Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate


Well that was immense!

I had this solved a few months back but had nobody to come with, but then with the brainwave of asking facebook and I had volunteers in the intrepid guise of Wheelybarrow, moortrekka, and sytyky.

The journey all the way from Cullompton was snow, snow, snow all the way and it didn't diminish all the way to the cache site, where the snow was inches thick on the ground, in the trees, and, often, down our necks.

Finding the opening was easier than expected as the various openings were sheltered from the snow by overhangs. And then in, which I just cockily rapelled down - meaning I had ignorantly ignored the critical factor of getting back up again, for which more later. I don't know how the others got down because, my head torch malfunctioned...! So for half of the rest of the climb I was holding a feeble garage torch that itself kept flickering on and off - until I horsed around with the internals and moortrekka intelligently suggested I tape it to my helmet (and gave up some tape from his helmet, to boot!)

This was by far my most challenging 5/5 to date, and I've got a few under my belt now. The rifts were narrow and slippery. The climbs were, well, narrow and slippery! And the drops were narrow and slippery, and uncontrolled! By the final push we were delighted to find a helpful length of scaffold, and moortrekka's three metres of 5mm cord, which was invaluable for the final little climb.

I left a very large TB, which was never going to fit in the cache, but is hiding just behind it. It cannot be missed!

On the way back, I dropped my phone down a deep rift! And nearly that was that, but for the fact that mercifully it landed squarely on a rock jammed into the rift and did not disappear down to the ninth circle of hell...

Once we got back to the bottom of the entry chimney the immensity of our final challenge became all too apparent. The chimney itself was easier than it looked (though still extremely tricky) but the initial little climb up onto the ledge required quite a lot of planning, and the construction of a bit of a ladder from the rope. I went first in order to quickly call Mrs Tank to say we were (nearly) out and not hastily call mountain rescue(!) and threw down our only harness - I know! - for the others... None of whom could make it fit and all of whom therefore very impressively made their way out unassisted. Excellent!

What a fantastic cache, and a real challenge. And the wood was absolutely beautiful in the snow. We pushed on to Earnanaes but on a quickk inspection decided to leave that until our strength has returned and (hopefully) the ground is dryer...!

Note: A few weeks later, I discovered that moortrekka broke a rib down there, and immediately let me use him as a ladder! The man's a real gent.