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Caving Trip Logs

Large Pot - NCHECC 2020

Date - 08/03/2020 Present: Laura (NUCC), Wassil (CUCC) (Author) Large Pot round trip The Sunday is usually a lot slower than the Saturday and people are a lot less keen to go caving. Being over-motivated, I not only wanted to go caving, I wanted to go on a “super keen trip” [sic, my own words]. I asked Botch if he knew of anyone doing a trip fulfilling these criteria. I was promptly directed towards Laura from Nottingham, who would cave in Large Pot. Once we arrived at the cave and parked, I realised I had forgotten my oversuit in the BPF changing room. Luckily Laura had someone else’s oversuit that she was willing to lend me. As we were walking up the hill, we started jokingly suggesting that we should just set up the survival shelter Laura had brought, drink tea and then go back and tell everyone we had done the cave. Once we reached the entrance, we realised how ironic the name “Large Pot” actually is. Not only is the cave not a pot, it is tiny as well, almost comparable with Quaking, but with an added bonus, that Large Pot has SRT that needs to be done. Very surprisingly, someone had already rigged Large Pot and had been unreasonable enough to actually do this trip. One particular feature of the cave was that near the entrance the rock was quite sharp and rough. I was at the front of the two person party dong all of the rigging. I had done some rigging before, my first experience being at the Hillwalking SRT training. The first pitch was quite alright, as it’s diameter was a whole meter, which will seem luxurious in comparison with the subsequent pitch. The second pitch starts quite abruptly after a very tight squeeze, because of which, the rope needs to be attached before the squeeze starts. This meant that I was squeezing through a passage barely larger than me, feet first, while having to also pull the rope through my stop. While in there, I could actually hear the echo produced by the pitch, while not being able to see the chamber producing it. That was kind of scary, because it sounded as if there would be a pitch as big as Titan just around the corner. Another slight inconvenience was that the torch I was using started flickering. The only reasonable solution to the problem, I found, was to bang the battery pack against the rock. After much miserable squeezing, I finally reached the pitch, rigged it, and then tried to abseil. The only problem was that the pitch was actually smaller than me. I relaxed my butt and bones and pushed myself through the vertical squeeze. The attentive reader might have noticed that such a squeeze might become a problem on the way out. It turned out hat the rope that had been rigged had actually been left by the Imperial College Caving Club, after they had to leave in a hurry a month ago. It still remains in there to this day. We had planned 5 hours of caving, and the first and second pitch had already cost us 2 hours, so it was almost time to turn around. As I had rigged the cave, it was Laura’s task to de-rig it. I went up the Colossus pitch and reached the very tight bit that had already caused me some trouble on the way in. As I was going up the rope, the passage started getting tighter and tighter. That is when I realised that I had oriented myself in such a way that the rope was attached behind my back. This meant that I was getting constricted by the rope as I was going up the pitch. Upon realising that, it was already too late, the pitch had become so small that it was physically impossible to turn around. I was then forced to go down the pitch, while not really being able to reach any of the three jammers that were designed to only allow me to go up the rope. After a strenuous 20 minutes, I had succeeded in removing my pantin and had gone down the rope by a meter. I turned around and went up again. This time was still painful, but I got past the squeeze. From here on, it was all a breeze in comparison. Laura was following closely behind me and we were out of the cave by the hour. As we were walking back, hail started to fall, to which Laura exclaimed: “This isn’t even type 2 fun, this is just shit”.

-- Wassil Janssen, March 19, 2020. Category: Caving

Referenced in the following trips: NCHECC 2020 in Yorkshire (Bullpot Farm) [2020-03-06]

Brendan's Distater Trip - NCHECC 2020

Date - 07/03/2020 Present: Brendan (ULSA) (Trip Leader), Olly (SUSS), Ben T, Wassil (CUCC) (Author), Niall (QUB), Max, Ethan (SUSS), Amber, Bronte, Pauline (YUCPC), Yen (ULSA) Lancaster to Wretched Rabbit This trip was born out of Brendan's desire to organise a disaster trip by having as many people as possible going from Lancaster to Wretched Rabbit. In the end, he managed to convince 10 other people that this was actually a good idea. Very unsurprisingly, the abseil into Lancaster Hole, while being only "0.5% of the trip" (Brendan's own words) took a whole hour. Once everyone had descended into Lancaster, Brendan revealed his true motives for this trip, to which Pauline responded that nothing would be able to kill her enthusiasm for caving. She still didn't know this, but she would be proven wrong. The most enjoyable part of the trip was in the Main Drain, which comes just after Fall Pot. The smooth stone along the underwater streamway made the entire passage look like a really long slide. The end of the stream way was marked by a boulder choke, which unsurprisingly took the whole group only 30 minutes to pass. This is where the general enthusiasm started to fade, as we were all wet and cold and had to wait for everyone to pass the boulder choke. After this there was some more mild wading through the Main Drain which ended in us getting lost. Rather than admitting that he was lost, Brendan preferred to pretend that the loop we were doing was "brand new cave that we had never seen before, and most certainly not 5 minutes ago". Luckily another group of cavers happened to cross our path and told us that the way was actually "that really obvious passage on the left hand side". Soon after we passed the minarets, which was very confusing since there is a very similar passage in OFD, South Wales. It was soon after we had done "65% of the trip, in arbitrary units or cave miles" [sic, Brendan] that we meet the A-team composed of Rob Watson, Emmott, and Botch. This of course led to some banter between Botch, Rob and Brendan, who was happily reporting how much of a disaster this trip had been and how the next disaster movie would borrow its plot from this caving trip. The faff was promptly interrupted by Emmott who was having none of that "boys banter". Seeing in this happy encounter a way to satisfy my inner desire to be more like Radost (Tom Crossley's and David Walker's opinion) and to recoup the lost fun I joined Rob, Botch and Emmott. Ben T (family name remains unknown to this day) decided to do the same. After all of these additions the brilliant A-team had become a mere B-team. Our first act with the new team was to go into a side passage ending in a big hole in the ground, which, in Rob's words, would be annoying to climb around. As we were sat there, Rob discovered a ledge/ridge (was it actually a ledge or something else?), which made him really happy. He then spent the next five minutes saying "I am so glad I discovered that ledge. Its perfectly sized for human usage. I'd don't know why, but it just makes me so happy." In the end we had Emmott pose next to the ledge and I took some pictures. We turned around and caught up with the group that was going to be the basis for the plot of Sanctum 2, i.e. Brendan's disaster group. After seeing how amazingly fast we were, Niall decided to join us too. From here on, everything started going very quickly, because the pace was being set by Botch and Rob (who caves at twice the speed of light, according to David). We reached Eureka Junction in no time and made our way up through Wretched Rabbit. This was to be the first time I had actually been exhausted in a cave because of the sheer speed at which we were moving. Rob Watson was basically running through passages that us mortals had to crawl or crab-walk through. The only sign of Rob's mortality was shown when he missed a turn and went the wrong way. This mistake was blamed on his nose, because we were all just following his nose after all. Upon exiting Wretched Rabbit two very surprising events took place. The first was that it was still daytime and the second was that we were not greeted by snowstorm or some equally unpleasant weather condition. After having all exited the cave, we started making our way to Bullpot Farm, but there was to be a small detour by Cow Bubs, the water basin after the waterfall. Rob, Botch, Emmott and me got naked, jumped into the basin, swam around and got out. Ben T (still haven't figured out his family name) took it a step further and jumped in with his whole gear. I still wonder how he didn't die of hypothermia. We all got dressed and made our way to Bullpot Farm.

-- Wassil Janssen, March 10, 2020. Category: Caving

Referenced in the following trips: NCHECC 2020 in Yorkshire (Bullpot Farm) [2020-03-06]


NCHECC Caving Report It was emphatically one of the best weekends I’ve had all term - both fun and memorable in more ways than I expected. NCHECC, a summit for caving clubs mostly in the Northern regions of the United Kingdom, was something I’d been looking forward to for a couple weeks already; I’d heard there was so much socializing to be had, and definitely exciting caving to be done! Right upon arrival, I found myself sucked right in - I immediately bumped into Chloe Goodman, an ex-member of CUCC whom I’d befriended from earlier trips. I was introduced to her circle of fellow cavers, and it wasn’t long before I was making new friends over drinks. People were playing drinking games, chatting, playing music, and there was just generally a very relaxed atmosphere. It was a refreshing change from the high-octane high- pressure student life in Cambridge. Though there was no caving to be had that night, it was a good ease-in to the days to come. The next day started off as a logistical rollercoaster; Cambridge’s Caving Club got split up, with each of our four members wanting to go on different trips. I myself wanted to explore caves with a slight technical slant, but successively got denied from each trip I wanted to go on - I simply didn’t have the SRT proficiency required. It was a little demoralising, but eventually I found a group of cavers that was willing to take me in. I formed a group with Leo, Carrie and Pete, from Sheffield, Nottingham and Belfast, all new faces to me. They were super nice and incredibly patient with me - they helped me recall how to set up my SRT kit, and even changed the cave we were going to when they learned I was uncomfortable with SRT. We set right off for the Bullpot of the Witches Cave, just a couple minutes’ walk from the Bullpot Farmhouse. It was an impressive view - a magnificent waterfall cascading down into the ground below, like something straight out of a movie. The entrance, made of limestone and caked in mud, beckoned us into the depths. It took 15 minutes, but slowly I was getting back into the rhythm of clambering over obstacles, finding my feet over uneven cave ground, not slipping… it was just like playing Tomb Raider, except in real life! I managed some intimidating drops, some crawling through cramped quarters, clambering up rocks bigger than me… it was great! And my caving team was excellent; Leo had a real witty snark and was good at keeping pace for us. There were parts of the cave that were real grim though, I remember reaching out to grab a rock for support, only to find that the “rock” was in fact a toad the size of my palm! There were parts of the cave where we had to shimmy 45 degrees along a mud wall, my face less than a centimetre away from the mud. There was so much upper body exertion just to move along - it was great full-body exercise. I spent a good 2-3 hours in that cave, and it was a fantastic run; I’d made new friends and really enjoyed the challenge. I returned to the caving hut to rest up for the impending drinking later that night. It turned out that I’d returned earlier than most other teams, so I busied myself helping with the cleaning and cooking for dinner. When I’d finished, I grabbed some tea and sank into a chair. Just then, some of the York University Cave and Pothole Club members, whom I’d been introduced to last night, came back from their caving trip. I was back into socialising - we were sharing our caving experiences, and reminiscing about older caving trips. It was a real good catch-up After dinner, I retired to the car; I was dead beat. I was just about to doze off when I was awoken by lights. I opened the door, not quite sure who to expect. It was Chloe - she’d organized a spur-of-the-moment evening caving trip and came to get me. It was so exciting; it felt like a real nighttime adventure, the kind you’d read about in Enid Blyton stories. Without any other cavers, and with a mid-sized team of experienced cavers, we set off with minimal faff. There were 5 of us: Jack(trip leader), Corin, Adelaide, Chloe and myself. We were off to Bullpot of the Witches, but via a different route from before. We also brought cider, which we stashed away at the cave entrance. It was real dark outside, and just as slippy as before. This time, we came from a different entrance, one that required SRT to descend. Owing to my lack of proficiency, however, I had the privilege of being lowered down the hole by Jack, attached only by a set of cows’ tails. It was great. We began the scramble over rocks, and the familiar thrill of adventure, of the unknown, coursed through my veins. It was always the spontaneous trips that were the best. It was good bonding time too - I spent time chatting with Jack, and at some point the talk turned educational. We began talking about how stalactites and stalagmites form, and why some are bigger than others. We also looked round for really cool fossils, like crinoid ossicles(granny’s toenails as Jack calls them). But the best part was all the way at the end. We crawled, shimmied, clambered, fell, until we finally climbed out over a pile of rocks, into Bennett’s Chamber. It was a massive hall-like space in the cave, with beautiful limestone formations. Our voices echoed off the chamber walls. I gasped in awe at how beautiful it was. The sight alone, made the entire trip worth it. It was time to head back. I led the way in some parts, maybe because Jack felt I was less experienced than the other cavers, and in that sense I was encouraged to find my own way. At first they made provisions for me, but as it turned out, I managed to handle the obstacles decently on my own. I felt my climbing ability progressing even within the span of that one trip. On our way back out through the SRT bit, Adelaide, Corin, Jack and Chloe made their way out first, while I climbed out attached to the rope. For the most part, I used the ledges and friction against my back for support. It was an exciting challenge. Jack even taught me some derigging once I’d made it out. It was a really beautiful trip. In many ways, it not only brought new experiences, but also reminded me of old ones - caving with good company and just enjoying the moment. I returned feeling a great satisfaction in my heart. It made all the past 7 weekends of working away non-stop, worth it. If Chloe hadn’t organized this trip, I doubt NCHECC would have been as enjoyable for me as it was. I was so happy. After showering, we played drinking games. It was fun for a bit, before we moved onto simply chatting. I had an amazing night, and we had so much to discuss. I only turned in at 5 am, which was a first for me. The next day was a day of rest. I made a trip down to Ingleton, then said my goodbyes to the people I’d bonded with. It was time to go home. NCHECC was without question one of the true highlights of the caving and term calendar. Would definitely recommend! - Zac

-- Zac Yee, March 10, 2020. Category: Caving

Referenced in the following trips: NCHECC 2020 in Yorkshire (Bullpot Farm) [2020-03-06]


SRT training - Having signed up for SRT training, I was at first a bit apprehensive of it, having been to a previous session and seeing how skillful people were there, climbing the ropes so quickly and masterfully. However, thankfully at CHECC, the three of us who signed up for the workshop were more or less novices, making it much less daunting. Adding to that, the instructors were all extremely helpful, approachable and most of all, patient (I did feel bad for my own instructor, who had to deal with a complete novice). Everyone was enthusiastic and motivated to learn or teach more, making it a very pleasant and welcoming environment to learn in. Overall, it was a very fun and enjoyable first experience, and though my first attempts may not have been very impressive, the end result did feel extremely rewarding, with the satisfaction of looking down from the top of the rope and, great moves! Keep it up. Proud of you (to myself) Photography workshop - The workshop, led by Brandon and Ben from Leeds, consisted of cavers- photography enthusiasts who wanted to take the best pictures possible underground. We set off to Yordas cave, accompanied by a puppy, passing through the beautiful landscape of Yorkshire, though in the cave, most of us were not appropriately dressed in terms of footwear: with a stream flowing through and icy water covering pretty much the whole floor of the cave, coming up to our ankles, combined with most of us in boots or did make for very cold feet. The workshop in itself was fascinating: we learned the different angles to use for the flash(es) and techniques to follow to take the best photos we could with our gear, with Brandon showing us how to get cheap but resistant equipment (since expensive ones can be hard to replace if damaged by water or other caving-related incidents) and quality pictures (with the changes in angles of the flash to reflect off of the walls or prevent them from burning on the picture, as well as creating a "misty/foggy" background to make people stand out in pictures, using a flash behind the subject, as well as finding the best positions and poses to make the photos look more spectacular and interesting in terms of comoposition). The pictures we took came out very well (in my, ahem, *humble* opinion) and the skills we learned were very valuable and effective to take better pictures in such a tricky and dark environment to work in, making our miserable, wet socks and muddy shoes filled with freezing water all worth it (the adorable sheep next to the cave were also a welcome added bonus) - Sarah

-- Sarah Lee, March 10, 2020. Category: Caving

Referenced in the following trips: NCHECC 2020 in Yorkshire (Bullpot Farm) [2020-03-06]

Hillwaking Joint Weekend - Bullpot Farm

Author Linus Gerdes - He came to Yorkshire with the hillwalking club, but decided to come underground with the caving club. Route: We entered County Pot and exited from Wretched Rabbit, passing by places such as Poetic Justice. Cavers: Tom Crossley, David Walker, Paul Fox, Ahu Aydin, Marta Grzelak, Naunehal Matharu, Linus Gerdes (author), Juliette Lee, Ross Thomas, Molly Sheldrick, and Wassil Janssen. As an avid hillwalker myself, I couldn’t resist the temptation of a joint trip with the cavers to embark on my first ever proper caving trip. I’ve only ever been in commercialized, well lit up caves before this trip, so I was keen to experience something new. The trip started in the epicenter of Yorkshire Dales caving, Bullpot Farm. The evening before saw the hillwalkers and the cavers drinking together around a cozy fireplace, and I was filled with excitement from the glorious pictures of cavers on the wall (time would show the glory does not reveal itself in the cave, but rather afterwards). As the hillwalkers went to bed to catch an early morning, the cavers revealed a wooden frame called the ‘squeeze machine’. The aim of this game was to squeeze through the wooden frame, which would get narrower after every round. Only thanks to the much welcomed and needed support from Wassil (“Just relax your butt”,”Just relax your bones”, ”Just relax your pants”) people went to their limits trying to beat the record of 16cm (6.3 inches for the English among us). The next morning Ross, Molly and I (3 caving hillwalkers) got out of bed early to see some of the Yorkshire Dales from the top. It only then came to me that cavers sleep long because they don’t require sunlight anyway. Finally, people rose from their beds around 10:30am and had the legendary caving breakfast at around 11:30am, and we got ready and geared up. As there were many novices amongst us, the gearing up part took much longer than expected and we only got ready by 2pm. After a surprisingly beautiful hike in the Dales we arrived at the entrance to the cave. The first descent was a 5 meter downward climb and gave me a rush of adrenaline. Little did I know that only 8 hours later I would emerge from just around the corner in a snow blizzard welcoming us back in the world. The next few hours saw the group squeezing through narrow alleyways, scrambling over boulder rocks and the first abseiling. Spirits were at an all-time high as we still had dry feet. We bounced around waterfalls and even skidded down a path that very much reminded me of going down a waterslide. I am also sure that there were multiple duplicates of Tom in the cave as one moment he was in front of me and a moment later appearing from a tight slid next to me I did not even consider possible to get through. I thought to myself, he was probably born and raised in a cave. Inevitably, the honeymoon phase had to end at some point as the first tight squeeze requiring a crawl flat on the stomach seemed to be the only path ahead. Luckily, I remembered Wassil’s words of wisdom and by relaxing my bones, butt and pants the squeeze was over quickly. My earlier decision to take a bag with water bottles turned out to be rather poor as I had to push the bag in front of me to fit through. After everyone passed the short but intense squeeze, we continued down a small archway, slowly moving forward with our hands and knees in the ice cold water. At this point, the inside of my shoes were already soaking wet. Being a hillwalker in the UK usually results in a high tolerance to being completely soaked, so this situation I luckily wasn’t unfamiliar with. We reached our halfway mark and our lowest point which was a river below the actual overground river we’ve hiked past before. From this point on we ascended up, with every step getting us closer to the exit as my mind wandered to the spicy hot fajitas awaiting me in the bunkhouse. Unfortunately, my caving ration of cereal bars were already consumed in a sugar rush after the squeeze. Furthermore, I also completely lost the sense of time so it came as a surprise when I found out it was already 6pm and that we would be back at 9pm only. The way up revealed some more beautiful cave formations and fun, windy alleyways. This was actually my favourite part of the trip and I felt the rush that I usually only ever get when I’m outside on the mountaintops. After an exciting last climbing session we reached the exit of the cave and hiked back the now not-so-beautiful way to Bullpot Farm. Though Molly and Ahu who were with me not quite enjoyed the hike as much as I did, my inner ‘arctic explorer’ carried me home. Once we arrived at the bunkhouse, a warm shower, Tom’s custom-brewed tea and the spicy Fajitas raised the spirits and we ended up drinking until the early morning with surprise guests from Kent.

-- Linus Gerdes, March 9, 2020. Category: Caving

Referenced in the following trips: CUHWC Joint Trip in Yorkshire (Bullpot Farm) [2020-02-28]