Hammer Pot 3
Ian, Simon, Sam Allshorn (ULSA), Mike Cooper.
This trip was actually a Black Rose meet – without any of its members in attendance. After reading of our last trip, the BR lads asked us if we wanted to come along and it turned out they all had to work anyway! So thanks to Duncan et. al., for the use of their permit. The reader may recall that we found a hole of interest, high above Incline Passage and we aimed to check this out, learn the free-climbing route on the last pitch and haul out some more rubbish from the far end of the cave.
Mike said not to bother packing ropes, as he would sort it all out, so I was anticipating a nice easy carry. However, seeing the kit they were unpacking from Mike’s car, it was soon apparent this would not be the case and I wound up being first down with all the ropes and rigging kit – mind you, my bag was not as heavy as the ULSA chaps’, with drill, lump hammer and lots of other assorted paraphernalia.
A reminder of the recent floods was the amount of rubble I had to clear in the initial crawl, which Simon used to try to build a wall before Sam and Mike caught up! Pitch 1 was again free-climbed and we were then through the now rope-free and stemple-deficient, eponymous rift.
Getting to the big pitch, the solid old eye-bolt was used for the initial anchor – and gratefully so, after recalling how few threads 1 of the spits took last time and the Y-hang was gingerly tested. Remarkably, on our way out, this pitch sported 2 new stainless hangers – magic – although our rope still hung from the old ones – oh dear!
We left our SRT kit in the chamber at the bottom of the next pitch, aiming to free-climb the last pitch and wishing to minimise the gear to drag through Sludge Crawl.
In contrast to our previous 2 trips, there was little water here, but we still can’t believe it’s only 100m long, feeling more like 250m to me. The water in the Out Fell Master cave was again flowing fast, noisily and deep and Simon and I reached our first objective - an old 7-litre air cylinder that we aimed to empty and remove before it became even more of a time-bomb. Simon gingerly opened the valve, whilst I hid behind him, reasoning that his body could absorb any blast in case of a catastrophe (don’t tell him I was thinking that!). With a sudden release of air, we both jumped out of our skins and we left it to blow off whilst we continued to the final pitch.
I again fell foul of 1 of the milled holes, dropping into the neck-deep water and scraping my side and back on the sharp rock, before continuing with more caution. The water was again pretty wild at the top of the last pitch and a handline was rigged for the move round the corner to the dry ledge, where we tried to guess where to climb down through the water. This is not a good place to have an accident and after a climb down adjacent to the fall, I decided to head out. At this point Mike and Sam arrived and Mr. C showed me where to step across onto a sloping foothold, lashed by the fall and leading into another dry alcove. From here, I was directed down, through 2 wet funnels into the chamber below – very exhilarating and only just passable, with a fight up against the water to be endured!
Heading back upstream, we made our way up to the top of Incline Passage, passing over The Pit and wondering how on earth I got down there! Reaching the draughting hole, some drilling and capping was performed by Mr. A and after tucking into 1 of Sam’s pies, Simon and I decided to head out with our load of rope and rubbish, comprising cylinder, old wetsuit jacket, 2 diving fins, diving slate (reading ‘this place is a f****** s*******’) and a rusting wire ladder. Stuffing this rusting relic into my bag, I managed to get a piece of wire stuck under a nail – ouch! Hauling this lot through Sludge Crawl was hard work and we enjoyed a snack of cheese before putting on our SRT kit – great idea Simon – waterproof cheese in its own wax jacket, just the job.
We had our hands full with a heavy tackle bag and the cylinder, so left some of the rubbish on a ledge in Showerbath Chamber. Needless to say, getting the cylinder through Stemple Rift was a horrorshow and it seemed the torture would never end – the swear box was brimming and Simon and I were mightily relieved to emerge just as the sun set over Ingleborough to reward us with a beautiful view.
We paused to think of Sam and Mike coming out later with their monster packs, but they had some reward (see ULSA Rants) and I managed to get over to Kettlewell for a drink with the White Rose.
Next day, I woke to observe that my knees looked like rugby balls – I definitely need new kneepads and moving my body out of bed early to get down to Hagg Gill was out of the question. Anyway, sounds like they were queuing back to Buckden to get in, so I wasn’t missed.