Ian and Simon
The aim for the day was to do K…… Trapper hole, free-climbing all the pitches, but the grimness of the day and the amount of water that was about soon put us off this idea. Simon reckoned Southerscales would also be a no-no and when I suggested Hardrawkin, he was of the opinion that the big pitch would be nasty if there was any flow of water over it. I was keen for a look though and we packed 40m and 20m ropes for this short trip.
The amount of water flowing in the entrance gully didn’t look too bad and we stashed our jackets on ledges before entering the cave. An easy, clean stream passage, with a couple of low sections requiring a bit of crawling, soon leads to the top of the first pitch and an instant change in character from pleasant to rather wild. What seemed like a sporting flow of water suddenly looked a bit nasty, spraying down this rather narrow pitch head. Missing out the first P-bolt to save a bit of rope, the second was used for an anchor and I stretched out to fix a Y-hang. Once rigged, I descended until the water was met at a ledge, where a traverse and a heelhook and grab for big spikes allowed a deviation to be fixed. A few feet lower down, another good spike was an obvious deviation for the final descent, although the final 20 feet were under a heavy spray and the floor was gained with some relief.
Moving around the corner to escape the wind, I climbed down the cascades to view the final pitch, before returning to check Simon’s progress. As he had forgotten his rack, Simon had to make do with a Sticht plate and it was soon apparent that he was having trouble getting through the water and across to the deviation. After several attempts, I reasoned that Simon had encountered a problem and feeling the cold wind and spray in the constricted passage, I jumped back onto the rope and jumared at top speed.
Reaching the top of the pitch was like heaven compared to the maelstrom below and I took a few minutes to get some warmth back into my extremities, before the short trip back to the surface.
Just goes to show that a simple trip can be very nasty in the wrong conditions, but I was certainly impressed by the fine stream passage and the pitches, emerging totally clean!
Back at the lay-by, a bunch of student-types were getting changed and appeared to be so spaced out by the cold that they didn’t even look up to acknowledge us – either that or they were just plain rude! Anyway, for us a retreat to the café and an infusion of tea and cake made me feel right again. I’d recommend Hardrawkin for a fun short trip on a dry day – I’ll certainly be back.