Wednesday, 26 August 2015

A Traverse of the Brenta Dolomites

I seem to have the same love-hate relationship with via ferratas as I do with caving. As I'm clinging to a frayed metal cable half way up a cliff, legs shaking on a rusty stemple, it's not unusual for me to swear that this will be my last via ferrata and that when I get to the top, I will pack it all in and take up a hobby that involves sitting down. Yet later, when I've stopped hyperventilating, the vomitous terror of a kilometre of space beneath my feet seems to slip from my mind. I think to myself, "it can't really have been all that bad, can it?"

That's why Stuart was able to persuade me, along with Kathryn and Adrian, to join him on a 4-day hut-to-hut via ferrata trip in the Brenta Dolomites.

A first view of the Brenta Dolomites and Cima Tosa.

Monday, 16 February 2015

The Grind Traverse

14th February

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.