Everybody was up at Dale Head bright & early in order that the hole could be bottomed speedily & efficiently. Andy could see that by 11a.m. the rot was setting in, so he shouted for his bottoming team to get a grip. It was too late though, for Alec had decided to keep up with the H.C.C. tradition of festering at least twice a month, and he stopped on the surface. Despite the fact that Andy’s stentorian voice boomed to no effect and everybody’s confusion. (H.St.L.), things somehow became organised and we soon found ourselves sat round the entrance nestling like an old filling in a toothless yawn, (H,St.L..) of the shakehole. . By the time the photographic party, (Jim, Peter & myself) were ready, the hard men had all disappeared so we had a leisurely trip down as far as the big rift climb. Here things began to slow down, due not to the fact that there were constrictions which might cause people to vent their wrath on the offending projections. (H.St.L), but only people whose figures were somewhat more than Junoesque.(H,St.L.) found it easy to jam across the rift and climb down at the same time. Down the 45ft. pitch, through the boulders, along the crawl and thus into Fools Paradise. Here the 3 of us proceeded to take numerous photos, and I managed to cock the job up only once, by setting off all Jim’s. slave units with my flash gun. Just as we were preparing to finish, Steve appeared and told us that the bottoming team had failed - they hadn’t enough ladder because Andy had decided to use 50ft. of it on the top of the rift climb and should have realised that foresight is prophet to the unwary, (H.St.L.), but he can’t be expected to plan enough ladders for every pitch, can he?
Peter & myself started
to snake our way out, but whilst on the way in I had decided that no more would
I play slave while bearded knaves chuckled in heinous anticipation of relief from
their jangling shackle’s,(H..St.L.) (i.e. I didn’t carry any
tackle), unfortunately going out I hoh a 50ft ladder
Back at the rift climb we baulked, but decided that “if it were done then tis done, then ‘twere well it were done quickly (H.St.Macbeth), so I thrutched up & hauled the tackle up to be followed by Peter.
Shortly, “the entrance was.... espied, that filter of silver light, & scent of soil that quickens your step in a last burst of energy,(H.St.L.). However, it didn’t have this magical effect on Peter & he had, a short rest before climbing the entrance pitch.
And there we both sat, “huddled round the entrance, like pickets round a brazier,”(H.St.L.), till the others arrived and then we listened to Andy’s tale of woe, or how he was glad they couldn’t bottom the hole because the final rift was so tight that if anyone had been wearing a cagoule it would have come out “looking like a bullet-ridden flag from Custer’s last stand” (guess Who?). Thus endeth the first lesson on how to try & win the Newsletter prize by cribbing. . Extracts from the annals of St.Lawrence used without any permission whatsoever.