The last weekend trip of the year saw us leaving a World Cup-crazed union at a reasonable time. Roads were delightfully empty (reckon everyone was home watching football), but road closures on the M6 meant that we arrived at Greenclose ~0230 – just as the sky was beginning to brighten. Bed after the obligatory pint of tea.
Andy burst into the long room too early in the morning and managed to successfully recruit Jan into the rigging team, while the rest of us lazy arses were left slumbering away in peace.
IC3 was at its faff-tastic best – we lounged about eating breakfast, talking and just generally wasting time. So by the time we'd driven to Brackenbottom, hiked up to the entrance and got changed, it was gone three in the afternoon! A respectable hour to get underground by anyone's standards, I should think. It was quickly apparent that shepherding a team of 9 all the way down Penyghent wasn't the most realistic of ideas, so we split into Team Deep (to go down to the downstream sump and de-rig out) and Team Flexible (to follow and turn back whenever they felt like it).
Progress through the cave was rather smooth. The 330m crawl felt more like 100m, especially with the the more shameless amongst us (i.e. Jarv) wearing double(!) gloves, having learnt our lesson crawling through meltwater in our previous foray into Penyghent. Before we knew it, we were flying through the pitches – first pitch, Easy Passage, second pitch, bedding plane squeeze into the big third + fourth pitches, rift, fifth pitch – right to the impressive curtain chamber, where we turned back the last time.
We ploughed on, and it was basically your classic Yorkshire pothole minus any horrid squeezes. A hodge-podge of rifts, pitches, crawls, climbs, and water made for some splendid caving. We met up with Jan, Andy and Pete about 2 pitches from the sump and stopped for a quick chit-chat. The rest of the way was very wet, with deep pools, shockingly cold water, and devilish potholes that kept trying to ensnare one's ankles. Had a look at the dive line at the sump before turning around and beginning the de-rig.
Way back was rather uneventful, save for a couple of slightly tricky pitches/re-belays. We saw some live frogs pretty deep down though! The crawl out felt much longer than it did on the way in, expectedly, as already-bruised knees complained with each step. But it was all right – even enjoyable – since Dan and I took our time, stopping every now and then for a chat and rest, figuring it was pointless to reach the surface too soon before Jarv and Will.
Met Sandeep and Andrew while walking down the hill to find that we were only ~1 hour behind Team Flex, but the rest had fucked off to the pub thinking we would be a while yet. A quick change later, we drove around Horton from pub to pub looking for them and growing increasingly annoyed, only to finally discover that they were actually in the first pub we'd looked in – we'd somehow managed to miss them.
Got back to the NPC to find the lamb curry almost ready. Cheers Jan and Shed, you stars. Sat around talking and gorging ourselves on Andy's many birthday cakes late into the night.
All in all a wonderful day of caving that was enjoyed by all, no matter how much of the cave was done. Friday the 13th series next time!
Half-hearted attempts at caving/walks were scorned, as most opted to lie on the grass at Greenclose basking in the sunshine and drinking tea. Tested Dan's modified slide hammer, was suitably effective at splitting rocks.
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