Buttered Badger Potholing Club
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Freeze for the photo

Mark R, Mark W, Christoph, Rachael, Tomtom
4th Feb 2015

We all met at the side of the road at an improvised parking arrangement owing to the snow hogging almost all the road up to Oxlow. We congregated in Mark’s Mobile Cave Shed (MMCS) then got changed and divvyed up the tackle sacks of rope and equipment. Tomtom hopped the wall like a little lamb and landed in some deceptively shallow snow as the rest of us made for the stile. We waded the short distance to the excavated entrance of Oxlow Cavern through 2ft snow, and were suitably fatigued before evening getting underground. Mark W rigged the entrance pitch and disappeared as Mark R took some photos of our refuge before descending into the warmth of the Earth.

After several exclamations of discomfort from Rachael at the exposure of lowering herself into the shaft without being attached to anything (snow concealing usual rigging points for a hand line), we were all reunited in East Chamber. Mark R set about taking some photos as we explored a recent digging effort towards the far side of the chamber where boulders are stacked precariously above… good will, holding them in place.

The original intention of the evening was to bolt climb into an aven of East Chamber, but one of our counterparts wasn’t able to come this evening, and the chamber walls are vast.  We settled for some poking about, musing over past attempts of exploration in the various shadows high above our heads, and taking photos. Mark R was trying to capture a ‘dynamic’ photo of Mark W in the foreground with the rest of us lit up by flash guns on the various short pitches in the chamber. After multiple attempts, Mark assured us he hadn’t got what he wanted, so our evening was complete and we started to head out.

Tomtom and Rachael formulated a fine plan to ensure the maximum amount of me being cold ‘up-top’ was achieved, and with that in mind I headed out the entrance pitch first, in keen anticipation of the outcome. Strangely, Rachael didn’t take anywhere near as long as she’d hoped, and before long the rest of us were all out the top, kicking snow onto Mark R as he de-rigged the final ropes. We trudged back through the icy landscape lit by moonlight casting the world in a deep white and navy monochromatic scene, then changed and headed down to Castleton for a swift pint before splitting off and disappearing into the night.

Christoph xx