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Aquamole Pot - 06 Dec 2008

Saturday December 6th 2008

Members present: Alexander Stelfox,  Mark Sims,  Matt Gosling,  Max Spicer,  Thomas Blakey

Report by Alexander Stelfox

Well, first off, this is the first trip report I've written so if it's a load of shite, just bear with me. Anyways, the caving:

Very little faff was had getting our stuff out of the container, though foolishly I grabbed an undersuit with a hole in the ass, again. The journey there was efficient, and we were at Bernies and eating breakfast before we knew it. Max then grabbed the last Rack from the shop, leaving me with no option but to journey next doors to get one, where I bought the last one from that shop.

Now with even more stuff to pack into the car, my footwell was filled and the back seats gained a bag, and visibility backwards was now non-existant. We guessed the way to the cave and somehow ended up in the right place along an icy road somewhere. Once changed (which was really pleasant with the snowy scenery and the warm sun) we headed off up a hill which Matt G insisted killed freshers, but once at the top, he was clearly the one suffering the most. After a short delay for a snowball fight, we found the cave entrance with two sets of rope rigged already, so Matt began rigging beneath the ropes and vanished down the shaft, followed by Mark, then Max, the me, and Tom brought up the rear.

Once in, it was clear how good this cave was going to be, some narrowish sections of abseil led to a nice, long(ish) pitch down to a small cavern where we found a Durham team. We passed them and continued down a really cool winding section of passage, with walking sections, crawling sections and some really good bits where you had to crawl on one side of your body. Once out it was Tom's turn to rig a pitch, so the order changed a bit, which led to me and Matt G discovering cave cheese. Which is not as edible and feta-like as it appears. We also discovered that the rock's we'd climbed onto to allow the remaining Durham people to pass, were none too secure and a large chunk came off in my hands, after that I kept a bit more still until we could continue.
Once down the next pitch there was another bit of a crawl before the final epic pitch, which was rigged (including all 3 deviations) by Mark. At the top of the prelude pitch I discovered that by standing in a certain place, I could wet Max who was on a ledge just before the Y-hang which started the epic pitch. Though this soon turned to a bad discovery as once I was down, Matt G did the same, but I foolishly looked up and got an eyefull of water. The actual last pitch was breathtaking, right out into a huge cavern, complete with waterfall, once you were past the deviations, it was one huge straight line to ab down. All you could see at the bottom were the shimmers of people's head lights, and looking up you could see nothing, mainly because of the spray from the waterfall. The abseil was beautiful and the cavern at the end was well worth the effort of getting down there.

We now witnessed the sump, which I was told connected to somewhere, and saw a continuation of the cave at the other side of the pool, but not feeling like a swim, I opted to not venture there. Matt G hd insisted he would earlier in the cave, but chickened out when it came down to it. Owing to a cold or some other excuse.

On the way up we split into 2 teams, team 1 to go back to the car and change to allow an earlier leave when team 2 got out, after they de-rigged. Matt G and Mark were the de-riggers and the rest of us proceeded to ascend the huge pitch. I'll say at this point that it seemed quite a lot shorter on the way down, but it was still great fun upwards. There was some slight confusion and delay once we reached the second waterfall pitch as to which rope we were meant to be on, but once the tangle was sorted out, all was well again.

We were out much faster than it took us to get down, and we were greeted by sub-zero temperatures and some random people asking whether the sump was free diveable, it in no way is. We now ventured back to the car for another pleasant change, as there was no wind, the low temperatures really didn't matter that much. You can tell it's a low grade change when people take time to sort out the metal work before putting dry clothes on.
We now waited quite a while for team 2 to emerge, so decided it would be a good idea to turn the car around. Not realising we were stuck. But, after a bit of wheel spinning action, we melted our way free and naffed off down the road to find a place to turn around. We ended up pretty far away, and we assumed that the others would be out of the cave and worried as to where we'd gone, this was not true. We returned to another wait, then finally saw two headlights marching down the hill.

Matt turned up looking really pleased with himself, having de-rigged the main pitch (which must have been great fun), and started to tell us about some kind of crazy science he was doing, but we were getting hungry so pressured him into changing faster.

Once done, we departed, all very satisfied, warm and hungry so called in at Skipton for some food before a speedy journey back to campus.

All in all, an epic trip.