Ireby Cavern (Cripple Creek round trip in reverse), 7 December 2019

Ireby Cavern (Cripple Creek round trip in reverse), 7 December 2019

Home Forums Log Book Ireby Cavern (Cripple Creek round trip in reverse), 7 December 2019

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    Members Present: Chris Kelly, Don, Sharman

    After entering Ireby we quickly made our way down the Bubbles route to the Main Streamway. We continued downstream via Well Pitch, which was already rigged (Chris Kelly had been told this by John Gardiner when we were getting changed – he was there with some other people getting changed as well). This was a huge bonus as it meant we wouldn’t have to come back and derig it. We continued on to Duke Street, up and through Skylight Passage to the end of Duke Street II. Here we took the wrong route, something that would happen several times.

    We went up the wrong rope, which probably wasted half an hour. Then we managed to find the correct route and made our way up and up until we were close to Jupiter Cavern, but again we took the wrong route and wasted at least another hour or more. This included a tight squeeze (not bad on the way in, very difficult on the way out). Then we retraced our steps to what we thought was the main route, which it wasn’t, and took yet another wrong route, wasting probably another 45 minutes or so.

    Eventually we made it back to the only chamber with a route on that wouldn’t require us to descend all of the ropes we had just ascended from Duke Street II. This involved a short crawl into what was obviously Jupiter Cavern. Prior to entering Jupiter Cavern everyone’s spirits were pretty low, but this cheered us right up as the route from here onwards was pretty straightforward. This involved a traverse on in-situ rope over a deep pit and a few interesting climb/squeezes down into a narrow rift passage with a small streamway.

    A tight tubular squeeze here was passed with some difficulty. This led to a squeeze in a short duck. After a few flat out sections and narrow passage we eventually reached the bottom of the first in-situ rope climb with ladder. We all chose to ascend this with SRT gear as the top of the pitch was awkward and would have been difficult otherwise. A few more rope ladder climbs down (without SRT as there was no room to put on or take off SRT), with flat out sections of passage in-between, led to Numpty Rift, which was a right pain in the ass. It would have been piss easy if it weren’t for the large tackle bag I was carrying (with two SRT kits).

    The end of Numpty marked the beginning of Turtle Crawl, which was exhausting with the tackle bag. Sharman and I were both pretty well spent by this point, though Chris Kelly somehow managed to be fine, probably because he has carrying his SRT kit in a personal bag, rather than having to carry two SRT kits in one giant tackle bag. Once at the end of Turtle Crawl, the passage split and we took the wrong route. Thankfully we didn’t get too far before we realised our mistake and we were soon back on track and in the Main Streamway again.

    The ascent up Bubbles and out of Ireby wasn’t that bad for me, but that’s because Sharman and Chris Kelly had taken the tackle bag off me. Once on the surface a lonely, wet night greeted us. After getting changed we went our separate ways. I drove to the new Co-op in Ingleton and bought a hot dog, two salami sandwiches, a large bag of crisps and a coke. I almost never eat until I get back home, but I was starving.

    In total, the trip took 8 hours. The normal time coming from the other direction is about 4-5 hours.

    My advice to others planning to do this trip:

    1. Don’t do Cripple Creek in reverse unless you know exactly where you’re going.
    2. Carry your SRT kit in a personal bag. Don’t try to put 2 or more SRT kits in a tackle bag as the bag will constantly get stuck in the narrow passages, rifts and crawls, and it’s extremely tiring for the person who has to carry/move it.

    This was one of the most epic trips I’ve ever done, and not in a good way. My body is dying. It’s 1.30pm and I’m still in bed as a write this.

    Chris Sharman

    Yes, properly knackered after this.
    And at the time, advice for the future was simply “Don’t do Cripple Creek in reverse.” – it really is quite a bit harder the other way round – especially when you get lost and add some more strenuous hours …


    I should point out that Sharman and I split tackle bag carrying duties (well, sort of). The report makes it sound as if I did all the carrying. Without the two of us helping each other – one person pushing and the other person pulling – the bag wouldn’t have made it. This is especially the case in Numpty Rift.

    The trip definitely has a lot of variety. I was reading through Northern Caves earlier and there are a couple of other Grade 4 trips in Ireby that sound like fun. One is NE Inlet, I can’t remember the name of the other one.


    If only I was available as I can remember the route pretty well. You go up the rope on the rift on the left of Duke street 2, about 30m in before all the big boulders.

    At the top you go to the very top of the ropes then go left, don’t get off early. But don’t go up the rope if it’s there in the next chamber beyond the crawl.

    After turtle crawl you turn left, just before the hole in the floor.


    Yep, you got it. There were literally four places where we went wrong. The biggest time waster was going up the wrong pitch from Duke Street II on the way to Jupiter Cavern. The trip is a lot easier going the normal route as you simply have to turn left (virtually) every time you come to a junction.

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