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Rumbling Hole - 21st Feb 2009

Saturday February 21st 2009

Members present: Gary Douthwaite,  Mark Sims,  Matt Gosling,  Matt Ewles,  Thomas Blakey

Report by Matt Gosling

Throw a rope, step up and dare; to taste the magic hanging there!

During a misty morning on a landscape swept with soul and crimson heather we ploughed down the hillside following an indecisive meandering stream towards the cave. The poor visibility brought on by the morning haze masked anything more distant than a few hundred feet giving the feeling that we were quite isolated and had left the mundane, stumbling into a place that means so much more. A sprawling Yew tree graces the boundary to the underworld here, yawning over the edge of a giant shaft that plunges into the belly of the earth. Gary decided to put in the rope work and proceeded to tie and weave it into position by first attaching to a fence post and then belaying off the bottom of the Yew tree. He then disappeared out of sight to rig beyond the edge prompting the rest of us to follow. To access the Y-hang for the main descent here you need to traverse out around the side of the pothole bridging your feet between the outcroppings of a small rocky ledge and then abseil down to a very exposed under-hanging rebelay. This was one of the most exhilarating rebelays I have ever done and does require a certain amount of bottle and composure. A spectacular abseil then takes place. It is well worth stopping for brief moments whilst descending this pitch to look around and just appreciate how beautiful this rumbling giant is and to breathe and feel the atmosphere. At the bottom of the main hang an exciting traverse out along a wall accesses a smaller pitch with a tricky deviation with some lovely SRT that requires some attention to detail. The cave continues into the darkness through a series of parallel rifts that eventually lead to a textbook descent into a small chamber marking the bottom of the cave. Around the corner from the top of the final pitch is a totally pristine and very interesting formation that consists of interwoven curtains and a large stal. In the bottom chamber a small constricted passage wanders around a corner to a sump that apparently leads into a neighbouring cave, however this looked like a very tricky passage to follow so we decided to head out. By all accounts returning to the surface was done in a very fast and efficient manner with a crack team of keen cavers. Prussicing back up the entrance shaft was just as fantastic as I expected and it is certainly this section of the cave that provides the highlights of any trip to Rumbling Hole. Tom and I were so inspired by the trip that we talked about philosophy all the way back to the car! Many thanks to everyone else on the team; this is definitely the caving highlight of my year so far!