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Long Churn - Alum Pot

Sunday November 6th 2016

Members present: Adam Walmsley,  Adrian Turner,  Alistair Rollinson

Report by Alistair Rollinson

The sun was streaming through the window of the NPC, the birds were chirping and I was trying to work out why my throat felt like the Sahara. After some contemplation I decided that my bottle of blackberry gin the night before was probably the main culprit; with great reluctance I rolled out of my sleeping bag and made my way down stairs (with some difficulty) to do something about the desert in my throat.

Our plan had been to set of for the Inglesport Café for 11ish to meet Adam and his colleges and hit the cave after a Wellyfiller. As it turned out I was not the only one suffering after a heavy night at the NPC. After a full bottle of port and various other alcoholic beverages. Ade was not in a good state, to be precise he was nowhere to be found. After assessing the facts I decided upon the following plan.

1. Make a cup of tea (successful)
2. Locate Martin and force him to pack the ropes with me (sort of successful...)
3. Another cup of tea (failed miserably (lack of tea bags))
4. Re-arrange to meet at the cave
5. Wake up Ade and sober him up with coffee (Ade sobered to tip top condition)
6. Caving? (Yes!)

With the plan put into action mostly successfully, we met up with Adam and his crew and changed into gear. Adam had brought what was best described as a small mountain of caving gear as we would be leading a group of novices, there was almost no faff at this point and soon everyone was ready. Ade, Martin and Clive headed straight to Alum while Adam and I led our group to the entrance of long churn. The walk up was rather pleasant after I removed my oversuit (PCV over a 5mm wetsuit is not conducive to movement), after some frolicking in the stream we headed into the cave.

With the P bolt that we had expected to rig Dr. Bannisters Hand Basin on being nowhere to be found (there was a hole but no bolt?) we used the belay rope for the dolly tubs rigged of naturals. Once everyone was down I headed back up and de-rigged as we would need the rope later. With everything packed up I decided to take the short cut to the cheese press via a crawl from Diccan, this was a mistake... I made my way along the crawl dragging a tackle sack with me. It was longer and tighter than I remembered; the reason for this became apparent when the crawl terminated and I was left feeling rather stupid. Reversing back along the crawl was far less fun that going in...

Catching up with everyone I helped Adam rig the ladders and we began to belay people down to the balcony, progress was relatively quick even with cows-tails being sent up and down the pitch to deal with a slight shortage. Soon the whole team assembled on the balcony and admiring the sunlight streaming into Alum. As it happens the earlier rope packing was not entirely successful so the bottom of alum couldn’t be reached by the other team; this did however lead to fortuitous timing for photos. With our trips concluded we headed on out and apart from a bag being dropped on Clive (by he who shall not be named) a good time was had by all. A thoroughly enjoyable if faffy trip.