Trips & Reports for 2009

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Thursday December 31st 2009

Devis Hole Mine

Gary, Matt E, Richard G, Nikki, Ade, Chuck, Tash

Matt E wrote...

An excellent trip that didn't look like it was going to happen!

We had an early start and John, Gary, Ade and I met up with Rich, Nikki and Tash up near snowy Leyburn. We found that the road between Leyburn and Reeth (which the mine is near) was closed at the Leyburn end due to snow drifts, so as a last resort we headed over to the Reeth end of the road via na alternative and equally treacherous route. The road was closed from both ends, but a snowplough and gritter had just been through, so ignoring the warnings we headed up the hill.

Approaching from Reeth, you part in the obvious dirt area (well, usually dirt when not covered by 1-2ft of snow!) on the right about 500m up the road from Grinton after the hairpin bend. We got up to the parking area OK, and it was a fine day and the hills were covered with snow. We headed up towards the mine, following the main footpath (only visable thanks to the existing footprints). About 200-300m pastthe derilict building, head off the path to the right hand side down towards a cluster of small trees. Walking in this area became rather exciting, as the 1.5ft high grass had been topped with 1.5ft of snow, and so we were up to our waist in snow! A short search located the entrance, only 50m up the right hand valley with small stream past the cluster of trees.

Gary and I had done Devis with the Moldywarps the previous christmas and so we made quick progress to Pearsons sump, a 50ft ladder pitch down to the lower workings. The entrance area was a little delicate and is in immenant danger of collapse! We rigged the ladder off the variety of in-situ tat and rusty hangers, backing up many times! From the bottom we continued on along the left hand branch towards the entrance to the natural cave section. Thanks for the survey in the MSG Journal no.12 we easily navigated through the maze. We then made quick progress down to Grafitti Corner via some very dodgy areas of collapse where very delicate manoeuvering is necessary! We then turned around, as we wanted to be back in time for Laura's new year party.

As we exited at 4pm we caught the last of the daylight, however it soon darkened and started snowing again quite heavy so we hurriedly got changed in fear of getting stuck in the snow! We got down to the Leyburn to Bedale road just in time, as the snow suddenly turned torrential - another hour down Devis and we might have been spending the night down there!

A great trip, with so much more to explore while it is still accessible - the entrance probably hasn't got long left!

9th January 2010

Matt Ewles

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Sunday December 20th 2009

Kildale Mine

Gary, Matt E, Laura, Andy B, Richard W, Ade, Chuck

Matt E wrote...

On a very snowy day we met up with the Scarborough guys in Stokesley for breakfast, following large amounts of snow over the previous week. We headed up towards the village of Kildale, thankfully following a tractor which was gritting the narrow road. A trudge up the hill in the snow rewarded us with an excellent mine, with extensive passages and calcite decoration. We didn't have time to fully explore, however we were underground for a good three hours. Some extreme dodgyness though!

We departed the mine at 4pm and were soon on our way down the Bilsdale road to get to Hutton-le-Hole for our Christmas meal. As we reached Helmsley the snow started coming down and it was touching-go whether we would make it over the hill and into Hutton-le-Hole! We got down to the pub around 5:30pm with the snow coming down thick and fast. Within half an hour it was confirmed to us that it was to be a one-way trip for today! After shovelling a space for our tent around the back of the pub then we hurried in to spend six hours drinking and eating!

It continued snowing for five hours, setting down a foot of snow and making camping a chilly experience. The following day was bright and sunny but very cold, with thermometers reading -14oC!!! (My frozen fingertips agreed). Thanks to a snowplough passing through during the night we were able to escape Hutton by 10am, after spending half an hour scraping the ice off car doors to allow them to be opened! We took it in turns to take a run up at the hill, with Garys heavy Laguna only just having enough momentum and grip to make it up to the highest point by the campsite, and it was downhill from there.

An excellent christmas meal!

30th January 2010

Matt Ewles

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45 photos by Gary...

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Saturday November 28th 2009

Jean Pot

Gary, Matt E, Mark, Chad, Laura, Thomas

Matt E wrote...

After the long walk up from Clapham we quickly found Jean Pot (initially mistaking Car Pot for it, but the description of the Shake Hole in Not For The Faint Hearted is very accurate). The first pitch took a little while to rig, as it is only just below the entrance slot and required a sling with a rope protector to hang it from a very sharp flake over the pitch head.

Hard Times Crawl was nowhere near as bad as we expected. I took my SRT kit off expecting the worse, but this proved very much unnecessary, and the crawl is flat out but quite spacious tube, which reaches after a couple of minutes a drop down. An easy traverse reaches the second pitch. An obvious bolt provides the main hang, however, the flake to back-up from is unobvious, being quite high up on the right. Rope rub was inevitable, but thankfully the pitch was short and the rock was smooth.

Immediately after this the next very short pitch is reached, rigged from a tiny chockstone and a bolt approximately a metre back from the pitch head. Unfortunately the rope has no option other than to hang over the rock at the pitch head, which is sharp, and so a rope protector is absolutely essential.

The fourth pitch is equally a rigging dilemma. A small flake back from the pitch head and higher up in the rift provided a less than ideal backup, and two unusually positioned bolts near the pitch head allow for a semi-Y-hang to be rigged. Many of the blocks near the pitch head are loose, including one particularly massive block, and so great care was required. The pitch constricts a metre down due to a jammed block which gave some difficulty (jamming Lauras helmet, and forcing Gary to have to reascend and lock his stop in the descending position prior to reattempting!) and some rope rub was unavoidable.

It was obvious how the Chamber of False Promises got its name! The following slither over blocks and the crawl to the traverse seemed a lot easier on the way down without a tacklesack, however, the return journey, gradually uphill, with a tacklesack was rather more difficult with many snagging rocky outcrops and blocks. The traverse was easy thanks to the fixed line now in place (thanks ULSA!) and the formations on the ceiling around the traverse are excellent. It was saddening to see the obvious and unavoidable damage to the stal along the crawl before the traverse, and the first person down this must have seem some amazing things! In particular, extreme care was taken getting off the traverse, as some damage has already been done to the fine formations there. Thankfully the nice helictites above the traverse are out of reach and should be forever protected.

The fifth pitch was rigged, backed up from a bolt in the large chamber, and then rebelayed round a pillar at the pitch head. It could be free-climbed but was very slippy, and lead straight onto the final pitch so not advisable. The sixth pitch made for the biggest rigging dilemma of them all! A bolt and ring in the roof at the bottom of the fifth pitch provided good backup for the start of a traverse around the head of the pot to a bolt on the right which provided the main hang. Accessing this bolt involved some scary manouevers along the tiny ledge, not helped by the fine gallery of straws only centimetres above our heads (thankfully avoided). Thinking back, we probably should have rigged it with the rope going straight from the two anchors in the ceiling over the edge of the pot with a rope protector, rather than traversing round to the bolt on the right for the clear hang. The ledge part way down was too loose to use as a rebelay as suggested in the guide. Eventually at the bottom we were able to appreciate that this pitch is a fine and impressive pot.

We did not descend the seventh (final) pitch, as the only thing we could find to rig off was a very rusty ring at the pitch head - the guide suggested backing up off a jammed block, however, the only jammed blocks were forming the rock-blockage directly above out heads, and looked pretty unstable, so we decided that having seen the bottom of the cave, rather than having reached it was more than adequate.

Jean Pot was a very enjoyable dry six hours underground, with no extreme difficulty, which I would imagine to be passable in all weather condition (with the possible exception of major snow meltwater). The rigging is difficult and rope protectors are absolutely essential, and many of the bolts are rusty and completely unserviceable. An excellent winter trip, and I look forward to doing Car Pot next year.

29th November 2009

Matt Ewles

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Gary wrote...

A quite unexpectedly enjoyable trip!

I started the day with thoughts of 6 hours of tight squeezes and waterfall filled awkward pitch heads, but it was quite the opposite. There are some awkward parts and a couple of crawls but not at all as nasty as the guide book suggests.

A lovely sunny winters day made for an excellent walk up onto Ingleborough with great views of Penyghent in the crisp air. The entrance to Jean Pot is only a short way from Bar Pot and easy to find next to the wall.

Mark and I had agreed to be the rigging team so I set off first down the short entrance pitch into a roomy chamber. The first of the crawls was just around the corner so Mark and I got going while the others came down the entrance. Not knowing what the crawl was like, I decided to take off my SRT kit (Mark chanting “faff, faff, faff” in my ear wasn't helping). As it happened, the crawl was quite roomy and I could have done it with my kit on.

The crawl ends with a short drop down an easy free-climb into a rift with another short pitch. As seems to be the case with all the caves we do, the rigging was 'interesting' with the backup for the second pitch being the end of the rope hooked onto a small flake. I set off down asking mark to make sure the backup didn't fall off as I was going!

The others had caught up to us by then so Mark and I carried on rigging the second rather dodgy pitch. I tied the backup onto a totally loose chock-stone in a heavily cracked roof and pulled the rope out of the tackle sack. Unfortunately the string broke holding the spits to the bag and the whole lot went down the pitch! After some thought about using Mark as an anchor, I thankfully found a spit attached to my harness. We got to use one of our shiny new rope protectors on this pitch so I was happy.

After picking up all the dropped spits from the boulder choke, Mark and I carried on to the next, larger pitch. In order to get a free hang, we had to use a rather rusty in-situ ring over the pitch head but it did its job. A tight initial descent landed in the large Chamber of False Promises. A slither over some blocks entered an impressive tall aven before the second crawl.

The second crawl was a bit more awkward than the first but with some impressive formations throughout. This lead to the traverse over the blind pit which had recently had new rings and rope installed. More great formations before the next muddy slope/pitch to the top of a balcony overlooking a large chamber. A very strange bolt location meant we had to take a lot of care not to damage formations in the roof but we made it down.

Mark and I went off to look at the last pitch but decided that the area was too loose and we couldn't find a suitable backup so we gave up at that point. Well, we'd SEEN the bottom! :p

Back out with SRT kit on all the way was quick progress. We were met with a very cold and clear evening on Ingleborough and seemed to make friends with a bat before heading off for some food.

Highly recommended trip, not sure about 'a good evening trip' though, as the guidebook suggests!

1st December 2009

Gary Douthwaite

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Sunday October 11th 2009

Lost Johns Pot

Gary, Matt E, Chad, Ade, Laura

Matt E wrote...

A pleasant trip down Lost Johns following Boxhead being too wet at the bottom of the entrance aven. We got down to the meeting point for all routes (via Centipede and Catherdral routes) where we swapped routes for the journey out, reaching the surface after only a couple of hours underground. It was a nice jaunt and was just long enough and just enough exercise to justify our Inglesport breakfasts!

30th January 2010

Matt Ewles

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Sunday October 11th 2009

Spectacle Pot - Vesper Pot (not quite an exchange!)

Gary, Matt E, Chad, Thomas, Chuck, Mark

Matt E wrote...

After a leisurely breakfast at Helwith Bridge we made our way down to Kingsdale for a Vespers - Spectacle exchange. Chad, Tom, Gary and I were on Spectacle and Mark, Cat and Chuck on Vespers. We arrived at our respective entrances around 1pm ready for action!

The entrance pitch to Spectacle is pleasantly easy, although the knob of rock to rig off requires a close eye to make sure the sling stays on there! The pitch lands in a small chamber with a rift leading downwards into the distance, littered with several sheep bones (one skull placed high up in the rift for dramatic effect). Very soon (after only around 20 m) Splutter crawl was reached. We expected this to be a flat out wet bedding, however, to our surprise, it was actually a tiny tube at floor level, barely body size, for approximately 4-5m. It really does look frignteningly small!

Gary pushed on into the crawl, one arm forward, one arm back to streamline his bones, and with SRT kit pushed ahead with the tacklesack. On several occassions he nearly lost his nerve but after a couple of minutes struggling he slipped through to the ladder which he descended head first! I nervously adopted the position ready to come along the crawl. I initially tried to go along with both arms ahead outstretched but there was no chance this was going to work! I retreated from the crawl and repositioned my arms, one forward, one back, ready for my second attempt. This seemed to work well, however, once into the tighted part, all you could do was propel yourself with little pushing motions of your feet. You are totally constricted at this point and movement of your arms, torso or head is completely impossibly - it's down to wiggles of your feet only to push you through, literally half a centimeter at a time. After a terrifying few minutes it opened up slightly before the ladder. The head-first descent seemed a breeze by comparison!

To add insult to my struggled, Tom then slipped through and barely touched the sides, popping out with his infamous comment of 'that wasn't too bad'! Maybe I need to go on a diet!

Gary rigged the next pitch, although as one of the spits was knackered, it was a one-bolt wonder backed up off the ladder (which itself would not have fitted down the pitch). The short pitch lands in a chamber, yet more bones from unfortunate woolley friends. A short flat out crawl reaches a flow of water followed by a shorter easier section to a large aven where SRT gear could be removed ready for the crawl ahead.

The following crawl was approximately 30-40m long, constricted, wet, and very sharp and jagged, very unpleasant indeed, involving a complete soaking and many tacklesack jammings! However, our guidebook estimated 6-8 minutes, and so I was relieved after only a couple of minutes of struggling to see Garys light ahead say at the end of the crawl just prior to Dodds pitch.

Dodds pitch provided some rigging dilemmas. We were unable to locate the rebelay bolt one metre down, and so Gary descended without it. However, while swinging around looking for the deviation about 15-20m down, the rope started rubbing badly at the pitch head. I had to perform a constricted pitch head manoeuver (the pitch is reached flat out) to remove my kneepads and jam them between the rope and the wall where it was rubbing, and Tom then held them in place. Gary slowly ascended back up and we finally found the rebelay to avoid the rub. He then descended and after much searching, the less than ideal (given the crumblyness of the walls) deviation flake was found.

We could hear the others by now and assumed they were already down at the Great Rubble Heap waiting for us... we didn't want to miss the exchange (I was looking forward to a nice easy trip out of Vespers) so we hurried to the head of the pitch to the Great Rubble Heap which was easily descended and saw the other group rigging the last pitch of Vespers above.

Unfortunately, one of the spits at the top of the Vespers pitch was knackered, and could not be tightened - and so all that was availably to rig off was one less than perfect spit and a dodgy natural as a backup. Mark made the sensible descision not to descend, and so we were faced with the prospect of a painful trip back up Spectacle, which actually didn't seem so bad on the return.

We returned to the surface still with daylight at around 6pm, feeling pleased to have bottomed this difficult cave! The others were only minutes behind in coming out of Vespers. This was a great trip, would love to complete the exchange once the final pitch of Vespers has been P-hangered.

13th October 2009

Matt Ewles

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Saturday October 10th 2009

Notts II

Gary, Matt E, Mark, Chad, Chuck, Thomas

4 photos by Gary...

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Saturday September 12th 2009

Penyghent Pot

Gary, Matt E, Ade, Chuck

Gary wrote...

I don’t think you can call yourself a Yorkshire caver (or probably even a caver) until you’ve done Penyghent Pot! It defiantly lives up to its name as the finest stream passage pot in the UK.

The day started with the usual faff in the name of Ade who couldn’t set off from Macclesfield until 9am because his car insurance had run out. This and some other faff meant we didn’t get on our way to the cave until 1pm. Car parking seems to be a problem with no clear instructions on where is best in any of the guides, however we asked the nice lady at the farm at the end of the footpath and she let us park there. Off up the hill in wonderful sunshine (for a change) to arrive at the entrance for about 2pm. It’s a bit late we thought, but we gave it a go anyway.

I set off first to face the long entrance crawl. It wasn’t as bad as I had been lead to believe; although up to the elbow in water, it’s quite spacious and easy going, just long. Some light relief at the head of the first short pitch with a descent down an unavoidable waterfall, then some annoying stooping height passage. I went off to rig the next pitch which I thought the description had said was 10 meters away. No, I miss read it, it was 10 MINUETS away! Quite easy going stooping passage to the second short pitch then just around the corner to the head of the spectacular third pitch. Some quite interesting and awkward rigging under the ledge to get a dry hang but an amazing deep shaft with water crashing down on one side. The bottom was one of the drafyist places I’ve ever been underground and got rather chilly waiting for the others.

More fine stream way starting with some traversing and several more short pitches. At this point the bolting seems to have gone out of the window and most stuff is just rigged off some rather dodgy looking naturals, often in waterfalls! After a while we were rewarded by some amazing dark coloured streamway which seemed to eat our lights. Some quite deep water leads onto the final couple of short pitches before we ran out of time. We didn’t quite make it to the sump but used all the rope and completed all 10 pitches.

In summery, this is a truly great Yorkshire pot with some great variation and fun rope work. It is quite wet however. We were there is pretty dry weather and the water was unavoidable. Most people found a neo-fleece idel but I was in a cheap 3mm wet suit which I found worked well. There is defiantly evidence of major flooding in the lower sections, with several passages we passed through that had sumped recently.

I would love to go back and tackle Friday the Thirteenth series now that I know the main part. This would be a strenuous trip though as we were all knackered after just the trip to the sump. Make sure you leave enough energy for the return trip as we all found the crawls at the entrance a lot harder on the way out.