Langcliffe Pot Via Oddmire to New Fearnought Choke
Sunday, 17 February 2008

Mike suggested this trip on Wednesday or Thursday and what a corker!

We’d all been to Boireau Falls chamber before and with settled cold weather it was perfect. We set off poorly disguised as walkers and arrived at the entrance to find the slab frozen firmly in place. This resulted in Mike urinating on said slab but not having released it from the frozen grip of the fell made working conditions a little unpleasant. After numerous failed attempts a sling and rope was applied and the blocked pulled in all directions. Finally in gave way and we were in. The ledge at the pitch head was icy and a so I was tied to Mike for protection. After kicking some rock down the shaft the icy water dripping down the shaft had cooled me off somewhat. Simon and Mike followed one at a time. Two hours of steady caving had us in Boireau Falls chamber. Half a large pork pie and some photos later it was pointed out to Mike that it was a caving not a photographic trip.

I descended first into the choke with Mike following, a few boulders were noted as being in the way with Mikes help pulling on my legs I managed to identify the offending block. This squeeze into the stream is awkward and tight and a lot easier for the shorter legged people. So here the two in excess of 6 foot stepped aside to allow the relative midget space to work after much swearing and some concerned expresses the rock was removed and Simon wanted to check that he could get out again. More swearing saw Simon mange to get head and shoulders out and was happy. More swearing as Simon got back down into the stream way. A bag was passed to Simon and Mike followed with the remaining bags passed on. Nemesis Pitch was rigged and with the way on looking rather aquatic an on your back duck. Simon went first and climbed over the large block to find the way on. Before Mike came through I set about breaking down the blockage that created the duck some cursing from the other side of the block indicated that Simon was down the hole where the water went as the dam was broken. I then climbed over the block to join the white faced Simon. The descriptions care of NFTFH was deployed and faultless route finding followed. With care and without changes in the choke it is possible to pass this choke with this description without having to poke your head into numerous loose chambers. There were one or two places where small cobbles had to be pulled out from the bottom of pools to make squeezes more pleasant and avoid that drowning sensation that occurs as your forced face down into a pool of water as you pass a squeeze.

Now I have heard much rant ranted about this boulder choke and this can be quite off putting and has had an alarmingly disquieting affect on me. I was expecting to be squeezing between boulders that were on the move and you had to be quick or the hole would close up or the showers of falling boulders would hit you. This is somewhat wrong. There are awkward holes that tend to be tougher on the way out its true, its loose, wet and very hazardous but it not nearly as disturbing as I had expected. Admittedly the description that NFTFH provides enables faultless route finding and probably without it my view would be different. The large block that is held up with a bottle jack (its more that it stops it twisting and sliding than holds it up) was passed and the large stream way lower down was reached.

Here Mike decanted the photographic gear to find the flash gun was not operable, to the relief of the photographic subjects. The Sacred Way was followed passed shameful amounts of rubbish strewn across the passage but there does appear to be an active camp there or at least a shelf that the flood waters don’t reach. One of the containers was opened to find what the most rancid smelling rotten food. Mike not realising what the fuss was about moved forward to be confronted by the noxious odour and then spent a moment or too gagging. The traverses in the rift before the Agora was reached provided some entertainment as large holes at the bottom were somewhat unexpected. Mike photographed, without the flash gun, the pretties at the end of the Agora. Some fine stream passage followed and the Dementor Sump was noted on the right. Simon not wanting to miss out climbed into it to be photographed. The final choke was reached and we sat and ate. Mike consumed chocolate. I had the other half of the pork pie and Simon tucked into soggy Break Away bars finding that a Morrisons carrier bag isn’t that water proof!

It was about here that Simon commented that he was feeling tied, not surprising considering he’d been to Halcination Aven the day before but unfortunately the violin hadn’t been packed and the comments received little sympathy as the journey home was started. To his credit there wasn’t any noticeable change in the pace between the three of us on the way out. The small reflective markers cunningly placed by Mike and removed on the way out allowed the Nemesis choke to be reversed almost flawlessly. The duck was now just a crawl in water but the pitch was still 20m. Simon headed out first and was surprised to be joined at the top so quickly by the rest of the party. The last awkward section remained the two squeezes. Simon went first and the bags were hauled out then the two taller members of the party had to bend unnaturally to exit. This involved a helmet off face scrape over past a grit-stone block. Once I was through Mike followed and we were both forced to do it differently to Simon due to our leg length. Mikes head appeared at the bottom of the climb and nearly filled the passageway. With Simon above I then spent sometime struggling out the final squeeze and Mike followed demonstrating an easier method.

Much banter followed as the three progressed out and considered the final slog, Boireau Falls to Oddmire just the entrance series, or it was at least until the start of Strid Passage with its seemingly endless ninety degree turns and water convinced us this was the entrance series proper. An ascent up a thickly iced rope to a clear starry night followed. Simon was nearly changed out off his now gritty wet suit by the time Mike reached the surface. Mike was belayed to me to protect the slippery exit. Rapid packing of tackle and much foot stamping saw us set off too high along the bench initially. With thankfully gloved/covered hands and wet feet a brisk pace was set by the longer legged of the group and Simons trip the day before finally took it’s toll as he trudged along behind.
What a corker of a trip, there lies many interesting side passages that need another look at the far end but with it being 11hours in and out exploration add quite a bit to this.
Interestingly a bat was encountered about half way along the Kilneys Boulder Crawl heading down stream.

Comments

Hi Sam Allshorn,

We (me and a load of other people in ULSA) did a trip to look at the holes under the traverse to the Agora in 1983 (nothing went – and I’ve just twigged it was 25 years ago!) and two trips in 1987 and
another in 1990 to look at all the ‘interesting holes’ and climbs beyond the Nemesis choke (nothing went). These trips were all 8 -12 hour in and out trips.

Subsequently, the Sam Allshorne ground was recovered by people (not including me) camping in the cave (and nothing went). Presumably the detritus you found is from these camps.

Phil Howson and ‘Barmy’ Brian Judd then dived Poseidon Sump a couple of times (and this didn’t go either).

Good luck!

All the best

AndyT

PS Good to see people caving in wetsuits even if they aren’t using good old stinkies too!

Andy Tharratt

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Hi Andy your right we’re likely to knock out quite a bit of time in the future as we know the way know. Mike and I were both wearing neofleeces, the best bits of wetsuit, giving you a warm body whilst
being able to use your arms and legs. and not being quite so “gritty”.

Sam Allshorn

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Images
Boireau Falls Chamber
Posted by: Mike Bottomley
Size: 40kb
Width: 568 pixels
Height: 426 pixels
Posted: 18 February 2008
Below boireau falls choke
Posted by: Mike Bottomley
Size: 70kb
Width: 568 pixels
Height: 426 pixels
Posted: 18 February 2008
Nemesis pitch
Posted by: Mike Bottomley
Size: 86kb
Width: 568 pixels
Height: 426 pixels
Posted: 18 February 2008
Formations beyond Agora
Posted by: Mike Bottomley
Size: 71kb
Width: 568 pixels
Height: 426 pixels
Posted: 18 February 2008
Simon IN dementor sump
Posted by: Mike Bottomley
Size: 69kb
Width: 426 pixels
Height: 568 pixels
Posted: 18 February 2008