Team: Jon P, Jim T

A couple of weeks ago we’d had a nice early scrat in Waterfall Hole as an extra-bonus Saturday trip. Jon had some ideas about possibilities in light of the reality of SMMC so we were keen to get a new look in the right direction. We’d left that day with a ‘new pitch’ but no kit, so I’d come tooled up tonight with plenty of rope, rigging, drill, capping kit and high hopes. We were just going to drop the pitch and walk into a new bit of the streamway…

No time for prebeers but we may as well have had them as it’d been a long week and I’d turned the faffometer up to 11. Eventually I managed to dress myself and Jon headed to the hole – with the parting words – ‘just wear your SRT kit now, you did last time’… I wasn’t so sure as I’d had to dig my way into the entrance crawl on that occasion, but optimistically did so anyway.

Into the crawl, I was jammed after a couple of mm. Croll in the ground, harness on the roof. Forward, reverse, sideways, movement just wasn’t on the agenda. After what felt like an hour, I managed to free myself, dekit and cursed the cave for having such a crappy entrance. At least let me get warmed up first. Once that trauma was out of the way I observed the last familiar looking thing I would for the evening bar the first pitch – a buried shopping bag – and got myself down the rope ready for a nice clean excursion round the familiar parts of the cave I’d enjoyed on the last jaunt.

But nothing is. Everything here looks different, yet the same, and nothing like it did last time. It’s a confusing place. We’re taking the previous exit route in reverse so I’m glad Jon has an idea of where we are. The first squeeze, that was a pig before, I pass with ease. We pass through the utter filth of Chandra’s series so I’m relatively certain we’re in the same cave at least. So soon, we’re at the squeeze before the pitch – one I’d been unable to get through before, but it looks fine, and I argue with him that it can’t possibly be the same place. He’s already through it though and assures me he’s at the pitch head.

So I pass the kit through, get my legs in and slide through with ease. I’m still not sure we’re in the same place. Jon has the pitch rigged like a pro in no time and is at the bottom poking about. There are no victorious calls, nor any mention of a huge wide open stream passage. I head down and it takes me longer to load my Stop than the descent lasts. Jon’s assessment is that we’re actually in the roof of EPS aven.

So much for optimism but it’s good to have had a look and put it to bed. It’s getting really cold we derig and head out but vow to return for some more poking as there’s loads more to look at.

It’s a gorgeous warm evening on the surface. Caked in muck, but there’s no waterfall to wash off in but at least the beer is cold as I’d included an ice pack in the kit prep. Onwards!

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