A beautiful bimble down Easegill; took some of our sexy new blue rope and pulled through all the various climbs. Initial descent was smooth, a few scramblings and a bit of help from a rope for the inexperienced + the rust to negotiate Poetic Justice. After the climb, there's a short section of crawling before reaching a short pitch; we were backed up for a fair few minutes while Dave rigged and the fresher's cautiously descended - enough time to fall asleep in! I rolled over, switched off my light and lay down; next moment I open my eyes & its pitch black and I can't hear anybody. Could they have left me behind? Would I have to freeclimb County to escape? Thankfully, with almost perfect timing I stumbled down the riftway to the pitchhead as the last fresher dropped.
Stomped down the little streamway, over the muddy section & finally popped into Stop Pot after the bedding crawl. Threaded our way through Double-Decker passageway and into strawchamber; main stream was very low - and entirely absent in places. Bimbled along Straw and revisited a rather familiar spot [ahem]. Found a dodgy 1950's era battery under a rock; then stumbled along an entirely dry streamway to Holbeck junction, had a sit down halfway along Thackery's passage & a nose up the Pool Sink connection and the usually submarine section of stream flowing from there to Double Decker Chamber.
Hopped back along to Stop Pot, aborted a trip to Monster Passage in view of the time, and slithered our way out of WR.
A great bimble; nice mix of SRT, bolder hopping, hand-line climbing & riftway work - pity I didn't take the camera!
Saturday was the perfect opportunity to try out ICCC's new take on SRT, with has recently become the use of literally one rope (often less...). Colm also only had a wetsuit, so in conjunction with our Piranas, we could use this trip as canyoning practice. The long crawl was almost pleasant, with Colm trying to get himself as wet as possible. Although in no rush, we didn't bother rigging all the pitches, and those that were rigged were made as sporting as possible. It's possible to free climb out of Kingsdale main streamway into Valley entrance so we didn't bother rigging that either. The Bradford had actually left a ladder, and a couple of hours later we returned to sunlight. Our plan was then do Simpson Pot as a pull-through, but instead we decided to do the Ingleton Waterfalls Canyon to make the most of the sunny afternoon.
A quick trip back to the NPC to pick up more kit (and via Cafe Anne for a cheeky cream tea and game of chess) and we were walking up the side of the River Doe. This is a stupidly easy trip, although we had to pretend that everything was scaled up by 10 (including the 1m jumps and 10m pitches!). Floating on your back down the river in the sun with a fan-club watching and taking photos is almost pleasant. Just a pity about the large number of midges.
Met up with the rest of ICCC at the Marton Arms, they'd been down Easegill (surprise, surprise) and there that conversation ended. Evening rounded off with the usual shenanigans at Bull Pot Farm, but luckily I'd already had the foresight of hanging my furry up in the drying room at the NPC, and washing the sheep-dip off at the excellent facilities (blatant plug).
A high speed trip to Ingleton to grab a mix of equipment turned into a rather protracted cake & tea fest; bought 40 flatpack batteries for the club, a Peli Case for Jarv, Jo a fitting (and therefore childsized) oversuit; and other assorted bits of gear bought out of both necessity & luxury.
Zoomed off to Valley Entrance, with Dave W. tailing + the Nazi / Comf Meister duo planning to do Rowter. After such tasty flapjack, speed was now of the essence if we were to be back in London for a vaguely sensible time. Kit was being pulled on as the Cave Rescue van trundled along; were we about to become pack mules in a 12hr rescue? Thankfully know; the rescuers were just out and about for a sports trip.
The valley entrance ladder pitch had to be rigged before the pull through could begin, so Jarv was thus dispatched down the slithery entrance tube after 2 minibus loads of lilliputin primary school kids from Milton Keynes had been swallowed by it.
Overtook the little blighters just before the long wet stoop. Their screams of horror at the cold water chased me along to the ladder pitch; sounded like I was being chased by a manic herd of cats who hadn't taken their Ritalin. Ladder duly rigged, I pegged it back out overtaking the kidies again: "I like your light, Mr Cave Man!", expecting eager ICCCers waiting at the entrance with packed 'sacs ready to stomp up the hill as I collapsed out of breath into the grass. But no; this being ICCC - everyone was still eating Creme Eggs and discussing the various merits of different MigLight configurations. I love this club :)
The Swinstow Crawlers bimbled up the hill, located a likely entrance and started the horizontal crawl back in the way that we came, except two metres below the ground, on your knees and through water. If ever there was a suitable candidate for a dig...
Progress was smooth but sedate; careful fresher-friendly rigging from Dave, gentle pace of SRT & double-checking on the derig to ensure safety + that the pull through... well, does! Slow pace was no problem considering the temperature + relative dryness; plenty of time to practice singing in the wonderful acoustics, take photos and eat creme eggs.
Wandering around the corner, we bumped into the Simpson Pot party, loitering at the bottom of the big pitch as shed wriggled his way through the letterbox. Perfect opportunity for a bit of stunt photography!
Time was dragging inevitably on, and our fresher had been left wandering around on the surface - we were beyond the time when we had said we'd expected to be back, so the fear of an accidental rescue call motivated Jan & Jarv to execute a speed exit, knees be damned. Flew along crawls, up the rigged ladder, then zooming through the upper of valley entrance as Jan stayed to rig a ladder belay (well, after I accidentally stole the kit bag with all the rope :).
Sun was absolutely wonderful, warm and dry enough to stand around while waiting to dry - even as we roared onto the M6 at 8pm, it was warm under the glass of the minibus. Caving in June rocks.
While stunt driving home, Clewin 'I get 100miles to a plate of pasta' Griffith decided to chance getting back from near Reading on a quarter tank of petrol. Within a few miles, the dodgy indicator had gone to 'none' + with a flashing light, the next half hour became a desperate attempt to find a 24hr petrol station before running out of Diesel. Until then, that had been our fastest journey back from yorkshire - not one traffic jam, and a tiny mile-long section of 50mph limit; but at least we got a 67litres fill of petrol (tank is 65 supposedly), at a non-motorway price!
Deciding that we'd better run a really easy trip to not intimidate any current ICCC members, Colm and I offered an easy trip down Rowter (sic) in preparation for Slov. Of course the up-take on the offer was zero. This means the total distance prussiked by the minibus contingent of ICCC this AGM was 7 m (unless they put a ladder down valley entrance...)
Ignoring the unnecessary half hour it took to drive back from the Farm, things moved fast with just two of us. Had not we run out of rope at the bottom, and Colm's 'minimalist' rigging not caused the rope to get stuck around a flake, we'd have had enough time to return to the car via Simpson Pot. We beat as hasty retreat back to Nottingham; we didn't want to have to go down Simpson to check to see if the others had ended up down the blind pot...