Author Topic: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!  (Read 11802 times)

Offline Pegasus

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Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« on: October 19, 2015, 03:41:37 pm »


The winner may chose either a men's or ladies Nebula jacket in the size/colour of their choice (depending on stock availability).  Here's what Rab have to say about their lovely new jacket.....( I added in the bit about getting changed  ;D)

Winter insulation experts Rab have introduced new Cirrus™ technology to their winter 2015 collection.
Rab Cirrus™ takes Rab’s expertise in natural down and mimics it closely in a unique synthetic technology.
Developed in partnership with 3M, Cirrus™ fibres create loft to give the same warmth-to-weight as 600FP
duck down. Rapid drying times make Cirrus™ ideal for mixed and unreliable weather conditions.
Rab’s new Nebula jackets offer cavers the warmth and low weight of natural down jackets in a water resilient, fast-drying package using Cirrus technology - ideal for getting changed on a cold fell in Winter!
The Nebula jacket features a Pertex Endurance shell for increased durability and weather protection, and a
helmet fit hood.
“For Rab, producing the best down products possible is where it all started,” explains Tim Jasper, Head of
Design at Rab. “Now with the introduction of Cirrus™, we have harnessed decades of down expertise to
evolve a synthetic technology that offers a genuine alternative.”
The Nebula jacket is available in men’s S-XXL and women’s 8-16, and the Nimbus in men’s S-XXL.
For more information visit

 :thumbsup: Thank you, Rab for supporting ukcaving  :thumbsup:

Surely every caver has a tale to tell about being cold, tired, exhausted underground and being oh so grateful to finally be out of the cave and getting changed??  Tell us your story by posting here to be in with a chance of winning a warm Rab jacket ready for Winter.

Competition closes midnight on 30th November 2015.

We will compile a (long) short list of the best reports and chose a winner at random from that list. 

So providing some effort is made to tell a good tale of being cold, tired, exhausted underground, everyone is in with a chance of winning!!

Good Luck!!
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 12:45:57 pm by Pegasus »

Online JoshW

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2015, 04:58:55 pm »
Oooh a chance to share a story of my stupidity! (Post ended up a bit longer than expected, must be a slow day at work - long story short, I'm stupider and fatter than I thought)

It was the weekend of the BPC gaping gill winch meet in May, my first weekend in Yorkshire (as a southerner), and my first experience of SRTing inside a cave.

The previous day had gone perfectly to plan in Ireby Fell down Ding, Dong, Bell, and my questionable SRT technique was holding out, through a combination of 'blagging it' and brute force.

We marched up Ingleborough having parked in Clapham, full of enthusiasm towards the winch. Despite temptation to take the easy route in on the winch, I was pressured into actually doing some caving and taking the bar pot route in along with some others from West Sussex.

The first pitch was awkward but manageable going down and left us in a small chamber at the bottom with several routes off. Badger advised that there is a slightly less cosy (and potentially less awkward) pitch head in small mammal house and pointed to a small hole just off the floor. He said he fit through but only once his SRT gear had been removed.

We continued down the big pitch and got through to Gaping Gill with relative ease. So far so good, not a problem.

We decided to return up bar pot as there was beer calling our names. Badger at this point decides to use his earlier bought pass to proceed up the winch (git).

The big pitch took big effort and my frankly shit SRT technique was starting to show. by the top of the pitch my left elbow was totally out of action, and my left arm was hanging by my side. On the route to the first pitch I needed big assistance from Doldy.

I remembered Badger's directions and proceeded to crawl through. It seemed cosy but matched his description of a cosy bedding plane. I thought if Badger can fit through without his SRT, it should be an issue to get through with mine on (big mistake as you'll see).

Once I was about 5 or 6 metres through this bedding plane, still one arm down and having to breathe out to move on, I start to wonder whether Badger did take this route.

I can see it start to open up a few metres ahead and decide my best option is to get to the opening and decide what to do from there. squeezing on another 3 metres or so, and I'm now fully wedged. My SRT kit is acting as an anchor through the thick squalorific mud, and my energy is definitely fading.

The bedding plane is about 2 metres wide and I'm slap bang in the middle with no way of using the sides to push myself onwards. Panic starts to slowly (read very quickly) set in. Not ideal. Much swearing is directed towards the absent badger  :furious:

I decide at this point to ask if it's okay to cut the clubs harness off me to potentially free me from it. I got the okay, but couldn't reach my knife that was inside my oversuit. Bollocks.

It's at this point Doldy makes a run to grab some racing snakes from the main base on the top of the hill with Tim and Helen keeping me company from the other end of the passage.

After about 40 minutes of being laid flat out lizard style in mud, I'm absolutely chuffing freezing and miserable, and my mothers warnings of 'I don't like you caving' are running through my head. I see a light shine up the passage from behind me and directions from an unfamiliar voice giving instruction of what to do.

Despite my best efforts to wiggle backwards it's clear my hips and chest just won't go back the way they came. Thankfull the unfamiliar voice was able to wriggle through so that my foot was within arm length, and he pulled me back and I had a bit of momentum about me. Another few minutes of fantastic direction and encouragement from him and I was out in the chamber.

At this point the cavalry arrived, and in my dazed state I thanked the unfamiliar voice, whose actual name is Rob Middleton (or shall always be known as my knight in shining armour) before he dissappeared into the darkness. The rescuers had brought much needed hot soup to replenish me, so I drank some of this along with my chocolate bar still stashed in my pocket.

It was decided that it would be easier to haul me out of Small Mammal than the first pitch (still one arm down), so a crawl down the correct route towards small mammal passage ensued before being hauled up to safety by Aly Brook and the rest of the team. I arrived at the surface, totally coated in mud, drenched, exhausted and a little bit chilly, to be greeted by what felt like a tornade. I have never been colder in my entire life, and I still had to wander back down the hill to Clapham.

At that moment I really could've done with some kind of warm jacket to wear as opposed to soaking wet oversuit, furry and thermals.

Moral of the story: don't go through tight squeezes in SRT gear, it's really bloody stupid
Moral of the story 2: If badger says he's been somewhere, check it's actually badger guage before proceeding, he may have pointed you in the wrong direction
Moral of the story 3: never underestimate the power of tomato soup, fairly sure it brought me back from the brink.

Massive thanks to the rescue team that day including Rob, who I don't feel like I ever got chance to thank enough.

[Pegasus - does this also enter me for the rope or have I got to post it seperately?]
« Last Edit: October 19, 2015, 05:15:23 pm by JoshW »

Offline badger

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2015, 06:09:26 pm »
spelling Josh, Souf, norf.
and I was nearly right had I been there instead of a nice 3 minute exit I could have told you it was wrong,  ;)

Online JoshW

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2015, 06:38:06 pm »
for anyone that's interested, the squalorific squeeze is called allen's crawl, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it never be visited.

Offline chunky

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2015, 07:22:37 pm »
Great account, sounds totally horrific!

Offline Pegasus

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2015, 08:00:04 pm »
Hi Josh, great tale, thanks for posting  :thumbsup: - my favourite bit was - (git)  :lol:

New competition rule - same post can't be entered into both the Spanset rope & Rab duvet competitions - sorry  :)

Online JoshW

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2015, 08:53:55 pm »
Ahh oh well. Will have to do something. Equally as stupid to require a write up. Thanks for organising these comps Pegasus!

Offline PaulW

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2015, 08:59:51 pm »
that shouldn't take too long  :lol: :lol:

Offline blhall195

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2015, 09:53:28 pm »
This is a bit of a long one too, but hey it was a long trip :P

Throwing our kit into the back of a Peugeot Partner we set off to the dales, in order to attempt the much fabled penygent pot and Friday the 13th series. We parked the van outside the Bradford hut, while getting changed Nat threw one of my shoes at Rob who was urinating near the wall, the shoe landed just underneath him and was consequently pissed on, a running theme for the day…

After getting changed we walked up the hill in our dry, roasting (Nat: ‘Testicle crushing’) wetsuits. Nat was having particular trouble bending his legs more than 30 degrees, and we decided it was probably best to go up topless (good nudity), after frightening many families and old couples with our appearance on the way up, we made it to the unremarkable cave entrance.

We quickly kitted up and headed down the scaffolding into the entrance crawl (Double kneepads recommended), the water was pretty cold, I was glad I was wearing gloves & neoprene. The trip down was much faster than we expected, probably owing to the “pitches” we decided were actually mostly free climbs.

After about 4-5 hours, we arrived at the sump. Rob and I carefully climbed round the edge of a deep pool to have a look at it, I turned around to see Nat’s headlamp underwater, soon followed by Nat remerging from the pool, gasping for air. Exclaiming that the pool was so deep he didn’t actually hit the floor, he managed to persuade Rob to jump in too. For… ‘fun’.

At this point I was pretty warm and there wasn’t much water in my wetsuit so I had no intention of jumping in the water with them, unfortunately this wasn’t good enough for Rob and Nat who decided they wouldn’t be happy unless I was completely soaked too, Nat grabbed my cows tails and pulled me into the pool with him.

A moment later I looked up to see murky water & my yellow light flickering above me, quickly followed by cold water running down my neck. I was having flash backs to some traumatic swimming lessons I had when I was 5. I quickly resurfaced to hear Nat and Rob laughing at me, I wasn’t friends with them anymore.

The original plan was to just head to the sump and back, however Mike Butcher had somehow convinced Rob a side trip to the Friday the 13th series, was a good idea.
After an exposed traverse over the top of the 10th pitch and some stooping/crawling passage, we came to a big deep hole in the floor (Eerie Pot), we could see the passage continue ahead and some questionable ropes and rusty bolts on the floor to the right of us running to the other side of the hole. Double checking the description we were certain that this must be the right place and we needed to get across the hole.

Nat headed off first, clipping his cows tails into the rope and edging his way across the traverse, complaining all the way, “oooh I don’t like this, this isn’t safe”. Rob and I found this hilarious & assumed Nat was just over reacting. Reassuring Nat the traverse/Tyrolean was fine and the sketchy looking ropes were probably fine; definitely not attached to the wall with rusty wobbly hangers and an ancient hex.
Nat made it across and was followed by Rob, “eek this is horrible, how did you do this?” slightly concerned by Robs response to the traverse, I set off across next and after looking across the traverse I realised why they were concerned, “Okay yeah, usually stuff like this doesn’t faze me but this is pretty bad”. Putting my bodyweight on the traverse above the deep hole, I carefully shuttled across to join the others.

So the misery begins… Nat began reading the description from the Black book, “Psycho Crawl deteriorates into a flat-out waterlogged struggle”. Nice...

Optimistic the black book was over exaggerating I followed the others into the flat out crawl, after missing a turning somewhere we went the wrong way into, what we think were some choked oxbows, which ended up being worse than Psycho Crawl, gritting my teeth - with grit in my teeth we carried on thruching through the passage. After lots of face in muddy water, flat out crawling over submerged cobbles we were really hoping for a break at some point soon, eventually we stopped when we realised the straws ahead of us in the passage were blocking our way and were not broken, meaning we had obviously gone the wrong way.

Group morale was decreasing rapidly as we headed back the way we came, we gave the passage a second chance & I lead the way through more flat out crawling down another passage on the right. Almost as unpleasant a the first one the passage ended with some flow stone formation blocking our way, some backwards flat out crawling and interesting turning around manovers later, we managed to get back to the start my morale was approaching zero.

Back at the beginning we took a left turn, down which was probably/defiantly psycho crawl which was actually nicer than the oxbows but still utterly miserable and to make things worse the contents of the over packed tackle sack I was carrying started overflowing and getting stuck on everything (Apparently Watty went through in 1986, in his underwear! I wonder if that’s how it got its name).

The flat out crawl eventually opened out into hands and knees crawling and then into a stooping passage, where we stopped for a break. After contemplating leaving at this point, we deicide after coming this far we should at least attempt to make it to the sump.

The passage went round a corner into a canal, I eased myself into the water and carried on. Rob managed to trip over his tackle sack and face planted into the canal, surfacing he looked furious, “ARGGH, I’m doing this F#!?-ing sump now!” With rekindled determination we pressed on down the canal, the roof started getting closer to the floor and the water up to our crotches. It was at this point we discovered the joys of pissing in our wetsuits, “Ahh, it’s better than an orgasm”, “yay, my feet are warm again”… “I’m glad this is Mike’s wet suit”. When the roof started getting too low, we sent rob ahead to check out the rest of the canal, he came back looking slightly hypothermic and we decided to call it a day.

Heading back to the surface we arrived at the traverse over the top of the 10th pitch, while climbing across - the foothold I was using broke off, luckily my hand placements were good and I didn’t fall off.

Arriving at the 4th pitch, I went up first, Nat had instructed me to double up the sling on the deviation, which was hanging dubiously off a flake. I folded the sling in half and wrapped it around the flake. On the way up the second pitch I hear Nat shouting, “Brendan you moron!”. Not thinking too much about it I headed up the 3rd pitch and met Nat at the top. Apparently I had managed to rig the deviation in such a way that the karabiner somehow unclipped itself from the sling and hit him on the way up (I seem to have a talent for this). To calm himself down Nat decided to piss himself again and everything was good.

To save time we split up and bombed it to the surface, after what seemed like an eternity of crawling I eventually made it to the scaffolding near the entrance and headed back to the hut. After getting changed I headed into the kitchen and laid out the sandwiches and cake I brought for the civilised post cave tea party, I had been planning this in my head most of the trip.

Nat walked in and told me Rob needed my assistance, rob was in the changing room and was having trouble getting out of mikes wetsuit, after lots of pulling and homoerotic noises, the suit finally slipped off past his feet and hit me in the face, covering me in robs pissy, foot, cave water, very nice.
Never been happier to be in dry clothes drinking tea and eating cake after a trip.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2015, 10:10:14 pm by Hall2501 »

Online MJenkinson

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2015, 04:33:26 am »
Little Hull Pot aka Lets Spend the Day Freezing Our B******s Off.

Less a tale of hardcore caving and more one of unrelenting faff in a relatively easy cave.

After an early start, we (6 of us or so) all met in various dribs and drabs at the Penyghent café in Horton.  No-one got out the car. We just parked up next to each other in the snow, wound a window down and stared at each other and the snow covered hills, hoping that someone else would can the trip and suggest a swift return to Manchester and the many warm pubs.  We looked like some very committed doggers. After waiting past opening time, we elected to bang on the door of the café  - a bit rude, but we really wanted a brew. Eventually we got in and had a bit of food and a natter.  The owner did also offer, after pointing out how cold we were going to be, to open up the café later on that evening.

Certain members of our club can be a bit slow getting ready, not today. Everyone was dressed and kitted in quick time and ready for the walk up to Little Hull Pot.  It was relatively slow walk up, slipping and sliding on the ice, everyone with balaclavas pulled up, not talking. Most of us probably thinking about taking up darts.

In my opinion, it’s never a precursor to a warm or comfortable trip when one of the team members is carrying a full size snow shovel with him to help excavate the entrance if required.  After finding the entrance, we headed in. No digging required, so the snow shovel was stashed.

After this we had a lovely trip, a bit wet, a fun pitch involving swinging around through a window and a bigger main drop.  A fair bit of water around but nothing major.  A failed deviation added some excitement to the rigging of the big drop; nothing gets the heart going like a loud shout, a big bang and then just enough silence to get you worried before someone shouts up that it’s all OK. Albeit they are sat on the floor with a rather sore backside.

After the second pitch and upon viewing the watery crawl through to the next section of the cave, a few people elected to head back out, whilst some pushed on to the end, and others being especially stupid, did the wet crawl just to say they had done it before returning immediately and heading out. That would be me then.

What then followed was one of the longest trips of my life. Faffing at the big pitch, slow climbing, cold crawls, drafts and spray.  In the end after the second pitch, one of the bottomers caught me up and said that the last two would be doing the de-rigging but would appreciate someone waiting to carry some bags. OK.  So we waited in the entrance crawl. And we waited some more. Lying against cold rock, completely wet through.  We crawled back and forth to keep warm, went out the cave and jumped around a bit, then crawled back in and just sat in misery.

Eventually we wandered back to the first pitch to carry out some more hardcore waiting around.  Eventually the last two arrived after a faffy de-rigging and we made it out onto the surface into a pitch black night.  I am blessed with a reasonable amount of “bioprene” so tend not to feel the cold.  I felt it that night.  Balaclava up (although it was pissed wet through), hands tucked in suit, heads down – let’s get this walk back done. A few of the others could be seen by their head torches heading down the hill, this was no team exit – people were too cold and just heading back.  About three of us headed down to Horton together, my light was failing and back then I didn’t carry a spare.  The path down had turned into an absolute ice rink, and whilst we at first enjoyed the sight of our fellows slipping, sliding and carrying out some amazing “Home Alone” style falls – the novelty soon wore off when it was the viewer who then had a turn impacting the ice.  Attempts were made at sliding back down the path sat on the snow showel but alas it wasn’t as successful as we hoped. The walk down did at least learn to a communal sharing of various new ways of swearing.  Mainly about caving, the ice and why we were not better at football thus meaning we would never have had to start caving in the beginning.  After about a 90 minute walk / dance / falling / fiasco we made it back to the cars were some of the others were already sat in the café – again after we had banged on the door and asked them to open up.

I am sure some had said this before, but our gear was frozen on. We couldn’t undo maillons, screw gates, couldn’t touch the metal without gloves, couldn’t operate the damn things with gloves on. My cows tails were like pipe cleaners – you could bend them whichever way you wanted and they stayed that way, and my oversuit covered in frost was propped up against the car vertically.  It’s a good trip but I am not doing it again in the winter.  It was a long drive home, heating on full power, trying to get feeling back into my toes.  The only real benefit was that after shivering and throwing up all night, I got a day off work.

Some of the club went back this year, and in their report the opening phrase is something along the lines of “The only previous time I'd been here it had been deepest winter and all I remembered was the snowy treacherous freezing walk back”.

Fun times.

Offline aricooperdavis

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2015, 01:58:00 am »
It's not easy to compete with all these amazing stories, but I'll share my own moment of stupidity.

It's a boiling hot day (say... 38°C?) in the south of France, and the club is visiting some new caves. We've taken a look at the topo, and it looks like a fairly simple job - 4 pitches almost stacked on top of each other, with very little actual caving in between.

There are about 7 of us wanting to descend, and only 5 SRT kits, so I head down in the first group and have an explore. It's a pretty little cave, with a reasonable (30m +) final pitch that descends into a pool at the bottom. A tiny rebelay just below the top of the pitch makes it an interesting exercise for new cavers, and I like rigging, so it's fun for me too.  Everyone's impressed by the descent with some beautiful flowstone on the walls, and a wonderfully cool pool at the bottom. As is typical, I ascend back up last, so 30m of bouncy ascent whilst pulling all that rope through my chest ascender leaves me a little tired.

I leave the cave, burst into the boiling sunshine again, and lie down under a tree in the shade. I think we managed to get through about 4 litres of water per person per day on that trip; it was exhausting. I strip out of my oversuit and lie there in a T-shirt and swimming trunks, and try not to think about all the ants that were starting to crawl all over us all.

After about an hour, I start to wonder where the other group has got to. It's hot, I'm tired, and I don't expect to be gone long, so I pop a spare SRT kit over my shorts and T-shirt and head back down. I reach the top of the final 30m pitch to find the last person having just reached the top and clutching their groin in agony - apparently they'd got a testicle trapped in their leg strap half way up, and the pain was unbearable.

So I send them off up the next pitch and de-rig the rope. After coiling all the rope again I'm starting to feel a little chilly, as I hadn't anticipated being underground for so long. But no worries; I'll be out in a jiffy right? Nope.

It doesn't take long to realise that the last person up left the rope bag at the bottom of the pitch.

So I re-rig the pitch - but I'm starting to get cold now, so rather than rig the rebelay I just cows-tail into a safety line, lean right out, and rig a direct drop right down the middle of the shaft. Unfortunately, being 6ft2, I was the only one who could actually lean out to de-rig it too, so rather than escape back into the warmth, I have to stand at the top of the pitch and do star-jumps whilst the pitch is descended.

It doesn't take all that long to get down it, get the rope bag, and re-ascend - and it takes even less time to de-rig and get the rope sorted out, but by that time my fingers are starting to get properly chilly. It takes about another half hour to de rig the rest of the pitches and leave.

By the time we're all out I'm no longer fed up with that exhausting 38°C heat, but absolutely thankful for it, as I get out shivering, wearing only swimming trunks and a T-shirt. I didn't think to bring a down jacket and wooly hat on that trip, but maybe in the future I'll ignore my senses and bring one anyway, as I could have done with it in that cave!

My lesson learnt: however warm it is outside the cave, it's still damn chilly inside in the wet and the dark.

Now I know that sounds pathetic in comparison to some of these snow-melt / frozen equipment / hypothermia stories, and I have some of those myself too, but I didn't want to bore you all will that  :)

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2015, 08:16:13 am »
"There's a cracking dig through there!"...

It's been a good few years now since the hey-day of Kev Sp8's uber-enthusiasm used to get me fired up to join my smiling caving chum on his madcap mission(s) and one of these was to push a charming and highly inviting little sump in the further reaches of Upper Flood Swallet, the tenth anniversary of the discovery of which happens to be next year; there are many parts of the cave that hold secrets and promises of onward passages and the elusive continuing route persists in thwarting all comers. Kev is not one of the daunted.

Although it was a summertime trip, we planned to be in the cave for many hours as the commute alone, in this streamway cave, would be around four hours just to manhandle the digging gear (mostly piping and a pump) outbound and inbound (although I believe the pipe is still there but may have been retasked elsewhere by now); neofleece and neoprene socks are OK, but for perched sump water, digging out mud and pumping for several hours, it was insufficient to stop my feet becoming numb with cold. The return journey out of the cave was interesting because it was like walking on someone else's legs, or imaginary stilts, because there was no feeling or sense of feedback from the rocky pathways, and despite lingering in a shower afterwards to warm up it still took two days before I fully regained the normal sensitivity of the soles of my feet. Delicate flower, me.

There is a video of the malarks, here:

Offline chunky

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2015, 05:48:23 pm »
A couple of years ago I arranged an Oxlow / Maskhill exchange for the club.

We'd had a young girl join Dudley and recently train on SRT....for this trip she would be my responsibility and under my watchful eye.
Chloe had done well throughout the trip in to Maskhill and was feeling pretty confident by the time we reached the entrance pitch out of Oxlow. Her only worry was getting off at the top of the pitch and so I said I would go up first and spot her out.
As I emerged the weather had taken a turn for the worse, a blizzard had whited out the entire hillside and the windchill meant I soon couldn't feel my fingers or face.
I waited at the top of the pitch for almost half an hour for Chloe to emerge but finally I could stand it no more and made my way back down to the parked cars to try and warm my hands which had by this point quite literally turned blue.
With the heater at full blast I tried to defrost myself best I could, the blizzard began to ease off and the snow filled air cleared. I could now make out a very cold and tearful Chloe making her solitary way across the fields toward me.

If only I'd had a shiny new Rab Nebula Jacket I could have been chivalrous and not abandoned my post to leave a damsel in distress to try and climb out of Oxlow with frozen fingers that wouldn't open her stop!........and do you think she's ever let me forget it!  :chair:

Offline Dregson

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2015, 01:45:49 pm »
Here is a report of a trip down Black Shiver in 1981 when I nearly died of cold in the Hill Inn:

The clue is in the name. It is supposed to refer to the wobbly nature of the peat on that part of the fell where the entrance lies, but the cave itself is dark, not just lightless like all caves, but the itself rock is black. The entrance is obscure and low,  and wet and full of rounded pebbles that obstruct you. It is best to do this cave in winter, when the water on the fells is locked up in ice. Go down there in the summer and there is always the risk that a sudden summer shower will inundate the entrance crawl, trapping you inside for days until the long, low sections becomes passable again. But do it in winter, and the length of the trip will force you to emerge after dark, and shivering. It is not called Black Shiver for nothing.

If I am not selling this cave, I should be telling you instead of the glories of the streamway, and of the extravagant pitches with inspiring waterfalls that a caver will discover beyond the crawl. Black Shiver is one of the classic Yorkshire stream pots, as good as  Pen-y-Ghent Pot or Dale Head pot to name but two, and it has to be on the to-do list of every keen potholer who wants to tick off the best. IN 1981 we were exactly those kind of potholers.

We started at the Hill Inn. The Dales does fine pubs, that is for sure. Refuges of warmth and plenty in sharp relief to the wildness of the moors and the austerity of a trip down the caves. We wore wetsuits. Not so fashionalbe now, but in those days there were the best thing. Even  now, though,  I would prefer to be wearing one of these neoprene wonders if I were to find myself once again pushing a tacklebag ahead of me in a flat out bedding plane with a stream of meltwater for company. So in the car park of that pub, we stripped off in the January sun and buckled up our rubber suits for the yomp to the cave.

It took a long time to find. There is a long walk on the flat karst below Ingleborough hill, then a frustrating period looking for the entrance. It lies in a small stream sink, of which there are several. We had to look at them all until we found the correct one, the one that was just large enough to take us. It wouldn't do for a cave with a name like Black Shiver to have an easy entrance. I found that  it was only just big enough for me, and plentifully supplied with cobbles that pressed hard against my chest as I wormed my way down the flat bedding plane towards the first drop into the streamway.

After that, the cave proper begins. The passage enlarges and it becomes possible to walk, then there are big chambers and grandiose pitches down which we flung our ropes, sliding down on them with our whoops of delight drowned out by the roar of the falling stream. At the bottom of the cave, we felt elated as we ate a soggy Mars bar, and huddled next to the terminal sump. Then it was time to move out.

We inched our way up using primitive rope ascending methods. In the early 1980's it was difficult to buy ready made systems and we had built our own, knotting harnesses together using the Bradford system of a triple-tape, and using various Heath-Robinson strappings to hold us onto the ropes. The ascenders themselves had been made in his workshop by a friend, who was paid for his efforts in beer. Getting off the rope at the top of the pitches was tricky, with these ropewalkers, but we made it at last to the entrance crawl, pushing the tacklebags ahead of us, we felt an arctic draught. The stream was noticeably lower.

I emerged onto a frozen moorscape. The clear sky was pitted with bright stars. There was no moon, and the cold snap of the night had taken hold of Ingleborough Hill.  As I waited for my two companions to join me, I could feel the sodden strap of the tacklebag stiffening. It was way below zero.

The other two came out. “Undo your wetsuit zip,” said one of them, “because it will freeze on the walk back and we'll have to cut you out of it.”

So we walked back across the moor to the Hill Inn with our wetsuits undone, arms crossed to try to cuddle up some of our warmth. The sky was so clear we could see shadows of ourselves in the starlight.

In the pub car park we opened the car and arranged our clothes ready to get into them.  We used to grade the changes just like the caves. This would be Grade I. Outside, in the dark, below freezing, but it wasn't actually raining or snowing and there was a pub close, so not quite Grade V.

I leant against the roof of the car to pull off a boot, then couldn't remove my hand. The frost had seized my wet rubber glove and glued it to the metal. I had to pull my hand out and leave the glove there. We got changed fast. If caving in a Yorkshire winter teaches you only one thing, it is this. Getting changed fast. Rip off your wetsuit top and put on your vest, shirt and jumper. Put on your anorak and your bobble-hat – only then take off your wetsuit trousers and get into your jeans.

The wetsuits were beginning to freeze when we shoved them into the boot and headed for the pub. Inside, it was bright, warm, noisy and welcoming. Everything that changing in the car park was not. We ordered three pints of beer and sat next to the fire, clinking the glasses together and drinking to our success in bottoming Black Shiver.

But then our day took a turn for the worse. It was then that we began to feel truly cold. A terrible chill seized all three of us and we started shivering uncontrollably. We became so cold in that pub that we couldn't speak. The shivering was so marked  that we were unable to pick up the glasses and finish the last mouthfuls of beer. That feeling of cold was possibly the most unpleasant thing I have endured. We sat there, in a warm pub, next to the fire, all wondering if we could ever be warm again. We had been fine in the cave, and had survived the march back across the fell. We had stripped off in a sub-zero car park, but were going to die of cold in a busy pub. It was absurd.

A man came over, seeing us shivering. He said that he could tell that we had been caving – we were all mucky hair and faces – and he started explaining why we were so cold. He was a doctor in Manchester, so he said, and realised that in the cave, on the walk, and in the car park, our bodies had conserved our core heat, but had let our arms, legs, skin, buttocks and faces drop down to very low temperatures. Once in the pub, blood began to flow to these peripheries and returned to the heart very cool. Our core temperature had fallen. In addition we had taken almost a pint of coolish beer and put it into our stomachs. No wonder we were cold. “Just sit it out lads, it will pass eventually.”

And pass it did. Slowly, very slowly we warmed up enough to contemplate some more beer, and sipped it as the Doctor from Manchester went on with his lecture, his low-pitched monotonous voice reminding us of the sound the cobbles make as they roll along in the entrance to Black Shiver.

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2015, 03:45:50 pm »
What a superb first posting to the forum!!!!!!

Offline Badlad

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #15 on: October 28, 2015, 04:13:07 pm »
 :thumbsup: Thank god it was warm British beer and not ice cold larger - you'd be dead!

Offline kay

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #16 on: October 28, 2015, 05:24:37 pm »
He was a doctor in Manchester, so he said, and realised that in the cave, on the walk, and in the car park, our bodies had conserved our core heat, but had let our arms, legs, skin, buttocks and faces drop down to very low temperatures. Once in the pub, blood began to flow to these peripheries and returned to the heart very cool. Our core temperature had fallen. In addition we had taken almost a pint of coolish beer and put it into our stomachs. No wonder we were cold. “Just sit it out lads, it will pass eventually.”

This has always happened to me (my temperature control is rubbish) - not abnormally cold coming out of the cave, or out of the sea, getting changed and feeling OK, then half an hour later sitting in the warm with a cup of coffee in front of me feeling totally chilled inside and finding it impossible to warm up. I'd worked out the explanation, but it's good to have it confirmed - thanks for posting  :thumbsup:

Offline Pegasus

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #17 on: October 28, 2015, 08:23:07 pm »
Well you learn something new everyday as they say....explains why I've sat in a warm pub and been freezing cold for ages after caving....

Fab first post Dregson, thank you - and welcome to the forum  :thumbsup:  :thumbsup:

Offline chunky

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #18 on: October 29, 2015, 05:25:14 pm »
What a superb first posting to the forum!!!!!!

What he said  :thumbsup:

Offline Pegasus

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2015, 08:36:40 pm »
Currently a 7:1 chance of winning a Rab jacket   :o

Thanks to those who have posted - some great reads above  :thumbsup:

Still plenty of time for folks to enter and support the UKC competitions  ;D

Remember, winner chosen at random so you've a very good chance of winning!!

Online Leclused

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #20 on: November 20, 2015, 10:49:26 am »
This is the story of the elimination of Siphon 2/3 in ‘Chantoir de Fagnoules – Belgium’.

When I joined the club SC Avalon in 2005 they were just starting with the elimination of the S2/S3 in the Fagnoules. The cave was then a recent discovery of Avalon but they were stopped at a S2 downstream. This S2 was dived by M Pauwels en J Petit and the two divers discovered a large extension of the cave after they also dived a S3 that followed the S2 directly. This extension had large galleries, a river and even an 8m waterfall. They were eventually stopped by an S5 some 500m further in the cave.  So no need to tell that all club members were eager to see this part of the cave too. And in order to help the divers at the S5 we needed to be able to go through the S2/S3 without diving. 

So Paul made a masterplan to pump the S2/S3 empty by pumping the water further downstream beyond S2/s3. In a nutshell here is how we did it:

-   200m uptstream of the S2/S3 a small dam was build and the river was captured and channeled through a firehose  (320mm diameter).
-   The divers pulled the 320mm firehose through the S2/S3 and the river that was running through the firehose was dumped in the S4
-   At the S2/S3 a smaller firehose was used to pump the water that was still standing in the S2/S3 upstream and then into the firehose of 320mm at an Y-junction with a valve.

Installing and finetuning this setup took us already 3 months to complete. But now we were able to pass the sump dry and visit the cave post siphon. Months went by and the sump was pumped several times. The part beyond was explored and surveyed and we were able to help the divers at the S5. This S5 was dived and again the divers were stopped by an S6 and later by an S7. The S7 was not diveable but there was a small dry passage passing the S7. This passage required some heavy desobstruction techniques which the divers couldn’t do.

In the meanwhile we were already started with the elimination of the S2/S3 siphon by pulling of the roof of the S2/S3. This was a huge work. The S2 was 13m long and went to -3m. During  2.5 years countless trips (almost every 2 weeks) were undertaken and step by step we pulled of the roof using heavy drills with a drill bit of 1m long to drill the holes. Every time we went down the power engine used liters of fuel outside the cave  to provide us of enough power to drill and pump. 

Usage of a heavy powerdrill to drill 1m long holes.

But then the day 21/7/2006 came and we arrived at the S2 where we felt an airflow over the water. The siphon was no more and Paul and myself went through the S2/S3 without diving. A big relief for us and we were happy to have completed this tremendous task.

But this was not the end of course. We repeated the same method to eliminate the S5 and S6 so that we could tackle the small passage at the S7 to see what was beyond the S7. But that is another part of the Fagnoules Saga.  Beyond the S7 we discovered again several hundred meters of cave leading to an S9. The cave was connected with another nearby discovery “Chantoir de Buc” of us and currently the cave is almost 3km long. A trip in the system Fagnoules-Buc  is nowdays a wet and sporting trip. Exploration is still going on but is going slow nowdays, other discoveries in Belgium are keeping us busy.

The river post S2/S3 in high water conditions.

The complete Saga (so far and in dutch) can be read here :

I wrote this report to encourage other cavers to write trip reports / project descriptions. I know writing is not always easy, but if you start doing it you will see it is really fun to do. I'm not a British caver so if this report is not counting for the competition then it's not a problem for me :-) and if there are any grammar faults in it. Sorry for that  ;D

Text : Dagobert L’Ecluse (Sc Avalon)
Photos : Paul de Bie (Sc Avalon)
« Last Edit: November 20, 2015, 10:58:04 am by Leclused »
Dagobert L'Ecluse (SC Avalon - Belgium)

Offline steviet_scg

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #21 on: November 20, 2015, 10:53:53 am »
Well, I could tell the tale from a few years back when a friend and I did the classic Bar Pot to Main Chamber trip on a blistering cold day. Ingleborough was white over right down to Clapham and we emerged after a nice trip to blizzards and a white out. But, being sensible we'd stashed dry balaclavas, mitts and warm jackets (a Rab Belay jacket in my case) inside the entrance. We walked down in relative comfort. But, I won't - because that's a story of doing things right and hence boring (and why winning a warm non-down jacket is worth it)

So, I'll tell a story of a time - not when I got things wrong as such - but when I didn't know what the hell I was doing.

It was 1987 - winter. I'd just started caving and had done a couple of trips - caves around Attermire, Long Kin East Cave (to the Bridge) and Upper Long Churn. Then I was invited to go on a club trip and so off I toddled. I knew nothing about the trip or the arrangements. We drove up to the Dales and met up with some other people. It was then that the person who had invited me  said that he was going walking and I should go with these other people. I hopped into their car - they were early 20s and seemed super confident and experienced. I was edging out of my comfort zone. They told me that we had to go and meet up with the person that was leading the trip.

We arrived at a Northern Dales village; it might have been Muker. We were invited into a small, homely cottage where we had tea and biscuits (nice) and were grilled on why we wanted to go caving by a Sergeant Major type (not nice). He rounded on me when I called Caving a sport - but seemed happy enough for me to come along on the trip.

We drove some more and then turned down a farm track. We were told to get into our caving gear. For me, that meant putting on a pair of Army and Navy stores long johns, some tracksuit bottoms, a woolly jumper (although it was probably acrylic now that I think about it), a couple of pairs of long socks and my new boiler suit. I'd acquired an old miners helmet and borrowed a Petzl Zoom. I was soon ready and walked around the car to see everyone else putting on wetsuits. The young lads were wearing wetsuit hoods and gloves. Hell, I was nervous now and the edge of my comfort zone was receding over the horizon.

A couple of minutes later we were at the entrance. It was here that I learnt we were at Smelt Mill Beck Cave.

Having been in Smelt Mill Beck a few more times since I can say that the water levels were very high that day. The entrance series left me gasping for breath - not just because of the coldness of the water - but because the two ducks had very little air space and I seemed to have negative buoyancy. I came through the second duck coughing and spluttering.

To be honest I remember very little about the rest of the trip. I remember long passages where I was trying to traverse above the stream to keep out of the water; I remember the end where there is a tiny sump - the leader of the trip went through - the rest of us declined (although I wanted to - I thought if the wetsuited duo weren't going to do it is probably wasn't wise for me). I remember the journey out, shivering and my legs starting to misbehave, my light started to flicker before becoming nothing more than a faint glow and my helmet became loose and wobbled around. I was seriously cold, uncoordinated and could hardly see where I was going. I had that horrible dual feeling of wanting to see the entrance but not wanting to go through the ducks again. As ever they weren't so bad on the way out and we came out to a weak but very welcome sun.

As I squelched back down to the car the Sergeant Major leader guy said to me, 'well, that's taught you a lesson hasn't it' - I nodded (whilst thinking 'too f****** right') and he continued, 'yes, never borrow someone else's light!'. How about 'buy a wetsuit' I thought.

I changed into dry but not warm clothes and was driven back to a campsite. I pitched my small tent and crawled into my moon bag. I'd bought one with my paper round money as it sounded warm - something about some silver material reflecting heat back into the bag - I longed for heat and comfort. I got neither. I tried to light a gas lamp but was still shaking and ended up dropping it and breaking the glass. I gave up, curled into a foetal position and shivered my way through a frosty night.

A few weeks later I hitched to the Robin Hood at Heckmondwike and bought a second hand clipper wetsuit - caving was never going to be the same again (thankfully!)

Offline cavemanmike

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #22 on: November 20, 2015, 06:17:39 pm »
Derbyshire trip

A tale of an uneventful convoy of land rovers, strange cuisine, tumbling Boyd, ghostly encounters, and some caving.

It has become unusual for us at UCET to start a trip report without a road accident or breakdown but here it is.
We all met up at Mikes house where Iestyn and Tim both brought their long wheelbase Land rovers, we sorted all the gear out and put most of it in the back of Iestyn’s together with Marseil, Budge, Sweety, Myself and of course Iestyn the driver.
The rest of the retrobates were isolated in Tim’s vehicle for the comfort and safety of all concerned, so Boydy, Jay, Lee, Ken, Tony, Mike, and Tim travelled in Tim’s Landy.
So we arrived at the bunkhouse which as you will know is converted from an old chapel on the bend in the main street in Castleton, we unpacked the Landy’s, chose our bunks and went to the pub, and therein lay I fear, the seeds of our discomfort.
In the pub, I think it was the Peak tavern, we met, first Les and Wendy then Richard and later all manner of cavers including Tom, Andy, Lauren, Purdy, Ross and others who’s names were obliterated by the demon alcohol.
We were enjoying ourselves so much that we, or at least some of us forgot to eat, until at some ungodly hour, the pub was no longer serving food, we each dealt with this small impediment in our own ways, some simply lost a little weight, others, including myself partook of the ample selection of crisps and nuts available at the bar, Rob, feeling he was due a more substantial meal took himself off up the road where it was rumoured pizza could be had.
While we continued our unbridled merriment Rob had found the pizza pedlar and purchased one too large to be eaten on the walk back to the pub so he cunningly hid half of it under a bench in the school playground.
We all continued to discuss caving techniques and plan where we would be using them next day, events blurred a little after this so I could not say for sure if we left the pub voluntarily, or were put out on the street, however during the short walk back to the bunkhouse, Rob made a little detour in order to retrieve his half pizza and we all retired to the bunkhouse kitchen where more beer was consumed.
It is not unusual that the second half of a pizza seems less appealing than the first, so I did not pay much attention to Rob’s complaints that the flavour had deteriorated so much in the few short hours since he had last tasted it, however it was noted that he turned an interesting shade of green, when he noticed the family of slugs who had taken up residence on his pizza.
By 2am I was in my sleeping bag and soon fast asleep, only to be woken what seemed like a few minutes later by an almighty crash when Boydy had fallen off the top bunk, by the time I had fought my way out of my sleeping bag, Boydy, who had been sprawled on the bunkroom floor like a large piece of road kill, simply picked himself up and went to the toilet, my phone which I had got out, quick as a flash to ring for an ambulance, said 4am so I went back to bed.
By the time I got to the kitchen at 8am Boydy was already cooking the breakfast.
Personally I was not feeling up to hanging from ropes on this occasion so after the breakfast which Boydy cooked for everyone, I opted to join a trip which Les was planning, to the far reaches of Peak cavern, while most of the others were going to JH colostomy passage and white river, I think, and so it was that Les, Marseil, Bekah, Jay, Rob, and myself set off past the pay booth into Peak, making our way through the show cave with lights out and not touching the handrails as instructed.
And soon we were heading down the devils stairway and off into the delights beyond the show cave, speaking for myself it was a very pleasant day wallowing in wet muddy passages and splashing about in water deep and shallow, we met up with other groups of cavers and our party was split in two for a while but we all found daylight showers and pub.
The srt team were doing a changeover so the first lot joined us in the pub for a hearty meal while the rest arrived much later.
Too much alcohol, too little sleep, although that didn’t stop Boydy making breakfast for every body again.
Sunday morning I was still not up for srt so I opted for Les’s trip to explore Bagshaws cavern, Rob still looking a little green decided on a surface walk, the rest went to some other hell hole.
Les, Lee, Ken and myself were allocated a Land Rover and set off to find Bagshaws cavern, the entrance being in a little shed on the side of a hill with parking space for a few cars.
Once inside there are an immediate set of steps, over a hundred apparently, though didn’t count them that seem to go on forever, at the bottom of the stairs is a pitch on the left to a lower series, we had brought a ladder for it but decided to leave it till later and explore the rest of the cave first.
With that, Les set off up another flight of stairs to the right, I decided to follow him soon after while Ken and Lee waited for us at the bottom.
By the time I got to the top of the stairs Les had gone, so I climbed up an interesting looking rift into a small chamber then as I followed a stooping passage I could hear Les splashing through deepish water, eventually I was surprised to meet him coming toward me in the stooping passage he told me he had been to the end and that the terminal chamber was worth seeing.
I asked him where the water was which I had heard him wading through, he said there is no water where he had been but that he had clearly heard me, wading through water, we decided there must be someone else in the system so we called out to them but got no answer.
After I had checked out the terminal chamber we climbed back down to join the others, we expected them to report that that someone else had entered the passage after us, or that they had decided to follow us but no one had so it’s official, there is a haunted passage in Bagshaws cavern.
After that we followed a muddy passage down to what I thought was a sump, it reminded me of sump 2 in OHA so I crawled back up to where the others were sat resting and got my flask out for a cup of coffee.
The others decided to check it out while I drank my coffee, only to report that I had missed a passage to the left which led to a very nice streamway that eventually sumped out.
On the way out we dropped the electron ladder down to the lower series where there were some nice decorated chambers leading to another sump.
Back at the bunkhouse we got changed, showered, packed up our gear and drank more alcohol while we waited for the others.
A very enjoyable weekend with many thanks to Derbyshire caving club for looking after us better than we deserve.
I look forward to someone reporting on the SRT trips so that I can enjoy the delights without having to do the work. Doug.

Offline Ian Adams

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #23 on: November 20, 2015, 08:09:34 pm »
It’s a dry “walk in walk out” they said.

The truth was certainly out there somewhere but it certainly was not in Ogof Hesp Alyn. The cave of the Welsh damned I call it, and for good reason. Not only is this probably the most sporting cave in North Wales, it is also the muddiest, coldest, wettest and most miserably challenging adventure you could possibly hope to endure under the feet of a thousand sheep.

To get in, you have to drop into a hole (isn’t that what Mary said?). Not a long hole but sufficiently long to zap every last ounce of stamina you might have left inside you when you are making your escape out after suffering every indignity that a cave could possibly hope to offer.

The entrance hole

You definitely need training to manage this cave, and not ordinary training either – you need to be well versed in the ways of stupidity and senselessness. It’s the kind of stupidity that no amount of training could hope to achieve. I guess that is why they told me it was a dry “walk in walk out” cave (in the same way that Meregill never has any water in it)

So, in we went – all 8 of us (I guess the plural adjective would be a clown of cavers). Straight down the hole we went in nice clean oversuits to be met with a flat out belly crawl of around 200 feet in what can only be described as musty smelling diarrhoea. I was assured it was just water and glacial silt but it certainly had the texture of diarrhoea but, perhaps, with a more subtle hint of aroma than you might get from an explosion of unpleasantness. Regardless, the oversuits became wet and claggy and the journey had only just begun.

The beginning of the flat crawl

Emerging from the crawl, we traversed a boulder chamber (have you any idea how hard it is to not slip of large boulders into mini abysses when you are caked in wet gloop?)

The Boulder chamber

This exercise re-imbued the lost heat from the flat water/gloop crawl and are hearts were gladdened. Immediately after the rope descent there was a wet duck which removed any recovered heat and returned us all to a state of shivering wastrels. Nice.

Standing up just after the duck

Now clean of cack but cold again, we made our way along a passage to another crawl – this is known as the “sand crawl” as it sumps up with water and silt in bad conditions. It was just passable BUT our soaked oversuits decided to allow the loose silt to adhere over the entire surface area as we crawled through. Eight mud monsters emerged on the other side – the only evidence of human life being the whites of eight pairs of human eyes. Such was the extent of the mud invasion – gritty silt had infiltrated our oversuits, infiltrated our undersuits and infiltrated our underwear. Walking produced an uncomfortable chaffing sensation at the top of the legs (like sand in a shoe but in your underpants instead). As awful as it was, I considered it would be much worse for the girls and I think I let slip a momentary wry grin.

Next came an awkward rift followed by a knotted rope climb. Adrenaline is a good provider of heat and the climb up produced enough adrenaline (and therefor e heat) to power a small reactor station (eco friendly renewable energy? You heard it here first!). It felt good to be warm again.

The knotted rope and adrenaline climb

Of course this could not last and only yards later we found the area known as “the canal”. So called because it closely resembles one and is also just as deep. We tested the water temperature hoping it would be tepid and (rather unsurprisingly) discovered it to be a lower temperate than frozen water on Neptune.  Odd that it was still in a liquid state and we assumed that it was some trickery of science.

The canal

Impossible to avoid, one by one, we entered the Neptunious water and once again became spotlessly clean. Also once again, all body heat vacated our persons and left the cave by the nearest exit.

The next 20 minutes were spent undertaking arduous caving activities (like walking down passages) and we were able to muster some heat back. Not a lot. But some. A rapid forwards and backwards motion in the dark passage generated some relief (did Mary say that too?)

Sometime later we arrived at a sump. We do have a drain here but it takes a good 20 minutes for the drain to remove enough of the water to enable us to get through whilst in  sort of squatted position kissing the ceiling as you go (you’ve all done it so no mockery).

Yet again, the neptunious water sapped every morsel of heat out of our beings and left us (again) with the cold clammy veil of empty coldness.

Just after the first sump is (yes, you probably guessed this) another sump which also needs to be drained.  Whilst stood around (again spotlessly clean) waiting for the water to drain, it was noticed that we were all shivering. The sheep above our heads on the outside world had no idea what was going on. The fleeces we were wearing had been subjected to so much abuse they too were failing and the waiting around was being abused by the Grim reaper who was rapidly extending his talons in our general direction.

It was at this point we noticed that some of our comrades lips were blue (not Mary’s). Enquires ensued on the lines of “are you ok?” with the inevitable reply “yes I’m fine” (because we are all tough and macho aren’t we).  This answer was satisfactory for around two minutes until a dawn of realisation prevailed that we had “more of the same” the further we went in and “all of the same” when we chose to return out. A further round of enquiries ensued with “are you sure you are ok?” which was again met with “yes I ‘m fine” but this time the answers were rejected and a decision was made to return out (we could see the grim reaper fast approaching and, to be frank, he’s a pretty scary dude).

So, out we went following the same routine of cacked in cack, clean, cold, warm, cacked in cack, clean, cold, warm, cacked in cack, clean, cold, warm, cacked in cack, clean, cold, warm, cacked in cack, clean, cold, warm and to finish off, the 200 foot flat belly crawl in diarrhoea just to ensure we left the cave in the worst possible condition. Getting out of the exit hole whilst covered in cack, cold, stiff and miserable was 100 times more difficult than anything Mary could ever have conjured but we made it.

When you arrive back at your car to get changed, when you are frozen stiff, shaking like a leaf and covered head to toe in glacial diarrhoea , the last thing you are is “careful”. This ensures that the inside of your car benefits from a decent dose of sloppy cack and ensures a significant bollocking from the better half when you arrive home.

The moral of the story is … always go caving in someone else’s car (and don’t take Mary).

Of course ... there is a video too .... 

A door, once opened, may be stepped through in either direction.

Offline bograt

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #24 on: November 21, 2015, 12:31:33 am »
 :lol: :lol: :lol:, Luvvit Jakalpup, often wondered about that place  :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
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Online Roger W

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #25 on: November 21, 2015, 10:22:28 am »

A beautifully clear explanation of why people like to go caving!

Loved it!
"That, of course, is the dangerous part about caves:  you don't know how far they go back, sometimes... or what is waiting for you inside."   JRR Tolkein: "The Hobbit"

Online JoshW

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #26 on: November 23, 2015, 11:03:15 am »
absolutely brilliant report  :lol: :bow:

Offline YorkshireTea

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #27 on: November 23, 2015, 09:51:03 pm »
I wish to share a recent trip to south Wales...

Allow me to set the scene of our very first visit to the OFD system, an intimidating and vast system. Drenched to the core from the word go, misty horendous visibility couldnt see a thing and a real chill to the core. Moving fast to keep a single degree of heat. We went in circles, retraced our steps to no avail!!! Where were we!  What was this barron land!  1 and a half hours of clueless chilled unbelievable lostness I gave in and threw my remaining dry spare layer on as I fumbled through my bag. Ben however opted not to do this and brave it out, afterall this wasnt an emergency right?

Finally we retraced our steps, took a gamble on a new direction, 5 minutes later we were there!  The Holy Grale!  That ever so sweet, ever so satisfying sight pn the hillsode before us...  OFD upper entrance!2 hours after leaving the cottages we made it inside, to strip down and warm up. A ver smug Ben had his 'emergency' dry layer to smuggly waltz around in! 

We were finally warm and safe, INSIDE the cave

Offline Pegasus

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #28 on: November 28, 2015, 04:23:59 pm »
 :bounce: :bounce: Competition closes on Monday  :bounce: :bounce:

10 Entries so far from:

Cap'n Chris

Winner chosen at random so you'd have an excellent chance of winning!!

Thanks to all who have shared their fab tales so far  :thumbsup:

Offline Tilster

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #29 on: November 28, 2015, 07:28:48 pm »
So, this is my tale of why I am not a caver, I am a climber.

We're in the Dolomites, two weeks of Via Ferrata action. It's July, sunny and warm. We've already had one epic on the trip, where a 6 hour Via Ferrata didn't include the hour walk in or 4 hour walk out and we missed the last bus back to our accommodation, so we're on an easy day.

This particular trip appealed because it took in caves and tunnels used by the Italian army in the war. It'll be fun, we said. It'll be interesting. It's easy climbing, it's a nice ridge route so once we're up there's no real height gain. We'll have a nice day. And look! The weather forecast is beautiful.

We took a ski lift up to the top of the mountain, and walked to the base of the rock. Clipped into the wire with our cowstails, took off fleeces in the sunshine and then put on helmets.

The first clue that this wasn't what we'd planned was when it took me three goes to get up the first part of the route. But, it's ok we said, they do that to put off ramblers. We're climbers. We'll be fine. We got up to the top of the ridge, and the views were spectacular. We congratulated ourselves on how this was going to be a nice day. Then there was a sound like a plane taking off. We turned round and saw a huge bank of black cloud.

"Did you check the weather before we left?"
"Yes, it's not going to come this far over, we're fine."

Thus reassured, we continued, all be it at a slightly smarter pace.

We walked for 3 hours, and there was no sign of the caves or tunnels. We checked the guidebook, which clearly said we should have gone through at least some by now. This was confusing, because you can't really get lost on a Via Ferrata. You're attached to a guide wire. It's like the most basic Hansel and Gretel exercise ever conceived.

We upped the pace again. And joy! A cave appeared! The wire went into it! And the rain started. It didn't start as light drizzle, the heavens opened. So we threw caution to the wind, unclipped and ran into the cave.

"We'll wait it out, right?"
"Yeah, the weather forecast definitely said it was due to be ok here, it'll pass."

So we waited. In shorts. And t-shirts. We put on fleeces, but it didn't help much.  We peered out of the cave.

"This is set in, isn't it?"
"So, if we carry on through the next set of tunnels, I reckon we can escape down that grassy bank and walk out."
"Okay. . ."

So we ventured out of the cave, and moved as fast as it was safe to do so to the next set of tunnels and caves. Just as we reached them, the lightning started. This is A Bad Thing when you're clipped into what is essentially a giant lightning conductor attached to a mountain.

Now we were in a dilemma. Do we unclip and move through the caves without backup, or do we stay clipped in and risk electrocution?

I opt to unclip. This proves to be a poor choice. This choice means we miss the exit tunnel, because we're no longer following the wire. The exit tunnel would have spat us out right above the bank we'd earmarked as an escape route. Instead, I walk to the end and nearly fall down a 200ft cliff.

We retreat. We look for the offshoot tunnel with our headtorches. We fail to find it. I wonder, aloud, why anyone goes caving since you clearly are at risk of death at all times. We go back to the exit over the cliff.

Leaning out, we can see the wire, and decide you have to shimmy along a narrow ledge to get to it - obviously we're not in the cave with the offshoot - we've read the guidebook wrong. Shimmying along a ledge when you're shivering is not to be recommended, and at this point we briefly consider divorce, then decide it's reasonably likely one of us isn't getting home anyway, so let's allow nature to take its course.

We make it to the grassy bank, having, perplexingly, managed to miss all the other caves and tunnels the guidebook assured us were there. I wonder why cavers go caving since there don't seem to be any caves, or at least, not as many as the guidebooks suggest there are.

We are elated to make it to the bank, and eat a celebratory chocolate bar because we aren't dead. This proves to be a premature celebration. At this point we are soaked to the skin and there is still a mountain thunderstorm raging overhead. We step onto the bank, and discover that far from being able to run down it to the trail a la Julie Andrews, it is a vertical, slippery death-trap.

Divorce is once again discussed.

Two hours later, we make it to the trail, and head back to the ski-lift, and just as we arrive at the gondola, the sun breaks through the clouds. This strikes us as hilarious, as we wring out our socks.

I have never been so glad to get back to the car, drive home and take a hot shower. I have also decided caves are not nearly as fun as I anticipated.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2015, 07:37:20 pm by Tilster »

Offline elfears

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #30 on: November 29, 2015, 10:22:04 pm »
Not exactly a trip.

I took my very first trip into a cave with ULSA in October, and I've been to caves in both the Dales and the Mendips since, but no trips for a while. I spent the whole of last week looking forwards to CHECC where I'd finally get the chance to get stuck in and put my SRT training to the test in an actual cave as opposed to the luxuriously central-heated and well-lit climbing wall.
Sadly, I spent my Saturday afternoon not so much underground as under a was-neon-yellow-now-rather-muddy group shelter. Some complications regarding group sizes and the sheer volume of cavers trudging around the Dales meant a detour from Lancaster, and suffice to say a bit of a wait a-top the entrance to Cow Pot.
Shivering and soggy, we chatted and some SUSS members stumbled upon us and stopped for a while. We attempted to play various games to pass the time, including a rather sorry attempt at a thumb-war. Thumb-wars are difficult when your thumbs resemble cocktail sausages on a regular day, but this was no regular day. I clutched the group shelter as the wind shook it with all the force of an aggressive toddler having a tantrum with a parachute at nursery. The hail battered my fingers, wind chill wasn't particularly pleasant: I was wishing for the callouses and tough skin which comes from days underground and doing things 'outdoors'.
After a couple of hours of waiting, when it was my turn to descend over the ledge, I suddenly didn't feel quite so eager as I had the previous Tuesday, day-dreaming of my Lara Croft-like agility and strength.
I blinked the rain out of my eyes and tried to get a decent purchase of the rope with my now Cumberland sized fingers. I fumbled a bit with the descender, the friction greater than what I had been used to at training. But it was okay. "Right, now step back over the ledge" instructed the lovely Nathan, so believing that I could do it. And I did too: I love heights. I love descents. Unfortunately, my frost-bitten brain forgot that. Instead, looking down into the black abyss all I heard in my head was "nopenopenopenope". I realised I wasn't just shaking from the cold, but fear.
And that was that. I thought it best not to try and push through and try again, I didn't want to have another hiccup in a more dangerous place, and my friends had waited around long enough that day! Back to the farm: surprised, and initially, a bit embarrassed.

Of everything I have learnt this weekend: about cave photography, expeditions;how to squeeze through a wooden box after too many helpings of chilli; I didn't think I'd learn something about fear. Sometimes, your brain knows what's best for you. Other times, you have to go beyond what's innate and look to rationality, reassuring yourself with the knowledge that you are physically able to do it. I don't think I was quite there on Saturday, but I look forwards to another weekend, when I will.

Offline AR

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #31 on: November 30, 2015, 12:37:15 pm »
Quite why we were going into Mandale Sough in February, I’m not sure, but someone in the ATAC must have expressed a desire to go and no-one had any better ideas. In the height of summer, you can walk down the sough in trainers (if you don’t mind them getting a little muddy) but in winter, it’s a different matter.  In full expectation of a wet trip, I’d opted to swap furry undersuit for the lower part of my wetsuit, which is a 3mm windsurfer’s suit where the lower part is a dungaree-style affair, coupled with an old fleece for the upper body.

Arriving at the parking spot and getting out to change, the first thing that struck me was that it was bloody cold, proper freeze the balls off a brass monkey weather, and I started to wonder whether they’d be the only balls frozen off that night. Putting on a stiff upper lip (not difficult when it’s slowly freezing) I and my colleagues kitted up. Back in those days I didn’t have a waterproof pouch to put car keys in, so I asked one of our number whose elderly Volvo lacked such refinements as electronic key systems if he’d mind popping them in the back of it. This I would later regret…

After a bracing walk through Lathkill Dale we arrived at Mandale Mine, and quickly unbolting the gate we headed down the incline in the relative underground warmth. The sough itself was looking quite high and there was discussion as to whether it might be sumped, but we pressed on to see whether it was passable. The water was chilly and quickly got waist-deep, but the wetsuit soon warmed up so it wasn’t so bad. In places, you had to bend double to get though sections of low roof which made keeping the upper body out of the water awkward but we managed, and got through into the main stope. Looking down the hole at the end of this where you’d normally drop down into the next section of sough, it was clear that this wasn’t an option unless you fancied a swim. Since no-one did, retreat was the only option and the fire in the Lathkill Hotel was really starting to appeal.

I was one of the first back out, and assuming the others would all be following close behind, started heading back towards the parked cars. By now, the temperature had really dropped and was well below freezing, and my nether regions were really starting to notice this. Keeping moving seemed to prevent my wetsuit from freezing solid under the oversuit but it wasn’t generating enough warmth to stop me wondering if I had a future career singing soprano.
Reaching the car brought thoughts of dry clothing and warmth but then I remembered where my car keys were. Not a problem I thought, the rest of the gang will be right behind me as I stamped and stomped in the sub-zero.

The minutes passed, the warmth continued to seep away, the dry clothes sat taunting me on the other side of a locked car door. Still no sign of the Volvo owner, when another of the collective appeared I asked about his whereabouts, only to be told he’d gone for a look up the sough tail. What was probably about ten minutes later but felt like a complete ice age, my passport to not freezing to death finally appeared; I was at last able to strip off the wetsuit and try and get some feeling back into my legs with a dry towel before getting the long dreamt-of dry clothes on. Having managed to unstiffen my legs enough to operate the car controls, it was now time for the Lathkill Hotel with its fire and beer!
Dirty old mines need love too....

Offline MeshK

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #32 on: November 30, 2015, 01:58:30 pm »
Short but sweet - Like the trip was intended to be....

Living in Derbsyhire, you get used to the cold and the wet, and the very cold and the very wet – or so I thought. So here is a brief story of a pretty memorable trip, if only for the sheer misery that ensued.

We were asked by a friend (also caver) if we could take him and a novice family member on a trip down Giants Hole one Winter a few years back. Eagerly agreeing (expecting a bimble around the top series, getting a roast dinner as payment, and keen to show off the sport to newcomers) we all piled into cars and headed on our way.

Upon arriving and parking up, already in our undersuits for the drive, we just threw on our oversuits, grabbed our helmets and the 5 of us pottered off to the cave.

I should just that that up to this point, the weather had been somewhat unremarkable for the last few weeks; a bit wetter, slightly colder – nothing to write home about.

Having decided just to have some fun around the entrance series, we climbed into Upper West & East Passages for some variation and explored some of the natural features of Giants Hole. Our newbie proved to be particularly keen and able and persuaded us to stay for a while for him to explore.

Cue: A lot of standing around in the streamway and starting to feel the chill.

Finally having persuaded him we started to leave the cave, noting that the wind had picked up quite dramatically since we had gone underground. Upon dubiously leaving the relative warmth of the cave, we discovered that whilst underground we had missed the start of The Apocalypse.
10 seconds from the cave, our buffs were frozen.
20 seconds from the cave, our cuffs were frozen.
30 seconds from the cave and our suits were frozen.

Q: How many cavers can remove frozen oversuits with numb hands in a tiny (and flooded) campervan?

A: Definitely not 5.

Even a roast dinner couldn't make up for that trip.

Offline Over the Hill

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #33 on: November 30, 2015, 02:40:48 pm »
So there I was sat in the pub a long way from any caving area this Saturday night having wished I had a warm Rab Nebula Jacket to keep me warm. Slate floors, outside loos, grumpy landlord but cheap beer and one of the locals tells me his caving tale and recalls...........................

When he was in the Army quite a few years ago he worked closely for a certain High Ranking landowner who owned fells that contain some of UK’s best and largest caves. They had arranged for his Gamekeeper to run an outdoor survival type event on a Army Training Range, an event that was overseen by the teller of the tale. Things were trapped, skinned and eaten and tales told over open fires until the early hours.
At the end of the event with a large amount of ordnance still around the teller of the tale was told by the then Peer of the Realm to ensure the Gamekeeper left happy and one has to remember in the Army an order is an order. This is where things get interesting as the Gamekeeper apart from receiving rounds of ammo and a box of thunderflashes also asked for a couple of Grenades to get that pesky fox that was making his life a misery. Always going to ground in the same place and one terrier had already been lost trying to flush him out

Well this teller of tales was not sure that this particular Gamekeeper had taken the Grenade get that fox throwing course so he arranges to do the job for him. Some weeks later both were to be found on this well known caving fell armed with primed grenades ! The Gamekeeper leads him to a small caver sized limestone hole, the pin pulled and thrown (not the pin you understand he threw the Grenade). Thing was the grenade went ding, ding and more dings before hitting landing at lot lower from the caver sized entrance. Several seconds passed and there was an almighty Boom!
It was at this point as the Grenade had dinged so far they thought that there was a slight possibility they could have just killed a member(s) of the caving fraternity.

So next time you under the ground that boom it may not be flood pulse your hearing but the very same and know semi retired local gamekeeper (who reminds me of the Road runner somewhat).

That my friends I swear is a true story hence the place and names have had to be omitted and to bring it  to you I had to sit this very Saturday night getting ever colder wishing for a Nebula Jacket to keep me warm.  :coffee:
NCC (45 years plus).

Offline Jenks

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #34 on: November 30, 2015, 03:21:43 pm »
A tale of cold and stupidity

My first weekend away with Exeter University was to travel up the motorway in the wind, rain, and eventually snow all the way to the freezing Yorkshire Dales for the  2010 CHECC forum. This weekend was one of the coldest weekends the UK has seen for a number of years, with temperatures dropping overnight to as low as -16C.

Fortunately, I was clever enough to not be involved as one of the people who were forced to sleep in multiple sleeping bags on the frozen camping ground, and managed to gain a "comfortable" space on the floor of the room, packed in tightly with others so that getting cold was not an issue.

However, the decision to travel all the way to Gaping Gill to go down Bar Pot was probably ill advised, given the temperatures of -6C on the walk there while the sun was still up, which was to drop by the time we came back in the dark. But ahead we went, with the keenness of someone going down only their second cave, on their first weekend away. At that point, the keenness was keeping the cold out of my mind.

The trip itself was one of the long ones, due to the leader of our trip wishing to bring all their camera equipment down to take some photos of the waterfall cascading from the surface, brilliantly illuminated by the sun streaming into the cave. Unfortunately, by the time we had reached main chamber, due to the obvious faff and the long tie ins that CHECC require, it was of course dark by the time we reached the main chamber, and the photo opportunity was lost.

However, we managed to get a reasonable photo from the water cascading through the wrong section of the cave due to the surface water over the normal entrance freezing and forcing the waterfall down a different location. In the process of taking this photo, I of course went too close to the waterfall, and ended up soaking myself.

In the cave, not an issue, I was the first up the first pitch, first up the second pitch, and onto the surface, -10C, with some inexperienced SRTers following. I huddled myself into the small cave to the side, making myself as curled up as possible, and hoping the others would make it to the surface fast. An hour later, with everyone out of the cave, we could start the long journey back to the car.

Out into the wind, and everything became stiff, movements would cause the oversuit to crack as the frozen sleeves were broken. Another hour back to the car. There was silence as we walked, as everyone contemplated their own stupidity for coming on this trip, and I considered my own particular stupidity in also getting wet in the current conditions. This, I thought, was how I would die, not through an impressive extreme event, but through the stupidity of standing under a waterfall in a cave in a bitter Yorkshire winter.

Once back in the car park, the toilets were spotted as an opportunity to warm up, and the warm air hand drier was particularly utilised until feeling came back into my hands for long enough to unzip my oversuit and change back into warm, dry clothes. However, these clothes were not sufficient, and that is why a RAB Nebula jacket would have been incredibly useful.

A return back to the forum, and copious amounts of tea and chilli (and no small amount of a beer jacket) finally managed to create some semblance of life, enough to even mean that by the time of the stomp, I was willing to strip back down to naught but my boxers and enjoy the experiences that only CHECC can offer.

Offline Dgreenwell

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #35 on: November 30, 2015, 04:45:41 pm »
(Hope I'm not too late)

Not a great success...

Last summer ACC had an enjoyable and thoroughly successful trip up North when we stayed at Bullpot farm. Some members stayed at the hut all week whilst others joined for a long weekend etc. The cavers were keen and many a trip was run. I'l be the first to admit that as a club we are spoilt by having the caves of south Wales just on our doorstep, this does however mean that some of our srt skills are a tad rusty. However the week greatly improved our ability so do not fear; this is not a tale of srt disaster! 

By the back end of the summer it had been a good while since many members had seen each other, one night we decided to celebrate the meet up. The morning after a few members (myself included) decided that we were feeling a little delicate and would avoid srt that day. So we found a cave within walking distance that we were assured would only needed a couple of ladders to be rigged. The sun was shining and it was warm, we set out, enthusiastic at the prospect of an underground jaunt.

We found the cave, or rather, we found a cave and entered, admiring the spiders staring at us on the way in. It took about half an hour of lugging tackle sacks full of ladders and rope to what was in the theory the first bit in need to rigging before we twigged that something was not right. Questions such as - "Does this cave feel unusually tight?" and "Doesn't this cave feel really sharp?" were asked. Profanities that I'm not even sure existed before the trip were uttered but we continued on, searching for the elusive ladder pitch. Eventually we gave up, we didn't find the pitch, were covered in mud, bruised and surprisingly exhausted.

We returned to the hut to find other members of the club, who were still having an obligatory pre trip faff, surprised to see us. We moaned about how the cave was small and painful, complained about how it didn't seem anything the description or the survey, there were even suspicious thoughts of being set up. However there was a very good reason for this. We had just spent the last hour and a half underground in the wrong cave. A much smaller cave that had an entrance that might look a little similar to our initial objective if you squint a bit. We decided to give up on caving for the day and wander slowly across the fells to the pub, maybe we could feel sorry for ourselves there with a pint.

I can't remember the name of the cave we failed to find or that or the other cave we ended up in, probably my subconscious trying to suppress the event.

The week itself was a great success, but just not on that afternoon.

Offline Mrs Bottlebank

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #36 on: November 30, 2015, 05:11:05 pm »
This is a digging tale from the '90s when with the DCC we where digging in Low Douk using old fire hose, water and gravity.

At the time I was a shadow of my former shelf and was shoved down many tight bedding planes and nasty slots to establish if I could see if rocks could be heard dropping, water levels rising etc. Obviously I did not have the protective layer of fat now that I do now.

One of our team had a fabulous old red transit minibus converted into a camper / caver luxury changing facility.

After another long trip lying flat out in cold water for hours, trying to burrow in to the Temple of Doom area I emerged onto a bitterly cold fell buffeted by winter winds. The ground was frozen and the team vehicle felt a long wayaway at the bottom of Turbary Road by the pumping station.

But then a wonderful sight, as I came  to the top of Turbary Road. One of our friends had left before me, gone back to his van, driven it up the lane. Parked and put the heater and kettle on. I was greeted by a smile and a warm cup of tea and then when changed and warm even a warm wet j-cloth to wipe the mud of my face. (Think I needed the whole roll rather than just one but the thought was there :))

Never forgotten that moment and it just shows what a tight team diggers are.

Years later I believe the connection was made by another team. One of whom runs this group. Just hope they had as good a team spirit as we did.

The van no long exists so it would be nice to think a wonderful warm RAB Nebula jacket could try and take its place to warm me up straight after getting changed.

Offline Bratchley

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #37 on: November 30, 2015, 07:27:11 pm »
A few years ago I travelled to the USA to work a Summer Camp and since I had a month off in the country afterwards, I decided to try some caving in TAG and northern Utah. TAG went smoothly. Utah very nearly didnt.

The cave was Main Drain cave, a conglomerate Alpine cave in the Bear River range, the deepest in Utah at around 400m. Although relatively shallow in relation to many other alpine caves, the cave was fairly remote and at altitude, not far short of 3000m and I was coming straight from sea level with little rest. I was also fairly new to SRT at the time (a few months doing it) and had very little gear with me as I'd barely even packed enough to last for the 3 month summer camp.

Peter was my contact, a short and very welcoming man from Burnley (would you believe it). He was the main explorer of Main Drain, one of only a handful of people who'd reached its terminal sump and of course I was curious as to how more people hadn't been dying to get exploring in there! He elaborated that very few nearby cavers were physically fit enough or keen enough to endure the icy cold, wet conditions. According to Peter, that included almost all of the nearest cave rescue team.
Being young, keen, inexperienced and certainly foolish, I was excited.

We went to scrounge some gear from some very kind friends of his. I ended up with the very basics, a MyoXP, microrack, helmet, harness and old worn Daleswear suit and what seemed to resemble some Sports Direct thermals.

We drove up to the mountains for a good number of hours early morning and drove to Tony Grove, at the base of the steep hike to the cave. The hike was uneventful and we reached the entrance, rather uninspiring, a hole in the ground maybe 3m x 6m. Peter rigged the 60m or so pitch and in we went, landing on two massive snow cones on the way in. The cave then went up, with an ice waterfall pitch called "Ryans Ice Climb", an interesting obstacle and topped out at a tiny hole and crawl which draughted like nothing I'd felt until then. This dropped down Leaky Faucet Pit, a irritatingly wet, fairly restrictive 70m pitch with multiple obstacles that dropped into canyon passage with multiple pitches and ways on. Peter led the way, through varied (sometimes awkward) passage and before I knew it the big 80m "Frayed Knot Falls" was ahead. This was an extremely impressive free hang, the story behind the name mildly unnerving, and the landing point dropped us next to a manor house sized boulder. Once again, Peter led on down multiple "nuisance drops" on the approach to the 60m Kilo Pit (where the cave gets below 1000ft). Not far from this is where the "fun" began.

On the way down one of the nuisance pits, of around 30m or so, the descender began to struggle on the cold, extremely mucky rope. During the faff, I noticed the stitching had mostly torn on the left leg loop connection to the central maillon webbing, and before I could get the ascenders on had pretty much gone. At this point, I had swung to a tiny ledge and was shouting down to Peter, of 50 odd years old, who in the noise of the waterfall next to me could hear essentially jack shit. After very little hesitation I realised I was extremely fortunate to have had a pantin, which subsequently allowed me to climb extremely carefully back up after a change over, without weighting the harness. All I then had to do was get out!

Fortunately the nearest pitch out was rigged with a little too much rope. The use of a sharp ish rock later gave me some old muddy rope from which to forge a harness and we then carefully exited the cave. Frayed Knot Falls was definitely worse going up!

After 10 hours down under we emerged, needing another harness, as we still had two days caving left. Neilsons Well was the cave for the next day, and after finding another harness it went very smoothly, the 450ft final pitch free hang down Fantasy Well being the highlight (especially when rigged with an American "death triangle" and goopy corroded snap gates).

Of course, I had to go back to Main Drain, as it needed the ropes pulling up for the winter and I still needed to get to the bottom for exploration. The second trip (again with a very early start), accompanied by an Austrian caver, went well from the entrance to the sump (albeit very cold, wading through chest deep snow meltwater) until the journey out, where we'd decided to stage our exits so that no-one waited and got too cold. I was in front, with Peter at the back and the Austrian fellow in between. The ropes were to be left at the pitch heads, Peters job, so it was very unfortunate when I took the wrong turning at the junction below Leaky Faucet. After 20 mins going through some passage very very similar to the one I needed I realised my mistake.

I went back to the junction, this time around 40 mins after I first went wrong. Where were the others? Had they gone past? There was multiple other ways on, which one eventually led to leaky faucet? If Peter has already gone past me he wont know until I'm not on the surface after the ropes have been pulled. That wont be for hours. If I go down another route that's wrong and Peter hasn't yet passed me he could do so. After sitting and thinking for only a few minutes I was wet and already extremely cold. I could hear no-one. None of my choices sounded good, all other ways looked the same. Best case scenario was to choose the right one and find Leaky Faucet still with a rope on it, but if they were ahead they'll have derigged it and if they were behind they'll come past.

I chose to wait and hope they were still behind me. This was the driest, warmest part of the cave on the main route so if I was going to spend a long time here, this is where I should stay. My lack of any survival kit whatsoever was something of a regret at this point. After what felt like forever (but was probably only max half hour or so), someone appeared. They'd had a considerable hold up, I've still never asked what it was, but I rolled my freezing ass up on to my feet and finally caved my way to Leaky Faucet.

From here it was simple and if it wasn't for the bottom strap on the Pantin breaking and removing a considerable amount of leg skin, I'd have said it was still enjoyable! After over 11 hours under, I was glad to see the sun.


Fantasy Well Rigging

Walk to Main Drain

More Walking

Main Drain Entrance

I've had plenty of scary experiences since, but this one was the first time I genuinely felt scared in a cave and never forgot it!

« Last Edit: November 30, 2015, 07:50:47 pm by Bratchley »
I like caves.

Offline frawleyh

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #38 on: November 30, 2015, 09:21:31 pm »
Little Neath River Cave
I was warned it would be wet; I guess the name and significantly too small wetsuit gave it away. But naïve fresher me was not prepared for quite how chilly and wet Little Neath would be!
Slightly hungover from the previous night of caving games, a small group of us went to follow in the footsteps of our elders in UBSS; visiting Little Neath River Cave. We parked up and kitted up and traipsed down the river peering in any hole we could find looking for the cave; until Cam disappeared. All we could see were pair of wellies sticking out of the rock; guess he found the entrance! One of our party was already starting to regret the determination and valiant effort it took to get into the wetsuit he was offered- ‘I used to wear this when I was about 14’- and was complaining of chafage. The cave began with a tight, very wet crawl which was great fun and soon filled up our wetsuits which solved the issue. After some wiggling about it opened up slightly before reaching my first ever duck. I got through without drama and we carried on to Tributary Passage. This was one of the few bits of walking I had done for a while as I finally got to stand up straight!
We then went through to look at the infamous sump that links Bridge Cave to Little Neath (woo go UBS!!) before continuing on our own little adventure. Us freshers were allowed to lead the way for a while until, totally oblivious to where we were going and what we had reached, we were forced to stop. There was lots of water…. Surely we weren’t to go through it? Cam smugly told us we had reached The Canal and that yes, it was swimming time. We braced ourselves and went for it. After what felt like a very long time and lots of water in my ears, we reached the end. An upside, the hangovers we greatly reduced!
We then went on to the Junction Chamber where we stopped for chocolate, biscuits and more chocolate. Suitably fed, we- like the wise men- returned via a different route; thankfully the Canal By-pass. The trip was going swimmingly (excuse the pun!) until the exit crawl. Cold, wet and quite tired by this point, I got my leg and hip wedged under a bit of rock and couldn’t get it free. This dammed up the stream as my oversuit filled up. There was a fair amount of pushing and pulling (well as much as possible in a near flat out crawl) as we tried to decide which way was easiest to get me out. One of the more sympathetic of the group thought I had stopped because of a spider and was freaking out because he doesn’t like them while I was thinking that 2 trips with the club seemed too soon to require a rescue story. After about 15 minutes (although it felt like hours) lying face down in the water, I managed to wiggle back out the way I came enough to relieve my leg from under the ledge and we all crawled/dragged ourselves back out of Flood Entrance to finish like a beached whale in the river.
After a quick dash back to the car, we peeled everybody out of their wetsuits and dressed in warm, dry clothes, we returned home to Bristol.

Online Alex

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #39 on: November 30, 2015, 10:03:50 pm »
Are we allowed video trip reports? I described one audibly. I should say although I am interviewed for a bit, it's not my video. Credit to Steve Sharp, he can decide who gets the jacket should it win.

Discovery of 4117 in Matiezno:

For more info on the cave:
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

Offline ian.p

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #40 on: November 30, 2015, 11:29:34 pm »
In February 2012 I co-ran a cave science weekend on Leck Fell. As part of the set up for this I had to install some dye detectors to check for background contamination ahead of the weekend in the Leck Beck head resurgence between Leck and Casterton fells. At the time I didn't own a car so I relied on trains and my bicycle for transport as I couldn't con anyone into driving me out.
As I cycled to the train station the chain on my bike snapped which I should have taken as an omen. Instead I pushed the bike to a cycle shop where i bought a replacement chain and continued on somewhat behind schedule...
I arrived in Clapham by late afternoon but by now the light was beginning to fade and the weather had turned to high winds and torrential rain. Deciding that discretion was the better part of valor and that I was definitely going to miss the last train home anyway I bailed to Ingleton where Mike Bottomley and Steph Dwyer put me up for the night. The next day, determined to get the detectors in, I set off for Bull Pot Farm. It wasn't raining anymore but asIi nearly pedaled (pushed) my bike up the hill to the farm snow set in falling in big heavy flakes and gradually started to settle. On reaching the farm I abandoned my bike and set off on foot for the resurgence. When I reached the resurgence I realized I would have to get into the stream to place the detectors properly so I took my boots off and rolled up my trousers to the knee and lowered myself into the stream....the water came up to just above my knees :'( and was more then a little refreshing. Having placed the detectors I began plodding back to the farm in my soaked and increasingly frozen trousers. I recovered my bike and began cycling for Clapham station, the way along the track to the farm made treacherous by a thin layer of snow which in combination with my poorly functioning brakes made for a hair raising descent of the fell. At valley level the snow wasn't settling on the road and I was able to pick up speed but every time a lorry passed me on the A65 i was pelted by a bow wave of freezing slush and was soon soaked to the skin.
By the time I reached Clapham train station I was shivering uncontrollably and well on my way to severe hypothermia. It was over an hour until the next train and I realized that I was in a reasonable amount of trouble. The station was deserted, my mobile had run out of battery and I had long since eaten my emergency supply of ginger nuts, fortunately I did have a sleeping bag with me as I was used to making a complete mess of this sort of endeavor so I realized there was nothing for it but to strip off to my pants and get into my sleeping bag in a bid to re warm myself.
Huddling in the corner of the station shelter I watched the clock trying to decide what was the minimum amount of time I could leave to get dressed before the train was due to arrive. The thought of missing the train due to a protracted battle to get my frozen trousers on in front of a train load of spectators didn't appeal and I eventually decided that 5 minutes was about survivable. I just about got my boots on when the train arrived and stumbled on board glad not to have suffered the indignity of freezing to death on Clapham train station of all places... 

Offline RTurnbull

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #41 on: November 30, 2015, 11:34:58 pm »
‘The Verneau traverse is one of the longest and most strenuous in Europe…’

We set off early, underground for 9:01. The walk to the cave was a minute long stumble though some nice French forest. At the bottom of the entrance pitches, we stopped by a pool to change into more neoprene. Despite everyone else having swiftly moved on into splashy passages, Holly, Noel and Nat began to cause a ruckus. After some bizarre sounds, Nat’s exclaims bellowed throughout the cave when he had the misfortune to drop his glasses into the pool of Holly’s piss.

Less than half an hour of thrutchy-rifty stuff followed, mostly with nice foot holds. Small climbs and dry passages leads to a long-awaited sump. After passing the bags through, a hesitant Holly dived a seven meter sump, only stopping when ploughing into the bank. Everyone else chose to come up for air once it was available, five metres prior. After a duck, the remaining sumps were bypassed.

The dry fossil passage gradually got bigger, getting into the large Salle du Petit Loup, where lunch was dispensed in the old bivouvac site, apparently recently cleaned up, removing the prophesied sleeping dummy. From here, the description suggests that you can hear the stream way – we could not due to the lack of rainfall in the three weeks prior.

The classic stream way route was opted for, descending some short pitches on tatt, replacing a couple of ropes en-route. It ends in Puits de Jonction - the halfway marker, followed by a pitch into an out-of-depth pool, into which the group divided: the graceful and the not. The next 700m is laced with ‘MAGNIFICENT STREAM WAY!’ x100 (Nathanael Dalton, 2015) and a 20m awkward traverse.

The lakes were much drier than usual, but still allowed sufficient depth for drowning. A tackle bag full of rope with minimal inflatables means that you too can experience sub-aqua Verneau. In these situations it is best to keep your limbs very still to prevent your elbow-pads and wellies from sliding off and to keep quiet to prevent the rest of your group becoming annoyed at the delay in proceedings. I was, fortunately, saved by Ems, whilst everyone observed with giggles.

We stopped in a large roomy chamber to celebrate Em’s birthday with a spot of tea and cake. After a heart felt verse of ‘Happy Birthday’ and it’s translation into French, we decided to carry on caving to head off the cold.

In Salle de Bon Negre, Nat’s model career took off in a beautiful chamber with a circular collapse from the ceiling, releveling bright layers across the walls. Upon a boulder slope a rock arose, a poignant centrepiece for Jeff’s finest photography. Nat was made to pose on a said boulder, which transpired to be only eighty mm wide. The tyrants all photographers are meant Nat spent many a moment lunging and squatting on the rock, resulting in some outstanding photos by Jeff.

I initially couldn’t really be arsed, but a short bimble up a boulder ramp and a crawl from Salle Belauce through formation filled passages made the quirky find very worth it. The Tripod is perhaps not the most beautiful, but definitely an unusual formation which leaves you marvelling at how it would have formed.

The way on is fairly easy-going until Puit du Balot, ascending an 11m on rope whilst Nat emptied out his wellie water and other undisclosed liquids onto the unexpecting Ems. Holly coiled away a dangerously rickety ladder and screams emerged up the pitch as she rung a dead frog up within the ladder. The sorry evidence was later buried in shame.

Here lay the Galerie des Plaquettes, an excellent fossil gallery, with very white rock exposed. Once an uncomfortable body temperature is achieved, the stream way joined again and is left at a short up pitch. The Galerie de la Betoneuse is followed for a few hundred minutes, dry and bouldery, until it becomes rather muddy, in the sticky sense of the word. This left turn leads to staying high to avoid more arduous lower passage until the inventively named Galerie des Blocs, boulder chamber. A really rather unnecessary hand line crosses a muddy chamber, where we successfully convinced previously considered sensible and experienced cavers that their cowtails were entirely essential.

The potholed streamway is excellent for trapping the clumsy caver until they resign themselves to shuffling like a crab along the floor. Nat and Noel put much exertion into encouraging me to appreciate a ‘remarkable eroded, stratified column’, whilst everyone else sped past. The stream rejoins the Grand Collecteur where hundreds of meters of nice large elliptical passage is dotted with traverses we ignored and stomped comfortably through the stream coated in neoprene. Various up-pitches are quite awkward and joined by somewhat squeezey struggles.

An arm-wrenching traverse in steel wire swings out to the final pitch. 200m (what the description claims but feels much less) of crawling through a chilly draughty passage leads to a beautiful French wooded area, complete with bats and via ferrata to get you into the little village of Nans sous Sainte Anne.

A quite brilliant and diverse trip, well worth doing. Thanks to everyone, in particular Holly and Joe for organising.

T.U. 12 hours, 9 minutes.

Offline TheWonderBull

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #42 on: November 30, 2015, 11:37:52 pm »
A tale of a Plymouth fresher’s very muddy and very cold adventure at CHECC:

Pulling up to CHECC 2015 in our van, greeted by Yorkshire’s exotic temperatures, I knew we were going to be in for a cold one. Though it was late and we were all in various states of tiredness, we all donned our identical Thom Starnes costumes and partied on into the night.

So, after a night of moderate drinking (ha) a group of us scoffed down some well received breakfast and made our way to Bullpot Farm. After finding out that we would have a roof over our head and warm showers greeting us on our return we were all in high spirits and raring to go!

Our walk to Mistral cave through the rolling Yorkshire countryside was slightly marred but what will now be known as ‘razor-rain’. Although slightly blinded and with one member of the group almost losing a welly to a particularly hungry bog we pushed on… nothing was going to stop this intrepid group of explorers from getting underground!

The entrance to Mistral consisted of what (to me) first appeared as a gaping hole in the ground… however upon closer inspection had lots of footholds and a handy rope to help us along! Considering this was my second caving trip I was excited to see what Yorkshire had in store for me; after a short crawl I soon saw it had LOTS to show me!

The first main cavern was filled with beautifully delicate stalactites, hundreds of them descending from the ceiling like stars in the night sky. I knew at that moment without question that I could enjoy staring up at this type of view just as much as the real sky, caving definitely was for me! I could fill pages and pages about the rest of the sights but to save time I will just mention that underground waterfalls are incredibly pretty (not to mention the wonderful mud statues!).

At last though it was time to return to the surface, albeit slightly muddier than when we first started! As it was dark outside now I was surprised we (somehow) managed to make it back to our adventuring base. Here we stood shivering and numb washing what seemed like half of Mistral’s mud off our suits, greatly aided by the provided brushed and man-made pool!

Finally, like the tired and cold cavers we were, we trudged inside and breathed a sigh of relief as each of us stood for as long as we dared under the showers. Getting back in the van I reflected on the past few hours and thought ‘I can’t wait to do this all again!’, so thank you CHECC and thank you Yorkshire, it’s been a pleasure.

Online Alex

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #43 on: November 30, 2015, 11:44:05 pm »
Sorry looks like I posted in the wrong bit again, I see this was about things when cold.
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

Offline Pegasus

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Re: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!
« Reply #44 on: December 01, 2015, 07:09:23 am »
Sorry looks like I posted in the wrong bit again, I see this was about things when cold.

No worries Alex, I'll include it in the Trip Reports short list  ;D

...and thanks for entering  :thumbsup:

Offline Pegasus

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