Post NCHECC Easegill Wanderings
Sunday, 22 March 2015 – Tuesday, 24 March 2015

NCHECC was over for all except five hardy individuals who stayed out until Tuesday, those cavers being me, Mike, Sarah, George and Brendan. After a day of being indoors at the Bradford, Mike, Brendan and I fancied an evening trip and decided we would go and have a look at Cape Kennedy and the Fire Hydrant. After stir fry and some pre-caving beers, we set off for Lancaster at about 9. I got it rigged and soon we were down and off to Stake Pot. Getting this far did not take long, but it turns out that the Stake Pot series, especially around Brew Chamber, is more complicated than we anticipated and it took us around 3 and a half hours to get to Cape Kennedy. This was well worth it, however, as this is some of the most finely decorated passage in Easegill that Ive seen. We got out at about 3am, all quite tired but happy with a fine trip.

The next day we awoke at 1pm, sleeping patterns fully fucked. We decided after a bit that we should use our newfound knowledge of the Stake Pot series in attempting a decent sized Easegill adventure, and Pip to Wretched was the choice of entrance and exit. In case we had trouble route finding around Link Pot, we dropped a rope down that entrance for security before setting off. After finding the entrance to Pip, everything went very smoothly. We flew through Pip and were at the Hall of Ten by 7:30pm, very impressive given the 6pm start and experience level of the group (George and Sarah had never done something as technical as Pip before). The only moment of slight worry was when Sarah got her “stupid fucking womens hips jammed in the rift after the 5th pitch, but she stayed calm and freed herself with some encouragement from me and Mike.

After that, we headed on to Squid Junction, the Muddy Wallows proving a disappointment and the Wet Wallows living up to their name. Soon, we were in Hylton Hall and a whiff of dead sheep was in the air. We then headed on toward Echo Aven. Soon we encountered what we thought was a small rope climb, until we saw a traverse line going off and realised it was Echo Aven. I had taken off my SRT kit and put it in my bag, and on first inspection and with a jeering cry of “stop being wet from Mike, I was ready to do the abseil on an Italian hitch on my belt, having learnt how to correctly lock one off the day before. However, after Georges voice echoed loudly back “oh, theres a hanging rebelay, I wisely reconsidered and put my harness on. Fucking good job too, theres a deviation as well and the pitch is fucking massive! Do not take advice from Mike Butcher regarding being “wet.

Once down, we set off for the 88 foot pitch up into the Stake Pot series. I expected, given Tom and Emmas description of The Grind, a thoroughly shite bit of passage where route finding is difficult. Instead, it was piss easy crawling and easy route finding at the junctions if you have the black book description (left, right, right, left (the Grind junction), left (Sausage Junction and out of the Wormway), right, right to the 88 foot pitch). Not bad going! At the top of the pitch by 10pm roughly. Soon we were back at Stake Pot and into big stomping passage all the way along the Upper Traverse to Stop Pot (follow the polish). At the Minarets at about half 11. Out of Wretched Rabbit and on the surface by quarter past 1, with Sarah pretty knackered but still smiling like always. Me and Brendan stomped back to cook pasta bake, and we were in bed by 4am (again). An excellent trip, one of the best Ive done in the UK and with a great bunch. The full traverse beckons!