JH to Ride of the Country Effluents - Alastair Gott
After weeks in the diary, the day was finally upon us. It was time to do Ride of the Valkaries. We all met in the chapel, and with various plans going off around the fact that JH was being rigged, we put together three separate teams. The first to rig JH and go onto do Ride of the Valkaries, the second SUSS/ULSA student group to follow us down and then go to Pilkingtons series and the third Roy and Ann to go and check the ropes on the traverses along the cartgate. We also had Ian Ackerley along, one of this years recruits; he was joining me, Phil Wolstenholme and David Duncan to do R.O.T.V.
It was with trepidation that we checked and double checked rope lengths and the number of maillions, then I woosed out of doing the full descent of Ride of the Valkaries and decided that I would just go up Calcite Aven for a scout and aim to traverse out over the R.O.T.V. descent to see what it was like.
Just as we had all the bags packed, Luna T asked whether she could join, so she ended up following us down. Although this changed when we were up at Rowter Farm when she said she would rig the entrance on spelenium gold (sp?). She went to get the key and rig her rope on the entrance, though when we got there we still managed to rig our rope and descend before her. I sweated my way along the cartgate and rigged Bitch Pitch with a little help from Phil above, who changed one of the deviations for a rebelay. (Some practice on rigging needed). Phil took over from me to rig the alternative route down Leviathan, which went down without a hitch, only butterflies and figure of eight knots here...
It was at this point where we bunched up again, and Ian decided that today was not really a day for caving. I find that sometimes caving does wonders for the mind, but some emotions are too strong to be sorted out by quiet and darkness. Some sun was needed to sort this one out, I'm sure we could have sorted it out by giving Ian a drill or a spade, but today was not a digging day. So Ian went out with Ann and Roy. Then Phil went to have a look at some workings in the tea rooms whilst I rigged the last pitch of Leviathan. The Y-hang foxed me on this one, as it's more of an I-hang, with one bolt sitting above the other. Crazy cavers!
At the base of Leviathan we all grouped up again, and went our separate ways. Our group going towards Far Sump Extensions, the students going towards Speedwell and Luna going back up Leviathan to exit the cave completely. Not long after this our nose hairs were writhing, and our eyes could not decieve us with clouds of tiny wiggling red water worms staining the water (bloodworms, small larvae of the midge fly). We paddled through this section of muddy excrement, and took a look at the Titan connection, which looked just as inviting. Involving getting our ears and eyes wet, with the presence of the little red worms about and the thought of days off work due to dodgy stomachs, we opted out of this misery.
So the plan rapidly changed to show David Duncan the sights of Speedwell. Bathing Pool, Secret Sump, Main Rising and Cliff Cavern. We were going to leave as it was now nearing 5pm, and Phil had a bus to catch. But were scuppered when the Pilkingtons team were at the Boulder Piles and about to make their exit, Phil cursed under his breath. So to cement David's knowledge and to let Phil simmer, I showed David where the Whirlpool was; as he had been here before with Ben Wright (a TSG diver), who is currently pushing Whirlpool Rising.
Once we had done this, we retreated back up JH's ropes. And I was surprised to hear voices in the Workshop, as I thought that the students would have dissapeared by now. But no, our friend Luna had decided to wait below the climb up between the top of the alternative route and the Workshop. So now any chances of Phil catching his 7pm bus were gone, and so it seemed had his usually cool manner (and who could blame him with a two hour wait for the next bus). Words were uttered at the obstruction, such as: "...It's only 8...metres..." And "...hell, what's the problem?".
We managed to escape the cave and get Phil back to Sheffield at 8.40pm, only 40 minutes later than his 7pm bus, so all was well. And no-one needed rescuing from JH.