Members present: Chris Kelly, Don, Sharman
After an average breakfast at at a cafe in Kettlewell the three of us made our way to Langstrothdale, where we parked our cars just off the main road leading through the valley, just opposite a crumbling and derelict sheepfold. We quickly changed and then made our way up the hill. The entrance to Langstroth was easily found as Sharman and I had been here just a few months previous.
I led the way. A sideways squeeze and a vertical climb (technically the first pitch) lead to the streamway. The next 15 minutes or so consist mainly of sideways crawling through shallow pools of water. Each of us had a tackle bag, but it wasn’t too difficult going through this section as you could either push the bag ahead or drag it behind you. This section of passage ends in a small room where you can actually stand up, but not for long. The next few minutes consists of traversing above the stream and crawling through it. This eventually ends at a slot in the floor where the stream drops down. An easy squeeze drops into a low wet passage where a dunking is unavoidable and guaranteed.
The next 30 minutes or so consists of crawling over and around large blocks, which gets rather tiring when you’re constantly trying to push a bag ahead of you that is constantly getting stuck. This section eventually relents and ends in a small chamber with plenty of room for three people to don SRT gear. The exit is a short flat out squeeze which leads immediately to the top of a roughly 15 foot high narrow rift. A short traverse over the top leads to an easy climb down to the streamway. A spike here serves as the initial belay, while a flake a few feet lower down – with in situ sling – serves as another back up for the (20m) rope. Then the fun really begins. The narrow rift slopes down fairly quickly before becoming very tight and then opening out into blackness. This is the point where Sharman and I turned around a few months ago. Sharman had given it a few tries back then and deemed it too tight to descend, so I gave up without even trying. Why we thoughout we would succeed if Chris Kelly joined us is anyone’s guess.
Sharman went first. He tried several times, using several different contortions, but couldn’t get through. Then I tried. I experienced the same thing. Then Sharman tried again, but with no luck. So tried again, but this time decided to make two adjustments: 1) tie a sling onto the flake so it could be used as a handline, and 2) I took off all my metalwork with the exception of my hand jammer, which I attached to the rope, but with lots of slack so it wouldn’t get jammed between me and the rock.
This worked, but it was still hard work to get through. It’s definitely the tightest vertical squeeze that I’ve ever done. I had to move very slowly. There are actually several small ledges that you can use as footholds, so sliding down the rift isn’t as scary as it would be if you were literally dropping into blank space. I then quickly put on my stop and descended the rest of the pitch, which drops into a remarkably big chamber. Once down I waited, and waited, and waited. Then I started to get cold. Then I waited some more. Then I heard an indecipherable shout. The another. Then the words ‘Come up’.
It was at this point that I realised that the trip had come to an end. I knew that my two companions would be concerned about whether I’d be able to get back up the pitch (or rather, they were more concerned about whether they would be able to get back up the pitch if they did descend). I was worried too. I ascended to the bottom of the squeeze, clipped my long cowstail into the handline sling (which had now been lengthened by the addition of another sling), and clipped my hand jammer into the rope near my feet so it wouldn’t poke into my as I made my way through the squeeze. I left my chest jammer unfastened. The squeeze was still tight, but not nearly as I thought it would be. Being able to push off the ledges made a big difference. My companions, however, decided that they didn’t want to attempt the squeeze so we headed out.
Once on the surface we decided to check out Hagg Gill Pot. They had both been there before, though I hadn’t. It was found without too much difficulty. A 50 feet descent led to a large chamber. A few climbs led us down to the main streamway, which we followed upstream for quite a distance. I had been warned about a narrow squeeze en route and was surpised at one point when I asked how much further it was to the squeeze to learn that we had already gone through it. It was a nice cave, but nothing too exciting, though there were lots of nice flowstone formations. We eventually turned around, basically due to a combination of lethargy and the monotony of the cave route, which consists of lots of traversing above a narrow stream.
Once out we got changed and headed to The George Inn, where we saw a very beautful woman around 30 years old with her douche bag boyfriend/husband.
I kind of guessed fitting would be an issue with at least one of you, so that coupled with the long distance from where I was staying and needing an early start (I was up to 3am) was why I did not attend. However as you have been through Don maybe next time the weather is good and I am not in the wrong place me and you should do it alone. But all that gear between 2 would make a hard trip.
On the plus side Ayghill seems to have fixed my shoulder for the time-being.
We could always do the pull through…
It’s definitely way too much gear for two people to carry. You need two bags for the rope and one for the SRT kits (at least to carry the metalwork). I don’t know how Sharman and I made it through the entrance crawl last time with three bags between us.
Hey you! I’m up for a Langstroth trip one day.
I’d also like to say that I really like Hagg Gill Pot.
Sorry Chris, we don’t see you in the Dales nowadays so forgot about you lol.
Chris? Chris who?
I’ve been busy working on the journal.
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