Sunday 23 January 2011

13th January 2011 - Rowten Pot

The fog lay thick in Kingsdale as we dropped down into the valley and locating the parking place just after the farm was much harder than usual. Fortunately Dick has made the journey up onto the Turberry road many times and we were soon at the gate on the track. Following the track now, we soon heard the roaring of the water as it cascaded down Rowten and made our way round to the hopefully drier eye hole.

Rowten Pot Entrance
Numerous P-hangers protect the short drop over the edge and after a rehang or two we landed on the rock bridge that spans the impressive pot. Another Y-hang and a short descent later, the dry rift which we were aiming for became visible. After a few abortive attempts I finally managed to gain purchase in the rift and began the traverse, Dick hot on my heels.

At the end of the rift a y-hang allows an impressive descent of the main pitch to made and I stopped a number of times on the way down to appreciate my impressive surroundings. About 4 metres from the floor of the chamber the rope began whipping through my descender faster than usual and I was relieved when the knot in the end of the rope butted against my hand.

The full implications of "austerity Britain" became now very obvious. It seems that even our ropes hadn't escaped the recent cut backs. There was nothing for it but to make my way back up the pitch, where Dick passed my another rope and gave me a quick lesson in joining ropes and passing knots. It was then back down the pitch to complete my homework. As always in times of recesion there are some winners and the bankers' bonus seemed to have gone to the safety cord leading to my hand jammer, leaving it just out of reach as I tried to pass the knot.

Both safely down the main pitch we made our way down the fossil passage that brought us to a potentially very wet penultimate pitch, the rope taking us narrowly between two waterfalls. Having already pressed the intended rope into service on the main pitch, a glance down the final pitch was all that we managed before making our way back up.

Use of combined tactics saw us up the couple of awkward steps in the dry passage and then it was up the main pitch (again!). Passing a rebelay on the way back to the muddy ledge a whoop of joy filled the cavern as Dick pendulumed out of the rift and into space.

Once again back in the fog on the surface we made our way back along the Turberry road, the noise of the torrent slowly subsiding til silence once more, a glimmer of light from the farm guiding us home.

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