Cavers: Chris Scaife, Chris Kelly, Don Miller, Alex Ritchie
We did the classic trip to the sump. All of us had done this before, but none of us recently so our memories of it might not have been crystal clear. Surprisingly, when we arrived at the entrance there were three other cavers about to plunge into the depths. We sat in the sun and gave them half an hour’s head start.
The entrance crawl was cold as ice, but easy as pie. And much like a cooling pie (or at least a soufflé that has been taken out of the oven too soon) it loses height as time goes by, with the ceiling lowering as one approaches the first pitch. Nonetheless, it’s not quite flat out and faces can be kept out of the water. The other three were still on the pitch when we arrived, but soon shot off into the distance. There’s a fair bit of crawling/stooping before the second pitch, then just pitch pitch pitch in the cold water, with a few free climbs here and there to keep the muscles moving.
Following the stream the whole way certainly makes for an invigorating day’s caving and parts of Penyghent Pot are truly awesome. It really is one of the best caves in the land.
On the walk in, all was warm and dry, with Three Peaks walkers gallivanting merrily all around us, their gay abandon matched only by our own excitement at revisiting this underground paradise; but we exited the cave into a cold and dark night, accompanied only by Jack Frost’s biting embrace. A rapid descent to Brackenbottom ensued, where our friends at the Bradford Pothole Club welcomed us with open arms.
It is a fantastic trip, but for me I was not enjoying it that much on the way out. Mainly because it was cold and I hate waiting around when cold generally, that and my SRT kit was self destructing itself as my chest strap undid it self, as did my pantin, practically on every pitch until I put knots in them to stop it from happening (does anyone else have to knot their pantin and chest strap, or is that just me?). This stressed me out making the trip out less enjoyable as I felt this faff was possibly holding others up. (Though it turned out this was not the case as we kept catching up to the other group anyway).
Still it’s good to know I can still do trips like this now I am pushing 40 and was no where near as tired as I thought I would be though the flat out crawl on the way out did tax me somewhat. How long have I got Shaman? 5 years until my body completely self destructs, like my SRT kit?
I guess I need to do more trips like this to get back into the swing of things really.
The trip time was 8 hours but without issues and the other group being in the system we prob would have done it in 7.