Good Friday in P8
Friday, 6 April 2012

I thought it would be great to celebrate Easter 2012 in style ‘ cavers style ‘ and organised a weekend in Castleton with Andrew from YUCPC and a few good friends from ULSA: Ruth, John and Kristian. It was the first time for me to be responsible for the organisation of a whole caving weekend from accommodation to transport and permits, and one of the lessons I learnt was that delegating is the best part of it. So I entrusted Andrew with the responsibility of organising survey maps of several caves (including back up plans for different weather conditions) and tackle from YUCPC.

On the morning of Good Friday I struggled walking the 100 yards from my house to the bus stop carrying not only my personal gear but also almost 100m of ropes, tackle bag and krabs. When Andrew and I finally sat in the train, we became increasingly aware of other passengers stares and puzzled faces when looking at our ropes. Gypsies? Bank robbers? We arrived at Leeds where Ruth picked us up with her car. Kristian was also there and made the drive to Castleton very entertaining with his random babbling. We arrived quite early at the TSG hut and had enough time to dump our luggage and do the food shopping for the weekend before picking up John at Hope station. After a massive second breakfast, we got ready to go caving: P8! A group of Craven cavers just came back from their trip in the afternoon when we were finally ready to go.

The drive to the cave took us more time than expected because Ruths tiny car is not exactly built for driving up steep mountains with tons of gear in the boot. We also needed some time finding a place to park the car given that there were walls of snow on both sides of the road. I was surprised by the amounts of snow in the Peaks! Because of the snow melt the entrance of P8 was a bit wet, but it was still safe to go caving. John taught Kristian, Andrew and me rigging ‘ we have done it before in sports halls, but rarely in real caves. Given that the pitch at Idiots Leap was a bit damp we decided to climb up and rig it with our ropes rather than free climbing it with the in situ rope. We had to wait around quite a while when Andrew was rigging the traverse around the waterfall. Due to the water levels it was difficult not to get soaked. I really enjoyed that bit, because I like wet and/ or muddy caves. I then took over to lead through the rest to rig the last pitch for which I had to hug a massive stalagmite in order to reach out for the P hangers. When we arrived at the bottom of the last pitch we only had enough time for Kristian to have his cigarillo and the others to eat, drink and rest a little bit, and then had to head out soon after. John suggested every rigger derig her/ his pitch for further practice, and again I hugged the stalagmite whilst unscrewing the maillons. On the way back we noticed a slight increase in water levels which made the pitch at Idiots Leap a little bit wetter. Watching Ruth getting totally drenched at the bottom of the pitch, I made up my mind and climbed the pitch far enough away from the water fall ‘ obviously being safely clipped into the rope with both jammers. That was enjoyable climbing practice. When we came out of the cave it was already dark and the wind was nastier than before. Andrew and I spotted a large bird that looked like it could have been an owl.

Back in the hut we had the traditional post-caving chili and a delicious crumble with custard. Tom 1 and Dave from SUSS joined us later in the evening and made Kristian do stupid things after he had a bit of wine A good start into the caving weekend!