Sleets Gill Cave
Saturday, 19 September 2009

The weather had been fine all week, so a quick trip down Sleets Gill was in order(I’ve wanted to do it for a while but have always been thwarted by the weather). The sky was becoming more overcast but still looked fine and no rain forecast so we decided it’d be okay.

The entrance slopes down an interesting inclined passage, (it almost seems artificial) into the start of the Main Gallery. Side passages were ignored and we made quick progress to Hydrophobia passage, which was apparently carrying less than half the water than on Si and Tom’s previous trip here (No there are not supposed to be low airspace ducks/ free-dives in this part). This time we easily pushed all the way through, glad to be finally submerged after the sweaty neoprene-clad approach.

The ramp is impressive but we didn’t climb this and carried on the the sump via a short deep duck. Since Tommy and Slim had both forgotten their goggles/mask I had a quick reccie through the free dive and back, as I didn’t want the others to get cold waiting for me to go to the end and back (at least I’ve something to go back for now). The dive is extremely pleasant, 4.5m long in a large passage with crystal clear water (on the way in anyway). I found rolling partially onto my back to be the most efficient way of pulling along the line, whilst being able to enjoy the dive – this stops your helmet scraping on the roof and is easier to see where you are going. Definitely the nicest, clearest and least desperate of free dives I have done in the dales.

I popped back through but couldn’t persuade the others to pop through for a look for some reason (I’m sure excuses from the relevant parties will follow as comments at the end of this rant).
Then back down to the start of Hypothermia. This is best done after reading the description yourself and not just relying on a patchy memorised version from Slim (“you turn right, then right or left I can’t remember, but you definitely go one of these”). So predictably we soon turned right into some degenerating flat out crawl becoming lower and passing various cobble filled constrictions. This didn’t seem right especially as it appeared to now be an inlet. Doh! I eventually managed to find somewhere to turn round and struggled back out. At this point the team suffered a massive blobbage from the other team members who had suddenly lost their appetite for hypothermia passage, and refused to come back in once I confirmed the proper way on is to stay in the “large” water filled passage. Tommys hands were cold and I think Slimmy needed to escort him in case some emergency arose on the way out that required the use of fiddly fingers.

So I headed back down Hypothermia and the others agreed to meet me at the bottom connector (after kindly digging out any flood debris for me). The passage is flat out and full of cold running water for the most part. The first 150m or so is flat out, but with enough water for it to be quite floaty (well with the buoyancy of two wetsuits anyway). I did the majority of the passage with helmet off, this wasn’t too bad with as the neoprene hood stopped me banging my head too much.

I did suffer a few moments of paranoia when I convinced myself at one point that it was flooding and another when I thought I had broken my light, with these lovely thoughts to accompany me I didn’t stick around to enjoy the view and am probably considerably more bruised due to my haste here. The passage is quite rough, with sections of milled floors under the water that really seem to snagg and restrict movement when trying to hurry. Eventually the passage changed character and when I stopped I could hear the others through what was the bottom connector after approx 25mins? of crawling/shivering/spluttering.

Glad to be out of the cold and wet we headed back to the surface where the weather didn’t look so great – though still no rain. Excititing stuff – makes a nice quiet break from getting fire-bombed in glasgow.

Defo not a place to be with even a faint wisp of rain around.

NB. 2 wetsuits + no vaseline +long wet crawl = very sore neck


Hang on a minute:

” This is best done after reading the description yourself and not just relying on a patchy memorised version from Slim (“you turn right, then right or left I can’t remember, but you definitely go one of

You did read it! Anyway, we all know your sore neck was actually a wee rash 🙂

Simon Jepps
Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Wetsuit neck
Posted by: Noel Snape
Size: 80kb
Width: 600 pixels
Height: 450 pixels
Posted: 21 September 2009