet chokes, and got another thorough drenching as we clambered up through it, rescuing the tacklesack on the way. We emerged to hordes of Three Peaks walkers making their way up Ingleborough. I spent most of the following evening trying to get warm again.

Time Underground: only 2hrs, but try standing under a cold power shower for a while and tell me it doesn't feel like a lot longer!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Edvin - I love your blog!

    I'm a national newspaper journalist in England who is part of a group putting together a new 'extreme' outdoor sports and travel website. The site is also an environmental and social and enterprising in design.

    As I'm putting together articles and sourcing videos and photos at the moment, I was wondering whether there was any chance of you submitting some copy for us on caving? I can obviously credit you and send you a link to the site when it's up?

    Maybe you would like to submit things on a regular basis further down the line?

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    Any help you can give us would be great. If you're interested, please get in touch at gemma.features@hotmail.co.uk

    Many thanks for reading

    Gemma Wise