Cavers: Chris Scaife, Don Miller, Adele Ward
We parked at Dale Head and walked along the path to the dry valley, then crossed the wall and found the elaborately-fenced entrance in a shakehole. Down the easy, but not-entirely-certain-this-is-stable entrance climb and into the short flat-out crawl, with a small stream, up a climb and along to the in situ wooden ladder at the first pitch. After passing some nice formations, Don gracefully rigged the second pitch and then, slightly less gracefully, dropped his helmet down the rift, but much more gracefully retrieved it using a makeshift static rope fishing line and a hook made by cable-tying open the gate of a carabiner. In the bombastic argot so prevalent in modern language, he could be described as beyond genius, on another level.
If you thought Don’s helmet drop lacked elegance, you should have seen me rigging the Man O’ War Pitch. Not knowing where the re-belay bolts were situated, I rigged the wide Y-hang in a way that seemed to avoid rope rub, but as I descended towards the re-belay, I looked up and saw that there was an epic* amount of rub and that to swing across to the bolts would be suicide.* Despondently, I returned to the pitch head, adjusted the rigging so that the rope was much closer to the left wall and went back down. The last time I had done FOUL Pot, it had rained so much that the lower part of this pitch had felt like a battle for survival, but this time, despite a few days of quite heavy rain, it was just a bit drippy. After another short pitch and a slippery slope to the final pitch, which again needed careful rigging to avoid rope rub, we were crawling along to the sump. On the way out, we repeatedly told Adele that we weren’t normally like this, just having an off day. The water levels had increased a bit, but still no Poseidon Adventure and that short flat-out crawl near the entrance is an excellent place to trap your tackle sack.
*Bombastic argot again, sorry.
‘The last time I had done FOUL Pot, it had rained so much that the lower part of this pitch had felt like a battle for survival, but this time, despite a few days of quite heavy rain, it was just a bit drippy.’
You must have gone up a different pitch than me because this was one of the wettest pitches I’ve ever had the pleasure to ascend. Some might even call it epic.
I suppose, now you mention it, that part was a little bit foul.
. . . but much more gracefully retrieved it using a makeshift static rope fishing line and a hook made by cable-tying open the gate of a carabiner.
Guess he remembered that from when I retrieved his harness after he dropped it down the rift at the end of Roly Poly in Petersons – only I had to make do with loose threads from my oversuit to hold the krab open