Present: Bob, Paul W (Author)
I had mentioned to Bob at the clubs Christmas party last November over several beers that I would like to push myself a little bit further and do some of the more committing trips and I suggested Pippikin as I thought it is a system he knows well and had done many times. Also last month he gave taster trip of the lower system by entering Mistral and going throughout the system up to Gour Hall taking in all the other passages and impressive chambers on the way and was a system I want to get to know better.
Well on this trip it was our intention to go in through the top entrance of Pippikin Pot and out through Mistral hole which is in the east wall of Easegill.
I arrived at a very quiet Bernie's with Just Bob and myself and the usual grumpy table there , the debate today was about nuclear power and the fact that we don't make anything in Britain any more!
Bob started telling me what to expect with this trip and explained that the tight bits are a sequence of squeezes at the top and “if you can get through those the rest of it will be no problem” he also said that it is a clean and dry comfortable cave, when I told him I was a bit apprehensive about it he told me he “gets a bit nervous” also. I wasn't sure if this was a good or bad thing!
I had been told by many people I would get through so now was as good a time as any and with that we loaded up the car and drove up to Leck Fell house . Bob found the farmer and asked permission to access the cave and the kind farmer generously let us both get changed in a barn which was very welcome as there was quite a bit of snow on the ground.
All too soon we were ready and made the walk acrross the fields and started to look for the entrance to Pippikin pot.
As soon as you get into the entrance of the pothole you immediately descend a ten meter pitch and then at the bottom I head bobs voice shout to me to crawl through a horizontal gap that tuned into a round hole that slopes down hill. As I slid down this steep rock tube it opened out into a small chamber where there is no floor I looked over at Bob sat on a single scaffolding pole that was placed across the top of the 4-5 meter deep hole I placed one hand on the pole to prevent me falling down the hole and Bob explained the next step.
Our way on was on through a vertical slot in the wall on my right hand side. It was time to remove the SRT kit so I could be sure I would get through as I did not relish getting stuck so soon. Bob went through first while I passed him our SRT kits then it was my turn,control your breathing, keep high, relax and let your body flow through and don't worry about getting stuck or you will get stuck I kept telling myself! and that was me through the first squeeze.
Much of the rest of the way down was pretty similar consisting of a sequence of pitches and squeezes separated by nice passage. There was one section called Stemple rift tha was another 2-3 meters long vertical slot that you had post yourself through like a rolled up newspaper then once you come out of the other end you emerge in a chamber head first with the floor 3 meters below you . To aid you on your way there is a short horizontal acro prop positioned about a meter below the slot which enables you to get your self sorted out and climb back down to the floor. The cave started to get bigger at from here and we entered a chamber with some fine formations then worked our way into a winding rift that the stream flows along. At the top section of this passage was a narrow zigzag bend the passage dropped but to get into it required somehow getting over the top of the narrow bit and dropping down just where the passage bends around the corner. A thin person would probably be able to slide through and it did look possible for me to squeeze through so I had a go. My legs stomach and lower torso got through no problem but my chest? no chance. I was wedged in by chest with my legs dangling in thin air desperately trying to push myself back up the rift but I could not get and grip to free my self off. Bob managed to stand underneath me and I put my foot on his shoulder and pushed myself up and along the rift to where it widened and then slid down the into the stream bed . This bit of the cave could be extremely difficult to get back up if your like me short! Luckily we were not planning on going out this way.
After following the stream winding its way down the rift passage for twenty minutes or so I started to recognise where we were from our last trip. The passage lowered and to our left there was a wide bedding plane that when we crawled along came to a big pile of boulders we climbed up the boulders and emerged into the impressive Hall of Ten chamber. Yes I got through Pippikin!
After a brief rest we made our way though the chambers and passages of Dusty Junction and the Hobbit then followed the draft toward the crumbles then turn right and a crawl back up into Mistral Hole.
The walk back to the car was tiring enough for me today and I can imagine that before Mistral hole was opened Pippikin Pot would have been a serious and committing undertaking. I would like to have a go at going out of it one day but I think I need to work on my climbing and fitness a bit first and grow a few inches .. maybe!