Rift Pot, The Allotment
Ian Cummins and Ed Tapp (Durham Uni.)
Rift Pot came to my attention when I was searching for my old wetsuit hood, diving facemask and other student-time caving gear. I didn’t find any of those items, but came across a few old copies of Descent, from 1981. Descent 47 features a stunning B/W shot of a caver jumaring the final pitch in Rift Pot. Being suitably inspired, I got a permit and dragged Ed out again. I fancied the look of Long Kin East as an exchange, but couldn’t interest anyone else in the idea. Parking at South House again, the farmer agreed it would be better underground on such a windy day, indeed we walked in the lee of the Allotment wall until we reached the gate level with the pot. We soon found the gash of the entrance and rigged to the fixed bolts, the only fixed hangers in the pot. This opens out into a large chamber and a 50 m rope was just adequate. Uphill is the way down, curiously, with muddy wedged blocks passed on a couple of short, scruffy pitches. I only have 8 hangers, so I brought a large selection of slings and even a set of Rocks on wire. The bottom of the third pitch leads into what the guide refers to as a ‘chamber’ – the loose description seems to me to be because it seemed to be a floor of wedged material in the side of the huge rift, with the sound of the Long Kin water entering just out of sight.
The way on for the direct descent seemed to be through a narrow slot ahead – threads and a bolt were arranged for the short drop into space and more wedged material for a stance and rebelay. The water entering opposite was considerable, as was the draught and sufficient water from above made arranging the belay a bit tricky. Two bolts and a Rock 7 looked secure enough and the rope hung nice and free down the 60 m drop. At the bottom the draught from the fall was strong, so I hid at the top of a slope waiting for Ed. When he was down we followed the fine, but all too short streamway, to deep, frothy pools and returned back via a drier, cobbly crawl to the base of the pitch. We decided to ascend singly, given the relative state of the bolts compared with more modern types and we were out in daylight 3 hours after entry.
Rift Pot does not have the same clean-washed classic lines of Juniper Gulf, but it is good sport nonetheless.