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Ireby Fell Cavern

Sunday December 15th 2013

Members present: Adam Walmsley,  Catherine Moody,  Sarah Jefferys,  Toby Buxton,  Vicky Bailey

Report by Adam Walmsley

An interesting trip.

We split into two groups: Toby was to go with Sarah for 'rigging practice' down Ding Dong Bell while Cat, Vicky and I were to try to find Overshadow route. After swinging through the window half way down Ding, Cat had a look over to the right up a cobble slope. She didn't seem convinced so sent me on a recce.

Up the cobble slope, round a corner, through a waterfall, round another corner and into a flat out crawl. The crawl became gradually narrower to a squeeze. I threw myself into this with gusto but became wedged by my srt kit and harness. My head was past the squeeze and into a chamber, which tempted me to press forward in the belief I'd get through with enough force. I didn't, and was now truly stuck, unable to move either forwards or back. My chest was constrained by the squeeze making breathing and use of arms difficult. I tried for several minutes to force a way through but wasn't getting anywhere. I then made the illogical decision to attempt to remove my harness and spent several minutes vainly trying to undo my main maillon beneath me. This resulted in a good deal of skin worn off the back of my hand, but of course no progress.

At this point I'm afraid to say I had a 'moment' and tried shouting for help. I think I probably shouted twice before realising that a) they wouldn't hear me, b) they probably couldn't help me anyway and c) it would be terribly embarrassing to be found in such a position. After a rest and a good think about the situation I reasoned that I definitely couldn't go forwards or remove the offending harness so I should give backwards one last try. Breathing out, I pushed as hard as I could against a conveniently placed stal in the floor of the chamber and to my great relief slid an inch backwards. Spirits raised I continued the reverse, progress gradually becoming easier as the passage widened.

I must have been gone a good half hour but Cat and Vicky hadn't moved. They didn't seem concerned and I played it cool as I told them I'd found a tight squeeze and wasn't sure it was the correct route (it was). Vicky had been sitting in her harness for the best part of an hour and was very cold. By mutual agreement, we decided to carry on down Shadow route, which was good fun.

We met Toby and Sarah canoodling at the top of Well pitch where we collectively decided to head out due to forecast rain, a timely decision for it started tipping it down on our walk back to the cars.

This was, in seven years of caving, the only time I've been properly stuck, and was certainly the most unpleasant time of it I've had underground. Of course, in retrospect it was character building; good old fashioned grade 3 fun.