Hunt Pot: Emma, Matt, Andy, Geoff, Ian and Chris (20th March 2011).
After a quick brew and chat in the cafe at Horton we went to our quiet and not so well known parking spot where we sorted the ropes, but not knowing the exact requirements we took plenty. As it turned out we would probably have had enough to rig the hole twice!
After the long slog up the lane we arrived at the pot and noticed very little water running over the lip, but as we all later discovered, there doesn’t need to be a lot to make the second pitch uncomfortable.
Matt set of rigging the first drop, while others took photographs or sheltered from the wind and rain under limestone overhangs. Eventually we all congregated on the ledge near the start of the second pitch.
After a bit of chat, Andy rigged this one and dropped into the water and spray using pretty bad language and a deviation. We’ve never heard him cursing like this before, don’t think he was enjoying it much, but we all arrived at the bottom fairly well drenched. Not much to see here, but the warmth out of the draught and spray was a relief.
Matt decided he would have a look at the 40′ climb to Shrapnel pot, so a rope was drawn from the vast equipment arsenal and off he went. A good sling on a flake at two thirds height protected the final harder moves. These completed he disappeared as far as the final pitch in Shrapnel.
The feeling amongst most of the remaining team was to retreat before a chill set in. Into the tackle supplies again, but this time for pork pies, fruit and nut choc and hot cordial before Geoff set off out. This was going to be a super fast climb through the water, the pantin wearers having the edge. When daylight was seen, the views to the top were fantastic, although we exited to the same miserable conditions.
There’s no doubt this is a very impressive and dramatic spot and it’s easy to understand some reports of this place being described as ‘an evil slit in the earths crust’. The team enjoyed the day, although Emma did say that the second pitch was her worst caving experience so far. She’ll be back though!
Thanks to Ian for arranging the permit and bringing it and the club ropes to Horton. Although he didn’t go underground due to his injury, he still managed to hobble up to the hole, take some photos and then disappear back to Co. Durham.
Pic by Geoff Dudman