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Present: Ian W, Alex S (1st SRT trip), Hannah B, James Co, John R

Quote of the trip: “This is definitely a grade V change.”

An exhausting but worthwhile trip. Minimal faff beforehand and underground about 12.15 ish. Slightly disconcerted by the ribbon at the top, until I was assured that it was a walker. Ian rigged the pitches.

Descending into a gaping hole is bloody scary. Descending pitches in the wild is a whole different kettle of fish to the gym. Re-belay twice, descend to bottom of first pitch, while listening to Ian singing ‘I’m a Rambler’. Wait a while for Hannah to bring the next rope – thankfully it wasn’t raining. Made it through the rift, and then descended the main pitch, where it was wet and noisy. Waited before descending – here I got my cow’s tail stuck, losing much time and energy.

Descended to the next traverse, and reached the end, Ian had rigged the last pitch. Waited here for a while, then realised we’d miss call out unless we turned round. Changed order – John de-rigging. Started to climb. Had problems with rope stretching – pain in the arse when you’re pushed for time. Eventually reach top of pitch to find JC and Hannah waiting. It was much darker, which was surprising – you’d think there’ d be no light underground. Ian took the lead, while the rest of us sat in the darkness, singing softly to ourselves. JC went next, and then Hannah. Seeing two lights at the top emphasised the tranquillity of the floor in the rift. Started the long climb, which was bloody tiring. Waited for John in the rift – at this point we heard the thunder (we later learned Ian saw the cave lit up with lightening). Climbed out of the rift, with barely enough energy to clamber over the wall. Overtook Hannah to climb the last pitch, and waited for everyone at the top. JC had gone to the car.

It was on the way down the hill that the hail started. Got changed and went to the pub – where I briefly lost my wallet… Drove home, arrived in Durham just before midnight, knackered.

Alex S