Buttered Badger Potholing Club
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Orpheus's descent of Titan and Leviathan (photos)

Shane H, Ryan S, Naomi S, Luke N, Ivet B, Duncan J, Adam R, Tom L, Lizzy H, Mark R, Mark K, Ben E, Chris H, Hannah S, Adam P, Sarah N
8-10th February  2013


The journey began with the LUPC gang making their way up to the Orpheus Caving Hut in the Peak District while getting a little bit lost looking for the right turn off lane. We met up with the Badgers and with the Hut all to ourselves, we got the fire going and the kitchen packed with food. The lounge became the hotspot for all the social activity. There was the usual merry drinking of unusual liquor and banter with some discussion about the caving plans for the weekend ahead for us. Mark and Ben participated in an axe duel that resulted in some minor bloodshed and seven years bad luck.

After the previous night’s shenanigans, everybody enjoyed an extended lie on in bed until the smell of frying goodness wafted upstairs into the bedrooms. With breakfast consumed and Luke’s morning sickness slowly dissipating, the cars were packed with gear. There was a delightful (for now) blanket of snow to contend with while giving the cars a push up the Hut lane. It wasn’t until nearly 2 o’clock that we had all left the hut and made our way to Rowter farm and began changing into our cavey gear. Most of the LUPC freshers and Badgers were going down the much cherished Rowter Hole which I had heard later that they all thoroughly enjoyed. Meanwhile, the rest of us headed down James Hall Mine with myself rigging the Entrance shaft and Bitch Pitch with quite an active journey between the two pitches. Ryan rigged Leviathan down to the base of the JH system.

Evil on a rope

We decided to make a move on going back up to the surface starting with an unpleasant prusik up Leviathan with a rather wet downpour to climb up through. Our speedy departure was hindered by another group of cavers ahead of us. This gave us a lot of waiting around time to philosophize about the greater meaning of life. With damp, cold undersuits and hungry tummies, we were greeted at the surface by darkness, mist, snow and Lizzy who pointed the route out to me back to the farm with a torch mounted on a wall. Thanks Lizzy!

We arrived back at the hut after ten o’clock and devoured what dinner we could get our hands on. With a good rest cosying up to the warmth of the fire, some fellow cavers were planning the cake surprises with an added surprise for Mark’s birthday. Mark was ecstatic.

Birthday cake with 'decorations'

After a more reasonable night’s sleep and an early start to the day, we grabbed our gear from the drying room and packed the cars again. The snow was much heavier this morning and all of the cars required an arduous push up that bloody hill again. We were off back to Rowter farm to tackle Titan and JH. We ditched the freshers back at the hut due to their complete lack of enthusiasm for today’s caving endeavours. We suited up and split off at JH manhole to locate the Titan entrance. We found it after a light stroll through the snowy fields and hopping over walls. Team Titan was composed of Mark, Lizzy, Tom, Ben, Chris and myself. We ventured down the entrance and waited while the rope on Titan itself was free. I was both a little apprehensive but very excited and keen to descend the shaft while dangling 145m above the drop below me.

There's snow escape

We all survived the descent and regrouped in the tunnels below after some awkward squeezes and crawling. We now entered the Peak-Speedwell system where we had a lunch break, climbed up several ladder routes and waded through rivers. We additionally waded through torso high water levels to go take a peek at a dive sump or something which was totally optional by the way - I still can’t get my head around that decision. Following our enchanting reunion with Team JH, we parted ways again and rambled all up through JH as hastily as we could. It was a tiresome journey but I exited the cave at about half four, this time around, into the sensual daylight. When I returned to the cars, there was no Luke in sight so Tom and I had to wait over three hours, in damp clothes, in Mark’s car for Team JH to exit the underground. Upon their return we enthusiastically changed into dry clothes in the dark and snow. The gear we left outside for that time had frozen stiff and a lot of the snow that got packed into my bag was still snow by the time I got back to Liverpool.

Lizzy hangin in Titan

Back at the hut we warmed up by downing hot tea and a Danish. We grabbed all our stuff, locked the hut and trekked back up the hill because we didn’t dare drive back down that hill. With the cars packed and seatbelts fastened we parted ways and journeyed back home to warm beds and full fridges. It was a great weekend and great caving.