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Sell Gill Holes Sell Gill - both routes. - 3rd Jul 2010

Saturday July 3rd 2010

Members present: Caitlin Brumby,  Christopher Jones,  Jennie Hill

Report by Caitlin Brumby

After making excellent time to the Dales, and having a nice efficient breakfast – with purchases, we got lost! We were looking for a place called new houses to park (making the walk to the cave half as long), but according to the map it didn’t exist and according to the Sat Nav it was actually Helwith Bridge pub – unlikely we though. After a call to Ade gave in and parked up in Horton for more of a trek.

The three of us got changed in a car park, and set off up the Pennine way to do some caving – this was after passing a man dressed in a storm trooper outfit – it made me quite happy. We ourselves stormed up the hill and got to the entrance in about 40 minutes (yeah!!), but this was only to find Bradford Pothole Club’s ropes down both entrances, doing an exchange (nooo!!). After looking at the rigging guides, it looked more likely that if we passed the BPC cavers, the dry route would be best space wise, hence we started down of this route first. After tying my first knot – 2 men came out! They were nice guys and did the exchange quite quickly – telling us it was bone dry as well as the fact I am now a provisional member :)! After letting them get past I started to rig the entrance again, when I was half way through a nice lady and a man appeared up – they let me carry on as they would just come out after I had got down – however after rigging the Y hang re-belay, I reached down the rope to find two fig 8’s and the bottom of the rope in my hand. “Ahhh.. right” I said, quite embarrassing. The BPC lady enlightened me, to the fact the rigging guide was wrong – and actually a 20-25m rope is needed for the entrance – not the 15 stated. All was not lost however; we had long rope so could just connect the entrance pitch to the next one. I de-rigged quickly, let the two people out of the cave, then a third man Jimmy Ratbag came out. After about 30 minutes of his caving stories from the 70s (one of which was when he told us he once ended up with no points of protection – half way up gaping gill main hang – eek!) we started again.

Now the caving began – the first pitch in the dry route looks jumpable down (ish, but not really at all), so after then using the long rope for the last bit of the entrance pitch, and trailing it on to the start of the traverse fornext pitch we were out of the sun finally! Chris rigged this traverse line and pitch – although it was confusing as there were literally P hangers EVERYWHERE. They were scattered along both sides and about 50cm apart from each other. In the end to avoid rope rub we decided a monster Y hang would be best – down we went! Jennie rigged the next pitch, and we were at the bottom for the first time that day. About 40 seconds after getting of the rope I went back up it again.
I raced out of the dry route after getting the bottom tackle sack to rig the Wet route, which now BPC had left, I started rigging the cave, half way round the traverse I was joined briefly by Jennie, just on time, to give me the crabs I needed to actually get anywhere. After getting round the first corner I abseiled down to look for P hangers – after seeing one I thought ‘Ooo that’s a bit of a reach’, as I was swinging to it I noticed P hangers behind the column of rock I was swinging past – so back up I went and was joined by Jennie again. After rigging the traverse behind the column (lots of fun), and reaching out for the Y hand rebelay and rigging it, I said hi to Chris who had just joined us. I descended to find my next but of indestructible metal shaped in a P and I found it, I presumed it was a rebelay, so passed it, and went down. Realising I was a bit off a fool, I went up again (second mid rope change over of the day), the P hanger I’d just rigged from was of course the start of the peculiar bedding crawl.. so off I went through the crawl, followed by Jennie and Chris, who joined me while I rigging the next monster Y hang – wishing I had a few extra inches of height to me as I was balancing a bit precariously – (but always had my two points of protection ;] ). Jennie fancied doing some more rigging, and as I’d run out of rope soon I let her go down (I did already get to rig the fun bit after all!!) I followed Jennie down, who was rigging the third monster Y hang, but landed on my bum half way down the pitch on a small ledge. Ouch! Chris followed, more gracefully, and we were waited on a larger ledge to go down further helping Jennie look for P hangers (no look in finding the second – after a fun ‘swingy out to get to it’ rebelay we were at the bottom of the cave for the second time of the day where I pointed out to Jennie the second P hanger was right below the first – silly Jennie :p

We all started out, this way up i didn’t hit my bum on a ledge, Chris was derigging so Jennie and I waited for him just before the bedding crawl. (Half way to this point however we both heard a rope falling and a zip wire sound. Chris and Jennie both thought I had fallen off the rope, whereas I though Chris had done something equally as bad. Turns out the rope was a bit damp and heavy and had just fallen out of the tackle sack as Chris was –derigging. No one dead – this was good :p. ) Me and Jennie pondered life, sang, planned our tea and then noticed probably the ugliest Stal we have both ever seen (Karim may have been happy.) It was grey and bumpy and rank, although it was coming from cemented crack bits in the limestone – so I don’t actually think it was calcite! After packing rope when Chris joined us, we headed out. This next bit was my favourite bit of the cave – Crawling through the bedding plane, to see a P hanger and a 20m drop below you. To avoid doing any fancy gymnastics (lets face it – I wasn’t dressed for that) or falling head first down the pitch until my cows tails stopped me, I wriggled round to lie side on and slither down to start up the rebelay – fun times!
From here, I went out quickly aiming to find the 15m rope we had left and the entrance to shank while Jennie and Chris derigged the last rope. I however failed this small mission and couldn’t find it anywhere – I went out of the cave into the sun (yay) to be greeted by some sheep that quickly jumped over the wall back where they were meant to be.
I sat in the sun for a bit, and noticed another sheep very close to banking by the hole of the dry route entrance pitch. It’s an impressive little hole, so if a sheep did fall down, there would definitely be a squish sound I contemplated my reaction in case the sheep actually did do this while I was there, but gave up and walked over to it to scare it back into its field – feeling better about myself. I may have saved that sheep’s life. I then started down back into the cave to see if any rope needed packing, but was greeted a blond woman smiling back at me with a 15m rope in her hand! I shanked while Jennie and Chris climbed out (definitely need a hand line for the wet route in wet/icy conditions), and we started of back down the Pennine way, still in the sunshine.

The conversation on the way back down led on to Physics, and Chris explaining all the dimensions to us – OMG my mind didn’t like that. We got changed and headed straight back in about 1h.40mins. A lovely trip to finish a hard year of work and exams (I mean since when are electron clouds actually shaped like doughnuts?).

So, on my Sell Gill trip I learnt 4 useful life lessons:
New houses may not exist.
Sheep can jump over walls very well.
Crawling out of a bedding plane onto a pitch is an odd feeling.
There are 10 dimensions, and my favourite one is number 8.