On the 14th of January a trip was undertaken to learn Top to the 88ft pitch and back in preparation of a Top to Pipperkin trip. We began by crunching our way across the moor and reaching the entrance at about 11 o’clock. The call out was for Monday. Reassuring… We SRT’d up at that point only to find that my mallion was more than stuck. Improvisation occurred. Again, reassuring…. There was no way that this trip was going to be straightforward or boring.

Popped down the entrance shaft, said my farewell to the sun and wriggled through awkward passage before getting to the ropes (I seem to remember a small issue with the rigging here… ropes the wrong way round?) and going down in to Walrus pot (and finally fixing my mallion). Some more awkward passage and cold water later eventually saw us to Stop pot. Wasn’t familiar at all even though I have definitely been there, must pay more attention next time. Having said that, as I write this up I cannot remember the order of crawls/rifts for the rest of the trip. There was one that was lovely and smooth and tight (ooh err!) and I had to push my helmet along (Matron!). There were also lots of lovely stals… both on the ceiling and on the floor but this ‘travesty’ aside we made mediocre time to Steak pot. (Here’s an idea for a Hidden Earth Artwork entry – paint a picture of a caver painting a picture of painter’s pallet, worth it for a few crayons?). Now here is where the real caving began.

Having stopped for a quick lunch at about 3, we regrettably became aware that the fastest time we would get out would be 6, if we were to turn round now. So we carried on. Getting to the 88ft pitch was no problem though we got somewhat confused at part of the description going into long gallery. I don’t wish to open up that can of worms again., Machine Mackrill grateful for the lumbering pacesetter behind him, forcing him to take in every nook and cranny into his mind.  Since we were there we decided we may as well pop to cape kennedy and see the fire hydrant and (disappointing) bat. Again.

It was then I was feeling somewhat woozy. I thought, just get on with it and push through. I had had a small nose bleed twenty minutes earlier. Can you guess what’s coming? Yes! It’s the sequel to Eldon hole; Epistaxis Slot.
I approached the slightly small slot with all the grace of a Rhino performing a laparotomy. Just to note: Any Zoo animal performing a laparotomy would lack grace and safety I was merely searching for a metaphor. I decided to go head and 3 limbs first, getting my right leg trapped under itself and suspending me above the ground. I decided to call out to Brendan for some help and he came to push me back through. That didn’t work. He then decided I should try and push myself back through using him as something to push on. This didn’t work either. I was getting angry and frustrated. This in combination with having my legs above my head for a good few minutes lead to a clot being expelled with some force, narrowly missing Brendan’s head. Though unbeknownst to him the associated shower got it’s target.

I decided to mention that my nasal haemorrhage might be an issue and that if there was a way to pull me back through, that might work. So Mackrill set out to find another way round the slot and was huffing and puffing for some time (and was momentarily stuck at the point I asked where he was, to which his reply was ‘hmmmrph’) but finally managed to get round and tug on my harness alowing my other leg to go back into the hole and thus allow me to fall through into the small pit I had been bleeding into. Lovely. All of this allows me to say with some irony:

‘Need comic relief on long caving trips in Easegill, that are scary at the time but make good stories later? Try Rostam, his blood is in your mud!’

We stopped for a while after that and I felt quite terrible. The thought of having to wait at an exit hole or crawl through Top was depressing and I chose the latter on fear of getting cold. We had lots of hydration and a bit of nourishment which slowly put me back right as rain. We sped back, and I was sent up the pitches. Speeding (unexpectedly) through Top I got to the little alcove near the entrance and saw off the starting of cramp. Brendan in the meantime had a fight with the tackle sack and made a noise like a dying animal. He was at that point in time, not best pleased. Having escaped the trials and tribulations the cave could throw at us we set off on the walk back. Needless to to say it was very, very cold and the rewarming pains we faced were quite bad. We saw off an awful lot of pasta and crisps and went to bed. I did not move the next day.

The end. Tune in next (probably month) to find out what happened next!