Yorkshire III

Photos

Arun Paul, David Wilson, James Wilson, Zaeem Najeeb, Lucie Studena, Matti Mitropoulos, Ellie Pizey, Leo Antwis, Chris Hayes, Oxmi Kelruc, Johannes Girsch, Astrid Rao, Julien Jean, Valery Kirenskis, Kevin Sohn, Fan

Friday

Little bit of faff packing the bus, but we were without roof rack once more and piling all our shit onto the back 3 seats takes up significantly less time than putting the tarp onto the roof so we were speeding out of Beit in no time. The shop featured quite some chaos: we were planning to make a stuffed peppers recipe that Chris had perfected at Cave house the week before, but it transpired the Morrisons we went to had a total of 0 peppers. And 0 eggs. So we improvised a bit and I was forced to give up making eggy bread in the morning, instead making cheesy bread – distraught.

I drove second and that meant extra fun country lanes - but a combination of self-restraint and particularly relaxing tunes meant no lives were endangered. Davey was proud.

At the hut Fan decided to whip out her mashed crickets and put together some protein balls made of crickets, immense amounts of peanut butter and golden syrup, and some porridge oats. Although they did look like literal turds they tasted very nice – almost like a soft, sweet granola bar. Kevin was weirdly triggered by the farmyard smell of the cricket bag.

Matti

Saturday

Gaping Gill Extravaganza: Everyone

Something rare happened – people woke up early. There were five of us cooking breakfast, truly a unique experience, unfortunately ruined by the shit cheesy bread I had been forced to make. Many opinions were thrown at me and I did my best but ultimately my lack of culinary skills shined through and they turned out terrible. I refused to accept any criticism though cos I’m crap at cooking even things I’ve cooked many many times, let alone something I’ve never made before.

A couple of ideas were thrown around for caves: Lost Johns, Kingsdale, Gaping Gill… Ultimately we went for last, figuring it would lend itself well to the relatively limited transport options. We also didn’t do it on Winter Tour so hadn’t done it in a while, and there were lots of people who had never seen the main chamber. Davey decided to go rogue however, and announced he wouldn’t go to the main chamber but instead visit Hensler’s Master Cave via Marylin. Some group haggling occurred, cricket balls were packed and shortly after we were speeding off on the bus. I tactically failed to mention the long walk to the novices during this who seemed rather annoyed at this when they found out.

A rather slow change at the bus with plenty of faff ensued, but we were eventually meandering up the track, chatting about everything from rent prices to diving in the Thames. Near the top we discussed a flawless method of keeping bar pot rigged until the very end: every group clips a braking krab to the top traverse line of bar as they exit, and if you arrive and there are 3 krabs attached, you derig it. Surely nothing could go wrong?

I had done the start of stream passage pot on my first winter tour, but had only made it to the bottom of the second pitch before we had to turn around, so was looking forward to seeing the rest of it. I do find though that the pressure of making it to the bottom before a turnaround makes the trip significantly less relaxed – I was definitely more stressed rigging the pitches than I would normally have been. Maybe I just need to chill out a bit. The rigging was good though, some fun quirks like ceiling bolts and long, long traverse lines kept it interesting. At the bottom, James, who had previously been fairly confident about the route, took the lead and almost immediately said, ‘hm there could have been a turning back there, I don’t quite remember this’, looking out into a gigantic cavern. We had a bit of a poke around in some side passages but of all of them James said he didn’t recognise them. I eventually remembered that I had thrown the cave phone into my SRT bag without thinking on the bus, so had a look if we happened to have the Gaping Gill description downloaded. By Golly we did. So we used that, combined with James’ superlative memory to make our way through the sandy caverns and stooping passages to the main chamber. We got there at a reasonable time – 16:30 when our turnaround time was 17:00, and given that we had the longest route we expected to be the last ones there. We were surprised, then, to find the main chamber completely soulless. We spent some time marvelling at the waterfall, but once it got to 16:55 we guessed that they had gotten there, gotten cold, and left slightly earlier so began to make our way out. That was when we met the Bar group – in the crawl, just before bar and stream split. We returned to the main chamber, and no one really seemed to know where they wanted to leave by so I went full fascist mode and allocated everyone to an exit. I wasn’t really feeling that energised so put myself on bar, what I presumed would be the fastest group out. Alas – my continued failure to recognise that experience makes a huge difference in caving speed shone through once more. I should’ve guessed, given we were the fastest group down despite having the longest route.

Johannes likes pitches

In the crawl back out, we bumped into the Flood group, who were slightly behind schedule. We agreed to do a complete group switcheroo – us out flood, them our bar – and we parted ways, them heading to the main chamber first. On the 60th Anniversary trip, Johannes had gotten extremely exhausted on the exact same trip (in bar out flood) but I, probably quite carelessly, figured it’d be fine. We made our way out, Lucie derigging, and me having lots of fun with the pantin I rightfully stole from Ellie, especially on the huge 60m pitch. Even though I consider myself the fittest I’ve ever been, I couldn’t quite manage to rope walk all the way up that, even with quick breaks at the deviations. While Julien and I were waiting at the top we chatted a bit and listened to some tunes on the phone, during which he admitted to accidentally shoplifting the day before.

At the bottom of the topmost pitch I figured we were likely to be the last group out, so I let the others know that I’d derig bar and zoomed out, instructing Julien to take out the bothy bag as soon as he got out. Visibility was horrendous on the surface – barely 5m with heavy winds and spitting rain. I had to wander around a bit to find bar but once located I dove down with extreme speed. I would never usually advocate for speed caving but I must admit it was extraordinarily fun to race down the ropes (taking care not to glaze them of course), sliding directly on the greasy slab, bounding across the boulder chamber and onto the next traverse line to the pitch head. The way out was slower, naturally, but I was out within half an hour.

On the surface I rejoined the group just as Lucie finished derigging the final pitch – perfect timing. We began to walk down when Julien called me back over the howling wind, saying we had forgotten an SRT bag. He looked around bewildered for a while, searching for this bag, then remembered it was a tackle sack not an SRT bag. He was clearly extremely cold but I couldn’t get any more information out of him. After a minute or so he just sat down in his bothy and didn’t move or respond any more. I got slightly concerned. I forced him up and told him to get start walking down at speed, catching up to Lucie and Johannes who had already begun walking. Firmly instructing them to move at a quick pace, I went back to get to the mystery bag. By the time I had caught up he seemed to be a little better, talking and walking normally. Once we were off the fell the wind died down and we reached the bus with half an hour till callout. A little closer than ideal but not dangerous.

That evening occurred The Chilli Incident. Davey was head chef for the modified pepperless stuffed peppers, oddly insisting that the amount of chilli on the recipe he had referenced was gospel despite us having changed basically everything else about the recipe. As it transpired, something about the recipe wasn’t quite right and the beany mixture ended up beyond spicy. I ate my share, diluting the spice with lots of rice, and considered myself lucky not to have any lasting effects. Others were not so fortunate – the sofas were all occupied by sprawling bodies for much of the evening.

Matti

Astrid likes tunnels

A classic ICCC start to the trip; several items were left behind in the NPC and an entire kitbag was left in stores. Due to poor weather and the long approach, Leo and I donned bothy bags instead of oversuits, this worked quite well. A long time later, everyone was changed, and the hike began.

The four groups began splitting just after the stile and we agreed to each leave a breaking crab at the top of Bar entrance to signify our exit, and the final group would de-rig. Finding Stream entrance took a while, but eventually Matti found it and began to rig his way down. The entrance pitch was little more than a downclimb, but rather drippy. Many meters of walking through a narrow rifted streamway led to the first proper pitch. I followed a few minutes behind Matti, leaving James and Lucy to make their own way. This pitch descended near to a waterfall and created a spray filled draft, so I hid away in a bothy for half an hour as the rigging continued. Third pitch was even closer to the waterfall with a very wet bottom. This could be mostly avoided by dropping the last 5 meters and leaping across the floor. Another pleasant 30-minute nap and I could descend the (dry) final pitch to join the others.

The way onwards was through two waterfalls, where again, my trusty bothy came in clutch, shielding me perfectly from both downpours. James was a little uncertain as to the way onwards when we reached the T junction, and we incorrectly turned left. This led to us having a great time in some brilliantly thick mud before finally consulting the description and turning around. A short constriction to the left after the T junction became a stooping passage which narrowed before we doubled back on ourselves, climbing upwards and left to traverse two mud slopes. The way onwards was bearing right; however, I found an alternative route to the left through some fun crawls and a downclimb. A large walking chamber led to a sandy section where we took another constriction into a stooping passage, this time on our right.

A long mud filled gallery met with the Flood and Bar entrance, so we took the left turn at the junction taking us to the main chamber. I had seen pictures before, but they never have prepared me for the sheer size of both waterfalls. No other groups had arrived yet, so we waited until the agreed turnaround time and made our way out. Of course, we then bumped into the Bar crew! So, we headed back into the main chamber for a little, before shuffling the groups around and heading out again. Of course, we then bumped into the flood crew! This time the Stream Team was not hanging around.

Ellie likes pipes

Knowing the way was a huge help, and we were twice as fast as on the way in. Once again, my trusty bothy came in clutch keeping me dry through both waterfalls. James headed up first, with Ellie second, followed by me, and then Astrid de-rigging. After waiting a while, Astrid finished her ascension, quite tired from some rigging acrobatics in Bar, so I let her continue out and took over de-rigging.

Quite warm from carrying two tackle sacks up the following pitches, I removed most of my top layers and found the spray quite pleasant. Everyone was waiting in the rift, and so I unloaded one of my bags, and Astrid and James headed out as I finished up furiously unscrewing maillons along the low headed traverse. James kindly pulled our bags up the entrance pitch, and we emerged into the darkness, promptly wandering off in the wrong direction. Eventually we met the path and oriented ourselves (we kept bearing right instead of turning left and going straight). Bar had two breaking crabs, gratefully we placed our third and trudged off to minibus.

Chris H

Sunday

I had full intentions not to cave this day: many things needed doing for easter tour and slov. This was one of the very few trips where I didn’t spend the following days severely dehydrated cos I drank so much tea on the Sunday.

Matti

Shuttleworth Pot: David Wilson, James Wilson, Lucie Studena, Leo Antwis, Chris Hayes, Julien Jean, Valery Kirenskis

Following last night's 'challenging' meal there was little interest in caving, and only 7 volunteered. All in Shuttleworth!

Julien likes pretties

We struggled to find the entrance, so next time: follow the path down and right after the final hump, and it's on the left just around the corner, 1m from the path. I was eager to do some more rigging, so James kindly followed second. The rigging was straightforward, and we reached the bottom with a little time to spare. Failing to account for the faff of a 7-person group we split in two to see the pretties as the stragglers descended.

The crawl was rather painful thanks to my lack of kneepads, why had I ever imagined the mud would be soft? Some nice pictures were taken, and the first group was well underway with their accent while the remaining 4 went to see the sump. A little concerned about time, we sent Lucy after the first group telling them to head for the minibus without us.

Julian led our exit, Davie hot on his heels, and me, faffing my way up the de-rig. (I did not get tangled by the in situ, and certainly did not drop a tackle sack and downprussiked a pitch.) As our Casio’s beeped 4pm, we crawled out the entrance tube and stormed our way back across the fells.

Chris H