Cavers: Chris Scaife, Alex Ritchie, Rob Santus
Although the day itself was sunny and clear, it had been a rainy week, so we chose something unaquatic for our first NFTFH trip since our lockdown in the time of Corona. We used Alex’s GPS to find the entrance – even though we have all been to Boggarts and its neighbour Trapdoor Pot several times, they’re not easy ones to find by traditional means. There was no rush, so we had a look at all of the Boggarts Roaring Holes, a group of pots of various depths. One was easily free-climbable, one had a trickle of a waterfall flowing down, which wasn’t going to dampen us.
I rigged the first three pitches with a 70m rope. A wide Y-hang for the entrance pitch, then a quick step over a dead sheep (they just love to throw themselves down this one) and an easy constriction to the short second pitch, feet first through a blasted crawl to the third pitch, which was a bit on the rope-rubby side using the P-bolts, but improved by moving the Y-hang on to the left wall. There’s a deviation a few metres down, and the rope continued down the fourth pitch, which is an easy free-climb and I imagine anyone who needs rope for this bit will struggle immensely elsewhere in the cave.
Rob then overtook me to rig the fifth and sixth pitches, with a 60m rope. The top of the fifth is approached by a crawl, then a bit of a reach for the Y-hang – always good to have something to dread for the return journey – and at the bottom, a traverse over deep holes before the sixth pitch, which drops down into Penguin Hall, the only sort of big bit of the cave.
Xaaaaaaaandah rigged the remaining pitches, which were reached after some crawling. The short Blind Man’s Bluff Pitch appears abruptly at the end of a flat-out crawl and is followed by a squeeze. Rob decided to be a crazy cat and pass his helmet through this squeeze and hand it to Alex, who was descending the next pitch. The pitch Alex was on had a thrutchy bit at the top, the next pitch-head was a bit more thrutchy and the final pitch was a walk in the park. Ascending the cave was straightforward – none of the pitch-heads caused any tantrums – and we were back in the World about five hours after we had stepped underground.
The last time I visited Boggarts was in February 2009 and with my memory as it is, this trip, eleven and a half years later, felt like a completely new cave.
For those who were not there, when Chris says Rob handed the helmet to me, he mean’s Rob pushed his helmet ahead of him and dropped it down the pitch, where I was by this time 6m below. However, I caught it so I guess you could call it a long pass.
Yes, that helmet anecdote is perfectly true. It slipped from my grasp and thankfully into Alex’s lap.
One thing to mention, the cave is virtually doable with SRT kits on the whole way but the short section between the 7th and 8th (I think) pitch is tight with SRT kit on and my chest jammer made it very tight and I’m about the same weight I was the last time I did it 12 years ago.