Skip to main content

Present: Ben Wynn, Sally Morris, Gracie Sharp, Jack Sherlock, Nasir Bawa

(Present: Ben Wynn, Sally Morris, Gracie Sharp, Jack Sherlock, Nasir Bawa)

It was going to be DUSA’s first trip to Excalibur Pot, the largest Jurassic cave system in the UK and one of the newest systems in the country. The group; Nasir, Gracie, Jack, Sally and I were all hyped up but then, as is so often the case, weather intervened. On Saturday we were informed that the entire system was flooded and so we changed our plan; instead of breaking new ground we’d head to Alum Pot, to banish old demons.

Jack and I first attempted Alum Pot via Long Churns a year ago at Dinner Meet 2018, under the leadership of Pete Maloney. The trip had been exciting but unsuccessful, being inexperienced at SRT we were unprepared for the tricky rebelay under the bridge, an enormous boulder wedged across the shaft, and so had failed to reach the bottom of the gargantuan pothole. Since then we’d been desperate to get another crack at it, and now was our chance.

The weather was perfect when we parked at Selside, and we were in high spirits as we crammed ourselves into ill-fitting oversuits. Naturally conditions rapidly worsened, and by the time we reached the cave mouth we were fighting though sleet. Suitably certain it was just a passing shower, we cracked on into the cave.

The trip progressed well, with Sally Jack and Gracie all battling their way through the cheese press as I went ahead to rig dolly tubs. Nasir opted to bypass the infamous squeeze, much to our disappointment. Once we’d descended Dolly Tubs we got to enjoy Alum pot in all its glory. With sunlight streaming in, we progressed down the greasy slab, along the traverse, where we bumped into a DUSA oldie on his way out, and over the dramatic bridge. Soon we were ready to descend the pitch that had defeated us last year.

Sally went first, followed by Gracie, and they soon discovered how perishingly cold it can be down there. Jack descended next, with the instruction to tell the others to ascend as soon as he reached the bottom, to get them out of the cold as fast as possible. The three of them ascended at an impressive rate, driven on by the relative warmth at the top. Nasir and I opted not to descend, to avoid leaving the others in the cold for too long, so I’ve still not reached to bottom of the cave!

On the way out progress was rapid as dark was falling and, being open, the whole of Alum pot became very chilly. Back in the shelter of Dolly Tubs Nasir was having trouble ascending the pitch before it was pointed out that he’d got his foot loop connected directly to his D ring rather than via his hand jammer, an embarrassing faux pas for a Gear Sec!

After that hiccup was sorted, we soon emerged into the freezing Yorkshire air. The sleet had returned with a vengeance so we dashed back to the car and fought our way out of our sodden gear. A brief drive later and we were in the Fountain Hotel in Hawes, enjoying a pub meal by the fire, the perfect way to end a chilly yet satisfying trip.

– Ben Wynn (Social Sec)