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Shelob's Lair - 27/12/11

Two years after diving this site, I finally decided to return to recover my tackle bag that slipped down the rift just before pitch 1.  Armed with a couple of drain rods and a hook, together with a camera, the twin aims of the day were to recover the bag and photograph the never-recorded sump.  With people of the requisite size in small supply, daughter Beth was recruited for this nasty Grade 5 cave, that has reduced some cavers to gibbering wrecks in its tight and unrelenting entrance crawl, which has no reversing points for several minutes of hard progress.

With huge amounts of water blasting down Wharfedale, we made our way up the slippery hillside to change by the cave, stashing the bags on the ledge just inside, before starting the tortuous crawl to the first pitch.  Beth was not impressed by the resident invertebrate life - yes those suckers are pretty large - but once over the traverse by the entrance, they were left behind and the arduous work began.  With the awkward keyhole-shape of this passage, I had warned Beth never to let her legs dangle down to avoid jamming in any narrowings and we made steady progress towards the end of the major difficulties at Pitch 1.  As I reached the sanctuary of the shallow trough of 'Shredded green oversuit pit', I swung my legs down for a rest, only to find that my knee slipped into a crack and got stuck fast.  Swinging my foot back to jerk my knee free resulted in that jamming also - ouch!  Calling for Beth to give my foot a pull, it turned out that she was not in the best of positions either, having to fiddle with her helmet and consequently dropping the rods down the rift!  Bracing my hands on the floor, I managed to push myself back to free my leg and continue to the headfirst drop to the head of pitch 1.  Beth soon appeared, not relishing the drop down to my position and I took out the camera to take a few shots before heading out. 

Normally the flat-out section below Pitch 1 has only a trickle of water, yet on this occasion it was running deep and fast.  Not wishing to punish Beth any further, a retreat was made, noting that my bag was stuck nicely with straps exposed to be caught and the rods were stuck just out of reach.  Swallow a spider to catch a fly......a return is in order.

On the way out, Beth left me well behind and we managed to change in the last of the daylight in the dripping entrance.  Stopping for ice creams in Leyburn, the state of our muddy faces became apparent, with her hair also being well and truly caked.  Tremendous fun!  Kudos to my cool companion.

Trip Date: 27th December 2011
Added: 6th February 2012
Reviewer: Ian Cummins
Hits: 1814


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