Saturday November 28th 2009
Gary, Matt, Mark, Chad, Laura, Thomas
After the long walk up from Clapham we quickly found Jean Pot (initially mistaking Car Pot for it, but the description of the Shake Hole in Not For The Faint Hearted is very accurate). The first pitch took a little while to rig, as it is only just below the entrance slot and required a sling with a rope protector to hang it from a very sharp flake over the pitch head.
Hard Times Crawl was nowhere near as bad as we expected. I took my SRT kit off expecting the worse, but this proved very much unnecessary, and the crawl is flat out but quite spacious tube, which reaches after a couple of minutes a drop down. An easy traverse reaches the second pitch. An obvious bolt provides the main hang, however, the flake to back-up from is unobvious, being quite high up on the right. Rope rub was inevitable, but thankfully the pitch was short and the rock was smooth.
Immediately after this the next very short pitch is reached, rigged from a tiny chockstone and a bolt approximately a metre back from the pitch head. Unfortunately the rope has no option other than to hang over the rock at the pitch head, which is sharp, and so a rope protector is absolutely essential.
The fourth pitch is equally a rigging dilemma. A small flake back from the pitch head and higher up in the rift provided a less than ideal backup, and two unusually positioned bolts near the pitch head allow for a semi-Y-hang to be rigged. Many of the blocks near the pitch head are loose, including one particularly massive block, and so great care was required. The pitch constricts a metre down due to a jammed block which gave some difficulty (jamming Lauras helmet, and forcing Gary to have to reascend and lock his stop in the descending position prior to reattempting!) and some rope rub was unavoidable.
It was obvious how the Chamber of False Promises got its name! The following slither over blocks and the crawl to the traverse seemed a lot easier on the way down without a tacklesack, however, the return journey, gradually uphill, with a tacklesack was rather more difficult with many snagging rocky outcrops and blocks. The traverse was easy thanks to the fixed line now in place (thanks ULSA!) and the formations on the ceiling around the traverse are excellent. It was saddening to see the obvious and unavoidable damage to the stal along the crawl before the traverse, and the first person down this must have seem some amazing things! In particular, extreme care was taken getting off the traverse, as some damage has already been done to the fine formations there. Thankfully the nice helictites above the traverse are out of reach and should be forever protected.
The fifth pitch was rigged, backed up from a bolt in the large chamber, and then rebelayed round a pillar at the pitch head. It could be free-climbed but was very slippy, and lead straight onto the final pitch so not advisable. The sixth pitch made for the biggest rigging dilemma of them all! A bolt and ring in the roof at the bottom of the fifth pitch provided good backup for the start of a traverse around the head of the pot to a bolt on the right which provided the main hang. Accessing this bolt involved some scary manouevers along the tiny ledge, not helped by the fine gallery of straws only centimetres above our heads (thankfully avoided). Thinking back, we probably should have rigged it with the rope going straight from the two anchors in the ceiling over the edge of the pot with a rope protector, rather than traversing round to the bolt on the right for the clear hang. The ledge part way down was too loose to use as a rebelay as suggested in the guide. Eventually at the bottom we were able to appreciate that this pitch is a fine and impressive pot.
We did not descend the seventh (final) pitch, as the only thing we could find to rig off was a very rusty ring at the pitch head - the guide suggested backing up off a jammed block, however, the only jammed blocks were forming the rock-blockage directly above out heads, and looked pretty unstable, so we decided that having seen the bottom of the cave, rather than having reached it was more than adequate.
Jean Pot was a very enjoyable dry six hours underground, with no extreme difficulty, which I would imagine to be passable in all weather condition (with the possible exception of major snow meltwater). The rigging is difficult and rope protectors are absolutely essential, and many of the bolts are rusty and completely unserviceable. An excellent winter trip, and I look forward to doing Car Pot next year.
A quite unexpectedly enjoyable trip!
I started the day with thoughts of 6 hours of tight squeezes and waterfall filled awkward pitch heads, but it was quite the opposite. There are some awkward parts and a couple of crawls but not at all as nasty as the guide book suggests.
A lovely sunny winters day made for an excellent walk up onto Ingleborough with great views of Penyghent in the crisp air. The entrance to Jean Pot is only a short way from Bar Pot and easy to find next to the wall.
Mark and I had agreed to be the rigging team so I set off first down the short entrance pitch into a roomy chamber. The first of the crawls was just around the corner so Mark and I got going while the others came down the entrance. Not knowing what the crawl was like, I decided to take off my SRT kit (Mark chanting â€œfaff, faff, faffâ€ in my ear wasn't helping). As it happened, the crawl was quite roomy and I could have done it with my kit on.
The crawl ends with a short drop down an easy free-climb into a rift with another short pitch. As seems to be the case with all the caves we do, the rigging was 'interesting' with the backup for the second pitch being the end of the rope hooked onto a small flake. I set off down asking mark to make sure the backup didn't fall off as I was going!
The others had caught up to us by then so Mark and I carried on rigging the second rather dodgy pitch. I tied the backup onto a totally loose chock-stone in a heavily cracked roof and pulled the rope out of the tackle sack. Unfortunately the string broke holding the spits to the bag and the whole lot went down the pitch! After some thought about using Mark as an anchor, I thankfully found a spit attached to my harness. We got to use one of our shiny new rope protectors on this pitch so I was happy.
After picking up all the dropped spits from the boulder choke, Mark and I carried on to the next, larger pitch. In order to get a free hang, we had to use a rather rusty in-situ ring over the pitch head but it did its job. A tight initial descent landed in the large Chamber of False Promises. A slither over some blocks entered an impressive tall aven before the second crawl.
The second crawl was a bit more awkward than the first but with some impressive formations throughout. This lead to the traverse over the blind pit which had recently had new rings and rope installed. More great formations before the next muddy slope/pitch to the top of a balcony overlooking a large chamber. A very strange bolt location meant we had to take a lot of care not to damage formations in the roof but we made it down.
Mark and I went off to look at the last pitch but decided that the area was too loose and we couldn't find a suitable backup so we gave up at that point. Well, we'd SEEN the bottom! :p
Back out with SRT kit on all the way was quick progress. We were met with a very cold and clear evening on Ingleborough and seemed to make friends with a bat before heading off for some food.
Highly recommended trip, not sure about 'a good evening trip' though, as the guidebook suggests!