Giants Hole - Alan Brentnall
Driving back from Doug Nash's funeral this afternoon, there were some seriously heavy showers in and around the Buxton area, and I did wonder what the effect would be on the Giants stream. I wasn't the only one; a couple of members got in touch to ask if there was a plan B, and what it was. I said that we should decide when we got there, and there was always the Wet Inlets, Upper West, Upper East and Boss Aven as reasonably safe alternatives. However, when I arrived at Giants, I was immediately followed by a large SUSS freshers night party, lead by Helen and Jack, who said that they were aiming to do some of the upper series stuff. Shortly afterwards, two Edale YHA minibuses turned up with two groups destined to do "things between the entrance and Garlands". Then our bunch rolled in - 14 of us in total, aiming to do the round trip in reverse.
Any worries about the water levels were quickly dispelled when we got to the entrance; the stream was well down on its usual proportions, and we soon passed the other groups as we headed down to Garlands Pot. When we'd planned this trip last week, I'd been asked to rig the right hand top by-pass route, a wet weather option with great potential for any DCRO evacuations in high water conditions. I'd brought enough rope, and soon found the through-holes to start the traverse and climb. Not sure who originally bolted this route, but I've used it a few times in the past to vary Giants trips, and it is a useful option, especially if conditions outside are a bit on the wet side. I was surprised to find that a new bolt (P32) had been added to the Garlands end of the route, and I was a little disturbed to discover that three of the P32s at the far end had been removed. This meant that the only belay for the descent into the crabwalk was the thread, but, as this is a very good belay, I chose to use it, even though the lack of the original bolts means that the rope might rub when re-ascended later on.
As we were each crossing over the by-pass, we discussed tactics. Fourteen's a big group to take on a round trip, even worse on a reverse round trip, as it will magnify the length of time the group takes over the little awkward bits. The obvious answer was to split the group and do an exchange, and Katie agreed to lead the normal route, while I lead a group of seven up the climbs to the eye-hole. Everything went pretty smoothly, and those new to the place were suitably impressed by the quality of the scrambling, and the beauty of the formations and rock sculpture. When we got to the Windpipe, the water was as low as I've ever seen it.
Pretty soon we were descending the lower part of Maggin's Rift and dropping into the Eating House. Here we were joined by the "normal" group, and we stopped and chatted, and shared the odd biscuit before passing our "travelling rope" to them, and agreeing that we should each count the parcels of SRT kit before de-rigging! Ascending the Crabwalk was pretty much without incident, except some helpful soul seems to have decided that it is a good idea to leave a rope on Razor-edge Cascade which is not only fairly useless, but actually makes people climb it in a way which is far more difficult than the normal free solo method.
The Crabwalk was its usual magic self; you simply get absorbed in simply dealing with each twist and turn until, suddenly, you are up at the Cascades, and you know that, pretty soon, you'll be climbing the little step up to Chert Hall. Reversing the Bypass turned out to be easier than going down stream, but I knew that, and it wasn't long before my group were up and over (to mis-quote Eddy Waring). As the other (normal) group had now arrived at Chert Hall, Nigel opted to hang on and offer encouragement to the first over the top, while the rest of us exited the system.
Whichever way round you do it, the Giants Round Trip is always good value, and everybody who came along tonight agreed with that. One of Derbyshire's classic trips.