Sunday, 5 May 2013
We were staying at the BPC hut at Brackenbottom for the bank holiday weekend. The Bradford were bottoming Penyghent on the Saturday and YUCPC had a permit for the Sunday so they agreed to leave the pothole rigged for us.
There wasnt too much concern about water levels as there was only light rain on Saturday morning and drizzle on Sunday morning. However, it later turned out that there had been a flood pulse in Kingsdale!
We kitted up and walked up the footpath to Penyghent, getting lots of funny looks from walkers, although we were probably better attired for the walk than some of the walkers were!
A few minutes were spent poking about in the wrong valley before finding the unremarkable scaffolded entrance to Penyghent Pot. This hardly gives the impression of a major cave system that was once the deepest in Britain.
I climbed down first and reached the crawl, armed with neoprene and a laminated photocopy from the Black Book. The water is very cold and the passage keeps turning so you dont know how much further you have to crawl. Eventually, Twin Falls pitch was reached and we abseiled between the waterfalls into a pool.
The stooping-height Easy Passage was next and we headed down here fairly quickly in order to minimise the strain on our backs. This relented and after the second pitch, a rope led through a bedding plane in the bottom of the left hand wall. This was the third pitch and was dry, indicating that water levels were not too high. The bottom of this pitch is next to the top of the fourth which descends through a large chamber. A big waterfall crashes down from the darkness above, sending a cold wind around the chamber. I waited for the others further up the alcove in which the pitch lands, away from the draught.
We walked across the chamber into the rift. All the rift pitches had been rigged by the BPC and a YSS rope was hanging down one of the climbs. These pitches are not the average P-bolted drops with traverse lines, Y hangs and rebelays. Instead, you tie your rope around a rock and throw it down the pitch. This is fine for the circumstances and this pothole is a reminder that caving competence is not the Sam Allshorne thing as SRT competence. The rift pitches are all free climbable and handlining the pitches is also an option. We made rapid progress down this rift, which aside from pitches, contains many climbs and traverses.
This rift ends at Pool Chamber and the way on is under a low arch. The stream continues to Boulder Chamber then to a stooping-height passage, passing the inactive Hunt Pot inlets on the right. There are many ribs of rock underwater along here and I steadied myself with a hand on the roof. We arrived at the top of Niagara. An easy climb to the left avoids the need for a rope but its still necessary to pass through the full force of the water at the bottom. This is fairly damp and must have been impressive when the Hunt Pot inlet was still flowing. Toby hurt himself here and everyone but Cat and I decided to wait here.
The final section is oppressive and had foam on the roof. Eventually we reached a deep pool which turned out to be the sump. We turned around and met up with the others.
Cat and Andy derigged on the way out. Ascending the rift pitches generally meant prussiking diagonally in a wet rift so I free climbed and handlined some. I wasnt finding this too strenuous and eventually we arrived at the bottom of the big pitch.
Unfortunately I found this pitch quite tiring. I hate prussiking anyway and this was less pleasant than usual. The rope was bouncing and the tackle bag was swinging. Easy Passage was actually a relief. More fun was to be had at the first pitch where I repeatedly swung under the waterfall issuing from the crawl. Fortunately Andy was on hand at the bottom to pull the rope away from the water. Thanks Andy!
All that was left now was the crawl. By this point I was well and truly knackered and crawling was less than comfortable. I found a suitable pace I could keep to and plodded on and on. This crawl is much easier on the way in! Eventually, Cat mentioned that she could smell fresh air. We climbed out of the entrance and Sophie proclaimed that she would never go there again. However, the pothole is an excellent way to clean your gear so I will definitely be back again.
We walked back to Brackenbottom and straight away I had a beer put into my hand. Thanks Maz! We got changed and soon were eating in the kitchen while complaining about various aches and pains. The traditional Penyghent knees was experienced by all but Penyghent elbows and Penyghent back, amongst others, were also mentioned.
Penyghent Pot definitely deserves its reputation as the finest stream pot in the country. I look forward to returning.
Many thanks to the others for a great trip!
Back for more in June? What about the extensions, haha? And then up Penyghent afterwards? ^^
Friday, 17 May 2013