Ian, with Mike Cooper and Sam Allshorn (ULSA).
A call from Mike Cooper on Friday night ‘Would I help drag some old ropes out of Quaking on Sunday?’ Sounded good to me, so the home improvement plans were shelved and we met up on the edge of Ingleton at ten. A few weeks previously Mike and party had been to the bottom of the cave and collected all the old ropes and rubbish from the nether regions of this gnarly pothole, bringing out as much as they could carry and stashing the rest at the top of the 5th pitch (see Mike Bottomley’s account on ULSA Rants).
It had been a year since my last trip into Quaking and I was looking forward to it, with the bonus of no gear to carry in apart from SRT kit, as well as not having to visit the squalid passages after Fly Crawl. The only downside being that the fine passages around pitches 6 and 7 were not on the itinerary.
After a thorough soaking in Bull Pot the previous day (well done Chris and Phil – I enjoyed the deluge!), I was expecting Quaking to be wetter than I had previously seen it and there was indeed a nice cascade down the wet entrance. Sam Allshorn was the other team member and he led off, rigging the dry entrance, with me following along to catch up at the decidedly wet pitch 3, where we got a nice shower in the pleasantly warm water on the lower section. Dumping harnesses here, Sam and I were going for the 4th pitch bypass, whereas Mike decided to opt for the slightly more spacious conventional route. Regrouping after the pitch, we followed the sustained passage to The Crux, with Sam leading on to sort out the rope bags and me bringing up the rear. Having forgotten exactly what The Crux involved, I casually edged along the narrow passage until I realised that I was right in the middle of it and quickly grappled with my helmet to make a bit of space to move my head! I’ve done this a few times now and can think of no ‘best way’ – curiously I managed to drop down the final squeeze head first this time without any bother, to continue along the rather aqueous narrow stream passage leading to the head of the 5th pitch. There is a tricky obstacle en-route, involving an on-the-back squeeze under a projection, but otherwise it’s not too bad and the extra water helped progress in the stream sections, whilst the roof traverses were taken at a casual pace to enjoy the rather nice grottos in the sides of the passage, mercifully distanced from muddy bodies.
With the roaring of water growing, we reached the 5th pitch, where Sam was a few feet down bagging the grot and with a full tackle sack each we made our way out, with Sam going through The Crux first, whilst I, having the most neoprene on, was elected to shove the bags through from the stream level. Once this was done, Sam and Mike got the bags up to the roof level, whilst I squeezed back into the nasty obstacle above. Again, having no real plan, I made my way steadily through, finding that my squeaky clean wetsuit seemed to be snagging on every little projection in the cockled squeeze. With a bit of wriggling, I was around the final tricky bend to reach the comparative spaciousness of The Skydive. Knowing the job was just about done we headed off to the 4th pitch, where I popped through the bypass squeeze and up the handline climb, filling a bag of rubbish on the way, as well as removing the frayed old rope. Unfortunately I had to go back to drop it for Sam, as he had decided to take this route after sending the bags up the pitch with Mike!
Back at the base of the 3rd pitch, we had our munchies and then quickly raced up by the waterfall, with me de-rigging whilst Sam and Mike shifted the bulk of the bags in a rather efficient manner. Nearing the surface, I decided to exit via the wet entrance, with Sam and Mike taking the bags out up the dry pitch.
Finishing off with a shower under the inlet stream, I got changed whilst Sam and Mike headed down in their wet kit, together with bulging backpacks of vintage ropes and rubbish.
So don’t forget, prospective suitors for Quaking, please take a full set of ropes and don’t forget to bring them out too! Thanks to Sam and Mike and all the lads who were on the previous ULSA trip for their hard work.