Recent reports

Simpson's Pot - Valley Entrance

Sunday December 18th 2011

Members present: Andy Hurlbatt,  Sophie Hentschel

Report by Andy Hurlbatt

After a fair bit of faff with a hire car, we eventually made it to Kingsdale at about midday. We had a rather fresh change in the snow, before making our way to Valley Entrance to rig the ladder at pitch head into the West Kingsdale Master Cave necessary for the way out. John went first, followed shortly by Kristian, while Sophie and I waited outside for what should have been a 15 minute job. 45 minutes later, noises were heard from the entrance, which we soon discovered to be a group of unknown, if friendly, cavers. They had reports of some bloke with blue knee pads (Kristian) looking very unhappy at the top of the pitch, mumbling something about a ladder. After getting directions from the strangers, we decided to go and see what the hell was going on. Upon arrival at the pitch, we discovered a fed-up Kristian and a muddy John rigging the ladder. It turned out that John, who claimed to know the system, had taken gone the wrong way and spent about 15 minutes trying to get through a tight muddy crawl, before realising his mistake. With the ladder finally rigged, we made our way back out and started the climb to Simpson's Pot.

It was approaching 3pm by the time we were heading underground, with wonderful views from the entrance of the low sun shining up the dale. A stooping walk and a bit of crawling led us to the first of many pitches (most of which seem to have merged into one in my mind). A bit more walking and crawling led us to 5 steps pot, and the The Pit, which we successfully traversed, unlike some groups. A short walk led to the first of another handful of pitches, culminating in a damp Storm Pot. After a short duck (and much quacking) we descended another couple of pitches, then had a pleasant walk past some pretties before reaching Aven Pot, and finally the much discussed Slit Pot. This is (apparently) a tight squeeze over a pitch, requiring the caver to pass while rigged with a descender. After talk of much hassle, and one ULSA member being stuck upside-down for a few hours, this particular pitch had developed a formidable reputation within the group. It was a bit of let down when we all got through without issue, with no particular hold up. The slit opened out into an impressive 20m pitch, which got you a bit damp on the way down to the boulder pile at the bottom.

Thankfully the last downward pitch was the wettest of the day; with descent occurring fully in the stream, it would have been challenging in wet weather. A small amount of drama later, we were all safely at the bottom, eager for the next event. This turned out to be an easy boulder pinch though a hole in the floor, and into a long wet crawl, which emerged into the Master Cave. A short pleasant stomp lead us to the foot of the previously rigged ladder, and short walk back to the surface.

With all the kurfuffle before the trip, and a leisurely pace through the system, it was around 19:30 and well below freezing by the time we were back at the car. After battling solidifying gear and hands during the change, we all piled into the warm car, and headed to the pub.