BBPC: Chris A, Luke, Mark R, TomTom
LUPC: Adam R, Elliot, Jack B, Rachael
We arrived in dribs and drabs to a wet and windy Rowter field. I did all I could to convince the others to 'pub' instead but to no avail (I even tried to bribe Mark with mince pies!). We got changed in conditions similar to what it must be like at camp 4 on Everest and then made our way to the hole laden with an excessive amount of empty tackle bags. We had a few Rowter freshers with us so we rigged a single drop rope as well as one with re-belays. Once Mark had shot down at essentially terminal velocity we followed on in variously spaced groups. I got down to join Mark and Luke tidying up the old diagonal haul line with Elliot not far behind. Mark somehow convinced me to come dead lift cast iron at Bad Badger whilst Elliot and Luke tidied up gin shaft. Hopefully the others wouldn't be too far behind to help with the inevitable agony.
Mark and myself managed to fill 3 tackle bags with lose scaff clips at bad badger, not entirely sure how much scaffolding we were planning to erect there, and then headed back to the rope climb to try and get it out. We had the 3 bags of clips, a few bars, a few planks, a saw, and a bucket to get out. Mark climbed up and I was to pass things up to him (which in retrospect is silly as he's a fair bit taller). After several attempts at throwing the bucket at his face failed we reduced ourselves to just passing things to each other. The tackle bags easily weighed more than the average house but fortunately we're all man so managed to get them up the rope climb without incident. Next up was the squeeze at Foster Faith...yay.
Adam and Elliot passed us at this stage to go have a nosey at two left wellies, but that did mean we now had Luke to assist us. We formed a little chain and passed the gear through the squeeze, employing the classic lifting technique of bent back, twisting and jerky movements. In no time at all there was an excessive pile of 'junk' at the bottom of gin shaft.
Luke was given the task of attaching the loads at the bottom whilst Mark and myself re-attached the gin wheel for some classic hauling. I can't remember the last time the gin wheel got used by us, I do remember someone trying to SRT up it once though...
We hauled a couple of loads up before Luke started to have issues with hitches or cloves or something. Mark fixed this by going off to saw something in the shaft but fortunately the others started to arrive and so I wasn't left to haul alone. We hauled for a while and even pulled out the death trap final ladder. Whilst taking the ladder off the haul line I undid a knot I assumed was attached to the haul line, it was not, and so sent a coil of rope down onto Marks head (my bad).
Eventually gin shaft was free of rubbish and so we took all our finds from the chokes plus generic bits and bobs from the top of gin shaft towards the entrance shaft. This took a lot of human chaining as most of the load was either obscenely heavy or obscenely badly shaped for a cave. With time getting late we decided we should probably get out at some point and so we sent Elliot out with me and Mark chasing to set up the haul at the surface.
The surface haul turned out to be the most ambitious plan ever, the shaft was full of ropes and we were going to have no mechanical advantage. The rope alone would have some weight to it when fully out at 70m. We started the first haul and became convinced that they had either attached all of the weight or it was jammed. It was slow going and after much agony the load became visible, a single 2m beam of wood. For the second haul we tried a selection of things, throwing in a 2-to-1, attaching the line to ourselves and walking across the field, all pretty desperate.
We decided this was more than a wet and windy evening job and so started to pack up whilst the others came up. Three members of SUSS were having a look in Rowter at the same time and I was quite surprised to see one had prussiked up with a bag of scaff clips. A very good effort but I fear he gave Mark ideas.
We carried what we could back to the car and settled down to some hot Ribena whilst we waited for the others. A pretty successful evening in the end, the area from Gin shaft to Bad Badger choke is tidy now, we just need to find a way of getting it all up the entrance shaft. TBA in the near future hopefully!