Mark R, Chris H, Adam P, Maddie, Lizzie, Evil 'ET' Tom, Joe, Becky 'oh flip' Turner (our newest Badger) + several LUPC members + guest Badger Willem 'the Sud Afrikan' Van de Merwe.
Another weekend had come around quickly and the Badgers descended upon the YSS hut with a plan to join up with several LUPC members and pay a visit to Marble Steps. I had driven up collecting kit and the Sud Afrikan in Liverpool before arriving lateish at the YSS. On arrival Pintmaster Parkes and several others were sampling the local beer in the Helwith Bridge while the ladies slaved over a nice stew back in the kitchen of the YSS hut. After we'd all eaten Mark R finally joined us and became the highlight of the evening when he presented Lizzie with her very shiny new SRT kit and Adam and I with our nice shiney quick release D-rings (no more standing about with ice cold hands swearing at tightly shut d-ring for us). After a few more drinks (alot more for Maddie) and some of the usual 'cavers indoors' shenanigans we retired to bed.
Joe and Becky double teamed the breakfast with remarkable efficiency and after some rope and kit faffage we hit the road with an eye to grabbing a number of copies of the latest Descent magazine to check out the Rowter Hole Dig article that was written by Mark W and Mark R. Good effort chaps!
Finally making it to Marble Steps we changed and faffed, reminded the Sud Afrikan about SRT (its been a few years since he last caved) and then made our way to the cave. This was my and several other members first trip down Marble Steps and we were very impressed by the entrance set amongst the trees. Joe headed down rigging the first route with Mark passing him to rig the longer single pitch via the Waterfall.
It was quite a large group hence us rigging two routes and it took a little while to get people down. Joe and his group were to then rig 'the ninety' while I took over from Mark to rig the intestines. Mark had vague memories of it being a bit awkward to rig and his lanky frame is not well suited to rigging pitch heads laid flat out whereas my diminutive size ?clearly? meant i'd be better able. After a bit of wriggling and some very tangled cowstails, rope and descender the route was rigged and I continued downward. Mark hung back to wait for Willem, Lizzie and Maddie who sounded as though they were having difficulty in the squeezes. Maddie gave up at some point through the squeeze and beat a hasty retreat to larger spaces. This left Mark, Lizzie and Willem to follow me on down to the bottom of the cave.
Joe had found his route to be a little wetter than expected and had turned round halfway down the pitch. This meant that once i'd derigged our section there was a small queue forming to prusik back to the surface. Willem coped well despite not having done SRT for several years and despite being tired and having little epiks at several of the re-belays, persevered to the surface.
All in all an excellant trip and one I wished I'd done alot sooner.
The Badgers Scamper down some Marble Steps and Other Stories by Elizabeth Hynes
On Friday night Joe, Evil Tom, Luke, Becky, Annie, Roz and myself arrived in Yorkshire to find Adam’s car abandoned outside YSS. We discovered he was in the pub with Sarah so Joe vey kindly offered to go to the pub himself to get him while the rest of us emptied the cars and started cooking, thanks Joe! We were then given a tour of upstairs from a kindly Yorkshire man who was about the premises. This was enjoyed by all. Next Chris H. arrived with an ex-LUPCer called Willem who decided that ‘Evil Tom’ was too long a name and it should be shortened to E.T. There was much chat and alcohol and the arrival of an exhausted Maddie until about half ten when it was decided that Mark had probably died so we should eat. Over dinner discussion turned to what would become of Mark’s body. Ideas included its use to hold back water in caves, to put on the doorstep of people we don’t like, to remove his hands and use them as shovels in Rowter or to just position him in Rowter as a permanent warning to dig faster. Unfortunately he eventually answered the phone and was very sympathetic to our concerns (shouting “I’m almost there, stop ringing me!”) so our extensive plans for his remains have had to be put on hold. He arrived, there was more drinking, Christmas songs, a lot of telling Adam his music taste was shit, some standing on a pan, a bit of human traversing and spot of face to crotch contact between Chris, Mark and Adam (unrelated to the human traversing).
We all awoke on Saturday morning and managed to make it to the kitchen where Joe and Becky had cooked everyone breakfast. There was then the usual three hours of faffing, a brief stop at Inglesport and eventually we made it to the cave. We split into two groups; Joe, Becky, Annie, Luke, Roz and E.T. who took the Gully route to the main chamber with Joe rigging and me, Mark, Chris, Adam, Maddie and Willem who took the Sidewinder route with Mark rigging. After some getting stuck on deviations and re-belays we all eventually got down and Joe and Becky set off towards Stink Pot and The Ninety! After descending 15 metres through a waterfall however a very wet Joe decided it might not be the best route so Mark started rigging The Intestines. Mark, Chris and Willem sped off down the cave when everyone else decided to turn around as it suddenly got very squeezy. Not wanting them to worry I decided I should probably follow them to let them know no one else was coming down but didn’t find them until the very last pitch so I decided I may as well go all the way to the bottom and see what was there. And what a sight it was! A small hole with some rocks in and a sign saying ‘Director of Public Health’. The other eight missed out! After about seventeen seconds we’d all appreciated the sights and so I headed back up the cave followed by wolf whistles then Mark, Willem and finally Chris who de-rigged. Being the speedy cavers we are we caught up with the others back at the main chamber, after picking up several discarded tackle sacks on the way. Joe, Annie, Roz and Luke headed up the Sidewinder route followed by E.T. who de-rigged and the rest of us went up the Gully route with me de-rigging and Markypoos assisting. We eventually reached the top of the cave to hear E.T. shouting “freedom!” followed shortly by “f*cking maillon!” I exited the cave while Mark went off to help Evil and soon the three of us were out and heading back to the cars. We drove back to YSS, ate chilli and then fell asleep in that exhausted cavey way :) It was a good day.
Sunday morning arrived with more cooked breakfast from Joe and Becky and a lot of checking for blue sky (it got particularly exciting when a whole 1 metre square was seen!). Then Luke and I coincidentally had to go into Ingleton while everyone else washed rope. When we got back there was talk of an eight-mile walk and Mark worked out that he wouldn’t have time to come so unfortunately had to leave. The rest of us set off to the quarry with Roz dressed as superman, accompanied by the paparazzi. It was a lovely walk with no one climbing up cliffs or over barbed wire and there was definitely no skirting round fences over a massive drop into the quarry or anyone going through gates which said ‘no entry unless authorised’. There was however much excitement from the photographers at the sight of a little tree. When we got back to YSS we gave Chris a birthday cake and had some tea then we all packed up and headed back to the North West. I ? caving.