Phil Carol, an old caving friend of a decade ago said he was interested in a cave trip, having not caved since the days of France and Spain expeditions. He showed an interest in Nettle Pot, so it was decided that a trip down to ‘The Sting’ via
‘Elizabeth Shaft’ was on and we parked up at the top of Winnats Pass.
Phil said to keep the rigging simple, not being a believer in total rope protection, with the Nettle Shaft being festooned with bolts unlike the old days with a single hang and 2 deviations, which was how we rigged it, passing all the shiny P-bolts.
‘The Narrows’ caused Phil problems and upon arriving at the pitch base of the washed-out lava bed known as ‘The Flats’, Phil seemed fatigued and when asked if he was on for ‘Elizabeth Shaft’ he suggested doing ‘Derbyshire Hall’ instead, although I suggested that ‘Freeze Squeeze’ would be tight for him, but he wanted to give it a go as the only option open to him. I passed the squeeze and Phil followed but became wedged, so I turned round and offered my arms to pull him through the left-hand highest route, but this didn’t help unlike when I had pulled Paul ‘Beardy’ Swire though a reminiscent section of Easegill. I ended up pushing Phil back at the cost of bruised ribs for me. Phil and 3 of his friends had saved my life when I fell into a hypothermic coma in one of the many lagoons in the Cueva del Gato system in Spain. I was airlifted to Malaga after Ronda had refused to admit me due to my condition and their lack of technology.
On the exit from Nettle, Phil ascended first, free-climbing up to the awkward bit that my sore ribs would not appreciate. Out to a cold, windy day, we made our way back to the car. Phil was a bit ring-rusty and had gone up 2 weights, but this was the start of his comeback – hopefully a new member – an interesting day.