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Peak Cavern - JH Over-Engine Mine - 12th Apr 2009

Sunday April 12th 2009

Members present: Imogen Shepherd,  Kevin Francis,  Matt Gosling

Report by Kevin Francis

The JH ropes had been put in the previous Friday and needed taking out. In need of a good trip we volunteered to remove them. A team was going down JH and out of Peak that day too, so timing was crucial to make sure we didn't meet them in Colostomy!

Can't remember much about the start of the trip, I think I was on auto pilot. I do remember reaching the Trenches and constantly lying to Gosling about how far we had left to crawl! I figured we needed to get through without stopping to make sure we beat the other group and the plan worked well. We popped out of Egnaro before seeing another soul. After cleaning off in the streamway we started looking for the connection to the main streamway, a bypass on the right hand side. After initially walking right past it we found it eventually and crawled through. In hindsight it was bloody obvious! We were splashing about when we heard the singing. Pleasantries were exchanged in the roomy passage before we carried onwards to the bung hole. I never look forward to the bung hole, but on this occasion there was no water coming down it at all. Sweet.

We marched through Speedwell, noting a few side passages on the way. I'm pretty sure there was some accidental splashing about at the Whirlpool. When we reached the boulder choke we stopped and used the facilities. Matt and I went a little further down the large open passage which wasn't the way on. I'm quite gutted we didn't go further up there. Instead we began the climbs and crawls up into JH. It was all easy going.

Once at the Leviathan Imogen shot up first. Matt derigged the bottom pitch. We went a slightly different route to normal, taking in the tearooms. I started derigging from this point onwards. The alternative route taken was slightly wetter, but it was good fun (if not a little odd initially traversing onto it) We took it very slowly up Bitch Pitch, knowing that a recent collapse had occurred. Happily nothing went wrong (except maybe the allocation of tacklesacks and haul cords!) As I was going up I found the knots used slightly trickier to deal with than normal, and noticed several unused p hangers.

The top of Bitch Pitch was slightly more exposed than normal, in that the rails you would normally stand on weren't there! Instead you have to balance on a couple of stemples (admittedly they had been partly drilled in) It was certainly no more worrying than some Yorkshire pitch heads I've done, but the collapse highlights the fact that JH when opened was never seen as a long term entrance to the Peak system. There were a couple of points along the Cart Gate when I noticed that this area wasn't quite as it should be. In my more cautious mode I started looking at the ceiling. This wasn't a good idea!

I had been left alone to derig, and eventually caught the others up at the bottom of the entrance pitch where they were slowly hauling bags. I wanted to get out and grab dinner, so called time on the hauling and instead prussicked up with a couple of bags. We were out fairly quickly, I remember timing myself up (but have no idea of the numbers now!) We shared duties on surface, unknotting and packing the final rope before walking back down Winnats Pass. We took longer to do the trip than expected, but that was down to our caution on Bitch Pitch. Great fun but I don't want to be heading back down JH in the near future though - four trips down there is perhaps enough - especially with Titan available now.