Rowten Pot (Gully Route)

1 December 2010

Posted by
Gary Douthwaite

After sacking off Car Pot due to lack of interest, the focus of the day was to a somewhat easier option in the form of Rowten Pot. My initial thoughts were that I wasn't interested in another trip down Rowten but the suggestion was made by Rich that we give the newly anchored Gully Route a go.

The frost had well an truly set in during the night and despite a somewhat chilly removal of clothing at the side of the Kingsdale road, we were all in high spirits for the new (sort of) trip ahead. It was unusual for Kingsdale not to see a single other car parked, but perhaps others had either not made it up the icy hill from the main road, or had had the sense to turn back.

The crisp white walk up the steep hill yielded some spectacular views of Kingsdale in the snow and we paused for a moment to admire the vista. Onwards to the pot, where we found that the traditional route had been rigged by MUSC for the CHECC event, but with no sign of other cavers, we made a start on the rigging.

It took a moment to locate the anchors for this new route, but were soon on our way with some rather interesting but fun hanging traverses to the first pitch. Rich had gone off on his own to expore Rowten Cave, so meanwhile I made my descent, still in full daylight, and landed by the side of the waterfall. A few seconds later, my feet slipped from underneath me and I landed in a pool. The rock was slick with ice. Now came the challenge; to cross the water and reach the continuation of the anchors on the opposite wall. I was concerned about loosing my grip once again and been taken off the next pitch by the force of the water, but as it turned out, the wet rock was not as bad as the exposed rock.

More icy traverse lead to the head of the next pitch, thankfully now well away from the arctic spray. By now, the new route was feeling so different; I had almost forgotten I was in Rowten. A tight deviation dropped onto the next traverse where things started to look more familiar as I came to the main pitch. This route begins the main pitch about ten meters further down than the traditional route and several hanging traverse points lead out an around to the main hang running parallel with the traditional main hang.

Familiar territory again as the descent lands in the bottom of the main chamber before I headed off into another foreign part of the pot (for me at least). Traversing over the exposed hole at the bottom of the main pitch, I set off down several climbs to re-gain the water again at the head of the final pitch. This route bypasses most of the traditional pitch from the bottom of the main chamber; not something I had seen before. One more pitch and we were back on the traditional trade route to the bottom. Seeing as it was already rigged for CHECC members, we made use of the rope and saved un-packing our own. A quick drop to the bottom, down to the sump, then set off out.

Back at the waterfall on the first pitch I came across something I had never seen before. The whole rope had a several millimetre thick layer of ice over the whole length of it which had to be cracked off before the jammers had any grip! I didn't envy the de-rigging team trying to get it back into a bag!

Matt and I left Rich and Simon de-rigging and went back to the warm car. By the time we'd got to the bottom of the hill, most of our gear was totally frozen which made removing it a challenge.

The Gully route is a definite must if you like a nice stringy classic dales cave with a new twist. Well done to the guys from the CNCC Technical Group who made it possible. Probably not one to do in the wet!