BBPC & LUPC trip - Badgers Luke, Tom (and Jen) + LUPC x 9
The day started with instant regret... Having suggested leaving Liverpool at 7am to save faffage later in the day I found myself struggling to be motivated to pack the car in the cold dark. Jen and myself eventually got going and passed Luke doing his pickups on Edge Lane. The journey up the M6 was spent waiting for the others to come flying past but it never happened. With a clear traffic run across to Ingleton I was the first there and so went to Spar to get money for breakfast (the ATM is finally freeee). The others weren't far behind in the end and soon we were all tucking into a Inglesport breakfast, preparing ourselves for the impending doom, or as I like to call it, caving.
Once breakfast had been dragged out long enough it was time to hire the gear for the fresher's and for me to finally call off my search for my Daren drum and just buy a new one. A short drive to Alum later and we were all getting changed in the biting wind, its definitely winter caving season. It was decided that the none fresher contingent of LUPC would do lower Long Churn first allowing them to rig and do some rigging teaching, whilst a few of us took the fresher's to look around upper Long Churn, avoiding standing around at the top of the first pitch. It was pretty dry in Upper Long Churn for the time of year so the going was easy, apart from for Adam who chose to explore every nook and cranny on the way up. We had a quick pause and play at Dr Bannisters hand basin until we were probably far enough behind the others to follow. Things always seem much quicker on the way back so in the blink of an eye we were back in daylight, trying to coax the others back into the darkness.
Lower Long Churn is a bit more challenging for the beginner caver so we took our time skirting the pools, using various parts of my body as footholds for the others. We could hear voices in the distance and in my excitement I squeezed down the wrong bit of squeeze by the cheese press, thinking that 'I'm sure it was easier last time'. Once down I was able to point out the correct route to the others. One more hand line assisted climb later and we were at the dolly tubs pitch, a cheerful Luke awaiting. I had wanted to take a few pictures of Alum on this trip so I nipped down to the window to unpack my camera and take the obligatory pictures of people on the bridge.
I snapped away for a while until more of the others began to catch up, filling the window with keen cavers. The eventual plan was to take as many people who wanted all the way to the bottom so I took a few down the greasy slab and along the traverse to have a look down from the bridge. As caves go it really is rather pleasant to be sat in the dry, with natural light and everything. With more people gathering around the bridge it was time for me to head back to my camera to take even more pictures of folk looking epic in PVC.
Since I'm lazy and have been to the bottom of Alum a few too many times I was happy to take those who were either cold or didn't fancy the big pitch back to the surface. I decided to take the difficult rope up dolly tubs and was instantly confused by the knot pass
just after the deviation. Once I was over the lip I realised it was there to clip into since there's a fairly substantial ledge to stand on. A few more prusiks later and I was heading around to meet the others at the top of the main Dolly tubs pitch. Once we were all up it was only right that we sent people through the cheese press so I headed to meet them at the other end whilst they squeezed through. Unfortunately we had traffic issues with some sort of sixth form geography trip at the other end of the cheese press but in the end it only left us with 5 mins of waiting around.
Going back up the climbs in Lower long Churn is much easier than coming down so in no time at all we were back into lovely fresh air mixed with a tinge of wind chill. The walk downhill to the cars was thankfully dry and we even managed to vaguely wave at people from the top of Alum on the way past. At the cars we found that Ivet's things were in Ryan's car and we didn't have his keys, fortunately I had towel, blanket and sleeping bag I could put to good use so Ivet spent her time sat in Luke's boot, huddled up in many layers looking cosy.
I needed to head off as I had many whiskeys and fellow badgers calling but I didn't want to leave before the others had returned. My time waiting was spent sat in the car with the heating on, occasionally popping out to have a look up the hill side for lights. Finally the other group started to materialise so I was able to make my dash for North Wales for a night of whiskey and cheese, and a day of watching rally cars.