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Rowter Hole - 14 Mar 2009

Saturday March 14th 2009

Members present: Chad B,  Chuck Holder,  George Bunyan,  Kevin Francis,  Thomas Blakey

Report by Kevin Francis

After not deciding on a plan on Friday night we thought we'd play it by ear on Saturday morning before choosing our trip. Unfortunately Chad and Blakey's ear didn't leave their beds until 11.30!!! And that was after one burst of the fire alarm (thanks Martyn!) and a loud game of bashing pots and pans. Blakey even tried to sneak back to bed when we weren't looking.

By twelve we were formulating plans and rejecting them again. By one we had eaten and got bags packed for Rowter Hole. My previous trip there had been uninspiring, but I was up for giving it another chance, especially given it was quite short! We knew we wanted to be back to meet the others at 7, so time was of the essence. We tried to walk an efficient route up there but somehow mucked up and ended up infront of Speedwell which meant only one thing, we'd have to go the longer route up Winnats Pass. This proved to be rather tricky as the wind was horrific and it made for slow progress. After hopping across a couple of fields the entrance appeared and Chuck rigged whilst we sheltered from the increasingly stronger gusts of wind. Blakey had another kip.

We bombed down the shaft, at about 67 metres it's a good distance and we split it nicely in the middle. Then began the exploration. First we headed down a slope into a dig with a rope going up it. George explored this but didn't find much. Then we went up the slope a little into an intriguing mined passage. This led to a large chamber with a roped climb that Chuck attacked. He found that the rope he has used to scale the climb was attached by a single, loose spit. He had a look at the passage but returned fairly quickly and gingerly climbed back down. We noted the stemples in the ceiling it the opposite direction to Chuck's climb and also the huge boulder that had been hanging above us. George explored a small scaffolded tunnel in the floor of this chamber.

We now headed back to the main chamber to look up the scree slope. The pitches were ahead but so was the hypothermia inlet, which seemed to be issuing a fair amount of water. I climbed this rope to hypothermia and traversed past to the start of another climb. I had no interest in heading into hypothermia today! George followed me on the traverse, but we decided against the climb (which was rigged on a rope labelled 50m) on account of the others being beneath the false floor below us and we had already seen that the place was loose. We retreated to where Chuck had rigged the bottom pitches. The others went down whilst I had a nap. They weren't long and Chad derigged. We shared some hot cross buns and headed out, Chuck first. George derigged the main pitch. I was second to last out and spent my time at the bottom looking at shot marks. It was very cold and blustery on top where Chuck had built himself a shelter. George was out relatively quickly, grumbling about tacklesacks. We all took different tasks to make sure the entrance was covered and the bags were packed as quickly as possible and were soon marching down Winnats Head back to the Chapel.

I got a lot more out of this trip then I had previously and I think it the main pitch was rigging entirely as a freehang this would prove to be a good Titan training trip - providing it isn't too windy when waiting on top! I read afterwards that the lowest (known) point of the cave is only 100m above the Assault Course section of Speedwell, which is quite intriguing...