Present: Peter Davidson, Annie Li, Jack Sherlock, Nasir Bawa, Dan Moore, Stephen Mitchell, Ben Woodhead, Elizabeth Thaler
Saturday of Dinnermeet 2020 began with typical DUSA efficiency. People were generally hungover, low on energy, frantically trying to learn surveys of caves decided upon minutes earlier, propelled to cave only by the sunk cost fallacy of paying £45 for a weekend in a hut with no Wi-Fi. With the looming deadline of 7pm given by head chefs Lily and Oli, we arrived at some roadside half an hour away at well past noon, getting changed in a (typically) cold wind.
Thankfully the entrance was minutes away, and we followed a small stream underground. The plan was to do a fairly straightforward crossover route with some tricky SRT both ways, but first we had to find the place where we diverged. It soon became clear that the thin watery pathway caused communication problems, with the (many) shouts of “turn around!” essentially requiring a game of Chinese whispers from front to back each time.
The next 2 hours looking for the split-up point were as follows: Go left, turn around, go right instead, think wrong way, go left again, Ben and Elizabeth leave to look at description again, think we’ve found it up a scramble, rig and do an SRT descent, told we’ve gone wrong way by Ben, back up SRT, back down scramble, back to right turn, and then climb above our path to get to the real SRT route. True empathy for poor John was being felt at this point in the trip.
The others descended here, whereas me, Jack, Nasir and Annie Li went around 3 more holes to get to our first descent, on the “easier” route. Steady progress was made on the lengthy downward pitches despite some holdups for Jack’s rigging, and we met the others at the bottom with little trouble.
Ascending their route was another matter. My highlight was the ‘Dome’ pitch, where we ascended from a small hole in the wall (Dan described rigging into it as swinging like Indiana Jones) into an cool open chamber both above and below.
While it was all brilliant, we did eat up much time in the ‘Cathedral’, which proved to be a nightmare when at the top we were required to essentially do a re-belay onto an upper rope that was near-horizontal. Annie and I eventually managed it after about 15 mins each, but Nasir gave up and Jack was sent up to re-rig the whole thing. Annie shot off ahead as we fumbled about, and it was a long slow march up the next 3 pitches (Jack honourably didn’t stop to rest while derigging) and to the exit.
Emerging at 9:30, the decidedly bored-looking other lot informed us they’d been waiting for 2 ½ hours in their car and promptly left. 30 seconds later we’d chucked our oversuits in our boot, after disrobing in somehow even worse weather than before, and set off back to the hut.
Now 3 hours late for dinner, we were greeted to cold left-over curry, and to the good-humoured speeches and games with the oldies that *actually* make Dinnermeet weekends worth the money.