Report by everyone, photo robbed from Paul Deakin (we didn't take any ourselves)
Depsite an efficiency ratio1 of 3:2, we still managed to faff until 8:10 in South Ken. Things rapidly improved as we did a quick shop in the Hoover building and eventually reached the NPC at 1:30. Burnt toast and semtex, then bed.
Woke to perfect weather, ideal for walking, but we still packed the rope for our caves. Were ready to go by 10AM, so decided to go to Bernies and Inglethief for a bit of faffing. Back to Clapham for the tramp up to Gaping Ghyll
Flood Pot - Report by Moritz
Despite its name, the flood entrance is the driest possibility to get to the main chamber (
It's the entrance to use when rest of the cave is in flood). It starts straightforward with
simple SRT-pitches. They are that simple I did my first rigging under Colm's supervision there.
Next to the only re-belay is a very nice edge to stand on. Other pitches contain no difficulties
at all. So we descended quickly. The route contains some of the best shaped streamways I have
ever seen. They end in a large hole. We had some short ropes with us, because the guidebook
advised us to do so, but obviously we did not recognise one of the "pitches" we were supposed
to rig and freeclimbed it instead. Colm ended up dangling down this massive hole at
the end of the rope in the middle of a huge pitch. He had to ascend again and rig this pitch
with a longer rope (and in a better styleee!).
But that's easy and we got only one slight rub-point (I take offence to the suggestion that there was a rub-point - Colm). We arrived at the bottom long before the other group. There was even time enough for me to get lost. I tried to follow Colm into the main chamber (see photo), but instead I found myself crawling for an hour alone and forgotten somewhere behind the main chamberů
Stream Passage Pot - Report by Andy
Andy, Joachim, Stefan
Andy: 'When going past a deviation make sure you do NOT remove your descender. I'm going to rig
this now, so Joachim, check Stefan knows how to do a deviation'
These important words of advice were given at the top of the first 25m pitch. To be honest I was more worried about the slippery rope, and the ineffectiveness of my braking crab. After choosing the best 2 P-hangers to use to get the best hang (out of a choice of more than 6) I descended down about 10m. Ah, excellent, a bit of tat for a deviation, I won't have to dig a sling out of the bottom of my tackle sack. The 100 year old piece of hemp was looking a bit frayed, but luckily it looked like it was firmly tied to a 1" thick flake. The weather was dry, and not much water was falling down the pitch. The deviation only moved the rope about a foot further away from the waterfall. Was it really necessary? Would I be regretting it as I froze my tits off waiting at the bottom? What the heck, it'll be good practice for them, an easy deviation.....
Luckily I don't wear my glasses caving, had I actually seen Stefan carrying out a death-defying procedure I may well have fainted. Instead I was tortured by the sound of descenders being opened and crabs clicking. I shouted out 'Don't take your sod*ing descender off!!!', but the words were lost. After a bit of a b*llocking when he got to the bottom, I quickly told him the 'correct' way to pass a deviation, this one was not the last one by a long shot...
I had a touch of the old 'wibbly-legs' (thinking about Stefan's deviation) on the next pitch as I rigged a traverse line out to the pitch head. A quick check on the number of hangers caused me to 'streamline' towards the end of the traverse. Hmm, deviation needed. Luckily it was a P-hanger this time, so shouldn't be a problem. Got Joachim to rig the last pitch, after a quick lesson in knot-tying. Spent about an hour trying to find the way to the main chamber, and with a bit of luck met others at bottom. Quick detour to show then the way out (it's only about 100m!), and I popped into the main chamber to have a quick look at well lit main shaft. Easy trip out of Flood,
only hampered by Colm's rub-point aided by Colm's excellent rigging, and a slight
technical issue at the top of the bottom pitch involving Stefan's chest harness.
Ireby Fell Cavern - Report by Joachim
Today we all went to Ireby Fell Cavern. After a mile or so walk we reached
the entrance, a big hole in the ground.
A narrow concrete tube leads to a beautiful staircase-like entrance series. After that, there were two ways down, the "Traditional Route" and the "Shadow Route". Colm and Joachim took Shadow; Andy, Stefan and Moritz went down the traditional route. Both end at the same place, and from here we followed a really amazing streamway. It was mostly walking-size, and only sometimes interrupted by a pitch or a pile of boulders. Finally the large canyon-like passage ended in a sump.
On the way back we overtook another party which also was in the cave. The biggest technical problem about this cave was getting out of the cave, through the awkward tube at the entrance!
We put away all our pots and pans.
1. Efficency ratio is ratio of Germans:non-Germans