After a morning of pranging about the quesilldas breakfast, I happily agreed to a Gingling trip with Rob as it was a cave I hadn’t done before and sounded like my kind of fun (no ducks, sumps or wet suit required – and some nice narrow pitch heads rather than anything exposed). Dinny also agreed to join despite complaining about a 25minute walk, and a half awake Mike said he was probably interested. Luke spent an hour pretending he wasn’t going to come but still helped pack ropes untill it was time to get ready. He was of course, actually coming.

Having let lots of freshers rig recently for practice, I requested I use this as an opportunity to improve the speed at which I rig, knowing I now fell into the ‘least competent’ category of the group (Luke disagreed with this). It was slightly drizzly when we arrived on fountains fell but the walk was not unpleasant in my opinion. There was much amusement at Dinny missing where Rob hid his car keys and being unable to find them in an obvious hiding place. Once these were properly hidden we continued and I headed underground first.

I rigged the entrance fairly quickly and pressed ahead taking on welly water early and making it to the second pitch before Dinny could catch me up. There was an insitu rope already here but I decided to add our own as it looked questionable. This involved an element of team work for a high up bolt. First bag complete Dinny passed me the second before we pressed on and I was genuinely shocked at the absurd weight. I was informed that Dinny’s ascension gear was in fact in the bag as well as the next three ropes and a lot of metal work. I did consider removing Dinny’s bits and leaving them at the bottom of the pitch but was accused of being petty and decided I couldn’t be bothered with the faff.

Onwards and the next pitch was soon had. I found an overhand knot in the middle of the rope which brought about more complaints from myself. (Mike believed I was genuinely considering leaving it in whilst I complained more and untied it).

I started rigging the traverse at the top of the fourth pitch as the insitu stuff looked a bit rubbish but didn’t do a great job of it. Before completing the y-hang we threw the rope down and confirmed it was not touching the ground. I received much advise from all members of the party (not necessarily requested) and knowing we had packed the correct lengths of rope I followed instructions to head down on the insitu line to see how close to the floor it was (I was pretty sure it was a metre and was right). I looked for the way on whilst the others re-rigged and before slotting myself down what looked like a concerningly small hole, decided to wait for a second opinion on route finding.

Dinny wasn’t as convinced by the small wet hole but the other way definitely finished in a dig (he insisted on confirming this himself after my own assessment). I posted myself down as Luke joined the line and found the climb not as bad as it looked from above. The fifth pitch was reached and by this point I’ll admit I could have done a better job. I followed the insitu stuff remembering I’d read about a stal in the description but this of course lead to every person who showed up behind me pointing out the bolts I’d missed. Almost identical comments were received from Rob and Mike at which point I made it clear this was the last pitch I would be rigging.

I seem to have wiped the 6th pitch from my memory as after that we got to the far more interesting smaller bits. Having moved further back in the group I got a view from afar as Dinny attempted the Ammered Ole pitch. Seeing it was small, he tried for his descender on his cowstail which put it scarily close to his face. Things got interesting as his helmet got stuck and then the rest of him also stopped moving. You know things aren’t 100% when you ask if someone’s ok and they don’t respond. Stopping, however, gave opportunity to take the descender off the rope leaving his two points of contact as his front side against one wall and his back against the other. More faffing (from Dinny) and laughing (mostly from Luke & Mike) later and Dinny squeezed through and, using his descender rather than just gravity, made it down to the bottom. Mike followed suit making it look slightly less intimidating but still probably the tightest pitch I’d have tried. By this point Luke seemed adement he would not be going down so I scooched round and followed apprehensively and learnt what it must feel like to be not small and still do squeezes. (Later that evening Nadia challenged me to follow her and find my squeeze limit under the Selside tables. We both discovered we can manage 15cm at best and I believe I now have a better idea of the committment required by others for squeezes.)

I continued onwards and found Dinny and Mike at the top of the big pitch. Dinny declared he would not be going down so when Rob appeared with the last bag Mike started rigging. Luke, we were informed, would not be following. My keeness for the big pitch started high but with more and more discussion being required to rig it and still being able to hear Mike’s voice quite clearly for the next 15minutes I changed my mind and opted to wait at the top also. Apparently the main hang was something of a monster and getting there on Rob’s 8mm was exciting. Mike got to the bottom, managed to avoid the falling rock from Rob above and both successfully saw the sump before returned to the top. 

The journey back upwards was mostly uneventful with only a slight navigational error once on my part, which I quickly realised from both the large drop down and Rob informing me it was left not right. Dragging a tacklesack behind me I was happy and tired when I resurfaced. Day two of three was complete and successful. And we found Luke back at the car all in one piece. I was thrilled to find Nadia had co-ordinated dinner too so I didn’t have to worry about food again when we got in. Yay!

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A duck, a tree and a mine

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