What to do with Ian? By Adele Ward

Fossil Pot: Ian Cummins, Adele Ward (14th October 2017).

With Ian feeling rested from his holiday, a date was set for a little nasty of a caving trip. Ian had explained the complexities of sherpa duties, it sounded a ball ache. But Hell will freeze over before I see my friend go down alone!

With ambitions of visiting a lesser frequented cave put on hold due to the fact the dales appeared to be under water. Driving towards Buckden – Ian bravely faced lakes of water in the Colt Mitsubishi Cave Car, roads I would have felt nervous in a 4×4 in. Wishing the car had water wings, we arrive at familiar Kettlewell. Considering what drier caves are available, I make a suggestion … Fossil Pot. I’ve left my Petzl Stop there, and I want to show Ian my bolt drilling antics. Ian likes this Cave – this is going to be a winner!

Kitting up, I could jump in the air and click my heels much is the excitement. Ian hasn’t been here for a while; it’s fair to say I have chewed his ear off about this place.  Its altitude is so interesting. So where is the entrance … I’ve been here 3 times this week, Ian ain’t been here for 2 years – he finds it first.

Exited to progress, we are quickly down the pitch, making a note of any improvements that can be had…. well Ian is at least. It’s around this time I tune into something that’s been there in the background – there is a loud sound of water with little visual evidence.

Pie muncher completed, looking forward to the boulder choke… I note a glint in Ian’s eye. You head up the rope mate – I will see you at the top. Why take the easy way when you can take the climbers’ way? So heading up the easy way, meeting my mate at the top – where to next?

A right angle turn is encountered, I actually remember this! Dropping down, that bit is hard work for me on exit. The big pitch it found, there is a fair bit more water here than my previous trip. This looks like it’s going to be sporting …no fear we have wetsuits! Heading down …. I don’t feel scared about SRT for once. Arrival at the chamber there is a booming noise of water. It’s coming from behind me. My recollection of this area is there a small puddle behind me – not today. I recall washing my kit off in it – today there looks to be a booming waterfall heading down the back. The water is draining to a certain spot towards a cascade that had not been there before.

I ain’t 100% clear what this section is like…. the pie muncher’s revenge, my memory fails me – it looks snug, but I don’t recall any epics.  Ian will no doubt offer the words “squeeze, what squeeze?” but …. waterfall and squeeze ain’t floating my boat tonight! Ian suggests he have a little recon – cool, you crack on mate.  Watching Ian causally descend, with the full force of the water attacking him, i note he instinctively moves his body to allow water not to well up; I’m utterly convinced this isn’t for me today. Popping back up, Ian confirms its wet … no shit! All of this is intensified by the booming noise of water….coming from the pool behind me. 

So what do you do with a problem like Ian? – my keen mate. You fancy heading down then Adele, already knowing my answer? I have absolutely no doubt that I will find conditions miserable, I’ve been having such a good day…” you crack on buddy “ I will just have a little relax here in this damp, windy chamber …. wonder if I can light a smoke?

Whilst my mate is gone I can’t help but have a little grovel around in the puddle, a little look around – this place is vast. With a rather damp looking Ian reporting some fun times at the downstream sump, it’s time to head out and find a pub.

Fossil Pot - Down Stream Sump
Its a bit wet!

Pitch dispensed with there is a bit I find really tricky – not sure why? It isn’t that bad – climb up a rope – chuck ya self in a slot.

Ian takes pity on me and offers a human foothold, cheers matey – I will work it out next time. Arriving at the boulder climb, I’m happy to use the rope – Ian enthusiastically heads off the alternative route.

There is so much to see here, noting noises and drafts possibly only heard in wet conditions here. It’s been a great trip. Making the surface, the smell of air always feels rather nice. The taste of a cider and a chat is now my sole focus in life.