Alec Bluman, Dave Kirkpatrick, Giulio Deganutti, Izi, Oliver Myerscough, Rhys Tyers, Sam Page
King Pot: Everyone
On Saturday, which was frankly bloody freezing (when will it stop snowing?), our group of seven headed off with the vague idea that some of us would go down King Pot, and some of us would go to Rowten. Even after getting changed and kitted out, we were still not sure who was going where, and at the last minute decided that we would have a sociable trip and go as a large group to King. Only Rhys and Oli had been there before, but it was not too hard to find, once we reached the top of the dauntingly steep slope up.
The entrance was a little tight; a portent of things to come, and there was soon the first pitch, which basically involved sliding on your side through a narrow gap. A couple more slightly awkward pitches followed, with Rhys and Oli sharing out the rigging between them. This worked out well; despite our large size of group, it did not feel as if too long was spent waiting around, especially as we passed through some parts of the cave that had some nice formations which were deemed worthy of being photographed. After a particular photo session, Rhys, Oli and Dave had gone off ahead, with me waiting behind with the others to make sure they took a left when they should. This meant that I was leading this group trying to catch up, shouting out "Dave!" and "Rhys!" with frequent questioning "Can you hear them yet?" from Team Europe behind me. No worries though; there was little difficult route finding to be done in the entire cave.
It wasn't too long before the time came to get wet. This provided a momentary sense of unease for Giulio, crawling on your front through water not something that he is used to. Of greater anxiety for me was the T-shaped passage. On the way down, this proved pretty straightforward, and I was able to shuffle across the top (where you are supposed to stay, i.e. keep out of the vertical rift), trying to keep as comfortable as possible during the brief waits, whilst keeping out of range of Dave's wellie. At the end of this, to get to the other side was an interesting swing round a rock, hanging on your cowstail, hugging the wall, trying to reach the ledge on the other side. I think this was the so-called Jarv method; allegedly, Saber has his own method too, though I dread to imagine how mental that must have been.
After some more crawling, abseiling and traversing, we came to the final pitch, the longest of all (though still relatively short). Once all seven of us had descended, we had a choice to make: head out, or crawl for 45 minutes through water to get to the sump... Needless to say, we were all in consensus to turn around, although Rhys and Giulio did have some fun trying to find the way on.
I headed up first, followed by Dave and Izi. I didn't see much of the others until we were back in the warmth of the minibus. Some of the pitches were a little trickier to prusick up than they had been on the way down, because of how narrow they were, but none compared to the T-shaped passage in reverse. At its very start I got stuck; I kept falling too low and struggled to get my body up out of the rift. I don't know if it is because I was tired, though my struggling did serve to wear me out a bit. Throughout the passage, I kept getting periodically stuck, though taking some breathers and using Izi's shoulder/hands/face as support, I made it through. Damn the others for making it look so easy.
Because I was a little tired after that, and the others had not caught us up yet, we took our time on our way out, taking plenty of pauses. This allowed Izi lots of time to smoke. From here, the journey was quite easy-going, though at a couple of points I struggled to recognise the way onwards; luckily, Dave could always provide the answer. And so, after about seven or eight hours underground, the three of us reached the surface, and headed back to the bus to get changed and relatively warm as quickly as possible. It had been a good trip, a harder trip than I had done in quite a while - I hadn't even prusicked since before Christmas! I was glad to have ticked off King, being a cave with pretty much all you could ask for from a Yorkshire cave. Lucky that, because none of us wanted to go back underground the next day.