King of the Hard Cavers (King Pot)
Friday, 29 July 2016

Prologue

No caving on the ULSA holiday and a walking to caving ratio of about 50:1 on the SUSS expedition, now was time to ease into some post injury caving. Turns out my injury was a near miss, fortunately I only exploded the end of my collar bone while leaving all the ligaments intact, so a little surgery and 12 weeks of healing was sufficient for a full recovery. Needless to say a less stupid jump may have ended in a more serious injury.

Planning Phase

Weather forecast checked – rain was due over the Yorkshire dales, I wanted a nice trip but all the good caves would be too wet.
In desperate search for inspiration, I cycled far away from Leeds to clear my head. Stopping on a hill near Leeds Bradford airport, to watch planes fly around near the runway, I thought long and hard about which cave to do the next day. Half an hour passed, still I had no idea what to do.

It wasn’t until the journey back that I remembered something, King Pot! ULSA’s arch nemesis was a perfect wet weather trip (so long as we didn’t do the last pitch*), I quickly got out my phone to tell Luke and a plan was hatched to conquer King Pot in the rain.

King Pot intro

The next day we attempted to find King Pot using my GPS and some co-ordinates I’d picked up online, this took us to what turned out to be just a bog in a ditch, cavemaps.org had published incorrect co-ordinates. Refusing to believe this, Rob attempted to enter a muddy hole in the floor, still no avail.

After some searching we did find king pot however it was located about 25m east of the official GPS positon, for anyone who wishes to find king pot using technology, the real co-ordinates are as follows: 54deg 11min 28.9sec North & 002deg 26min 56.8sec West.

I’m not sure if it was the recent lack of caving that has made us soft, or that King Pot feels particularly vindictive towards ULSA cavers but Rob and I found King Pot to be more of a misery fest than expected.

Description translation/interpretation

If you look at the description for this cave you will find it is written in a language only hard cavers will understand/relate to, for those of you who are unfamiliar, allow me to translate’¦ This like many in the black book is an excellent trip for proving just how hard you are, if you enjoy willy waving antics this is the cave for you.

The cave is almost by design for the hard caver, it has even been modified to ensure it can not be done as a through trip so once you’ve done it once, you have to do it all over again. The cave itself has an evil personality, it lures cavers in with the promise of giving them beefed up caver street cred but doesn’t give it away easily.

Using every caving obstacle at its disposal it will try to prevent you from making it to the end. And like any good tormenter it gives the illusion of hope, only to take it away when its victims think it’s all over. King Pot also has magical powers, it is able to use the weather on the surface to affect the conditions within the cave, potentially trapping cavers inside.

King pot cont.

Entering the cave I immediately led everyone down a narrow and long flat out crawl, in its first attempt to trap us the roof pressed down on us more and more the further along the crawl we went. After a while I reached a point where I could no longer continue without squeezing the air out of my lungs and thrutching millimetres at a time, by the time we figured out we had gone the wrong way I was pretty stuck’¦
It took me a while but I eventually managed to fight my way out of its grip and returned to the others exhausted, feeling a bit disappointed that we had not yet made any real progress on the trip. Allowing Luke to take charge we pressed on in the right direction, this was a good idea we had a problem free caving trip for the next few hours until we reached an awkward T-traverse/crawl.

It was at this point that King Pot had decided we were not hard enough to make it to the bottom and would punish us for even trying.

I had just squeezed round the third tight bend in the T-traverse bedding plane to find Rob struggling against the cave, it had him pinned from all sides and had succeeded in removing one of his wellies. Rob then removed his helmet and began trashing around even more – brain damage prevented only by the protection of my shovel hands.

After also removing his descender and Tacklesack he managed to free himself and make it to the end of the traverse where Luke was waiting for us in a small chamber. I inspected my shoulder to see how it was holding up, it felt a bit strange and was making weird clicking noises but seemed mostly okay.

Meanwhile rob looked broken, sat upright in the fetal position, he had slightly strained his calf muscle while climbing through the T-traverse, and wanted to turn back to avoid damaging it even more, I happily agreed not wanting to risk damage to my shoulder.

The Return

Just as we made it over an awkward climb rob said we should go ahead, the last I saw of him he was going towards the waterfall, I have no idea doing, we left him behind none the less and pressed on back through the cave.

Luke and I had been waiting at the end of the T-traverse for a while, we eventually heard grunting and screaming noises coming from the T-traverse. It sounded like the cave was raping rob in retribution for whatever he did under the waterfall. After Rob cried out for help Luke and I crawled to his rescue, turns out rob wasn’t stuck he just required some emergency post cave rape counselling to get him through the rest of the traverse.

With a slightly physically and mentally broken Rob we began our return to the surface, the cave must have realised we’d given up because our rise to the surface was complication free. From here we headed to Morrisons where Luke bought several packets of 19p mouldy cheese.

Overall a good trip, big thanks Luke and Rob for believing me when I said King Pot was a fun trip – we’ll finish it next time, we just need to be a little harder.