Hurnel Moss Pot 12 June 2011
Louise, Chris and myself signed up for the Hurnel Moss pot trip, with the main event, the Poseidon pitch, billed as being one of the finest pitches of its type in the county. We had originally graded this as a moderate trip, the guide shows a couple of traverses, the 55m Poseidon pitch split by a ledge mid way down, along with some short entrance pitches and short pitch at the base, the only difficult part seemed to be finding the entrance, we should be in and out in a couple of hours.
I was down as trip leader, and broke with normal tradition of the leader i.e. knowing very little about the trip and only having a vague idea of how to find the hole in the ground, and I did a little research. The entrance pitch sounded nasty and awkward, the first traverse out above the big pitch sounded very exciting as it follows a nearly blank wall with what is optimistically described as a “narrow ledge” suitable only for the occasional toe hold. The rigging for the last pitch also seemed to be rather vague. Perhaps we were in for a slightly harder trip.
We overcame the first hurdle of finding the hole, again totally breaking with tradition we used a compass and walked straight to it, rather than the normal approach of wondering aimlessly around the moors searching for it (is this proper caving though?) The first pitch was actually quite nice, if tackled in the right way, the second was fine and I was soon down at the first traverse, it was indeed very impressive, and I hadn’t really got a clue how I was going to manage to rig it. Some time passed and there was no sign of Louise and Chris, perhaps the first pitch wasn’t as easy as I had found it? I couldn’t progress on any further as they had the next rope and the more I looked at that traverse the harder it got! So I eventually retreated back up to see what was keeping them, I met Louise at the base of the first pitch. Apparently Chris had put his glasses down on the grass outside the cave and then couldn’t find them, not wishing to step on them while looking he called Louise back out to help him!!
Eventually armed with the next 60m of rope I set about rigging the first traverse, one bolt at a time and with more brute strength than finesse, I was soon at the main hang, well that wasn’t too bad! I reassured Louise it was much easier than it looked and headed off down the first 25m of Poseidon Pitch to the next ledge and traverse. This was a proper ledge, so no issues rigging this and I was soon on the final 35m of Poseidon, it was indeed spectacular as was the huge chamber we landed in.
The final 8m pitch was “down a hole between muddy boulders” which formed the chamber floor, of which there were plenty of holes and boulders to choose from, but no sign of anything we really liked the look of. Not to be beaten though, eventually we resorted to a bit of good old fashioned improvisation and I rigged round a large boulder and we proceeded down with some caution, sending Chris off first to see if our rigging was going to hold! A short section of cave and climbs followed and few minutes later we reached what looked like a dry sump, if there can be such a thing, and the end of the cave.
Retracing our route out was straight forward, however, Chris managed to find a free climb alternative to the final pitch rather than trust to our improvised rig going up, he then de-rigged the main pitches and traverses while I was able to enjoy the spectacular situations to the full. I think Louise enjoyed the airy traverse, but I’m sure I heard a few sweary type words being uttered by her at some point, but perhaps they were directed me for blinding her with the camera flash at the critical moments?
It was fantastic trip, taking us about 4 hours and finding it slightly more technical than the guide had suggested.