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Large Pot -To the Top of Colossus (the chaotic story of when everything goes wrong)

Thursday December 30th 2021

Members present: Paulina Poterlowicz,  Rosie Marshall

Report by Paulina Poterlowicz

The plan for the day was to spend the night at the NPC, doing large pot on the 30th then jingling on the 31st before coming back down to York for Ambers New Year’s Eve party. Things started going wrong a week before the trip when my mum kindly informed me that I had a dentist appointment on the 30th that I completely forgot about. Well then. I called them to rebook but I only managed to get it moved to 11.40. eh good enough. We would just get underground later, it’s not like we had to go back to York that evening or anything. It just meant I had to go to York a day early to pack ropes since it made so sense stop in York on my way to the Dales.

The next flaw in our plan happened when Rosie told me that for COVID related reasons she wasn’t going to be in the Lakes that week so couldn’t get the train to Clapham- That’s ok we decided we should instead go to from London to Wakefield where I would pick her up.

The final tragedy occurred when I got a message from Ade the morning of the trip

“Someone who was at the NPC last night has tested positive”

Well great, I replied in vain hope- “is it still ok to go up do you think?”

Of course, it wasn’t, “apparently everyone is going home today so if probably avid going up there”

I messaged Rosie saying we are going to have to change this to a day trip and hope I don’t fall asleep on the way back. I also asked her to get yet another train to Morley were my dentist was to speed up time.

Her reply to me was as prophetic as ever- “whatever happens on this trip is going to make an epic report I can feel it!”

One painfully anaesthetised mouth later I was done and on my way, to pick up Rosie who was waiting for me at the station enjoying her grand tour of West Yorkshire. I should add that at this point she had taken 5 trains to reach me.

With all that drama over we set of. One of us having already crossed the country to get there and the other high on anaesthetic. What could go wrong!?

We got to the cave for 3.30pm and we couldn’t help but notice the rather damp conditions in Masongill. Hmmm…. After some wondering we found the cave (tip for future ease of navigation- after the bend in the mason gill path head straight when you see a fenced of area that’s little pot, large is just in front of it.)

I started rigging the first pitch, it has a very strange bolt orientation with one bolt weirdly hidden in the ceiling I did it as a rebelay, Rosie changed it to a traverse, neither felt quite right. I didn’t even bother with the natural mentioned on the topo as I couldn’t find a rock stable enough and it didn’t seem necessary.

Further down I came to the second pitch, I had hyped myself up for it hearing stories of how tight and awkward it was but honestly it was just really fun! If you’re under 5.5ft your femurs will cause no issues, I take no liability for tall people. As I rigged the first rebelay of the second pitch I heard an unsettling rumbling but figured it was just Rosie’s tackle sac and moved on. This was when my own laziness caught up to me, for weeks my handjammer safety link was slipping and slipping and i kept saying i would fix it next trip, well it had reached a point in which the barrel knot holding it together didn't really have a tail anymore, i was clipped into the rebelay so this was a good moment to retie it. Phew. Anyway. At the bottom of the next pitch I found the bolts for a short climb. This would normally be rigged with an extension of the pitch rope if your following the CNCC however to save weight I packed the black book ropes which meant I wasn’t allowed to rig this climb and instead just put a sling on it- remember the black book doesn’t care about your safety if efficiency is at stake!

As I waited for Rosie who was fighting with her rack on the pitch above, I looked down the third pitch. The ground was wet and water was spewing out, there was a waterfall down the pitch too… Well then….

Achieving victory over her descender Rosie soon joined me and I rigged the next pitch. The waterfall was drippy but not drowny so we went down to take a look at the situation. I was beginning to become convinced we would have to turn around. Unsure of what to do we looked at the passage ahead, it looked to be quite dry but the rumbling I heard earlier was uncomfortably loud down there, at the time we feared it might be noise from colossus though later figured it was more likely the streamway from the red herring series. We turned around and went back up the pitch where I derigged it convinced we would have to leave.

Stopping for some chocolate to ponder our decisions we both doubled our choice. Was it really that bad. The pitch was doable and it seemed dyer ahead. The pain concern was would it get wetter and would the waterfall become impassable. Or at least that was Rosie’s concern honestly, I was just skittish because of the rumbling which vibrated the cave slightly- I don’t like strange noises. Anyway, we decided we would re-rig the pitch but put a deviation in somewhere (remember always bring spare slings). Rosie started rigging and as she was descending I noticed a perfectly placed stall behind her which she ended up using- 10/10 for teamwork. (this stall isn’t on the topo but honestly, it’s a good spot for a deviation if you want to avoid getting wet- though I imagine on any other day this isn’t an issue). We also left the rope for colossus at the top of the pitch, figuring there’s no way we will make it down.

Onwards we went to a series of crawling leading to the pit which was thankfully pre-rigged and was ankle deep in water- yay for sumping chambers. After which we reached a junction where we were paralysed by choice! Do we take the oxbow or the rifty passage (both lead to the same place)- Rifty passage it was! This led to more squeezing, awkward sideways climbs etc. etc.

Eventually we reached colossus. There was a stream. It was wet. Very wet. With a waterfall going down it. Good thing we didn’t take the tackle sac because it would not have been a good idea to descend.

After a quick stare down the pitch we turned and made our way back for a speedy return, the water levels where the same as when we entered but the deviation on the third pitch was still appreciated for extra dryness. (or at least less wetness) The second pitch was a lot easier to go up than down but again I had some hand jammer issues, I swear it just keeps slipping. This time I tied it with such a long tail it better not mess up! Afterwards I got off the pitch and whilst I was waiting for Rosie who was derigging I learned why the second pitch should be done feet first.
You see I had left my tackle sack in the squeeze thinking I could just reach in and get it when I’m out, what I didn’t realise was the quite severe angle as you enter the squeeze. I started reaching my hand out and the next thing I know I slid down face in the hole. It took quite a bit of energy to get out considering my legs wanted to do a summersault. Anyway, self-inflicted drama over I got out the cave and waited for Rosie.
Outside was so foggy you couldn’t see a metre ahead but we just about managed to make it to the fence which we then followed to the car and some post cave muffins.

Now you’d think that’s the end of it. WRONG. It had clearly rained whilst we were underground because the roads were wet and I mean wet wet. There was a nice river crossing the road at mason gill village, always fun. And even the A65 was a nightmare! At one point I was driving along and a huge lake appeared on the road it kept going and going and going and I went from 60mph to 5!

“Rosie, I don’t think the car is going to make it!”

Fortunately, it just did but it was spicy! We reached York at a strangely early 11pm considering we didn’t get underground till 3.30!

All in all, a really fun If chaotic trip! And defiantly one I want to do again, we have unfinished business with colossus and we still need to find the connection to new rift!