Pippikin to Extreme Ways, 16/11/19
Cavers: Chris Scaife and Don Miller
Unusually, the water levels in Newcastle have been higher than in the Dales this week, so as we drove to Ingleton we had the rare experience of seeing a reduction in flooding.
We met Mike, Xaaaaaaandah and Shaman in Inglesport, dined together, then waved them off to another cave. Just the two of us for Pippikin to Extreme Ways, apparently no one else enjoyed the mud last time they were there.
Unsure if Pippikin would be rigged, we had enough rope to pull through and then rig Extreme Ways, but we were in luck – in situ rope on every Pippikin pitch. I’m a big fan of Pippikin, with its entertaining squeezes always followed by small chambers to sit in and admire Don’s feet-first techniques. After the familiar squeezes, pitches and traverses, we made our way to Gour Hall ready for the EXTREME part of the trip.
A flat-out crawl followed by a, let’s face it, horrible crawl through liquid mud led into the impressive Extreme Ways Chamber. We climbed up at the end of this to a traverse across a blind pot and another short climb into a narrow tube that opened out directly on to the pitch. While Don was rigging this, using a sling around a big spike of rock, I heard him shriek with delight and when I asked him why, he said that he had just done something “super awesome”. I have never found out exactly what he did that made him so happy; perhaps some things are best left as mysteries.
This pitch had a narrow constriction part way down, but then opened out and the rest was easy walking passage to a final 6m pitch, which I backed up from an eyehole and then rigged a Y-hang from some slightly dodgy bolts. This pitch landed in Hall of the Eleven, another impressive chamber with the highlight being the calcite slope in the wall beside the pitch.
Ascending the constricted pitch, my light managed to unclip itself from my helmet – more a nuisance than a life-threatening situation, but still not cricket. I had been told that climbing from the top of this pitch into the tube would be difficult, but it was a walk in the park.
We exited via Mistral and then began the long walk up to Don’s car on Leck Fell. From descriptions I had heard of Extreme Ways, I thought it would be one to tick off and then never return, but it was a great trip, and a good wet-weather option. I’ll be back, probably.
Yes, it was a good trip. I’m completely worn out today. Everything hurts.
I still think that the second squeeze in Pippikin (i.e. the squeeze after the initial drop down squeeze just after Cellar Pot) must be the most strenuous squeeze that I’ve ever done. And I’ve done it four times. It took what seemed like forever to squeeze through it. I had to inch my way through.
Extreme Ways is a trip that I would do again as well. It would be interesting to journey to it via Link Pot and out Mistral. That would be pretty strenuous. You’d only have to rig Link Pot entrance pitch though.