Arun Paul, Christopher Bradley, Dave Kirkpatrick, David Wilson, Ho Yan Jin, Jack Halliday, James Perry, Jennifer Ryder, Rebecca Diss, Rhys Tyers, Max Stunt, Ana Teck, Ahhyun Jeong, Nemo Godebski-Pedersen, Seth Ratcliffe, Chris Oliwa, Ada Chen, Oscar He, Sharon Lin, Ruth Goh, Isaac Blanc
This trip featured a lot of humans and so I was graced with the presence of Ana, Yan Jin and Ruth (a fresher in a car?! So keen). Pick up location was Cambridge and I arrived a little before their train. Eventually ambushed them outside the station barriers and had an amusing potentially accidental double hug with Yan Jin and Ana. Ruth was somewhere else for some time but eventually appears, explaining that she had bought a ticket for the wrong day so was presumably sorting that out with station humans. We attempt to leave Cambridge and the GPS on my phone decides we are a magic carpet and that we don’t need roads. Eventually Ana does some things and her phone rescues us. Much singing occurs as well as a failed attempt at Greggs and accidental avoidance of the glorious M62.
We arrive at the Bradford before the bus but after the other two sets of car humans. I enter the common room to find Perry and Dave wearing elephant masks and throwing rings at each other. Horrific.
ETA of the bus is 2am so tactical early sleep occurs, partially due to tiredness and maybe a little to avoid helping unpack.
Ana, Ruth and I met at Liverpool Street and took a train up to Cambridge where we met Diss, who would drive us to the Bradford Pothole Club. All we/Diss wanted was a Subway, but we somehow never came across one at the Services. We got to the hut at 11.30pm and met the other car team and Dave. The minibus people got back at 1.30am. Something about traffic. Something about Rhys stalling twice on the motorway.
Yordas Pot: Rebecca Diss, Ana Teck, Ahhyun Jeong, Ada Chen
This weekend was all about Alum supposedly, so naturally I went to Yordas. Ana wanted to rig and we took two amusing freshers (Ada and Ahhyun) in the dissmobile to Kingsdale with an Inglesport detour for cowstails purchasing. Everything is going well until I notice Ahhyun doesn’t have a chest jammer (just two hand jammers, one small one handled). I give her mine and get excited at the prospect of becoming Dodgy Jammer 2.0. We meet some humans on the way in who are apparently outdoor instructors and I am some level of certain one of them had cowstails made of static rope. Hmm.
Ana is of course horrifically competent on the rigging front but there is inevitably a long and cold wait whilst the traverses are rigged and I lose feeling in most extremities. The freshers are cold but somehow quite cheery. The cave is antisocially loud and we have to shout at each other even when close by. The freshers are competent and generally do things fine. Interestingly they did the traverses with ease but found the descending troublesome. I guess this can be put down partially to Ana’s rigging skills. Some was help needed which was occasionally challenging in the noise but nobody died. I was shocked at how easy the traverse was - perhaps I am some kind of better caver than the previous time I was there. Terrifying.
The transition from the first traverse to the descent is always really weird and so I ended up passing a sling to Ahhyun via Ada so she could stand in it to get her cowstails off. When I got there I realised you can do some slightly acrobatic motions without a sling but this would have been hard to tell a fresher with the noise and lack of sight.
Some singing does occur but I can barely hear it myself so assume nobody else can.
We are all on the hanging traverse as Ana prepares for the next descent. I shout something about slings to her and she puts a few in to help the freshers. I question whether the rebelay below should be rigged on account of the newness of the freshers to such things but it’s pretty wet so rigging of it occurs. Ahhyun has little trouble with the deviation and then proceeds on to the rebelay which is too far from me for me to see what she is doing or even shout to her well. The re-belay is basically at quite an angle and she ends up descending way too low. It becomes apparent that she will need to change-over to get to the bolt and both Ana and I attempt to shout instructions. I eventually shout “ANA, GO UP” in an attempt to get her to ascend to the rebelay to help. She hears this as me telling her that Ahyun needs to go up for some time and eventually the message is received. Small dramas occur and Ahhyun is eventually at the bottom of the pitch. I try to yell to Ana to go somewhere warm with Ahhyun (it is very wet and cold down there) but the waterfall is far more volumous than I.
An eyewitness account not quite quoted from Ana-nonymous source
Italics = Ana words (ish)
Ahhyun descended too far, so I told her to go all the way into the loop and prussik up the other side but she had some trouble getting her chest jammer on because her foot loop was way too long. Eventually she gets there. I went back down the rope and shouted rope free but Ada thought I had shouted rope free to her so a lot of shouting and pointing followed. I had been preoccupied by swinging in my harness and bashing my kneepad-less knees into walls trying to keep warm so didn’t notice this straight away. Eventually turned around and realised what was occurring and told Ada to get off the rope. Not that this would have been too terrifying really, Ahhyun wasn’t actually hanging on the rope anymore, just had her long cowstail in. Ahhyun shouts rope free at some point and Ada goes down. She struggles significantly with the deviation (i think this is because she was trying to use strength instead of swing but this was hard to convey) and i tell her to just let go of it as she looks to be getting very tired very quickly. Thankfully the re-belay was there to keep her out of the water. When the deviation was dropped, Ada couldn’t swing into the re-belay well enough so in the end she did the same as Ahhyun (prussicked up). I just did about an hour of standing in the waterfall spray/draft and holding my head in an uncomfortable way to look up and at least got to do a bit of prussicking. Chocolate bars and vimto bottles raining down the pitch was probably the most exciting thing. This was very amusing from above as I just saw things sprinkling out of Ada’s bag and Ana casually fishing them out of the water.
After all the mild drama we decide there isn’t time to go back up so leave Yordas rigged for some poor Sunday souls.
Also apparently nobody went to Alum today due to many humans being present. A shame.
Diss ft. Ana
Bull Pot: Christopher Bradley, David Wilson, Oscar He
With our Alum plans in disarray, the minibus team heads to Kingsdale for Vesper, Jingling and Bull. The Vespers take a car as the rest of us minibus it. We arrive and after the usual faff we all head up the hill together: eventually reaching the walled enclosure just before the Rowten entrance. Our teams split here and Davey, Oscar and I (Team Orchid) walk along the road-facing side of wall. The trek is a bit longer than expected, and we have to climb over a loose stone wall onto the next pasture. It would have been easier if at the beginning we'd continued down the road from the minibus a bit longer, and entered the next pasture from there.
Eventually we reach the pot and I start rigging. Our guide implies three bolts at the top of the entrance pitch, though we only see two. We rig on these and it's a straight forward vertical pitch downward. Next up is the traverse: it starts with a thread on the right-hand wall, but I miss it and start the traverse further down, making things a little bit more awkward to rig/derig. Davey and Oscar stay put as I slowly dissappear around the corner. Eventually I reach the next pitch and rig the Y-hang. For the most part, Davey is leaving me to my own devices, so this is my first time rigging without much guidance. It's Oscar's first SRT trip and he seems to be faring well, even though his cowstails are ridiculously small.
The second pitch is straight-forward, landing you quickly onto The Slot and the third pitch, which is a Y-hang with a rebelay half-way down alongside a conveniently placed ledge. Davey has the rest of the rope, so I descend and wait for the two of them. We skip a couple of bolts on the next traverse that seemed redundant: presumably they'd be useful in wetter weather, but today the cave is very dry.
The fourth pitch is the last that we brought rope for. It has two deviations on the topo, but we just use one as again the water was very low. The deviation is fun to rig, with a bit of a swing required to reach it. At this stage it's getting a little bit late and we are anxious to get back to the bus, so as soon as we all reach the bottom of this pitch we begin heading back up and Davey derigs. The deviation is a bit tight on the way up - maybe rigging both would have made things easier after all? Oscar's tiny cowstails cause a bit of grief on the way up, but it's nothing he can't handle.
Eventually I arrive on the surface again, benighted under a starless sky. I flash my head torch at some distant lights on the road - looks like the Jingling team is already at the bus. The others surface, and we head down the hill along a more sensible route than what we took to get here. We bump into team Yordas, who fail to recognise us. When we reach the bus the Jingling squad are already changed, so we quickly do the same and head back home, where dinner is already underway.
Jingling Pot: Ho Yan Jin, James Perry, Rhys Tyers, Chris Oliwa, Ruth Goh
The plan was for most of us to go to Alum Pot. At breakfast, Jennifer was describing the cave. At the same time, Max asked ‘where’s the tea?’ and she said ‘It’s the big pot in the middle’. There was some confusion because we realised that she was talking about two different pots.
I was quite excited to go back to Alum, and to do the Bridge bit well without sliding off it. When we got to the carpark, we saw 7 cars and two groups of people in kit. After a short chat, we found out that there were two groups already in and two more who were heading in, so we decided to turn back to the hut and re-make plans.
There was surprisingly little faff as we quickly decided how we were going to regroup, which caves to go into and to pack rope. We did, however, spend a lot of time faffing with putting on kit when we were at Kingsdale.
We met a Lancaster University group who were exiting the cave. The first of the group said, ‘Are you from Imperial?’ ’Oh yes’, we said, ‘how did you know?’ ‘Your wellies have ICCC on them’
The third of the group saw us and said, ‘You are from Imperial right?’ ‘Ah yes’, we said, ‘the wellies right?’ ‘Oh no. Imperial’s the only club who can afford PVC over suits for everyone’
It was my first time rigging anything properly (aside from two traverses), and Jingling was quite nice with ledges to stand on so it wasn’t that terrifying. Rhys also looked over my shoulders, almost continuously, making sure I made the right knots.
We saw many frogs near the bottom of Jingling as well as many dead mice.
Vesper Pot: Arun Paul, Jennifer Ryder, Max Stunt, Seth Ratcliffe
Aquamole Pot: Dave Kirkpatrick, Jack Halliday, Nemo Godebski-Pedersen, Sharon Lin, Isaac Blanc
Alum Pot: Rebecca Diss, Ana Teck, Ahhyun Jeong, Ada Chen
Today I am blessed with the same crack team as yesterday and we plan to venture to Sell Gill, with me rigging (terrifying). We firstly make the mistake of driving to Horton-in-Ribblesdale (it’s very close, just walk, man). We then walk past the Craven to be told by some random guy in a car that there are already at least 3 groups in Sell Gill, some only just gone. We sigh and eventually decide we’ll go to Alum instead because damn someone ought to. We drive back to the hut and I quickly change the callout and grab a shorter rope and don’t pick up a rigging topo for Alum because that would make life far too easy.
I realise i don’t know where alum is but we just go to where google thinks it is thanks to coordinates and it works. The road you park on is horrifically bumpy and I hit the bottom of my car for the 3rd (?) time this weekend.
We decided that getting the correct ropes or, you know, leaving some of the packed ropes behind would make our lives too easy so we ventured to Alum, assuming we’d do two pitches maybe with all of the rope for Sell Gill.
I immediately took us down a grimmer crawl than was necessary (read: I get a bit wet) before turning round and going the correct way. Ada slips into a pool and definitely hurts herself but insists she’s fine so we do the “i’m going to eat a chocolate bar now” tactic but instead it was an “i’m going to pop a percy or one of his friends now”. I realise my car keys which were in my pocket for reasons were getting wet so we left them there hidden behind a rock, along with some rusty batteries visible as a marker.
We head off fairly soon, after I do something to Ahhyuns light to make it actually turn on. Eventually get to the free climb that is kind of challenging on the way down when you can’t see the foot holds so rigged a handline off of a massive boulder (tied a huge bowline and felt well skilled). I spent some time standing in a cold pool at the bottom because I have no sense. I end up sort of supporting the weight of one or both of the freshers (i forget) as they near the bottom as they’ve missed the large foot hold which is invisible from above.
I then rig the pitch all on bowlines and alpines which I’ve decided is the way forward. The pitch is in no way hard/scary to rig but is always awkward to actually do after rigged because the Y-hang is far away from the ledge and it’s very hard to not load your long cowstail when testing your descender if you don’t have optimally lengthed cowstails. I think maybe what could be done is tie an extra alpine in the final traverse with a long ish loop so people can clip their long into that. A bowline on a bight is also a possibility (because then the traverse line goes down to the Y-hang knot) but we later saw this done by another group and I don’t think it made the traverse line low enough to be that much better.
Everyone else got down with ease regardless and we all marvelled at the open air beside us. Sadly we had to turn around here because Sunday. More sadly we could not do this when desired due to the aforementioned other group who had just started to come down. Instead we sit on cold rocks and Ana whips out the Mac and Cheese tin I'd bought for research purposes. We all try one bite and despise this food. Ada also seems to hate it and yet eats the rest of it because she is some kind of psychopath/incredible human.
We head out after the group reaches us, me first. I sing at the top for a bit and Ana and I try to harmonise but it’s hard from a distance. Ana derigs and we get out of the cave only a bit behind schedule. I expect a telling off when we return to the hut but somehow we are the first back. Before this occurs there is drama with getting my car out of the horrifically lumpy road which involves Ana running around manically and crouching a lot to look under the car as well as me driving through a puddle lake. Somehow my car is still intact and we go and eat egg fried rice with pringle spoons before the journey back to cambridge and beyond, via Bradford for some reason, which actually had an open Subway. We also got to visit the elusive M62. Complete success of a weekend.
Yordas Pot: Ho Yan Jin, Rhys Tyers, Sharon Lin, Isaac Blanc
Many people decided not to cave today (poor life choices), and I hadn’t been into Yordas and thought it sounded like a nice and chill trip. Davey drove the minibus and was attempting a 3 point turn when we got to Kingsdale. He made some errors in judgement and ended up quite far into the wet grass at the side of the road.
“Right”, Davey said, “Everyone, get out of the bus and push”. Six of us, three from each side, tried pushing while Davey reversed. The wheels started spinning and kicking mud out, but the bus didn’t move at all. At this point, Davey was too embarrassed and got Rhys to take the wheel.
A small van pulled up (the commotion of people outside a bus was one area of attention, the bus blocking the whole road was another), looked at the situation we were in and laughed a little, “ah I remember back when that happened to me once”. We took some rope, and Rhys tied a bowline on the minibus tower while Davey tied a bowline on the bite on the tow bar of the van. That didn’t do anything except dug more mud. It took a second, heavier and bigger van that came slightly after to tow the bus out.
As we took the knots out of the towed rope, it made weird, unnerving squeaky noises. Someone said “I now have greater trust in the strength of our rope”. We put it aside and condemned the rope for life.
Yordas was a nice cave except for the hanging traverses which were tricky. When I saw the sun shining through the bottom entrance, I was very tempted to leave, but then remembered that I was going to derig.