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Black Shiver Pot - 28 Apr 2007

Saturday April 28th 2007

Members present: Chris Ward,  Chuck Holder,  Kevin Francis,  Simon Herrod

Report by Chris Ward

Faffage started just after leaving the container (a rather efficient 20 minutes after arrival), when Kev realised he'd forgotten his contacts. Closed roads, heavy traffic, a stop at Sainsbury's for chocolate and batteries and the need to photocopy the description and survey (no laminated copies could be found!) conspired to give us a late start cavewards.

A plesant change and walk up to Meregill, followed by trying to work out which direction 235 degrees would be from the sun in order to find the entrance. Strolled about 450 metres, then dumped the tacklesacks, then split up to search for the entrance. Kev found it, a small free climb into what appears to be nothing, but which is in fact the incredibly crawly streamway entrance. Knee pads not optional. I was rigging, so I was first in, along the 50 or so metre crawl to the first pitch head, a 4m pitch followed by a 5m, with a slight constriction between which was great fun to rig. P hangers are few and far between, this cave seems to work almost entirely on one bolt wonders.

Another crawl to the second pitch head during which I lost my balance and slapped my right hand down onto a rock rather hard. My hands were so numb I did'nt feel anything, but as I looked at the rock I'd slapped I knew I'd cut myself. Spent a few minutes trying to work out how deep the cut was, washing the blood away to see into the wound. Being able to see the tendon in my little finger was a little disturbing, especially as I couldn't feel anything, but that was due to positioning of the cut rather than it's depth.

The second pitch is rather appropriately called Blood Pitch, which should be a y-hang if not for the laughably placed hangers. Rigged as a rather pointless rebelay, with an easily reached deviation half way down. Surprise surprise, but more crawling was required to get to the next pitch, Black Dub, which the guidebooks had all said led into an "ominous" or "foreboding" chamber. Not half.

Rigging was a bit of a problem due to the tightness of the passage at this point. After rigging the neccesary y-hang, had some trouble actually getting my weight onto the rope due to passage width. Strained away for a few minutes before suddenly popping through. Little did I know this was the work of the Spanner Gnomes, who'd clearly spent the time chewing through the equipment cord attatching said spanner to my harness. A simple short pitch into a sizeable chamber, completely covered by a still eerie pool of unknown depth. Rigging the hand line across this pool, I found out the exact depth of this pool... just above nipple level. Very, very cold. Freaky chamber, I found myself expecting all sorts of things to rise out of the still black water ranging from a corpse to Gollum-like creatures. Wandered round the chamber trying to find the way forward, with my head getting closer to water level with each sucessive circuit. Finally found the way on with my ear touching the water... yep, another crawl!

Reached Thunder pitch to find another single hanger, so rigged another one bolter with an anchor round a slinged flake. So very many figure 8 knots... crawled round to the left at the bottom of Thunder pitch into the Eagle's Nest, and eventually found the two hangers over Black rift. Tied off the rope, gazed down the abyss, and returned to the bottom of Thunder to have a quick natter about what to do next. Time was getting on, we were all cold, half way down this pitch we'd have to switch to bolt anchors, did we want to carry on? The matter was decided when we discovered the spanner had been lost. Though a knot pass would have been possible with judicious use of deviations, it would have increased the time to bottom and get back up the 70 metre pitch enough to push on our callout.

Exiting went well apart from my knee pads having slipped into my boots. Whenever I realised I needed them for a crawl, it was too constricted to pull them up. Got stuck for a few minutes again at the top of Black Dub, and some very bruised knees from all the crawling. Seeing daylight at the end of the final crawl was truly exhilarating.

EDIT: according to Inglesport's site, Black Shiver was only Eco hangered in January. We wouldn't have got very far with only 4 bolts! Oh yes, I guess I owe the club one adjustable wrench. Damn spanner gnomes ;@