15/01/17 - On the bleakest, wettest, coldest day of 2017 so far, we (when I say 'we' I mean McBain) decided to go down Eldon Hole. George, Rob and I arrived slightly late (after having a toasty warm fryup and brew at the Yonderman’s Cafe) and drove up through the slurry to find two teachers attempting to get changed in their car and a rosy faced tree surgeon outside in the cold, already changed, SRT kit on and ready to go – looking, if anything, slightly too warm. After giving David 15 minutes or so to cool down, the rest of us slowly emerged from our respective vehicles, begrudgingly got changed and headed off up the hill into the cold.

Snow was still banked up around the edge of the hole and it was decided that McBain would work his way down the West Route to get a bit of rigging practice in, whilst Rob guided Rachel down the North Route - this being her first proper SRT trip. Pretty steady progress was made whilst the wind blew stronger and the rain continued to lash down and just as we made it down the first couple of sections, David self-mutinied and shot off home for a bath. The rest of the idiots carried on down and after a short while regrouped at the base of the hole which provided no shelter at all, as whatever was falling from the sky continued to cascade down the walls, bouncing in bullet sized droplets and landing in your eye whenever you looked up.

We ducked through the newly refurbished entrance and into the chamber, had a quick climb down the shaft to inspect the dig and then, after rigging up the pull-down, headed up into Miller's Chamber. The previous time we'd been there, the flowstone cascades glittered in the torchlight, however today the cascade had a secondary cascade of water lashing over it back down the pitch. Still a magical place though and Rob and McBain headed up to Damocles Rift, whilst George and I descended back down to Rachel who had waited below. It was then that George announced he was off and that he may or may not wait for us at the top of the North Route - if we're quick. If we're slow, we may see him back at the cars, but more than likely we'd not see him until back at the hut or in the pub. In short, that's the last we'd see of him, because he's a cave-ninja and will be out before you can say "suspension trauma".

What must've been a good 15 minutes passed as Rachel and I waited for the other two and the spare rope to reappear from Miller's Chamber. George'll be swaggering triumphantly back to the cars by now, I thought to myself, as we climbed up the ladder back into the base of the shaft.

But George wasn't swaggering triumphantly back to the cars, or in the pub, or back at the hut - he was swinging 30m up in the air having a fist fight with a Petzl Croll.

"This ffffffucking Croll! This fucking, bastard Croll can fffffuck off. I mean come on!". George, having recently graduated from the Jonathan H Academy for Gifted Swearers, was apparently having some difficulties with his fucking Croll. I used my Sherlock-like powers of deduction to work this out. It turned out he was having some trouble releasing his Croll to pass the rebelay, so instead of just waiting at the bottom and laughing at him (as we had done so far) I took our spare rope up the West Route and bobbed back down the North Route to give him a hand before he had a chance to finish his one-man reenactment of the death of Toni Kurz. (The reviews are good, but it's a difficult show to catch, as the venue changes each week). A bit of wriggling and he was free and we all steadily made our way back up the various routes and back out into the freezing weather (McBain being slightly slowed down by the 7 alpines Rob had tied in the rope on the last pitch).  

Quick trip to The Anchor, to let Claire know what tomfoolery her father had been up to this time, then back to the hut for food. A good, wet, cold trip! (Rob, McBain, Toni Kurz, Rachel, David, Mike)