Saturday 21 April 2012

20th April 2012 - Bull Pot Kingsdale

Growing up, it was all about reaching the top of things: the top of climbs; the top of mountains. Geological pedantry aside, these are fixed points. A mountain will be as high one week as it is the next. Later in life I was introduced to caving. While I now realise that it's normally the journey that's more important than the destination, one of the quirks of caving is that a cave, down to a sump, may be deeper one day than the next.

Top of the entrance pitch

Normally our caving season would have finished by now, but with it still being cold and wet outside, it seems natural to carry on. The only real difference is that as we met up in Kingsdale and began heading up to the cave, it was still broad daylight. Dick's satellite imagery inspired direction finding soon found us at the impressive entrance and not quite as slickly as usual (I was rigging) we made our way down the daylight shaft.

A short piece of passage then brought us to the second short pitch before a choice of routes. While the rain hasn't been continuous, there have been some pretty heavy showers and the water that's around is cold. We therefore opted for the "fossil" route rather than the "slot".

Rigging the deviation on the "fossil" route

Descending the "fossil" route

At the foot of the pitch a ledge intervenes allowing a sneak around the cascade from the joining water before a short climb, maybe just a couple of metres or so, takes you down to a slot cut by the stream. While only short, the volume of water and the possibility of more made us think twice about this obstacle. Though there was a Petzl bolt, it wasn't positioned quite far enough over to allow a dry hang, so we made a retreat back up the pitch.
Back at the junction we set off down the "slot" route, arriving after a dry hang just down stream from where we had been previously. We were soon traversing above the stream again to the head of the third pitch. The first deviation took us further from the crashing water but the second looked out of reach for a short person with limited climbing skills. A Petzl bolted deviation was closer so I took this option and carried on down.

There must be a moral about taking the easier option, for the chilling water was soon on top of me again and jamming myself in a corner out of the main current I swapped over my gear and reascended. A different approach to a problem, often makes it seem easier and from below I managed to reach the P-bolt deviation. Even so we were in for a bit of a lashing at the bottom of the pitch.
A great bit of passage then led to the narrow rift down which the final pitch makes its way. While initially this looked a bit daunting, initially once again we'd be very close to a lot of water, in the end it was a really enjoyable pitch.

From the foot of the pitch, two small passages led off, one flowing with no possible way on and the other a static sump, again with no way on. The guide led us to believe there was more cave beyond, but not on this day.

I was asked the other day what my favourite colour was and I'd replied that it was the inky blue of the sky after sunset, before it goes fully dark. As Dick unclipped the deviation at the top of the entrance pitch, he was silhouetted against the sky of this very colour. What a great trip.

1 comment:

Eric Marks said...

love this blog