Friday 18 December 2009

18th December 2009 - Rift Pot (Deep and Crisp and flipping Cold!)

Although there had been a sprinkling of snow on the fells around Lancaster the wintery view over the Dales approaching Ingleton foretold of a possibly "interesting" walk in to Long Kin East (our original objective) on the slopes of Ingleborough.

Negotiating the snowy roads in Austwick and driving up the lanes toward Norber was the the easy bit. Once changed the long walk along lanes in the dark was the "warm up" for the full on winter conditions on the 2.2km fell walk across to the Allotment area of Ingleborough. Sections of limestone pavement covered in deep snow made some sections very tricky indeed and Dicks "slick" wellies struggled to gain any purchase on the steeper sections.

Following the GPS trail we arrived to within 100 metres of the Long Kin East entrance, but the "hole" we stood next to did not look very likely, and a search of the area saw us getting very cold in the now arctic conditions. We re-assesed our location and decided check the area to the south, and found the narrow trench of the Rift Pot entrance. We were so cold by now that we all agreed that we should head down this entrance and hope that we would warm up a bit in the cave below.

Dick quickly rigged the entrance pitch and soon we were abseiling into the warmth of the huge entrance chamber, what a relief! We spent 15 minutes warming up and looking at the way on which would connect with our original objective, noting that the only hangers were old "Elliot" style spits, definitely one to come back to though.
Ascending back to the sub zero arctic plateau above us we readied ourselves for a quick return to the cars and civilisation. A 4 hour epic done and dusted!

Monday 14 December 2009

11th December 2009 - Caroling in Easegill and up the Arson shaft

Proximity to Christmas allows people to engage in behaviour which at other times of year would at least seem strange and at worst have you comitted. Behaviours range from wearing novelty ties/jumpers/hats to the buying of the latest X factor winner's single. Somewhere between these two extremes lies caroling at various points in the Easegill system, carefully chosen for their acoustic magnificance.

Watching Progress down Lancaster Hole

High Level Series

Given that the varying reverberence times of different spaces can affect an ensemble's timbre, we chose the style just after Bull Pot of the Witches as the site for our first few lines, before moving on to Lancaster hole.
Phil showed that men can multitask by rigging the pitch while still continuing the carol, amply lit by the "aven blaster" from above.

Our next site was the Collonade chamber, Tom, Dick and Sharon each demonstrating their individual vocal talents with coreographed solos.

Dropping into the depths of Fall pot it's worth noting that it's quicker to use the climbs than the thick in situ ropes. It should also be taken into account that a key shift of a third of an octave is required to overcome the inherent tininess of Fall pot.

Continuing along the high level series, Phil, Dick and Sharon made their way to Bob's boss and the Painter's pallet, while Tom and I went to have a look at the top of the Arson shaft. A short recce made us determined to return but we had to head back and joined the others back at the foot of Lancaster.

The roads to Barbon were icy, but the fire inside the pub was nice and warm.

Click here for Full Screen Slide Show

Saturday 5 December 2009

4th December 2009 - Committee Meeting

You would like to think that the fourth week into the season would resemble the photo below with a full team urging to go caving.

Well, the reality was that this Friday at 4.30pm resembled a PE changing room on a wet December day with students handing in notes from their mummy's explaining why they could not participate in physical activity.

Dear Sir,
please excuse Thomas from caving today as he needs some sunshine on his vitamin D deficient body and has had to go to Spain.

Dear Sir,
please excuse John today from having to do any physical activity as he has to meet some people in Wigan and can't possibly get back.

Dear teechr
alustr wont beabul to go out tdy cos e as to look aftr alfi wot is ill. (we believed this one. ed)

Dear outdoor people
While I was rather looking forward to a trip underground with you fine chaps tonight, I find that I have a rather urgent work commitment that takes me away from the dark and wet. Sharon

Oh, you lot
I live in France/Spain and haven't been all season, don't pick on us!!!

So, Phil and I were reduced to getting into our caving gear on Leck Fell and debating which route down Lost John's we would tackle. Ropes packed in some sort of order from memory (as we didn't have a guide and Ali had planned a trip down Selgill Holes) we set off to the gate only to find ... we were at the wrong gate!

After dumping the rope bags we set of to Committee Pot (the dug entrance into Notts II ) and scrambled down the fantastic manmade entrance to Notts II.

This is what it would have looked like if Sharon had been able to come down the entrance series in Notts II

The entrance pitch breaks into Mincemeat Aven and there are two ropes hanging down in there. The first rope ended at a ledge above the wall of the aven while the second led up into the gritstone boulder strewn lower part of the aven. The aven soared above and brought in a small stream, no wonder it was where the diggers thought they might break in from the surface. Unfortunatly it didn't go any further in the early exploration, ending in jammed boulders after 50m.

Beyond the aven the passage enters the main stream way at Inlet 13. The mainstream from the upstream sump from Notts Pot flows for 1300m to sump 2, initially flowing in a fine drained phreatic tube of low gradient for 700m. A nick point marks the start of a narrow canyon which conveys the stream for the remaining distance to the dark, cobbly lower sump.

We set off downstream in a fine meandering streamway. On the left we discovered a finely crafted rope ladder in front of an active flowstone cascade, which invited the caver upwards to a small passage which turned out to be (Inlet 14) leading to 20 meters of low passage and probably a dig.

The next inlet was above some calcited blocks bridging the passage and is called Gour Inlet (Inlet 15). Entry was gained by climbing the flowstone cascade below the blocks. A stooping height passage lead over fragile rimstone pools fed by drips from the roof. The passage ended suddenly at the edge of a drop of 1.5m into a small chamber. A muddy eyehole was followed to a drop into a small sump pool that made a lovely glooping sound as the ripples touched the roof of the sump.

Back in the main streamway we headed to the final chamber of NottsII. After climbing down the waterfall we arrived at Kleine Scheidegg (which sported a powerful spout of water) there was evidence of recent flooding with froth 5m up the walls.

A romping stride back up the streamway took us quickly back to inlet 13 and we decided to explore upstream to the nick point, passing the majestic speleothem of Vlad the Impaler

Back on the surface the rain was just starting as we headed off for the Snooty Fox. It is amazing how much faster we travelled underground with only the two of us, we were in the pub by 8pm!


Extract from letter home to parents.

' son/daughter has been provided with a range of opportunities to be physically active. They should understand how physical activity can help them to be more healthy, and how physical activity can improve and be a part of their every day life. Please ensure that they are available for the lesson next week...'