Ice Climbing up in Scotland over Christmas and New Year and then some Caving in Yorkshire.
The Approach to Tower Gulley, Ben Nevis
Outside Bar Pot on a cold day
About to go down Dihedral with Mike
Traversing in Meregil
Caving: Meregill (27-Dec-00)
Mike Alderton, Tom
581:00 cumulative hours
My first caving trip after a rather adventurous trip to Scotland (See next Belfry Bulletin). My legs were still very painful but a trip down here was to good to miss as usually it is flooded but as everything on the surface was frozen we were able to get down. We planned to do the trip in two waves, us rigging and five other people from BUSS following later to de-rig, but as we couldn't find the way down into what we thought was the entrance the others had arrived before we had gone down. With their previous knowledge of the cave we abseiled down the correct pitch and walked through the dry sump. Rigging was interesting as it involved using extremely dodgy spits, due to the cave usually being in flood. Good progress was made down the pitches with the last ones being free-climbable, and some interesting traverses across some rather deep pools of water. We were soon down at the main drain where firstly we followed it downstream, then upstream, until the passage got to low and would involve us getting wet. In the downstream section where it appeared to almost sump we came across a transparent cave fish. The way back out was painful on my badly bruised legs but at least the lads from BUSS were de-rigging. We took some good pictures with my new camera as we headed out. One of the above mentioned dodgy spits came out on the way up just to add to the excitement.
Caving: Gaping Ghyll (28-Dec-00)
Mike Alderton, Tom
587:00 cumulative hours
Once at the GG depression after a treacherous walk up in the ice and snow, we rigged a rope of a boulder to get us safely over the ice and over to jib tunnel. Once inside it was immediately warmer and I started rigging the traverse while the others made there way in. The rigging looks technical on the topo but is pretty simple. A lot of the deviations had in-situ bits of tat and most of the re-belays are on the half-way ledge. Its a spectacular abseil as the light hits you from the main shaft giving you a bigger exposure factor. After the last re-belay you have a fantastic 30m drop from the roof of the chamber down to the floor. From here we went back towards where Bar Pot comes in and down towards Far Country. From here we made our way to Echo Pitch after remembering the route from the guidebook. We descended Echo Pitch where the way on from here appeared to be sumped. We looked at both ways at the bottom of the pitch but both ended in sumps. As I was only wearing pub gear under my oversuit (I left all my other gear back at Bull Pot farm) I was not up for hanging around or going through any ducks. We headed back out from here looking at a few side passages en-route. Once back at the main chamber we headed out, with mike de-rigging. Getting back, firstly out the swallow hole and then back to the car was exiting as it was dark and icy.
Caving: Pool Sink (29-Dec-00)
Mike Alderton, Rich Gerrish, + 5 OUCC
590:30 cumulative hours
The worst thing about this trip as with most Yorkshire caves was the walk to the entrance. Once there I went ahead with Mike and rigged the first pitch for a pull-through. Eventually after teaching OUCC threshers how to abseil we were at the bottom of all the pitches and almost down at the main drain. We followed the main drain downstream and eventually climbed out of this and off up to wretched rabbit. From here it seemed a long time until we were actually doing the climbs out of wretched rabbit. Once on the surface we were instantly hit by the cold and on the walk back to RRCPC our kit froze.
Caving: Pool Sink (30-Dec-00)
Mike Alderton, Steve, Dave
597:30 cumulative hours
Another trip into pool sink but with a purpose. We wanted to learn the route from where pool sink hits the main drain to Lancaster Hole so as the following day we could do a through trip from Top Sink to Lancaster. Getting to the main drain from Pool Sink was easy as we had done that same trip the previous day. We didn't follow the main drain for long as we needed to get into the higher level stuff to by-pass the sumps. Once in the higher level stuff the lads from CUCC were knackered but we did not have much choice but to continue to Lancaster as we had pulled out ropes Pool Sink. We went up to the minarets and our first major navigational problem was just after passing cow pot where we could not find the way out to Lancaster. We got into the higher level passage after Cow Pot o.k. but took us a little while to find the way to Lancaster, which we thought would be the easy bit of the navigation. Once at Lancaster Hole it was still going to be some time before we actually got out as the SRT up the 30m pitch was stupendously slow. I think the CUCC lads were glad to be on the surface and it was good for Mike and I who now new more of the route for tomorrow.
Caving: Top Sink (31-Dec-00)
600:30 cumulative hours
Now the only bit of this trip we needed to learn was, firstly where the entrance was and secondly how to get from Top Sink to the Ease Gill main drain. The latter didn't have much room for error as we were pulling our ropes down. The entrance proved difficult to find but eventually found it after retracing our steps back down the river after deciding we must have gone to far. Once inside we warmed up instantly and a bit of G5, only bigger canyon passage led us to the first pitch. We were now committed to finding our way out of Top Sink and down to the main drain as our rope came flying down. A few more pitches later and we found a higher level passage which we followed after the streamway proved to tight. A few dodgy climbs and tight squeezes down unworn passage led us to a rope climb down which in turn led us back to the stream (not the recommended route). Amazingly we had passed all the constrictions, boulder chokes and sumps and were now heading down to the main drain. Not knowing where we were we stopped for a break before realising we were standing right next to the passage that comes from Pool Sink. We retraced our steps and got back to the climb out the streamway that by-passes the sump. From here we went basically the same route as yesterday to the minarets, which navigationally proved a lot easier. Once passed the minarets we followed the main drain instead of doing the high level route. The water level was quite low as everything on the surface was frozen. Once at Cow Pot we climbed out the streamway and back out to Lancaster Hole. We had wait here for a little while, while some novices prussiked out. Once back at RRCPC after a thoroughly enjoyable and sporting trip we enjoyed New Year.