Volume 34 Number 2 Article 3
Sunday 30th April 1997
Party: Hugh St. Lawrence, Jane Chilton, Dalek & Sam Carradice
Flicking back through past issues of the newsletter I found I last did Disappointment twenty years ago, so it was very considerate of Ray to volunteer me as coordinator for the trip! Thinking I might have forgotten what it's like, and to check out if it was P-hangered, I made a quick recognisance with Dave Edland one cold March evening. I had forgotten what it's like! We got as far as the duck and chickened out. This needed a wetsuit!
Come the morning and I hurried up to the farm to get some tackle before Youth nicked it all for Car Pot. Alas, I was too late and Paul sped by on the lane with a 'get - out - of - my - way - I'm - on - a - serious - mission' look on his face. Grabbing what tackle was left I picked up Sam and we set off for Clapham, where we got cosily bogged down in a cafe waiting for Dalek. The laugh was that Paul was meanwhile driving round and round Clapham trying to get a team together, and guess what? .... not a sausage! Inviting him on our trip only rubbed salt in and it was a gloomy Youth who departed for the farm to lick his wounds.
Twenty years ago I also descended Stream Passage Pot on the same day - by mistake! This time, with our resident ex-Bradford GG specialist in tow, there was no mistaking the entrance and we were soon grappling with the narrow rift below the rope climb, Jane noting that she might like a hand on some of the comers on the way out. Suitably reassured by Dalek we carried on to the duck which looked as evil as before. I got straight on with it before I had time to fanny about and soon passed the low bedding into a waterlogged but comfortable little rift. 'Not so bad' I thought, only to be confronted twenty feet on by a hole the size of a tennis ball above a smelly black pool. Shit! Helmet off, on my back and I gurgled through. Sam behind wasn't impressed and some gibbing ensued, but with Jane and Dalek cold on his heels he had no option. The going now improved somewhat to the first and second pitches, easy rigs with in-situ hangers and pull through tat. Below, a long rift with the odd crawl and traverse took us to the short third pitch, again with in-place hangers but a bit more tricky to reach. Back up spits are available for a traverse line but we had no bolts.
Speeding on down easy passage we were soon at the fourth pitch which the guide says 'descends rapidly to the head of the last pitch'. So I'd confidently brought one long rope.... which wasn't long enough! By making the fourth pitch into a horizontal abseil we eventually had enough stretch to bottom the pleasant last 45 ft pitch. I noted in 1977 that this pitch was "an excellent climb which only needs a bit of extra depth to make it a classic", and it's still like that, an airy little traverse out to bolts on the edge of a large chamber and a mostly free hanging drop to the floor.
I also remember being with a certain Johnny Wilkinson who, when asked by Pete Llewellyn how far it was to Bar Pot, cried "Fifteen minutes ..... no, ten..... no, five.... just turn left at Henslers, you can't miss it!" So it was with more than a hint of deja-vu that, on returning from the start of Far Country, I heard Dalek implore us that to Bar Pot was only "fifteen minutes ...... no, ten...... no, five ...... it's EEEASY, man!" Consequently, we spluttered through another low wet bit and on to Bar, where Dalek elected to sprint to the Main Chamber while we set off out. Needless to say we were still donning harnesses when he returned!
Up the last pitch and we waited in the trench for Dalek to derig..... so we could reach the rope for the fourth pitch! Then it was press on back to the third pitch, wait for Dalek again, grab the tackle and head off to the easy second and first pitches. In the rush to get the duck over with a good gobful of the evil black stuff was swallowed before swarming up the entrance rifts and final climb to the surface.
I was chuffed. Twenty years on and Disappointment was still a sporting little hole with a bit of everything - crawling, traversing, water, pitches and big stuff. Henslers Master Cave is one bit of impressive passage. This was also the first cave I've ever rigged from top to bottom (just!) - and you thought I was an old hand!. It goes without saying that the comfort and refreshments of the New Inn were enjoyed before departing homewards.
Hugh St. Lawrence