Juniper Gulf

P. Seddon & M. Woodhouse.

Poor Paul was only able to manage a midweek trip owing to the pressure of work i.e. Flying to Germany, France & Germany again - how boring. So I had to develop a mysterious stomach bug for a day. The day started very civilised indeed with a brew in the Fountains Cafe, then we both drove up to Crummack to get changed. It took us about an hour to get up on to the Allotment and find the hole, by which time the weather was looking distinctly off putting with the mist descending and a light drizzle falling. Brushing aside thoughts of heavy rain, we abseiled the entrance pitch, laddered the two 25’s & began the traverses, which incidentally had flood debris liberally scattered about them. We reached the “bad step” which we had needlessly brought a line for, as we had no trouble at all on it. The 90ft. pitch was rigged off a block about 3 feet down the pitch, with a cows tail going up onto a superb belay point in the roof. The abseil down this was superb, right down the middle of the shaft, landing just to the side of the very wet ledge. More traversing, until after a climb up and over some blocks we reached the last alternative pitch - 200ft. & free hanging apart from the top three or four foot. Paul swore that the drop was no greater than 80ft., but having abseiled it he soon changed his mind. Again we double belayed the rope, primarily to a large projection/ledge about five feet down the actual pitch & backed this up to a block in the main chamber. This was fine until I came to change over from the cows tail to the main rope - after a great deal of messing about I finished by jamming myself over the pitch between the belay point and the wall behind am & taking off all safety devices in order to get myself sorted out. This is a good pitch for those who have constipation troubles. After a seemingly endless time abseiling through the tenebrous void (this is not one of Hugh’s), I landed next to Paul & we set off for the sump, which must hack up a great deal during flood, judging by the debris lying about.
I ascended the 200ft. first and again had trouble changing from the main rope to the back up, not because of gear, grip up etc., but because my foot inadvertently unhooked the main belay from its anchor, & I only noticed it when Paul got on the rope & I saw the secondary belay go taut. This would not have been a very good prussik for Paul as the rope ran over several sharp lips (or for the rope. ed.), so after much screaming down the shaft Paul got off the rope. Apparently not because he heard what I was shouting, more because he sensed a certain urgency in my voice. I then had to abseil down the cows tail & do my balancing act again to get the belay back on.  

Paul went up the 90 first & I had an awful ascent on this as the rope.(Joanny) spun & bounced for the first 50 feet, making me feel very uncomfortable (you will remember I was off work with an upset stomach) . At the top of the ladder pitches, Paul gallantly took the 280ft. rope off me, as by this time I was knackered through carrying it all the way in & out - however he was kind enough to leave me his bag to carry. Up the entrance pitch and out into a great day - sunny but windy, after a steady 5 hour trip.
P.S. Paul devised a great method of hauling the tackle bags up the pitches using the SRT rope, a couple of CMI ascenders & a sling. It makes it so effortless & quick and worth bearing in mind on big stuff.

M. Woodhouse.

 

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