This was the first Tresviso expedition training weekend at the YSS hut.
On the Saturday the plan was to survey part of Hammer Pot with George, a nice part just before the fifth pitch and Sludge Crawl.
After helping to cook breakfast and making sure everyone had a trip so George and I didn’t have to take anyone else, we packed and got on our way. As we were based at the YSS hut the drive wasn’t as long as the walk at the other end, which was quite a windy, cold walk.
When we got the entrance it had some nice icicles blocking it, which had to be snapped off. George pointed out how a stream had been flowing into the pot the previous weekend so it should be a nice dry trip.
I headed off down the entrance crawl which alternated between hands and knees and flat out. It wasn’t too long before we were at the first pitch. All the rope had been left in so all we had to do was throw it down the pitch. After the first pitch you are in a small chamber which is perfect for taking your SRT kit off ready for Stemple Rift.
George lead the way into the rift telling me facing the right hand wall is best. At the start it was very similar to the crab walks in Giants Hole. Soon staying in the stream becomes too tight so we had to go up into the rift (the stream drops away, you don’t climb up really). This wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, mainly because the tackle sack I had was nice and didn’t get stuck in the rift below. Hesitation Corner and the first stemple were passed and then the second floor stemple and then the crux, which was a nice tight corner you have to straddle and then move downwards as you leave it. This was followed by some more short downwards sections and then we were out and into Showerbath Chamber, which had a shower from a waterfall but no obvious bath.
There was then a narrower section before the second proper pitch (in the survey this is actually the third or fourth pitch but it’s the second pitch ropes were need for). This was the biggest pitch of the trip. Under wet conditions it would have been a lot less pleasant.
The pitch was then followed by some easy stooping passage, occasionally crawling, before we reached the survey point we were to start at. We started surveying with George on the PDA drawing on details and me on the Disto and marking the stations with purple glittery nail polish. Only a little bit of crawling was required before we got to the fifth pitch (third pitch which we used rope for). I went down to survey the small chamber below while George stayed at the top. I had a look into the next bit which was the start of sludge crawl, then headed back up.
Initially, we missed the bags on the way out so had to turn back for them, not far fortunately. The rest of way out was easy-going until Stemple Rift. I struggled a bit climbing back up into the rift but once in and past the crux it was fine. I found an overhead stemple which was very useful.
Once out of Stemple Rift we faced getting up the first pitch. Our SRT kits were still off from Stemple Rift and we didn’t want to put them back on, so we free climbed it.
The entrance crawl seemed as long as on the way in, usually I find crawls like that shorter on the way out. The sudden end to the crawl was made more obvious by the sunlight coming in from the nice blue sky outside.
On Saturday I had met Andy Chapman, who gave a good talk about his expedition experiences and also recruited me to join him and George surveying and checking a lead in Mossdale Caverns.
So on Sunday George and I left just after 9 to get to the car park for Mossdale at 10 and meet Andy. We got wellies on and put our caving kit in back packs for the walk over, which was a long walk.
We got changed in front of the memorial plaque, which kept the risks in my mind, but the weather was dry and had been for over a week so I wasn’t worried. Andy lead the way through the entrance choke. The first chamber we reached was Fossil Chamber, so named due to the obvious fossils. We continued through crawly small, sometimes stooping passage to Assembly Chamber. This was the largest chamber we went through. It had a relatively low ceiling, but had a lot of boulder covered floor area.
Next was a streamway (Broadway I believe), with the odd patch of foam on the ceiling, which we turned off of and went down some stooping zig zagging passage to get to the lead Andy wanted George and I to have a go at. The lead was a small vertical slot just above floor level, with a nice puddle in front. The top was too narrow and featureless to provide good hand holds. I manage to get in so only about half my legs were out of the slot. Close ahead was a left hand corner which I couldn’t see around. I felt like I could’ve pushed it further, but I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get out if I did. I also tried going feet first, which confirmed it was harder to go backwards. George also didn’t want to push it too far so we decided to move on.
We went back to the streamway, and went off at another later point to Western Passages. This involved some more crawling and stooping until we reached Pool Passage, which we were to survey.
As the name suggested, Pool Passage contained Pools, but it wasn’t too bad, we didn’t have to lay in them. Andy marked stations, I operated the Disto, and George did the sketching. Having three people did lead to a few problems when we got ahead of George, and wasn’t helped by the Disto losing communications with the PDA. After negotiating a particularly awkward squeeze (you had to lay on your side and there wasn’t enough room to use your lower arm) we soon got to the end of the part we were to survey. There was a tight, slightly wet crawl which I had a go at but didn’t want to push too much.
We then headed back out, I carried the tackle sack part of the way, it didn’t get too annoying. I had a go at leading the way, but got lost in a choke, so Andy took over. Navigating in Mossdale was a lot harder than Hammer, all the crawls through boulders appeared to have multiple ways on, Hammer was very obviously one passage for the whole trip.
It was nice to come out into the sun, and good changing conditions. After I’d changed Andy kindly gave me a caving belt, which I was pleased about. The walk back was very nice, all the cloud had cleared so we got blue skies and great views.