By Ali Arm-Bar
Well, attempt 1 for me, attempt 38(?) for Andy. The Chamber of Horrors is – by all accounts – a pretty miserable connection between Giants and Oxlow consisting of flat out crawls and a series of ducks. So, why do I want to do this? I dunno.. I’m a bit weird. So I’ve been thinking about it for quite a while and when Andy asked me the week before if I fancied having a blast I jumped at the chance. “Friday” we said, “and no backing out!”.
Friday came and Andy met at mine in the morning. Points Tom was staying around and was showing an interest so we decided that 3 people would still probably be okay. The plan was to do the through trip via Oxlow, meaning Giants would have to be rigged. So, upon arriving in Castleton Andy and Tom went to rig Oxlow and I went to rig Garlands. I drove back around, got changed (wore a 3mm wetsuit) and ran to Oxlow to play catch up with the others. I met them at the bottom of the pitch to Pilgrim’s Way and the 3 of us headed up. At the top we de-SRT’d, put the kits into tackle bags and started dragging them along Pilgrim’s way.
Pilgrim’s way is a hands and knees crawl over a hard (yet moist) mud floor for 250m (ish? the survey I’m looking at doesn’t have a scale!) until you turn off left into a flat out crawl. This flat out crawl lasts for ages, and ages, and ages (about 100m? again on my guessing scale). We’d managed to stay relatively close together through the hands and knees, but going through the flat out Tom really started to lag. We found out that this was due to him wearing a 5mm wetsuit.. Probably not ideal it seems. There is one particularly tight bit in the crawl that involved lying on your back without your helmet on, pushing your helmet in front of you and digging a way through the gravelly floor. Dig, wiggle, dig, wiggle.. Without doing that, I very wouldn’t fit!!
We eventually made it to the “wet bit” and waited a while for Tom who was apparently sweating like a paedo in a nursery. Unfortunately, Andy and I however were not sweating like aforementioned paedos and were in fact, rather cold. So much so, that we weren’t sure what to do. I decided that I was atleast going to have a bit of a go at the ducks and check the air situation on the other side of the first duck because the water level appeared higher than what people said.. Air space? Pah. So with my helmet between my knees and pulling my tackle bag I pushed myself along until my face disappeared into the water. I reappeared on the other side of the duck in complete darkness trying to work out how much air there was. I fumbled for my helmet and had a look around. Well, there is air so that’s a good sign.. Should be fine. Ace. Now to go back.. I couldn’t turn around so instead I put my helmet inbetween my knees again and started going back through feet first kicking my tackle bag infront of me (turns out this is not ideal). I got back out the other side with lots of water in my nose and started coughing. Nice! I told Andy it was fine, but looked at him convulsing with cold and decided that completely submerging him in water was in fact a shit idea.. so back out via Pilgrim’s Way.. Great.
Slowly we headed back out and eventually reached the pitches. Aware that we were pushing our callout I went out the cave first and ran back to the car to call Mike who was somewhat relieved to hear we were safe!
So, attempt 1, fail. Next time, no thick wetsuits! And probably try it via Giants.. sod doing Pilgrim’s Way again!