Volume 38 Number 3 Article 4
Large Pot / New Rift Exchange
26 August 2000 (Second time lucky!)
Members Present : Pete Dale, Duncan Jones, Andy Whitney, Sam Carradice, Alan Kerr.
After our failed attempt last time, I was determined to make this trip a success. I persuaded Sam, Alan and Andy to come with us and informed Duncan that he had no choice about whether he was coming or not. (Apparently his Marriage guidance job didnt work out!)
Saturday morning arrived and after the previous nights thunderstorm, I was a little tired and didnt appreciate my dog barking and waking me up! She was barking for a reason though, since Duncan was knocking on my front door. (Oops! Slept in!)
Upon reaching Masongill both Duncan and I where pleased to find that the weather was suitable for the trip; (drizzle with the odd possible thundery shower!) Alan, Andy And Sam arrived and we discussed our strategy plan for the trip. Dont know why, but Sam didnt seem too keen about this trip at all, (editors comment no doubt!) After a bit of cunning, I had managed to persuade them to have a go!
Teams assembled :
Large Pot - Duncan and me
Rift Pot - Andy, Alan and Sam
We got changed and set off up the rough track towards the caves. Reaching the style we dispersed into our two groups and went our separate ways, with Alan promising Rift would be rigged when we got there, (unlike last time! Eh chunks?), and me convincing them that Duncan would not be deriggng large before they got there.
Here we were again at the entrance to Large. Duncan wanted to rig so, since I always rig everything, it was only fair to let him for a change. After the usual pleasantries of the 2nd pitch we where in Thornton hall, where after a small grovel we climbed up into Secret Seven Passage. Almost immediately you encounter The Pit where a 4.5m climb down into a chamber is followed straight away, by a 5m climb back up! A very pleasant crawl in a sandy passage soon enlarges to allow stooping in a narrow rift until a junction is met.
From the junction you can either take the flat out crawl or the more awkward squeezy rift, since both lead to a junction with a stream. To the left is Tinkle inlet but we go right which starts as a shingle crawl that again enlarges to a narrow rift with a few zig-zags along the way. All too soon the rift opens out at an aven where a stream enters from high above and joins to Tinkle stream, and both fall down a slot in the floor to who knows where? The way on however is a passage that leads off opposite the point of entry Arcadia, with either an easy roof tube or a more difficult route a floor level.
Chunks decided on the floor level while I took the roof tube and had to wait for Chunks to get through before I could climb down into the narrow rift, otherwise I would have been in front! (Memories of Craftmans!!) After waiting a few minutes for Chunks to get the tackle bag out of the crawl, (no room to help him, honest!), we set off for Colossus. The narrow rift was just that and we traversed as best we could until we had no choice but to slip down to the floor at a left angled corner. Fortunately from here it was easier going for a while until we got to the start of the fun bit. Chunks entered first, dragging the bag behind him, (he had no choice Duffy!), and I followed quietly behind.
Ten minutes later we had successfully navigated the tricky section with the agility of racing worms! Im not going to describe the rest so as not to put anyone off! After a small climb down after a calcite dam and a climb over a chockstone, you pop out at the top of a 3m climb down, with Pumpkin passage heading off to the left. After easy walking in a fine passage where everything is covered in soft slippy moonmilk calcite, you reach the top of Colossus, a 46m pitch down a circular shaft into Necropolis chamber, 91m in length! The rigging for the pitch is somewhat intimidating, but Duncan handled it very well, even with me chucking rocks down the abyss; (6 seconds to hit the bottom!)
Pitch rigged and luckily, just before Chunks set off down, I realised that my descender and I had parted company again! (Only just got it back from last time as well, Dam!) Duncan said that he would send his back up for me to use (Good lad Chunks!) As Duncans light disappeared into the blackness of the void I realised that I hadnt been clipped onto the rope (Oops!) Duncan shouted summot and I pulled his stop up and made my descent. You dont notice how worn your own gear is until you use someone elses!
When I landed at the bottom I lifted Duncans jaw back up as he stood gawping at the sheer size of the cavern we were now standing in. I then took the lead and led Chunks along the worn path through some finely decorated chambers. All too soon it ends in a boulder choked passage where, a sadistically pleasant crawl leads you to the fun bit of the trip, a 4m long wallow in mud and water! Now I did bring a bucket to bail some of the water out, but unfortunately it got cracked going through the squeeze, which by the way is right before the wallow! So we tried using the tackle bag, (dont tell Duffs!), but in the end I gave up and just went for it. (Only got my ear wet!) Strange how a neofleece makes it that little bit nicer, even Chunks didnt complain about it! Well now we had passed that obstacle, the rest of the trip seemed easy. (We were wrong!)
Exiting the muddy crawl of the mouse-hole, we emerged into wonderful space where we followed the worn path to our first challenge, a sort of traverse along the side of the chamber. This proved very amusing as we turned the dry mud into a kind of sloping ice rink. This then entered a short crawl to the top of another muddy slope which was easily passed by sliding down on our arses! Unfortunately, what goes down must come up, and sure enough it did. All was going well up the slope, me in front with Duncan not far behind, but then the foot holds petered out, which left me in quite a situation. I reached a point about 1m from the top and found I couldnt move without slipping! Duncan had now caught up to me and was standing right behind me. He urged me on so I picked a good placement for my foot and proceeded with the manoeuvre. Nope! My footings gave and I slid into Duncan. We looked at each other in disbelief for a few seconds, then Duncans footing gave and we both slid to the bottom of the slope, where we lay laughing hysterically for a few moments!
Up the slope again, this time success. From the top was another crawl to a short section of walking followed by another short slope which I passed with ease, but Chunks struggled! Probably because of the pool of water at the top which miraculously made its way down to the bottom! (Funny eh? Chunks!) I got my punishment though because as I turned around I slipped and landed heavily on my back! Nearly there, we entered the flat out crawl of Acacia Avenue which leads to a climb down into the great expanse of Coates Cavern (60m by 20m).
Climbing down the boulder slope, we pierced the darkness with our lamps, looking for the rope out, and in doing so we smelt the faint aroma off one of Alans roll ups! Rope spotted, we had a quick look around and then I proceeded with my ascent of the pitch, since Duncan wanted to de-rig as usual.
Having not done any SRT for quite some time I was knackered after only a few meters! So after a lot of stops to admire the view I eventually reached the rebelay, passed it, and shouted down to Chunks to make his ascent. Following the rebelay was a traverse round to a small ledge where the final pitch landed, the only problem was that there was nowhere to put your feet! My first experience of a free hanging traverse, quite exciting! Duncan must have eaten his Weetabix this morning since he only took a couple of minutes to reach the ledge where we then both pulled the tackle bags up.
Pitch derigged and both bags packed tidily with rope we started the interesting exit crawl. From the top of the pitch the passage was followed in a spacious rift to where a short awkward climb saw us in the start of a small flat out blasted crawl, similar to the crawl in Pippikin after the entrance pitch. Following the crawl you have to climb up into a roof bedding with the stream flowing in a small fissure which traps bags! After a lot of complaining and swearing and a few different ways of navigating the crawl, we were relieved to stand up in the entrance shaft. I then proceeded with the rather dodgy climb up scaffolding to the surface, both of us in the open air again we replaced the timbers covering the entrance and made our way back to the cars.
Reaching the cars we were relieved to see that everyone was accounted for and safe. Upon asking why Alan and Andy didnt come out of Large they replied that they couldnt find the way! (Likely story indeed!)