Saturday 20 March 2010

19th March 2010 - Jockey Hole

A short, vertical objective was required for this evening and Jockey Hole is exactly that, a relatively deep pot with almost no horizontal development.

The absence of deep snow made the walk up onto the allotment easier than of late and Tom's cave detecting, GPS watch led us straight to entrance. The main shaft is vertical virtually from the surface with steep grassy banks leading down to it. Fortunately a smaller hole a few metres away allows easier access to the pitches.
If you go to Jockey Hole looking for pristine, white, calcite formations you would initially be disappointed but the architecture, even of the entrance tunnel, soon overcomes any such dissatisfaction.

On the way up to the Allotment we'd worried that our 6 bolts may not be sufficient for a complete descent, but Tom was soon having to choose between the numerous bolts of different ages as he lead down the inclined tunnel leading to the main vertical shaft.
9 metres below me, Tom had landed on a small ledge before commencing out on a traverse to gain a free hang to continue his descent. The shout of "Rope free", saw Dick descend to the ledge as Tom left it before an enormous crash resonated around the rift.

First pitch - note the block jammed in the rift at the bottom of the photo - this is the one that slipped

Looking down from my vantage point above I was relieved to see two headtorches still on the ledge. What I didn't realise is that the ledge was now about a foot further below me than it had been a second or two before. The "ledge" turned out to be a large chock stone, partially held in place by smaller stones down one side. The movement of these had allowed the block to fall, before once again becoming jammed.

Coming close to the end of the rope, Tom made the most of the ubiquitous bolts and rebelayed.
Decsending the excellent main pitch

His progress down to the bone strewn boulder slope at the bottom of the pot was made with the accompaniment of small stones still falling from the repositioned chock stone.
A short distance down the slope any further progress is blocked by a vertical wall of conglomerate. Above a faint glimmer of light could still be seen at the top of the shaft. A pair of old boots testament to much earlier exploration.

At the bottom - nowhere to go

These boots were made for caving

On the return up the pitches, Tom took the time to retake the pictures I'd taken in a more conventional "in focus" style and as quickly as we had entered the vertical world we were once more in the horizontal one.

Entrance passage

For the last few months the ground has either been frozen solid or under a layer of snow. The return to warmer conditions with the first rain of the year seemed to have brought forth a vast number of worms. As we walked back down to the cars, the ground flickered as they shot back down into their burrows.
Perhaps birds would be better off staying up late to catch the worms.

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