GG Main Shaft – on ladders
Tuesday, 15 August 2006

As it had been a few years since main shaft was climbed on ladders during the winch meet, I suggested that we gave it another go. The winch meet, or rather, the members week (when it isn’t open to the public) is definitely the best time to do this.

Two others shared my insane views, and so on tuesday afternoon, the dust was shaken from 16 ladders and the 120m lifeline.
A belay was arranged on the gantry, and the ladders slowly lowered down the shaft. As I had never done anything like this before, me and Henry decided just to do an “ascent” of the shaft, while John (the hero) would do the descent as well.

After being winched down, a small alcoholic beverage was enjoyed and Henry went up first, and seemed to fly up the shaft. It certainly is a very impressive sight watching someone climb main shaft on ladders, but it also made me a little nervous…….The big pitch in Bar was the biggest I’d done before, at around 35m. GG main shaft is just a tad bigger at around 100m.
Soon later, the lifeline arrived at the bottom. Once attached and slack taken in, a quick exchange of words between me and the small team of lifeliners on the radio, and I was off.
What followed was a fantastic climb! The first 30m section was freehanging up to the roof of the main chamber. A short section very close to the wall then led up to just off birkbeck’s ledge, where a quick stop was had to allow someone on the chair (stopped opposite the ledge) to take a couple of piccies.

The top didn’t look that far from here, but in fact was still another 55m (approx) from here. Another very short stop was had about 20m from the top to stretch my poor arms and admire the amazing view.
I reached the top after a climb taking just over 8 minutes, and the next few minutes were spent drinking tea and trying to get feeling back into my arms and hands which had decided to die for a short amount of time!

Fantastic stuff! Photos to follow, when I get them!

In the vicinity of Birkbecks Ledge. Photo taken from chair, by Jeff Cowling (CPC)
Posted by: Mike Bottomley
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Posted: 16 November 2006