Volume 45 Number 3 Article 4
Peter Devlin 25 May 08
The Saturday of the Spring Bank Holiday weekend saw another spectacular failure on my part to get into Gaping Gill. A couple years previously I had attempted to do it with Oxford, but in my novice enthusiasm had chosen to ignore the fact that I was dying of the flu. On that occasion the walk up the fell finished me off, so having got to the top I was only fit for trudging down the hill on my own and getting into the Ingleborough Show Cave. This time the plan was for myself and Baby Pete (Pete Eastoe) to take advantage of the Bradford Winch Meet to do a trip (maybe an exchange) given that lots of routes were rigged.
Having made it onto the fell we decided to get into Flood (I’m informed the entrance we went in was Wade’s). Pete went in first and soon I was following. The start of the first pitch looked a trifle tight for me, but I gave it a go. Finding the pitch head a bit tight, I tried putting my stop on a Krab rather than straight into my central maillon, but when it got abit tight I bottled it. I tend never to over commit myself to squeezes, particularly vertical ones, so I called down to Pete and told him I was aborting this entrance. I then thought we were going to try Stream Passage Pot, but think we then tried Bar instead.
At the top of the first pitch in Bar I had the same problem as before, although I am informed by some of my equally generously dimensioned club-mates that you go under rather than over the tight bit. Anyway, at this point I gave up in disgust and decided that Gaping Gill would have to survive a tad longer without being graced by my presence. Pete and I managed to salvage something of the day by doing a trip into Bull Pot of the Witches where Pete rigged the three pitches.
On the Sunday the plan was to re-re-line the Lancs to Bull Pot of the Witches sump. I had relined this before, but Ray had told me my survey was 15m too long. Dave Ryall’s view was along the lines of “what do you expect? … it’s a diver’s survey”, but I felt the need to justify my survey (the first one I had done in anger). Jude and Sophie had been keen to do a carry for me (quite why I have not yet been able to determine), but as some of you will know I never look a gift carry in the mouth.
The plan for the day morphed into me diving to reline and Steve Robinson diving to check out the right hand wall (coming from Wilf Taylor side). The planned team was to have been Jude and Sophie, Baby Pete, Steve, and Sarah Conner. Unfortunately at the last minute Sarah had to work so was unable to join us. The planned team was the perfect 2 diver team: 3 bags/bottles each diver, 3 sherpas per diver, so being down a Sherpa was suboptimal. The thought of carrying 2 bottles stretched my powers of persuasion, so when it became clear that two of the Manchester lot wanted to get underground while the others did and arduous Ingleton café crawl, I was quick to offer a trip to Kevin and Adam.
At the top of Lancs we were lowering the gear and I was struggling to figure out how to get a second point of attachment on one of Steve’s bottles, and was aware of everyone watching me fumble. A voice in my ear said “Pete, use a clove hitch”: Jude had come to my rescue … I was in caving mode so it never occurred to me to use a climbing knot.
The carry was uneventful: my new sherpas were a cheerful bunch whose spirit had not yet been ground down. Give it time. Soon I was kitting up and getting ready to dive. Before inserting myself into the tight bit I tie clipped my new line to the existing lines, but once inside I managed to snag the new line I was laying to a clip on the reel. In nil vis I wasn’t positive exactly what the problem was, but I took my time and managed to sort out the problem. Soon I was tying off to the survey station, and found that whereas my previous line had been 115m long, this time it showed 110m.
On the way back I tried to check out the sump passage underneath the airbell, but in diving with no buoyancy and securing the new line to the existing line I managed to foul up the vis, so I decided that I would leave that for another day. Besides, Jude and Sophie had brought a picnic along and I felt enough was enough.
I got back to the Wilf Taylor end to find Steve back triumphant: he had found a side passage in the as yet unexplored right hand wall, about 40m in. He had only had 6m of search reel, so had been unable to explore properly, but at last there was the promise of something new. Shortly after that the rest of the gang returned from their bimble and Steve and I got to have a picnic while we dekitted/packed our gear.
The carry back went smoothly: as ever I struggled somewhat with the awkward pit with the ladder, but having done this a number of times I know how I need to do it: sometimes experience overcomes lack of ability. At some point on the way back we agreed to pay a visit to the Colonades. As we came out of Kath’s Way, we were met by George: having been left to fester on his own he had decided to join us. Dumping the gear we checked out the Colonades. On our return we found that George had shifted all the gear to the bottom of Lancs: sometimes to toast falls butter side up. George then proceeded to haul all the gear up the pitch: Go George!!!
Many thanks to all the sherpas. Particular thanks to Jude and Sophie for the picnic. Long live the “Pink Rose Cave and Piss-up Club” of which I am proud to be a member!