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Present: Ian W, Tom C (RRPC), Emma H (WCC)

We took advantage of the very dry (frozen) weather after Christmas and headed for East Kingsdale. James Carlisle (who suggested the trip) was too hungover to attend.

Left Inglebernies sometime after midday, did a quick boot packing in the Wheatsheaf car park and headed off. Did I mention it was really cold?

We took the last spot opposite Valley Entrance and got changed. Shortly (bloody ages) afterwards we began up the hill, going along the farm track to Braida Garth and thence following the footpath down-valley. Once in the right field we turned up-slope and acscended to above the scar. 180 metres and seven shakeholes later, we had arrived. The walk wasn’t a trudge, at least not in clear weather.

Tom lead the way. The three entrance pitches follow one after the other. There was only one spit for the Y-hang so we backed up to a thread at floor level in the shakehole. There is a rope hidden under a ledge in the shakehole, presumably for the first two pitches, and insitu bolts and hangers. The first and second pitches are tall, and quite spacious lower down. Several squidgy bags of what used to be sheep await removal from the bottom of these pitches.

Third pitch follows, is very short. Another rope is stashed here. This lands on the top of a pile of rubble. There are several items of digging equipment here which require removal, and some lengths of rotten timeber.

Then a climb down the shoring in the choke (shoring is fungal and wet but looks to be doing its job). Several rungs missing from the insitu-ladders. More bags and digging paraphenalia await removal from the bottom. Then a flat out-crawl and a muddy crawling roof traverse over boulders. Bit more streamway with some climbs and inlets.

Next, the crux (at least I think so) – a small, straight rift traverse to the head of the fourth pitch. Insitu bolts, hangers, maillons and rope from here on. Traverse line on approach to pitch is sheathless where it rubs. Then fifth and sixth pitches follow quickly. Rope on fifth pitch has been left dangling in the water and has got black and slippery lower down. Rope on sixth pitch has been left coiled at the pitchhead (rigged) and is not black.

Then there was lots of crawling in the streamway to the seventh pitch (handline in place). Hurray, can stand up! Then lots more crawling in steadily deeper water to the duck. Tom (with wetsuit) was shivering and blue-lipped and we had a confab. It seemed silly for us to push through to the bottom and potentially make things very difficult on the way out, so Tom went through to test the duck, and we all turned back for the surface. Trip time: about five and a half hours.

A great trip, and a proper pothole – can’t wait to go back 🙂