Recent reports

Black Shiver Pot - 25th Jul 2009

Saturday July 25th 2009

Members present: Andrew Vick,  Catherine Moody,  Mark Sims

Report by Mark Sims

Having sampled the Christmas meal catering (again) the night before, the caving day started later than usual with us already in the Dales… the 8am alarm still felt early though! It somehow took us until well gone 9 to get to Bernies and several courses of breakfast later we had parked by the marshals setting up yet another 3 peaks walk. The sun came out and after an amazingly long time sorting out gear (I don’t think any of us quite knew how it took so long) we wandered up the path, quickly deciding against the planned en route Great Douk trip in favour of the sunshine :) After pacing out (amazingly accurately) the 450m from Meregill we found the entrance pretty quickly and decided it was time for some cake, the eating of which again proved to be a lengthy procedure!

Anyway, soon after one (oops!) we finally got underground into the entrance crawl which was taking a bit more water than the last time I visited – one of the less forgiving entrances around. The first couple of pitches were pretty damp and the whole lot needed rigging as rebelays to keep us out of the water. Sadly, though, I looked up at the wrong moment when Cat’s tackle sack swung round sending a tidal wave over me - so much for trying to stay dry! The p-hangers seemed oddly placed, being entirely on the right hand wall all the way down with not a Y-hang in sight, but I'm sure there was a good reason! Soon I was flailing around for the ledge at the bottom of Black Dub, wondering where on earth the way on was.

At this point I voted that Andy should take over the rigging, so he picked his way round the side and discovered the (slightly wet) crawl on. By the time me & Cat got down the next little pitch we found Andy heading out over the hugely impressive Black Rift and he was quickly on his way down towards the boulders. A bit of indistinguishable shouting followed by a more audible ‘rope free’ saw me abseiling towards Andy’s lights admiring how impressive the rift was.

The situation at the boulders was slightly odd, with plenty of spits around, but only one that looked good enough to rig off. A single deviation was out of the questions with a massive amount of rope rub above us. In the end we found another one and created a sort of semi-Y-hang with an extra sling backup that served it’s purpose to get us down to the very draughty bottom of the rift. A couple of p-hangers by the boulders would have been really handy!

Below the rift a short low section lead into crawling streamway until we reached the window at the top of the next pitch where the extensions are. We kept on descending though, going down the pitch and down a fantastic section of streamway, before reaching the 3m climb round the corner from the sump.

We were all pretty chilly & totally drenched so we had a quick turn around, with Andy rushing back to get up the big pitch early and Cat & I following sorting the derigging. The first few prussiks on the big pitch were a struggle before my 2 tacklesacks emptied their water, and derigging the improvised rigging half way was not exactly your standard stuff, but overall we were making good time at this point.

The Black Dub pitch head proved to be a lot harder on the way up, and as I was waiting in the bottom suddenly I saw a light flash past me into the water in front. I assumed it was one of Cat’s (awesome!) Fenix lights and there wasn’t much option but to get in the pool and do a bit of fishing! Annoyingly the light went out as it hit the water so I turned my lights up as much as I could and waved my helmet around under the water to try and see something. I had about as much chance using that tactic as having no lights at all so I gave that up and just wallowed around, feeling blindly for a torch. I found a fair bit of vintage metalwork during my brief swim, but was completely drenched so it wasn’t too long before I gave up the hunt. When I finally got off the top of the pitch I realised that it was actually the smaller light that had fallen down which was at least the cheapest light that could have gone!

The top couple of pitches went pretty quickly, but (again) I wasn’t impressed by all the single bolt hangs meaning all the knots were stupidly tight…or perhaps it was the amateur rigging… :s The entrance crawl wasn’t half so bad on the way out when we were already soaked, and it turned out that it was still lovely and sunny when we got back up the climb. What a marvellous day’s caving!