Lost Marbles cavers: Chris Scaife and X Ritchie
Sidewinders: Mike Skyrme and Chriss Shaman
In my copy of Selected Caves, I have “UNCC 2002” scrawled beside the entry for Marble Steps, and that was the last time I had visited this classic pothole. However, as Storm Ciara approached, we had time for one last hurrah before flood waters engulfed the kingdom, so planned an overdue return visit.
Xaaaaandah and I went down the Lost Marbles entrance, which was highly entertaining. A narrow entrance series with flat out, wet crawls and several junctions brought us to a stemple in a narrow rift, really quite a tight pitch. The Rappeller from Rawtenstall went first, with his Stop on his short cow’s tail. The sound of cracking ribs and puncturing lungs underlined the snugness of the pitch, but once down he told me it looked easy enough as a handline climb. I therefore followed without the awkwardness of donning my SRT kit at the constricted pitch head and without the encumberance of descending gear. Piece of cake.
The difficulties were over. A few more pitches and easy crawling and we were in the Main Chamber. Mike and Shaman were evidently ahead of us, so we used their ropes all the way down the Intestines. Enjoyable caving with some slightly awkward pitch heads and shapely intermediate passages. We met the others at the foot of the final pitch, then all went out the Sidewinder Route, serendipitously meeting those BPC buggers at the top of Stink Pot. Marvellous.
Only other thing of note, is one of the crabs was well and truly jammed on the short pitch below stink pot. With the same rope used for the pitch below that, I had the time of my life undoing the knot and then re-threading the rope through the knot that often got tangled and lots of swearing ensued.