Sleets Gill Cave
Friday, 26 September 2008

Excellent trip into Sleets Gill taking in some of the more ‘esoteric’ parts of the cave. After much faff, finally got underground at around 3.30pm. Once in the main gallery, the bottom connector was located and followed to Hyperthermia passage to make sure it was open. After establishing that it was, headed back into the main gallery and followed this superb tunnel to the end. Just before this, a slot under the left wall led to the start of Hydrophobia passage…..wet as always, but a hell of a lot more comfortable than my last trip up here, when wearing a furry, I nearly froze to death. Brrrrr!!! No, this time I made sure I was well coated with neoprene.

Soon up this, and through the maze to the ’68 series sump. A pleasant 4.5m free-dive in a very spacious passage led to a fine tunnel. A low airspace duck just before the end led to more crawling and another section of tunnel which was choked in all directions. Could be an interesting dig though! Then headed back through the sump to Hydrophobia, via the ramp, which I went part-way up to have a look. Hydrophobia was, like last time, easier on the return as you are carried through by the water.
Once through this, I followed the stream to the start of Hyperthermia passage where I dumped my bag before setting off through this fairly unpleasant gem of a passage. In fairness, in no place is it particularly difficult, but you are sumberged in pretty cold water for a fair while and so muchos neoprene is essential. It starts off easily enough as pleasant floating in deep water. After a fork, it becomes a mixture of crawling/floating flat-out, helmet off, head on one side for around 150m. The passage is constantly changing direction, and its hard not to bang your head or numbed limbs on the roof or irregular floor.

After this it gets a little bigger, so you can get most of your body out of the water, and there is a mixture of hands and knees and flat out crawling for a fair while. The only other obstacle is a squeeze past some blocks. Arriving at a narrow chamber, it was nice to stand up and get out of the water completely for a minute or two….but the coldness soon set back in and I continued on. Soon later, the passage improved to stooping height and was quite pleasant. It then lowered again, and i came to the junction with the bottom connector. Continuing on, the sump was soon reached and I retraced back to the bottom connector, headed back to get my bag via the main gallery, and then headed out reaching the surface at around 7ish.
Excellent little trip! As suspected, Hyperthermia passage has very little of interest but was still fun when trussed up in enough neoprene to fight off the cold. The upstream stuff past the sump (a pleasant free-dive) was well worth a visit, even if there isn’t much there.

Good stuff!


Much respect to Mr Brook for his 3hr solo surveying of Hyperthermia passage. God that must have been grim….

Mike Bottomley

Sunday, 28 September 2008