For those who don’t use UKCaving here is my trip report…
We have been looking to do this cave for a while and today we would actually finally get around to doing it. This cave is a wet weather day cave and is perfect for the rubbish weekend weather we have been having of late.
On our first attempt, we entered by Pip, thanks all the rope we took to rig Pip and our outward journey in mind with our foray into this extension was short. Only two of us went further than the first chamber (Extreme ways chamber) and having no topo to hand me and Don spent most of our time down a dead-end hole thinking it was the first pitch and scratching our heads as to where the way on was. It was only on the way out we spotted the unlikely looking rift leading up the other-side of the hole.
Our second attempt, last week, failed with us failing to even get into Mistral cave due to the swollen back
Link pot pictured
Four of us present for this trip, me, Don, Mike and Chris Shaman. With 3 ropes and 2 ladders this weekend we hoped we would finally visit Extreme ways.
After a very windy hike across the fells we were soon in the Mistral hole. We lugged the gear through the boring and often squalid crawls of Mistral and after about 30 – 40 minutes and a “light-off” contest (Who had the brightest light, Earthworm won) we made it to Gour chamber, the point where most sensible people turn around.
A discussion ensued of who was going to go in first to bail the duck, I had done it last time so Mike volunteered to do it, but we need not had worried, the water does not seem to have filled up much since I last bailed it. It was more just a damp though very flat out crawl. From here is a nicely decorated chamber which gets visited from time to time, I guess as it requires no gear. However from here things start to get more interesting.
First is a slot climb, that apparently needs a hand-line, I can’t see how it would help we managed to squirm up quite easily as you can get your foot on the ledge behind you its not too bad, and is one of the easier obstacles. Immediately afterwards is the pit, that me and Don wasted our time in on our last trip. This we used the hand-line on, as going across and back up the other-side is interesting to say the least with all that slippery mud covered rock.
Up aforementioned rift is a tube ends that ends at a pitch, the ladder was rigged by Don to a natural on the left (Lugger’s legup). We had decided to give this ladder thing a go, as the pitch afforded no room to put on gear. Getting on the ladder was interesting to say the least, I should have really brought my cows tails for this. There was no room here for anyone to lifeline the top. Everyone had their own approach, some slithered out and grabbed a-hold of the anchor the ladder was attached to, I opted for staying high in the rift and then slid my legs down onto a ledge. Then came the descent itself with squeeze halfway down that suddenly opens out. Finding the rungs here was interesting, I lost count of how many times I said “I hate f**king ladders!” For me this trip had all that I hated i.e. unprotected sky dives and ladders! No lifeline too here as it would just get in the way on tight middle section to I yes, I really enjoyed this bit.
Anyway once at the bottom it became quite a nice cave, big tall rift led us to an open pitch (laddered and life-lined) which landed us in a large chamber (Hall of Eleven)
Did I mention this place is muddy?
From here the cave degenerated again into a struggled along the bottom of a rift a struggle through thick mud. We tried traversing over but the walls were so slippery we could not get any purchase and just slid back down into the mud. We followed the rift at the bottom (I have now read that was wrong) fighting the cave and mud all the way. At the bottom the route ended at a choke. Don had gone above from further back but from what he said the only way on was a dangerous looking hole up through a slippery rift and he was not willing to try it. That was likely the way on but it was as far as we would get. We were very near to the end.
So a muddy grotty cave, with barely any redeeming features, I can’t wait to go back!
Good write up, Alex. This was one of the most enjoyable trips that I’ve done for a long time, in terms of challenges, though there was nothing really difficult. Still, it’s not often that you get to exit a skydive straight above a pitch. The only other place that I can think of where I’ve had to do this before is the exit from Roly Poly passage in Peterson Pot.
It’s worth mentioning the rigging for the second laddered pitch into the Hall of Eleven. This consists of two, rusty in-situ plates joined by a ratty piece of tat. The lifeline was belayed to a stalagmite at shoulder level about 15-20 feet back from the pitch head. We used our own sling in place of the tat that was already there, with the ladder and rope rigged directly from the sling, not from the rusted plates.
Having looked at the picture of us in Hall of the Eleven, I’m very glad that I washed my oversuit in the stream when we got back to Bull Pot Farm.
Yes glad we brought that extra rope, turned out we needed all 3! Its always worth bringing extra tat when embarking on an unknown trip.
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