Dubious Tactics

Notts Pot

Sunday 3rd. October

I suppose I had it coming. I mean, I’ve been accused of a few dubious tactics in my time. Most memorably, a descent of Hammer Pot when I turned up at 2 o’clock, soloed down to the top of the last pitch, heard the clink of ladders, and made a surreptitious exit before I had to carry any tackle. Then there was the Berger when Andy Hall and I had three dry sleeping bags apiece at Camp 1 before sneaking to the bottom in front of the Red Rose contingent. Almost got a bloody nose for that one. And Langciiffe, too - or rather, not Langcliffe because we went shopping with the girlfriend instead and got myself on the fight side of the boulder choke. Nethertheless, I managed to sell the story to the Daily Express for a large quantity of ale while my mates were still incarcerated below Conistone Moor. Yup, I had it coming.

But I didn’t expect it. Years had passed, faces changed, everyone would have forgotten. And It would hardly be likely to happen in Notts Pot, would it?

Wrong! Of course, I employed a few of the usual tactics - no chest jammer, no light etc. but these were soon provided together with a lift to Masongill. Then I used a third ruse by asking the Earby lads the way to Notts. This almost worked because we ended up in the wrong field and only Andy Hine appearing genie-like out of the heather got us back on track. Damn! Oh well, down we go. And it was all plain sailing, swinging down the centre route towards a babble of voices and the frantic screaming of Fran stuck somewhere beyond in a rift (nothing dubious about that excuse for turning back!). All things considered, it was going swimmingly.

In fact, I already had a hand on the rope up Adamsons ready for a quick getaway ahead of the milling hordes. When all of a sudden this tall bloke in a yellow suit looking like a cross between Matthew Kelly and King Kong and grinning like a Breakfast TV presenter turned and assailed me.

“You’ll come out Dubious Tactics route with me, won’t you Hugh?”

Putting my deafness to best use I studiously ignored him and went on admiring the formations to my right (well, Steve and Candy make such a nice pair, don’t you think!) But the man persisted.

“0i, cloth ears, ‘you going to help me detackle Dubious Tactics, or what?”

Everyone was now looking and I couldn’t avoid a reply. So I made one.


The negative was based on historical knowledge (that Stan had fallen off here and broke his ankle), plus a quick look at the constituents of the party which had just descended: Pete, who loves squalor; Dalek, who doesn’t know what it is; and Big Nose, from the NCC which says it all! To anyone with a full set, the equation stacks up to a big NO NO!

Well, I thought he’d let it go at that. But not Pete. No, he now played his trump card, his winning hand. In front of everyone, he shamed me.

“Well I don’t know” he grumbled, “Call yourself a caver! I thought you were making a comeback, Hugh. Must have been mistaken, you’re not one of the hard core. And after all the help I’ve given with your sump. I don’t know, you put your faith in these people and then they let you down. Well, if you’re not up to it I’ll have to detackle on my own. What’s the Red Rose coming to I ask myself?”

It was a pitifully dubious tactic. Shameless and shameful. I will never forgive him. But I had been undone. It was the only way to save face.

“Oh, all right, stop moaning, I’ll go out with you!”

Exiting Dubious Tactics is fun. You can try the first moves in the safety of your own living room. Use a step ladder and with the help of your family climb up and attach yourself securely to the ceiling light. Now ask them to take the ladder away and to gave you a gentle push. Use this to start a pendulum motion of increasing arc. At maximum potential stick your head out and beat it repeatedly against the chimney breast.
Congratulations! now send off your application to appear in TV Gladiators, Blind Date, The Generation Game etc.

Eventually, one can attain a tenuous purchase in a tight rift (not in your living room, goon - well at least draw the curtains first!) and with legs and feet peddling air dismount from the rope. You can either fall out and break something or manage to stay in and wriggle through 15ft. to a chamber. A simple 15ft. climb (HVS 5b) is Tactics Pitch which places you in another chamber below Dubious Pot, 25ft. Nothing apparently dubious from below, it’s only when you reach the belay that you realise - er well, that nothing is holding it on, like. Steadiness and a gentle dismount are called for, unlike some people who thrutch about screaming ‘Pete, Pete, don’t leave me!” 30ft. of holdless traverse over a big black hole now follow to the relative safety of a wet chamber and the junction with BT Route. As everyone knows, this is the least inviting of the trade routes. Anyway, several pitches and lots of crawling, followed by a last lurch over another pit brings one brings one finally back to Three Ways Chamber and a quick climb to the surface.
Morale had been restored somewhat and the scales levelled. We beat a quick retreat to Bernies and little more was said. But I shall not forget. Oh no sir! Not the bilious attack on my character. Nor that terrible crimson flush of embarrassment. No, siree. Not for its indisputable caving entertainment shall I remember this trip, but rather for the employment of such dastardly, underhand and shamelessly Dubious Tactics.

Hugh St Lawrence.


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