Volume 39 Number 1 Article 2
Banging in Boggarts
Saturday 27th October 2001
Present: Andy Whitney, Pete Hall, Ben Shaw, Pete Dale, Duncan Jones, Dave Thompson, Hugh St Lawrence
Pete Hall had offered Pete, Duncan and I a 'trip' down Boggarts to which we somewhat reluctantly agreed. We knew that a digging session would be the inevitable conclusion to such a 'trip', but nevertheless we all duly arrived at the parking area on Newby Moss at the allotted time. Upon stepping out of the nice warm car, we found the wind to be a little on the chilly side of freezing so I elected to get changed inside the car with Pete and Duncan having similar ideas.
Once changed Pete H and Dave set off for the entrance while I waited for Pete and Duncan, as we were to carry the batteries for the drill. Ben hadn't had much sleep the previous night and had passed out in the car, planning to join us later. By the time Pete D had stopped faffing, Pete H and Dave were well up the hill, and considering that we didn't know exactly where the hole was we started a speedy walk in an attempt to catch up. This plan was soon halted after two minutes as Pete complained of being knackered, despite having the lightest battery! Pressing on, Pete attempted in vain to get us to stop for a rest by remarking how spectacular the views were. Duncan and I were having none of this and were soon stretching out a healthy lead. Gradually the shouting and swearing from behind grew fainter and fainter, and upon looking back we spotted Hugh (who had arrived after us) catching Pete very quickly. The next time we looked back Hugh was well ahead of Pete!
As we neared level ground Duncan and I slowed so that Hugh could catch us and show us where the entrance was. We soon found Pete H and Dave waiting patiently in the large shakehole. Ten minutes later Pete turned up making lots of noise, prompting Pete and Dave to set off down the sparsely rigged entrance pitch. Hugh, who had only come up to bring equipment departed after taking some photos of Dave on the pitch. The entrance pitch is quite a nice daylight shaft and lands next to a large hole which seems to be the obvious way on. Unfortunately this is not the case and a smaller hole on the opposite side is entered. The second pitch follows almost immediately and has a rather awkward funnel-like top. No traverse line is available here due to the minimal rigging, and the muddy funnel has to be negotiated unprotected! Once down a short climb leads onto the third pitch in a narrow rift.
A precarious climb down some shored rocks and along a constricted, blasted rift soon gains the fourth pitch, which again has a slightly awkward take-off. Due to the position of the rope in the shaft the drop has to be approached head first. An acrobatic shuffle over the hole to turn around and you can sit on a comfy ledge on the opposite wall. Once this is done it is an easy descent down a good sized and fine looking shaft with a large and impressive pinnacle near the bottom.
At this point Pete and Duncan were still a couple of pitches behind me so instead of waiting for them to catch up I decided I would continue on alone. The only way on from the bottom of the pitch was a flat out crawl through a hole at floor level. Alarmingly this opens out over a large pit without warning! Staring down this large hole is rather intimidating, the only way past being an unprotected headfirst straddle. A further hole follows beyond, but the obvious way on seemed to be to my right where I could hear a large volume of water crashing noisily to the floor. As I approached the source of the noise a rope came into view, and yet again a muddy slope led to an exposed lean out over the drop to grab the rope. Looking down I could see the rope being swallowed by the thick tube of water blasting in from an inlet up near the roof - a drenching was imminent.
As I started to descend towards the water I hoped that this was the way on. It seemed obvious, but could have just been a blind pit that was still being investigated. I didn't relish the thought of getting soaked for no reason. As I reached the point were the water intercepted the rope, I sped up in an attempt to minimise the time spent under the cascade, but to no avail, as I was quickly drenched. My feet soon touched the floor but trying to remove my descender at top speed only resulted in fumbling and more time spent under the full force of the downpour, until eventually I was free and able to leap out of the torrent.
Looking around for a way on I spied an obvious dig in a stooping sized passage, but this immediately closed down around a corner, forcing a retreat back to the draughty, spray-lashed chamber. Further investigation revealed a low narrow crawl in water, but a small inlet in the roof rained water down the full width of the constriction. This surely wasn't the way? Perhaps I had missed something at the top of the pitch? With still no sign of Pete and Duncan I decided to ascend the pitch and have a more thorough look around at the top. Prussiking up through the water like a man possessed I still got soaked, and found to my dismay that there was no way on at the top! Pete and Duncan had now finally arrived, and with renewed enthusiasm I led them to the wet pitch for my second attempt and third bath of the day. I was thoroughly cold and wet now so it was a bit academic anyway.
Pete and Duncan's whimpers and moans as they met the water seemed to indicate that they were enjoying it, so I suggested to them that they might want to push the wet crawl at the bottom. This met with some objection, and despite insisting that this was the only possible way forward nobody seemed too keen. A long period of sitting, moaning, and Pete moving boulders about ensued until eventually the onset of mild hypothermia forced our hand. Duncan was soon elected to enter the crawl by way of a simple and totally biased ballot and we soon had him squirming headfirst into the unpleasant looking squeeze. With surprisingly little complaining Duncan was soon through and disappeared out of sight.
Ten minutes or so passed and Duncan still hadn't reappeared. Just as we were about to follow (honest!) we heard a noise, it was Duncan. His brief report seemed promising, and proved that it was definitely where we should be heading - bugger. Reluctantly we pushed ourselves forward and through the water, which wasn't anywhere near as bad as it had looked! Oh well. I soon found Duncan sat by a small pit with water entering into it just below. Pete was nowhere to be seen having shot off ahead now that it didn't appear so nasty. Looking down the pit I could see a low bedding leading off just short of the bottom, but the water was splashing down in front of it. Duncan seemed hesitant, so I climbed down to find Pete. Passing through the water was not particularly nice, but I soon found Pete at the start of a blasted out passage. Drawing my attention to the decent flow of water shooting off along this, Pete asked me to have a look. As I was now getting a little frustrated I shot off on hands and knees along the perfectly straight tunnel. A sudden ninety-degree bend halted my progress as around the corner the roof lowered drastically meaning a flat out crawl in the water with less than a foot of airspace. Surely they wouldn't have gone along there? I retreated and informed the others, and we unanimously agreed to head back out, now thoroughly cold and dejected.
The only problem now was what to do with the batteries? If we left them Pete and Dave would have to carry them out by themselves, but if we took them with us they couldn't do any capping! We retreated back to the bottom of the fourth pitch to discuss tactics, and hoped that Pete or Dave would come looking for us and show us the correct way. A further period of waiting ensued and I decided to exit with my battery as I was starting to shiver. Halfway up the pitch I heard shouts from below which I recognised as Dave's voice. A little warmer from my ascent, I did a changeover and abseiled back down to find out what was going on.
Reunited with Dave he informed us that as he was shuffling along the 'normally' dry crawl a sudden sound of rushing water had been heard, quickly followed by the water itself. It seems that in an attempt to avoid a damp looking puddle, Pete D had removed an 'obvious' dam, thus allowing the carefully diverted water to flow back along the blasted passage and around the ninety degree bend! So it wasn't just me being 'soft'! Anyway, Dave and Pete were none to impressed by the amateur Dambusting, Dave having to retreat feet first around the awkward bend. Pete H was still at the dig and Dave suggested to Pete D that if he valued his teeth he should re-build the dam and take two of the batteries to Mr Hall. Taking my battery with me I started making my way back out, with Dave just behind. Unrepeatable choice phrases from Pete indicated that he probably didn't intend on taking the batteries.
At the top of the fourth pitch I shouted "Rope Free" to Dave and headed to the next pitch. About halfway up I heard a voice from above - it was Ben. I explained the series of events and Ben agreed that I should take my battery back out with me. Suddenly I heard a shout from Dave further behind. His dodgy FX2 had finally had enough, and in true Carbide style had gone out at the most inopportune moment leaving Dave straddled across the top of the fourth pitch in darkness! I shouted back to hold on (what useful advice!) and quickly changed over and went back down to help. Just as I arrived Dave's light had flickered back into life and he had safely vacated the pitch requiring no further assistance. By this time Ben had descended the third pitch and after saying our goodbye's we continued our ascent to the surface.
Dave needed to get back ASAP to meet his girlfriend so he continued on while I waited for Pete and Duncan to catch up. They soon appeared so I continued making my way out, and we were all soon back on the surface. The trip hadn't exactly gone according to plan and I was a little annoyed to say the least. As was to be expected Pete H and Ben got absolutely no digging done, and the whole escapade was a complete waste of time. On a happier note, Ben and Hugh recently asked me to come back and take some photos as a record of their progress. I hope that the results will go some way towards making up for the fiasco of the Boggarts Battery Bungling episode!