Nettle Pot, Far Flats, 6 Dec 2019

Present: Mark Gration, Nigel Berry. 

Doing our bit for the environment I picked Nigel up from his home and we had an opportunity for some reminiscing of the Berger trip earlier in the year. We headed for the obligatory small Yondermann’s breakfast, though we both regretted it a little later in the flat out crawls. Our objective was to find the Freeze Squeeze and maybe have a look at it waistline permitting. Nigel repaid the environment bit by paying my trespass fee and for once the rabid dog was indoors; the farmer must be going soft on is dog. 

I rigged the first two pitches down the narrows and to the opening for the flats. Nigel needed to make a slight readjustment on the last rebelay where a bolt hanger for the Y hang was missing and the rope was therefore rubbing on a sharp edge. We then proceeded into the flat out crawl where I realised I had bought the rigging guide but had forgot the survey and description. Oh well we’d both had a good read earlier and hopefully a good memory. 

Navigating the flats wasn’t too challenging though we followed a couple of blind alleys a couple of times. We stumbled across the next pitch head and eventually found the p hangers, well hidden in the roof by the copious mud.   I rigged this pitch and dropped to what I thought was the exit, a bit confusing as I knew the abseil continued beyond where we needed to exit. I went the wrong way so Nigel rigged the other side of a passage and I dropped back on the rope to a ledge a few metres lower. The passage way then opens up to nice walking size and two in situ ropes rather than the pull throughs described in the rigging guide. I convinced Nigel that we could leave the remaining rope at the bottom of the second pull through, even though he suggested there was another pitch

At the top we removed our SRT kit and crawled into even gloopier mid. After following a couple more dead ends we found the pitch that Nigel had mentioned and I had forgotten….but with no rope!  I offered to go back and get the rope but Nigel reminded me we were both climbers and it looked steady, if muddy. The climb down was steady and at the bottom Nigel hid the entrance to the freeze squeeze convincing me to crawl through the muddiest puddle yet. Once I was thoroughly soaked he suggested that maybe the right direction was behind him😅. We had found the freeze squeeze. Nigel decided that was far enough for him today,  especially after the large breakfast. He invited me to continue so I removed my helmet and started to slide in on my back, but it felt very lonely in there.  So after a good reccy I decided to take a piece of Nigel’s wisdom and leave it for another day. The squeeze looks tight but not terrible and the calcite floor is lovely and smooth so will be a good help sliding in OR BEING DRAGGED OUT.

So we retraced our steps and Nigel offered to de-rig. The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful apart from a jammed rope bag in the narrows,  where I needed to down Prussik a bit to loosen it off. I waited for Nigel in the shaft top as the wind and rain had picked up, but once we were out it was clear the rain wasn’t strong enough to make a difference to all the mud we’d picked up.   On the way through Stoney we decided to wash as much of the mud off everything as we could,  so we dumped everything into the stream and then ran after it as it was washed towards the village. 

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable day and a good reccy for a return trip to Derbyshire hall next time. 

Mark Gration