Pippikin Down and Back up by Ian Cummins

Ian and Adele.

After caving/mining for 3 days in a row, my week of rest from work was turning into anything but, although with the fire still burning, a short pleasant trip came to mind.  With rain forecast, the trip to the Pippikin streamway and back seemed to be a good option, with its smooth, clean obstacles and friendly, short pitches.  Following the same maxim as in Penyghent Pot last week, refusing to use fixed ropes, a light pack of 8 mm was found to be easily adequate and we arrived to a foggy, wet, Leck Fell, quickly changing and walking along the wall to find the pot.

With a healthy flow down the nearby sink, the ropes were wetted and we were soon underground, making the rubbly crawl at the base of the first pitch to stand on the bar above Cellar Pot and make the pleasant contortions through the first squeeze, feet-first for me, a head-dive for Adele, then through the shiny porthole, gear off and through the next obstacle that felt surprisingly easy in the slippery, damp conditions.

Gear back on, performed crouching at the small stance at the top of the next pitch, we were soon down and de-kitting again for another squeeze, again neatly done by my companion, before rigging the next and longest pitch, with its aesthetic cockled rock.

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Third pitch

The famous Stemple Squeeze followed, now familiar to us both – me going first and able to keep my harness on – left foot and left arm in the trench – a good flake at the end for the right hand and grab the bar.  Quick pull-up and wait to spot Adele, then we were soon safely down.

Adele rigged the next pitch, where the sound of rushing water  could be heard below and at its base I continued down to complete the next short climb to visit the stream whilst Adele had a smoke.  Deeming that enough for the day and nursing a sore throat, we headed out.

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Fourth pitch

Now for the fun of the ascent!  Adele was a bit concerned about the Stemple squeeze; I suggested to keep high, using the bar as a foothold before diving in.  With Adele partially inserted and slightly stuck, I climbed up to stand on the bar and offer assistance.  With a bit of pushing and shoving that I later described to Adele as being akin to calving a cow in reverse, she was on her way and I followed, with the other pitches and squeezes being soon polished off in a series of enjoyable moves.

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Exiting to base of first pitch.

I exited first to pull up the bag and get a welcome drink to sooth my parched throat, whilst Adele ascended and of course had a spider encounter!  The lashing rain was at least warm and provided a constant stream of hydration, running down my face to collect on my tongue as we plodded back up the hill.

Gushing drains by the Leck Fell farm gate and in the rivers on the way home showed how much the skies had emptied whilst we were underground, so we were glad to have enjoyed our afternoon’s sport.

All pics by Adele.