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Present: John R, James Co, Ian W

Quote of the trip (RE: stew) “It’s hotter than the sun” – JC

Despite a minor hiccup with rope preparation, this trip went as smoothly as a greased eel on ice. The drive was accompanied by soothing tones emanating from the mighty volvo’s shiny CD player, so that it seemed that Ingleton was but a few moments distant from Durham. A quick stop in Inglesport for breakfast, an exchange of pleasantries with Mssr Carlisle and an examination of via ferrata kit and we headed off to the farm. Bull pot was seething. Packs of cavers roamed the surface in disturbingly shiny gear, sometimes in groups with matching helmets. Undeterred, we three, in identical oversuits and SRT kits, but with seriously individualistic helmets, strode off to Easegill beck.

The beck was dry with a few icy puddles – cue for ice smashing fun. The cave was excellent – rigging was a delight of simplicity, aside from a few rope length issues – the second pitch needs a long traverse and Y-hang, so some reshuffling of the tackle sacks was required. Romping down to the main drain was easy going despite a slight detour. The passageway, formerly all fine pitches and cascades and clear pools, changes character and becomes a horizontal scramble over shattered stone and through fallen blocks. A bimble along main drain turned into an exploration of some hairy climbs, chambers of many fine, clean formations and a mistralesque dig. The climbs were those up into Assembly Hall, and again into Easter Grotto. They were a little intimidating on the way down, covered in mud! Easter Grotto itself was astounding, with a great number of brilliant white stals, straws and red (iron?) formations. Once back in Pool Sink country, the return was as easy as the entrance – JC having his first derigging experience. Popped into Magpie Grotto to ogle at the black stals (and bizarre, contorted helictites). Then out into the crisp air of twighlight.

Back to the car for a frisky change (involving nakedness and unsavoury comments about badgers), then home for Durham, where Ian’s housemates had prepared a fine stew of chunky goodness. This trip was the pinnacle of phaff freeness, and whilst the cave is not the most exciting it has a little bit of everything to satisfy all, although Ian appeared confused by his completing a cave without tying a single knot or unscrewing a maillon.

Note to future Poolians: SRT ropes 30, 16, 12, 17m reached the bottom of the pitches (though you might want to add a metre or two for differences in rigging style).

John R