Dave Kirkpatrick, David Wilson, James Wilson, Rebecca Diss, Lucie Studena, Matti Mitropoulos, Ellie Pizey, Chris Hayes, Wojtek Sowinski
Lost Johns' cave: Dave Kirkpatrick, David Wilson, James Wilson, Rebecca Diss, Lucie Studena, Matti Mitropoulos, Ellie Pizey, Chris Hayes, Wojtek Sowinski
A lesson to be learned: check the bookings before choosing caves… And if it is booked, don’t just go anyway…
Was meant to be Notts 1, ended up as Lost Johns. They’re basically the same cave right?
So much table traversing occurred in the evening – I developed a flawless technique of aligning your torso parallel to the table to extend your arm across the top which everyone ripped into but no one actually tried to confirm. I also faced Todd, an ex-MUSC, in aerial sock wrestling and holy shit, I was not prepared for the immediate and unrelenting aggression that man displayed. I prefer the route most imperialites take of carefully sizing each other up and waiting for the opportune moment to strike. He won almost immediately though so maybe brute force is the way to go.
We were, as usual, slow picking where to cave (in fairness the rain makes it hard) but eventually Notts I was decided. At some point in the getting ready process, it was noted that the cave was booked by somebody else but the keen humans facilitating us actually leaving the hut decided to ignore this. Shrug.
Naturally Leck Fell was full of Doggers. There was a rather obscene number of cars parked by the gate to the Notts field so we were sceptical that we'd get away with our planned piracy. Some amusing faff ensued which involved everyone except Dave and I squishing into the 7 seater car (Matti in the boot) to make plans whilst avoiding the grim weather. Dave and I watched in amusement from the safety of his vehicle. Eventually Matti emerged and informed us of the decision to Lost John's'' ourselves instead. There was then more faff whilst ropes were repacked. Dave and I continued to observe from the warm and only emerged from the car when absolutely necessary.
I went down Dome with (I think) Dave, Lucie and Wojtek. Lucie rigged and I followed behind, singing anything I could remember the words to. We reached the bottom only minutes after the Centipede team and shared edam before making our way to the opposing exit.
I was glad for my pantin going up centipede and waited at the top for Wojtek. I somehow misjudged his location, thinking he had successfully done the pitch, so made my way up the next rope. Once I was at the top I realised he was in fact still at the pitch head, so quickly made my way back down to see if I could assist. He had ascended too high (classic) and taken off his hand jammer and was hanging far away from the floor without much space to reattach the jammer. I decided the easiest option was to just attach a sling to the Y-hang bolt and get him to stand in it to unload his chest jammer. I warned him there would be a drop as he lowered himself onto his cowstails but I don't think he quite realised what I meant. The move was somewhat more dynamic than I’m sure either of us would have liked but he seemed ok. I made a point to show him how to down prussick when we got to the next rope so he could easily fix such a problem in future.
Centipede is ridiculously short and we were in the final horizontal passage in what felt like no time. Dave was at the front and I wasn't really paying attention so just followed as we passed the left turn. I soon noticed the floor was almost sandy, which I had never seen here before so suggested we may have overshot. We made a U turn at the next safe location and I was reminded of the story of James O’Hanlan getting lost with his GoPro here many years ago.
I think it was even light when we exited the cave which was a shock. Winter caving is awful.
There was delicious paneer korma for dinner and many hours were spent traversing the kitchen table before we moved on to aerial sock wrestling which was both fun and terrifying.
Shuttleworth pot: James Wilson, Rebecca Diss, Lucie Studena, Chris Hayes, Wojtek Sowinski
Gavel Pot: David Wilson, Matti Mitropoulos, Ellie Pizey
For some reason Gavel pot had been completely off my radar until this weekend – its right next to the Leck fell path which I've walked many a time, but hopping over the wall never seemed to occur to me. Although we didn’t go down all the way it was still thoroughly enjoyable, and definitely one to come back to on a Saturday to reach the bottom.
Don’t do a Davey and fight your way through prickly branches and begin rigging off of a lonely bolt, realise you’re probably in the wrong place, backtrack to the very obvious path and then rig the correct route on some sneakily camouflaged bolts. Diss was adamant that the ‘grassy route’ down the first pitch was bs so we didn’t even bother with it, and just rigged the rocky route. After a brief spout of darkness we were back out in the open at the bottom of the rather grand shakehole. I like the Gavel shakehole – it’s green and grassy on rugged and rough rock, without being loose or lubricious.
Don’t do a me and dismiss Ellie’s repeated pointing at an easier route through a gap in the boulders at the second pitch and instead go a more obvious but less nice way over the top. Sorry.
A third freeclimb/handline/descent-ish took us right to the streamway. A low ducky crawl brought us through some extraordinarily pretty chambers where white-roofed caverns criss-crossed with helictites and stalactites led us away from the streamway and down a flat out crawl that just kept going and going. A creepy rope and some Soreen prompted us to turn around. Just before we headed out though we had a quick look at a free-climb which Diss had described as very sketchy – and I agree it looked more like a free-fall on the way down and a free-levitate on the way back. It was also uncomfortably wet. There was a bypass which Davey had a look at and apparently it’s similar difficulty but less wet, so possibly preferable.