New Rift Pot
Sunday April 10th 2022
Members present: Adrian Turner, Christopher Edgar, Paulina Poterlowicz, Rosie Marshall, Viki Smyth
Our trip began in a shakehole, where behind a wooden fence was a very scenic rift, complete with moss and waterfalls. After a brief rest from the walk up in the sun, Paulina and Rosie began climbing down, followed shortly by myself, Ade of course picking this moment to begin an animated discussion about how loose the boulders right above me were. The first pitch was quite fun as you had to lower yourself through a cute hole down a rubble pile, held together with a substantial amount of wood and scaffolding. Chris and Ade's apprehension regarding the crawl joining the first and second pitches were not lost on Paulina, as this is where she hid her car keys underneath a spare sling. (Just in case a sheep were to steal them).
The crawl itself, classically, was not large enough for hands and knees but also lacked the decency to be smooth. Or dry. Having lost Ade and then Chris after a few fun climbs, I quickly reverted to my usual style of caving: blindly following Paulina and Rosie. At the bottom of the second pitch sat the only free hanging traverse I've come across in a real cave (think training hall but without the footholds) of which the others split the rigging for. A short Y hang and deviation later, we were at the bottom.
It was an impressively large cavern with rolling hills of mud and the faint sound of water. Rosie had already taken her SRT gear off. I contemplated taking my own off for a second, however in that second Paulina and Rosie have already reached the other side of the chamber so with a small mutter of "I'm probably going to regret this", I follow on.
The next 10 minutes to half an hour (who really keeps much track?) was a very pleasant one, with some gorgeous formations and more hills. At one point after I'd traversed across a particularly muddy hill I hear a small shriek behind me and turn around to see Paulina slipping all the way to the bottom. Eventually we reach another large chamber with no obvious way on except a very sketchy roped climb. Paulina heads up it while Rosie investigates other potential gaps in the walls and soon also goes exploring down a small crack underneath the climb.
With Paulina having completely disappeared up the climb and Rosie out of hearing distance down a hole in the floor, I am left on my own to ponder the enormity of the universe. I go for a little wonder myself unitil Paulina shouts again that that is probably definitely not the way forward as it is a dig. She reappears and we share a small laugh at how muddy she is (oh how naive we were) before Rosie also reappears announcing that she's found the duck.
The passage to the duck is a bit crawly and very muddy. At the back of my mind I'm thinking at least we'll be clean for a bit once we get to the duck (hahahahahahahaha).
The duck was muddy. Not even muddy, the duck was just mud. But not like the usual squelchy stuff either, it was like this living, breathing clay creature lurking underneath the water (watery mud, not muddy water). It didn't even feel like I was touching the bottom, just sinking until my elbows met enough resistance to propel myself forward though this swamp monster we'd found. This continued for a few meters until we could climb out (twice as heavy as before we entered) into a small crouching space before the Mousehole.
Rosie (being both SRTless and, well, Rosie) wriggles through no problem. I, on the other hand am faced with my first ever squeeze I'm not actually sure I can fit through. After a few failed attempts, I let Paulina have a crack. Turns out if you're any bigger than Rosie or still have a harness on (I am choosing to believe my SRT gear played a bigger part in these crawls than it probably did), you have to do a funky sort of zigzag across the rock. After a demonstration and a little instruction, I made it through! A lot more crawling later we reached Necropolis, some walking and scrambling, and then the bottom of Colossus.
The way back was very similar, except quicker. Going back through the mousehole I slightly overestimated the force needed to get through and overcommitted right into the muddy duck, to Paulina's amusement. Just after passing the climb to the dig, we stopped off at the only puddle we passed on the way in to do a little rinsing, though by the time I caught up, it very much resembled the duck itself (the creature is breeding). Also, I found a spare light by the pitch! I don't yet know if it's any use; I gave to Ade to examine.
Derigging was fun! The free hanging traverse was made a little harder by my hand jammer not being able to fully open due to the sheer quantity of mud inside it but I had a great time nonetheless. The climbs on the way out were as interesting as we had expected! I watched nervously as Rosie very incrementally shuffled up one of them, then did exactly the same (see the worm be the worm) and we were soon up the first pitch and out of of the cave into sunlight! I don't think I'm ever going to get used to post cave sun.
We met up with Chris and Ade at the car, making the latter fetch us things from the boot with his clean hands. A quick change and we were off to the NPC to move something I'm probably not supposed to write about. I would like to point out here that I have now been to the NPC TWICE but have never been inside. Once Ade had returned, we drove off into the sunset content with another successful cave.