Recent reports

Boggart's Roaring Holes

Saturday November 19th 2016

Members present: Andrew Vick,  Catherine Moody,  Rachel Findlay,  Toby Buxton

Report by Catherine Moody

A last minute change of plan, prompted by enthusiasm from Sandy, led us to Boggart's Boring Holes. It turned out Sandy and I had both had uncannily similar trips (on different occasions) where for one reason or another we had only made it as far as the bottom of the first pitch, and we were keen to rectify this. There was also not much else in the way of options given the recent weather. The forecast for the day had been dire, but we actually had quite a pleasant walk up crunching through the snow - the sun even made an occasional appearance, though threatening clouds could still be clearly seen in the distance. On nearing the cave, the cloud came down and visibilty dropped. The black book states that "in poor visibility it can be hard to locate"... but with the help of a compass on my camera, and some vague recollections from previous visits to the area, we found our way and identified the correct hole to decend. Sandy was closest to the hole and most keen to get out of the snow so set to rigging. Unfortunately, there was a rather large and spiky bush very much in the way so Andy used his knife to do some horticulture, taking care not to cut the traverse line at the same time. The mostly rotten remains of an unfortunate sheep were still between the 1st and 2nd pitch - not so much of a problem on the way down but required some care on the way back up - I believe Rachel put her face in it. Once we were all underground (where it was significantly warmer than the surface), Sandy was storming full steam ahead and there was little in the way of hanging around.

The squeeze to Loose Tooth Pitch caused some entertainment for all. I believe this is where, on a previous occasion, Mark dropped his helmet down the pitch; Sandy nearly did the same, whereas my long cowstail was handily long enough that I could clip it to my helmet to avoid a recurrence while pushing the helmet ahead. However, I did need help from Rachel when my little side bag got me nice and wedged - after being unclipped it got abandoned for later retrieval. Some scary acrobatics are required to extract yourself from the squeeze while not falling down the next pitch but thankfully it was easier than it looked.

At the bottom of The Terminator, huddled in the narrow rift, there was no room for Rachel so we sent her straight back up again, to be shortly overtaken so she could help Toby de-rig. Several sections of the cave have been blasted and are somewhat awkward to negotiate uphill, especially with a bag, but nevertheless we made steady progress and reached the surface around 4 to 4.5 hours after leaving - a significant and welcome improvement on the "at least 6-8 hours" suggested by NFTFH. I guess not having to use spits makes things a bit quicker. After prusicking up through hail/snow, I emerged to find Sandy and Andy doing a jig in the dark. I joined them in their silent disco to attempt to keep warm in the snowstorm while waiting for Tobes and Findles to catch up. Thankfully the white stuff hadn't been too heavy and we were able to retrace our footprints back to the cars. Another one ticked off the list. I'm glad to have done it but it wasn't especially inspiring so I'm not sure I'll necessarily be rushing back.