Depth through thought

OUCC News 29th February 2012

Volume 22, Number 6

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Editor: Andrew Morgan

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Yorkshire - 10-12 February 2012 (Part 2, Sunday, County Pot to Wretched Rabbit)

Olaf Kahler

Tom and Juan decided not to go caving on Sunday, so it was only Tom, Tom, Ewa and Olaf left. Over breakfast, we nevertheless decided only to use the County part of our Cow Pot and County permit, hoping for a nice and slick Sunday trip with not too much gear to carry. We left most of the washing up for Tom and Juan, and while Tom, James and Emma got ready for another digging trip, Tom, Tom, Ewa and Olaf prepared for an easy, mostly horizontal, reduced SRT trip.

The walk across the fell was rather interesting that day with ice all over and some small patches of snow in between. After about half an hour, we reached the entrance hatch of County Pot and prepared to descend. Ladies first, Ewa was followed by Tom, then Olaf carrying the rope and Tom at the back. We shortly reached the only little pitch of the day, which Olaf rigged. Ewa then got his stop to abseil down, followed by Tom and Tom on Italian Hitches. We then hauled the stop up again and Olaf went down last. As planned, we left most of the metalware scattered at the bottom of the pitch.

Next was the short climb down into the Broadway at Oxford Circus. We all took different routes, and of course, the other route would have been easier for all of us. The next junction off the Broadway took us into a small streamway, that we followed downwards. When reaching the obvious spout into Spout Hall, we went back a few meters and then off to the left into a dry bypass passage. Not that there was much water in the cave, but Olaf decided rather not to get wet.

After searching for a while, we found a small arrow carved into one of the boulders, that pointed us right to the entrance of Manchester Bypass passage. Climbing up some boulders and crawling through a small hole, we emerged in Cono Chamber, where we sent Tom off to do Cono Crawl. Tom, Olaf and Ewa took the more sensible route up the iron ladder. But of course we had to wait for Tom at the top, who first had to take off his small dangle bag, then his helmet, as he was stuck halfway through the crawl.

After the rope climb out of Brown and Smelly Chamber, we sent Tom and Ewa ahead, then Olaf, and Tom at the back taking some photos. It was an awful lot of crawling, but we emerged in the Old English Chamber and eventually in the bigger bit of passage with the beautiful decorations all over. Always nice, and we all enjoyed that section. Turning sharp right, we took a short detour in the direction of Carrot Chamber. However, due to incompetence we only got to the first bit of nicely decorated passage, turned around there and didn't make it to the actual chamber.

We then took a quick look at Main Line Terminus and turned right into Stop Pot Passage. Lots of boulder hopping, climbing, sliding and some squeezing later, we arrived at the top of the next iron ladder. It was currently in use by another party of cavers doing a round trip from Wretched Rabbit. After the usual chatter, we parted ways with the four of us heading downslope into Stop Pot. The stream at the bottom was almost completely dry, and one could barely hear a trickle of water in the cobbles underneath.

As we planned on heading out of Wretched Rabbit, we took the short crawl with the two entrances leading into Four-Ways-Chamber, climbed across the boulder, down one of the holes and then turned upstream. It all looked rather different from the wet conditions one might usually expect in the little streamway. Still, taking a random combination of passages heading upstream, we got swiftly across the traverses, into the short bit of fossil passage, up underneath the carbide marks to the little waterfall. Climbing further up, we reached the other little waterfall with drinking water on our right. Shortly thereafter, we got to the hole into Spiral Staircase Passage.

As we were rather quick, had plenty of time left, and the conditions were dry, we decided to go down the Spiral Staircase Passage for a while. Emma had pointed out, that there are some pretties somewhere down there, and after a long bit of dry streamway, we found them, nicely taped off. Ewa and Olaf at the front also explored the passage a bit further, only to find a pitch in one of the branches. After getting bored of the other one, we returned to Tom and Tom, who were waiting for us at the pretties to take more photos.

Finally, we decided to go out of the cave. Back up the Spiral Staircase, we soon reached the fixed ropes at the entrance of Wretched Rabbit. The uppermost one, which is clearly the most difficult climb, posed a minor problem for some of us, but with the entrance just around the corner, we all managed nicely in the end. Bright daylight awaited us on the surface.

As there was no water around, we walked back downstream in the Beck, hopping from one boulder to the next, trying not to lose balance on the slippery green algae. We still had to derig County. We had stupidly left all of our stuff scattered at the bottom of the pitch, so Olaf had to go down, take on his SRT kit, pack the bags and derig the rope. Shortly thereafter, we all walked back across the fell to the farm.

Olaf continued his grand derigging tour at the SRT training tree, then we packed all of our stuff, cleaned the visitors bunk room and kitchen and tidied up all other bits and bobs. Next, we kind of sorted out the meet sheet, hut fees and financial stuff. While we were all busy, James got back from his digging trip with Emma and Tom - he hadn't fitted through the squeezes and turned around. Tom meanwhile packed his car and left home, while Tom and Tom collected the rest of our gear and food from all over the farm.

Eventually everything was back in the minivan, the farm was in an acceptably clean state, and we headed off. All ice on the roads had melted, thick patches of fog were the only minor problem left. Still, we had a slick and efficient trip back to Oxford. Altogether a nice weekend - Juan had his first scary SRT pitches and did well on them, Ewa refreshed her good memories of caving, Olaf improved his mental map of Easegill, and Tom, Tom and Tom enjoyed the great, jolly caves of Yorkshire.