Rift Pot (Allotment)
Saturday December 7th 2019
Members present: Evan Cooper, Jean-luc Heath, Livvy Golby-kirk, Miles Armstrong, Paulina Poterlowicz, Toby Willis
With this sorted we had a straightforward drive to the dales, however, in a change to usual programming, we headed to the BPC and cooked our own breakfast. With this done, and an Evan acquired, more faff occurred. Liv had been planning to smash out Nick Pot, but the somewhat appalling weather lessened the appeal of this idea. Much debate occurred. Eventually, it was getting late enough in the day that I decided the current owners of the Rift pot permit had likely finished their trip, so we agreed that we'd all head down rift together?-?lovely. With this sorted, we drove off to crummack and parked where I thought the end of the public road was (it later turned out that we could've parked a little further down the road).
With everyone changed, we began heading up to the allotment, the burden of navigation was eased significantly through the use of laminated print-outs of OS maps (thanks Bing, you wonderful, otherwise pointless, Microsoft obscurity), and a GPS recently donated by Matt & Gary. It's worth mentioning however, that the navigation to the allotment itself isn't particularly hard with just a map, however, the finding of caves within its bountiful walls can be somewhat challenging. Luckily for us however, despite having no experience whatsoever using a GPS, I soon figured out that the arrow did not in fact point north, and was instead a Jack Sparrow style of compass, pointing to whatever I desired most at the time (or had entered as a waypoint). This facilitated a rapid arrival at the cave, after passing the permit holders on their way down the hill?-?it seems the stars had aligned (but not the moon, the moon doesn't want us caving, but was likely preoccupied with all the rain).
Miles then set about rigging the entrance pitch, with helpful guidance from Evan, who ensured he at no point felt secure that he was rigging it correctly (he was). This led to some slower than usual rigging from Miles, motivating me to take over briefly to rig the free-hanging rebelay, in order to get us all out of the rain a tad quicker.
The entrance pitch of Rift is spectacular, beginning as - you guessed it - a rift, soon opening out into a sizeable (and quite drippy) chamber. Miles soon joined me at the base of the pitch, and we headed off up the boulder slope to begin rigging the two short pitches to the ledge where the two different routes begin. Miles rigged these well, and rapidly enough that minimal waiting occurred at the pitch heads. The second of these pitches is a Y-hang to a oddly satisfying deviation that hangs the rope perfectly above a rub point on a boulder.
Now on the rock bridge, me, Miles, and Paulina set off to rig the Bob's Hole route in the far corner, with Liv, Evan and Toby, descending the Yorkshire Rambler's route (I shan't recount their tale of adventure here). Miles continued rigging, with a satisfying Y-hang through the hole that is the start of our route. This was followed by a single hang rebelay, which positions the rope for a nice hang down to another rock bridge.
You may have noticed there's a lot of Rock bridges being mentioned here, that's likely because the cave is basically made of them, with each one providing ample opportunity to knock loose stones down on cavers below. Needless to say lessons about 'below' shouts, and general pitch caution were provided to freshers.
For our descent of the final pitch, we opted for the apparently drier rebelayed route, which is positioned, quite counter-intuitively, right next to the raging waterfall coming in from Long Kin East. This made the descent down to the bottom quite a moist experience, especially for Miles, who had some faff with rope stretch when rigging the final rebelay. The descent of the pitch is a greatly satisfying one, and must be one of my favourites, with a massive waterfall just to the right, the place has quite an atmosphere. This atmosphere did however, continue relentlessly at the bottom of the pitch, with little to no shelter from the spray, a truly exhilarating experience.
With Paulina down, we decided to make a rapid exit, with Miles leading the way and me de-rigging. With some efficient prussicing from Paulina, we made it out of the cave, and back up to the now not so rainy allotment, in no time at all. The other team followed closely behind, giving the exit ultimate efficiency.
Now came the walk back to the car, a navigational experience of which I had been warned… Luckily, the mighty Garmin had been instructed to remember the location at which we had left the path, allowing us to easily find our way out of the Allotment and back onto marked paths. This meant we were soon back at the cars, for a not at all unpleasant change.
Overall, this trip provides an excellent training opportunity, with some varied rigging, somewhat tricky surface navigation, and some splendid pitches. In my opinion, definitely worth the walk up to the Allotment. However, do not be fooled by the fact this is a good wet weather cave, it is still really quite wet. I've never been quite so moist in a cave that, quoting the CNCC description, "takes no active stream".