16th March 2019

The team set out in wet and windy conditions, but in high spirit. The walk up to the cave entrance provided a number of variable omens, in particular the raging torrent that was the waterfall in Clapham, the outlet by the show cave and the worsening hole in Robs left welly. Quick lunch at the entrance was allowed by the caving Obergruppenführer (Mike) to give time for Sam’s less quick rigging.

The team quickly descended the entrance pitch and made steady progress through to the big pitch. A high degree of composure was displayed by the members of the team who were new to SRT with occasional whooping (possibly to disguise tears) by Ben.

Steady progress was made to main chamber of Gaping Ghyll, which provided an ominous bass soundtrack for the approach. On entry, the true awe of the waterfall was realisable. The quantity of water coming into the cave was unimaginable. Conversation was barely possible, and approach to the main waterfall by multiple party members generally ended in a quick retreat while gasping for breath.

Once the team was adequately saturated, a full retreat was sounded and the route was reversed.

At the big pitch, Mike possibly set a new land speed record for rope ascent having got to the top while Ben was still disconnecting from the rope. Ben was then reported to have had an issue with one of the least complex parts of the cave while trying to climb the slippery slab, which caused Rob some consternation at the prospect of having to go back.

Long walk down was quite cold (?), then the team got changed in front of a children’s playground. No arrests.