Simpson's Pot - 20 April 2014

Posted by Swaledale Outdoor Club on 2014-04-23

While the rest of the caving section were opening their Easter eggs, Tim and Paul set off to tackle the legendary Simpson's Pot. Despite agreeing a strict pre trip diet of lettuce leaves and camomile tea to enable them to achieve a waistline slim enough to pass thru the notorious 23cm wide Slit Pot the temptation of a cooked cavers breakfast at Inglesports was too great. After eating and some retail therapy in the shop below they set off for West Kingsdale.

As the trip was to be a rather committing 'pull thru' it was necessary to first prepare the ropes and go in and rig the Valley Entrance exit pitch so we could get out, during which Tim made an unnecessary meal out of threading through a figure of eight knot. Back out and up onto a very windy fell to try and find the cave, Paul decided to take an impromptu trek across the moor while Tim got on with the business of locating the cave entrance.

After an initial crawl and a drop down the Five Steps they came to The Pit where some cavers have been known to go down on a pull thru trip to find the route dead ends and they can't get back up. Although not too tricky to traverse a safety rope was set up which Tim took across first and then promptly unclipped and let it dangle down The Pit instead of thinking oh Paul might want to use it! The line was retrieved and tackle bags passed over and progress continued using existing ropes to drop down Chandelier and Camel Pots. The pull through system was then set up for Stake Pot and the still pretty wet Storm Pot. This process enables the first member to set up the rope system in the P hangers over the pitch where a knot prevents the whole length from passing through the hangers and being used on the descent the remainder staying in the tackle bag. Both cavers can then descend and the second member then pulls the the rope through at the bottom of the pitch from the end stored in the tackle bag, bingo!  This process is repeated on all the subsequent pitches.

After Storm Pot came The Duck, this had been preying on Tim's mind every since having suggested Simpsons's Pot he'd bothered to look at the rigging guide and discovered there was a duck. This was not the quacking kind but a point at the which the cavers must completely submerge to get through the passage. Fortunately Tim's fears were alleviated when they discovered the dry weather had meant you could just about keep your head above water and pass thru.

Progress continued down Carol Pot and the aptly named Shuffle Pot, a watery landing at the foot of Lake Pot through the decorated streamway to Aven  Pot, then the fun started. Whilst minds were focused on the narrow Slit Pot there was a squeeze before then. Tim enjoyed this so much he spent quite a while in it getting stuck in various positions before finding largely upright worked and he finally managed to get through probably due to the worry of what would happen if he had got more permanently stuck. It became clear when Paul tried to get through that he clearly had not stuck to the agreed pre trip diet and after a bit of huffing and puffing relented and climbed up and over the squeeze.

That was a good warm up for The Slit,  the approach for this is to set up the rigging and thread the rope thru your descender before attempting the squeeze through as as soon as you're thru there is a vertical 27m drop. That done Tim went first and again after much huffing and puffing stood back from it. To help get his width down to the required 23cm Paul suggested Tim removed his chest jammer (used only for ascending only), this done Tim did manage to get through to his elation and Paul's relief. Paul followed with no difficulty. This was the crux of the route and with this out of the way the team made good progress through the final descent pitch into the Kingsdale Master Cave and, after a crawl and a back breaking stoop, burst through the Valley Entrance hatch after 4.5 hours.

This was a fantastic route and a great achievement,  a celebratory drink at the Marton Arms was followed by a chocolate assisted drive home.

Tim Blenkin

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