Cavers: Chris Scaife, Alex Ritchie
Following Alex’s advice that if we didn’t do a recce in Broken Finger today we would never have another chance in our lifetimes, there was really only one option for how to spend my birthday, the big three eight. As we walked under a tree on the way to the entrance, Alex decided to give me a special version of the bumps as he dislodged a giant branch on to my head, but I survived.
The crawl to the first pitch was much easier than I was expecting – no need to remove SRT kits – and it ended at a straightforward pitch head. Not acrobatic or exposed at all – the spits are on the left-hand side and, once rigged, you just need to slide over the top, then drop your legs down.
The spacious pitch was followed by a thrutchy passage, with no particularly difficult bits, but not much room either, ending at a capped, free-climbable pitch down to stream level. After a short crawl and a drop down we were at the Fatometer.
Alex was first and he huffed and he puffed and he eventually retreated saying it was too tight. I was happy to retreat if my svelte companion thought so, so out we went, bounding back to the world with gay abandon. The first pitch head was easy enough to exit, but a bit awkward to de-rig, what with the spanner and all that in a constricted space, but if you’re at the point in your caving life when you’re doing caves like this you can cope with one or two hardships from time to time.
Back in the World, Poor Old Alex realised he had lost his car keys. Well, I never. He normally only nearly loses them, but this time it was a complete and total loss. Not only that; he had no idea which company provided his breakdown cover, or indeed how to access his emails (he doesn’t know the password) so after trying to think of ways to help a brother out, I ended up having to drive the little piggy all the way home.
Best birthday ever!
Breakdown company does not cover me for loss of keys anyway, so glad you gave me a lift home.
I feel that I must add my own trip report. On saturday night I stayed with a friend in New Mills and we had a good evening drinking white wine and his homemade aperol. Then on sunday morning we set off to spend a day climbing at the Roaches, before changing our minds and visiting the nearby esoterica crag of Gradbach Hill after seeing that the Roaches was absolutely heaving. We climbed a lot of short but pleasant esoterica and I didn’t pay any attention to my phone buzzing away in my rucksack as it was probably just one of those annoying facebook group chats or that bl**dy estate agent again…
At about 4.45pm, just as we were gearing up for our last climb I decided to quickly check my phone just on the off chance it was something that required my attention. Lo and behold a flurry of messages from Scaife and Carol advising me that Alex had dropped his car keys in the cave so was now minus his car, phone, house keys and wallet. I couldn’t quite work out what was the point of Alex being driven home post-haste when he had no house keys but that seemed to be what was happening. Meanwhile I had instructions to go home as soon as possible… My climbing partner does have a guilty secret of a keen interest in caving in his earlier life, keen enough to make him quite unsympathetic as to why on earth you would take your car keys down a cave in the first place? Nevertheless we decided to pass on the last climb so that I could get home “as soon” as I could. But as soon as possible was not that soon as I had to get a lift back to New Mills to pick up my trusty steed, The Golden Arrow, then put the bike on the train to Manchester and ride 18 miles home from there.
So in the end Alex arrived home at 6pm still wearing his wet undersuit, ignored my earlier suggestion over the phone that now would be a good time to get to know the neighbours better and went for a series of illuminating walks in the local area to keep warm until I arrived at 8:30pm. His car remains 45 miles away. It is cyclable.
I must say I never intended to take my car keys underground, I forgot to remove them from the pocket, until the cave did that for me at some point.
Well got an epic bike ride to do this afternoon, arranged an auto-locksmith to meet me at the car at 4pm it’s about 50 miles from my house!
I must say I never intended to take my car keys underground
Oops. A bit of a recurring theme here – a similar dropping of keys down a narrow rift in La Scialet, near Berger…
Shouldn’t mock though, I managed to take my phone caving in my undersuit leg pocket the other day. Fortunately it survived the damp and the battering.
I remember the cracking sound from my oversuit pocket in Armenia when I realised I’d taken my sunglasses underground.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to a full trip report from today’s Car Retrieval Pot.
I have edited the title so your trip report comes up when people search for Broken Finger Pot.
P.s. to exemplify how tight that squeeze was and how much work it was getting back out. I can say I am still quite sore around my chest and it’s still quite painful to bend down and stand up due to bruising on my lower back caused by me retreating out of the squeeze.
‘I can say I am still quite sore around my chest and it’s still quite painful to bend down and stand up due to bruising on my lower back caused by me retreating out of the squeeze.’
Oh dear… Are you referring to your love life or the caving trip?
Losing your keys is definitely a recurring theme with you, Alex. Do you remember when you and I did Turbary Pot a few weeks ago and you couldn’t find your keys when we got back to the cars? You looked for about ten minutes before I pointed out that they were sitting on your bonnet. Oh dear. It’s terrible the way one’s mind starts to go as one gets closer to 40…
Aye it does, though to be fair my mind has always been like this.
How wide is the Fatometer? You’ve got to wonder how many people have actually got to the bottom on Broken Finger. I can’t imagine it’s that many.
Maybe it was the car keys that prevented Mr Ritchie making it through…
It might have been, I also had two peperami’s in my pocket too. They might be in the squeeze. Oh well when this Covid goes away, and the weather improves I will prob go back with Chris and try taking my over-suit off if it’s drier then it was, when me and Chris did it.