Author Topic: Win a Rab Nebula Jacket worth £160!!  (Read 10972 times)

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"

Offline 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)

Online 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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