TRIP REPORTS - what have you been down to? > Sporting Trips in The UK

Broken Finger Pot - Caves, Trains, Automobiles and Bicycles. 11/10/2020

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Just two of us in attendance for this "Sunday" trip, down Broken Finger Pot. (Me and Chris Scaife)

Knowing that the spits were shot on the last few pitches we decided to make it easier on ourselves and just bring the rope for the first 4 pitches/climbs using the 8mm rope I have for these sort of trips.

On the way up, I remarked to Chris, that I would give him my car keys to place in his bag on the surface for the return at the entrance. Let's face it hiding them in the wall by the car could be risky. Anyway once at the entrance, Chris volunteered me to rig, so off I went first. The T-shaped rift was not too bad, but I can guess it would be harder with a full tackle sack. I could easily fit though it with my full SRT kit on as the crack in the middle allows you to just dangle stuff.

At the pitch-head, there is a convenient bolt on the left for protection a meter back and another one just out over the drop (a few inches down), making getting on the pitch actually safe and easy. I could have sworn I dropped something as something pinged down the pitch, though it was probably just a stone.

Was the rigging in a different place when the guide was written about this pitch head, extremely hard to get on and off, really??? Because to me it's no harder than the first pitch of Turbary pot (when approached head first), in-fact I would say it's easier. You just swing your legs through the rift and lower yourself onto your cows tails, in Turbary you have to swing your legs 180 to get onto that ledge. Anyway I left a meter long sling to make getting back off again easier as perhaps it's then when it's difficult? I should also say, it's not in the least tight, even at the top it was over a meter across.

Once down we progressed painfully through the following rift, but it did not cause us any major issue (elbow pads are recommended). We dropped down the second "pitch" (Black cap) where we rigged a hand line, mainly to pull the bags of SRT kit and rope back up, later. A short bit of narrow passage and we then reached an intimidating squeeze "Fatometer", just before the double bend. Me being me and not thinking much of squeezes I just went for it. I nearly got to the corner, well my head did before my chest became completely immobile about 2ft up the rift. I then decided to try and reverse. Nope, wedged. I tried harder, then slowly but surely I emerged painfully back out of the start of the squeeze, reversing it is far harder due to protrusions catching on you then going in. I will admit that there were one or two points I was thinking I could not get back out of this thing. This was not even the tightest part of the cave, that's meant to be round the corner. Chris had a quick look in case I went the wrong way. He did not think I did so and decided not to try it himself after seeing the effort I put in to extract myself. So, unfortunately we decided to call it a day there. I would like to go back with someone who has done it before as there must be a trick to it, that I could not figure out.

We exited and the 1m sling did indeed prove to be very helpful, as there was no struggle getting back off again, thanks to it. Though Chris tells me de-rigging was a little awkward.

Once on the surface, I checked Chris's bag for my keys, though to be fair I could not remember giving them to him. They were not there. Ahh, I thought they must be in my pocket, no wonder that squeeze was too tight for me. Nope all that was in there was a Peperami, Bugger! I went in again to as far as the floor disappears from view, but realised it probably dropped down the first pitch into the impassible deep crack below, or down many of the other rifts, it's gone! (I had tried previously to access the crack already below the first pitch due to a dropped mallon, and realised it was impossible).

So back to the car we discussed what to do. Chris was kind and gave me a lift home as recovery companies don't do lost keys and I did not know the number anyway. We stopped off at the pub on the way of course. I entered in my red and black under-suit and my caving hood as a face mask, making me look like I was about to rob the place dressed as some kind of evil Santa clause. "What have you come as?" was the question I was asked the most.

Home, after waiting 3 hours in the shed for my partner to come home and let me in, I found out to recover my vehicle it would cost £400 and would still be locked if I did, so bugger that. Thankfully there are these companies called auto-key rescue who re-create your key using various gismo's and that would only cost £300 allowing me my car back and all my stuff inside, wallet, phone, house keys etc.

I arranged a 4pm meet the next day with the magic key guy. However, my partner don't drive, so how on earth was I to get back to my car? This car in Kingsdale was just under 50 miles away from Rossendale where I live. Easy my partner said, you bike there (being a very keen biker). Being rather bruised and not knowing the way, I decided to take the Train for part of the journey, meaning I still needed to cycle to Preston about 20 odd miles away and another 8 miles from Bentham. I managed to get my partner to come with me as I had no idea how to get to Preston  (I use the motorway normally, last time I checked they don't allow bicycles on there). With afternoons booked off work, we set off at 12 riding in the wind and rain, arriving in Preston at Half one for a two a'clock train. The train journey to Bentham took about a bit over an hour depositing us at 3:15.

All that was left was a ride to Kingsdale, up that bastard of a hill, before arriving back at my car, about bang on 4pm. Thankfully the guy was already performing his magic on my car as he had arrived early, so this did not take long. I exchanged £300 for my new key and off I went home back in my car, drove home at got there just before 6pm Monday evening.

Total Trip time 26 hours (3.5 hours of that was actually spent in the cave).

Thank you to my partner John for taking a half a day off and riding with me to show me the way.
Thank you to Chris for giving me a lift home on his birthday!
Thank you the Magic key guy.
No thank you, Broken Finger pot!

Bad luck, sounds like you had a bit of a shocker. I think I saw you returning from the cave at around 3 pm, I'd just come out of KMC after doing the new Turbary Pot through trip. Regarding the Fatometer, I have no memory of it now (probably for the best). My main memories of the place are mental discomfort due to fear (going down) and cold (going back up after the ducks at the bottom).

The best caving trip epics are the ones that occur above ground!

I might be missing something here but did this geezer just turn up to Kingsdale and start breaking into a car because you told him you'd lost the key? He didn't even need you to be there to confirm it was definitely your car and you were the legitimate owner? If so I've just thought of some great pranks...

Yep, pretty much. Just asked for the reg, car make and where it was. I thought it was pretty weird he did not ask other questions to prove who I was either.

It was me and Pete O who pushed Broken finger.  We broke through after capping Black Cap pitch.  It took dozens of trips as we experimented with capping technology and dodgy drills.  The Fatometer was/is very tight.  After we first passed it someone else spent a while with a lump hammer knocking off the nodules.  I went through on numerous trips after the breakthrough to dig and push our way to the bottom.  Even climbed an aven near the sump.  A skinny bean like you, Alex, should have no problem. 

What's up with ya man  ;D


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