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Notts Pot - Twilight Zone

Sunday November 17th 2019

Members present: Amber Mitchell,  Jean-luc Heath,  Josh Purdy,  Livvy Golby-kirk,  Rosie Marshall

Report by Jean-luc Heath

Having packed the ropes the night before, maximum effect was gained from a comfortable 0800 start at the store, with us leaving by 0830. This meant the classic inglesport breakfast had been consumed by just after 1100. A small amount of faff ensued with Liv going on some strange shop watching quest in order to acquire some hair ties, from a shop keeper who apparently insisted on haggling the price down, although unusual, this is far from the weirdest occurrence I've seen in Ingleton... The drive to Leck Fell saw Josh P, present his award-winning thesis "All roadside shops in rural areas sell the same thing". Just as I was about to begin the Viva Voce, we passed a plant nursery, followed immediately by a bike shop. Despite protests of "I bet you they both also sell cheese, alcohol, and turkeys", the thesis was unceremoniously binned. We soon arrived at the fell, where a quantity of time was spent parking the car at a variety of angles in an attempt to produce some rain cover for the change.

Despite all this faff, we were changed, and getting underground by 1230, so really not bad for a YUCPC day trip (and better than most recent weekends away...) The entrance was somewhat splashy, but nowhere near as bad as the last time I was there, so it was tackled with relative ease. The meant we were soon at the pitch into the main chamber. It was here that I realised that, for me at least, today was to be a high-gravity or high self-preservation day, with the slightly slippy traverse to the pitch head providing far more drama than it really should have. Regardless, it was soon rigged, and we were all in the main chamber. Today's route was to be Twilight Zone, which none of us had done before (in fact we've only ever done Adamson's) nevertheless, the beginning of the traverse was soon found, and I began rigging. It was fairly straightforward, although there was one awkward step/climb upwards that caused me some concern, with Ade's voice appearing in my mind in typical Ben Kenobi fashion (although instead of saying "Use the force (Jean) Luke" he said more helpful things like "If you fall on your hand jammer you'll die"). When I eventually grew a pair and just got on with it, it was totally fine. From here to the pitch head the traversing was of little issue, and the team followed happily. The pitch itself was simple, and I was soon heading down, looking for the "Hard to find or entirely absent" deviation. I did not find it (although there was a random red rope rigged like a traverse line on two P-hangers, that may have been it). I soon ended up at the ledge for the traverse for the Left-hand route, which leads to the shared re-belay (rigged as a hanging rebelay for Twilight zone). I decided it would probably be easier to rig the traverse than go for the whopping pendulum. In hindsight, I'm less certain, as reaching the high right-hand bolt for the Y-hand would likely have been easier from a swing (rigging it from the traverse causes me no end of wussy squealing, due to the exposed climb (and my lack of bravery)). Nevertheless, the traverse acted as an efficient way to break up the pitches, and rigging aside, is probably an easier route.

From here we were back on the route for Twilight Zone, although, the bolts didn't seem exactly as presented in the topo, with some missing, and others added in? This seems strange, and made me question whether I'd ended up on Left-Hand again, but reinspection of the topo rules that out. Odd.
Regardless, we were at the start of the Lower Streamway, and ready for the joyful traverses that follow. We also found an NPC rope in a pile here, so packed it into the now empty rope bag to be safely returned to its residence at Greenclose.

With the rope rescued, and everyone confirming that they were keen to continue, and not overly traumatised by my glacial rigging, I began the short climb up to the P-bolts for the fantastic traverse over the streamway. I was pleased to find this climb to be at least half as long as I remembered. The traverse was rigged at a steady pace all the way to a nicely floored calcite-y type chamber thing. This was pleasant, and I sat there a while thinking, "isn't this meant to be a pitch? Pitches don't go through floors...". Amber then helpfully pointed out a P-hanger I'd missed some distance back, which looked like a likely contender for the tri-hang I had no idea how to rig. I tri-ed to rig said three-way hang of perfection and realised abruptly that I had no idea what I was doing. So instead I settled on a fairly alright Y-hang that avoided rope-rub, but did put the rope in a slightly narrower part of the rift. Thusly, I racked my pitch up, and descended down to the start of the next section of traversing. This again was enjoyable, and quite straightforward, until the climb up into a small aven. Here, my hauling cord was entangled in every piece of rope it possibly could be entangled with. I, therefore, took a firm grip of the bag, and unclipped the crab of the hauling cord to untangle the mess. Untangling complete, I recalled Liv dropping and losing a bag in this streamway last time we visited and I thought "Now J-L, don't be a melon and make sure you clip that hauling cord back onto you're maillon". So I did. Cord clipped firmly onto myself, I let the bag go. At this point I suddenly felt very light - Had I just shat myself? No, far worse. You may recall, that on my clipping and unclipping adventures, I made sure I clipped the hauling cord back onto my harness, this, I had indeed done, but with the end of the cord which I had actually removed from the bag... This left me with a hauling cord, clipped onto my maillon twice, and a bag moseying on down towards the sump. Good job, well done. Amber and Josh helpfully asked whether I'd meant to drop the bag, I recounted my tale, they looked disappointed. Alas, the trip must go on.

Luckily, we were almost done with that bag anyway, so I finished off rigging the traverse, and moved onto the next bag to rig the final pitch. This was done swiftly, and I was soon heading down towards the roaring sound of the water. At this point, I saw my lost bag chilling in the nice pool of water right next to the waterfall. It was time for a rescue. The nice dry tube where I had intended to end my trip was ignored, and a handy deviation provided a clear hang to the raging water below. The bag was quickly grabbed (as I really wasn't enjoying the quantity of water around me), and I sped back up towards the nice dry tube. Upon reaching the deviation however, I once again felt quite light for a drenched caver with two bags, this was because I was just a drenched caver, with the two bags happily chilling in the waterfall - I'd obviously managed to unclip one of them, and reclip neither, a good move. A swift mid-rope changeover and I was once again zooming down into the spray lashed nightmare, this time recovering both bags safely to my nice dry tube.

I shouted rope free and was joined rapidly by the others, none of whom expressed an interest in continuing down any further, opting to join me in looking at the water from the cosy dry tube.
The journey out soon began, with Liv and Josh P de-rigging, and me, Amber, and Rosie taking bags once they were full. Both freshers had no trouble at all on the way out, with only a brief struggle on the pitch head onto the upper part of the lower streamway traverse, which was solely down to my inability to rig tri-hangs. For most of the journey out, we stayed roughly together as a 5, with me electing to wait while Liv de-rigged the awkward Y-hang on the Left-Hand route traverse, as I had such a faff rigging it, that I thought it worth pointing out the hidden footholds that make it manageable. This done, and suitably chilled down, I headed out with the freshers and bags. The theme of the way out continued here, with no issues occurring at the awkward climb just inside the entrance. This saw us out the cave by 2010, making a total time underground of around 7.5 hours, which with all the faff, really isn't too bad.

Overall, an excellent trip and absolutely solid effort from all involved, especially the freshers who tackled such an exposed and technical route with ease.