People present Alex R, Don M & Pete (UWFRA)
WeatherDrizzly and overcast.
Not put off by the weather as the forcasts were for high pressure the 3 of us descended the cave at a rather late time of about Lunch time. Don quickly rigged pitches 1, 2 and 3 before I took over for the big pitch. The Y-hang is a little difficult as it starts in a tight rift, but the secret is to climb over and descend down the open side, beyond the tight pitch. The pitch was rather spray lashed but not really too wet. Lots of waterfalls coming in included one coming down the alternative route, which must only be passible in drought?
Once all down we headed through the rift, with the squeezes causing none of us any significant issues. Head first is the better approach, though. We soon entered tadpole passage and thought it’s not really that bad, me and Pete still had fresh memories of Echo and thought this is nothing compared to that, its like a shorter version of Swinsto long crawl really, nothing to write home about. The next pitch Pete rigged but found the 5m rope we took is not long enough, not if you want to rig the traverse to the pitch head anyway. So we built the traverse out of connected slings. I recommend at least 8m for this pitch.
After a lot of faffing trying to sort out the aforementioned pitch using a drilled thread (it still did not reach), we pressed on taking the bypass to the 6th pitch. A short section of rift passage leads to a brief large section of passage, before the passage gets really low and horrid, but this again is no where near as bad as Echo as you can keep your helmet on, it’s a bit like the duck just before the portcullis in Disappointment only it goes on for a little longer.
The tree routes further along caused some amusement as I heard a weird yelp from down stream. Apparently Don mistook the first tree route for a large snake! At the final pitch we could not find the drilled threads leading to the backup being a small stal (the way it used to be rigged), with a P-anchor right out over the pitch. Thankfully once Pete had gone down, we found one of the threads and used that as a backup instead, much safer.
I headed to the pitch head and found Pete was coming back up so I did not bother going down myself, seen it all before anyway. We then all went out with nothing really to report until the entrance pitch where both me and Don managed to dislodge a rock from what we thought was a solid wall and catch it with our foot. It appears to be rather loose just below the deviation -2m down, despite looking solid.
Trip time about 5 and a half hours. Don rushed off home for his weekly shop, and me and Pete retired to the Buck inn for refreshments. (In my case a coffee), in-front of a warm fire.
I’m surprised Don was frightened when he thought he’d seen a snake. I was in Northumberland with him once and we saw an adder disappear into some heather. Rather than jump into the air screaming, as he does whenever he sees even the tiniest spider, he started rummaging around in the heather trying to find it.