Dave Kirkpatrick, David Wilson, James Perry, James Wilson, Jennifer R, Úna Barker, Ana Teck, Linus Thümmel, Margherita Buraschi, Astrid Rao, Liam Gallagher
Liam, Linus and I got to Waterloo Station on time but the train didn’t, so we waited for 30 minutes in the scorching station and boarded the 19:20 train to West Byfleet. Did some shopping at Waitrose and James drove us to the hut. Later that night, Liam and I were trying to recall the SRT skills from the tree training ages ago and, shamefully, I somehow thought that we’d use the chest and hand jammer for descend and confused Liam. Until James came in and answered all our questions on how to get pass a rebelay.
Swildon's short round: David Wilson, James Wilson, Astrid Rao, Liam Gallagher
Though I was keen to do more SRT trips, just couldn’t say no to Swildon’s Hole, which supposed to be, according to Ellie and I quote, “only the best cave in Mendip”. We were going to take the Short Round Trip and planned to get out before 5pm, before it starts pouring rain. While gearing up, I put the wetsuit on wrongly twice, inside out and back to front. The entrance has a blockhouse over it so it wasn’t hard to find. The cave was dryer than usual and the waterfall below the entrance was no where to be seen. Apart from a ladder climb at the P20, the rest of the journey was all freeclimbing, which was quite fascinating, especially after falling into a pool of unknown dept and found the water was only below my waist. Got quite scared when I lost grip since I asked David how deep was the pool to which he responded “very”, or I might’ve misheard. Came across an almost vertical passage, tried and failed to do the climb due to lack of longs limbs and strength, James offered his shoulder and lifted my foot up so that I could reach the next boulder. Then twisted my shoulder on a really slippery platform before going down the Blue Pencil passage, luckily it recovered quickly. We then did a lot of feet first crawling and squeezing down the Blue Pencil, at some point I misplaced my right foot and it got stuck in front of me, did split to get out, bad decision, should’ve just crawl up and descend again properly. Then we reached Swildon’s Four (or Three, my memory fails me), paid Sump 3 and 4 a visit before heading back up the blue pencil passage, endless crawling. Super exhausting but lots of fun. Double Trouble follows, the air gaps were huge, James managed to crawl the first duck while the rest of us got on our back and got through quite smoothly. It was freezing yet refreshing, the wetsuit did its job of keeping me warm most time. Saw some buckets at one of the ducks and tubes leading to somewhere behind us, used to extract water from the duck, still confused about exactly how it works. Visited Sump 2 before proceeding to Sump 1, so that’s Sump 1 through 4 in a day, nice. David and James observed that the water was much lower than usual and freedivable, but then decided not to. Found two huge road signs, couldn’t remember where and when exactly, and James, as the only one with a mobile, took a picture for the rest of us. Wondered aloud how people managed to get the almost human size board down the cave. Finally we reached Sump 1, David reassured us that it’s a really quick dive before charging through and soon enough, three tugs on the rope. I then followed, took a
not-so-deep breath before submerging my head, and was out before actually had to hold my breath. Come to think of it, I haven’t been under water for so long that the thought of it terrifies me before the dive, but after reaching the other side of the Sump, I yearned for more dives. The journey back was enjoyable but I was a bit drained. When we got to the P20, I had to overlap both hands just to stay on the ladder and took a break halfway up. While waiting at the top of the pitch, panting and feeling a bit light-headed, the water running through and over my wellies seemed to me like souls leaving my body and down the waterfall into the pitch. I led the way for the rest of the trip and was instructed to follow the stream, like in the wild. Was quite successful right before the ending, when I took the wrong turn, could’ve swore there was water coming out the hole, and did a difficult squeeze to enter a small chamber. Liam and David followed but James found the right way and was soon above us. Liam then managed to discover a squeeze that led us out the chamber and soon enough, daylight. We were in the cave for 5 hours, David said it took them around 3h (more or less, memory fails me again) to do the short round trip. Wasn’t bothered to pay for hot water back at the hut and took a refreshing cold shower. Burrito for dinner, delicious.
Thrupe Lane Swallet: Dave Kirkpatrick, James Perry, Jennifer R, Úna Barker, Ana Teck, Linus Thümmel, Margherita Buraschi
I promised to arrive before Dave woke up. I failed. I cooked breakfast because I was hungry. This forced everyone to get up earlier than they would like.
Thrupe, thrupe, let's go. Third time in as many months. I should get this cave to my most caved in cave on the imperial website. As I expected and couldn't be bothered to fix when people were kit packing, the rigging guide for thrupe had caused confusion. This is because the way marble streamway comes in looks like teleportation. For future reference, it comes in at the top of the waterfall drawn. This is not marked in anyway on the rigging guide and I am rapidly approaching the point of drawing my own. This would however require me to do high atlas and other routes and I currently lack the motivation to do that much prussicking.
Me and Dave started standing in the front door of the Wessex in the hope that would make people move. Debatable effect. Dave: "Perry's meatstick is bigger than mine".
I tried to lose Dave on the way to the cave. I was rewarded for my mean intentions by a large flock of cyclists appearing on the road and going the same way. Thanking me at the turning that I was indicating the same way for was not appreciated.
Everytime I enter thrupe I wonder why I have returned. I threw some non imperial standing rigging in place including a fig eight bunny ears. Perseverance was small and grabby. The cave is grabby.
I do like thrupe.
Rigging lateral was exactly as I expected. Horror inducing. Sitting straddling the rock was a mistake. Once I was stood and loading my descender life had improved. Dave believed me to be weak and feeble not realising that the giant hole around me was on all sides. I was very relieved to have my arse hit the wall. I put in the deviation to see its effect. It makes things worse. Unless descending in a waterfall is your kink.
I ducked under the wall to the bottom of Slither pot to see where Ana & co was. Shouted hellos and giggled at the sounds of confusion on the other side of the wall. Ana came down and I sent her to greet the others, instructing her to only say that she got there by following the water. Sadly Dave proved to be keen eyed and spotted the tiny opening at the floor.
Something something let's go look at the sump. Erm that isn't sumped where it should be. That's both cool and also very strange why is it so dry.
Left out Slither, ew mud. Dave derigs. Una had her long cowstail fall off.
Una was hormone nuked. Highly amusing. I quite enjoy unexpectedly boosting her up a climb.
Climbs above the streamway are fun. Dave: "the closer you are to danger the further you are from harm". I cleverly handed the bag to Linus but then felt bad and offered to carry it up perseverance.
Why would I do that. Perseverance sucks even more with a big bag below you. Amazingly it didn't get stuck. This was particularly good as the donkeys dick was longer than my leg by a half again.
Climbs are harder on the way up. Una's light went out so I went up to provide luminance. Then back down to meet Linus.
I don't know why but I expected a nice cooling breeze from the surface. This wasn't true.
I got cold within five minutes anyway.
I've become one of those strange people but that is a cave massively improved by greater water.
Returned to the hut to help make delicious burritos under the guidance of masterchief James.
Perry licked all the ducks on the Wessex ceiling.
"At what point do I kick him?"
"Now!" Una furiously whispered.
Sludge Pit: David Wilson, James Wilson
Hunter's Hole: James Perry, Ana Teck, Linus Thümmel, Margherita Buraschi, Astrid Rao, Liam Gallagher
Glastonbury: Jennifer, Una, DKP
I will eventually Sunday cave again. Instead I took Una and Dave to the land of the hippies.