Saturday 14th September 2019
Present: Mike Skyrme, Chris Kelly
Weather: Unusual for Leck Fell
Having obtained a permit for Gavel and as there was only two of us, we agreed on the obligatory trip through Short Drop, rigging as a pull through. As such I suggested that we drop the ropes for the final pitches Gavel into the open pot where we would pick them up on our exit from Short Drop – A bad idea as it turned out.
Being such a long time (prob 12yrs or so) since I last did the trip, we reopped the bag where I thought we would exit SD and headed back across the fell to sart the trip. Once underground, we had an enjoyable bimble through SD to find the pitch was already rigged – looking promising.
Using the rope I had packed for the 1st pitch, we rigged and derigged the traverse as we had decided to exit via the open pot. Wandering out into daylight the stark reality hit that we were in the bottom of the open pot and our main ropes were on the ledge above us. Looking at the topo, we quickly realised that we had insufficient rope (even when tied together), to bottom Gavel. Chris had a look at free climbing but the green walls didn’t inspire much confidence so we headed back into SD and re-rigged the traverse.
As we could see daylight at the other end of the traverse, Chris decided to have a look but came back with tales of bold and committing moves required but reckoned in an emergency, it could be done. As this wasn’t one of those situations, and as Chris needed to be back early we decided to complete the return journey which seemed a lot quicker than on the way in.
Once on the surface we returned to Gavel to retrieve the bag. At this point Chris rigged a rope down from the surface to find the furthest point he had reached climbing – this, he said, confirmed that it probably was free climbable but only in dire circumstances.
A wander back up the fell and a change in unseasonable Leck Fell weather (sunny and warm), we headed to the Whoop for a quick drink before home.
Apologies to CNCC for not seeking an SD permit and for not cancelling the Gavel one, seeing as we didn’t use it LOL