I thought I’d escaped the sickness doing the rounds in our house, but succumbed to a vicious sore throat a couple of days before this trip. However, with Frank making the trip from South Wales and Peter Walker joining up for the occasion, I felt obliged to haul my aching body out of bed and drive down to Horton to meet in the cafe.
With me, Simon, Walkers senior and junior, as well as Frank, we had a relatively monster team and I reckoned the trip would definitely be kill or cure for my virus.
Afetr the heavy rain during the week, I was a bit concerned that the Big Pitch would be impassable and packed extra ropes to rig the rift route if necessary.
Managing a quick cuppa in the cafe, which was packed with walking/camping types, I dropped in at Rainscar to present the permit and secured permission to walk in from Dale Head, under rather threatening skies, although I’m pleased to say that when we emerged after our trip the weather was lovely.
My main memory of Gingling, despite my rather fuzzy head, is of a pleasant, fun trip, with no real difficulties and the cave perhaps deserved its Grade V in the days of boiler suits, ladders and lifelines, being comparable to outings such as Washfold and Penyghent in good conditions. The pitches are many and short, apart from the atmospheric 60m last section and had surprisingly little water, whilst the plethora of formations throughout the cave maintain one’s interest to the end and on the return. Unfortunately, fixed ropes on all the pitches did cause a few tangles, as we rigged my gear on all sections bar the free-climb of Pitch 2, although a bit of time was saved using the hangers in place and I only used 2 of my own for the whole trip.
With me feeling rough, I went in front with my SRT bag only, together with Simon, who was carrying a large rope bag. The plan being that we would rig whilst the others would catch us up at the pitch heads. Getting to the bottom of the 5th pitch, we decided to wait, but after about 20 minutes I got impatient and jugged back up the rope to go back through Fool’s Paradise and see where the rest of the team were. I arrived to find Frank coming down the slot from Stal Chamber, so grabbed more rope and headed off to do more rigging.
Deciding that the last pitch would be fine, surplus ropes were left and we headed off for the grim-sounding ‘ammered ‘ole. I’m not sure whether I was relieved or disappointed to find this obstacle to be rather spacious and we were soon at the final pitch head. With hangers in place, I felt secure enough to bridge out to rig my new 80m Mammut for its first outing, clipping the 2 in-situ deviation hangers and gliding down this narrow, showery shaft. Landing on the ledge above the sump pool, I was struck by the thought of all of the cave lying beyond and eyeing the stashed air bottles, I wished I had the equipment and experience required for the dive below! Maybe next time?
On the exit we managed to just catch the rest of the party, who had returned from before ‘ammered ‘ole, chasing their voices as we stripped the pitches.
Gingling is a great day out, so get your permit and enjoy.