Author Topic: Hanging around down Rowter  (Read 1831 times)

Online MarkS

  • Global Moderator
  • junky
  • *****
  • Posts: 772
Hanging around down Rowter
« on: September 29, 2016, 09:28:25 am »
(Also posted on

After the success of our Aggy report (Perspectives on Aggy) we thought we'd go for something similar to describe our Rowter dig/camp. Enjoy!

Mark R - We started the weekends caving in the proper way, with a Climax Café breakfast then spent quite some time faffing around packing bags and re- packing bags. Some thought was given to poo bags and how best to transport waste from the cave and eventually we had a full transporter bag each plus a couple of classics for capping gear and harnesses. I drove us over and we went to visit the farmer and explain what we were doing. “What? You’re going to sleep down there..? Well that will just be £2 each then.” We were underground for around 11:00 (I think) and what a bargain it was.

Chris - Mark R quickly rigged the shaft and with our bags we descended the thankfully straight 70m entrance shaft. I think we were all a bit apprehensive about the Ice Cream Trail (ICT) and what delights it may provide to us with our large transporter bags. We stuck together heading down the short passage to Gin Shaft, rigged this as a pitch and headed down to Fosters Faith. We commented on how good the shaft was looking. It has clearly shifted but is still straight and feels solid, unlike the wooden ladders which are now suffering from a bit of rot. Caution is advised to anyone who uses them.

Mark R headed through Fosters Faith first with Mark S and I passing bags down to him, chain ganging them along with the odd boot needed to get the bags through the tighter bits. Into the rift, past Adams Step and then down to Bad Badger Choke. This too was looking remarkably good, well as good as a heavily scaffolded boulder choke can look, and before long we were on the pitches heading down and down again before reaching Two left Wellies and the sump. We had a quick breather here before attempting the ICT.

The knotted handline still in place, we started the climb up wondering as we went how many people had been along here since our last visit some time before. Probably not too many.

Mark S was up front traversing each obstacle as he got to it, turning round to take bags and stack them where possible and then continue on so we could follow up behind and then pass the bags on again. It seemed slow but it was hot work in a furry suit and oversuit and I was drenched with sweat so the Marks must have been as well. Although the transporter bags were larger and less ‘tight cave’ friendly it did mean we only had 4 bags between us rather than the anticipated 7 if we’d been using classic tackle bags. The extra weight in each didn’t really cause much issue until we were passing them up to each other in several sections. The traverses across the deep pools of water were particularly challenging as we tried to keep the bags as dry as possible but we managed and the Wizards Sleeve soon beckoned us to the end.

After a well-deserved drink we put on SRT kits and headed along the calcite tube to the Crystal Orchasm pitch head. Again we worked hard to keep the bags out of the pool of water. Mark S headed out first giving us disapproving looks. We were praying to the gin intoxicated buttered badger spirit that the ropes up into Higher Things were still intact.

Mark S - After finally reaching the end of the ICT I asked who wanted to be the first to test the ropes up above the Orechasm, having previously speculated about their probable deterioration and the likelihood of rock falls. A deafening silence suggested I had been nominated. At least no one could knock rocks down on to me. Thankfully our journey up was straightforward, with the exception of the heavy bags.

Now before I describe the next section, I should give a brief summary of a conversation I had with Mark R before we left his house in the morning. It went along the lines of:
Me: "Where did you have in mind for setting up the hammocks?"
Mark R: "Up at the top of the slope to the Throne Room, just after the rope heads up to Sunrise there's a flat, dry alcove which should work"
Me: "Great. That sounds ideal".

I wandered up said slope, and found the rope up to Sunrise, with no sign of this mythical flat alcove. After some brief discussion and a look up into Sunrise for any more suitable spots, we agreed that the Throne Room was probably the least bad place to camp despite the slight downside of being situated on a fairly steep slope down to 100 m of pitches below.

With between little and no idea of how to rig up hammocks, it was perhaps a blessing that we had virtually no choice as to where they went. We managed to get them strung across the rift, just about separated from one another, and went off to have a dig.

Mark R -
After assembling the campsite and breaking my finger on the kitchen worktop we headed back down to the dig. We were in for a rather uninspiring first session just moving rocks and gravel from where we had previously placed it all back into the hole we dug last time round! It was particularly upsetting that I began to remember specific rocks that I’d stacked all those months ago but with three of us there and not having to battle against falling water we made good progress and were soon thinking about food…

Chris - I’d brought dinner. Three sachets of the ‘Look what we found’ meatballs with a healthy portion of sauce and some boil in the bag rice. These could be stuck in boiling water and left for 15minutes to cook with minimal washing up. Dessert was a chocolate bar, a couple of handfuls of mixed nuts and raisins and a cup of coffee. It seemed to take a lot longer than 15 minutes to get the rice to cook properly. We rehydrated whilst we waited and sorted out the tarpaulin to hang over the hammocks. It immediately felt warmer and gave us hope of a good night’s sleep. After dinner we headed back down to the dig to cap the crap out of the boulders we’d left in the floor. We’d filled the hole on the floor at the opposite end of the Party Sausage, started to build a wall and back filled that. Rubble was being taken out of the hole fast. The boulders were capped and we set to shifting the pieces. Some must have weighed well over 60kg and it was as struggle to get them out of the hole. We cleared what we could until round two of capping was required. Again we shifted this growing the boulder pile behind us considerably. We must have dug for 2-3 hours before calling it a night. We filled the dry bag with water again and headed back to camp for a cuppa.

Mark S -
I think Mark R was in bed first, raving about the comfort of his bed. I teetered on top of the Throne, trying not to topple down the slope as I climbed in to my hammock. Bringing the thermarest was immediately clear as a wise choice. But I wasn't entirely comfortable…unfortunately the "dry" corner housing my head had a nice drip, approximately once every 5 minutes. To add to the fun, my feet were feeling pretty cold throughout the night. It later transpired that the bottom quarter of my hammock, sleeping bag and self were gradually getting a soaking. Not my best night’s sleep.

Chris -
It seemed like a great idea, practical, light weight and easy to install (with a hammer drill and some bolts). As someone who sleeps on my side/front I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to sleep properly in a hammock; A device that seems to require you to lie on your back. After some faff inflating my therma-rest and sliding it into the zippered compartment along with my sleeping bag I got ready for bed and the first test. I wasn’t wanting to spend the night cold so togged up with some thermals and my furry suit. After some effort I got into the hammock and sleeping bag. Immediately it was 1000 degrees inside and zips had to be undone. Some minor adjustments of the tarp were required and then it dawned on Mark S and I that there were quite a few drips. Fortunately I’d also brought a bivvy bag along to add a layer of water proofing. We chatted for a while then tried to sleep. An hour later I was still awake. Listening to the constant drips of water in the chamber around us was soothing but not enough. Eventually fitful sleep took hold and I think I woke every half hour or so to readjust or to move a different part of my leg into the pool of water that was collecting in the hammock.

Mark R - I gently opened my eyes and revelled in the comfort and warmth of the hammock. What a superb night’s sleep, I thought to myself why on earth have I only just discovered sleeping in hammocks now? I was aware somehow that the other two were awake and we began chatting, it was then that I realised that perhaps my luxurious night of sublime comfort and sound sleep hadn’t been shared by Chris and Mark. They both had several complaints about drips, cold and general inability to sleep. I almost felt sorry for them but it’s difficult to imagine how that sleeping arrangement could be anything other than near perfection so I gave up trying to sympathise and instead let them know how well I slept. We began discussing whether or not the camping was really worth it, I decided that a 2 hour trip into the dig, plus surface time, changing time and 30 minutes each way driving time meant that actually we had saved ourselves 6 hours of transit time and numerous bruises and exertions so the answer was probably yes. As a reward for us being so bloody efficient I suggested we could have another 20 blissful minutes in bed. 2 hours later we woke up again.. oops! At this point Mark S was almost shaking with the exertion of holding in his morning toilet duties so he swung out of his hammock onto the 5 foot high pinnacle of rock and climbed to the ground without wetting himself.

We had breakfast of porridge (lots of) and packed up as people started making noises about digging out the plastic bags and loo paper. I was delighted that for once I wasn’t to be the first to despoil the cave so sat at the campsite with Chris whilst Mark S went down the slope to the bathroom (the suspended floor directly above the drippy choke over the dig- obviously). There were a couple of minutes of calm when all of a sudden something thick and vile hit Chris and me full force in the face. It’s hard to describe how bad that smell was, suffice to say that Chris almost lost his porridge and I chose the dirty, damp tea towel mask over the alternative. At least it confirmed a strong upwards draught towards Sunrise.

Chris and I made less antisocial deposits and we just about managed to pack the offending items into a Darren drum… but only just. It was not around 11:30!

Chris - The return through the ICT was much the same as the way in except I was at the front manhandling the bags into suitable positions. It was also very slow. I’m not sure whether me being at the front was the cause of the drop in speed – possibly. At the time it didn’t seem slower, it felt like a good pace, movement seemed efficient and there was the minimum of procrastination and swearing at the solid rock around us. But when we reached the Absent Medic and the rope down to the wet muddy pool a considerable amount of time had elapsed, much to our disappointment. As we had passed through we’d been talking about how each person does different things at the different obstacles along the ICT, Mark R and I recalled several undignified moments we’d encountered while guiding others through. We also noted at one of these talking points that the ladder that was in place was looking particularly unsafe. We decided to take this out with us to rule out any future misadventure. The way through is still possible albeit a little more squeezy. The ladder route had never been my favourite anyhow.

Mark S - How had getting back to the entrance taken so long?! I guess our timings had been skewed by the inordinate time we'd spent in bed. As per usual, the square of light at the top of the entrance shaft appeared tantalisingly close, but it seemed to take an age to get any larger. The bags were feeling particularly heavy now. Probably because of the number of steel tools we'd added to them for our journey out. I blame Mark R. He has a weird thing about carrying lots of metal around. Before long we were lounging in the late afternoon sun, enjoying the views over Castleton. The question was inevitably whether it was worth camping. Time-wise, it's debatable. But fun-wise? Definitely.

Offline alastairgott

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 1855
Re: Hanging around down Rowter
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2016, 12:02:44 pm »
Excellent report! Glad you had fun, I was out at Rowter farm too on the Sunday. We were thinking of placing some party sausages on your car on the Sunday, but we never bought any and it would have been a waste :)

Went on the badger website on the Monday or Tuesday after, looking for a report, but instead spent a few hours before bed reading a lot of the Rowter reports. I had no idea just how much effort how many trips and advice on scaffolding and boarding a shaft went on. Never mind the hypothermia work. Needless to say by the time I'd finished I was wired and not sleeping for the next hour or so.

Keep up the inspiring trips and reports.

Offline ianball11

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 1536
Re: Hanging around down Rowter
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2016, 12:09:00 pm »

Offline chunky

  • forum star
  • ****
  • Posts: 613
  • The Dudley, SWCC
Re: Hanging around down Rowter
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2016, 11:52:27 pm »
Enjoyed reading. Great report :)

Sent from my SM-G935F using Tapatalk

Offline Goydenman

  • Black Sheep Digger
  • junky
  • ****
  • Posts: 960
Re: Hanging around down Rowter
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2016, 10:46:23 am »
Great report riveting read.....keep pushing and THANKS


Main Menu

Forum Home Help Search