Aquamole: Peter Benn with NPC (2 May 2009)
With the other WRPC Berger Few doing other things, I was the only non-NPC member on this trip.
Scheduled to depart from Greenclose at 10am I managed to get there for quarter to, only to find a lack of urgency to depart – possibly due to whatever happened there the night before?
After lots of tea it was finally decided to sort out some tackle and go off to Alum rather than Aquamole – so with the tackle for Alum and lots of cars, we eventually set off, with one car sent to pay our 50ps at the farmhouse – big mistake!
Arriving at the track, albeit not packed out with vans and minibuses as it usually is, there were already four of five teams of potholers all donning SRT kit. Once all the cars had arrived (and having paid to do Alum) it was then decided to move on to plan A and go and do Aquamole – more driving, back to Kingsdale.
“It’s all about organisation”
So, sometime later that day we finally go to the Aquamole entrance. Not knowing what to expect it I had assumed on looking down the entrance shaft that the delay on getting in was due to some constriction etc. This was not the case! Once the ropes were free, it becomes clear that there is a lot of re-belaying and all you are doing is going down, deep down. This is not initially obvious whilst you are doing it as the rift is narrow and it’s hard to see up or down and appreciate the depth.
Once at the bottom (of the main rift – there’s more), a scurry down a low passage and a short pitch opens out to what seems to be a streamway and the feeling that this is the end….until you turn the corner and get to the top of the Aquamole Aven – all you can see, with the rigging in place, is a deviation off to the right.
At the deviation you get a chance to look about – not much to see unless you have a floodlight…or look down and see stars – they’re not stars, that’s someone’s headlamp at the bottom of the pitch! It’s only then that you fully appreciate the size of this pitch and man, you do hold on tight to that 9mm rope!
Having got to the bottom and rested, had the photo session, and some general chat, it was time to go back up, the trickiest bit being passing the deviation since the weight of the rope seemed to have trebled…but then that may have been someone holding it from the bottom – too far away to have any coherent conversation!
Waiting for and passing a B team, who had been down Bull Pot, I finally emerged – this was the trickiest part of the whole thing as it’s not easy to exit gracefully with no loop to clip into on the rope in….hmm I had the same problem at Pikedaw Calamine Caverns, maybe I need to check before I go down or alter my technique?