Hammer Pot new pitch
Friday, 2 January 2009

A return was made to Hammer Pot over the last week, Tom helped carry ropes in on 30/12/08 prior to Mike C and I going for a longer trip on 02/1/06. On the trip with Tom we rigged the pitches to the head of the fifth and headed out only a 4 hour trip, thanks tom it wouldn’t have been possible without you. An early start on Friday morning saw Mike and I set off across a very cold fell to the entrance. All went well although Mike had a cold and so had brought a second wetsuit to wear. This also meant the bags were very full and Mike had no space for drill related items. But he carried the new pitch rope. We made reasonable progress on the way in and I was a bit ahead at the start of the Incline Passage as Mike put on more clothes. So I went up and had a look at the crawl at the foot of one of the avens. Being warm made lying in the pools more pleasant and I pushed further forward than of the previous trip. I managed to look around the corner and the passage didnt enlarge so there was little point working here.

Mike joined me and we climbed up into our tiny hole. Here whilst I fired the first few holes Mike sat and waited. Then he did some chiselling and pulled his back. Mike waited patiently for 5 1/2 hours in total. More caps and one stuck drill bit followed by some “head first down the hole while you sit on my legs” drilling. Then more caps and the drop was enlarged enough for easier access. Then down the hole some hammering and baring removed most of the false floor and made entrance and more importantly exit from the passage a lot less desperate. All this rock was then rolled and thrown along the disgustingly muddy crawl to the head to the pitch were the first proper gauge of depth was achieved. And a lot of watery sounds returned!

Then Mike found a natural and I used the drill to place a couple of bolts and make the decent. A fine shaft of impressive proportions opened up below me I carefully looked to the walls for side passages and there appeared to be one up a steep mud slope. The floor of the shaft came into full view and the large undercut to one side creating great excitement. Then as I tried to get off the rope a boulder was spotted in the wateriness. An attempt was made to get off the rope but the water was found to be out of depth. So a good look around proved this to be a ledge wilderness. There was however a couple of promising looking low archways. But dressed as I was, I was only likely to sink. So a return is required in more neoprene to have a look at these possible leads. I prussiced back up the pitch to call to Mike for him to guess how big he thought it was, “6m came the answer, “Nope I says, “22m. With the last of the drill power two more holes were fired on the initial tight bit making this still larger.
The return journey was relatively slow with me stopping to have a good rest and loads of food and water before entering Stemple Rift, which given the state we were both in (Mike with his cold and pulled back and me being rather tired) went very well indeed.

The pitch was found to be 22m deep and the approach is challenging with an awkward hole to an awkward manoeuvre followed by a revolting low muddy tube that debouches directly on to the pitch head before landing in out of depth water. Work continues