Members Present: Don of Caving, Sharman
Having missed last Saturday’s trip to Notts Pot, Sharman was eager to do some SRT training ahead of his trip to Berger next week. I suggested that we return to Notts, an excellent place for SRT enthusiasts. The plan was to do BT route (in and out) followed by De Profundis. The trip started off extremely well when, upon reaching Notts Pot, I realised that I had left my SRT kit next to the car. This didn’t slow us down too much though as Sharman was still rigging the small pitch into Three Ways Chamber when I returned.
We weren’t sure what to expect of the BT route as information about this route is almost non-existent, apart from the info in NC.
The start of BT is very easy to find and there were no route finding issues. The route starts in an obvious hands and knees sized passage in Three Ways Chamber just opposite the Centre route pitch. The hands and knees passage quickly becomes a low crawl to a junction with a blind pit in the floor (about 1 minute into the passage). A crawl over the pit and to the left leads to a low passage which continues for a couple of minutes to a further junction with a streamway.
Once in the streamway, the low passage downstream passes through a brief, flat-out wet bit, then improves to a hands and knees crawl, then to stooped and sideways walking. After a few minutes the water sinks into a choked rift. At this point the passage turns abruptly 90 degrees to the left. A hands and knees crawl in the roof becomes a tall rift. Stay in the roof as long as possible. Eventually the only option for going forward is to slide down the rift into the streamway below (which up until this point is too small for walking or crawling).
Straight ahead is the 3rd pitch (13m). In situ were four newish bolts – 1 p-bolt and 3 hangers. The first hanger is high up on the left; the second, a p-bolt, is a couple of feet below it; out over the pitch on the right hand side just above head level is the third hanger; the fourth hanger is also on the right, about ten feet distant at a lower level. The first two bolts were rigged as a traverse, with the third hanger as a single hang, and the fourth bolt used for a deviation, not to keep one out of the water but rather to prevent rope rub.
The pitch is an impressive circular shaft with a 1-2 foot deep pool of water at the bottom. The obvious exit starts with crawling before quickly turning into sideways walking through a rift that slowly increases in height. Eventually the rift becomes too tight at floor level requiring a traverse at roof level for a while. Actually, it’s less of a traverse and more of a sideways vertical shuffle in the upper part of rift that isn’t entirely frictionless but which has only a few small footholds. Getting the bags through this section, or at least the one with 60m of rope, was both tiring and challenging. The traverse and rift end with a 3-4m climb down into a large aven chamber, with yet another aven higher on the right. The climb looks intimidating at first, but is surprisingly straightforward.
Immediately after the aven the rift continues much like before; at first it’s possible to shuffle along at floor level, however immediately after a 90 degrees left hand bend, it is necessary to climb into the upper part of the rift to continue forward. Further along, a 90 degrees right hand turn marks the beginning of the short traverse to the 4th pitch. This pitch too was bolted with newish hangers. The first hanger is located precisely at the 90 degree bend; the second hanger is further along the rift on the left, with the floor several metres below; the third hanger is at the end of the rift in a knob of rock sticking out over the pitch head. This pitch was difficult to rig. The rift itself is very narrow and the only way to really move forward is by traversing horizontally in what is essentially an easy squeeze. A 45 degrees downwards squeeze is needed to get onto the pitch head, a single hang.
NC states that the pitch is only 4m high, but that has to be a mistake. My guess is that the pitch is roughly double that. A few metres down the pitch is an in situ rope on a flake of rock for an obvious deviation, necessary to avoid rope rub. Once at the rock bridge below, continue down to the large hole to the right to reach the floor a few metres below. No deviation or rebelay is needed. Just before the large hole you can hear and see the main stream entering from BT Inlet on left and flowing immediately down a steep chute into Fossil Pot of BUSS Route. Quite impressive!
The final 6th pitch (15m) is only a few metres ahead. This is rigged entirely off two naturals: an in in situ rope just above the pitch and a small eyelet on the left, just before the pitch opens out. Despite various attempts, we couldn’t find a way to rig the pitch without rope rub. Thankfully the rock here is smooth and we were using 10mm rope. The pitch lands in a large chamber with a broken climb down. Unfortunately there was a lot of water pouring into the shaft where the climb was located so we had to turn around. Apparently the short duck at the bottom of Centre route is at the bottom of the climb.
The exit was largely uneventful and seemed much quicker than our journey on the way in. BT route isn’t that difficult, or at least no more difficult than any of the other rift passage traverses I’ve done in the past. It is tight in comparison with the other passage in Notts. That being said, there are no tight bits in Notts. The rope bags did make things tiring. I’m glad we did the trip, though if I were to do it again I think I would combine BT route with another route. I don’t think it’s worth just doing on its own.
In the end we decided not to do De Profundis, primarily because my left groin was bothering me. I’ll leave the reason(s) up to your imaginations.
Did you do this yesterday?
Yes, the trip took place on 15 July 2020. I had so much fun caving with Sharman that I lost complete track of time and the day.