Buttered Badger Potholing Club
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Axe Wielding Leviathans and Titan Escapes (photos)

Tom L, Lizzy H, Mark R, Mark K, Ben E, Chris H, Hannah S, Luke N, Adam P, Sarah N, Shane H, Ryan S, Naomi S, Ivet B, Duncan J, Adam R
8/9/10th February 2013

The weekend started like any other BBPC trip. I drove up with Ben from London picking up Mark K on route. Traffic was reasonably light for a Friday, that was until further up the M1 where there had been a big accident causing us to go cross country toward Buxton from junction 22. Our destination for the weekend was the Orpheus hut. Our trip sec had organised a key for Titan and a plan had been hatched to do an exchange trip between JH and Titan. We were last to arrive at the hut but found pie and several kilo's of mash awaiting us and beers to wash it all down were thrust into our hands. More beers followed. As did shots of Metaxa, sambuca and some horrific lemon based spirit (lemon by name, detergent by nature). The fire was roaring, the booze was flowing and before we knew it its was close to 4am. Time for bed! For some the night was spent shivering in the cold bunkroom. Others were too comatose to notice the chill.

Awaking at 11 suitably hungover, tea was brewed, pork based products cooked and dispatched to stomachs and we set about prepping for the days caving. A group was to hit Rowter to move the pipe work supplying water to the dig face and another smaller group were to pre-rig JH ready for the exchange. A swift change in a snowy field at Rowter farm and we disappeared down our selected holes for the afternoon. Arriving at JH shaft we discovered another rope already hanging in situ. Shane head down first rigging the main shaft, followed quickly by Bitch Pitch. It was nice to get underground to the relative warmth of the mine. We descended quickly passing through the workshop and down the first couple of pitches (including the wet one) of Leviathan. We arrived at the final pitch to find the other group heading back up and had to wait some time for them all to pass. Mark and I had wanted to get down to the the bottom to see if we could scout a route on to Titan as neither of us knew the route. Naomi had been waiting some time at this point and decided to head back up with Shane. The final cavers were now past us and Mark was just heading down he pitch when some yelled "Chris" it was Naomi on the rope above.

Unable to work out what all the commotion was about we decided to call an end to the trip and head back out. The pitch had been rigged down the wetter of the two routes and we soon discovered this had been the cause of the mini-epic. We headed up slowly behind the queue of caves trying to get to the sunlight, all too slowly. So slowly in fact that a three-toed sloth would have been proud. Cold seemed to permeate every cell in my body while waiting for the call of rope free. Finally on the surface we were met by Lizzy and Tom who'd been down Rowter. Stories were shared and we proceeded to drive back to the Orpheus hut for some birthday drinks. Drinks, more drinks, axe fighting and lots of chat whilst huddled round the fire. It was Mark R's birthday on the Sunday so we'd bought cakes for the event and these were suitably decorated and presented. Another late night ensued and suddenly Sunday was upon us.

After a few hours sleep more pig was cooked and breakfast was served. Ropes were expertly packed and there was 30mins left to head over to Rowter farm. The perfect amount of time if it hadn't snowed and made it very difficult to get back up the hill from the Orpheus hut. Mark started the trail blazing but soon admitted defeat even with a push. My Polo lined up and with maximum power shot up the hill until a deeper section of snow halted progress. Luckily shovels were at hand and soon all the cars were at the top of the hill to make an easy escape should any more snow fall.

We met Mark Wright at Rowter Farm and changed for the days caving. Mark W and friend had decided they wanted to do JH but were disappointed to find it rigged. Adam, Maddie and Luke joined them in the JH descent while the rest of us ploughed through snow drifts and walked over walls to the Titan lid. An impressive feat of engineering and digging the shaft descended 30m to a large pool of water. We waited here for some time waiting and listening intently for the call of rope free as one by one we descended into the depths of Titan. It was the largest pitch i'd done since Majlis al Jinn last year and had forgotten what it was like to be suspended on a single rope in a large airy chamber. Simply magnificent. The route onward to JH seemed pretty straight forward. Several ducks lay in the way but with minor bailing these were quickly dispatched. Some stooping a bit of crawling, some boulder choke squeezes and we were into the bottom of JH where we refueled. We continued own the ladders into Speedwell streamway, having waded downstream for a short distance we decided to go upstream for a change. We soon met Mark W and Co and after a quick chat headed on wading ball deep in cold water. We met Adam, Madie and luke again and discussed routes out. Although not eager they were wanting to head out Titan to experience its magnificence.

We said our goodbyes and headed up out JH. Ben de-rigged while I held back to collect tackle bags from him. It seemed like a much quicker exit from JH this time, not so much waiting around. Once on the surface we were greeted by the cold snow. We traipsed back to the cars and changed as quickly as possible. Because Luke had his car keys Tom and Shane had to sit in the back of Marks car with just their wet furry suits on. We sat and waited for Luke Maddie and Adam to appear from Titan. We weren't sure if they would be able to find their way back to the cars from Titan so had planned to head back to the lid at 7 to see if they were close to the surface. So we waited and waited and waited.

At 6.45 we togged up to face the snow and bitterly cold wind and then headed off across the fields to find them. We lifted the lid to find Maddie sat at the top of the pitch waiting for Luke to appear. She was cold and had been waiting some time. We set up a makeshift bothie to provide some shelter and huddled for warmth inside while Luke and Adam de-rigged and finally exited. Maddie wasn't making much sense at this point, slurred speech, inability to move and excessive shivering so with much haste we headed back to the cars to start the thaw. Once changed and bundled into cars we headed back to the Orpheus hut to drink tea and collect Mark K for the drive home. Still snowing the roads were becoming pretty treacherous and I was very glad to hit the M1 and its unsalted/un-ploughed surface for the ride south.