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Disappointment Pot - Far Country

Tuesday June 16th 2015

Members present: Alistair Rollinson,  Dan Boothby,  Rachel Findlay,  Will Scott

Report by Will Scott

Having been a Main Chamber whore for some time now and watching Sid Peruo’s film The Lost River of Gaping Gill I was intend on heading into the Far Country. I set about recruiting some reprobates; Alistair ‘Lumens’ Rollinson, Ban Doothby and our resident Scots member Rachel Findlay. It was decided that we would meet up at the container at 0700 on Tuesday morning in order to try and miss the worst of the Harrogate traffic.

The morning started amusingly, I got to the container for around 0700 to find Dan packing his gear. I was a little shocked as Dan is usually an expert for being late. Ali was nowhere to be seen and this too was a shock because he is usually on time, I didn’t expect to see Rachel for another 20 minutes so all was fine on that front. At around 0715 Rachel appeared but there was still no sign of Ali, we concluded that he must still be asleep. We rang him but there was no answer. Luckily Dan knew which block of James College he lived in so we locked up the container and walked into James. Locating Ali’s Block with ease we then tried ringing him again, still no answer. In a vain attempt and with the intention of making a joke I shouted “Alistair Rollinson”, to our surprise and sleepy eyed figure appeared at a first fall window and shouted “one minute”.

We arrived in Ingleton at around 1000 – unfortunately we did meet some Harrogate traffic, Ali’s fault. We marched into Inglesport with a sense of aloof and ordered some scran. Over Breakfast we took the piss out of Ali and studied the survey.

At around 1100 we arrived in Clapham. There were some young females playing in the park and so we were hesitant to strip off. When I say we, what I actually mean is Dan, Rachel and myself, Ali shot out of the car with rather too much haste to get changed in front our young audience. To avoid becoming involved with Operation Yew Tree I moved the car round the corner being careful not to run over any helmets.
We knew that this trip would be rather wet as we had the Portcullis and Southgate ducks to negotiate. Because of this rather ominous task me and Ali had opted to where some suspect neoprene jackets that we found in the container along with some thermal leggings. Rachel despite bringing a wetsuit decided not to wear it, Dan was also in fleece. We set off up the hill, in my neoprene jacket, thermal leggings, long wetsocks and newly acquired booties I looked like something out of a pantomime but nevertheless we set of and began the sweaty walk. At ingleborough show cave we intercepted some school children and there were shouts of “are they real cavers” and “look at them, they doing proper caving”.

At around 1200 we found the Disappointment entrance with some ease and I rigged a handline for the entrance and set off through the twisting passage. I soon came upon a bedding plane partially filled with water, with some in trepidation I entered the plane of watery doom. I personally found it a little tight and it didn’t help that water was going in my mouth as I was forced to lie completely flat out however it was conquered by all and we carried on. I then found the Portcullis duck, I can’t quite remember what I said at this point but I think that might be for the best. For those that haven’t done Disappointment the Portcullis duck has an air space about the size of an average caving helmet. I took my helmet off and passed it to Ali. I lay down head first on my back and felt a sudden ingress of water, it was jolly cold and made me pant like an excited dog. Going head first into a duck didn’t seem safe as I couldn’t see what was happening. I flipped around so I was feet first again on my back, Ali shone my lamp through and I entered lying completely on my back so that most of my head was submerged. Before I knew I was through, I collected my helmet and felt rather happy as I quickly warmed back up in my neoprene jacket. Ali and Dan passed through with ease and Rachel nearly drowned herself with panic which in hindsight is quite amusing but at the time was rather scary.

After some crawling we found the second pitch, which I had to down prusik because my descender wouldn’t open – not a favourable task in a neoprene jacket. Then there was a rifty section which is akin to parts of the Darren entrance, this brings you out at the bottom of the Niagra pitch where Marilyn drops in. After some more rifty – crawly boringness we reached the 3rd pitch quickly followed by the 4th and 5th pitches. This brings you into an impressive chamber which is a pleasant relief after all the crawling/thrutching in the rifty stuff.

A small climb down through some boulders brings you into the Hensler’s streamway. After consulting the survey we agreed that right (downstream) was the way on. This stooping height passage eventually gave way to a height ceilinged passage which is quiet spectacular and a great bit of cave, well worth a visit. Hitting a fork we opted for the right hand passage as that matched with what we had read on the survey. We climbed up an insitu handline into a small but very pretty aven however there was no way on. So we went back to the fork and tried the left hand route. After quite a bit of crawling we found a sump. How annoying. Once again we headed back to the fork and decided to see if there was a way on under the handline we had previously climbed. Indeed there was.
Soon we found the ladder up to the Far Country. I was rather surprised to see the ladder as I’m used to going the wrong way in caves and never getting to where I want. A bouncy ascent found me looking a 3 ways on, I opted for the most worn and soon we found ourselves at the blowhole. Having the physic of a god I was quite nervous about this, being scared that my chest would get stuck. After some bailing Ali went through with his SRT kit on and made it look easy. I removed my SRT kit and slid through – nothing to worry about, you could get a double decker bus through it. Rachel and Dan also slid through without an issue.

We soon found ourselves at Echo Aven, making use of the Echo by shouting “tube” in a Scottish accent. Ali descended first and rather rapidly one might add, the insitu rope was lubed 9mm. Once I reminded myself how to do a butterfly I rigged one of our ropes that we brought along in case any of the insitu ropes weren’t safe. Dan, Rachel and I then descended safely to land in a rather muddy area.

We crawled through some muddy water and then happened upon a dive line. I looked through and saw some air space guessing this was the Southgate duck. Once again lying on my back I entered the duck feet first. The air space was no less than that in the Portcullis duck however it seemed to continue for quite a while. Part of me started to panic as I thought I might be entering a sump but then, thankfully the roof opened up and I could sit comfortably out of the water. The rest of the team followed.

We continued to crawl through pools and over rocks and mud. On entering a small chamber we were unsure of the way on but already happy with our achievements, we opted for the left had passage. This took us to Deep Well which is a ~20 m pitch into a pool, it was actually quite impressive.

At this point we were a little cold and being unsure of how to find the Mountain Hall but being content with our trip we decided to head out. The return journey was very straight forward all the ducks were passed with ease and we emerged on the surface around 2000 to daylight and a warm evening.

I would recommend Disappointment pot and the Far Country. I hope to return to both in the future. If doing Disappointment some neoprene is extremely beneficial as you receive a full submersion at the start of the trip. However if entering via an alternative entrance a fleece would be fine for the Southgate duck. The blowhole is also quite easy and nothing to be afraid of.

The main experience I take from this trip, is that if your mouth is out of the water everything is fine.