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Present: James, George, Gwyn, Mehmet

This was a fine trip, worthy of a write up:
There was some confusion on Sunday morning as to wether we would be able to get the key to James Hall’s, due to the insurance situation. Me and James decided to go and pay the local farmer a quick visit before getting changed. I knocked on the door (knock, knock),
“Please may we have the key for James Hall’s?” I ask,
“Who s’ers?”
“Erm, Dave Nixon?” (I show him the permit- looking nervous incase he asks for insurance)
“OK, but you bring it back mind…”

About an hour later we arrive at the top of the entrance shaft, about an hour later I manage to open the lid and we peer into the grim looking mine. The abseil down the shaft was exciting, the Crew rigging guide says it’s 35m! Don’t believe it! Anyway, we all arrive at the bottom soon enough and start traversing Cartgate. As Anthony said,

“Crawled along Cartgate admiring the miles of stacked deads held up by rotting timbers that passed for a roof and trying not to fall into bottomless puddles. Shat myself.”

I think this is probably a fair assessment of how we found this section of the trip (though it’s far more entertaining on the way out!) Top tip – when going along Cartgate give your tacklesack to some other sucker. Traversing over bottomless puddles attached to 20lbs of tacklesack leads to many fine situations.

Bitch Pitch really didn’t live up to it’s name, it certainly isn’t tight, it’s probably just that most Derbyshire cavers are fat bastards, it is quite loose though. The engine shop was quite interesting, if you’re interested by rotting bits of wood and rusty iron. Unfortunately Gwyn had to turn back here, in order to catch his lift home, this was a shame because the best part of the trip was still to come.

At a first glance the top of Leviathan didn’t look that impressive, just another hole in the floor, the thing which makes this pitch exciting is the fine situation in which one of the bolts is positioned, for those of you that havn’t been there I shall describe it for you.

“The speleologist arrives on a large ledge on one side of the shaft with a couple of bolts on the wall next to you. Attached to this is a piece of rope which spans the shaft and connects to a bolt on the far side of the shaft. The speleologist then has to Levitate precariously across the 3m or so of nothingness which seperates him from his goal. After much thrutching jumping and swinging he may with luck be able to attach himself to said bolt. From here the rope can be belayed and the pitch descended.

(NB. after reading slected caves I have realised where we went wrong – What we assumed was a big Y-hang, with tat in order to help you reach the other bolt is infact a deviation, DOH! This would have made life much easier, and shaved about 2 hours off the trip time!)

Luckily the pitch is quite damp to cool you down. Unfortunately James was unable to repeat this exciting procedure and sensibly turned back. Mehmet on the other hand manged an exciting tyrollean traverse across the shaft and had soon joined me. The rest of the descent was fairly straight forward, though very impressive SRT down the rest of Leviathan. The plumbing works down the lower section are incredible! The journey out went well until we had to repeat the performance at the top of  Leviathan. Mehmet managed it in about twenty minutes, it took me about half an hour to de-rig a single bolt, the problem being how detatch myself and the rope from the bolt without splatting into the far wall of the shaft. This really is a fine situation.

Mehmet de-rigged bitch pitch, which was an exciting choice, as the was the first pitch he’s de-rigged, the constant rattle of stones down the pitch told me he was still alive!

We arrived back at the entrance shaft about 8 hours after we got underground, which is the second longest length of time I’ve spent underground (after the legendary Simpson’s Pot trip of course.) I noticed a small note of paper at the bottom of the shaft which we’ll hopefully get scanned and put on here. Needless to say I prussiked very slowly until I was well past the rub points at about half height – i.e. 26m off the ground! Lifting the lid off the shaft from the inside was fun, and involved precarious use of the head and shoulders.

Getting changed undoubtedly deserves a new level, due to being ten times worse than anything on Leck Fell, I reckon the wind chill was at least minus twenty! and I therefore award it grade VI.