by Jane Bradbury
Saturday 13 February: The day dawned bright, almost too nice for a trip underground but with a permit for Lost John’s Cave (Grade 3 SRT) in my sticky paws, a little bit of sun was not going to persuade me to stay above ground.
The CCCC team (Jane, Mike, Neil, Rob, and Bill) were joined at about 9.30 by Alex and Susan, two YSS members, and we were on the way towards Leck Fell soon after 10. After a bit of faffing, we entered the cave at about 11.15 am. Neil rigged Hammer, Mud and Centipede and then handed over to Mike when things started to get more interesting.
Candle and Shistol were a bit of a rabbit warren of little pitches and holes and at one point, Mike and Neil unexpectedly found themselves perched over a drop without a belay. A quick double act with ropes and maillons soon put that right and it wasn’t long until the whole team was sitting at the entrance of Battle-axe Traverse. Luckily, this was already rigged but Mike decided to add to the rigging for some practice so the rest of us got two ropes to clip into.
Battle-axe Traverse is certainly impressive. It really is a case of gritting one’s teeth and just squirming along the rift, often with precious little to stand on and only the rope to hold. Mercifully, it isn’t too long. After supervising Mike’s rigging, Neil decided not to do the rest of the cave. Bill also decided not to descend Valhalla having forgotten to bring his foot jammer. Meanwhile, I shuffled my way to the top of Valhalla and sneezed! Unfortunately, the power of that sneeze dislodged my left contact lens and I suddenly found myself with vision in just one eye. Reversing the traverse was interesting without any depth of vision and my return to the surface was a frustrating, squinty sort of affair. Luckily, I rediscovered the contact lens lurking round the back of my eye once I got to the car.
Other CCCC members took advantage of the lovely weather to catch some rays. Liz walked to Crummack Dale and Sulber Nick and then returned to the Helwith Bridge via Horton-in- Ribblesdale. Stuart and Adam scaled the heights of Pennyghent and started up Ingleborough but, realising that the daylight was running out, wisely cut their walk short and returned via Horton in Ribblesdale.
Team 1: Neil, Alex, Rob, Adam and Stuart had a bimble round all the sights of Upper and Lower Long Churn and a spot of SRT practice down Dolly Tubs.
Team 2 comprising Mike (rigging), Jane, Susan and Bill went straight to the top of Dollytubs where, after a slow start, Mike efficiently rigged the cave to the bottom. We were joined for the final pitch by Rob and Mel Dalby (YSS) who had come down the specatcular Southeast Route.