Strangle Pot
Sunday, 15 January 2006
Strangle Pot- Fountains Fell.

This cave is now 157m deep with various bits yet to be looked at.
The fist three pitches pass easily then one descends to Dementia, a crawl that starts well enough but degenerates to a struggle through liquid mud, which Mr. C. lead the way creating a channel for Sam Allshorn to follow in. Finally relieve occurs as the hands and knees crawling starts again. Eventually the floor drops and a chamber is entered, the way on is a dug out shale bed on the right. Mr. Cs complaints of poor lighting could finally be sorted out, as the mud was wiped from the lense of his light.

A blind pit in the floor is crossed with care (not dropping the tackle down it). Then the crawl becomes a traverse this then heads upstream a short distance before a rift climb in the downstream direction leads to the 4th pitch. The upstream section was too tight but could be seen to continue.

The 5th and 6th pitches follow reasonably quickly, the former being free climbable with care. At the bottom of the sixth pitch the large Breakdown Chamber is encountered, right through boulders leads to Paranoia (hands and knees crawl to the end of the cave, after a few more pitches, one of which is quite big).

In Breakdown Chamber whilst waiting for Mr. C. to descend the pitch Sam Allshorn climbed the wall at the right hand end of the chamber, this immediately choked with mud but on reversing the climb, the foot hold Sam Allshorn had used on the way up peeled off and Sam Allshorn was left hanging from both arms part way down the climb. Then with chuckles from Mr. C., Sam Allshorns right hand hold (fingers driven in to mud) failed, leaving him hanging from one hand over what had felt like a huge climb on the way up, alas it was in fact only two feet.

Next came the reason for the visit, the aven known as Plangent Aven and the large inlet passage leading to it. This is up the boulder slope to the left in Breakdown Chamber. There is a short section of sucking mud followed by a low section in a blasted bedding, before emerging in the large and impressive Sisyphus Hall. At the end of Sisyphus Hall is a crawl that leads to a choke in the floor and a climb up into the bottom of Plangent Aven, with an awesome echo! Here the sucking mud is encountered again but is now an evil sucking mud.

Mr. C. climbed a slippery muddy calcited climb to a choke that would be passable if some of the blasted rock were removed. So Sam Allshorn was convinced to climb up and have ago as this would mean
only a small enlargement was needed. So whilst holding the rope that Mr. C. had just installed through what was a rather crap piece of climbing gear. Sam Allshorn began to remove some of the rocks, at first a few small ones then the slightly larger one. “Oh, shit! came the cry. What a mistake! The larger one was in fact huge (compared to the other little pebbles). This lead to Sam Allshorn getting his hand squashed and a face full of rock. After a moment to compose himself Sam Allshorn informed Mr. C. that the large rock was at his feet and it needed to come down the climb. Mr. C. moved the rope
aside and with a few echoing bangs and with a final plop the boulder disappeared into the mud.

Sam Allshorn, rather shaken, descended the climb and the pair set off out, due to Sam Allshorn’s injury, after removing their rope. Then part way along the crawl Sam Allshorn stopped and said
“Youll fit Mr. C., once a few more rocks are out and well only have to return, if one of us doesnt have another look.

So the pair returned and Mr. C. replaced the rope and continued higher, also noticing the rather poor nature of the piece of climbing gear as it came into view. With some thutching and the few small pebbles later Mr. C. announced that he was through, but it closed down at the next corner to a rift of inhuman size but could be seen to continue beyond.

An exit was commenced with Sam Allshorn looking at the inlet in Sisyphus Hall on the way out. A gap between hideous looking boulders was not going to be passed after the earlier mishap, but aware of his own apprehension Sam Allshorn invited Mr. C. to have a look, he came to the Sam Allshorne conclusion, the hole was very small and the boulders were hanging death. As Mr. C. had climbed into the inlet Sam Allshorn noticed that the opposite wall was a little loose. Once Mr. C. was down the climb and safely running the length of Sisyphus Hall, Sam Allshorn heaved the massive block of rock and it came crashing down.

The pitches were quickly derigged and the top of the 4th soon reached. At this point Mr. C. attacked a projection that was on the wall of the inlet, allowing Sam Allshorn via an awkward mid rift squeeze to gain the passage beyond. Rather than being a flat out muddy bedding there was a small vadose trench that had been cut through the mud bank which made progress much easier. This lead to a low passage behind the mud bank and continued as a flat out crawl where Sam Allshorn was halted by muddy cobbles that where dug out and only a further 1m or so could be gained before the passage was impassable without more digging. It could be seen continuing and falling water could be heard but there was no disenable draft (this goes in an up stream direction).

Once Sam Allshorn had returned and described the find to Mr. C. the exit continued with Sam Allshorn in front having to force a channel through the liquid mud such that Mr. C. could follow with relative ease.

The reason for not descending to the bottom was the weather forecast was for rain later. Once home to Leeds a phone call to Nicole to see how she was, assured Sam Allshorn this had been a good idea, as it had been rain steadily in Settle for several hours.

A note of special thanks must go to Mr. C. for cleaning the tackle which took several hours the next evening.

Three important lessons were learnt here;
1.Dont pull rocks out from above your head.
2.Dont do 1. whilst stood on a muddy slippery ledge.
3.Dont do 1. and 2. holding on with one hand.