Ian, Andy, Steve W, Steve H, Nige, Jan, Peter Walker (2nd club meet) and first timers Chris Dudman, Lynn MacDougall, Jim Baxter and Andrew Lavender.
I think that’s everyone! We nearly left Steve Warren down the cave as he was photographing the nether regions and I was convinced he had gone up the pitch. Fortunately, Jan reckoned he was still to reappear and the sight of a distant flash settled the matter. Having done a lot of solo caving recently, being in such a big party was a change, as was the use of ladders and lifelines.
My original plan of Cliff Force had been changed to Valley Entrance, then changed to Heron Pot and finally Andy reckoned on Sell Gill, due to the possibility of snow-melt. Fine by me, since I had only done the wet route before and we left a few cars in Horton, piling into the Land Rovers for the trip up past Newhouses and the thrash uphill to the cave. Donating my oversuit to Lynn for the day, I decided to walk up to the cave carrying my kit, not fancying the trek in my wetsuit and I got changed by the beck whilst the first pitch was rigged. With commendable organisation, pitches were laddered whilst others were belayed down and we managed to get the party down to the duck and back without any problems, causing only a short hold up for the York students who were descending the SRT route.
With some time waiting at the pitch heads, conversation was possible, making this a very sociable day out, although after a spell belaying at the top of the second pitch, the increasing dribble from above soaked me sufficiently to wash off most of the mud from the previous day in Clapham Bottoms.
Finally, with the sun setting, standing in the chill air, eyeing the ladder climb to the surface, one impatient, soggy caver raced up without waiting for the lifeline and made for his bag of clothes that were quickly exchanged for a soggy wetsuit – bliss! Just don’t tell the cave police – OK!
Thanks to everyone for mucking in with gear and rigging and special thanks to all the newcomers for their enthusiasm too.