Ian Cummins, Simon Beck, Ed Tapp
We came, we saw, we Quaked.....
It was a sleepy team who assembled at Fell Lane. Simon had been up most of the night partying, Ed ditto and I’d had a fitful night’s sleep, mulling over the test to come. Not having attempted a cave trip of this severity for 25 years, I had not felt so wound up since climbing Astroman in Yosemite in 2001, with a similarly bad night’s sleep in Camp 4. Ingleborough was swathed in cloud and light rain was falling as we approached Crina Bottom. After a bit of a search, we found the correct shakehole and went down the Wet Route, bypassing Pitch 1. Approaching Pitch 2 by the twisting rift, I was given a taste of things to come, with the sight of a welly in the bottom of the rift – a testament to someone’s struggles. Pitch 2 we laddered from a chockstone – Ed’s first ladder! I couldn’t see any spits here, but the chock was solid and we left a lifeline and Shunt here. A tortuous section then led to a spacious wet platform at the head of the biggest, 3 rd pitch, of about 30 m. Rigging off a big boss, a spit and a fine horn gave a nice free hang, wet for the lower half. It was here that an urgent requirement for bowel evacuation led to Simon’s urgent exit from the cave! Me and Ed decided to carry on and check out the route to the Crux, not reckoning on carrying the gear between us all the way to the end. The route to the fourth pitch was slippery, strenuous traversing at the top of the rift, followed by a narrow drop off down the 10 m pitch, rigged off 2 spits into a comfy chamber. From here to the 5 th pitch is the hardest part of the pot and more strenuous traversing of the rift led down to the stream and sideways going to the Skydive, a squeeze down a 2 m drop. We negotiated this and were then faced with the dark, right-handed bend of Coitus Corner, followed by the Crux. We decided to turn back here, having brought no more rope anyway. It had taken 3 hours to get here and it was a similar return trip, with a stop to admire the fine grotto in the chamber below Pitch 3. Ed was feeling the cold, in only a thin wetsuit, although I felt fine in rash vest, neofleece and oversuit, which I was considering removing prior to the Crux. We also ate a lot on the way down – I had 6 Breakaways and lots of drink, but the whole trip rigging and derigging is obviously a marathon for 2. We exited in the dark feeling very tired, but having enjoyed the experience. I reckon 2 or 3 could do the trip, rigging and derigging if the gear is minimised, but 4 or 5 is probably better. We’ll try again in a couple of weeks. Any takers for this thin person’s trip?