Members Present: Don, Sharman
After numerous trips so far this year where Sharman and I had failed to bottom the cave (examples include Broken Finger Pot [too tight to rig first pitch], Crystal Cave – Dog Hole [couldn’t find the connection], Langstroth Pot [couldn’t find a way down the second pitch], Sylvester Pot [couldn’t find a way up the climb into the Rocky Horror Show], Trapdoor Pot [turned back at The Gripper due to the volume of water], Yockenthwaite Pot [turned back at the fourth pitch because of the volume of water]), we decided the best hope for a successful trip would be to choose a trip from NFTFH that Sharman had already failed to bottom a few months earlier – Swan Dike Pot.
Sharman and I met in Little Stainforth where, after I spent 30 minutes trying to find a way to cross the small streamway separating Stainforth from Little Stainforth, we had a very delicious and cheap breakfast at Knight’s Table, a sort of hotel/restaurant. Highly recommended. We then drove to Upper Hesleden, parked the cars on the side of the road, and got changed in extremely windy conditions. Swan Dike was immediately found with no difficulties.
Sharman led the way down the entrance climb to the streamway, which was wet, but not too bad, and after a few climbs and crawls we eventually reached the first and aptly named Dry Pitch, which required two bolts. Once at the bottom we discussed which one of us would be the lucky one to go through the blasted crawl and The Trick first. I volunteered, starting out head first to see what lay ahead, even though I knew that there was no way in hell I was going to attempt The Trick, a downwards squeeze, head first. I made it as far as the dog leg bend before I realised that continuing on would be very committing, so I reversed back to the chamber at the bottom of Dry Pitch, then re-entered feet first on my left-hand side, slid past the dog leg bend, and continued slithering until I reached the first constriction, which was low and awkward. Once through this the passage immediately starts to slide down at a 45 degree angle. There is really nothing you can do at this point to control your descent but to just let your body slide down. I was rather surprised at how small the streamway passage is beneath The Trick.
At this point Sharman decided to start shuffling bags towards me, however I was somewhat nervous about getting back through The Trick, so I came back up it and reconvened with Sharman at the bottom of Dry Pitch. I actually found going back out The Trick and the blasted crawl to be much easier than going down. The plan at this point was for Sharman to go through The Trick, and for me to push/kick the tackle bags to him. Sharman made it through without any real problems, apart from a bit of moaning. We had hard time trying to get the bags through though. We tried to use a haul line, however Sharman couldn’t reach the rope. I then tried kicking one of the bags as I went through the crawl, but the bag got stuck, then my leg got stuck in the shoulder strap when I was trying to free it, then I finally managed to free the bag and bring it out of the passage back to Dry Pitch chamber. At this point we decided to abandon the tackle sacks and just do a recce to Nasty Weather 1. So I went back through The Trick and met Sharman in the streamway.
The trip from here to Nasty Weather 1 consisted of a mixture of low crawls and traversing in a narrow rift. It’s very gloomy in this section of the cave. En route we found one of the life vest type heat packs that rescuers use to warm up casualties, which must have been left over from the rescue last year. Nasty Weather 1 was the turaround point. It was too wet to free climb and we wouldn’t have made it much further without tackle, so we headed out with no real difficulties getting back through The Trick.
I definitely plan to go back, but ideally with three people rather than two, and a better plan on how to get tackle through without getting it stuck.
It’s a lot easier to move tackle if you go head first. Me and Ron managed it, before it was blasted.
Ron? As in McDonald?
Headfirst seems remarkably unattractive – descending into water from a tight slot.
We’d have been fine if we’d just taken a rope through.
I meant Rob and well Chris you would just have to man/women up :)
I think it would have taken a seriously massive pair of balls to have attempted The Trick headfirst back before it was enlarged. I imagine the potential for getting stuck would have been very, very high, and the potential consequences would have been horrible. Going headfirst even now would require a good solid pair.
I guess I must have not had a w**k for a while when I did it then.
Wow it was 8 years ago, I must had still been wet behind the ears! Dan must had managed to reverse it after going head first, with a little shove.
Wow. That looks pretty bad. At least Pete was smart enough to attempt it feet first!
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