Shadow Route – Ireby
Being the first of our party to arrive at Masongill, I saw a party heading of up the lane, but wasn’t too worried about being held up, since I fancied the Shadow Route down the first section anyway. This traverses above the Ding Pitch and takes a slightly convoluted route to the right to rejoin the base of Bell Pitch.
Arriving at the start of Ding, I was surprised to see the party still in the process of descending, although they kindly allowed me to traverse above and out of their way. Reaching the window on the right a few feet down, I descended – too far, as it turned out – to rejoin the base of Dong Pitch. Back up and a ledge on the right allowed a rebelay and drop into a tightish rift traverse, leading to an open area, where a sloping section leads to the head of the final drop of this spectacular shaft.
The rigging guide implies that this route is pretty dry, but whatever (very cold) water was falling hit a ledge above and formed a shower that seemed to go straight down my neck as I clipped the deviation before racing down the final aqueous drop to rejoin the normal route at the base of Bell Pitch. As a rope end appeared down Bell, I read its end – ‘CUCC’. Fast brains, slow cavers? Anyway, I shivered in the draught as I waited for the rest of our group and we had a quick blast down to sump 1 to get some heat into my frigid carcass.
Arriving back at Shadow first, I ran up to the ledge to keep warm and observed a huge noisy crowd of students at the base of Dong. Amusing myself by watching the drips from my boots fall on the heads of the oblivious group below, I was relieved to be out and into the peace of the open air. R in the month = students in caves?
Thanks to Jane, Chris and Geoff for turning out.