A Weekend in Wharfedale
After minor stalling
tactics, it was decided that the inevitable could be put off no longer. So
while the hard men set off to do Strans Gill Pot, Keith went for a walk with
Vicky & Graham took Gill down
With the arrival of Pete, we
set off along an unpleasant crawl/traverse and soon reached yet another squeeze
through a tight tube over a narrow rift. While Chris & I went on to the
Opera Box at the head of the big pitch, Mark attempted the squeeze several
times. Ultimately he decided that the cave was too much for him. Pete being a
noble fellow vo1unteered to take him out. So while Mark “chickened out”, Chris
& I carried on, having been lumbered with Pete’s camera box and vague
instructions on how to use a Rollie.
It took us sometime to rig the awkward takeoff for the I0 ft. pitch & it proved necessary to rig it in such a way that the rope did not run directly over the edge. This meant putting on one’s rack while straddled over the 160 ft. drop but it certainly made getting off the rope a lot easier when prussiking back up. To me this pitch was the best part of the cave. The way on from the pitch was a long, wet crawl & then down two narrow cascades with a canal & duck at the bottom, this led directly to an awkward climb & then on to the 4th. pitch, 40ft. & wet. This was soon rigged & we descended to the large chamber below. From this chamber several ways on are possible. At first we picked the wrong one & climbed up a steep mud slope, into a shattered area, where we decided to retreat in the interest of safety. Back in the chamber we followed the stream & found our way via a short crawl to the Passage of Time. (At last)
This begins with a wide traverse on muddy ledges but soon opens out into a large phreatic tunnel and quote … “the way on continues as a large well decorated passage to a double bend and here the formations reach staggering proportions”. Well, I suppose they are quite good, but I’ve seen better. After a short rest during which we tried unsuccesful1y to sort out the mysteries of Pete’s camera we set off on the long road out. At first things went very smoothly & we made good time up the big pitch, through the squeeze & to the bottom of the 2nd pitch. Here, we could hear the others on the surface at least we could hear Keith yelling abuse dawn the hole! Our problems really started here, yet we were so near the surface.
Due to tiredness, I found greet difficulty in getting off the top of the second pitch, the double line being an added encumbrance. After about I0 minutes I eventually got off the ladder & began to haul the gear up. After dragging it feet first along the crawl it was pulled up the entrance pitch by the surface party. (Thanks for coming baack lads) We finally made it to the surface with a good deal of help from the lifeline/hauling party. Looking back I suppose I enjoyed it in a masochistic, sort of way. On reaching the pub I managed to force down a couple of pints in the last hour. Probably a good job as I was too knackered to drink any more.