Cow Pot- Aardvark Country
Saturday, 9 February 2008

Having lost Si on his way to the dales the jolly duo set off. Tom was leading as he had the description. Sam Allshorn rigged the entrance pitch and sat at the bottom waiting for Tom. He arrived and SRT gear was packed away. Once having convinced Tom that it was very unlikely that hed been into Cow via this route the pair set off. Tom set off down the passage and climbed the loose 17m climb first with Sam Allshorn following. Tom set off along the narrow rift and quickly became apparent that the bags were going to get stuck and keep dropping into the rift. Tom bravely led on. After traversing at various heights Tom set off along what turned out to be the final section to the pitch head. Then there came some swearing as Tom had dropped his bag into the narrow rift below, so Tom dived head first after it. Then Tom started to squeak and timidly asked for some help as he was unable to move upwards and didnt want to go further downwards. With initial revolution at the site of Tom’s flailing legs where the view thankfully didn’t get worse as Tom had done the decent thing and worn pants to cover the now gaping corresponding hole between furry and oversuit, a sling was retrieved and Tom extracted himself from his predicament sweating and red faced. Then Tom tried various levels to get through the next bit of passage having left the bag. We were in fact close the pitch head and the bag would probably be retrievable from lower, if we could only get to the pitch head. Tom tried this way, then that to no avail.

Once Sam Allshorn had passed the squeeze, Tom followed reasonably easily the pair now sweating profusely due to the warming working set about rigging the pitch. The traverse proved reasonably easy for those with long legs and with long enough arms it was possible to reach round the corner and put in the hanger on the final bolt whilst clipped to the middle one. Then further antics ensued as each of the duo had to get off the rope into a tight bedding and remove SRT gear without dropping anything. Sam Allshorn checked the onward description with Tom whilst he was at the bolt and Tom read out after the bedding section “Just ahead, a small hole in the floor is a 5m deep, blind pit.

Not liking his head being forced to one side Sam Allshorn suggested to Tom that he may want to have his chin strap undone for the tight bedding and Sam Allshorn set off ahead as there was no space for Tom to pass and lead on. Sam Allshorn set off along the crawl with Tom following and once 2/3 along and grateful for not having to reverse the awkward corners came a call from Tom. “Sam Allshorn Ive dropped my helmet. Tom had progressed along the crawl and placed his bag over the offending hole, since his helmet didnt stay on without the chin strap done up Tom placed his helmet on top of the bag and then watched helplessly as his helmet slid off the bag into the unseen hole plunging Tom into instant darkness. Tom lay still while Sam Allshorn slowly reversed the awkward passage to illuminate the sorry scene. Sam Allshorn finally arrived and steps had to be made to ensure a light would be maintained between them. Sam Allshorn cut his spare lamp from its mounting and Tom shuffled back upward with it in his mouth. It became apparent that the helmet wasnt retrievable from below,a nd this was indeed the 5m deep blind pit. So it was either head out or retrieve it. Sam Allshorn managed after tieing a gate of a pear shaped krab open with the string from his whistle and tieing that to the end of a rope to start fishing. An initial premature success ended with the helmet clattering down again after being raised only a metre or two. The second lifting it came to the top of the shaft. With the light working and attached to Tom’s head Sam Allshorn just laughed at him. Tom desperatingly started trying to convince Sam Allshorn to never mention it again to anyone.

With all the gear awkwardly repacked and pair set off once again Sam Allshorn arrived in larger passage greatly relieved about standing up again. After a while Tom could be heard but didnt seem to be getting any closer. Sam Allshorn returned to find Tom at a corner pushing and saying “I cant get round”. Sam Allshorn pulled the bag out the way and provided some useless suggestions whilst Tom opted to remove his wellies and popped through, Sam Allshorn was stunded at never having witnessed such a farsictal art. The pair arrived in Burgess passage and reconsidered the options. Tom claiming the passage was tougher than Peterson. Neoprene had been bought to do both Maracibo and Woodhouse Way. With the effort it had taken to get this far the chilly period in Woodhouse Way digging out the ducks wasnt a prospect the pair wanted to commit to so the down stream sump was decided upon as a first port of call. Having returned to the entrance of Burgess Passage a discussion ensued and Maracibo wasnt ruled out. So the pair headed up the main drain admiring the destruction on the recent movements in the Stake Pot choke. The entrance to Maraicbo was easily found and Tom lead on. The ohing and ahing followed as the stunning formation grew and grew in population. Tom lead to the junction with the Apple Barrel where Sam Allshorn called him back to a junction that resulted in the pair climbing into the Apple Barrel and Sam Allshorn climbing the loose and sharp walls, thankfully without dislodging too much material. Then the pair figured out the way ahead where Tom had originally been heading and the final aven was at last reached and the pair could again stand up.

The return was reasonable uneventful apart from Toms return through Cow Pot at one stage Sam Allshorn managed to return to a wedged Tom trying to push the bag with his head as both hands were wedged at his shoulders. The removable of the bag allowed Tom to extract himself. And exit without even the consideration of welly removal. A fine team effort saw the duo on the surface reasonably quickly to a surprising warm night. Much banter followed as Tom tried to convince Sam Allshorn not to write a rant or mention the goings on of caving with Tom. Maybe this will help remind him what really happened down Cow Pot and then hell fix that horrible hole in his oversuit and furry as well!