Volume 43 Number 1 Article 5
15th January 2006
Ruth MacDonald, Simon Jobling
I have often wanted to visit Diccan but whenever I tried to persuade people to accompany me they always seemed to have an alternative trip and so distracted my attention.
Ruth and I having decided to go for it, Ruth having few other options available, met at Inglesport at 9:30, Dave and Bill were off to Poppy and we didn't envy them that trip! Gary and Abbi appeared and told us of their trip down Diccan and how could it was - we were ready for anything!
We were changed and ready for the off by about 11:00 and descending the first pitch of Diccan by about 11:30.
The water pounded down the fall, creating a fearsome and intimidating spectre that never left my side the whole trip. The Y-hangs were perfect, but seemed far too numerous. As I descended further the icy blast of cold air began to creep through my oversuit and gloves leaving me chilled. Deviation followed deviation until eventually I could see 'the windswept ledge'. On landing here I knew what chill was all about! I quickly spotted the last Y-hang of this pitch, rigged and got out of the way of the hell that was the ledge.
Ruth quickly joined me and I gave her the option of a retreat, feeling conditions were marginal and any delay due to accident or slight mishap could be quite costly. Ruth was determined and so we pushed on, leaving the 60m rope and bag swaying in the breeze - mistake No.1.
We quickly rigged the second pitch in more comfortable surroundings, the water only roared but the frightful gale seemed to have abated. The third pitch was really impressive, a long traverse right to the end of a rift with a Y-hang perfectly set up, More Y-hangs, rebelays and deviations followed until I landed on a spray washed ledge and began having memories of a few pitches ago! I spotted a bolt, set up a rebelay and got out of there, landing at the bottom of Diccan - half objective achieved.
After a nosey about Ruth arrived and we decided it wasn't really the place to hang about, both of us shivering quite nicely. Ruth wanted to de-rig and was quietly confident, so I set off and soon got to the first rebelay, got over it and Ruth could get on the rope and get moving - everyone happy!
The third pitch was great, both of us moving together, always a bolt apart and both keeping warmish with movement. I promised to wait at the top of the second pitch and relieve Ruth of the bag, containing a 60m rope and 40m rope - ouch!
Ruth joined me just below the 'the windswept ledge' and I grabbed the bag and said I would let her know when to start climbing. I prussiked up to the ledge, hit the Y-hang, climbed above and shouted 'rope free' - mistake No.2.
I was under the belief I would soon hit a rebelay or Y-hang to allow Ruth to get on the rope, out of the hell of that ledge. I prussiked as fast as I could with the bag of 100m rope annoyingly bashing into my legs every time I pushed up. I met a deviation, no good, another deviation, no good so pushed on until I saw the Y- hang. I was wondering if I would get a response from Ruth when I shouted 'rope free' and was relieved to hear 'okay!'
I waited at the head of the pitch shivering and feeling guilty about leaving Ruth on that ledge. She eventually appeared and we both tried to talk but our voices could only croak due to the moisture and cold in the air, the time was around 3:00.
We rushed out got changed and dived back into Inglesport where that angel Tracey provided us with much needed warm stuff, whilst Johnny smirked knowingly and added the words 'Bad choice of cave, it's even cold in Summer'.
What would I do next time? Certainly pack the bags differently so that the bag change happens lower down the pot - bottom of pitch 2. This means the de-rigger has a lot of rope at the end of the trip but would avoid the long delay on the ledge.
Consider carefully when to shout 'rope free' so that the final person can keep moving - Diccan is not the place to hang about in!
Wear a wetsuit, more thermals, or a body heating suit as worn by astronauts or take an umbrella!
However, despite all that, the trip was done, we both thawed out and another Dales classic has been ticked. The place is fantastic, great roaring holes with water gushing and deafening you. Definitely not the place for the fainthearted!