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Present: George and James

The trip got off to a good start. The temperature in the non-members room at Bull Pot farm at 4.00am was slightly hotter than that of the curry at Chris’s birthday bash. The temperature outside was about –5. Neither James nor I were asleep, nor had we got any sleep. This was partly due to somebody (from Cambridge) farting extremely loudly though. Following a brief discussion we decided to set off for King Pot, a cave that I’d been wanting to do for a very long time (the title King Pot, dark, gloomy and unfriendly in Speleology only increased my determination)

Unfortunately it was still very dark outside so we hung around and packed the ropes, drank tea, ate bread and did all the usual faffing until it was light enough to set off. The scene for the rest of the journey was set from the start when it took me half an hour to scrape 5mm off ice off Barbarella’s windows using a handy fish slice, the road seemed remarkably clear of ice. That was until we hit a 20m long ice run spread across the entire width of the road; Barbarella did extremely well until about half way along we did a graceful spin down the road. Half an hour of interesting manoeuvring later we were back on our way, only to be stopped by the next ice flow, and the one after etc. Eventually we made it to Braida Garth.

Unfortunately for James he hadn’t bothered to dry out his furry suit, so it was still very wet and freezing cold. James sat in Barbarella for about an hour trying to warm up whilst I took the piss out of him (In my nice warm dry furry suit!)

The entrance was surprisingly easy to find due to being a big shakehole at the bottom of an obvious bank. I set off rigging the first pitch, which unfortunately turned out to be a climb, and the second, missing out an unobvious p-hanger and using quite a sharp natural with plenty of rope protectors for a re-belay instead. After this there was an annoying hole in the floor, we decided to descend and re-ascend this rather than risk a dodgy traverse (the traverse is actually much simpler than it looks – just don’t fall off!). We also weren’t sure what the rope was attached too at the other end, I suspested it was probably a dodgy spit – which it was. Following this there was some awkward crawling (later I was to discover that this is very characteristic of King Pot) followed by the true second pitch which was quite entertaining- the boulders as it says in the guidebook are ‘dubious’ another characteristic of King Pot. It was at the bottom of this pitch that we decided to head out, mainly due to James looking an advanced shade of blueness. We also had an absurd collection of ropes due to not being able to access the gear cupboard (feckin’ Collingwood…..)

The trip back to the farm was far less eventful, with only one anxious moment when the car ground to a halt at the top of an ice flow – luckily some passing ramblers were able to help us push her the last few feet up the ice (easier said than done!)

Part 2 – 31/12/03
Present: OUCC – Martin, Gavin and ………? – sorry. DUSA- George.

A couple of days later James’s decided to go home. At almost exactly the same time I found out that a few cavers from Oxford were going down King Pot – It was time for a re-match. The weather forecast wasn’t great with snow and rain predicted for the afternoon, the bloke in Inglerip said it wouldn’t snow though, so we set off. The entrance series past easily enough (apart from missing the un-obvious p-hanger) Even the infamous T shaped passage seemed fairly simple, how different it was on the way out! The supposedly tricky move down into Queensway was avoided by a cunning squeeze down into the rift, and a step out at the bottom.

It was then a fairly straight forward stomp along past the loose boulders of King Henry Hall, and the dodgy spits of Bloodaxe pitch until I reached Kakemono Hall where my light flickered briefly before going out. A quick rub on the contacts restored some dim light from the LEDs and no main – bugger! I didn’t know why until I got out and realised I probably hadn’t charged it enough (or possibly at all!). Luckily the rest of the cave was mainly crawling in small wet passages, only broken up by the rather nice Elizabeth’s pitch and a dodgy muddy climb. The crawl to the main drain was knee numbingly cold. This was useful because I’d ripped the knee of my furrysuit in Darren Cilau, which had the unpleasant effect of grinding grit into my knee, with subsequent bleeding and general pain.

The sumps in the East Kingsdale main drain were really impressive, the upstream one being particularly nice, with the water welling up out of a deep flooded shaft.

The journey out went extremely smoothly, despite my fading light. That was until the T shaped passage where I got the tacklesack well and truly wedged in the rift beneath my legs – which had also become firmly wedged. It was around about then that I went from feeling rather strong to being very knackered within about 10m. Luckily having been through the entrance series a couple of days previously I managed to stumble through it despite being very knackered, and with a by now very dim light.

Getting changed was shit (Grade V). It was very, very cold, windy, dark and about to snow. Following this we headed off to the Marton Arms for a quick pint (well I would have had I not been completely skint!) On the way back up the hill it really started to snow, had we been another half hour later we probably wouldn’t have made it. Luckily Al, Stacey and Gwyn arrived at the farm about 10 minutes after we did, and an excellent New Year was had by all!