Gaping Gill via Stream Passage Pot/Bar Pot - Ann Soulsby
Stream Passage Pot: Jess Stirrups, Vicky Baily, Ann Soulsby
Bar Pot / Small Mammal: Alex Crow, Roberta Pavone, Simon Jackson, Luke Brownbridge, Phil Wolstenholme, Alastair Gott, Mike Topsom & Francesca
It was an epic trip all round. I felt pressured on the walk up as I couldn’t keep up with Jess and Vicky. This was made even worse when we ascended the steepest part of the hill only to find the farmer chasing us to tell us we had gone the wrong way. He made us go back down and walk through a gate which said ‘No right of Way!’ The other group actually caught us up which was just as well because we needed a watch.
Once in the cave I felt a bit better – for a short while! The entrance was the awkward exit that I remembered from de-rigging a few years ago. It was actually a lot easier going down but it took a bit of thought. All went well until we reached the extremely long deviation. I saw Vicky struggling like mad trying to reach it. I am pleased I watched her as she gave me some tips for getting across. Until I tried it myself I thought that she must have gone too far down however when I got there I realised what the problem was. It took me ages and I used every bit of equipment that I had. I really thought that I would end up going back up but the thought of that entrance pitch swayed it. The devi was eventually tackled by adding an extra krab into the system. In hindsight I should have added extra length with a sling. Apparently that is what the group exiting that way did. It appears that there are some extra devis on naturals that should have been rigged a bit higher up.
Once at the bottom I realised that I was caving with two whippets. Unfortunately two whippets who continually took the wrong turning. At one bit we were wading knee deep in mud that sucked off our wellies. I got stuck so many times and got so exhausted that I half crawled half swam over the mud. At least that was past….. Wrong! Jess eventually realised that we had took a wrong turning – we did see some amazing pretties but we also had to back track across the mud. This time I didn’t even try to walk….
Not long after this the mud monsters came across Phil, Luke, Alastair, Mike and Francesca who were on the way to exit via Stream Passage. They were most amused at the sight of us. After a few more wrong turns and crawls we eventually saw the rope hanging down from Bar Pot. Jess went up first followed by me and leaving Vicky to de-rig. I got to the top to find Jess cursing that the alternative route had been rigged so she was unsure of the way. She went off to recce while I waited for Vicky who was having trouble with the maillons, due to us all been caked in mud. In a surprising turn of events Alex reached me, pointed the way out and went to help Vicky. Jess was waiting at the top of the greasy slab. She told me to go out as she was going to exit and de-rig Small Mammal with Alex.
I reached Roberta and Simon at the top who were getting rather cold. I told them to come further back into the cave while we waited for Vicky to de-rig. Some of the Stream Passage group arrived and we sent them off down the hill. Jess then arrived and was getting cold so Vicky agreed to wait for Alex while we set off down the hill. Back at the hut Kevin had made an amazing curry and following this we sat chatting in the library with a super warm log burner and drinks. I decided to pass on the Sunday trip in favour of having a relaxing day and getting the mud-covered gear washed. I came to Yorkshire for the clean caving and ended up looking worse than I do coming out of Longcliffe!.