Saturday 18 May 2013

17th May 2013 - Beware the ghostly witch

Legend has it that an unwary traveller passing Ibbeth Peril may be dragged into a cave under the waterfall by a ghostly witch.  Given the amount of flood debris blocking the entrance though, I don't think this has happened in a while.

Spot the cave entrance

Once Dick had cleared the entrance a short crawl led through to an unexpectedly large chamber.  Though we had a survey, we realised almost immediately that things have changed in Ibbeth Peril since the 1960s and we set off exploring what looked like a fairly active dig.  A muddy tube soon led via a puddle and a corner to the dig face, so reverse gear was engaged and we set off, continuing our exploration of the main chamber.
Next up was a very pretty grotto, which had it been in Easegill or one of the more popular Dales caves would surely have been surrounded by tape.

We then made our way down through the boulders that make up the floor of the main chamber until a streamway was met which we explored until it sumped.  A detour on the return led to what looked like another dig site which led to open cave but I had too much in my pockets (this is my excuse anyway) to squeeze through.  Climbing up a bit further, Dick found yet another muddy tunnel, but this one was quite enjoyable, curving round in a big loop to join the main chamber once again.  Here another inlet led to yet another dig and a classic at that.  Sinking into a few inches of aqueous mud, I carried on until the water began to get a bit close to the roof for comfort and, not for the first time this evening, found myself wriggling backwards out of a muddy tube.
A more comfortable sized passage then led down to a proper Yorkshire streamway which in turn led to a pair of ominous static sumps, fly trap in nature, surrounded by steep mud sides.
Once again back in the main chamber, the final obvious way on took us up a great little waterfall into a fantastically sculpted streamway.  Once again though, not far along this, we found ourselves at a sump.

Returning to day light we went in search of the entrance to Ibbeth II, found under what seemed like a giant Beaver dam of debris.  Not familiar with the pubs in these here parts we found ourselves in The Sun, the only reason being it had a car park.  It's worth knowing they serve a very good pint.

Saturday 11 May 2013

Friends reunited - May 10th 2013

Dah Dah Dah-Dah-Dah/Dah Dah Dah Dah Dah ... so went the tune in my head as we stared out of the car window at the torrential rain.  Ten minutes earlier in sunshine I had driven up to Bull Pot Farm to meet Al but no sooner had he got in my car the heavens opened and the April shower (wait a minute this is May!) poured down around us as it had done all day. ' The return through trip of the Borehole is out then I suppose', I said hoping that Al's reply was going to be similar to my thoughts of 'low airspace in heavy rain'!

Dah Dah Dah Dah Dah/Dah Dah Dah Dah Dah ... so what should we do then?  'Well, what else did your history books have in them,' asks Al?
' Funny you should ask,' I reply, 'I have a tune in my head that would make a good re-exploration'

ok click the link above if you have not guessed the tune or if you are just fed up with repetition!

and so with the shower passed over we changed into our kit and headed off to Lancaster Hole.

The pitch rigged soon saw us heading through familiar passages towards Fall Pot where the sound of falling water from Cow Pot gave us an indication that there may be some water in the Easegill system.  Up in the high level series the number of placed hangers and in-situ handlines gave us food for thought as to why it was thought OK to place these fixed aids in this system but not leave a piece of rope dangling in Kingsdale Master Cave?

On 8th January 1999 Phil and I made a chance discovery while looking for the entrance Stake Pot Inlet, a window in the south wall of the upper series passage that was not so obvious from the main way up to Bob's Boss.  Through this window a 12mm rope headed off up a massive shaft, which on further research turned out to be the Arson Shaft,  recently rebolted in order to survey the cave system it led into.   As we didn't have our SRT gear at the time, we explored the passages below Bob's Boss and found the way into the main drain. This trip in 2013 the entrance window was easier to spot due to the wear in the area.  Is this due to increasing numbers of people doing the round trip (although a web search only mentions three trips) or just people going to look into the shaft?  Today, the rope diameter was slightly less (replaced in 2007 my online research suggests) but still leads up via some rather ancient looking 8mm spits to the entrance to ...

The Magic Roundabout Series!

On 29th January 1999 Tom, Bruce, Phil and I had climbed the Arson Shaft and once we had worked out the way on at the top through an unlikely looking tight bit (which opens quickly beyond) we had reached the top of the 11m pitch and explored the Pristine Way then returned the way we had come, foiled by no rope on the 11m pitch..  This trip we quickly arrived at this pitch to find a fixed rope in place.  To my surprise, when looking through the mud, caking the 10mm  rope the pink colour was still there.  It was my old climbing rope, placed by me on our round trip on 5th February 1999!  (We think that this was probably one of the earlier round trips following the replacing of the rope in the Arson Shaft.  The original trip was done sometime in the 1970s we think). 

NB.  Be aware if doing this pitch today that this rope is over 20 years old having had a career as a climbing rope before being sacrificed to support our round trip, more of the rope being used to rig the pull through at the top of Aquarius Pitch and the rest fixed at the bottom of this pitch to gain the stream passage.

As we worked our way towards the head of the Aquarius Pitch the roar of water got louder and louder until the rope (mine from 1999 has been replaced I am pleased to note) at the head of the pitch came into view and a large spout of water cascaded down the pitch.  The water spouting down the pitch was brown, peaty and frothy and the abseil line was straight down the spout.  No way on this time.  Using the tackle bag to temporarily dam the head of the pitch the water built up quickly and the explosion of sound as the flood pulse hit the bottom of the pitch 18m below when we released the water was enough for us to realise that we didn't want to be there if another heavy rain shower was taking place above us.  We headed back to the Arson Shaft and descended back to the High Level Series.

As we had gone as far as Aquarius, we now decided to go and explore to the bottom section of stream coming from the Aquarius pitch; a passage called Brass Monkey.  On 22nd Jan 1999 Tom, Phil Bruce and I had done the same exploration and today 14 years later we squeezed down through the muddy boulders below Bob's Boss to slip and slide down to the Brass Monkey Streamway.  To this point we had been dry but we now waded and crawled upstream to where the ropes hung down from the 9m pitch and the way on to the bottom of the Aquarius. Once again as we had done with the Borehole, Al and I had made the connection from bottom to top and would have to wait for lower water levels to make the through trip .

Back down the streamway we continued, until finally we broke out into the main drain where we headed out via Stake Pot and the high level series.

A later than usual arrival at the Barbon Inn saw us enjoying a pint of Barbarian Ale when three cavers came in after their evenings digging in Crystal Cave, with whom we enjoyed a chat and comparison of our exploits.