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Sell Gill Holes - Through the Ducks

Sunday November 18th 2018

Members present: Jean-luc Heath,  Joseph Smith

Report by Jean-luc Heath

After a bit of a long trip down Pippikin the previous day, followed by a late night at the BPC (with sleep interrupted by a 4:40am fire alarm), a nice easy trip down Sell Gill was a very welcome prospect on Sunday morning. Alas, despite best efforts - and Conor’s excellently cooked breakfast - the usual faff ensued throughout the morning. After some significant mucking around with broken Duos, slow rope packing, and chats with Tony, we were all ready to set off on the walk to Sell Gill. The clear skies provided an unusually pleasant mid-Novembers walk to the cave, with all arriving in high spirits. This clear weather was also rather convincing in persuading Joe and I to slither into our wetsuits and have a good old splash around in the ducks that usually mark the end of the trip. Teams were formed and the wet and dry routes both descended most efficiently with a minimum amount of faff, and the two least experienced freshers making good time.

Once we had all reached the main chamber, it was time to break out the cheese. Having previously experimented with cave trifle™ in Rumbling last week, this week Joe’s magic bag provided a number of fine cheeses. Varieties included bree, wensleydale, and stilton. See future publications for a breakdown of the cave suitability rating (CSR) of the cheeses included in this study.
After all the cheese had been consumed, and all crumbs swept back into cheese transportation vessel, decisions were made about teams for the exit, and who should de-rig what. Having been nicely warmed by the cheese, myself and Joe felt slightly more keen on having a quick poke around the ducks, so it was agreed that we would go for our little explore, whilst everyone else began heading out, then de-rig the wet route on our return.

The short section of crawling/stooping stream way at the bottom of the chamber was tackled with ease, and we soon found ourselves staring at the duck - by this point I was feeling a tad chilly and quite fancied going home. Joe however insisted on having a quick look, upon his inspection, the duck was fairly short and not too unpleasant - so I was obliged to follow him through. A short section of mixed crawling and stooping soon led to a nice sized chamber. From here a varied section of passage is followed along an obvious route leading through a few chambers to very square, very blasted section. This led quickly to the head of the last pitch, which was rigged with a good condition, but cobwebbed rope, reminding us this was a place not often visited. A quick, but careful descent was made into the final chamber, where a number of potential ways on are found - these all consist of seemingly abandoned digs, which close down rapidly.

After a quick poke around it was time for the outward journey, this was undertaken with good pace, and much care in the sections preceding the duck. Upon reaching the bottom of the wet route we saw the tail end of the group heading out at the top of the first pitch, so set about our derigging duties, soon catching the others up.

Overall an enjoyable, efficient trip, with some great variation and sense of adventure thrown in by the passages after the duck. Most importantly however, two freshers experienced a great introduction to SRT, and we learned that cheese is an excellent cave snack.