Sell Gill Holes: Steve Henry, Paul Smith and Jon Cadamarteri (29 September 2006).
The return of the ‘Friday afternoon club’ to favourite SRT / rigging practice trips as a prelude to the weekend.
Set-off from the Horton-Birkwith lane north of New Houses in overcast weather expecting the deluge to arrive before we were safely underground [the weather forecasts all predicted heavy rain from Friday noon onward for the whole weekend].
Arrived at the twin entrances of Sell Gill to find a rope / tackle bag already rigged into the Goblin Shaft active streamway entrance – damn it – another team already down and not exactly an easy route to rig for two teams, particularly in the entrance oxbow balcony and bedding connection.
We considered options a) divert to the fossil route alternative or b) have a cigarette and wait a few minutes – at least until the rain commenced. Option b) was chosen – nobody fancied the fossil route again and again…… We were in luck, voices were heard from the surface within five minutes. Could have been the tricks of the streamway noises ? but no, definitely voices getting stronger. Two cavers emerged and de-tackled whilst chatting with us.
Handline down into the streamway – useful due to the severe slippiness of the rocks. Steve rigged through the cave with a 40m and 50m rope (and with lightweight alloy maillons to boot – shame on the tackle manager) . A new Y-hang has been created at the end of the balcony in a small recess resulting in a drier hang than I can recall previously. Swiftly down the side of the Goblin shaft waterfall 6m pitch and swing into the body-length bedding crawl bypass to the head of the alternative parallel dry route into Sell Gill main chamber.
Nice wide Y-hang pitch of 7m down onto a large ledge and a very wide Y-hang rig – not good for short-armed riggers/de-riggers. Continue on the second rope down a further 15m pitch, over the ledge to the blank wall re-belay , quickly passed, on down the final 14m pitch landing in the main chamber below the main stream fall – one hour fifteen minutes to the chamber.
Short chat, no food or fags and then the return journey. Steve and Paul waited at the down side of the bedding crawl for the 50m rope bag as Caddy de-tackled. Swing out from the crawl into the first pitch, weeee.. and quickly up into the entrance stream canyon.
We exited with daylight remaining, none of the expected rain and a perfect sunset over Ingleborough.
A swift pint in the Golden Lion (couldn’t face the Craven Choir) which took longer to serve than to drink and a dash back down t’dale.
In summary, a good, short 2½-hour vertical trip to re-hone the SRT skills – highly recommended as an intermediate SRT training option for new club members.