Anniversary Aven - Alan Brentnall

Monday, 2 November, 2015

On the morning of Sunday 02/11/14, once I'd done my key holder duties, five of us headed into Peak Cavern with two bags of hawser-laid rope destined to replace the SRT ropes on the two rope climbs in the Moss Chamber approach passage. I was accompanied by Ann Soulsby (TSG & Masson), Ade Pedley (Masson & CCPC), Marek Malysiak (CCPC) and Rob Nevitt (CCPC).

Having replaced the SRT rope with hawser laid, we proceeded into Moss Chamber, and, after a brief chat and a brief homage to the man himself, we climbed the big calcite slope up to the beautiful grotto-cum-passage which leads to the squeeze into Anniversary Hall. After a short shuffle across the balcony, we ascended the monster scree slope up to the boulder ruckle in Anniversary Hall, and sought out the tiny hole which leads through into the foot of Anniversary Aven. One at a time, and with extreme care, because this is a serious place with much tottering choss above us and an easily blocked hole below, we passed through and up to the foot of the rope.

Clipping jammers on to Mark Wright's rope, I carefully ascended the rope, taking care not to touch the loose stuff, which seemed to be held in place with only spit and mud. I noted that there was a hawser-laid hand line running parallel to the SRT rope, and assume that this had been used to assist the climb before the aven was rigged properly.

Eventually, the walls closed in to give the feel of a vertical gulley, with the lights of my companions quite a long way below. I'm not too sure how far from the top I was, but here I was confronted by a long deviation pulling the SRT rope away from the right hand wall. The karabiner on the deviation was, unfortunately, a screwed-up alloy screw-gate, and, try as I might, I couldn't get the thing to open. So, hoping somebody below might have more success, I switch back to my stop and descended.

While I'd been ascending, I had managed to avoid touching any of the rocks near the rope, but this wasn't quite as easy on the way down, and, with about 10 metres left to descent, my foot caught a fairly large rock and I just managed to shout "below!" before it went crashing down the pitch. Fortunately, my friends managed to take cover and nobody was hurt, but it was a vivid reminder of just how dangerous this place is, and we all agreed that we'd leave it for now, and that I'd return, as planned, with Wayne (who wants to survey the place) armed with two mole grips, a hacksaw and a replacement krab. We certainly won't want too many people at the foot of the pitch, but it would be nice to have somebody back in the safety of Anniversary Hall just in case!

And, on the way out, we found the skeleton of Mark Wright's rabbit - and we all wondered where and how it had entered the system!