Titan Streamway - Phil Wolstenholme

Saturday, 23 February, 2013

Present: MIckey Campbell, Christine Wilson, Lisa Wootton, Phil Wolstenholme + Dave, Laurence and Jack from Notts Uni and Cara Allison from halfway up.

This trip was one half of a two-parter, which I'll leave to the others to describe, but many, many people descended Titan in good time on Satruday morning - we were the first party down and made the first cascade in just 40 minutes from surface, which is pretty good. Only Lisa had ever visited before, so we were mostly in the dark about routes, but luckily most of it came good in the end. The cascades were tackled with my 'super stemple', which I made last year from half a hickory pickaxe handle with etriers attached - jammed across the spout of the cascade, it makes for an easy climb up, with no damage to the rock whatsoever. It also floats! After negotiating those far more successfully than last year, we then meandered into the bedding-plane crawl where the route was less obvious, but Lisa eventually found the right turn and handline climb that takes you to the vertical squeezes.

After that, the scaffolded boulder choke was easily passed, and we entered what I believe is the large Absolution chamber, with the fixed rope in place. Whilst the Notts lads climbed that, we four had a look at the small ascending streamway at right which ultimately (according to Rob Eavis) does lead to a traverse to the pitch head, although it was apparently too tight or sumped - as I was at the back of the queue I couldn't really see much so had to take their word for it. The rope pitch leads up to Frozen in Time - a magnificent fossil stream passage with superb decorations throughout. The Notts lads had just been up there, so we went in as they descended the pitch.

The first half of the passage is walking/stooping height and descends to crawling and then flat out at one point - carefully threading yourself through all the stalactites without breaking any is interesting, to say the least. Turning round at the end is even more fun, especially when there's plenty of you! But as far as we could tell, no damage was done, and some beautful sights seen.

At the pitch head, nearly everyone's Stop gates were found to be jammed, and couldn't be opened, which lead to some cursing and banging and dunking in tiny puddles to get the micro-grit out. After a safe descent of that we made our way back to the main shaft. Reaching the waterfall, it was obvious the other party were just finishing their descent to the bottom, with Martyn in his usual haunt at the Event Horizon cajoling and/or abusing cavers, depending who it was! Mickey got some loud 'encouragement' on his return traverse. A spectacular view was had from the top of the waterfall with everyone's lights illuminating much more of Titan than I've seen before.

A change of plan was then hatched, with Lisa, Christine and the Notts lads deciding to do the full descent, and exit via Peak with the other party. I, having an idea the Far Sump/JH connection may be nasty (two inches of airspace, apparently!) opted to return back up Titan with Mickey. Cara had climbed back up from the Titan base, and was on the her way back up the top pitch, so I followed her and then Mickey, Martyn and Ann followed me. Cara elected to wait for Ann at the window so I bombed ahead up the entrance shaft.

It was starting to snow when I got back out, so pretty much ran back to the car in my emergency blanket/superhero cape to get changed as fast as possible. Fabulous trip, and thanks to everyone for a great day out.