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Black Sheep Sink

Ian, Emma, Jane, Steve – 15/12/2012

Hands up all of you who have visited this cave.  Not many...thought so.  Unless you have a copy of WRPC Journal 2001, then you are unlikely to know where it is, although this fine record has exploration details and surveys of this little gem.

I’d done this trip as a solo effort to the top of the last pitch without tackle during a dry spell back in 2009, wandering over from our excavation of Hole in Floor and completing the trip in less than 1 hour of pure fun.

Being almost dry back then, the climbs and crawls were a piece of cake, but the very wet winter conditions prevailing on this trip made it rather more hostile.  Steve walked up with us to remind me of where the entrance was, although Phil Ryder’s e-mail instructions jogged my memory enough to ensure success anyway.

On a miserably wet day, with water the temperature of ice running off the frozen ground, it transpired in our discussions in the diggers’ van that no-one had been down the cave in winter in wet conditions...well now they have.

The tight crawl from the base of the entrance shaft was half full of frigid water – not too bad for my neoprene-clad form, but unpleasantly cold for Emma and Jane.  The first pitch is a short chimney and was well watered for the quick slide down.  Pushing a ladder and tackle sack for the last pitch, I was soon ponding water ahead of me and shoving this lot past the infamous ‘Death’s Door’ obstacle was a proper pain.  My hands were numb, but my discomfort was nowt compared to Jane’s suffering behind me in the long crawling section to pitch 2 and after passing a section of deeper water to a space allowing turning, I decided it would be safest to get out asap.

Reaching the aven below pitch 1, I was greeted by the sight of Emma and Jane dancing on the spot to warm up and whilst my body was warm, I knew I would need to warm my hands to climb up and rig a ladder to get out.  Shoving my frigid appendages into my armpits brought back some feeling with accompanying agonising hot-aches, allowing me to climb up and rig a ladder for my chilly companions.  Stuffing the gear onto the ledge for retrieval later, we made a final chilly crawl to the base of the entrance shaft and exited to the windy, wet grimness of this filthy day.

After a change in the car, I waited for the equally frigid diggers to return, followed some time later by Steve, back from sink-hunting.

Well done to all for making the effort on this grotty day.  We agreed to try again in more pleasant conditions anyway.

Trip Date: 15th December 2012
Added: 27th February 2013
Reviewer: Ian Cummins
Hits: 1932


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