Volume 34 Number 2 Article 4
Detackling - Ireby Fell Caverns
Dave Thompson and myself finished our light snack, glanced once more at the sump and set off along Duke Street. We were both surprised that we the only people in the cave. We were in good spirits as we set of for the slide show and a good session at the farm. It certainly is an impressive passage. You could have a football match in it. Apparently the N.C.C. have! We wondered if they would soon get to such matches via the Temple of Doom in New Rift Pot.
Dave had rigged on the way in so I volunteered to detackle on our return journey. All went smoothly until Well pitch. On the way in Dave had sped across the traverse of 'P' hangers. Until he got to the 'Y' hang. The hanger for the right hand side of this was beyond a bulge in the wall. Being clipped into the left hand hanger he could not get to the distant one, so he came back along the traverse and followed a ledge up the right-hand side to a point where he could simply lean over and clip the knot into the right hand hanger. Hence when I got to the top and found the far end of the 'Y' hang out of reach I decided to use the ledge as Dave had done.
'How old are these cows tails? This would be a big fall factor if I was stupid enough to fall off' I mussed as I followed the ledge. Having retrieved the 'Y', I retraced my steps. As I climbed down the friction in the dales was switched off. Ray "Petzl-goed" in Pool Sink, and my arm slipped on the opposite wall. I wish I had found out what that fall factor was like. Instead my plummet was broken by a saddle shaped rock, which I landed on John Wayne style! Dave heard my scream and rushed back. He was somewhat relieved not to find me at the bottom of the pitch.
'Are you aright? 'This was not the time for gelastic rejoinders! 'Just watch me back across this traverse.' I squeaked.
'Would you like me to de-rig from here?' 'Fucking right I would.' I mussed.
For some reason I agreed to carry the other tackle sack out. I did not know the extent of my injuries, but realised that I was probably running on a cocktail of shock and adrenaline. With no one else in the pothole the only action was to keep going and not stop however slow I got. The prospect of C.R.O.'s taxi service wasn't worth thinking about.
Memorable highlights of the journey to the surface include the prussiking, vertical not to bad. However consideration of the forces acting whilst climbing with the left leg over the rope and the tackle sack hanging vertically, just after a rebelay will give some idea of the fun. Dave caught me up at one pitch. I informed him that I really hoped I was pissing myself, as I could feel all sorts of oozing and gurgling. The crawls seemed like luxury. The entrance was extremely interesting. You know that leg parting drainpipe. I was so glad to get to the surface. The walk to the car in the warm sunshine made me feel a lot better. The possibility that I was not that bad crossed our minds and I considered the possibility of getting to the farm for that slide show and party. It'll be reet! When we got to the car I rolled a fag, (first things first as they say) and undid the top of my over suit. When I took off the top half of my furry I just stood and gazed - I had never seen a red Hally Hanson before! When I undid my harness there was an almighty gurgling and my best caving grundies filled up with cranberry source. It was then decided that perhaps we should not go straight back to the farm. However, being the optimist that I am, with good night at the farm on the cards, I considered that hospital may not be necessary. Probably looks worse than it is. C.R.O. have doctors. Angela could wipe, couple of aspirins & on the beer.
Hence I hobbled into Bernies. Steve advised me to get to hospital as that is where any doc in the area would send me. We went to Kendal being the nearest. After a bit of a clean up I was dispatched to Lancaster, as Kendal does not have a willy department.
Dave returned to the farm with my caving gear and house keys so he could keep an eye on things in Bath until my return. I waited for a pressure bandage to be applied. 'How come you get all the good jobs?' was not the best question to ask the young student nurse who should have been out on the Saturday night raz. Mind you she did a good job. I admired her handy work, eleven inches by vim tin diameter resting rigid on the bed table! The last meal I had eaten was breakfast some sixteen hours previously, and consequently I was getting pretty peckish. My request for food was denied on the grounds that I was going for an exploratory operation.
I awoke much later that morning and was allowed a cup off tea. The nurse told me about the op. Apparently I had a ruptured urethra. The doc had gone in with a fibre optic up-your-endi-scope to ascertain the extent of the damage. In cave diving terms there was crap vis in a tomato puree sump. So the flow from my bladder had been diverted via an abdominal catheter to allow healing and the chance for him to have another look later on. The nurse then told me how lucky I was.
'Call this lucky!' It could have been a lot worse. The urethra carries the body's waste products to discharge overboard. These can be pretty toxic. The urethra passes through an area of fleshy tissue containing many blood vessels. Blood carries useful things around the body, such as sugar, oxygen & alcohol. These should not meet the nasty toxic stuff going the other way. If this does happen, dependant on what you have been eating, the exercise you have done and other factors you could be dead within two hours. I agreed that I was fortunate.
This thought put the next few weeks into prospective. Tubes in & out of everywhere, hospital food and subsequent operations were not fun, but I must thank the many of you who made this time as comfortable as possible for me: Dave for taking me to hospital & looking after things in Bath, all of you who visited me, (the staff knew exactly which bed to send any visitors in fleece jackets or Ron Hills) Mel & Sandra, Dave & Sue and Sarah who helped with my escapes to the dinner and the Marton Arms, all those who put me up after I got out of hospital, particularly Pete & Sarah who also visited me most days, and anybody I have forgotten.