Simpson Pot

Drinking cider and red wine the night before a caving trip is obviously never a smart idea. But I'm not really known for my smart ideas so I woke up with a headache and not much feeling like breakfast or caving if I am honest! And worse we did not end up going to Lancaster Hole as previously planned, instead myself, Tom, Damian, and Pete joined Simon and Kevin on their trip through Simpson's Pot. This had been sold to us novices at the New Inn the night before: "a classic Yorkshire trip" -Simon, "well I've always wanted to do it" -Tom, "Nah you won't have any problems in there" -Steve.
This turned out to be a fair step up in terms of the difficulty level of caving trips I have previously been on. When we were getting ready, I forgot to put my kneepads on, buried at the bottom of my bag somewhere. When I realised I wasn't wearing them I heard someone say "well you don't really need knee pads for this trip anyway". Which you don't, but I really should have worn them anyway...

Before the Trip
A steep walk brought us to the entrance of Simpson Pot, part of the West Kingsdale system of caves in North Yorkshire. Ten minutes after crawling in my hangover seemed to have vanished as we were straight into fun cave stuff. This was my first pull through trip all done on two 9mm ropes, I can't remember how many pitches there were or how deep; I wasn't counting! The through trip until reaching Kingsdale Master Cave is fairly tight in places plus features plenty of high level rift climbing and traversing. The first problem I encountered was "The Pit" also known as Bob's Pit. This is a circular natural shaft that you have to cross while traversing through the rift. I was told its around 30oddft deep, Kevin and Tom were straight over it, crossing it on their knees using two little ledges. You can't stand up, theres not enough room, the only option is to cross it on hands and knees staring face down into it. I tried it one way and then another but felt like there was a very good chance I could fall down it. I was causing a hold up "Whats going on?" I heard Simon bellow from the back. Tom noticing a hanger on the wall told me to attach a sling to my cowstail and chuck it over to him, so he secured it to the hanger. Not an accepted method of lifelining, but it gave me the confidence to cross the pit after giving myself a mental shake. By this time Simon had worked out what was going on, and squeezed past Damian and Pete to rig a traverse line across the shaft for them. I was later told by Kevin (who is a member of CRO) that quite a few rescues have happened when cavers have descended The Pit, believing that at the bottom is the way on, then pulled through their rope and so stranded themselves at the bottom. (I have since found out there is a way through to Storm Pot? at the bottom of the pit but its described as a very tight "committing" squeeze through.)

As I mentioned earlier, much to my amusement Simpson Pot involves a fair bit of rift traversing. Now up to this point in my caving career, my size has mostly been a useful advantage. Being 5ft nowt is not so useful in the bigger sections of rifts. Trying to move through one section I was finding the going tricky, my left boot lost grip on the wall, and I slid a few feet until my right knee jammed in the gap and I could brace myself again. My first thought was "ah sh*t that felt bad", then "why the fuck do I not have knee pads on!" but I found upon moving it was not so bad and I could still walk and climb normally without any real pain. The next bit I remember was funny, a little duck through the Blasted Hole. We had become a little more spread out at this point waiting for everyone to descend the previous pitch and then Simon to pass the rope forwards. I found myself alone in a pool of water and shouted to Kevin and Tom for the route, after some confusion I found the duck where they were waiting on the other side. They shouted at me to go through feet first which seemed insane but thankfully I did as they told me. Unlike Damian who after several minutes of shouting located the hole and ignored or didn't understand feet first and so went through on his hands and knees only to find that the water on the other side is deeper and so his face went plunging in to our great amusement!

The rest of the trip was comprised of several more traverses and pitches of various heights. I gave up on one of the climbs as the earlier fall had knocked my confidence abit I reckon, but I could get down to the bottom of it, walk along and climb back up.