David Wilson, Fiona Hartley, James Wilson, Jarvist Frost, Ana Teck, Matti Mitropoulos, Ellie Pizey, Jan Kożuszek, Astrid Rao, Julien Jean, Laura Temple, Fan, Jergus Strucka
Things went generally quite smoothly packing the bus, we had enough space for enormous quantities of rope so we could just throw it all in the back. I got a text from Ana around 5:30 saying her lab had exploded so she had to clean that up and would be late, so we were waiting at the bus for ten minutes or so before we saw her sprinting across the zebra crossing and we jumped in and zoomed off at high speed. At the NPC we met Max who had been drinking with the Yorkists for a while so was already quite merry when we arrived. People gradually trickled to bed until it was just me and him chatting about YUCPC politics at 3am.
King Pot: Jarvist Frost, Ana Teck, Ellie Pizey, Astrid Rao, Jergus Strucka
Prelude to the Yorkshire trip took place two weeks prior – when I asked Jack Halliday if he thought that King Pot would be a good choice for my second Yorkshire cave experience. He answered with a clear no punctuated by a short talk about how the caving rescue services operate. Encouraged by this, I quickly sent an email to Matti that I’d be keen on going to King Pot.
Two weeks later, on Saturday morning, I woke up a little earlier and helped with the breakfast preparations. Matti asked me if I insisted on going to King Pot - I calmly said that I did not insist (internally, I did). After a not so brief period of faff, the groups were decided and I was going to King Pot with Ana, Astrid, Ellie, and Jarv.
Changing in the Kingsdale car park, I remembered the freezing experience of Simpson’s pot in November. Somewhat delirious, I chose to wear a layer of thermals, below a second layer of thermals, under a furry, with a PVC oversuit. It seemed a very good idea for approximately 10 minutes – until we walked out of the car park.
The walk to King Pot was extremely warming and culminated in what I would describe – based on a sample size of two – as a classic Yorkshire field. Ana and Jarv were discussing if the hole next to King Pot was the one with ‘the tree’ or the one next to the one with ‘the tree’ and if ‘the tree’ was even there anymore. It turns out it is still there, and Ana found the entrance very swiftly.
The entrance to King Pot was quite steep and narrow – a combination I find to be very enjoyable. Ellie was rigging the pitches and Jarv appeared to inspect every knot with utmost meticulousness, tidying them one by one. Astrid and I walked into a few incorrect side tunnels attempting to follow them. Eventually, we found the right path and enjoyed a bunch of crawls, a fun traverse, and stopped at the T-passage.
The T-passage seemed a lot less bad than everyone makes it seem. It was quite a warming and tortuous exercise to traverse it. Ana was in front of me pulling the tackle sack. I imagine this made the exercise quite a bit more warming for her. In the middle of the T-passage Jarv told us that he was not quite comfortable and will turn back. After a brief chat, we decided to get to the end of the T-passage, turn back, and get out of the cave.
Ellie made it out of the T-passage, smoothly followed by Ana. Things got quite exciting for me when I made it to the end. Approximately two metres from the end, I realised that my shoulders made it necessary to traverse out in a strenuous vertical position. I decided not to do this and instead pushed forward with all my strength – getting my shoulder well-stuck in the passage. It was sometime during this brief period that Ana advised me something along the lines of ‘do not be afraid and push forward, you will not get stuck’. I mumbled something to myself.
I realised what I had to do, but I also knew that we’d be turning back, and I’d have to do it twice in a row. I decided to turn around within the T-passage, as did Astrid, and traversed out. Soon after, Ana and Ellie also emerged out of the T-passage with Ana looking somewhat thrilled by the entire experience. We were unsure if it was a good idea to do the passage there and back in one go, but I am sure it could be a good exercise (competition caving: who does it more times in a row without getting stuck?).
The way out was quite uneventful, we faffed about the cave a little. I was melting in my four layers of thermals and chose to take a full body shower in the waterfall at the entrance pitch. Eventually, we re-emerged into the cold wind of Yorkshire Dales. I was cold again.
Rumbling Hole: James Wilson, Julien Jean, Laura Temple
Rowten Pot: David Wilson, Matti Mitropoulos, Jan Kożuszek, Fan
Breakfast would prove whether an Avant Garde choice of bread from James during the shop would prove a success or not – he had grabbed fresh wholemeal loaves, extremely thickly sliced instead of the usual loaf since they were on offer. Although I was initially sceptical, they proved a massive success. They were much easier to cook, tasted much better, and soaked up more eggy-milky mixture than I thought would be possible. 100% will do again. Unfortunately the shop we went to was completely out of tomatoes so I hurriedly replaced them with grapes at the checkout, thinking little of it. This didn’t really seem to go down very well at the table – the Yorkists enjoyed taking the piss out of them quite a bit. I thought they fitted in quite well tbh…
Groups were chosen – A crack team down King, and two novicy trips down Rumbling and Rowten. It had been raining a fair amount the last few days so some concern was expressed about Rumbling but ultimately the trip went ahead. Jarv made fun of me for faffing for excessive amounts of time but I thought it was mostly conducted quite efficiently – we were on the bus at a fairly normal time, only almost taking Laura to completely the wrong place.
After changing in the Kingsdale car park the King and Rowten teams took a quick photo and headed off. Up the hill we went and vibed in the wind while Davey rigged the entrance drop. Jan down next, followed by Fan and I. I gave Fan a quick SRT rundown on the drop as it was her first SRT cave but mostly trusted she would ask before doing anything potentially dangerous.
I had never been to Rowten before but found it a thoroughly enjoyable cave. Starting off as a pretty yet sheltered open shaft, after the first descent it moved into a tight traverse in the roof of a cavernous chamber, dropping down into it shortly after. Then some trickier SRT brought us to another traverse, dropping down next to the bottom waterfall. Here Davey wanted to brave the thundering pool to look at the sump, but the rest of us decided it wasn’t worth getting wet for. I did bring an enormous block of marzipan down and excitedly cracked it open at the bottom, but unfortunately the others did not share my enthusiasm for it and once again I ate about half of it myself, totalling about a thousand calories on that alone.
The way out was a little slow but mostly uneventful; Fan got really hung up just above the last traverse, requiring me to prussik up the same rope to give her a leg up, but managed the rest of the SRT without too much difficulty.
We were out of the cave at quite a reasonable time so were expecting to have to wait for the King group for an hour or two but were surprised to find they were already back and changed. Shockingly, all of the groups had gotten out at a normal time, though the Rumbling team hadn’t had the nicest experience unfortunately, spending a lot of time at the bottom of a deafening waterfall. That was the only thing that I didn’t really like about Rowten – the whole cave is very loud since its basically just a series of huge waterfalls.
Food was well underway when we got to the hut, and we had a nice chill evening chatting and drinking. Once again it was just me and Max left at the end, and we discussed random shit until about 3am again.
Gavel Pot: David Wilson, James Wilson, Jan Kożuszek, Julien Jean, Laura Temple
Rumbling Hole & Death's Head: Matti Mitropoulos, Astrid Rao
Jergus and Laura were up at a fairly early time too today so I wasn’t soloing breakfast for very long this time, mainly keeping an eye on the superlative eggy bread and the hash browns. The grapes got a new round of slandering, but we decided groups with relative speed. A lost John’s Johns’ Exchange was suggested by Jarv but we needed a team to go down Rumbling to retrieve a bag dropped there yesterday, and Astrid was very keen to go down Death’s Head to recover her head torch dropped down the enormous entrance shaft on Winter Tour onto Kevin’s head. I was sceptical we would have time to get down both caves on a Sunday but we packed rope for both.
I had been down Rumbling twice before but it was still great fun to rig, especially the nasty hanging rebelay right at the entrance. Recovering the bag in no time, we decided we wanted to be in the dark for at least a little bit so ran down the streamway and jumped down the climbs to the top of the second pitch before turning around. I was reminded of my tall-people-privilege again when I was able to do the climbs way further back than Astrid was, essentially keeping myself dry while she got completely soaked.
Astrid derigged, and just as she was doing the last few rebelays and was obviously fine, I ran down the fell to rig Deaths Head for speed. We got down in no time, and had a quick look around the bottom, and sure enough, I found her head torch sitting neatly on a rock in the small space below the false floor of the main shaft. Presumably someone had previously found it and positioned it for maximum findability – many thanks. Just like Rumbling we exited with immense speed, and I chilled on the surface while Astrid derigged. I was waiting in the wind for a while so put on some hype tunes to bop to while waiting. Bon Jovi and Guns and Roses kept me headbanging for long enough to let Astrid derig, and we were back at the bus even before the other group. Unfortunately Davey had hidden the minibus key so well I couldn’t find it at all, so just ended up waiting 15 minutes for them to return. Wasn’t that bad though – that at least gave us time to neatly coil the rope.
While we were doing the final clean of the hut, the farmer approached the minibus and started rather pointedly analysing the tread pattern of the tyres. After I approached him he ushered me over to the grass verges lining the track leading up to the house. He began by politely explaining that he mows them meticulously with his lawn mower, taking care not to run them over with his 9ft-wide vehicle as he enters and exits. He then directed my attention to a rather large gauge in the verge made by the 7ft minibus and got very angry indeed. I tried to apologise and explain that we understand his frustration but don’t think I expressed myself very well so he left quite pissed off. There’s only so many times I can assure him we make an effort and it won’t happen again. As we left the gate Davey thoughtfully ran over the opposite verge to restore symmetry to the aesthetic.
Valley Entrance: Fiona Hartley, Ana Teck
I drove up in the morning as I'm only an hour away from the NPC. Ana and I had a chill trip playing with microtraxions and pulleys at the pitch in Valley, practising setting up spare rope Z-rigs for hauling a human up a pitch/along a traverse in an actual cave. I hauled Ana up the pitch and it was moderate effort and time. Would not recommend requiring it. Please try to not need to be self-rescued. Ana had never been below the pitch so we quickly stomped upstream in the master cave to see the beautiful water, then went back to the pitch and had a go at a Spanish Pendulum from memory. Neither of us remembered the requirements so we unsuccessfully tried to counter-haul each other up with body-weight; fun nonetheless. Exited to mizzle.