Saturday 30 March 2024

Boxhead Pot

Today's objective was Boxhead Pot, with it's 70m main pitch. Not having done such a large pitch before (and not having honed SRT to perfection yet) I was unsure how hard I’d find climbing back up from the bottom. A good challenge is always fun, however, so three of us (Bartek, Jon and myself) set off after meeting up with several other club members for a good breakfast.

Bartek was up first, being the designated rigger, followed by Jon and myself. This was a great trip from start to finish: a lovely first pitch to a large floor covered in cobbles with the most impressive rock architecture (fluted columns in the rock - very beautiful). From there, the main pitch plunged down 70m, passing through a fair bit of spray en route. Add in a couple of rebelays and deviations on the first pitch, and it all made for a really enjoyable trip.

Landing at the bottom of the main shaft, I recall thinking what fun dangling over 70m of void had been, until Jon reminded me of the stiff climb up and out! Bartek shot up the 70m in what must have been 7 or 8 minutes, Jon took slightly longer (maybe 15), however I think I took at least half an hour. A fast and efficient caver I will never be, but I can plod till I get there. After Bartek and Jon’s patience, it was my turn to be patient, as Bartek engaged in a spot of photography with Jon dangling from a rebelay on the first pitch. The end result was definitely worth it, though, and before long I was prussiking up the entrance (exit?) pitch and struggling up the narrow sewer pipe to daylight. Here Bartek choose to engage in some more photography, successfully capturing my struggle and incompetence for posterity. This was a fantastic trip, and I’m already looking forward to the club’s next Yorkshire weekend in August.
Cavers: Bartek, Dave B & Johnny B
Trip Report: Dave B
Photos: Bartek B

County Pot to Wretched Rabbit

3rd Trip for me, saw me venturing into a Yorkshire Cave for the County Pot to Wretched Rabbit trip. It makes me laugh because before I'd even entered the cave, I freaked out due to the entrance after the slate being a straight vertical drop, requiring me to use full body weight to lower myself into it.
Once I got in with Mark's help, it was fantastic, he had mentioned that it wasn't exactly a newbie trip, I don't mind it though, it's good for me to experience caving as it is and I would feel guilty if the trip wasn't fulfilling for everyone else involved.

New experiences - ladders and tight spaces, not too bothered by these, so wouldn't mind some more tries at these.
Not so good with crawling though, I wonder if there's anything I can buy to help with these, I have had problems with knees in the past. And then there's the drops.. the dreaded drops, few times I found myself on the edge, travelling over an edge, traversing only once or twice which i powered through. And then the end finale, a 1-2m2 square hole to pass over with only a small stalagmite for footing and meant having to lean over and into the drop to be able to secure hands.. most frightening moment of the trip.
Mark, Jess and Mel we're all so supportive and on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It's not going to defeat me, just making me more determined to up my fitness and confidence levels in any way I can, so I'm going to the gym and I'm going to take up rock/boulder climbing. I may still get scared, but if i can build external knowledge and confidence of how to deal with certain situations, it may help in the cave.
Cavers: Mark & Jess B, Mel B, Rebecca Guy
Trip Report & Photos: Rebecca Guy

Friday 29 March 2024

Rowten Pot

Having never been caving in Yorkshire before, I was keen to get stuck into some of the classic trips. Bartek and Paulina were my guides for the day, and opted for Rowten Pot. The choice was an excellent one! After a quick lesson in setting up y-hangs, Bartek slithered over the edge of the pot, and shortly after shouted up to let me know that the rope was free. I dropped down to the second rebelay, relishing the void beneath my feet and the water spraying down the shaft. It was a good thing that the position was spectacular, since I managed to get hung up for about half an hour or so at this point. Not judging the length of the rope in the rebelay, realising I'd attached my ascending gear incorrectly, and getting in a tangle was an impressive number of mistakes, however with time - and more importantly Paulina’s advice - I eventually passed the rebelay and dropped down to Bartek.
From here on, I'm pleased to say, things went a lot more smoothly. There was an interesting abseil into a tight (ish) rift with another rebelay, a good swing across to the opposite wall as the cave bellowed out, and then another couple of pitches down to the bottom of the cave. Here we had a quick look at the sump, which is one of three. Apparently they are committing but relatively easy; nonetheless, they definitely weren't on the agenda for today. After poking around for a few minutes, we started the climb up out of Rowten. Fortunately the way out was trouble free, and before too long I picked my head over the top of the pot. This was an excellent trip, made even better by poking our heads into Yordas and Valley Entrance.
Cavers: Bartek & Paulina, Dave B
Trip Report: Dave B
Photos: Bartek B

Tuesday 12 March 2024

Mostly Mudlust

The Dudley were back at OFD, with their sights set on the Northern Lights (the subterranean version). Through the entrance series we went, into Gnome Passage where we picked up the start of Edward's Shortcut. Here Jonny went first, slithering down the polished climb with ease and aplomb, before I followed somewhat less gracefully. We made quick progress over the traversy bit before taking a detour into Frozen River, which has some very impressive formations, including a copper pillar - very beautiful.
Having ooed and ahhed sufficiently, we made quick progress towards Cross Rift where we took Midnight Passage and followed it up to the Skyhook. Being new to this part of the cave (and having forgotten a copy of the survey), I guessed most of the key navigational decisions, and got them consistently wrong. I was consistently put right by Loz, however, and before long we had found the wet grovel followed by a vertical climb up through a boulder choke which leads to the start of Lavender Way.

Having squeezed and crawled through this, we arrived at the tight squeeze through into the Vault. This was a bit of a struggle, as it was stepped upwards and had to be entered on one's side. Getting my hips over the steps necessitated pushing my torso up vertically; of course the passage got thinner the higher it got, making this somewhat of a challenge. Nonetheless, after 5 minutes or so, it was challenge met and I was through. Jonny was next; he too found the same problem as me and decided he wouldn’t defeat the squeeze. No bother: he and Loz went to find the bypass while Anne and I pushed on.

The next obstacle was the chimney climb with handline. I had heard this was awkward, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was simply a case of easy (but thrutchy) chimneying, with a good sideways push off the wall to force my body weight over the top of the climb. We waited for a few minutes in Mudlust Hall for Loz and Jonny to catch us up, however we quickly began to feel cold and pushed on, figuring that they would catch us up sooner or later.

The second section of Mudlust Hall has the most impressive moonmilk tide mark; this was definitely the highlight of the trip for me! Next we followed a crawl at the end of the chamber over some amusing slippy mud, to arrive at a sump. Back we tracked, and found the wet crawl that's the way on into the rest of Northern Lights. However, not wanting to get too far ahead, we went back to Mudlust Hall to see if Loz and Jonny had arrived.

We found Loz, who said that Jonny was waiting for us back at the squeeze. They had found the bypass, but after some deft climbing had decided not to push on. I thought this wise: looking at the traverse from above the squeeze, it involved a big stretch over a big hole with a big drop but without big footholds! Not a great combination.

Having all met back up, it was time to reverse our route, but this time at the Cross Rift we went out via Shatter Pillar and navigated the standard “tourist route” to the entrance. Having learnt this route recently with Caver Keith ( aka the Wily Cave Wizard), I'm pleased to report that Anne and I were able to follow it without error, and we all emerged after several hours underground.
Overall, this was a great trip, and some of the best bits of Northern Lights still remain to be explored on a future trip!

Cavers: Loz, Jonny, Anne & Dave
Trip Report: Dave B
Photos: Jonny B