Rift Pot (again!)
As an interesting postscript to our Simpson’s trip, I bumped into Mr 8000 metre, Alan Hinkes down the climbing wall and he told me his favourite trick when leading down this cave was to stand in front of the duck and tell the rest of the party that the way on was sumped, in order to see the panic on their faces! Reckoning on starting caving again he said he fancied doing The Berger – funny you should say that Alan.
Anyway with no KMC action for Sunday, I’d arranged to meet Simon in Horton for another look at Rift Pot, reasoning that this is a good venue for a wet day. Arriving at the Penyghent café at 10 am, I was horrified to see it was closed until Boxing Day, leaving the unpleasant prospect of having to go caving without a coffee, until I remembered that the tearoom at the north end of the village looked to be open.
After the caffeine hit, we drove up to South House for the walk up to The Allotment. Paying the pound to park, we were admiring the view of Penyghent with the farmer, who commented that he wished he could bottle it and sell it, after making a big loss on his lambs this year.
The sun was actually warm as we walked up, soon reaching Nick Pot, but the trudge over to Rift Pot takes as long again, although we found the entrance straight off and rigged with a 50m rope down this nice expanding shaft. The 2 short, blocky, muddy pitches which follow lead into the big chamber and it’s a sobering thought that what actually constitutes the floor here is nothing more than a huge jam of rubble in the massive rift – this also applies to what you are anchored to for the big 60m drop to the bottom of the chamber to meet the Long Kin water. The descent here is wet, but not unduly so and upon reaching the floor, I climbed up the rubble slope to get out of the draught, finding some swag en-route!
When Simon came down we headed off down the streamway to the sumps, encountering bitterly cold water in the hands and knees canal sections that continue for over 200m, passing several tied off lines on the way. The snowmelt from the previous day meant that our hands were absolutely frozen, even with neoprene gloves on and the numbness was gradually creeping up my arms. At least the going was easy, with deep, coarse sand to cushion the way and the occasional sandbank to lie on and shake some life back into numb digits. With some relief we found the sump and rushed back to escape the cold.
After a brief examination of a rope hanging from a mud slope we set off up the big pitch – if you have a Descent archive, check out this pitch in a fine shot taken from the upstream slope, circa 1981, sporting yellow-taped wetsuited caver jumaring, complete with ladder down Long Kin in the background.
I had studied the description of this cave in Northern Caves 2 many times, failing to make sense of the description of the lower passages, or of the connection with Long Kin and the ’68 series. At least on the ascent, I managed to spot the spits for the 1st pitch of the ’68 series in the mucky recess below pitch 3, although even in the comfort of the fireside seats in The Crown later on, we were still unable to fathom some of the description.
Rift Pot has some spectacular passages, although the muddy upper series will require you to do some rope washing and detract slightly from its quality, but we were well satisfied by the day’s sport.