Someone once said that ‘History is written by the Victor’ but in this case it’s written by the first one to get it down on paper. As I know Andy Whitney and Sam Lieberman very well, I’ll be the first as they’re far to limp to get their acts together and actually write something. Here goes then, the story of our Cow Pot training exercise. It all starts with my stupid idea to use the route in Cow Pot after the Tour de France day to do some up and down training for Berger and the realisation that probably nobody had been there for years. In order to make sure the spits weren’t completely shagged I thought it would be sensible to check them out and have a play on string at the same time.
Cow Pot had vegetated in my absence and this gave plenty of hiding places for the millions of midges that immediately descended as soon as we arrived, no surprise there then. I fought my way through the greenery to head of the training route with Sam trailing in my wake as Andy had a little rest before making his way alone down the normal route. Sam had a little trouble finding the spits as they blended in with the moss and algae that proliferates in the near Amazonian conditions in this spot but he ploughed on downward, even finding a deviation and he descended to the sneaky traverse a mere two metres off the stream trench. The rusty spits were proving problematic but he persevered and got all three before lowering down to get the final Y-hang.
By now Andy had explored Shale Cavern and the connection to Aardvark and had returned to find us perched above him. It was at this point I noticed that the rope might get caught behind a boulder as Sam had let it all drop down to the stream, so I started reeling it in to get it out of harms’ way. It was at this juncture that the dilemma became apparent. As Andy sat looking up surrounded by lots of rope we on the other hand were rapidly running out of rope and still had a good ten metres to reach the floor, oops!!!!!!!!!!!! It now became clear what had happened, Andy had Sam’s rope and Sam had his, well you just can’t get the staff can you. There now started some rope swinging and Sam eventually got Andy’s rope and climbed back up and used it to rig the Y-hang. However, the best was yet to come. From my hanging position I tried to aim Sam at the rebelay on the far wall of the main shaft but being blind as a bat he tried to reach some spits from another route and failed. I must admit it is an interesting manoeuvre as it involves crawling sideways across a greasy wall whilst being constantly pulled back by tension and gravity toward the Y-hang. Eventually he ‘blobbed’ and descended to the floor to join Andy. My effort involved a bit of crawling, bridging and then the innovative cows tail looped around a small spike to hold me in place while I placed the rebelay bolt and then a smooth descent to join the others.
My original intention of doing the normal route ascent and descent and then de-rigging our route while WD40-ing the spits had to be called off as we’d used almost all our allotted time (the pub was beginning to call). Andy derigged our route and we derigged his and off we went to the pub. Now the recrimination started, whose fault was it that we finished up in such a mess? Well, it wasn’t mine that’s for sure! I’d given them the topo and they’d messed up by not checking the rope lengths. Yes it was mine as I hadn’t given proper instructions. It was Sam’s fault for grabbing the wrong rope in the first place. No it was Andy’s fault for not realising he had 10 metres of spare rope. No it wasn’t Andy’s fault as he thought I’d just been generous with the rope. In my defence I just think they’re crap, end of. As I’ve managed to get the trip report in first I win they lose.
Ray (the always right) Duffy