Hagg Beck Sink by Ian Cummins

Hagg Beck (Active) Sink: Ian and Simon (22nd November 2008).

Bother (and other words)!  That hurt!  Forcing my way down the apparently never-ending crawl/squeeze of Hagg Beck Sink, I got the line wrong at a bend and just rammed my body through, instead of reversing to try a better route, bruising my sternum in the process.  With only a vague description from Chris Smith, which I relayed even more vaguely to leader Simon, we wondered when the torture would end, trying to think of the last time we had encountered such a nasty piece of cave, with its long sections where one cannot turn round.  Mind you, I managed to find some relief from the pain by making up names for the obstacles in the roof traverse, for example, ‘Torn Yellow Marigold Corner’ and ‘Discarded Green Oversuit Pit’ (did it just fall off, leaving the digger to emerge naked?).  Anyone contemplating this trip should be aware that to paraphrase NFTFH author, Mike Cooper, this cave might push you to your psychological limits and make you wish you were in a spacious Pot, such as Strans Gill, Hammer or Langstroth (or in the pub).  Indeed, Simon commented that Chris and John must have the temperament of Hindu cows!

A bit of relief at the head of the slimy first pitch was followed by more flat-out stuff, but at least we only had a ladder and a small bag of kit to drag along and we were eventually rewarded with some proper passage – yes, we could stand up and admire the fine straws, before fixing a line to drop down through a choke to the top of the final pitch.  Standing here above the 30-foot drop, with rock the consistency of toffee crisp all around, we examined the rusting in-situ ladder and decided that it would probably not support even our light weight, so Simon fixed his own to the rather uninspiring belay.

Being first down the pitch, I was keen to see the sump pool and walked over the mud bank to check it out.  What a contrast to the horrors behind us, with its deep water and surrounding stal flows – very nice indeed and we’ll be back for a dive.  I’m already looking forward to the carry!

Leading on the way out, I did my usual trick of crawling past the way up to the mucky pitch, facing a rather jagged crevice that I did not want to go through, so I reversed for a few feet on my back, spotting the ladder rungs in the rift above and getting a few good hand jams in for the moves into the crawl at the top.  Passing ‘Discarded Green Oversuit Pit’ and ‘Torn Yellow Marigold Corner’, at least we knew we were on the way out and we were relieved to be out after a nice 3-hour trip – top stuff and hats off to the perseverance of the White Rose diggers – lets hope there’s more to come.

A chilly change in the wintry conditions was effected with great haste and I had a quick shower at Simon’s place before heading off to the CPC dinner.  I must say thanks to the Whitakers for the hospitality and Edward also had me in stitches with his great style, accidental or by design I don’t know, as Master of Ceremonies as well as giving a fine slide show.