Saturday February 18th
Alum Pot - Long Churn
Gary, Matt, Rachel, Toby
The planned trip for today was Brown Hill Pot, but the weather forecast from 2pm was a little concerning and we didn't know how Brown Hill responded, so we stuck with a much safer option to do a quick Alum Pot to Long Churn exchange, aiming to be out before the rain started.
Myself and Rachel headed down Long Churn, skillfully traversing the Double Shuffle Pools (which I have never done before; I usually just fling myself in) and reaching Dolly Tubs. On this occasion I decided that I would do my once every five years rigging refresher and promptly set to work. A group of instructed cavers were doing ladders but we were able to bypass them via the right hand window route.
Down at Dolly Tubs ledge the view was splendid as always. I could just make out Gary and Toby above starting the descent of the North West Route of Alum (if you look at one of the photos taken by Gary it shows an excellent view from the top looking down at Toby going over the edge, with me starting rigging of the Greasy Slab part way down). The whole rigging thing came right back to me which was a relief!
For reference, from Dolly Tubs ledge, traverse along the left wall of the shaft to a Y-hang descent (steep slope) down the Greasy Slab with some unavoidable rope rub further down. Once on the large balcony below, there is a sandy shelf leading out along the opposite side of the shaft. Some rather far apart P-anchors support an easy traverse along this ledge to The Bridge. This is a sloping huge jammed block in the middle of the shaft which must be crossed (carefully), and then descended on the far side to another small balcony. Anchors then spiral down to underneath The Bridge where a tiny Y-hang can be achieved, followed by a deviation (in-situ tat) from the opposite wall for the final excellent pitch. What a great place!!!
We arrived down only a short time after the Alum team, and they had already rigged the final pitch.
We did some photography at the always dramatic and inspiring sump next to the thundering Diccan waterfall, and then in the stream passage just upstream of the sump. and we headed back out. to complete the exchange.
The ascent back up Alum north west route was quite sufficient exercise, and we returned to the surface around 2pm to find absolutely no sign of the rain that had been threatened; in fact it was a lovely day. Never mind... Brown Hill will be there for another day.