Wet, Wet, Wet.

Pool Sink, Sunday 13th November           Pete Hall and Hugh St.Lawrence

Yet another abortive Saturday in the crater doing not so wonderful things with pumps, pipes and supposed siphons and I wanted an easy trip on Sunday. Fortunately, so did Petes back, and it liked the sound of a womble down Pool Sink to investigate some hidden inlet I thought I had once seen.

Stepping out of the farm door brought home the piss poor pressure (do you like the alliteration) of the showers inside the farm. Here, outside, was what we should have inside - a proper shower into which we set off gaily for a date with the Bog Monster. Splish, splash, splash!!  Half an hour later. Ah ha! So we weren’t doing pool sink after all, the pool foaming gently two inches off the entrance. “I think we’ll leave that one.” says Pete, so we tottered off down the gill admiring the absence of normal features like the Borehole and Slit Sinks entrance. It was, as they say, a trifle wet.

County seemed the only appealing option, so we stashed the gear and just put a handline on the entrance pitch. This almost turned out to be a mistake. But for the timebeing Broadway was “comfortably wet” and Showerbath “nicely sporting”, with a little traversing keeping our socks dry down to Confusion Corner. I had never been up the Trident bypass to PJ so Pete showed me, worming up through some damp little boulder chokes with small stones and shingle washing themselves down with the steam. A left turn at the top brought us closer to the source of the thundering reverberations, and then, boy! was it a sight worth seeing! Wall to wall white water (you do like the alliteration!) crashing down from somewhere (Swindon Hole? , Corner Sink?) with the exit crawl a definite no no.

“Must be a bypass round here,” I said and sure enough half an hours ferreting in various crawls and tottering boulder passages found us at a manky length of electron ladder and a climb down into Trident streamway. All the time the cave shook with thunder and blasted draughty air down every passage. Quite exiting really.

“Quite deadly’ was the verdict on the steamway itself, and it would indeed have been very silly to lose footing as we traversed first downstream - eventually impassable - and then upstream - absolutely impossible - towards White Line Chamber. As Pete waited while I tried one more bend he was heard to mutter, “It’s a bit like Mexico.” Everyone knows or has read of Petes Cuetzelan Experience, and it seemed reasonable that he didn’t want a replay just now. Instead, we climbed back up inlets to the Chocolate Traverse and gawped incredulously at the whirlpool that was the top of the usual White Line Waterfall. I couldn’t see it, but Pete swore that the water was rising. And his word was good enough for me.
We beat it back out of Trident and I took Pete though the bypasses he didn’t know round the Spout and the low crawl to RI. Then on down Northwest Passage into the silence at last of the Gallery Extension. We had a rest. Coming out didn’t immediately seem any wetter, until we got to Showerbath, where we had to grope, hoods up, through two massive waterfalls. Then, rounding the corner, we saw the County pitch. 000ps! This had now turned into a raging cascade and free climbing it was a bit of fun. Pete spurned my rock technique and just pulled himself bodily up the rope. Then we were out.

Three hours after crossing a raging Ease Gill we now gazed upon something more like the Ganges in monsoon flood. It was simply awesome. We immediately had fears for the Aston University camp who had taken some freshers down wretched Rabbit, so we raced up and crawl in to the rope pitch, shouting, “Get the f*k out of here it’s flooding!” No answer (and as it happened they had turned back at the cascades - not wanting to be rescued twice in two days!). The scene looking up the gorge from the entrance was chilling: foaming brown water was being tossed every way in the air with huge cataracts plunging over cliffs from the fellside into the seething torrent. Nature had gone mad. It is good for the soul (and experience) to be in caves in these conditions - knowing you are “safe” , as it were. The Ease Gill end of the system, being the inlet end of things, would not see wholesale backing-up and sumping - only local areas being impassable. But down the other end, at
Lancaster Hole, all this water would surely not be able to get out?
Luckily for you, dear reader, we had two “observers” down that way to check things out! Over to Neil and Angela

Hugh St.Lawrence

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