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Lancaster Hole - Mistral Hole - A nightmare about lost descriptions

Saturday April 17th 2021

Members present: Jean-luc Heath,  Paulina Poterlowicz,  Rosie Marshall

Report by Jean-luc Heath

It was once again a sunny afternoon at the "outdoor adventure company" when my mind drifted to what I would be doing with my day off if YUSU were to allow fun to resume. This time my daydream took me to easegill, to revisit a trip I first undertook with Lumens, Joe and Lilo back in 2017, on which we got incredibly lost between link pot and mistral and almost missed callout, with the overall trip time being over 8 hours. Thankfully, the version of this trip that occurred solely within the confines of my mind was far more successful, but nonetheless still full of dramas.

This dream commenced in a way that would make it impossible in reality: an efficient start. This occurred through picking up Rosie and Paulina and leaving York by 0745 and reaching Bullpot farm for just after 1000, to be greeted by copious amounts of sunshine, making for a very pleasant change and meal deal consumption. During this time some more cavers appeared, including Mark Burkey, who is far too famous for me to actually have seen in real life. With the change over, we ended up with Lancaster hole rigged and descended by 1130. From here the journey to stake pot was an absolute dream (see what I did there?) with uber low water levels making for a pleasant yomp up the streamway. The entrance to the stake pot series was also found with complete ease and the way on was easily remembered all the way to brew chamber. This is where this daydream turns into a bit of a nightmare. Misunderstanding where we were on the description it was decided the way on was straight ahead resulting in a rather tight squeezey thing into what turned out to be equinox hall. I remained stuck here for a while until I eventually removed enough SRT kit to fit through. Rosie and Paulina rapidly morphed into ferrets and scurried through - odd. Cue roughly an hour of searching around for a way on that didn't exist. Eventually, I decided it might be worth re-reading the description, which led to the discovery that we had gone too far. After some backtracking we soon found the hole in the left-hand side of brew chamber and scurried off towards rat pit chamber. Some more confusion occurs as we traverse above the streamway that leads to rat pit chamber, successfully finding the climb down, but thinking it looks too exposed to be the correct route. We scurry back to the start of the traverse. Whilst doing so, a small goblin wearing a t-shirt emblazended with the word "incompetence" punches me in the face and steals the descriptions. This is troubling, and a discussion ensues. An examination of our remaining literature reveals we still have a survey of echo aven to the wet wallows, and another page of description, we conclude we are only missing the description for the 88ft pitch to echo aven connection, which is relatively straightforward. In an unusually sensible decision we set a turn around time and head back along the rat pit traverse and go down the previously written off climb, finding that it is actually incredibly easy. We briefly ponder a goblin hunt in the hope of recovering the lost description, but decide it's probably not worth the effort. From rat pit chamber we soon find and descend the glorious 88ft pitch, and find the start of the wormway. This rapidly hits a junction. I don't remember any junctions. The route to the right looks welcoming, so we follow it. We hit another junction. I still don't remember any junctions. The route to the right still looks welcoming. We follow it. Sump. Turn around. We take the left instead. It goes on for a while, and looks quite worn. We hit a junction. I don't remember any junctions. However, this one has a very faint arrow drawn in the mud. We follow it. It leads probably to some more junctions and we vibe it out till we hit echo aven. Great Success!!

We climb up some ropes in echo aven, and at the top use the remaining description (which is describing how to get to echo aven from link pot, so needs remodelling) to successfully find Hylton hall and the welcoming daylight of link pot. We have a little celebration and sit on a boulder. A good time to read the description of the link pot to mistral connection, where I got horribly lost back in 2017. Upon inspection, it is clear that this description was on the sheet stolen by the goblin back near rat pit chamber. This is worrying, as I recall the connection having lots of junctions and being complicated. Luckily we have the survey and this eases my mind a little. We decide that going back through the wormway etc would be a lot of effort so should press on and hope for more mud arrows. We rapidly hit the wet wallows. This clearly haven't been used much recently as I feel my body excavating a small trench in the silt floor. Even with my helmet off the water is lapping up against my mouth and nose. Rosie and Paulina come through with helmets on and experience no dramas. We are now off our survey and descriptionless, however, following the most worn passage (and a set of mud arrows) soon sees us through a rather low gravel floored crawl (again some excavation required) and another silt floored wet crawl. After yet more crawling we end up at a familiar junction and follow the most worn passage, this leads us to a massive chamber which can be easily identified as the hall of the ten. This places us back on our remaining page of description and allows us to confidently backtrack to the aforementioned junction, which we now knew to be dusty junction. From here the nav out of mistral was easy. After the significant tension of not knowing exactly where we were, for quite a long time, seeing daylight pouring down the Mistral entrance climb was a massive relief. We were all out of the cave and collapsed on the grassy riverbank for 1640, making the trip time to a cheeky 5h10m. A quick yomp up to link pot found the excellent path back to Lancaster hole for the de-rig, and then back to the car for a change in the warm afternoon sun. This soon saw us driving home, in time to make dinner and get an early night.

Similarly to my previous daydream about Sell Gill, I don't remember the rest of the afternoon at work and awoke in my bed with my 0700 alarm blaring, and the full-body ache of a good caving trip somehow present. A bizarre mystery, but at least one that lets me imagine I can go caving.