Fiona Hartley, Giulio Deganutti, Jack Hare, Rhys Tyers, Sandeep Mavadia, Tanguy Racine, William French
Rather unfortunately on this trip we needed to be rescued from King Pot due to one of our party becoming stuck in the T-shaped passage. The following reports are accounts from a few involved people. We are publishing these for posterity and for future ICCCers and and other cavers to learn from. We are incredibly grateful to the CRO and all involved in the rescue.
Obviously, I had no idea that our trip down King would turn into an epic. Obviously, it’s easy to predict that this trip report will be though.
I recall having an easier time going down King, although I was still slow. I was apprehensive about how easy I was going to find exiting though, because of how long it took me alone last time – but I was reassured because I wouldn’t be exiting alone.
At the beginning of the T-shaped passage I remember Sandeep saying to me, “You’ve got this.” But it turned out I didn’t.
My aim was to go through the T-shaped passage. I’d turned around there the first time, so I wanted to go further and see how I felt after that. I was approaching the final dog-leg of the rift and everything was going fine. I’d mostly adopted a position of having one leg down in the rift to push along with, and one up on the rock shelf. When I got there Rhys told me he had found it easier to pass facing the right-hand side of the passage.
I tried to take his advice. Maybe I shouldn’t have. I was facing the left, yet I couldn’t figure out how to either get into a position facing the other way or generally get past the second corner of the dog-leg without ending up headfirst in the rift. I think I was concerned that I didn’t quite have the arm strength necessary to hold my body up but my reasoning is hazy to me now.
Anyway, that took me ages. I eventually reversed away from the dog-leg to have another try. Sandeep asked me if I wanted to go back. I said no for two reasons. One, I felt bad because I’d already held up the trip and “made” Jack, William and Giulio reverse out of the passage so they could wait comfortably. Two, like I said I wanted to go further into King; push myself a little.
I’m usually prone to giving up if something gets vaguely tough, sometimes out of fear of something going wrong. But I wanted to try again this time. I headed into the dog-leg and tried to get into the same position as before, but facing towards the right. And I think because it’s harder to bend your body by arching your back I slipped somehow, and became wedged in the rift.
I’ve been stuck before, though now I feel I need to qualify that with ‘a bit’. I wasn’t initially worried - with a bit of effort and time surely I’d be able to get out and beat a muted retreat, to make another attempt another time. The others weren’t that worried either.
But I couldn’t get out of the rift. I struggled and Rhys and Sandeep, one ahead and one behind, tried to help: trying to lift my arms, pulling me via my SRT harness. Mostly it was me trying to get my feet on the rock and a couple of decent handholds, and pushing up.
Somewhere along the line I did become worried. It’s been a while, I thought. I’m getting cold. My wellies have fallen off. I was the one who suggested calling the rescue seriously, probably because I knew exactly how little movement I was achieving with each attempt.
We put it off in favour of trying again, and again, and again, but eventually Jack called to us that the agreed time had come. They were heading out to call the cave rescue. Giulio would stay because he had some ideas of how to help, and Sandeep would go because he could drive the minibus.
It’s hard to pick a tone for describing being trapped for so long and then rescued. Do you talk about how at times you think that everyone else should be able to do better, and at others you can’t be more upset with yourself for being helpless? Do you talk about how bloody cold it is? Do about how logically you’re in a relatively good position – upright, not wet, no injuries, with people around to provide hats and chocolate and someone fetching rescue, you’ll almost certainly live – but that makes no difference at the time to how morbid imaginings run through your head?
What I’ll admit is that I don’t know how accurate my description of what happened is. I never had an idea of what actual time it was once we’d sent Sandeep, Jack and William out to get help. That was the first and thankfully only time I started to panic.
I felt lightheaded, shivery, sick, and scared. My breathing was shallow and rapid. I retched a few times, although nothing came up. I could feel it happening, but couldn’t figure out if it was hypothermia. Rhys gave me some encouragement, pointing out to me that it was probably a bit of panic and patting my shoulder. He also gave me chocolate and water, which did the job of snapping me out of it.
Giulio had a rope in his tackle-sac which he tied into a loop. I would put my right foot into it and try to use it as a foothold while pushing against a rock ledge with my left foot. We did this repeatedly, but it didn’t make much difference. My legs were wedged in such a way that made it virtually impossible to lift them, and thus my thigh muscles were kind of unusable. I could bend my knees, but as I was suspended that didn’t offer me much help.
Giulio also had a waterproof jacket (why eludes me) that he put around me, and we shoved one tackle-sac in front of me and one behind me, to act as a barrier between me and the rock. I definitely felt the cold more when the coat shifted off me. We were there for a few hours, interspersing efforts to escape with chatter. Rhys sang, and Tanguy evaded madness at the end of the T-shape by chanting numbers in French and singing his own medley until coming back into the passage. They also played verbal games that entertained us all.
People say I was relatively calm. Hell, there was plenty of banter in those 14 hours underground, laughs and stories and smiles. But my thoughts weren’t calm, and it was a real effort at times to try to keep my spirits up – probably evidenced by one point when I demanded “Tell me I’m not going to die” and either Giulio or Rhys responded with the classic line “Shut the eff up”.
When the rescue arrived, I didn’t quite appreciate how long it would still take to get out of the rift. Each of the three guys who replaced Giulio behind me basically encouraged more of the same – trying to wiggle upwards with a foot in the rope loop – to get out. And it nearly worked thanks to Mike’s strength. But after having worked my body up by a few centimetres, somehow I slipped down again. Maybe the rift had widened just enough so that I was no longer wedged in.
Eventually the drill was brought in. It was actually surprisingly easy to trust that Rhys wasn’t going to drill into my body. In hindsight it’s quite amusing that the vibration of the drilling behind me what set my teeth off chattering and then they would continue to rattle for several seconds after the drill had stopped, partly from the cold, and perhaps partly from fear? I remember being told firmly to tell Rhys and Andy (we think, he was the drill man) if I ever felt anything, but the most memorable part was when “the earth moved” – Rhys broke off a ledge of rock behind me.
The drill was accidentally knocked into the bottom of the rift at some point after Andy had been replaced by a new rescue guy: Rick. I’d like to say this inspired me to a second wave. Rick was determined that I was going to get out. The only new idea he brought was to tie a sling around my left thigh (rather than put a loop around my left foot) as well as the right foot loop – but it worked.
Through hard work on all our parts, and liberal application of sweet-smelling fairy liquid to my PVC-clad backside, I was free. I immediately hunched up at the top of the rift and screamed curse words at King Pot. But I was free!
The rest is a bit of a blur. Rick was my constant companion. We all had some hot food at the beginning of the wet crawl. Having lost my wellies I did the majority of the trip out of King in my wetsocks. It was both fun and slightly shameful to be hauled up each pitch in a “baby harness”, but it mostly it was interesting to see a rescue in action – even though I was the one being rescued. For most of the trip out I felt fine, but I did become quite emotional on the first pitch and once I was out on the windy darkness of the moor.
After coffee, soup and a sandwich I was hauled down the hill on a stretcher, wrapped in sheep’s wool. I was still cold deep inside my body though and it took a long time to warm up again.
It’s easy to say that it was all fine, and to be honest it makes a good story to tell these days. It hasn’t put me off caving (that I know of – at the time of writing I haven’t yet been caving again!) and it was really interesting to be part of a cave rescue operation. Everyone was incredibly kind and competent. But it isn’t something that I want to do again, and mostly I look forward to ensuring that 1) these kinds of incidents don’t happen often and that 2) I’ll know what to do even I’m ever in that sort of situation again. Maybe I’ll see you in a few years, King!
Well this weekend we decided to cause a little bit of trouble. Starting out with a small team of just 6 in London we managed to get away from the Union on time but we hit a lot of traffic and ended up at the NPC at 2.30am, finding to our surprise that other people were staying there.
With our crack team we managed an early start with everyone awake and breakfasted by 10am as is becoming more normal, with the refreshing enthusiasm of Tanguy and Jack.. I decided that we’d go to King again. My reasons for going, and I have analysed them many times since, were: I was the only leader and we needed a cave that could take 7 people easily which King could, I was familiar with King and so someone could do rigging practise on the earlier pitches, and its a fairlyr short (if uphill) walk.
We arrived and changed in good spirits. The weather was, for the first time this year, fairly pleasant. Not sunny but not cold or windy, or more importantly, not pissing it down with snow or rain. We walked up to the road to King and approaching the farm encountered the family that live and work there. Two women and two children (if I remember correctly). We asked for permission to go into King and the woman playfully asked her children whether we should be allowed to go into King. They were shy (or perhaps it was some ESP at play) and eventually the woman asked us the usual “Do you know where you’re going? Have you been there before? Do you have rescue sorted?”. With three affirmtive replies she nodded us up the hill. Tanguy and I arrived first and headed into the mossy depression to begin rigging. It was around midday.
We descend the first couple of pitches easily, the rigging isn’t hard and Tanguy was confident. Across the dodgy traverse, and squirming through the sideways crawl we were soon at the third pitch, the first with a rebelay. Tanguy eagerly leapt in to rig whilst Guilio and I chatted on top. We hadn’t seen much of Jack, Fiona, William and Sandeep at this point but I thought little of it. The first couple of pitches are a bit squeezy and Tanguy was rigging fast.
At the bottom we bunched up again and waited for everyone. Jack arrived and attempted to teach Tanguy and I the chorus to the “The Northwest Passage” whilst we waited. Fiona took a while but eventually turned up, apparently keen to continue, so we did. The crawl preceding the T-shaped passage this time was 1 “Puff the Magic Dragon” and 1 “If I Were Gay” long as I kept pace with Fiona who was following me. Tanguy assured me that he was through in 1 “Puff” though so I’m confident of my previous appraisal. Faced with the rift we kept our previous ordering, Tanguy and I up front, Fiona behind, Sandeep behind her. Everything was proceeding surely until the final dogleg. I had had to do and awkward twist round in the rift to face the correct way to get round the corner without some painful spinal contortion. Once past I waited for Fiona to do it. She made a concerted effort but faced the same orientation problem I did and couldn’t get past the dogleg. My advice was fairly useless (my techniques only being applicable to the smallest of cavers). She tried for maybe half an hour before she and Sandeep decided that there was to be one more go and then she would turn round. I believe it was sometime around 2.30pm at this point.
I watched from around the dogleg, a handy tackle bag sized hole the wall provided a view of Fiona’s wellies. Her final attempt, I think, involved getting upright into the rift to spin around (which I had done). As she did it though she slipped down into the rift. It was a couple of minutes of before I made my way back round the dog leg to see what had happened. Fiona was indeed upright in the rift, but significantly lower than she should have been. Between Sandeep and myself we attempted to talk Fiona out of the rift, then tried pulling but it did very little. After 15 minutes we agreed another 15 minutes of effort before calling the CRO. The extra minutes didnt result in any significant movement so it was decided that Sandeep, William and Jack would head out to call the rescue and Guilio would wait behind. Tanguy and I had no choice, of course, as we were further into the passage than Fiona and so were trapped by her entrapment.
It is probably worth attempting to explain how Fiona was stuck. The T-shaped passage is, as you would expect, shaped like the letter “T”. A low crawl at the top with a rift running down the middle. For most of it’s length the rift is too small to walk in and you must hold yourself up in the crawl to traverse it. If you slip down the rift is small and you can get stuck. From my viewpoint it was obvious that Fiona had slipped beneath a lip of rock (though I wouldn’t realise till much later just how much ruck). To add to this problem the rift was tighter at her legs and prevented her from bending her knees. There were also no good footholds even if she had been able to move her legs and she was suspended above the floor. All in all, not a good place to be stuck.
Once the rescue callers had left Guilio leapt into action. It was about 3.15pm at this point. He and I tried for another hour or so to free Fiona. We tried making footloop out of the spare rope we had with us so Fiona had something to push of and again we tried simply pulling and pushing her but we didn’t get very far. Despite a few intermittent attempts (I think partially motivated by a desire to keep Fiona warm) we resigned ourself to waiting. The hours passed in the strange way that they do when you stop counting them. I wasn’t too worried, it might take a while but Fiona would get out. And apart from a brief bought of panic as we decided to call the rescue Fiona stayed calm as well. Tanguy and I whiled away a few hours singing. Highlights included the chorus to “The Northwest Passage” (thanks Jack), “If I Were Gay” (thanks Dave) and of course many round of “Puff the Magic Dragon”, “Country Roads”, and “Big Rock Candy Mountain”. We attempted to play I Spy but quickly ran out of things we could see. More entertaining was Tanguy and I’s game of “One Word Sentence” (see his report for the transcript).
The hours passed surpringly quickly and I think at about 7.45pm we heard the voice of our first rescuer! I apologise as I have forgotten most of the names I heard during the rescue but I think Rescuer No.1 was named Mike. He arrived, smiling, fresh and enthusiastic. He asked a few questions to get to the bottom of what was going on and quickly set to work. Initially he attempted trying to push Fiona upwards and towards me, where the rift expanded. We tried this for a while and despite a lot of movement Fiona didn’t come unstuck. Mike got out some stemples (wooden beams) and pullies and slings and we tried a mixture of footloops and hauling but again some inconsequential movement. Evenutally Mike retreated, assuring us that a fresh pair of eyes would probably find the solution to our situation. We were left alone for what seemed like a long time. I had given up on looking at my watch at this point, it was irrelevant to me.
We were left for long enough that Tanguy and I once again took up singing, before being interrupted by the echoey twang of Irish voices. We were joined by two women, Rescuers 2 and 3, (no names, sorry!), who did there best to reassure us and provided some chocolate for Fiona. I asked for a Mars Bar for Tanguy but, and this became of running joke for the rest of the rescue, it never arrived. Some service. They retreated also to make way for Rescuer 4, a much reassuringly beardy man. Again he asked a few questions, tried pulling, pushing, pullying. When this didn’t work he pondered for a few moments before calling for the drill. The drill took a while to arrive and in the mean time we attempted more pulling, pushing and pullying.
At this point it is probably worth describing the position that myself and the rescuers were in. In order to reach Fiona I had to essentially lie down on the rift but it was too large to put my weight on (as I would slip in ) but too small to stand in. I ended up mostly with one leg on the single foothold further back (a foothold I became intimately familiar with) and the other leg jammed in the crawl to the side of the rift then leaning across to Fiona. I was also facing the wrong way because it wasn’t possible to lean and face Fiona due to the curve of the rift where I was. I understand that the other side of Fiona wasn’t much better.
The drill arrived (to mine and Tanguy’s cheers) and R4 set about putting in a bolt above Fiona (with the idea that this could be used for hauling). Once done he asked me if I had ever done any drilling. Have I done any drilling? “Yes!” I replied eagerly and he passed the drill through a small hole behind Fiona. Compared to the bodged Ikea drills that ICCC uses for bolting in Slovenia this drill was a titan. I was instructed to put a bolt in the cieling on my side. I did so. The drill made easy work of it. 10 seconds and myself and Fiona were covered in limestone dust and there was a 15cm hole in the ceiling. A worrying crack had appeared across the hole though and I expressed my doubts. Despite this I was given a bolt and a hammer and told to secure it. As I did the crack became bigger and bigger. The bolt was definitely not usable. I recovered the bolt by smacking it sideways until the whole head sized chunk of rock fell off. I quickly drilled another hole but the bolt was too extruded to be used. I asked for another. Surprisingly they had only brought 2 bolts. They asked for another one but, like the Mars Bar, it would never arrive.
Not to be discouraged, after all we had a big fuck off drill, R4 instructed me to start perforating the rock behind Fiona. I had to do it because it wasn’t possible to reach behind Fiona from their side. I wasn’t complaining though. I drilled for a long time and piece by piece the rock flaked away. I went through 1 battery and got given a spare and continued. It was at this point that I realised the size of the rock lip that fiona was under. I initially thought that it was maybe ~5cm deep and confined to one small nodule but I think it was closer to 20cm deep and spread along the entire wall where Fiona was stuck. It went some way to explaining the trouble we’d had pulling her out.
After some time I asked to rest and R4 obliged and apprently needing a rest himself back away, allowing Rescuer No.5 to come and have a look. He came with a new and more forceful attitude again breaking out the stemples, pullies, slings and ropes. With him pushing on Fiona’s right thigh, and me pulling on a sling wrapped around her left we managed to budge Fiona tantalisingly close to the top of the newly drilled lip of rock. I think, almost jokingly, someone asked whether some fairy liquid would do any good. I said yes and much to my surprise was immediatley handed a bottle (that promptness with the Mars Bar or drill bolt would’ve been nice :P) . It was indeed Fairy Liquid (other brands are available) and I liberally applied it to Fiona’s bum. With one final triumphant effort by myself, R5 and Fiona she popped out, panting on top of the rift crawl. I believe it was about 12.15am at this point. We’d been here for 10 hours.
Very carefully and very slowly Fiona manouvered herself back around to face back down the T-shaped passage. This was worrying because it essentially involved putting herself back in the situation that had gotten her stuck and now everything was covered with fairly liquid. But she managed and we scrambled back along the passage, Tanguy and I once again breaking out into song (”What Shall we do with the Drunken Caver?”) despite the protestations of the CRO. We collapsed into the small chamber beyond the passage, meeting Rescuers 6 -12 (including one T. Seddon), and seeing the plethora of kit they had brought with them. Happily amongst this kit were some self-heating meal packs. I had something that claimed to be beef stew and whilst I think that was a stretch it was warm and clearly calorific so I wolfed it down.
It was about this point that the adrenalin wore off for me I think. I felt incredibly weak, nauseous and faint. Fiona set off into the crawl, accompanied by a few jolly CROs which thankfully gave me time to recover. We followed and met Rescuers 12-20 on the way out, marvelling at there inventive rigging to haul Fiona out (I’m not sure it was that necesary but they seemed very eager to do it). The CROs seemed to be having an excellent time of it, I assume it is nice for them to meet people who are uninjured and relatively fine whilst rescuing. We broke onto the surface at around 3.30am. We were offered Jam sandwiches and tea whilst all around us Rescuers 20-30 swarmed. Fiona was put into a mental tent thing, which myself and Tanguy declined to enter, content to be outside at last. I walked down the hill with Sandeep (who had been an intermittent voice in the background throughout the rescue), Tanguy and one of the Irish girls. At the bottom, in and around the farm, we met rescuers 30-40 and had another lot of tea and some pasta and corned beef sandwiches. Eventually joined by Fiona who had been stretchered down the hill. We walked back to the minibus (still parked where we left it) and Fiona was dropped off by a CRO truck. We changed and began the drive back. It almost felt like the end to any cave trip if it weren’t for the first hint of light creeping across the sky (now it was 5am).
It seemed to me the time that the whole ordeal had passed without much of a conclusion. The CRO experience was surreal, so many people, so much activity, all in perfectly organised chaos around us for so long and then to be left to drive back to the hut, no stern words, or tellings off or even a suggestion that we should do something, anything to atone for our mistakes. I’m still a bit unsure of what to make of the whole thing.
It was a nice day when we arrived at King Pot, and we quickly got up to the farm where we met one of the farmers with two young boys. The boys kindly agreed to let us go into the cave, so we panted and sweated our way up the steep hill to the ridge where the entrance to King Pot lies. Tanguy went first to practice rigging for the first time, and he quickly got through the first two pitches, which are often rigged together as one pitch as they’re very close.
I found the squeezes a lot easier than last time I went to King, mostly because I realised you don’t have to keep the tackle sack clipped to you at all times, so I wildly chucked the tackle sack through the gaps and followed it through. We got past the poorly rigged traverse (not Tanguy’s fault, but some ancient, tatty rope) and through the third pitch. Tanguy slowed down at this point, carefully rigging a tricky rebelay and giving the rest of us time to catch up.
Then it was on to some flat out crawls through the streambed and on to the T-shaped passage. For those of you unacquainted with this passage, it has the cross section of a T. The central rift is quite smooth, and too narrow to put a welly in sideways. The sides of the T are not very high, and so a sort of crawl-traverse technique has to be employed, where your arms and legs keep you from slipping into the central rift.
Tanguy went first, followed by Rhys and then Fiona. Sandeep followed along, with Giulio, myself and Will after him. The last three of us waited at the beginning of the passage for a while to let the others get through, but eventually we got bored and decided to follow along. About halfway through the passage we had to pause and wait for more space ahead to move forwards. After half an hour of waiting in awkward positions, we decided to back up and return to the passage start until the all clear was given.
We waited there for about an hour. The bends in the passages made it impossible to see what was going on, and communication was difficult with the echoes. Eventually we got quite cold, and I said I was thinking of heading back to the bus. Rhys asked me to wait another ten minutes and then discuss it. After fifteen minutes, I called down again, and Rhys said he thought we needed the cave rescue. After some discussion, we substituted Giulio for Sandeep, and Sandeep, Will and I made our way to the surface, having unloaded all of our chocolate and water to the four staying behind.
We made good time to the surface, paying heed to Giulio’s warning not to run. Will got to the farmhouse first and made the call - initially we didn’t get through to the CRO and the police said they would call us back. At this point, Sandeep stayed by the phone, and Will and I returned to the minibus to collect all the food and water we could find so we could return to those below and resupply them.
Before we could even get back to the farm, however, the CRO arrived in a white landrover. The cars of many other volunteers streamed in as well, and the farmers graciously allowed us to use their barn and farmyard to park and co-ordinate. I went up the hill with two volunteers to show them the location of the cave entrance, and then went back down to rejoin the base. There were easily twice as many people now, probably around twenty, and some cavers were started to get into their gear. They were unpacking stemples, drilling bits of two-by-four and generally throwing ideas about. Sandeep volunteered to return to the cave to help out. I was worried about him as he seemed tired and not entirely coherent, but he insisted on going and in retrospect it was the right thing for him to do.
Will and I were mostly useless, but we drank some of the CRO’s tea and answered as many questions as we could. Over the radio we heard Giulio was coming out, which made us optimistic that everything was going well. Will and I changed into our dry clothes and met up with Giulio, who was in need of some food. It began to get dark at this point, and as Giulio and I went back to the minibus so he could change, we heard over the radio that Fiona had been freed. We were very happy, and returned to the base thinking we’d see them coming down the hill.
Sadly, it was not true, and the night dragged on. Giulio and I joined Jack, an experienced cave rescuer, in placing small flashing lights up the hill to mark the path to and from the cave in the dark. After that, the three of us tried to sleep in the back of a landrover not really built for comfort, and the seriousness of the situation gradually set in as more people arrived. Around midnight, the cave rescue co-ordinator offered us a ride back to the NPC with a volunteer who was going back to the CRO depot at Clapham. I was very conflicted about what to do. On the one hand, I wanted to be there when Fiona got out, and help out with the rescue if I possibly could. On the other hand, I was absolutely knackered and in no fit state to do anything. I choose the ride back, as did Giulio - Will stayed the course with the rescuers.
On the ride back, we heard over the radio that Fiona had been freed, almost ten hours after getting stuck. I feel asleep after midnight and woke up at 5 am to welcome them home, and then immediately went back to bed.
The CRO was a joy to watch in action. They were incredibly well organised and efficient, with good communications and a clear chain of command. They had hot drinks and hot food ready right away, and we were made to feel very welcome and given little jobs so we didn’t feel too useless. They were a very friendly bunch, and whilst I hope I don’t run into them again, it’s really good to know that they are there when we desperately need them.
Some of us decided to ditch a few more hours of sleep in favour of an early start and despite Sandeep's best efforts we entered King pot before midday.
I start rigging ( under Rhys's close supervision) the entrance series, descend first pitch, climb up, traverse, crawl, rig and descend second pitch, clamber down and crawl again ( for exactly one Puff the Magic Dragon if you're keen) and then enter a roomy chamber leading onto an awkward looking crawl. So far so good, we make reasonably good progress. We regroup, have a breather and on we go to the infamous T-piece passage.
I set off first, inprovising a technique for successfully ( and dare I say rather gracefully ) wriggling and slithering deeper inside the monarch of caves. Meander after meander the rift deepens and widens until its abrupt end looking into a larger chamber. With the help of the handline to my right I swing round and land on a boulder staircase.
One hour and twenty minutes of slick caving, so far so good.
But a man cannot escape his destiny, and our insolence had to punished, and who better than King pot to enforce the sentence? Our ordeal had just begun.
The progress of the rest of the group seemed suspiciously slow. After twenty minutes Rhys and Fiona were halfway through. Atfer one hour, they reached three quarters, but they would not come any closer. Anxious to get reassuring news I called. Rhys replied “ Fiona's a bit stuck, we're going to be here for a while”. I had never appreciated how “a while” could really mean “long enough that you unwittingly (unwillingly?) stood vigil through the night”.
I asked for instructions; they came out crystal clear: wait and don't get cold.
How do you spend time when you find yourself on the wrong end of a rift and unable to help? First I sang a collection of melodies that came to mind. Then I reminisced the first and last appearances of some Trilobite species, and some lines from Shakespeare and Edmond Rostand. I counted up to 465 in French ( I admit I lacked some commitment on this one). And so for the best part of four hours I waited.
The need for human presence then got the better of me and I reentered the rift and spent six hours lying on my back, left side and front alternatively not one metre away from Fiona, yet unable to see or help. And there we were the Casualty, the One and Not Rhys the Other One, the Trapped Trinity, until help arrived. My tale is almost finished, it ended in a blurry vision of dust, squidged chocolates and the roaring of the drill, of hopes born and lost before the final push that won it.
Before I let you go I'll let you meditate on the philsophy we discovered down there:
A penguin walking down the road with three legs wished that he didn't slide everywhere, instead he called the police to make enquiries concerning bicycles and tennis players who abducted them shortly after repairing said legs for widely spread entertainment in very dire need of wisdom and dietary modifications, however he speculated wildly...
Sunday, I’m sure you can imagine, we didn’t go caving. We had a leisurely time round the hut, packed up fairly early, picked some of our stuff up at the CRO office in Clapham and left.