Members attending: Mike Smith, Jim Borrington, Frances Porter.
It was too nice a day to be going underground, but the date had been set so go we must! This was the third instalment of SRT Training for Frances. Jim was in attendance for mutual support (more of that later). For those who have not descended Eldon it is probably the lightest, and driest SRT trip you could ever wish for. In fact it was that sunny you didn’t need a head torch to get to the bottom of the pitches (more of that later).
Meeting place was once again the Yonderman Cafe, perhaps it’s time to ask them for sponsorship? or perhaps trip co-ord gets a free cuppa overtime we visit, don’t know! but they do serve a loverly breakfast.
We were soon at the hole and moved around to the North Gully. This is a relatively easy couple of pitches which lead to a balcony over looking the main chasm. Me first followed by Frances followed by Jim. I just got on with the rigging and before I knew it I was on the floor of the huge rift. There was muttering above and I wasn’t paying much attention initially. Then I heard helmet! Unfortunately Frances had forgotten to put her helmet on, oops! Jim very kindly went back up to get it for her.
Whilst waiting for the helmet retrieval I got to know a frog and by the time Jim and Frances joined me we were on first name terms and a few more of his mates had come out of hiding. It was also at that point I realised I hadn’t charged my camera battery – this was annoying as I really love taking lots of photos and the odd bit of video.
This was also when I realised I had forgotten to ask Jim to bring the other rope down (for Damocles Rift) Guess we’ll leave that for another day then!
We then dropped into the main chamber via the now much larger entrance, fully equipped with ladder and scaffolding. No more grovelling for several metres. I’d had a look in the dig last year so was keen to see how much more progress had been made, quite a lot. It drops around 20m and is fairly easy to climb down via scaffolding and a long ladder. The dig site however is very loose! Hats off to those who are pushing this and I can’t wait to see how it progresses.
As there isn’t much else to see in Eldon, unless you have another rope, we set off back up. Jim chugged on up followed by Frances. At the first re-belay Frances unfortunately made the mistake of ‘thinking’ she had pushed her chest jammer up too high. I was able to ascend one of the fixed lines and offer assistance. This was not a rescue, merely mutual support! It wasn’t as bad as it first seemed and we were all soon back at the top of the North Gully.
A great trip and a few lessons learned on the way. There will be another training trip to Eldon in May, watch this space.