James, Tom, Helen, Dave, Larry, Nathan, Robin
After assembling at the Yondermanns Café and beginning to get changed, I realised that I’d forgotten my SRT kit so 80 minutes later (thanks to Peter for the kit) I arrived at Eldon Hole to find two routes well rigged by Robin and Nathan and for me to join the tail of the descent. This worked out well as I was able to give Helen a hand at the last re-belay on the West route.
Everyone was admiring the spectacle from the bottom of Eldon so Robin and I sorted out the pull up inside Eldon, using some trusty home-made elastic bands, and we all went up towards Damocles.
By the time I went up last, various attempts had been made to ascend to view the sword of Damocles, but in the end only myself, Dave and James managed to get right to the top, past the deviation and through the slot etc.. As usual, blown away by the fantastic formations up there.
Descending last, undoing the fixed rope system for a pull down, always a bit nervous about which rope but after 3 checks with Dave below, the rope came down easily after us.
On reaching daylight, James was already well on his way as the last caver and de-rigger on the West route. Planned order up the North route was Dave, Helen me but Dave had some trouble at the free-hang re-belay. After a little while of **** **** *** etc from above, Dave took up my offer assistance and 5 mins later he was free, I was now past him so got an early rest where we practised knots with Nathan. Dave and Helen safely derigged and some afters were enjoyed at the Woodroffe Arms, Hope with an on-site Thai take-away, very tasty.
All in all the day started as a bit of a disaster but it worked out just fine, thoroughly enjoyed and a brilliant day.- Larry
2nd Report by Robin 7 cavers assembled at The Yondermann cafe in expectation of a ‘classic’ trip down Derbyshire’s equivalent of Alum Pot (in your dreams). However after getting dressed for the occasion some (or one in particular) were found to be without appropriate attire, so promptly made an emergency trip to procure some SRT kit. In the meantime the 6 left initiated proceedings into the open void. With myself rigging the West Wall (decent job Rob) and Nathan rigging the North Gully descent we all followed at various levels of skill. Being in kind what could be termed a ‘training’ trip all eventually landed at the bottom on the rubble heap after varied modes of descent, but safely and in one piece. By this time Larry made a reappearance having borrowed an SRT kit from Chesterfield and descended forthwith nursing down any stragglers. Of note we’re the local and seemingly numerous population of amphibians – chiefly frogs and one lone but healthy looking toad.
The bottom had changed since I last came in, various work parties having made the entry into the main chamber underground much more amenable to proper caving than the previous crawl and scrape past the corrugated iron sheet that obscured entry beforehand with some solid scaffold and a ladder. Entry gained we all then continued up the pull-through thankfully rigged by the latecomer. New bits of rope, deviation etc are met at the top of the ascent up to Damocles Rift, but for least the second time I declined the awkward and potentially troublesome climb and squeeze through the keyhole which leads you up to possibly some of the most spectacular formations that aren’t in showcaves underground in Derbyshire – I’ve got good photos from previous visits anyway. Everybody made an appearance upstairs, not sure how many went through to the upper upstairs, but it was time to descend in order to ascend the main shaft, so off I went. Choosing the North Gulley to ascend I arrived with only Tom, who’d gone back up the West Wall for company. After a while the rest of the party made an appearance, but we really do need an extra round of training on de-rigging as no-one bagged up rope on the way up and we had to haul the whole lot out from bottom to top by hand after only caribiners had been disconnected from bolts. Still everyone got out safe which is always the main thing, the next being the best post-trip option for refreshment and a quick history lesson on youth culture and music – a lecture yet to be completed. Next time maybe….tt…..Robin