Adele and Ian, 24/07/18
For someone who apparently exists upon very little sleep, partakes in things that are deemed to be bad for you and has no exercise regime other than caving a lot, Adele always seems to have an excess of energy, so it was odd to see her looking a bit tired as I called round to pick her up for our trip to Pasture Gill – always a favourite of mine in the past, with the added spice of dodgy spits at the top of the big pitch, previously requiring the cunning use of a Rock 7 and sling, which always gave my non-climbing chums a fright – ever fallen onto an RP1?
Having heard rumours of re-bolting, I brought no hangers, although the talismanic wire found its way into my bag and I also dug out a bit of bungee to revisit the hybrid Frog/ropewalking ascending method. We packed a few lengths of 9 mm rope into bags for the sweaty climb up the hill after calling at the farm. We don’t do furry suits, so with wetsuits peeled to waist, the heat levels started to rise and Adele was soon feeling a bit wobbly – a few minutes of rest and a slurp of juice found us by the fenced-off entrance shaft, sporting a length of rather thick rope that proved to be rather difficult to use as we noted the ‘CNCC hands-off ‘note at its end.
Crawling through into the welcome cool of the still-significant stream, we were a bit disturbed by the ugly sight of numerous new studs left from a rescue practice. New bolts were found in the roof above the short pit that forms the first part of the first wet pitch, although the handy spit by the window had not been replaced and Adele fashioned a thread to minimize rope rub for the drop out into space to find one new anchor. The refreshing descent performed, we were faced by the big pitch.
Adele will be the first to admit that big pitches aren’t her forte, with tight, wet stuff being much more her style of caving and the familiar misgivings began to be voiced – as always, we decided if things don’t feel right, then don’t do it, so I had a quick zip down the rope to test out my ascending technique – it was good!
Returning a few days later we had hangers and more resolve, with a quick journey to the 40 m pitch we were ready to go. Assuring Adele that it was no worse than a 10 m drop, she made her way down as I watched her light fade into the gloom. Quickly following, we discarded all kit at the boulder pile away from the spray and began the traverse of the rift that had previously seen off most of my companions. The few up and down squeezes were performed and the familiar brown flowstone of the climb back down to the water was soon spotted. The crawl in the water was pleasant enough and we soon arrived at the short pitch. I assured Adele it was an easy climb and we polished it off to continue downstream. Again managing to avoid the large slab downclimb – did I really imagine it first time – later research indicates that I have always climbed down a little further downstream of this amazing feature and it is out of sight round the corner as one views the bypassed pitch on the return upstream.
A short crawl in the water didn’t feel familiar, but we continued as I heard Adele’s protests behind me, exiting to note the familiar dry rift above….oh well!
The lowest section of wet crawling was polished off and the beauty of the passage to the final pitch was fully enjoyed – what an amazing sight – with the many formations and tree roots adding to the superb scene.
Smelling the earth so close above, present in soil-filled cracks, we made our return, with Adele leading out through the squeezes to the base of the pitch….a grunt and a squeal, with maybe a few tears, as Adele clattered her knee with some force. This sounded serious to get such a reaction from someone with such fortitude….’this feels really bad…..do you have your hauling kit?’ ‘Nope…you’ll have to use your other leg’, was my most practical reply and Adele was left to have a nicotine fix as I zipped up the pitch. Leaning over the rope, watching Adele’s surprisingly quick progress, I was relieved that all was pretty much well and we managed to exit in good time.
With Adele managing to hobble down, leaning on me for assistance, we had a pleasant change in the breeze, where my chum was rather disappointed by the apparent lack of any damage to her knee to account for the pain. Relief in the form of cider at The Buck further eased things as we enjoyed viewing the many images Adele had taken.