Layby Pot – Saturday 18th June

At the pub the night before Jreg and I asked Will to teach us to survey for exped. The next day bright and early (2pm-ish), we set off for Stoney Middleton. We arrived after listening to Will’s helpful chat up advice, pulled over at the layby and started getting changed. Will went for a stomp in the undergrowth to look for the cave and said we were in the wrong layby. We piled everything back in the car and Jreg ran down the road after us as he was nearly fully changed. Second layby lucky, we found the cave.

The main surveying issue of the day was that Jreg couldn’t work out how to turn the phone on. We took a GPS coordinate of the tree, Will handed me the phone and Jreg started fiddling around with the Disto and learning the difference between splays and legs. At the bottom of the entrance pitch we took the obvious larger passage straight ahead and started surveying. Despite being very repetitive, surveying turned out to be quite fun. The main disadvantage was that because of the accuracy needed, we couldn’t just power through the cold crawly bits because you have to stop every time the passage changes which means you get colder than you normally would than if you were doing it as a sporting trip. Jreg yelled and moaned about the state of his bollocks whilst having to lie in a few puddles to take the measurements whilst Will was directing him through his laughter. The trip was essentially Will in front, Jreg in the middle trying to measure and me skulking behind occasionally lurching closer towards Jreg when the bluetooth stopped working. Threats of violence were made when we stepped over the top of the Cheese Grater to deter either of us from dropping the phone or disto into the crack which were lovely and motivational.

We got to a junction and turned left and continued surveying. At the end of the passage, we posted Jreg into the chokey bits because he seemed keen, after he extracted himself we set off back and took the right hand passageway. This bit had more puddles in it. We reached a wider section of passage and stopped to let Jreg take a series of splays so that the survey could give an accurate impression of the passage on the map. Will and I had to move as there were two lovely human sized holes in the splays taken, and we debated surveying the next crawl. The reviews of the next section of passage were; Will ‘it looks really grim’, Me ‘no’ and the delightful face that Jreg pulled so we decided to turn around to go back so we didn’t have to flat out crawl in water whilst taking measurements so Jreg would be out in time for the meal with his Dad near Chatsworth. According to Will, we managed around a third of the cave on the short trip.

As we all quickly bimbled back towards the entrance pitch a certain realisation began to sink in. Throughout the trip, I had been freezing cold and couldn’t work out why. We slid down a tiny little slope on our arses which surprisingly hurt a lot and as I entered the ducky bit the grim truth began to dawn on me. The previously 10cm hole in my oversuit and 50p shaped hole in my undersuit had expanded during the trip and now both were ripped from the top of my lower back down to the top of my right thigh. Meaning that my underwear was on display to the world and more importantly meant I was sodding freezing because the cold crawly water was hitting my skin directly under my suit. This hadn’t been pointed out by the others as I had generally spent the trip at the back laughing at Jreg. 

My admission to Jreg started with the phrase “as we’re all friends here, there’ll be no judgement but I may have a very big hole in my arse” and he reacted to the news with laughing and mockery dignity. There was only really room for one person to comfortably put their SRT kit on the bottom of the pitch so whilst Jreg and I were watching Will faff, I informed him of my kit development and again his reaction involved hysterical laughter was very reserved and Jreg found a dead bird with it’s eyes missing. Every cloud and all that.

I offered to prussick out last for obvious reasons and realised I was a lot colder than I thought when I had just about managed to get my fingers to undo my maillon let alone put on my kit by the time that Jreg was at the top. I quickly disappeared skywards and then waited around the top for Jreg to do his first derig before setting off for the car to obtain more modesty and warmer clothes.

Unsurprisingly I spent the next few days repairing kit, bailing on house bonding sessions (caving trips) and hiding in a drunken hungover state – however the drinking had little to do with the oversuit incident.