Alpha Strike Team – Lost Johns’ to Death’s Head
Saturday, 7 February 2015

This is the de-brief report of Alpha Strike Team, aka. the guys capable of being sentient before midday.

Having decided, the night before, to terminate my trip with the rest of the students, and tag along with Noel and Holly on the early-morning rigging trip down Centipede, I awoke at 7am for a prompt 8:20 escape from Leeds. Due the incomparable efficiency of Holly, we were in Cowan Bridge before 10am to meet with the rest of the “more mature cavers and were on Leck fell by quarter past.

With minimal pissery we equipped and sorted groups, however everyone decided they would have a dig at me for some part or other of my kit. Many things along the lines of “your oversuit is the wrong shade of blue, “why do you have a new old Croll?, “Why is everything clean?!. Once we become bored of picking holes in my kit, we headed underground and were well on our way along the upper streamway by 11, with Noel and I placing bets on whether the rest of the students were even out of bed yet. I was surprisingly fresh after Fab caf the night before, but apparently, Nat, Mike and Rob were not.

We made speedy progress down Hammer, Mud and Centipede with zero trouble. The passage leading down to the beginning of Battleaxe was exceedingly enjoyable with some nice little pitches and interesting traversy bits. Holly decided to take on the challenge of rigging Battleaxe and Valhalla, while the rest of us waited and I reflected on some genuine and welcome criticism: my cowstails were tied rather shitely.

Battleaxe traverse turned out to be a very nice, if awkward rising traverse over a huge drop. Our two groups switched with impeccable timing at groundsheet junction, pausing briefly to discuss routes and freezing water.

Pushing futher down we met the Leck Fell mastercave streamway, following it upwards winds towards the sumps, and downstream (the way we pursued at incredible pace) gradually passes through deeper and deeper puddles and lower and lower ceilings until we were finally bent-double with our faces in chest-height water. Apparently it was freezing, so the mocking of the neo-fleece combo ceased.

Hopping up an in-situ line out of the trench and following a couple of short crawls, we encountered a slightly questionable scaffolded boulder slope and a very *interesting* Notts 2 style scaffold climb up to the bottom of Death Shed shaft.

Deaths Head is blatantly a popular base-jumping site for unfortunate rodents, so we happily left the unstable floor and prussiked up the 60m shaft. Preceding up the final, slimy section lands you next to the tree at the edge of the sinkhole. By turning a blind eye to the hilarious 3-way, cross-loaded Krab used to rig to the tree, one doesnt fear for their life too much. I was met by Sweeny at the top, and waited for the others to ascend before heading back to the van.

I must say, its very unnerving being expelled from a cave into full daylight.
With it being only 4 by the time wed finished faffing and de-kitting, and the other students only being spotted heading underground around 2, we felt it imperative to catch up on our Inglerip quota for the weekend, so we planned to head down and have a late lunch before everyone headed off.

I got back up to Leck fell just in time to catch Rob, Nat and Brendan trying to unstick the car from the bog, after getting a haul from Rowan in Agent Orange, we went for food (again) in Ingleton and were back in Leeds for a civilised 9pm. Brendan, as usual, doing an excellent job of ignoring the extremely helpful back-seat driving from the rest of us.
Overall, an extremely slick, sporting trip. Lost Johns definitely lives up to expectations as an excellent SRT cave and one of my favourites so far.
Also a huge thanks to Holly for NOT reciting “Yellow by Coldplay all day.

Comments

Dan please get in touch about purchasing publication my details are on the members address list.
Sam Allshorn
Sam Allshorn
Tuesday, 10 February 2015
I wrote a song; I wrote a song for you.
And it was all……..
Lyndon Easterbrook
Friday, 13 February 2015