Gaping Gill (Dihedral) - Flood Entrance
Tuesday August 17th 2021
Members present: Christopher Edgar, Jean-luc Heath, Joshua Young, Rosie Marshall
With the CPC's winch-less meet going on, we had planned to head up Ingleborough to do... something underground. After a Morrisons breakfast we headed to Clapham for a swift change. Weather was forecast to be overcast and drizzly for most of the day, but water levels had appeared low at Gargrave so we didn't think it would impede us.
During the walk we came up with a plan, Dihedral to Flood. It had been just over 5 years since the last (and only) time I'd been up Dihedral, and it still stands as one of my favourite caving memories, so I was very keen to enjoy the sights once again. We headed over to the control tent, had a brief chat with the other caving groups while we all prepared to head down, and wandered over to the entrance.
Fell Beck had been dammed off, leaving barely a dribble going down the main pit. We took advantage of the main hang being rigged to lean out and get a proper view to the bottom; a spectacular sight, but with very little to give to a true sense of scale. A knot pass a few metres down the rope ensured none of us were keen to attempt this descent, so we returned round the corner and disappeared into Jib Tunnel.
One by one I watched the other 3 disappear over the side, barely managing to hear the faint calls of "rope free" from below. Then it was my turn to get onto the pitch head, at which point I became acutely aware that the only SRT practice I'd had since November 2019 had been Lancaster hole a couple of weeks previously. I nervously went through the motions and began a very slow descent (thank goodness I wasn't using a simple!).
Once a couple of deviations had passed, I relaxed enough to finally turn around and enjoy that spectacular view of the cascade, down to where it crashes onto Birkbeck's ledge and down, eventually, to the boulder-strewn floor of the chamber some 60+ metres below me. Once I reached the ledge my confidence in my ability not to kill myself increased, and the SRT began to flow a little more naturally. A couple rebelays and a final speedy abseil brought me gracefully to the floor.
We shot along the passageways with great enthusiasm, before beginning to head up South-East Pot. The exit continued uneventfully, but Chris and I were excited to spot the remains of a rabbit we had the pleasure of crawling past in 2018, while it was still quite fresh and pungent, now just a clean skull and a handful of other bones. We returned to the tent around 3 hours after we'd left it, where we were kindly offered a warming mug of tea, and had another chat while enjoying the afternoon. This already would have been a wonderful trip had we decided to go home, but we had other ideas. (To be continued....)