Providence to Dow Cave
Thursday, 8 January 2015
The idea of this trip was to be slick, with Mike optimistically wanting to be in a cave early doors. Providence Pot to Dow Cave requires no rigging and at stream level is fairly easy to navigate, lending itself to slickness. The black book says it is impossible to imagine that any genuine caver could be disappointed so the cave had a lot to live up to. Faff, breakfast in Grassington and arduous entrance-finding led us to begin descending about half one.
The cave began happily, with some awkward crawls through some cakey mud and then along the streamway to Stalagmite Corner, which is really rather pretty. Many boulder chokes and climbing bits were taken. Having decided that this was 800 Yards Chamber for the final time, we continued along with much sideways walking.
A lot of chimney-ing was to be had, resulting in myself being spectacularly stuck in a rift for a substantial period of time. With Mike and Nat below and further ahead, Brendan tried to assist me, by also getting jammed Like a hex in a tight crack. This action was apparently deliberate to, in his words, empathise having never been in this situation before. Empathy rods are no more! Due to the exasperating smooth nature of the rock, neither of us could get out without some assistance from below. Brendan, upon being freed, kicked me in the face, presumably to hinder me more so. This left me able to stand on an array of Mike and Nat to wiggle out, without any limb-amputations. Thanks to Mike for suggesting I unclipped my helmet to avoid strangulation.
We meandered between the upper traverse and lower stream way, where there were a few awkward climbs and large stepping business. With Nat somewhat through Esoteric Squeeze, an unhappy looking thing, and his helmet entrusted to Brendan, me and Mike took the upper traverse. Brendan came to the idea that the traverse was a better option, leaving Nats helmet the wrong side of the squeeze. This was to Nats upmost amusement.
The cave pottered out and led to six minutes of sideways walking through chest deep water; a phrase that had been haunting me since first reading the description. This turned out to be rather refreshing while Nat made some exclaimed remarks about his anatomy. The Narrows are aptly named, with myself fulfilling more opportunities to get stuck. When the water level lowered we basically followed the stream until something got in the way. Some challenging and exposed climbs followed, which were made tricky by tiredness and the cold. Gypsum traverse was a sign we were almost through and was rather pleasant.
The Temple was astoundingly pretty and unlike anything Id seen underground before. Dow cave was an enjoyable, easy potter through to complete the trip. It was a hugely challenging and diverse cave but well worth doing; probably my favourite cave so far. The trip did not fulfil its slick criteria but we made decent time, out in five hours. Although, it would be great to do in a wet suit, as understood from Brendans smug remarks, its not that cold.