Ian, Denis, Jane, 04/10/14
I figured a return to Low Douk was in order after 4 years, especially now that Richard Bendall and friends had completed their dig linking the cave to the Temple of Doom series of Rift Pot. The new entrance to Low Douk, again courtesy of Richard and Co. is described in a previous trip report, allowing a tackle-free trip to the bottom of the cave and now a similarly streamlined trip into the far end of Rift and even Ireby. A very helpful e-mail from Richard provided the details to find the connection and with the weather holding, I was looking forward to seeing Rift for the first time in 8 years, this being an early SRT trip for me and Ed in the back end of 2006.
Following my nose I managed to find the way down to the free-climbable first pitch – bearing a fixed line, as although easy to climb, one could fall down its 12-foot height if the squeeze down was done in ignorance and the rope alerts one to the danger. Following this a drop/traverse along a fixed line leads to a ledge above the streamway. If one is making for Rift, don’t drop any further, but look downstream and crawl off at 2-o-clock, where a U-bend is encountered, together with obvious capping scars. Soon a fixed line marks the start of the former sump, now comprising 20 feet of wet going, although not too bad following the dry September and one emerges in the spacious passages of Rift. Turn left to the end of Temple of Doom, or right for Coates Cavern.
We headed for Coates Cavern, aiming to learn the route to allow an exit from the Rift and Large entrances, enjoying the mixture of crawls, traverses and stooping passage to the sharp, blocky squeeze down to easy going into the magnificence of the huge chamber. Approaching from this direction is probably the finest view, as one encounters the many roof formations before the true size of the cavern becomes apparent.
A quick return found Denis and me back at the left turn back to the connection, which is just after a mud-floored flat-out crawl, where we caught up with Jane at an awkward climb up, offering a bit of aid before the final obstacles were polished off.
This is a super little trip – not easy by any means, but also offering much potential for through trips to this recently expanded system.
Thanks again to Richard for his information and hard work, as well as Denis and Jane for getting out.