A 3 day course in Bradford meant I was able to get underground for the first time in months.
11th December I met up with Rosie for a trip down Washfold Pot. This features in NFTFH, and has recently become open access. It is a little further back towards Ribblehead than Alum, and had been on my hitlist for a while. Despite heavy rain the weekend before, the previous days had been dry and the forecast was okay. The initial streamway is a bit tight, with a climb up to a flat-out bedding just before kitting up for the first pitch. The pitch is approached at roof level along a narrow but quite hold-free traverse before some slightly acrobatic rigging. This is made harder by getting your tackle bag stuck below you in the rift, requiring headdown wrestling over a 40m drop. The actual pitch is spectacular but very wet and drafty. The passage at the bottom leads to a series of traverses and climbs down while the stream carves its way below. The climbs vary from straightforward to pretty awkward tight chimneys. Finally, the final 2 pitches on slightly dodgy and hidden spits takes you to the sump pool. The climbs are a bit trickier on the way out, and the entrance passage is a bit of a git when tired (in retrospect, this is an eat before caving cave). Not for fatties, or wet weather as the amount of flood debris and fresh foam on the roof suggests it floods like a bitch.
Total time, 3.5 hours. You feel like you have been caving the next day
12th December saw Rosie and I meet H for a trip down Roaring Hole. This is up near Sunset, in the limestone pavement. A climb down through a dug shaft enters some largish chambers and the first pitch. While there are other pitches further down, these can mostly be free-climbed and recent diving activity has seen footplates bolted to the wall on some of the pitches making them climbable. Not knowing this, we took SRT kit and 60m rope to the bottom. The trip would be easier without doing this! The first pitch lands next to the first wet choke – a scaffolded, mostly stable route with spray all over the place making it hard to see the way down. Brief respite in a series of cascades before the second, wetter and looser choke. There was at least one very mobile boulder about the size of a TV part way down. After a short crawl the water disappears through the floor and the passage opens out into dry cambers. A squeeze in the floor enters some pleasent crawling dry streamway, before the slab climb and a further(dry) scramble down boulders. After regaining the water the passage rises to end at a blind pit. A roped traverse continues round a corner to the 3rd, 4th and final pitches. The 3rd at least is freeclimbable to a muddy rift. We looked at the 4th which should be easy to climb but it looked filthy and the sump is just beloe, so we bailed out, endured the wet chokes and made it to the Station for a pint before heading home.
total time 2 hours underground