Dale Head Pot: Ian, Simon and an Amphibian (29th March 2009).
Over a year since we’d been down this fine pothole and for us a rare chance to use ropes and stuff!
Simon was keen to demonstrate the scaffolding work he’d done stabilising the entrance just after our last trip with Messrs Cooper, Allshorn and Parker – very nice too, so no need to excavate Heartburn Crawl this time. Knowing the rigging this time, I didn’t faff around too much looking for too many good spits – there aren’t any! Mind you, I’d prefer to do things this way, with the cave having a natural feel than have a big pile of P-bolts to clip into and a few slings for threads and spikes make things safe enough. As I may have mentioned in my previous report on Dale Head, despite its reputation as a vertical cave, there is a lot of strenuous crawling, traversing and free climbing to be done either side of the middle section of rope work, making it a very varied day out indeed.
Getting close to the final sump, we avoided the final ‘toilet bowl’ descent that I remembered to be so tight, wet and unpleasant from last time and took the drier route straight ahead before enjoying a dip in the sump pool.
Returning back towards the final pitch, making my way through a grim, low wet section, I was amazed to see a large frog in the water. Feeling that the creature would not be too happy in this bleak spot, we carried it up the pitch to the rich feeding grounds of the thick mud banks with their covering of worm casts!
The exposed, slippery traverses were carefully negotiated before the pitches were quickly ascended and the bags were tightly packed at the top of the first pitch to make the crawling sections more bearable. Taking a patient approach, with only a few bouts of swearing in Heartburn Crawl, we were soon scrambling up the scaffold for the ladder climb to the surface. A very smooth trip – I reckoned 4 1/2 hours by my internal clock, but a check of the time at the car showed 5 hours underground.
Despite the sun, a chilly wind was still blowing on this first day of summer time and I was certainly feeling my lost hour of sleep on the way home, fortunately refreshed a little by a cuppa at Brackenbottom – cheers Simon!