An in-out trip with Chriss Shaman, Mike Skyrym and me (Alex Ritchie)
We met up as usual at Inglesport and noticed it was still wet outside, but we could always turn around if it got too wet we were not committing ourselves to a pull through trip. Unfortunately we had not pre-sorted any rope as people had different bits and I had not the time, we also did not want to sort them in the rain. So we used Inglesport as our rope packing/sorting facility taking over the entire shoe and sock section with our ropes. Thank you for letting us do that.
Once we got to Simpsons pot the rain actually stopped it became nice and sunny for the slog up the hill, probably the first bit of sunshine I had seen in a while and looking at today’s weather and the forecast I am not likely to see any more for sometime.
Anyway, with Mike being a Simpsons expert he soon led us straight to the hole and I was sent off to rig the 5 steps (something I may not bother with next time). I then rigged the traverse for the bags but found it far more awkward rigging it then just traversing it. The more annoying thing was the hand-line rope was missing from the next drop so the traverse had to de-rigged so we could use the rope for this drop.
Shaman took over the rigging from here and a 30m rope took us down to the bottom of Storm pot, which lived up to its name with lots of water coming in, but nothing drastic. The Duck was as inviting as ever and I was volunteered to go through first, so I rigged the next pitch. Only issue was earlier we got the ropes mixed up and packed a 16 for a 20 so it did not quite reach the ground. Nether-less, I was feeling too lazy to prussic back up and instead swung over to a slanting ledge a few meters above the ground and got off there. Mike and Chris seeing how wet I got swinging from one side to the other opted to re-rig the top taking out the Y-hang and using a sling devi instead, which made the rope reach the floor.
The narrow Shuffle pot pitch was next and I found I had about 10m of rope to spare as this should have been used on the pitch above. Mike did lake pot and we were soon at Aven pot, where we leave the normal route of the thunderous waterfall below that leads onto slit pot. The traverse is not technically difficult but with a drop as deep as the pit and a climb up directly above it, it was a certain heart in mouth moment. Shaman began to rig the Swinsto Aven pitch, while I rigged a pull through with a spare 10m rope to make the way back down to the top of Aven pitch a less scary prospect.
The top of the Swinsto great aven was not inspiring a small calcite tube going down what looked like a long and narrow rift, only the draft confirmed to us that this was the correct way on. After the first short drop down a small hole, a slope in a narrow rift deposits you at a re-belay, from here the rift is more spacious with an essential Y-hang 5 meters below. From here its about 30 – 35m to the floor of this great aven.
Once at the bottom, I scrambled down the boulder slope to look at and photo the cascade at the bottom from Swinsto, quite a bit of water going down glad we opted against that route!
Out we went, I de-rigged the big pitch before attaching the bags to the pull through rope. I quickly realised abseiling with large bags on the end was not going to help so I unclipped one and clipped it to me, before lowering the other one back down… boom. Somehow I had also unclipped the other bag and it now lay at the bottom of aven pot. Doh! I used the big pitch (50m rope) to get down the pitch while Mike helped me to untie one of the knots. I had rigged the pitch out of the water however the bag had landed under the waterfall, forcing me to get truly soaked so I guess that will teach me!
After that it was a entertaining exit, with a few special notes: Its better to only go half way up Shuffle and walk along the rift rather than trying to follow the rope all the way up and its far easier to free climb the 5 steps then try and prussic them, especially the bottom one!
Trip time 4.5 hrs which could have been cut down to almost 4 if I had not done the extra bit of Aven pot.
Good report Alex – and a bloody good trip too.
Maybe do the Swinsto/Simpsons exchange next year, if we can muster a few more bodies???
Or the Simpson to Rowten exchange.
Yes, I’d like to do that – in Rowten, out Simpsons would be my choice. Wouldn’t mind having a go at Slit Pot – not sure whether I’d get through, or have to go over the top.
Count me out of that one! However, happy to do Swinsto/Simpsons exchange though. I too think it was more fun then the standard pull through, as it becomes a proper trip.