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Death's Head Hole - Big Meanie

Saturday November 26th 2016

Members present: Adam Walmsley,  Jia xuan Leong,  Joseph Smith,  Joshua Young

Report by Joshua Young

‘Twas the morn of the Christmas meal, and with strict instructions from Matt to be back for 6, most of us arose with plenty of time to spare, and we made a swift departure by 11. Unpacking our gear on Leck Fell an hour later, we all took a moment to appreciate the incredible moment, with the blazing sun, streaks of snow on the peaks, and uninterrupted views to the lake district, the Morecambe bay, and even the Isle of Man barely poking above the horizon.

This was quickly interrupted by the cries of dismay, as Peter realised he had somehow brought the gear of someone clearly much taller than him. He originally put on the usual cavers attitude of “just get on with it,” until it was realised that the person whose kit had been commandeered had neglected to include a chest jammer. With this issue significantly more difficult to overlook, he was quickly on his way back to the hut with David, while we began to head to the entrances.

Andy’s team would be heading down Big Meanie, while we would be descending Death’s Head. The anchor points at the top were dodgy to say the least, with the dead tree being the top concern, but Walmslers was soon on his way down, reaching the bottom with no incidents, despite lacking one cows tail thanks to the lack of hauling cord on the tackle sack.

Upon reaching the bottom, while waiting for the other group to arrive at the main chamber, we decided to fill the time by climbing down some scaffolding and exploring the connection to Lost Johns, eventually reaching the main stream way, although it was a long way down, so while myself, Joe and JX waited on a bank, Walmslers ventured on alone to the sump. Once back at the main chamber we were pleased to find that the other team were making their way down the final pitch. We received a quick warning that the connection to Big Meanie was muddier than expected, but we didn’t think too much of it and headed up.

There was so. much. mud. We did the only thing that you really can do in that situation, which is force a smile, shrug your shoulders, and get quite literally, stuck in. After a bit of wallowing in a muddy tube, crawling and sliding through a tunnel, and twisting flat out through a tight bit we were finally able to stand, ready for 5 minutes or so of trudging up a stream, trying as best we could not to lose our wellies in the shin deep mud.

Now came the final obstacle, the top of the entrance pitch. This is notoriously tight, and has seen YUCPC members requiring rescue in the past. JX was first, and had some difficulties after facing the wrong way. This led to me sat at a rebelay 40m up with my light off, listening to words of encouragement drifting down from above. She eventually got herself unstuck, so Walmslers and myself could make a swift exit, and while the other two went to get changed I waited to give Joe a hand with derigging. In his own words, he slid out with ease, without losing his foot loop somewhere below him where he couldn’t reach for it, and certainly without requiring Andy to attach their two hand jammers together some kind of impromptu semi-rescue, as that would be far too embarrassing.

The trip was rounded off by an efficient change with spectacular views of the bright orange sky reflected in the sea, as we mentally prepared for the marathon of indulgence that was to come.

Tl;dr: Nice shaft, tight on the way out, but a bit brown further down.