Black Shiver Pot

By way of a change we have two articles for the same trip! You can sort out the exaggerations for yourself.

The day began odinari1y enough with festering troglodytes making a contorted effort to amass the tackle for the days caving .... Black Shiver. “Get a Grip,” bawled Andy, as Keith crammed the1ast four feet of stubborn Bluewater into the straining tackle bag. SRT gear was selected, rejected, borrowed & stolen, and I still had doubts about the practicality of nine floating cams on a sit stand rig!! Still with the essential items already carefully mislaid, it didn’t really matter anyway.
Once changed at the Hill Inn (It wasn’t open), we trudged slowly in the blistering noon sun toward the noble prow of Ingleborough. Safe from burning thanks to the gale bowling along the valley. An age passed, soon the features of Meregill were clearly discernable and a quick scan revealed the mere to be dry. We walked on. It was at this point we realised that no one actually knew where the “ole” was. So searching like demented ferrets we spread out, eventually (more by luck than judgment) we found it, a short climb in a largish shakehole.

I arrived at the bottom in time to see ‘Get a Grip’s’ ankles disappearing into a narrow bedding, closely followed by “Man from Atlantis” Lewis who despite previous anxiety, slipped through with the grace of a sylph. Unlike the brilliantly packed Bluewater, which, after much dragging became the brilliantly unpacked Bluewater and stretched for 300 feet of passage. Andy shouted for a ladder. More grunts came from Keith and Mark as they argued with the rope, and I still in the entrance crawl, dozed off. “Get a grip back there”, cried Andy - once again a request for the ladder. Things were by now heating up and steam issued from all directions as Andy screamed obscenities regarding the overdue ladder and its mating habits. This was passed to him (If only to stop him fogging the passage & passing out with Brain Drain) and he, after studying its aerodynamics lobbed it over the pitch, (Electron ladders, by the way, don’t fly.) More obscene screams. Recuperating at the bottom of this easy pitch, we


moved on through stooping passage and small cascades to pitch number two. Less of a lash up was made here and all descended smoothly to follow a hading rift to pitch three. This had a rather interesting squeeze dropping into a deep pool - Black Dub - whose depth I didn’t bother to ascertain after my previous pool encounter in Simpson’s. More crawling and a short pitch -Thunder Pot - left us at the biggy - Black Rift.

The rope was rigged quickly to bolts of rather dubious character, and with slight trepidation (Safe in the knowledge that Andy said “It’ll be on reet”) followed Keith down. This 80 feet volpique abseil and the following 180 foot proved to be sheer joy, after sussing out miles magic descendeur, alias a Lewis self locking thingy. Landing on a cobbled floor we waited for Andy, who was some time having to place the protectors. The route down led through a duck and a stooping passage to a crawl over sharp rock (Great for knees), and the final pitch into a large chamber. From here a climb brought us into a hading rift with large breakdown boulders and the sump. I briefly acknowledged the black, uninviting pool, then turned to follow Andy & Keith out. (Dear Ed, Keith stopped 25 feet short of the sump - does this count?) Back at the pitch, Keith prussiked first while I with the Monaghan patented “Two hours & six helpers to put it on, sit stand rope walking system,” followed, expertly bottom belayed by Andy. On reaching the ledge, I was to undertake my first ’real’ bolt crossing, this coupled with the initial diagonal prussik was most interesting. However the top was reached with few problems except for curses uttered at a rather useless floating cam,(Back to the drawing board.)

The return trip was quick, the annoying factor being a rather large, very wet and heavy Bluewater resembling a python with exposure, hereafter nicknamed the snake, or in awkward moments,
“sodding thing” !

Upon exiting the weather was found to have closed in and the wind lazy* the  thought of a pint in the Hill Inn spurred us on till at last the cars were reached. A most enjoyable, if not impressive trip, time around 6 hours.

Party:    Andy “Get a Grip” Hall                                 ..                                                                                                  .           Keith “Man from Atlantis” Lewis.                                         .                                                                       .                Mark “Ever elusive” Woodhouse.                                                               .                                                     .                 Rob Franklin.                                                                                                .                                                                                      *  Lazy meaning “it-goes right thro’ ya!.”  

R. Franklin


“Got your SRT gear?” asked Andy in his best butch voice. “Yes” I replied. “Good, You’re doing Shiver tomorrow”.  ”Oh... fine”.  

Not having the appropriate copy of Northern Caves  we consulted Johnny Wilkinson that night in the Heifer and then  consulted John Conway for some sane advice. This of course meant that half of Ingleton knew of our intentions. We’d better bottom the thing.

A brief panic the following morning when we couldn’t find the entrance, but finally realised that we were walking over Yoredale beds and found the entrance lower down. The entrance crawl was not as bad as expected, it is a low, wide, bedding plane and I was able to dig out the cobble floor as I grunted my way through the water. Hands & knees crawling, soon followed by a walking sized passage (Yes, even for me.) quickly led to the first pitch, where Andy “Superigger” Hall
promptly dropped, the only 50 foot ladder onto a ledge, halfway down. The resulting re-rigging delayed us only slightly and was followed by a couple of unmemorable pitches, until “Superigger” managed to drop a belay down one. Black Dub and a low, wet bedding plane were both appreciated by Andy & Rob who were wearing dry grots.


Another short pitch and we were at the head of the Black Rift. Andy tied off the rope to every bolt in sight at the Eagles Nest and I abseiled first, stopping at the narrow ledge eighty feet down, where I found the traverse out to the large chock stone, quite easy using the rope tension through my descender. By the chock stone are two old bolts with rusty steel hangers, so I re-belayed the rope to both and then spent some time studying the hang of the rope on the second half of the pitch. Initially this appears rather off putting as there are some sharp flakes about 15 feet down and I made appropriate discouraging noises to those above who were offering encouragement by singing ”Why are we waiting. ...etc.” I decided to descend partway and was relieved see that the rope would only touch for the first four feet below the bolts. So I shouted up for the next man be descend to the chock stone & for Mark to descend last with his locking descender, to place the rope protectors. I was informed that Mark had jacked out so I continued my descent of the superb free-hanging, 180 foot pitch. This is in a rift 15 feet wide by 40 feet long, elliptical in cross section and surprisingly for a big fault controlled pitch, free of loose rubbish.

I was followed by Rob & Andy who both made disapproving noises in the duck at the bottom of the pitch. This was followed by a crawl over some of the sharpest cockling my knees have ever encountered. Then down an easy free climb, a short crawl and we were at the last pitch of 25 feet which was laddered & descended very carefully, definitely not apiece to fall & hurt yourse1f. This lands in a large chamber from which a short passage leads to the inevitable sump.

A speedy retreat was then made to the bottom of the Black Rift, where Kendal Mint Cake, prunes and other energy giving, confidence boosters were gulped down while donning harnesses. I won the race to get on the rope and climbed to the chock stone with its collection of rope protectors & bolts. I spent some time changing onto the upper rope and, having finally succeeded managed to dislodge a few pieces of shale which boomed loudly below me, though no louder than Andy’s disapproval.
On reaching the Eagles Nest, we found that Mark had buggered off and left us with the tackle. We were cheered up by more of Rob’s prunes and started the long slog out, which went much more smoothly than anticipated, until the crawls where an extra pair of hands would have been really useful. I found the low, wet grovel easier on the way out and was able to carry 400 foot of Bluewater through it, no doubt encouraged by a glimmer of daylight at the end.

The wind had freshened while we were below so we beat a hasty retreat to the Hill Inn, where, after quickly changing we shamed Mark into buying us pints of Old Peculiar.

K. Lewis.

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