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Winnats head rope is dead


Just to make people aware, The hand line for the vertical squeeze is not in a good state.

At the weekend I was down there and as I came back up I noticed a section of around 4 inches had no outer sheath and all of the inner cords were visible. I don't rely on that rope for the squeeze but I know a few do. Not sure who is responsible for replacing it but felt it important to highlight. Also think there has been some movement at the top of that squeeze as the top stemple is wobbly and the red bucket that was crushed into the rock is now loose as well


Well-known member
I don't really think that anyone can be responsible for that handline really - it's very much a home-made aid, as are most down there, and I struggle to see how that squeeze could be made 'safer' by a replacement of the rope, unless some well-placed anchors are installed directly above the drop - though it should be replaced as it's better than not doing it. The only way to truly fix that problem is to make the hole larger (whilst keeping it stable), and that again is not something a group like DCA can really do. I really struggle to get back up that squeeze personally, as my ribs are too deep and my legs are too long to make the step up, and I have to use the rope (one-handed) to get back up - it's horrible. From memory the squeeze is formed by a massive boulder against the cave wall, but whether it could safely take some enlargement remains to be seen. But I sincerely doubt a stretcher would fit through in either direction at the moment, so it's always been a bit of a risk to go further.


Here's a link to a short film I made of Charley passing easily up the squeeze - and there was a rope in place when I did this, although it isn't absolutely necessary.

There quite often is tat on both the squeezes in the boulder ruckle beneath Fox Chamber, but that's what it is - tat - and should be treated as such, and you shouldn't expect it to be there.

On trips like Winnats, a short (7-10 metres of 8mm or even 7mm) travelling rope is a good idea - I usually carry one on all trips, as it takes up very little room, and can be handy in so many ways.

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Well-known member
That's all very well if your ribcage is the correct dimension - unfortunately (as you probably remember!), I get stuck rather quickly ;)