It was a fafftastic Friday and I had just had the clamp removed off my cursed car and driven up to Clapham. I walked up to Gaping Gill to find one drunk Nat, gin infused and ready to pass out, but not before she insisted that we would do Hensler’s to Disappointment Pot the following day I remember very little of this conversation and was very surprised to see her the next day.
The next morning, we kitted up and were ready to head off in a crowd of 6, but not before Nat had attempted to boil water from the beck… In my defense – the hangover was strong and the will to go caving weak. It wasn’t boiled but instead warmed to a much more bacteria friendly temperature, but if I continue to winged about this event, I wont talk about the caving trip and instead would rant about how unnecessary this was and rants are for ULSA.
Our team of Helen, Rob M, Dan (BPC), Nat, Ryan (NUCC)and myself headed to the Hensler’s entrance, with myself going first because I’m impatient and Rob want “a small person to go first to tell me what it’s like”. I would just like to point out that the average female in the UK is 161.6cm and I’m 163cm, so I’m above average thank you very much. Never the less, my size was advantageous in this cave and I found most of the first crawls roomy. I was at the back so I could laugh at their misery which perked me up enormously. Helen however was quite hungover behind me, which whilst very unfortunate for her, made me feel better about our last trip together down juniper golf, which began with me throwing up on Robs car. I digress. I loved this bit – Helen was delightfully miserable and complainy!
After having past the first few pitches we arrive at the tight rift. In the crawl, I overtook Dan and set off with glee down the wet passage. We reached the tighter sections and the person with the survey and description was at the back – shit idea I know.
With Nat in front, and myself 5th in the queue, I can hear a few Nattisms such as “I hate caving” and “why am I doing this” as she struggles on a squeeze, but she pushes through!
1st attempt – with full harness on = fail
2nd attempt – full harness on and helmet off = fail
3rd attempt – SRT kit off and success!
The description had explained that there would be a very awkward tight bit where srt kits are advised not to be worn and we had assumed that the was that… that wasn’t that.
The rift began to separate into 2 sections, up (The Birth Canal – the right way) or down (not the right way). Nat decided to go down, and as she pushed through she began to struggle as she had slipped and fell into the tight bottom of the rift and got her hips stuck.
Half an hour past and Nat remained wedged 3 metres in front, with Rob, Helen or I unable to see her. In fairness, I could see fuck all, it was all rock and gravel from my end. Eventually, Dan who followed behind Nat, took Rob’s suggest and inevitably had to “use Nat like the floor and walk over her” allowing Nat to have one person in front to try and pull. My favourite quote is either ‘you lie there and I’ll have a fiddle’ or ‘shut your eyes and it’ll be over without you noticing’.
As the first hour in the rift ended, we were joined by BPC members behind us who were playing ‘Staying Alive by the Bee Jees’ and asking what was happening. I genuinely thought that I had lost it when I could hear ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ wafting through the cave. It confused the hell out of me.
With little sign of Nat being able to get herself out (you’re telling me!) and the dust in the chamber filling, Dan suggested that Helen, Rob and myself go up in the rift and over Nat. It was at this same point that we could hear Nat cough violently. When trying to back out the rift the way I came, I trapped my chest making it very difficult to breath and causing my asthma to kick in.
At this point I thought to myself ‘shit… is Nat asthmatic?’ (Yes I am and they were disappearing off with my inhaler!) Now Helen and I had moved on and out of the rift where we could penguin huddle for the remaining hour that Nat was stuck. I focused on keeping calm and moving so that I wasn’t placing pressure on my chest. After a fair while, my chest calmed down a little and I could take larger breaths.
Struggling to breathe wiped me out quite quickly which made it harder to try to push myself through. This was made even shitter when the hand that was tripped underneath me lost all feeling and ability to hold, which was excellent! This meant that all my weight was now on my hip, which was incredibly painful. We occasionally heard noises of pain from Nat whist she continued to keep on trying to get herself unstuck.
As someone from the BPC went overhead, I had an idea. I couldn’t change my hip height or push up on my arm because of the way that I had fallen. But I had a free arm on the left with nothing available to hold onto. If I pulled on a footloop or something from above then I could try to slowly (and incredibly painfully) lever myself out of my predicament. Very slowly, inch by inch, between my incredibly patient rescuers, I slowly moved out from my rock coffin. After two and a half hours she was out.
With still about 2 hours of caving left to be done, Nat ate chocolate and moved on. None of us cared about going out of Diss anymore so instead headed through out of Marilyn’s to get the fuck out of this cave. As I was little fucked, Helen and Rob were understandably concerned about my ability to descend and my claim of ‘oh I must have forgotten to clip in’ on the top of a pitch head did little to amuse Rob. At the bottom of Hensler’s, Rob asked everyone which route they wanted to take in the system. “Out” said Helen, Lydia, Nat and Dan as one.
Prussicking was shit but I woman-ed up and didn’t even complain once! Second to last out and having to prussick out with heavily bruised hips, Nat struggled to lift herself out of entrance of Marilyn’s, so Rob grabbed her foot loop and yanked her out, and a joyous and laughing Nat had surfaced (I fucking made it!).
When we walked back to camp, Nat was handed a much needed rum and coke by Carol and spent the night being poked and questioned and mocked about her stuck situation.
After all that, she still got up the next day and did Corky’s with us and I think I only heard “I hate caving” once. (My bruises now have bruises on them! However very, very good trip – highly recommend) xx