Avalanche I


 When I stepped into an avalanche,
 It covered up my soul;
 When I am not this hunchback that you see,
 I sleep beneath the golden hill. - **Leonard Cohen**


First Trip (Avalanche 1): James Kirkpatrick, Jarvist Frost 8/9-4-08

- Canon A520, on camera flash


Fairly intense midweek 24hours of non stop action. Walked directly up to Bar Pot with far too much stuff from Clapham train station, got changed just in time to chat to some primary school kids on a holiday camp being led up to have a look at Gaping itself.

Sweet looking girl "Have you ever been really injured caving?"

Smile, grin, punch the dynamic rope a bit deeper in the tackle sac.

Underground at 5:30pm or so, James rigs the big pitch we easily find our way to the main chamber (ignoring the temptation of the scratched 'H'). Way on was a little obscure, as I'd never been to Mudhall before. The permanently rigged traverse lines were rather comedy - bolts that were most assuredly older than myself (apparently 1981(!) according to John Gardner), and rope that looked nice and chunky until you peeled off the layers of mud and found the ancient twisted core. Pretty impressive hole that you were skirting round as well! Chunky shackles and a big fat chain as a handline were nice nautical touches.

Bimbled along boulder hopping and arrived at our destination - boulder chamber, with a 10.5mm white Lanex rope dangling proudly from the ceiling.

James shot up with the tackle, cue twenty minutes picking my nose listening to him grunt at the pitch head. Sat off the base of the pitch in the nice little hangout under a poised rock with a good shelf for a stove / carrymat to loiter on. Once James had crushed his demons, I popped up to join him and we proceeded bag less to see how the going was to Rainbow inlet itself. Absolutely spacious and fine...

James popped back to enjoy the company of the bag (Big Bertha), while I fiddled with my camera and looked around. With my Bisun, I could see the top of the pitch (it was totally dry). There appeared to be a continuation to the left-hand side of the SRT Y-hang, amongst the white curtains. Irritatingly the SRT pitch goes up an alcove that shelters the view from the pitch-head.

We checked out the little crawl inlet on the right (No name? Can we suggest Grotty Inlet?), then James ascended half way and bounced across to far side of shaft (to left of SRT ropes) where an immature streamway appears to drop in. Didn't seem too promising and it caused the rope to rub. James descended and I went slowly up the shaft having a look around. Grotty Inlet appears to be fed from above by drips. At the top these appeared to come from a calcited climb that went up about 5m away from the pitch head. 2/3 of the way along was a rawl bolt with hanger placed in the ceiling, I assume placed by John & Mike.

James joined me and we considered the climbing possibilities. He went as far as the bolt with the SRT rope, declared that it was possible and concurred that this probably wouldn't be the most sensible place in the world to trust your life to your first bolt. He pendulum'd back and we fettled with our climbing gear. I went out with bolt kit and belayed on dynamic by James. Reached the bolt and clipped long cows in, allowing me to gain a stance standing up in this inlet with my back jammed against the calcited far wall of the chamber. Extremely pretty from up here - but very exposed!

The perfect white curtains are visible just across the way (but block the sight of any exits from the shaft on that side). Helictites abounded in this little cupboard of calcite, the way on was an easy walk up a precipitous calcite staircase which led up to a landing of sorts that may or may not go on. However, with the return dubious and the fall a 30-odd metre drift to the bottom - some protection would be nice! The sole bolt seemed solid enough, but the belay rope would rub directly over the jagged edge below.

Attempted to place a bolt (Spit) from this awkward standing position on the left hand wall. Broke through the calcite after 10mm or so to find grey mud bubbling into the bolt hole. Not good. Lowered myself to around the placed bolt and tapped around - a lot of rotted rock. Quite drippy here below the bolt - I guess this must feed the grotty rift and then inlet below.

Gently clambered sideways down rock face and pendulusly made my way back to the SRT rope. One of the 'good' footholds that I had used flopped off onto my helmet as I held it before tumbling below. The joy of exploration.

Both descended with gear and ate some lunch. In consideration of the time pushing 11pm and the first yawns of the evening, we decided to stash the pushing gear here and make a gentle exit.

Bimble home had a few navigation excitements: the passage to the main chamber was unfamiliar but we dead-reckoned our way through (good draft to follow after mud hall), had a few moments of consideration on our way back to Bar and then managed to get ourselves 'temporarily off the beaten track' a few times between the two pitch ropes!

Broke surface sometime around 0:45am, put the kettle on and popped out the mobile to cancel our call out - 5 bars of reception with O2 from the hillock directly above Bar Pot. I spent a while struggling out of my 'chest harness', which in this instance was the knotted cord from the hood of my Meander oversuit. Functional, but rather garrotte-tastic when carrying a tacklesac up.

Useless camping gas stove was too cold, so tea was tepid but welcome none-the-less. A quick assault on the remains of the Pitta bread and we packed up shop and considered where to sleep (now 2am ish). Hoping that the weather would hold (overcast, with occasional drizzle) we simply camped up above Bar on the well drained ground near the path.

James was up at 6am, admiring the dusting of snow that had blown into our Bivi bags and soaked us as we slept. James made black tea then walked up Ingleborough while I clung to my humid somnolence. We were rather amused to discover the Olive Oil had frozen solid. Set off for town around 8am, taking our time with water laden loads. Napped on the concourse and emptied our Daren drum of food - was quite warm once the sun was up!

Back in Caving Stores @ South Kensington for 4pm, shovelling our stinking furies into the washing machines.



From main chamber, turn right (East) and scramble up boulders to perm. rigged ladder. Undulate along following draft till you get to a big chamber (mud hall) perm. rigged traverse ropes on right hand side take you along then down (via chain) to col, then off again on old rope along RHS of chamber to muddy clamber. Undulate along for a bit to get to boulder chamber, which will have the Avalanche Inlet rope dangling down. Slippery mud on climb down to rope.

First pitch is very nice, disappearing behind enormous rock flake that divides chamber. New route takes you out along rift then doubles back over the top and into classic keyhole passage with a >body sized top tube and plenty of foot holds. Floor rises to meet you and passage expands into just walkable, taking you to the C3 next to a tiny trickle waterfall. 1973 Guardian is on true left side around here very close to floor height.

Rainbow inlet is close to top of climb. When we were there a tiny trickle of water came down from the rift above the tiny crawl space to the immediate right. This inlet goes for around 15m of increasingly smaller crawling to reach the limit of exploration (noted by the sudden reappearance of intact straws) before appearing to shut down, but with a slim possibility that it continues around in the water to the left. Main volume of water drops in from above in immature rift, which in turn appears to be fed by the calcited climb across the shaft from the pitch head.

Gear Left

Survey tape, bolt driver + hammer + 7 (spits, cones, maillons, hangers), 60m dynamic rope.

Clapham Bombing Run: Travel Logistics

�24 return ticket London Kings X <> Clapham. Four or so connecting services during weekdays. Train left Kings X 10:35, arrived Leeds 1pm ish, finally rocked up in Clapham 3pm. Home was 11:37 from Clapham, into Leeds at 12:54 then onwards to London at 13:05 (tight connection), arriving 15:40.

Fresh water (stand pipe) and free toilets in Clapham (National Trust) Car Park, near New Inn.

Research Jan 2008

The paragraph in our 25yr history reads: ( see /old/lib/lib.php )

"Maypoling began at an even immediately before Boulder Chamber but this met with failure. Resorting to aid climbing, they traversed out from Far East Passage to reach the central back wall of Boulder Chamber, and from here started bolting up the wall. At a point 21m up the wall directly above Avalanche Pot a restricted hole led to 50m of active keyhole-shaped passage. Some climbs followed, then some pools (with cave pearls), after which was another aven. Scaling 24m up this, a short traverse entered a superbly decorated grotto. Here more short climbs and traverses led to yet another aven. Off to one side of this, the water was followed up clims of 10m and 11m, a short section of passage and a further 10m climb. Yet more traverses and climbs finally reached a strongly draughting, but hopelesssly tight calcited hole, requiring vey liberal applications of Dr Nobel's Linctus. This point has since been shown to be within 3m of the surface and very close to Grange Rigg Pot."

Extensive work done by Mike Wooding & John Gardner 05-06: http://www.braemoor.co.uk/cavingtrip/ap.shtml

Seems they replaced and supplemented our orig. exploration ropes (with 10.5mm Lanex), retrieved rusting heaps of electron ladders (naughty us) and rebolted with rawl bolts (10mm for y's and 8mm for rebelay / bolt climbs?). Orig lead sounds dead, but traverses possible?

John Gardner pointed the way to extended plan + elevation surveys, based on the 70s LUCC ones: http://www.braemoor.co.uk/cavingtrip/apxsection.shtml & http://www.braemoor.co.uk/cavingtrip/applan.shtml

'Roger' (Roger Bowser?) commented on the now defunct Google Friendconnect:

"I'm amazed that Bill Frost's Guardian is still intact - he always used to read a paper while we were bolting!"