This was a fairly ad hoc trip after quite a long hiatus for both me and Dunc. It was in fact my first trip post my injury earlier in the year.
Without any agenda, we decided to fit the trip to the lengths of rope and number of krabs we had. We had about 17 krabs. Anyway, It’s a Cracker and Excellent Pot were mooted but soon abandoned due to a lack of the necessary tackle and Gavel was agreed as the most fitting.
A bloody cold walk was had in -2 degrees although it’s quick and then we headed into the shelter of the impressive entrance climb. The entrance pitch is terrible with too much rope rub even with a metal pin deviation which was bloody awkward to attach a sling. Dunc tried to improve it but ideally it needs another hanger to re-belay from.
The second pitch is virtually free climbable and can be rigged lower down or higher up for a bit more of a challenge. Soon after is the choke climb which can be handlined if preferred descending through some precarious looking rocks into the stream. The cave really takes shape from here with a healthy stream and then some fine passage. There’s a little awkward climb before the next pitch which requires a little care and then the pitch head follows. Our plan was to rig this pitch as we had the rope for this one but not the last. As it turned out, both of the last 2 pitches were rigged which was a good bonus. Dunc had bruised his hand during the week so decided to stay put whilst I headed down the very impressive pitch with the water thundering down. The last pitch is almost as impressive ending at the sump. There was plenty of diving activity at the sump explaining the in situ ropes.
On the return, we headed down a side passage to view some surprisingly pretty stals, curtains and flowstone. Back at the surface, it was seriously cold with a perfectly clear sky and we were quite pleased that the walk was so short.
I’ve only bottomed Gavel once but I really enjoyed the last pitch. There aren’t many other pitches I’ve been down where you have the option of descending 100 feet and landing in a deep sump pool. It was really windy down there from what I remember.