Monday 21 March 2022

17th March 2022 - Held up by Sylvester

Almost 12 years to the day that Phil and I had made a visit to Sylvester pot to go and see Newton's Wonder, Mike, Tony and I headed off across the moor to enjoy a quiet round trip. It's probably best not to think too much about the entrance. Not only does it have a definite u-bend in a drainage system feel to it, it also looks like it's held up by, what in other places would count as, balanced rock art.

Unusually, the first pitch of Sylvester also still requires the use of spits. I'm always a little disturbed by how far these don't go into the rock and it's definitely mind opening about how little material you need to dangle off.

At the bottom of the first pitch we went on a minor diversion to go and see Newton's Wonder before retracing our steps to the second pitch. I was now in new cave too. The "small spike at the pitchead", looked awfully like a little nubbin of rock, but a barrel knotted loop seemed to grip it sufficiently to allow a protected descent, though I did try and keep my weight on the rock rather than on the rope.

From the main chamber we located the 2m drop into a loose, wet rift and sure enough 8m ahead, below a cascade of (very cold and wet) water, the rift enlarged. 3 1/2m above us we could see what looked like the entrance to a crawl, but "awkward" isn't the adjective I'd use for the climb. While I succeeded in getting very wet in the cascade of water, Mike actually made progress up towards the hole, approaching from the left with a lassoed tape offering some protection. I have no doubt he'd have made the last move or two, but I was definitely feeling a lack of motivation and Tony seemed in agreement.

Not wanting to get into an argument over fixed aids in caves, it does seem a bit bizarre that elsewhere in Ease Gill bits of tat and ladders abound for what seem like much more trivial obstacles. It's also the first time I've ever disagreed with a description in NFTFH. Have things changed since it was written?

I don't like unfinished business so I've a feeling we'll be back, once I dig the step ladder out of the garage...

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