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Yorkshire weekend Gaping Gill and others (Berger training)

SWCC and SUSS - June 2007 by Bridget Hall

In mid-June a group of SWCC and Sheffield University Spelogical Society SUSS cavers headed up to the YSS hut in Yorkshire for a pre-Berger training weekend. Ben had secured us a last minute permit for GG on the Saturday and so we formed a plan to do Flood Entrance, Bar Pot and Small Mammal Pot - see link for this GG entrance www.braemoor.co.uk/cavingtrip/route18rg.shtml .

Since we were going to exchange between all the entrances our Fearless Leader formed a cunning plan for everyone to leave a carabiner on the bottom of the rope they were going to exit the cave on, some of us were rather sceptical of this technique! The day truly began when the breakfast fumes set of the YSS fire alarm getting both the Dobson's and Brian out of bed before 10am!! The usual gaff followed and some went off Bernie's for some shopping.

Bob Hall waiting - by Martin Hoff - true enlightenment! Clapham Beck in full spate - by Martin Hoff Fearless leader Gary Vaughan striding up the hill - by Martin Hoff

The rain had been falling heavily over the previous few days and the river was in full spate as we walked up the hill. Probably the best training for the Berger is walking up to GG entrance with 90m of rope, your SRT kit and survival gear. The Small Mammal Pot team (Ben Stevens, Bridget Hall, John Cliffe and Rob Middleton) were first underground. The route finding was slightly difficult as often the way on was through very tight slots into rifts that it seemed unlikely any of us would fit through. We reached the point where Small Mammal crosses Bar Pot and traversed around the edge to a small slot in the face of the wall which led to a beautiful keyhole passage. After some muddy crawling (oh how I love my new Meander!) we reached the lovely final pitch which comes into the GG system just beyond Bar Pot. We clipped some carabineers to the rope and headed off to the main chamber.

Keyhole passage, Bar Pot- by Ben Stevens GG Main Chamber - by Ben Stevens

Meanwhile, Tim Webber was teaching Helen Brooke to rig in Flood Entrance along with Jeff Wade. The Dobsons, Brian Clipstone and Bill Buxton had caught up by this stage and decided to follow us down Small Mammal, unfortunately without a route description, they didn't find the way on, not believing it could be so small and muddy. By this time the Flood Entrance team had been caught up by Henry Rockcliffe and Katie Froude some late SUSS arrivals for the day and in true SUSS style they got their kit off for some 2008 calendar photos (none here - you''ll have to buy the calendar!). The Bar Pot team (Bob Hall, Gary Vaughan, Martin Hoff and Hywel Davis) got up the hill after some hard-core shopping and dropped down the bottom quickly, heading straight off to the main chamber without putting karabiners on the bottom of the rope! As soon as the rope was in place the Dobson, Brian and Bill connected with Bar part way down Small Mammal and dropped into the main system.

GG Main Chamber by Tim Webber Helen in Flood Entrance - by Tim Webber

Everyone made it to the Main Chamber and some photos were taken. We visited Mud Hall and then headed out of Bar Pot having agreed some people to de-rig Flood, Bar and Small Mammal. We got back to the surface to find all the rain gone and blue skies with white puffy clouds. Our team was on cooking duty so we got back to the YSS. Bar and Flood were successfully de-rigged but the Small Mammal team were delayed by route finding (not believing it was up a small slot). I created a dining room full of sweaty cavers by putting too much chilli powder in the dinner for most peoples taste and therefore reminding them that if they volunteer to cook they can have it exactly as they like it. We had to send a search party back to the Clapham car park to check for the Small Mammal de-rig team and were all about to call the CRO when they called in to say they were OK. Thankfully there was some dinner left over for them and a party in the Helwith Bridge to go to.

Everyone was quite sleepy on the Sunday and so some people went home in the morning but there were still trips to Dowber Ghyll (Henry, Katie, Rob), Cow Pot (Gareth Edwards, Bridget, Ben), Sell Ghyll Holes (Dobson's, Brian, Bill, Tim, Jeff, Helen) and of course Long Churns (Martin, Hywel) in high water, and they wished they had taken a ladder - what did they do... free climb Dolly Tubs?! [Don't try this at home -Ed]

Cheers everyone for a great weekend!!

Bridget Hall