I hate crawling. I really do. I struggle to put pen to paper (or keyboard to screen?) when I think of this vile misery. It varies from monotonous to awkward, and is usually slow and painful – much like lectures on medical ethics, and hopefully not this trip report you are reading. I only go on about how much I hate crawling, and I really do, to set the scene.
The Moosetrap, for those of you that are unaware is a magnificent Yorkshire Pothole… in Derbyshire. It’s in the middle of the White River Series, probably my favourite bit of cave thus far. I’ve had a go at getting there albeit unsuccessfully with Neil. So I suppose you’re thinking ‘Why is he going on about hating crawling? It’s not like there’s THAT much to do…’. If you do the trip conventionally that is. Most normal people would do JH to Peak. Rostam and Dave (Flippin’ idiots) did Peak to Peak (could have had Chicken Cottage, proper halal… double points if you can guess the film).
‘But why?’ I hear you cry. Well, we like a challenge. So we drove out to Castleton and popped into the lovely TSG at the early time of nine fifteen. We got changed into warm dry kit (a novelty), faffed and then went to pack. Thus ensued more faffing. I give to you the scenario;
– 2 Tackle Sacks
– 40m, 60m and a 35m rope (the latter because I forgot our 20…)
– 15 krabs, 14 hangers (we had no idea of what the bolting situation was down there), 3 slings and general tatt
– Food, spare batteries etc.
– SRT kits (- Croll and Harnesses)
It turns out that 2 tackle sacks was a little ambitious, so in an endeavour to save space we forced down the cheese and onion pasties and secreted the food into various compartments of our oversuits. The bags were really full. Eating the pasties proved to be a poor decision, lots of being on your belly and increased abdominal pressure can make you feel nauseous to say the least. With Tom’s refrain of ‘You couldn’t possibly get lost’, we kind of did – mainly due because I went onto auto pilot and was heading for the streamway. We ran into another group who corrected us and we set off, to do a lot of crawling after a cheeky dip into Treasury sump.
There was mud, there was swearing, there was squeezing, there was sweat. I felt dirty… and I liked it. I know I said I hate it and I sort of still do, but… it somehow pushes the right masochistic buttons that make cavers love the sport so much. Those that say they don’t hate it are in one of two phases 1) Denial or 2) Acceptance.
We did the slog and it wasn’t as bad or as long as I remembered, though a little watery. Popping out Egnaro Aven we went into streamway, yipee no more craw- crap I forgot the short bypass. After that comparatively pleasurable crawl we got to the (quite wet) streamway and went onto Block Hall. We donned SRT kit and set off up pantinless (dyslexics among you may find that quite kinky) which we quickly got used to. The SRT kits were packed away at the top in time for some more… crawling. I believe the modern way of expressing my delight at this is #losingthewilltolive.
I could write essays about white river. Even in its sorry state it is truly a marvel and a bit of passage that you can find something new every time you visit (my favourite bit is where it looks like a turbulent river was instantaneously frozen). We skipped over Nameless and headed for the prize… Moosetrap.
This trip, for me, demonstrates why Peak is the single best system OVERALL (controversial!). We had effectively done South Wales Caving (crawling followed by big passages with boulders and pretties), Yorkshire Pot Holing (down the Moosetrap) and Mendipping (a perverse sexual act that Rob Middleton can tell you about, all I can say is that it involves poo). We didn’t Mendip as there were caves to explore but I digress…
Moosetrap roared with water and proved to be a sporty trip. We went slowly, not entirely trusting the bolts (we elected to use a sling + boulder instead of one lower down the cave) and the whole experience reminds you not to blindly follow P bolts and was quite fun. We got to the bottom and all I can say is don’t try and use a 40 for the bottom 2 pitches (see rigging guide for contextual relevance). Dipping our feet (and much, much more) in the sump, we turned around and headed out. It was getting late – about 4pm by that point and we didn’t want to risk provoking a callout.
The ventilator had a few pleasant pull throughs combined with sketchy death traverses. We plopped out in the lower bit of the trenches (it took Dave a while to realise…) and we were out before we knew it. It was cold and being soaked by the fairly full muddy ducks (what a cool turn of phrase) didn’t help. We changed quickly (I struggled getting my wellies off as per usual) and swiftly parted ways.
It was an absolute cracker of a trip and I thoroughly recommend doing it Peak to Peak, if only for a proper beasting (Titan the next day was not fun, but I’ll let Tom tell you about that). Also, be sure to choose good company – it makes all the difference.
Take that Muscy Ben