Win a Mountain Equipment Karakorum Goretex Jacket worth ?280!!


Staff member



(Size Large, mens.  Details here:

(y) Thank you to Mountain Equipment for generously donating this fab prize to UKC (y)

Obviously this isn't going to be worn underground, however some lucky soul will be glad of it when getting changed by the side of the road in the pouring rain.  So to win simply post a tale about either: Getting changed before/after caving or why you need a brand new Mountain Equipment, Karakoram Goretex Jacket!!

Best post wins as judged by me as I worked for Mountain Equipment for many years and really like the company  ;)

Closing date 10pm, 31st August 2015

Good luck folks



New member
About 150m into the sump my demand valve began to feel ?tight?. It wasn?t delivering the gas it should. Another couple of breaths and it became impossible. Since I was diving on three sets, it wasn?t an acute emergency, so I signaled to Kristian that I needed to exit and turned for home.  A few minutes diving brought be back to the entrance series and a low section partly blocked by a gravel bank. A slight wriggle and I was in the entrance pool surrounded by a vague glow of sunlight. Important to not forget and let go of the line at this point, because above me was a one metre thick layer of transluscent ice. I had to follow the line back up to the hole which we spent all yesterday cutting open.

What happens when you surface from a fresh water cave dive into the Swedish winter with an air temperature lower than -20C? At first, the only thing you notice is some difficulty in seeing, as your mask glazes over with a crazy Jack Frost pattern. The real fun starts when you climb out of the water. Within seconds everything made of metal freezes. You can?t get your harness off. You can?t dismount your bottles ? all clips, karabiners, buckles are locked solid. Not much after this, your dry suit begins to feel more like a medieval suit of armour ? stiff and heavy, capable of fending off a serious pike thrust or arrow shot.

Too heavy and clumsy to walk to the changing tent, I had to wait for the support team to get my kit off. This was done by pouring warm water from a thermos flask over each buckle or clip in turn. Then I walked up to the tent, my suit creaking and crackling and the cold pinching at the few square millimeters of exposed flesh around my mouth. Meanwhile the support party had taken a look at my failed demand valve ? it was totally filled with ice.

The changing tent was like heaven! A gas burner kept the temperature at a human level. More warm water defrosted my dry suit zip and I was able to get changed. After stripping off my diving gear, layer upon layer of clothing went back on. Not only did I have a longish wait in front of me while the other divers were in the water, there was the 10km ride back to the car on a snowmobile travelling at 60km/h. A wind chill factor I didn?t want to even try to calculate!

I think I could do with a new Mountain Equipment  jacket for my next visit! I just hope a Large is big enough for me to get enough layers of clothes on underneath?..


Active member
Not quite at same scale of cold as that! But one of those incidents that you remember for all time even though it happened a few years ago now.

I was caving out in County Clare for a week in March with my mate Neil. The club usually went out as a big outing but his year it was just the two of us in Neil's Landrover defender. Ireland in March can have variable weather, but Clare is generally quite mild, and we'd had a good couple of days getting some of the classics in. And maybe a  :beer: or two with some garlic mussels too. Midweek the plan was to do the through trip Poulnagollum to PollElva the entrances to which are in fields up on an exposed hill side. It was somewhat colder than the previous days, cloudy but otherwise unthreatening, manfully battling our hangovers we started getting changed with plenty of groaning and mumbling about why we were doing this. Furrys half on, out of nowhere a hailstorm hammered down at us  :eek: Ow! That stings! Ow! Much scrabbling and comic rushing around ensues. We end up lying huddled under the landrover giggling at the stupidity of it all. A decent jacket would have mad all the difference!


New member
Some years ago we had an Aussie student in the club, a beautiful lass with blonde hair called Lindsey. One day, we had just come out of G.B. and were wandering back across the field, idly chatting, when one of the guys suddenly said, "Hey, we're going to miss Lindsey changing!" and ran on ahead. You see Lindsey wasn't just beautiful, with an all-over tan to boot, but had a singular method of getting changed in that she'd remove every single item of kit, towel herself down and then start getting dressed. Not only that but she was wholly unselfconscious about the whole thing. But then as another lass said, "if I had her body, I'd be that happy with it as well." Lindsey's body was admired equally by male and female as a thing of beauty and a joy forever. She returned to Oz after a couple of years and we lost touch with her.

The last thing she needed was a Goretex jacket, in summer anyway.


Many years ago when we mostly wore wetsuits on all caving trips, a group of us were walking back down to Clapham after a days caving on a cold, cold November night.
We weren't sure of the time as it gets dark early at the time of year and no one had a watch. As we approached Clapham following the trail passing Ingleborough Cave, we heard the church bell start to ring the time and we counted the chimes. By the time the bell had rung 8 times, were were a bit surprised at how late it was. But it continued: 9...10... (OH NO!!!)...11!!! Again we had missed the pub!!!!

Oh well.

We arrived at the car park and three of us decided to get changed out of our cold,damp and slowly freezing wetsuits in the Gents public toilet as it was so cold. I was lucky because my wetsuit zip was made of metal and undid easily as the metal conducted my body heat. The other two had nylon zips on their wetsuits and these had frozen shut.
I managed to strip off my wetsuit and the old swimming trunks I wore underneath as the other two began splashing warm water from the sink onto their fronts to help free the stuck zips.
Just then a man walked in, saw me stark naked and two others dressed in rubber suits happily splashing at the sink. He took one look at us, spun around and made a rapid exit!


I offer this extract from an eulogy I wrote for the funeral of my dear friend Justine Emery who was struck down by MND at age 47. Among other caving stories it made the congregation chuckle!

"On one trip to Derbyshire, we were all changing (as we do) on the side of the road, it was quite a wet trip and Justine had managed to bring an exceptionally small towel, therefore she chose to change behind the car away from the lads; but in full view of any vehicle coming south down the B6061.
Justine had just managed to extract herself from her wetsuit and undergarments when a car containing four young lads came south down the B6061 at some speed. The ever quick thinking Justine realised the towel would not cover up all the essentials, so promptly faced the oncoming vehicle and placed the towel over her face, leaving the whole of the rest of her body exposed, much to the delight of the four lads travelling south down the B6061.
After we had all stopped laughing; her considered explanation was ?I panicked, I thought I was still on Mendip and I didn?t want anyone to recognise me?. "

A jacket to hand may have saved the blushes, but ruined a good story.


I think my recent post in the Peak District Wezzit thread is a breast of the competition... That jacket is mine  :LOL:

Not sure why it never got tweeted though  :-\


New member
My best clothes change story actually happened very early on in my "caving career" - at my seventh trip ever underground, which just happened to be OFD! See back in 2010 a silly American girl named Amy posted on here, knowing she was visiting the UK soon to see some friends, had literally just started to cave, and thought it would maybe be a good chance to see caves in a different country. Luckily Les saw the post and hooked her up with some lovely caves, the first one being the round trip in OFD1. We went in the streamway and came out the flood escape route - which for a new caver with 0 vertical experience, that traverse (despite being loaned a belt and cowstails) was a nerve-wracking experience (which now, having done much "worse", would never bat an eye at, funny how things change!)

It was November, and a cold, wet, mix snow/sleet/rain winter falling from the sky sort of day. I of course was soaked to the bone after a trip like that, and happy to get back into dry clothes. Except one thing. I had pretty much just gotten in to the UK the day before, and hadn't thought that hey, my change of clothes won't be in the car (it's ALWAYS in the car, i always drive to the cave, so all my kit is just..there!) I'd never had to actually think about packing a change of clothes before. OOPS. All my stuff was back at the Wessex. I had NOTHING. And I'm in a foreign country, with an all-male group I literally just met that morning. Any sane person probably would have been worried even about just hooking up with random people in a different country and getting into the car with them and going to a cave. I mean, really, that does sound very idiotic. And I'm starting to think I maybe made a mistake as they are all laughing at my forgetfulness.

But remember, it is freezing outside, windy, and winter is falling from the skies. And I am soaked. My clothes started to litterally freeze on me, as they all happily changed into warm dry clothes (we had parked by the side of the road by the OFD1 entrance, so were not even in the SWCC, just out there in the elements). I felt myself dipping into a very cold state, colder than I could ever remember before in my life, and that is still to this day the coldest I have ever been. With ice on my clothes, i started stumbling and I remember starting to fall over, and grabbing the car for stability. At this point someone noticed my state and realized it was no longer funny. I have no clue who it was who noticed first, but I remember being told to strip to get the frozen clothes off.

Here I am, girl in a foreign country, dudes I've never met before, telling me to strip naked by the side of the road because naked is better than frozen clothes. I was too numb to think much so I just listened without thinking, and luckily someone (Frank maybe?) had a dry towel I was handed which I wrapped around my waist like a skirt, and Hatstand had a waterproof jacket. Les? got the car warming up and I huddled on the seat in the car in a daze and fell asleep.

So there you go. A waterproof jacket helped save my life in the most weird and awkward and - to any sane person - scary and if it was any group but cavers probably quite unsafe situation!

Mark Wright

Well-known member
I'd not been caving long before my dad bought me my first wetsuit, a two piece kit from Aquaquipment. It didn't go down too well with my mother who's kitchen stunk of neoprene glue for a week but I remember quite enjoying making it for some reason.

My first trip in my new wetsuit was Meregill Hole in the winter of 1979/80. There was a lot of snow around and it was that cold the ladder rungs were sticking to my fingers as I carried a couple of coiled up ladders on my forearms. I had not thought to bring any gloves.

The trip went very well and my new wetsuit certainly proved its worth. Then came the walk back to the Hill Inn where we were camped for the weekend. We were actually sleeping in the barn at the back of the pub, above where the bands used to play every Saturday night. 

Although very cold, the walk over had been quite pleasant with clear skies. The walk back however was in a raging snow blizzard. The rest of the team assured me they knew the way back through the white out but I'm sure we ended up walking twice the distance we needed to. We eventually made it back to the car park at the back of the Hill Inn just as it was going dark. 

All that had to happen now was for me to take off my laced up rubber boots and my wetsuit, get into some dry warm clothes and then get some food inside me. If only it was that simple. I sat on a couple of old tyres and reached down to untie my boot laces only to find the biggest bundle of solid ice I'd ever seen. The laces certainly weren't coming undone with my numbed fingers. I stood up and decided next to try and undo the Tenax toggles holding the crotch strap of my wetsuit jacket. These too were frozen solid. Next, my jacket zip, frozen solid. Oh shit I thought.

I remember hearing a story many years later of Watto not being able to undo the shoulder zip in his drysuit after a dive in the dales somewhere and having to drive home while he was still wearing it. Luckily for Watto, he had a car he could drive, I didn't have a driving licence never mind a car.

I needed to get some heat on all my frozen parts if I was to stand any chance of getting my boots off and getting out of my wetsuit. One of the team suggested checking to see if the pub was open. As I was only 15 one of the other SUSS members popped round to see if they were and if they would let me in to thaw out. Not only were they open with a raging fire burning, but the landlord was more than happy for me to come in and I was soon stood in front of the fire with a pint in my hand and a pool of water around my feet, getting bigger by the minute before I eventually thawed out and finally got out of my wetsuit and into some proper clothes.

I will always remember my first ever wetsuit trip and my first formal meeting with the late Alan Greenbank who was the landlord of the Hill Inn.



Active member
I have a humble story with no frostbite/hypothermia (not that I haven't had my fair share of those, I once had to hot shower my kit off at Bull Pot Farm after a particularly freezing trek back from Top).

A handful of us (students) got back from JH in the early heat of summer, joyful to be alive etc.  We arrived to change at the campsite, blissfully unaware of the changing facilities provided, to find several hundred school children newly transplanted to the field. Not wanting to expose ourselves, I shifted the car a little (in my furry) and used the doors to make a changing fort.

A little girl took an unhealthy interest in our activities. We tried shooing her away, and eventually she lost interest but chose to stay in front of the cars. So I went to the boot, out of the way of the little girl and the hundreds of school children. I realised this was a speedy operation and so duly 'dropped trou'.

A cheer erupted.

I cast a fleeting glance over my left shoulder revealed a marquee filled with 30 pensioners in prime view. My cheeks turned red, so to speak. I pulled up the wet underpants and pulled on the change of clothes.

I drove away from a cacophony of wolf whistles, laughter and raised eyebrows. With the benefit of 'hindsight' a jacket may have been useful as a buttock coverer.


Staff member
Historically, July is a quiet time on UKC - folks are off on expeditions and holidays...

I've therefore extended the closing date for this competition to the end of August 2015 - give more folks a chance of entering.... ;)


Active member
i need a new goretex jacket as my old one is so old that the tape is detaching in long strips from the inside.
handy for hanging points but a bit hard to put it on without strangling myself

Caver Keith

Well-known member
In 1996, fairly near the start of my caving career, I wrote my caving memoirs. I joined Dudley Caving Club in 1990 which was then called Dudley Cave Rescue Team (DCRT). This extract is from chapter 8 of my book and it is my entry for the Gore-Tex jacket competition. The Leck Fell incident took place on 2nd February 1991.

The Leck Fell Incident

The following February the club returned again to the Yorkshire Dales for another big SRT trip.  This time the system was to be Nott?s Pot, a five hundred feet deep pot hole high up on Leck Fell.  It was a well supported trip with myself, Dave Bowdley, Biggsy (travelling down from Carlisle for the occasion), John, Graham, Adrian Stanley (a fairly new recruit, like myself) and Bill Foxall signing up for the experience.
My first experience of camping with DCRT had not been a good one so I was relieved when I heard that we had booked bed and breakfast at 'Ashley's Mom?s'.  Ashley had been a caving friend of Biggsy's from the old days and his mom lived in Settle.  At this time I had never met Ashley but when I eventually did he told me about his first encounter with Bill.  Like me his first impressions were of a rough Black Country lad who looked like he would have no problems handling himself.  Neither of us felt like we would like to cross him and when Ashley discovered that Bill was ?up before the beak? the following week on a charge of GBH it merely confirmed his suspicions.  Ashley went on to relate that for the whole of that first day with Bill he treated him with kid gloves.  Everything Bill said, Ashley was very careful to agree with - he didn't want to end up in intensive care.  By the end of the day, however, Ashley felt he knew Bill well enough to broach the subject of his impending court appearance.
?Er.  Biggsy tells me you?ve got yourself into a bit of a scrape, Bill.  Do you mind telling me what happened??
Bill explained how a chap had run over a dog in front of where he was working.  The bloke had got out of his car, not to check on the state of the poor animal, but to assess the damage it had done to his car.  As soon as he had appraised this he went to get back in his car leaving the badly injured animal lying in a pool of blood and howling pitifully in the middle of the road.  Bill loves animals and the callous attitude of the driver appalled him.  He couldn't keep out of the situation any longer and walked over to the car asking the driver, ?Aren't you going to take the dog to a vet?s??
The reply was something of the ilk of, ?Piss off? as the driver reached to turn the key in the ignition.
Bill saw red and, without stopping to think, pulled the driver out of the car and ?stuck one on him? explaining in the process, ?NOW TAKE THE EFFING ANIMAL TO AN EFF'NG VETS!?
Bill?s summons to appear in court resulted from provocation and  his love for dumb creatures.  Ashley summed Bill up, ?He's just a big softy really.?
I never did find out the result of the case.
As well as the luxury of bed and breakfast DCRT also broke with tradition by travelling up to Yorkshire on the Saturday morning which meant that we couldn't make our traditional early start for the pot.  As we neared the Lancaster turn off on the M6 we noticed that the tops of the hills were iced with snow.  This decoration extended further down into the valleys the further North we ventured.  For the last thirty miles of so the roads were quite treacherous and this slowed us up considerably.  Settle, when we eventually arrived there, lay under several inches of freshly fallen snow.
To compound our lateness several of us decided to have a quick look around the caving shops.  Dave was not happy and wanted to get underground without delay.  His temper was getting a little frayed, but things really came to a head when he experienced difficulty getting his car up the steep snow covered drive to Ashley?s Mom's bungalow.  Something snapped.  He pushed his foot to the floor and with the engine revving so hard it was in danger of coming clean out of the bonnet the car slid sideways towards the stone wall.  We tried to pacify him but it only made matters worse.  He turned on us and through clenched teeth asserted, ?What's the point of setting off at six o?bloody clock in the sodding morning and then spending two effing hours pissing about in shops??
It was a rhetorical question, so without further procrastination we jumped into the cars and drove off.  By the time we had driven to Leck Fell, parked, changed and walked the best part of a mile through calf deep snow to the pot it was nearly twelve o?clock before we were ready to begin our descent.
Notts Pot by dcrtuk, on Flickr

We worked well as a team and made the bottom within three hours.  Bill and Biggsy rigged with the rest of us following close behind and passing the bags of rope forward.
It was on the way out that I discovered that the team spirit was starting to crumble.  Biggsy and Bill, having bottomed the system, were anxious to get back out and to the pub.  John on the other hand wanted to exit in a leisurely fashion, stopping to take photographs on the way.  Taking photographs is a very time consuming process - especially on SRT trips.  In order to illuminate large pitches John was getting myself and Adrian to get off the rope at different distances up each pitch and balance on ledges and boulders to hold slave flash units. 
By half way out I was stuck in the middle of two factions - Dave, Bill and Biggsy who wanted out and John, Graham and Adrain who seemed oblivious to the time.
I was getting hassle from the front group to hurry up as the four of us had travelled there in Dave?s car.  I tried to keep in touch with the photography group but they showed no sign of hurrying and I was starting to get cold.  By the time I got on the last pitch I had lost contact with them.
It was nearly eight o?clock when I finally emerged from Nott's Pot, cold, hungry and tired.  Dave was waiting for me but Bill and Biggsy had already started back to the car.  I could just make out their helmet lamps bobbing up and down in the distance.  I needed to take a couple of minutes rest before starting after them so I lay on my back in the crisp snow and gazed up at a crystal clear sky dotted with millions of stars - more than I?d ever seen before.  Being a townie I'd never seen the full splendour of the Milky Way before, but here miles away from the nearest street lamp it was easy to see why it had got its name. As I contemplated the mysteries of the universe, all the worries, anxieties and petty bickerings of the day seemed so trivial.  Soon I would be relaxing in good company and we would all be laughing and joking about our shared experiences underground.
The temperature on the Fell had stayed below zero all day and tiers of icicles, some up to three feet long, hung down the entrance pitch.  I didn?t rest for long.  I was already cold before I left the pot and with no cloud cover the temperature had quickly dropped to several degrees below zero. I picked up the heavy bag of wet rope I?d been left and staggered off down the hill leaving my harness on, figuring it was easier to carry it that way rather than having another bag to manage.  I caught the others up and we walked most of the way back in silence, but moaned from time to time that we seemed to be carrying more then our fair share and that we?d left those still underground with virtually nothing to bring out - other than the bloody camera gear!
By the time we got back to the car my fingers were numb with cold and felt like useless lumps of lead.  I knew it was going to be a struggle getting the buckles of my gear undone and if that wasn?t bad enough I discovered that during the walk the wet straps and fasteners had frozen solid.  Dave saw my predicament and offered me a cup of  hot steaming tea from his flask.  I thankfully wrapped my fingers around the cup and slowly felt sensation returning, but this left me in a dilemma.  The longer I held onto the cup, the colder the tea was becoming and I needed warming up from the inside too.  As I stood there immobile waiting until I judged enough feeling had been restored I think Dave wondered if he'd got a case of hypothermia on his hands.
Eventually we were all changed and were sitting in the car with the heater on full blast looking forward to a hot shower at Ashley?s Mom?s followed by a pub meal and a couple of pints.  There was still no sign of the other three, but their none arrival wasn?t causing concern - quite the opposite in fact.  The conversation revolved around our plight.
?Come on Dave.  We can?t hang around or we?ll be too late to get a meal and a drink in the pub.?
?We would have been out over a hour ago if Smithy hadn?t insisted on taking his bloody camera.?
?Yeah.  It?s their own fault.?
?What are you waiting for, Dave?  Get your foot down.?
?Come on.  They?ll be out any minute anyway.?
These observations decided the issue and so without any further hesitation we set off for the pub.  I felt a little disquiet and as we passed by the path that led to the pot I stared out of the car window hoping to see their cap lamps, but we were already moving fast and I could make nothing out.
We all showered quickly and then sat down for ?a nice cup of ?ot tea? served by Ashley?s Mom.  At any moment we expected to hear the sound of the second car crunching up the drive, but eventually the teapot was empty and so were our stomachs so we walked around the corner to the pub and ordered food.
I drank Coke while the others sank pints.  I still felt uneasy at leaving the others behind and couldn?t understand why they hadn't made an appearance yet.  The party it seemed were set firm until closing time but as soon as I had finished my meal I nipped back to the digs.  John, Graham and Adrian had still not returned and it was now after half past ten.  I ran back to the pub.  The others didn?t share my concern and besides they didn?t see what we could do.  A tenner was pressed into my hand.
?Go and get another round of drinks in, Keith.?
We returned to Ashley?s Mom's after last orders.  They still hadn't come back!  Something was most definitely wrong!  We debated whether to call out the Yorkshire Cave Rescue Organisation, but we couldn?t report them as missing until we were sure of our facts.  I was the only one who hadn?t had a drink and so was elected to drive Dave?s car.
Dave and I were just about to set out back to the pot when we saw Biggsy at the door of the bungalow shouting to us to wait.  I rolled down the window and called back, ?What's up??
?Wait a minute,? came the reply.  ?The police are on the phone.?
Having delivered the bombshell Biggsy disappeared back inside.  My heart skipped several beats.  It seemed like my worst fears were about to be confirmed.  I looked at Dave and saw that he must have been feeling the same way.  We didn?t say anything but both got out of the car and walked back over to the door.
In the hall we could see Ashley?s Mom still talking on the phone.  ?Yes.  Yes.  That?s right.  They?re all here now.  OK.  I'll tell them.?
We were all gathered around her waiting with bated breath.  After replacing the phone on the hook see turned to us and said simply, ?You've got their car keys.  They're stranded on the Fell.?
To reduce the number of separate packages that we had had to haul up the pitches we had put a couple of ammo boxes inside the tackle bags.  One of them it seemed contained John?s car keys.  Armed with them Dave and I drove the twenty odd miles back to Leck Fell.  Dave sobered up quickly as we discussed the rights and wrongs of the situation - the bottom line of which was that we were totally in the wrong to have left the pot before we were sure they were out.  Both of us had only been members of DCRT for just over a year and it now looked to us like Nott?s Pot could well have been our last trip with the club.
It was after midnight when we found the missing party waiting for us at the side of the road.  They climbed into the back of the car without saying a word.  As I drove the couple of miles back to their car the atmosphere was even frostier in the car than outside.
Only Adrian found his voice during the journey. ?What an effing thing to do across your mates,? was all that was said.
As soon as we were sure that the stranded party were all right we left and we were glad to be on our way.  Relationships were a little strained to say the least.
Back at Ashley?s Mom's, Bill and Biggsy were waiting for us anxious for news.  We recounted to them what had happened - especially our cool reception and how we didn't know how we would be able to make amends for our cardinal sin of leaving them underground.
Biggsy was unyielding.  ?Serves them bloody right for taking photographs,? was his only comment. I hoped he would not voice the same opinion when they got back.  Fortunately he didn't.  In fact very little was said.  It was very late, we were all very tired and I don't think anyone trusted themselves to speak.  So after a last cup of tea we all sidled off to bed.
After a good night?s sleep tempers were partially restored and I asked John what time they had come up out of Nott?s Pot.  He started to recount their adventure on the Fell.
?It must have been about nine o?clock (nearly an hour after the rest of us) and you?d left us most of the tackle to carry.  Two of you must have walked back down with nothing.?
I bit my tongue.
?I realised that you had got the tackle bag with our car keys in before we left the Fell, but hoping against hope that you had left the keys by the car we all set off up the road.  Approaching the car our eyes began to play tricks on us.  We were sure that we could spot a tackle bag resting against the vehicle, but when we got there, there was no bag and no keys.  A hot cup of tea would have raised our flagging spirits and we had all got flasks in the car.  I have never been so cold in my bloody life, or felt so bloody helpless.?
Adrain chipped in with,  ?I told him to break a window.  I could have soon hot-wired the car.?
John ignored the interruption. ?We then had to walk over two miles back down the road until we came to a farm house. We knocked on the door and I asked the woman if I could phone the police.  The local police station in Settle was closed at that time of night so we were put through to Lancaster.  I explained the situation and the copper asked us where we were staying.  ?Ashley's Mom?s,? was all I could say.  I didn't know her name or the address!?
We tried unsuccessfully to suppress a sn-word.  John shot us a glance that would have turned milk sour.
?Eventually after more than an hour we were put in touch with a local off duty policeman in Settle who, after I?d explained as best I could where Ashley?s Mom?s bungalow was situated, thought he knew where I meant.  It was another hour after that before you arrived.  I have never been so cold in my bloody life.  We waited all that time in an out-building with a gale blowing through it.?
Adrian chipped in again.  ?I asked the woman if she?d mind making us a drink, thinking at least we?d get a nice cup of hot tea to warm us up a bit.  She got us drink all right - cold bloody orange juice straight out of the fridge!?
John took over again.  ?You know we?d been stuck on the Fell for over three hours in sub-zero temperatures.  By the time you picked us up I'm sure we were all hypothermic.?
We all knew how cold it had been and made sympathetic noises - all that is except Biggsy.  ?Perhaps next time you?ll think twice before taking your camera caving?? he muttered.
It was not surprising that no-one felt like caving that day so we went for a walk around Malham Cove - a spectacular natural amphitheatre carved out of limestone .  Gradually the bonhomie was restored to our little band and we departed for the Midlands later that day with smiles, handshakes and even the odd joke.  John, however, hadn?t learned his lesson.  He was still getting us to pose for photographs on the walk!
The ?Nott's Pot Incident? has now passed into club folk lore and John, Adrian and Graham will never allow it to be forgotten.

Malham Cove by dcrtuk, on Flickr


Well-known member
The Leck Fell Incident  :LOL: :LOL:

A splendid report (enhanced for me by my having met some of the participants, albeit years ago ? Bigsy, Ashley and Ashley's mum).

I was going to enter, but I don't think I'll bother now!


Staff member
Fulk - please do enter - it's not just about the competition, cavers really do enjoy reading the various tales and once on here we have them for posterity  (y)

Also the more folks enter or read/engage with the competitions, the easier it is for me to ask for future prizes - the jacket is a class piece of kit and it was generous of Mountain Equipment (Via my buddy, Dean who works there - and who I worked with at ME back in the early 1990's) to donate it to UKC. 

There's never been much 'out there' for cavers to win, most of the Outdoor trade tends to ignore the caving community (Though thumbs up to those companies who support the Cave Rescue Teams) thinking all we buy is yellow over suits and wellies - yet how many of us own goretex jackets, fleeces, walking boots, camping kit etc??  The vast majority I bet - so I believe we are worth taking seriously.

So please do support those companies who support us  (y)


Duncan S

New member
I was staying mid-winter on Skye and three of us decided to walk from Elgol to Sligachan with a straightforward crossing of the Cuillin ridge from Loch Coruisk.
This is a fairly tough walk under any conditions, but what happened is something I've never repeated (nor would want to).

The short daylight hours meant we needed to be at the Bad Step soon after sunrise - it is about 6 miles walking to reach the Bad Step, so it was a properly stupid o'clock start!
The drive in to Elgol was through several inches of fresh snow with more falling all the time.
But the worst thing was the snowline was only just above sea level.
We walked the whole way in under persistent sleet and the Bad Step was rather epic as we initially missed the line.
Loch Coruisk is well over half way and a sit-rep revealed we all soaked through to the skin and morale was not good. So we had to make a tough decision about a long uncomfortable walk back to Elgol, or carry on over the ridge.
I think we all relished the idea of getting out the sleet, so opted to carry on.

The climb up the Cuillins entailed plowing a waist deep trench in the spindrift up over 3000ft of 45deg slope. We needed to take turns at the front as it was ridiculously tiring.
As we climbed the temperature dropped, and at some point all my clothing froze.
Not just the usual zips and extremities, but all of it!
I was able to tap my chest and it sounded like knocking on a slab of wood - really bizarre!

With the climb over, we slid on our bums the whole way down the other side, which was pretty much the highlight of the day.
Eventually we dropped out the cloud. It was already dark by this time and we could see the light of the Sligachan Hotel in the distance. We walked for hours and that darned light never seemed to get closer; this has to rate as one of the most soul destroying walk-outs in the UK.
Why did we do it? The whole day was horrendous; but back home in front of a roaring fire with a dram of decent whiskey it all started to make sense. The contrast between the two was intensely pleasurable.

With hindsight this trip was a stupid idea; possibly even reckless - but we were young and being sensible rarely fitted in with what we wanted to do.
The other two had Alpine mountaineering experience and navigation was not a worry as I seem to have a knack with maps and and rarely miss the route; but we badly misread how tough the day was going to be.

The reason my clothing froze solid was I only had a cheap-ish Thinsulate ski jacket; the lining became saturated and the whole soggy mess turned into a solid block of ice as we climbed.
A decent jacket would have made a huge difference :)


When I came out of Ireby Fell in the late 70's nearly wearing my 2mm unlined home made wet suit, changing was made simple. I was able to  emerge like a butterfly from my neoprene chrysalis.  Changing back into it the following day proved more complex and I can honestly say that masking tape will not mend a wet suit. 


Well-known member
Quote from Pegasus:
Fulk - please do enter - it's not just about the competition, cavers really do enjoy reading the various tales and once on here we have them for posterity  (y)
OK, you've twisted my arm:

Many years ago I used to work as an instructor, and one day a group of 9 or 10 soldiers hired the services of Dave and me as guides for a trip to Gaping Gill. The lads were all competent cavers, but none had ever been to GG before and wanted to do an exchange trip (Flood Entrance Pot / Stream Passage Pot) but did not want to waste time looking for the route. Anybody who knows the standard ?trade routes? will be aware that these routes are not especially complex, nevertheless there is plenty of scope for going wrong, and I have met more than one group who failed to make it to the Main Chamber from the bottom of Stream Passage Pot.
The day of the trip dawned bitterly cold, with about 8 inches of snow on the ground up on Ingleborough, with a biting wind whistling across the fell; we were glad to get into the relative warmth of the underworld. The trip went well, and on account of the fact that a lot of the water was locked up on the surface as ice, it was (fortunately) quite dry underground. On the way out of SPP I reached the little ?chamber? (hah hah) at the foot of the entrance tube. For those who have never been there (incidentally, an excellent trip) SPP starts out as a 7?8-m shaft lined with concrete rings, at the bottom of which is a small alcove, where two?s company, three?s a crowd. Two of the soldiers were sitting there, waiting, and at first I thought that there must be something stopping them getting out ? maybe the tube was blocked with snow? So I said ?You OK?? ?Yes, we?re fine?, came the answer. ?So why don?t you get out?? ?Go and have a look?. So I climbed up the shaft and stuck my head out, only to have it nearly blown off by the banshee wailing across the moor; even at the bottom of the shake hole, it was extremely strong, and blowing fine but very sharp spicules of snow and ice around. So I slithered back down and said, ?Yeah, I see what you mean?.
So we decided to cram as many as we could into this tiny space while the de-rigger ? err ? de-rigged, then we?d get out as quickly as possible to minimize the time spent hanging around. It was then we realized our (my??) cardinal error ? we?d left our ?normal? outdoor clothes, along with maps and compasses, at the other entrance, it was nearly dark, with the rapidly setting sun about to disappear below the horizon dimly visible, and conditions were pretty grim. ?Where?s our stuff?? came the inevitable question; ?Errr, somewhere over there?, pointing in the vague direction of Flood Entrance. ?It?s alright?, I said, ?It?s roughly south-east, so as the sun sets in the west ? over there (pointing to the fast-disappearing orb) ? we?ve got to go that way? (pointing again). ?Well, it doesn?t really set in the actual west at this time of year? said one bright spark, ?It?s some way south of west?. ?Yeah, OK, we?ll allow for that; anyway, once we reach the track we?ll soon be able to discover where we are, OK??.
No, not OK, because the track was covered in snow, and all traces of our passing that morning had been obliterated by fresh snow or the lying snow being blown around.
?Maybe if we form a line, and search that way we?ll find it? said someone. ?Ok, we?ll do that?. So we set off in line abreast, a difficult matter in the prevailing conditions. Suddenly a cry of ?Bloody Hell? went up, followed by a lot of muttered cursing; we dashed over to the source of this exclamation, to find the man on the end had ?found? Bar Pot by the simple expedient of damn-near falling down into it, what with the horrible conditions and the snow-and ice-coated rocks around its lip.
?Well, at least I know where we are now?, I said; ?Do you??, came the sarcastic response. From Bar Pot we soon found Flood Entrance, and from there it was an easy task to find the stile over the wall down to Trow Gill, where there was some shelter from the wind and spindrift.
I have to say that the guys were great ? they took the whole incident in their stride, and although there was a lot of piss-taking, there was no real criticism ? they even bought us some beer that night.

So ? would a Karakorum Goretex jacket have helped? ? maybe ? if I?d left it at the right hole!


Well-known member
Just a short tale from me.

I'd been looking forward very much to going in to Dan Yr Ogof for my first time. It was a trip that I'd heard of through other club members and I looked forward to parading through the show cave in my caving kit past the mere mortals who paid a fee to go around.

It was just as we'd finished changing and made our way in to the show cave that I heard whispers from children looking at us in admiration, pulling on their parents coat sleeves and in a reverent tone the parents told their offspring, "Those are real cavers."

......I couldn't help myself, I turned to them, smiled and said, "Oh no we're just visiting the show cave, you should see how we dress when we go to the National Space Centre!"  8)


The following is the Saga of Valley Entrance.

Here follows the story of my only two experiences of caving in Yorkshire, both in the formidable Valley Entrance.

A number of years ago CHECC was held in Yorkshire for two years in a row. It was sometime in November and having driven for 6 hours to get there for these weekends I was determined to cave, not something that happens all that much on a CHECC weekend.

Due to an excess of alcohol and a lack of SRT kit or experience Valley Entrance was chosen for our Saturday trip on both of the weekends. and unfortunately the changing experience on both of these trips has rather overshadowed my memories of the actual Caving.

Year 1:
The Saturday was COLD! everyone was saying that it had hit -12C overnight. due to a major lack of space in the cars on the way up we had not been able to pack much in the way of clothes so we had to make do with jumpers and jeans. The choice of caves was limited as most of the roads were closed from the snow. But after some effort we made it to Valley Entrance and quickly changed in the snow by the side of the road. It was about 2pm by this point as we had all been rather slow to get moving and we had had to drive slowly due to the snow. We had made arrangements that a car would come and pick us up after our trip so we waved goodbye to our driver and entered the cave. The cave was amazingly warm compared to outside and we made quick progress to the pitch into the Master cave. a few hours of wandering around (which involved getting waist deep in water) was considered to be sufficient and we made our way back to the entrance. we sat in a small chamber just back from the entrance and send a lookout every 5 mins to see if the car had arrived to pick us up and bring us warm clothes. 20 mins passed and we were starting to get cold, but just as we started to worry we saw headlights. We exited the cave to find the wind howling and the snow starting. The road was still covered in snow. We changed as quickly as humanly possible emptying willies on the road and pilling kit in the snow. Once back in our relative comfort of jeans and jumpers we tried to pack away the caving kit. This is where it got complicated. The water from the willies had frozen on the road making staying standing complicated. To add to the difficulties all of the wet kit had frozen to the road. so we were left trying to prise over suits off the ground while impromptu ice skating down the road. I ended up on the floor at least twice and we had to hit the over suits with a stick to fold them into the boot of the car. on the drive back down the valley I decided Valley entrance was a lovely cave but that I thought one trip was probably enough especially in winter.

So the following year I was surprised to find myself once again looking at the small wooden hatch that is the entrance to Valley Entrance. I had learnt my lessons from the previous year. Transport tick: this year I had taken the hire car up and we would not be waiting in the cold for someone to pick us up. weather tick It was sunny (as sunny as November in Yorkshire can be). Spirits were high. we entered the cave and passed quickly to the head of the pitch. we looked down only to see the river in the master cave thundering along. we all decided that there were better ways to die and decided to head back out without getting wet. (another improvement on the previous years disaster). We had been underground for about 45 mins and so when the little wooden hatch was blown out of my hands on the way out of the cave it was  surprise. Gone was the sun. The wind was whipping down the valley and the rain was coming down in sheets. Conscious that we all only had one set of dry clothes with us on the weekend we were keen to get changed quickly and get off the valley asap. we ran over to the car and we all rummaged around in the boot pulling clothes and towels out in a frantic rush to get into something warm and keep it dry. at the point where the group was at our collective highpoint of nudity the rain changed to hail and with it being pushed by the wind it felt like we were being shot. finnaly we overcame and dived into the car, there was a feeling of elation that we had escaped the weather and we were all laughing as the rain and hail got worse. I reached for the key to the car so that we could get back for some tea. it was not in my pocket, it was not in the ignition I had no idea where the key could be. we frantically searched the seats under the seats in pockets but it was no where to be found. there was nothing for it I had to get out and search the boot. I decided that it would be best to do this in a t shirt and my boxers as I didn't have any other dry clothes to change into if what I was wearing got wet.
I got absolutely soaked and battered by hail, I couldn't find the key in the boot so I had to search the road and the grass and still no luck so I gave up wet and bruised. We had to call the AA to come and rescue us ao we sat in the car as the weather roared around us. we were all fairly damp and I was soaked so when the AA man arrived a hour latter we were all pleased to see him. I reluctantly put some trousers back on so the AA man wouldn't be scared off, he said he would have to tow us so I had to search the boot to find the tow attachment thing. and there sitting in the boot under one of the back seats were the keys. much embarrassment occurred and we waved the nice AA man off down the valley and made a slightly soggy return to CHECC.

So please please can I have the Karakorum Jacket as I have heard that Yorkshire is actually quite nice and that there are some great trips that come out of Valley Entrance, but there is no way im going back with out a nice waterproof jacket.