Saturday, 11 January 2014
So here I was once again doing something I said to myself I would never do. And this time it was my suggestion! Knowing Noel really wanted to do Quaking and with our 30th birthdays coming up, I suggested that we might do Quaking as something to do before were 30. With the weather being as it was over December, we didnt get chance until now
We met up with Becka and Ian in Ingleton car park at 9am, where the five of us ‘ oh no wait ‘ sorry the FOUR of us ‘ packed the gear up. One of our team members had dropped out that morning as they were too hungover. Although this is a fairly common occurrence in ULSA, you’ll be shocked and deeply upset to know that this was our very own ULSA president!! Oh the shame!
Well having lost the only member of our team to have been to the bottom of the cave before (Becka had been to and through the crux 20 years ago) we were all a little nervous and packing the gear seemed to take longer than necessary. But soon we were on our way up Fell Lane, with Julian for company. We located the entrance fairly quickly, especially with the help of the NFTFH description and the OS map. We said our goodbyes to Julian and headed underground just before midday, each with a bag containing: the rope, rigging gear, food and water and a total of four descriptions! We also followed Sam Allshorns advice which was to wear extra layers as the cave is really cold and one is always in contact with the rock. This is the best advice we have had. The cave was very wet, which not only meant we got very wet, but also meant there was a strong cold draft blowing. I was wearing a furry and a rash vest, but wished I had put on another layer. Becka was wearing two furrys and a rash vest (plus a PVC oversuit where the rest of us were wearing cordura) and she still felt the cold.
We were also advised by Sam Allshorn to take it slow, not to rush and this we did! We slowly made our way to the bottom of the cave over 6 hours. We took our time over each obstacle and Noel considered the rigging carefully, in particular on the third pitch where Noel found that the suggested deviation would leave us in the spray of the waterfall. Instead he used a pinnacle of rock just below the ledge, which we had to be careful whilst passing as it could fall off. But it was tightly placed and provided a very good deviation.
On the way in, the crux was passed with surprising ease by all. We didn’t realise how soon the crux was in relation to the sky dive and coitus corner. I was at the back of the group and heard Noel suddenly proclaimed ‘I think I’ve gone through the crux… I think!?’ Not meaning to down play the crux, but we were all so worried about it that it was such a surprise when we came across it and it wasnt our worst nightmare! However a note here is we were all the perfect build for someone attempting this cave ‘ slim, narrow and short! Had we had a team member who was slightly bulkier and/or longer legged, then this would definitely be a different story.
The W-bends were much shorter than I imagined, but also much wetter. We took the fly over traverse, where the shallow pools were actually deep pools and one in fact, was practically a duck ‘ with our heads in the water.
But then there were only four pitches left. The last pitches are rather exciting with lots of boulders held up by each other/mud. We tried to ignore the hanging death and finally were in the walking passage and then down the last pitch into Gormenghast!! I looked at the boulder pile and decided that I didnt want to climb up it and ate my scotch egg instead. Then we made a plan for the de-rig and headed out.
Up until the crux, the exit was fairly uneventful except where Peachey managed to block us all in the W-bends with his tackle bag! Now we were at the crux. Noel decided he was going to try the crux by-pass (at stream level in the rift), which he managed! Although not sure hell attempt that again. He described it as the tightest thing hed ever done and there was one bit where his breathing was severely restricted. Nice! So with that in mind, the three of us went up and through the crux. For me this wasnt the greatest part of the trip. I was at the back and by the time all the bags had been ferried through the bypass and Ian and Becka had gone through, I was very very cold, and my mind was not in a good place. Also I was getting worried as I couldnt work out where to climb up. (I climbed up in the wrong place and found it a wee bit tight!) Noel came through the crux to find me and help me on my way. I climbed up into the higher level of the rift and then thought ‘ yes Im through! No I wasnt and my complacency here meant I got a wee bit stuck. Panic set in as I imagined sitting for hours and having to drag CRO out to come get me. Until I realised all I had to do was push myself upwards all of an inch and then I was through. (This all took place over the space of 3 minutes!) Feeling a wee embarrassed, but glad to be on the exit side of the crux, we continued with no more incident!
We reached the surface at 11:30pm, meaning that for a cave that is 570m long, we were caving at a speed of just under 100m/hr!
Its such a great feeling to get this trip done. I would recommend anyone who wants to do this trip to do the following:
Â¢ Practice awkward tight pitch heads and squeezes.
Â¢ Be fully cave fit! There aren’t many places where one can stand in the cave and therefore there is a lot of crawling, sliding, thrutching, etc with tackle pretty much all the time.
Â¢ Wear lots of clothing and I would also recommend not doing this trip in the winter.
Â¢ Take it slow!
This was our first attempt and we managed to get to the bottom, which were all really chuffed about and I would say that it was because we took all the advice given to us above and we were prepared.
And as a last note ‘ this was ace! Thanks team.
Nice one!!! 😀 You’re right about it being a chilly cave! Brrrr!
Holly……cant say I enjoyed being at the back either. Its pretty cold waiting and ferrying bags, and although didnt get stuck I did manage to drop my helmet and have to go back into the crux and spend 5mins or so lasso-ing it out with a sling! D’oh!!!!
A further note for your list……calling CRO is NOT allowed! 😉
Tuesday, 14 January 2014
As requested by Mike:
Calling CRO is not allowed, therefore advise carrying a tub of grease in case one gets stuck.
Tuesday, 14 January 2014