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Notts Pot - 07 Mar 2009

Saturday March 7th 2009

Members present: Adrian Turner,  Alexander Stelfox,  Anna Barnard,  Catherine Moody,  Chad B,  George Bunyan,  Laura Bennett,  Luke Brownbridge,  Mark Sims,  Matt Gosling,  Mike Rippon,  Natasha Durham,  Thomas Blakey

Report by Chad B

Really enjoyed Notts pot! Notts pot is often described as the most complex vertical maze in Britain, due to several routes to choose from. On this adventure Matt G led Alex, Mike, George and I through the centre route to the bottom of the cave, the bottom section being for me the best part of the cave system.

Finding the cave was an adventure in its self, we were told it was about half a mile from the road with George on the look out for a post with a yellow sticker on. Every hole we came across, the most prominent been that to Lost John was pondered over. Drizzle was in the air but the cave entrance was totally dry, I even commented to the others how dry the cave appeared at the entrance (how things changed nine hours later). The entrance pitch was relatively short and simple with a rebelay, following this was a crawl through a small hole to a free climb that had tat rope rigged to help us get down, useful as this had no obvious foot holds to talk of. Then it was another abseil to the main chamber, from where the cave diverges into three different routes, while Matt rigged the centre route the other teams were hot on our heels, who went down the left and right routes.

The first pitch of the centre route consisted of a Y-hang off a sling draped around a protrusion on the cave wall, Matt was convinced that there should have been a P-hanger off the roof to rig off but there wasn’t. This was followed by another two Y-hangs, all good fun. It was quite surreal hearing other voices coming from other teams in the cave, not really being able to tell if they were above or below us in respect to the routes they were on. The last pitch here leads you into the point where all three routes join, by the time I had got down all the member on the left hand route were down, not sure if any of the right hand team had got down at that point. Once Mike came down with the bad ass tackle sack containing ~ 130 m rope our team left the other and ventured off the underbelly of the cave.

Upon leaving the main chamber we came across the fist sign of a stream, we saw the duck where if you did the BT route you would emerge from, wouldn’t fancy that one. It looked like you would have to be totally submerged! From here it was a shuffle through a passage with a streamway below us; we seemed to have gone too far along. Matt shouted back ‘can anyone see any P-hangers. We all looked up and saw them, so we all had to shuffle back to the position of the first P-hanger and free climbed up it. What followed was quite a lengthy traverse, some of which was a little awkward with quite a sizable drop below. A lot of it was just trying to find a comfortable position until the next part of the traverse line became free. Then came a little bit of hold up with a little bit of debate between Matt and Alex as to the rigging and some possible P-hanger dodgyness. All seemed fine by the time I reached the pitch head. Another fine abseil, although I was getting the impression that this cave has a few points where rope rub could be an issue. The next bit of traverse involved a free climb in the centre of it. The last main pitch was awesome, respect to Matt for rigging this one, the Y-hang seemed to be miles away from ledge at the end of the traverse with a large drop below. My approach to this was to lean over put my hand jammer of the pitch rope, move my long cows tail into the knot, leaving my short cows tails on the traverse then load and lock off my rack and then to gingerly lower myself off the ledge. The abseil that followed was amazing, certainly my fastest abseil yet, although I didn’t realise the rock protrusion near the bottom of the pitch, which my backside went straight into lol! During the whole of the lower section all you could hear was water crashing at the bottom, and at the bottom of this pitch you could see the ferocity of the water going into the sump to Notts 2, quite a sight!

So it was prussic out time, as Mike and George were getting a little cold they went out first with Alex and Matt de-rigging, I was to wait in the main chamber and take the bad ass tackle sack back up the centre route. On the first pitch of the bottom section I was being so paranoid about rope rub; it was also a little constricted at top. Once I had the large tackle sack getting out of the centre route became my most difficult and intense caving experience to date. Also the cave had totally transformed by this point. There was water everywhere, an upside to this was having a nice cooling shower at the bottom of each pitch but it was amazing how different the cave was now. That tackle sack was not my friend, it was trying to get stuck every way possible, at the top of the 2nd Y-hang my hand jammer then decided it did not want to come off the rope. Then it was off out the entrance series, again plenty of water, it was a stream at the top of the bottom entrance pitch. The free climb section almost killed me lol! Thankfully there was an extra sling now rigged, a combination of using this, my hand jammer on the tat rope and the tackle sack as a foot hold finally saw me up this on I think on my third attempt. Then on getting out the cave it became clear the reason for the cave transformation, it was raining, hailing, wind, the works. Thankfully I had ropes to shank while waiting for Matt and Alex to come out. Once they were out it was a bracing walk in a dark, foggy hail storm lashing against my face back to the car. The change was my most horrific to date, no feeling in my hands whatsoever, I could feel the wind going through my bones, instantly my clothes were saturated with water, I was still shivering in bodrums.

A remarkable days caving with the bottom section being my highlight! :)