Rowten underwater and pull-through
Having done this trip a few times now, it’s still a favourite for its purity and simplicity (if you call ropes, weights, masks and hood simple – but you get my gist surely) and is the only way I will do this pot – finding the anti-caving route to be not to my taste!
Navigator fancied a blast before returning to reality, as did I, with the approach of Monday morning being about as welcome as a kick in the bollocks.
Wharfedale had been soaking the previous day, but we managed to convince ourselves that ‘it’ll be all right’, as it always has been, just about and the day was indeed fine, with the smell of wild thyme in the air as we plodded up the hill to find the entrance rigged.
As before, I packed 2 ropes, a 30m for the drops over the 2 pitch-heads and a 100m for the big pitch. Rigging the big drop, I was confronted by some yellow YSS bats hanging from the anti-caving route – no, we didn’t rap down your ropes – honest!
Sliding down the following free-climbs, with the water roaring as never before, we were slightly concerned to find a white sheet dropping to the final pool. Swapping quizzical glances, we later admitted to having the same thoughts; how long would the first dive be and would the canals in the master cave be sumped?
I sorted the ropes and bag for the pull through the sump, whilst Navigator disappeared for a smoke, pee, or whatever and I pulled into the dive when he returned. The feeling of doing a free-dive is one that I relish, being in a state removed from reality, made a bit more exciting when one has to shove some large rocks aside to progress. But all went well, gear smoothly following and the master cave attained.
We immediately knew things were fine and although the water levels were high, they were nowhere near the ducking state we encountered when returning from an upstream Rowten dive with bottles a couple of years before.
Polishing off the free-climb and enjoying the deep, clear water in the exit passage, we emerged spotlessly clean and satisfied, for a while at least.