Cavers: Chris Scaife, Chris Sharman, Don Miller, Alex Ritchie
Weather: warm and sunny, but a bit of rain during the week
We went up to Gaping Gill to make use of the fixed ropes laid out by our friends at the BPC. Disappointment was not rigged, but Marilyn, which joins Disappointment after the second pitch, was, so we took a 25m rope to pull through the first two pitches and rig Echo Rift.
We were quickly through the thrutchy entrance series and into the short duck, the Portcullis. As a nod to history, club historian Dr R.Don offered to pull all of our pants down at this point, but we fought back and passed the duck in the more modern fashion, in neoprene hoods and on our backs.
The first pitch was rigged carelessly for a pull through and I, as last man down, must take the blame. The rope got tangled into a Gordian knot as I was pulling it, and R.Don had to save the day with his Herculean untangling, heroically ignoring Alexander’s ruthless suggestion from below. Once that unpleasantness had been dealt with, we swiftly descended the next pull through pitch, which Sharman and Xaaaaandah had free climbed, and were onto the fixed ropes from Marilyn into Hensler’s Master Cave.
This huge passage gave us a few minutes of joy, then after a stoopy section we went up a rickety old ladder to Far Country. At the Blowhole squeeze, Sharman turned back around and headed out Marilyn, leaving the three musketeers to soldier on. We got to Echo Rift pitch and it was rigged, so we’d brought the rope all this way for nothing. Not to worry. We put our hoods back on for the 3m, low airspace Southgate Duck. There’s a fair bit of crawling from here, which we interrupted with a worthwhile detour into the very well-decorated Northgate.
Slipping down a hole in the floor of Clay Cavern led into Far Waters, starting as more crawling and finishing walking through neck deep water. There were a few low sections towards the end requiring facial immersions, and the last few metres of Far Waters were sumped. None of us felt like a blind free dive so we stopped at the sump and began the long return journey.
At the foot of Echo Rift pitch we got back into our SRT kits with difficulty, barely able to use our frozen hands. A minor injury I had inflicted upon myself in Far Country on the inward journey was not getting any less painful, but inspired by R.Don’s earlier bravery I persevered and about seven hours after going down together, we came out together, emerging from a loose, unstable Marilyn in bright sunshine.
Ahh good you wrote something, it would have been a short entry for me. Not all of us had frozen hands at the bottom, but my gloves are already starting to wear after 2 (long trips) is it worth the cost for warm usable hands?
Oh and Shaman told me it was he who broke the ent.
I went down the same way on Sunday and I braved for the free-dive at the end. It was about a meter long quite good one but I emerged in a tiny ‘chamber’ from where the rest looked absolutely suicidal
Yes, I stepped on a chockstone about 4m down the entrance, and it shifted, as did the quite large rock behind it, and a couple of tons of infill behind that.
I exited carefully and told the BPC.
You seem to have made quite good time after the blowhole – almost wish I’d come, but I was fairly cold and it was looking like a very late finish.
Aye it was about a 2 and half hr round trip from there. Took us about an hour and a half to get there due to route finding, only 45 minutes to return. (all guesses though).
What do you mean you blocked the entrance?!! Are you talking about Marilyn? The whole place was loose. I don’t remember anything loose below the entrance though.
Who said he blocked the entrance? I said he broke it. BPC then would not let anyone down. I did not notice anything loose on the entrance pitch, I guess Shaman was climbing it where as we just used the rope so we would not have stepped on anything.
Typical Sharman. At least this time there was no one beneath him, thank God. (Just remembering the trip to F.O.U.L. Pot where I was at the bottom of the shored entrance and he kicked an old board down on top of me – accidentally I’m sure!). I wonder who’s more of a liability underground – Sharman or Daz?
To be fair to Chris he did not kick it down he leant on it, it broke, then it fell down.
I’m deeply offended.
I didn’t kick it, it was completely rotten, and just gave up as I leant over the pot. Consider yourself lucky I didn’t land on you.
Yes Chris, you just repeated what I said hehe.