I’ve not written a trip report for a long while, owing in large part to looming exams. Now those have been despatched successfully I’ll write up one of my many adventures in the lustrous yet ludicrous prose that hasn’t made my name in the caving world, let alone the club.
Sunday mornings are not times you expect to wake up in your own bed. That’s more a statement about going on caving weekends or being so drunk you can’t make it up the stairs than it is about being a Don Juan, which of course I am. My body clock jolted me from my slumber at the ungodly hour of 6, I went back to sleep and the story resumes when I went to wake up Jack at 10. The musty smell of 66 Hands road served to act like viagra for my caving brain – the almost pornographic CCPC rigging guide, 10 and a half… millimetres of rope diameter, stuffing tackle sack after tackle sack – however Mark then arrived and we had to prepare to go caving instead.
Mr Holdcroft’s dry mordant sense of humour was unusually mollified, making it more of a moist limp flannel than the hard chafing towel of legend. The stuffing of tackle sacks was done without irritation, almost with a hint of joy. Almost. I looked at the rigging guide and wondered how to do it with 20 crabs – the answer rhymes with ‘pre-shredded hemp twine’. That’s right, keep guessing.
The ropes packed, we set off in my little red car with Toby’s legs suffering from a lack of blood supply much in the same way his drinking the night before had lacked moderation. Remember kids, no more than 4 units of alcohol a day or 21 units a week for men (3 and 14 respectively for women). There being 2 medics much alienating conversation was had, but then we remembered we were not Engineers so had loads to talk about. Like normal people. Hint, hint.
The drive out was marred by the usual sunday drivers. HOW DARE THEY USE MY PEAK DISTRICT?! Road rage aside we paid the farmer, climbed the hill and began the descent. No crabs for 1st pitch – re-threaded alpines to the rescue! I rigged the first 3 ropes and paused to let the sherpas catch up as I had run out of rope. A couple of extra rethreaded alpines featured in the rigging, I faffed around with a rethreaded Bunny Ears figure of 8. Then I remembered who would be de rigging. Crabs were used. Rope delivered we had a little sing-a-long by which I mean I sang and no one joined in. Rounds of ‘Caving Matilda’, ‘Yorkshire Underground’ and ‘Hard Caver’ reverberated through Oxlow-Maskhill.
I had fun rigging. It had been a while but tying knots was strangely relaxing, except for the fact that all but two of the ropes were old SUSS 10.5s (two were new). The only cock up was mixing up 2 tackle bags resulting in a knot pass at the bottom of a pitch so not too bad. When we dropped the last pitch, Toby went and had a look at the pool and got quite damp. The soundtrack to the ascent was an eclectic mixture – some Dean Martin, Morecambe & Wise and ‘Pindale Wizard’. Some great conversation was had on the topic of [SECRET].We made very good time out – 2 hours or so with derigging, but there were just 3 of us. Toby carried out 80m or so of rope, I think he was a little tired by the end. Not bad for 2nd SRT trip.
We swung by the TSG on the way back, had cups of tea, the minions washed the rope and I chatted to Tony for a bit. Then it was home for tea and medals. I say tea, I mean Rajput curry (I had a Dhansak – it was alright). Medals turned out to be the 2001 film ‘Evolution’. Worst. Caving. Film. Ever. The trip ended up being so quick I’ve ended up telling you a lot of preamble with not much on the main event. Get your mind out of the gutter, we’re not mine explorers.
Tune in next time to read more solipsitic snide snippets of speleology.