Saturday 21 November 2009

Friday 13th November 2009 - Pillar Holes.

With heavy rain forecast the TNC headed onto the moors above Cold Cotes in search of Pillar Holes, a pot which hopefully would be relatively safe if the predicted deluge hit.

Having previously spent an evening wandering this patch of moorland spectacularly failing to find a cave, Tom led the way with his GPS onto the plateau area that continues all the way over to Gaping Ghyll.

There are three entrances to Pillar holes and we split into two teams for a crossover trip between two of them. Tom and John disappeared down entrance One while Dick and I descended a short muddy gully, on the other side of the rock bridge, to entrance Two. A Petzl bolt protected the traverse onto the first Y hang and a short pitch then dropped onto a beautifully carpeted boulder slope. As Dick arrived at the bottom of the pitch, the head of the “carpet” bounced down the rift, to join a friend below. The route then moves into a superb rift and long pitch landing at the top of an extensive dig.

Hearing Tom and John’s voices above us we made the short climb up the rift via another well carpeted area and a digger’s glove into which numerous squatters had moved into, to the foot of their final pitch. Tom was hovering in space as we arrived and he made a short swing across the aven to join us. John soon joined us from above and we conducted an acrobatic exchange in probably the most constricted part of what is on the whole a large and spacious cave.

With the sound of John’s delight at encountering the first wall to wall carpet ringing in our ears, Dick ascended a very fine pitch, literally “getting into the groove”. It was a little unnerving to find just a single anchor at the top though.

Had it been daylight the last pitch or two would have been in the light, but tonight it was only the rain and small ferns clinging to even the smallest ledges that indicated we were now in an open pot.

As we pulled out of the small gully at the top of the pitch, Tom and John were immerging from number Two entrance and the wind and rain were beginning to pick up. John's van provided shelter from the rising storm, allowing a comfortable change before we made our way to the Craven Heifer in Ingleton.

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