Gingling Hole (14 January)

Gingling Hole (14 January)

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    The chosen route was Big Rift, which has ten pitches in total. Five men entered the cave (Alex, Chris Kelly, Don, Mike, Sharman). Two men made it to the bottom of the sixth pitch and then headed out – because of work commitments, not out of fear (Chris Kelly, Mike). Three men continued and made to the sump at the end of Big Rift (Alex, Don, Sharman). Total trip time for the three who bottomed Gingling – roughly 8-9 hours.

    Gingling is a funny place. The first half of the cave, down to the bottom of the sixth pitch, is relatively easy. It’s mainly walking in a winding narrow passage with numerous free climbs. Some of the pitch heads are rather awkward. The only large chamber is Stalactite Chamber at the bottom of the fourth pitch. The caving between here and the bottom of the sixth pitch, with the exception of the awkward chimney climb and bedding plane immediately after Stalactite Chamber, is arguably the easiest section of Gingling.

    The second half of the cave, from the bottom of the sixth to the sump, on the other hand, is not so easy, particularly the section of narrow rift leading to the seventh pitch. This consists of several short climbs and a few short squeezes in a very long and straight rift. The rift ends with a tight 4m slanting drop known as ‘The Thrutch’. None of us had any problems going down The Thrutch. The same can not be said of the return. Immediately after The Thrutch is a few minutes of walking and crawling through a canal with several deep sections (mid-chest deep in places). This ends at the top of the eighth pitch, a 20m descent into a large chamber, the aptly named Big Rift. This is followed immediately by the short ninth pitch and the tenth pitch (awkward and tightish at the top), and then a roughly 25m section of narrow and thrutchy rift, which cuts downward towards the far end. The rift eventually opens into a chamber with very deep mud, then doubles back on itself and continues in narrow fashion down several small climbs before ending at a sump. The rift was incredibly muddy and slippery. The sump itself was several feet below the end of the rift. I think falling into the sump would almost certainly mean death as I don’t see how anyone would be able to climb back out because of all the mud. It would be a horrible way to die.

    The trip out was largely uneventful. We were obviously slower than on the way in. We didn’t encounter any real difficulties apart from The Thrutch, which caused some difficulty for us. The most challenging part of the exit was a) dwindling energy levels, and b) ferrying the tackle through the cave. We made it though. It was a fun trip and definitely deserving of its Grade 5 status. There’s nothing overly difficult in the cave; it’s the stamina required to bottom and return that makes it so hard.


    Ahh I was writing one, you beat me to it. Should I reveal all the events?

    But anyway thanks for the read.


    I definitely think that you should post your version. I’d like to read it, even though I already lived it.


    We’d like to know what we missed too lol.

    What time did you eventually exit the cave?

    Chris Sharman

    I had a lot of trouble in the Thrutch – did a lot of standing on Don.
    Don then made it look very easy.
    Not sure what time we exited – probably about 7-7.30 – had no phone signal until some time after leaving the pub, making us a bit tighter on the call-out than I like. Even though there was still no wind, it was a very cold walk back.
    Go on Alex – post your version.


    i feel your pain in the thrutch, my chest jammer got stuck and i couldnt move up or down!


    I can’t do until I get home, I will also have to convert it into semi-english. Pete what were you doing wearing SRT kit in the thrutch? Are you mad?


    it was 15 years ago so most likely yes!


    Well here’s my trip report. Hopefully its English enough.

    We met up in Inglesport and I was promptly told without any prior warning that Chris Kelly who was a lift for Mike had to leave early, due to working on the weekend. Why would anyone want to work on a weekend, I thought? I would not do it no matter how much you paid me!

    I was a little angered to be honest, at least two of our crew had time limits which would likely make it the 5th occasion of not bottoming the place.

    However, we soon worked out that we could split the gear for all 11 pitches into just 3 bags, though this did not leave much room for anything else such as food etc.

    We set off and carefully drove our way up a slippery, snow and ice covered track to the parking spot. Don deposited the donation for parking. Once parked, we took a little time to organise the rigging gear, but despite the snow, it felt pretty warm so no one was rushing.

    We eventually got going, it was quite a bright and glorious day, in contrast to our recent weather. It was almost a shame to be going underground. I was wearing Neo-fleece as it had built-in knee pads to protect my injured leg. I had fallen over a few days earlier, running in the dark and had lost some skin from my shin. So this meant on the walk over I was overheating quite badly.

    We arrived and Don began the rigging whilst being pelted by snow balls, very mature behaviour by some! At the bottom the passage was all too familiar to me. A large boulder slope led to a slot which then drops into a crawly wet passage that then developed into a rift.

    Soon after the second pitch was reached (freshly p-bolted, like all the pitches) and we dropped down the narrow gap before yet more narrow, although decorated passage led to a climb down and then the third pitch. The pitch was, yep you guessed it more narrow passage. On the traverse to it my shin throbbed every so often, so this meant I was moving a bit slower and placing my leg awkwardly to try and avoid whacking it too hard. I don’t know how but in trying to avoid the injured part I slipped and almost fell onto my cow’s tails, this shook me up a little and may explain why I was not liking the traverse over the 4th pitch.

    The 4th pitch dropped us into the roof of the original terminal chamber of the cave, a place where an accident formed CRO many years ago.

    The way on was at the bottom of the chamber between the precariously stacked rocks. After a brief crawl the passage improved and we were soon gallivanting our way along a very well decorated “Fools paradise”. The 5th drop followed and soon after a bit more rift the 6th drop. At this point our time limited companions Chris K and Mike departed, while the rest of the intrepid group entered the part of the passage where the cave begins to show its teeth or at least it’s sharp stals!

    A rifty passage (yes again) led over a drop before a narrow traverse passed over the ‘ammered hole leading to the big pitch and sump. We chose not this route, it was too easy, so instead we headed straight on. We squeezed past some stal, and dropped down several short and narrow drops before reaching the “Thurtch”. This was as far as I had been before. Last time I was not brave enough as no one dared follow me and it looked rather difficult to say the least, the crux of the cave. Nevertheless I took up the lead here and slithered down before crawling underneath to recover my dropped SRT gear, oops. It was easy enough to get through but would it be so easy on the return?

    After this it was rather wet going in what was initially clear water. We then crossed a layer of calcite just in the water which hung their like an ancient ice flow, thin ice at that. Avoiding it was impossible but we lied flat out to avoid damaging it and drowning us. After some more water we entered some nice walking passage and the first of the big rift pitches.

    Yes, this rift was big, however after the next pitch on-wards things got quite a bit smaller and the following pitch after that the cave really shrunk down. This 9th pitch required quite a bit of a struggle to get down. Below that the rift narrowed even further so Don and Chris sensibly took their kits off, SRT kits that is. It was difficult going for me still geared but I kept it on knowing there was another pitch ahead. I was right, there was. We however rigged it as a hand-line and Don and Chris slithered down. I However, being kitted up attempted to abseil it. This failed I got about half way down before giving up. So I manoeuvred myself onto a ledge and detached. I slithered down the rest of the way. The last “pitch” was a muddy affair, where no one actually touched the sump pool as we had not packed a rope for this and no one fancied the idea of drowning in the sump pool. Happy we were as near to the bottom as we were going to get without drowning we headed back out.

    We made it back up with some effort but nothing too taxing and we were soon washing off in the canal leading the “Thrutch”.

    I went first. The lower section was easy but I quickly ran out of ledges, both for my feet and my arms. The only way was to “Thrutch” forwards. Each time I moved I felt ready to slip down, but after a bit of a struggle I made it through, with pure force of will if nothing else.

    The next twenty minutes was Shaman’s turn, he could get into the “Thrutch” but he kept slipping back down. A combined effort was called for. Don acted as a mobile platform below while I acted as a flesh and blood belay above. With the effort of all three of us, Shaman made it through.
    Don after a brief rest followed and made it look easy, I guess going to the gym really does pay off. If only it was not so boring!

    After this fun we had all spent quite a bit of energy and due to lack of space only had one chocolate bar each. We then had a more combined effort to ferry all the tackle namely: 1 full rope bag, 1 bag of 2 SRT kits and 1 loose SRT kit through all the narrowness of the rift. I then had to don my harness for the last section above ‘ammered hole, to prevent loosing anything down the rift.

    It was all rather slow going due to our tired arms sore bodies from all the rifts, bags, prussicing, and de-rigging.

    Eventually we struggled out of the entrance where Don and not me for a change got annoyed with the rope as it snagged his neck and shoulders. I think the cave had taken a bit out of all of us. Nevertheless victory was ours, we had for all intents and purposes bottomed Gingling hole and the -3c air temp did not dampen our spirits, in-fact Don and Chris almost ran back to the cars, but that was probably due to them not wearing neoprene like me.

    Full time bottomer’s: Alex, Chris Sharman, Don Miller
    Part time fools: Chris Kelly, Mike Skyrmy


    It looks like Sharman you were not the only person to have trouble. This young team also had issues and they had not even made it to the bottom. Chris you still got it mate!

    Its funny most trips I have found on-line did not make it to the bottom and a few of them had “Alex Ritchie” as a member lol.


    There’s nothing really to add to Alex’s very detailed description of the cave. The only comments I would make are:

    1) I was a bit worried about doing Gingling in only a furry considering the zero degree temperature outside and the wet nature of the cave in spots (particularly the canal between the bottom of the first and the second pitch, and the deep canal section just before the seventh pitch), but this concern was unfounded. There’s no need to wear a neo-fleece to stay warm as long as you keep moving (I know you only did so because of your injured knee, Alex).

    2) I wouldn’t recommend that anyone go down the final, very muddy rift section just before the sump. It’s pointless and all the mud, which is impossible to avoid as it covers the entire floor and the walls, makes it much harder to climb up the rifts on the way out, especially the rift/climb just above the final rift to the sump, which is difficult enough to begin with.

    3) The Thrutch really isn’t difficult as long as you climb at a 45 degree angle and then go completely horizontal through the tightest bit. The reason I made it through so easily is because I observed what Alex and Sharman did and then did the exact opposite. The hardest section of the cave in my opinion was the narrow slot below Stalactite Chamber on the way out. This was probably because I was facing the wrong way.


    The Thrutch really isn’t difficult as long as you climb at a 45 degree angle and then go completely horizontal through the tightest bit.

    That was exactly what I did but you need quite a bit of strength to push yourself along with only one narrow hold to push of off once horizonal.

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