Magnetometer Pot – 13th. September 2014


On Emma Wilson's RRCPC club trip to Magnetometer in June, Tom Clayton, Emma and I had enjoyed a visit to the end of the Earthworm Extensions and Tandoori Tube, despite mine and Emma's best efforts at route-finding in Rough Crawl. This, though, left us with unfinished business in there and it seemed rude not to return given the dry conditions this September. We were joined by Julian Todd (who likes neoprene and water), Andy Chapman (forced, grumbling, on a jolly rather than a digging trip) and Mark Dougherty (over on a swift trip from Sweden and with little idea what he had let himself in for). We got in just ahead of a Bradford party who p-hangered the pitch into Caton Hall whilst we were underground.

Arriving in Rough Crawl, we soon located the start of Purgatory and the start of its series of five squeezes. Tom wriggled through first, then I made my way cautiously since, foolishly, I was in my last oversuit worth wearing and I was keen not to rip it. Mark came next and, after some effort, got his chest through the first squeeze but his hips wouldn't cooperate. After a while spent failing to move forward he attempted to reverse. This took even longer but he finally extricated himself and blamed his latest hobby (weight-lifting) for his enhanced but squeeze-unfriendly physique. Mark headed out whilst the rest of us had the joys of crawling and thrutching down sharp, slicing, tight passage into Pendant Passage and, eventually, back to where we'd started in Rough Crawl.

Surprisingly, everyone was still game for part two so we crawled off to the Whale and then Chert Crawl to get to - oh joy - the "low, waterlogged bedding" of Kamikaze Passage. We arrived in good spirits but the initial "canal" turned out to have little airspace despite the dry conditions.

In fact Emma chided those ahead of her for not moving on to give her room to get out of the low section. She wasn't impressed when she found out that she hadn't even got to the duck. The icy water swilling down my ill-fitting wetsuit long-johns (and non-wetsuit top) meant I was rapidly chilling. Having failed to persuade Tom to go first I took my helmet off, put my neoprene hood on and went to inspect the duck.

This was a nose in the ceiling, eye in the water job described as "dismal" in “Not For the Faint-Hearted”, which doesn't usually indulge in hyperbole. The air space would have been fine for a short distance but the description said six metres and I certainly couldn't see the end of it.

The other four bodies in the canal were sending unwelcome ripples along the surface and I was getting ice cold so I backed out. Tom and Julian also went for a look but didn't go through whilst Emma and Andy needed no encouragement to turn. We headed out, exiting with sore knees after seven hours of fine caving.

Becka Lawson