Speedwell - Ann Soulsby

Monday, 21 December, 2015

Present: Halfway House - Nigel Ball, Dave Shearsmith & Phil Wolstenholme
Bottomless Pit - Ann Soulsby & Wayne Sheldon

After meeting up at Speedwell John opened the hut to allow us to get changed in the dry. We were dispatched on the first boat and to the amusement of the tourists Nigel, Dave and Phil got off at Halfway House to go to photograph. Wayne and I helped to push the boat back out into the canal and carried onto the Bottomless Pit. Wayne didn't want to start ascending the pitch until the tourists had left but I persuaded him that it would make their day. Sure enough photos were taken in abundance.

Luckily the tourists had left when I got a call for a sling. I could not hear what he was shouting but it appeared that something had come undone. I thought he was saying the re-belay although I could not imagine how. After completing a bit of surveying he abseiled back down and told me that it was in fact his centre maillon. The sling had been used a a backup round his waist to hold things in place. He was pretty relieved to touch down on firm land.

Although he had tighted the maillon with his stop he had lost confidence in it so we threaded a sling through the harness fastening capturing all the equipment and securing it with a screwgate round his waist. Although still not overly confident he set off up one of the other ropes. As it had become apparent to me that we would not be surveying the passage at the top I decided to prussic up the ropes for a bit of exercise.

At the top of the first rope I encountered a Y hang. The rope was rigged on slightly corroded skrewgates with rusty maillons presumably rusted behind these. As it was a Y hang and Wayne had not been unduly worried I carried onto the next rope. Here I encountered a very corroded skrewgate on a single re-belay. A very nervous bunny retreated back down to the Y hang. Even this looked dodgy on a closer inspection. Met Wayne at the bottom and his rope had not been any better. It is imperative that this rigging is replaced with stainless steel!