Stapled to the top - 20/07/2023

Chris, Joe & JRP

Armed with a drill, camera and 3x SRT kits, pre beers were quickly supped over some onion rings before gaining access to Bagshawe which proved difficult. The long drag (literally) with a bag each felt a slog having not been down these parts for a while, I was grateful for my miners knee pads. The duck in the French Connection wasn't too bad, still being able to keep your face above the water but the passage looks larger than it is thus saturating your complete torso in passing, making any idle work/time bone chilling! We passed bags through the choke, once stood at the bottom of Madame Guillotine we kitted Joe up who'd never been to these parts (at all) to rig our abseil rope so we could safely/easily staple the far side of Madame Guillotine. 

Chris and Jim had made an Awesome start a couple of months prior using the existing, rigged rope which proved difficult. Once Joe had rigged a fresh, Chris headed up to the ledge which marked our starting point for tonight. I managed to persuade Chris to head up a gully to the right rather than straight up, although the rock potentially looked better, the line I persuaded him on carried loads more natural holds which'd make for less staples and less holes to be drilled! He started on his way whilst I watched his process. Basically... Drill two "big one" holes at roughly the approximate angle of the staple then, bash the staple in to place. Although technically there was more to it than that, which I soon found out. Chris pushed on to a height of 4 metres above the ledge then offered for me to have a "bash". 

Now feeling the cold I gladly accepted, laden with gear I made my way up to his end point. My first staple went in like a banana! With reassurance from the ground crew that it sounded "ok" I continued. The second felt like it went in better then it progressively got easier, with almost perfect positioning, whilst others felt like they didn't hit the end of the drill hole. Negotiating the fractured rock, gardening en route, we moved further right towards a gully leading to an aven which Ben Bentham climbed in the mid 90's. It's crazy that since we broke through back in 2010 I'd never properly seen up this aven, it definitely needs another look. At the gully we decided to head straight up rather than to touch the large boulder slope, as anything knocked down would eventually fill up the choke below and our route out. I used the staples as a ladder system for the final few metres as it was void of naturals. After q couple more I was stood at the top of the pitch! - Yay!

I placed one more staple on the way down as one of the moves felt very bold on the descent and it made sense to do this now so we could take most of the gear back out tonight. Back down on the floor I was greeted by a chilled Chris and a freezing Joe. We made a hasty retreat back through the duck, it didn't take long for everyone to warm up. We made surface at 11:45pm having definitely missed the pub so postie's were supped in the car park chased by some onion rings. 

The Eavis approves - 26/07/2023

Rob, Joe, JRP

We returned the following week armed with a little drill, some bolts, a camera and cap lamp belt with cows tails. Our mission: place some bolts to fix a traverse line (proper via ferrata style), using our abseil rope from the previous week. All the other locations which we have placed staples we'd never fixed a traverse line as it wasn't warranted, however this is the first project that's deemed worthy of one, being an 18m pitch with a potential fall of 20m! (Even we don't wanna die that bad...)

Quick pre-beers in the car park (in the pissing down rain) followed by a boss straight towards Madame G. It felt much easier this week having not dragged in heaps of kit. Rob climbed up the staples, safely backed up and was up in no time. He switched to descent mode and commenced placing bolts for the safety chord. 

During this time I managed to convince Joe on a grovel to the boulder choke at the end of Calais Crawl. I'd previously dug this to a large drippy void after we made the big breakthrough back in 2010 connecting the Full Moon Series to the Hollywood Bowl series thus enabling easier access to this highly prospected area in the Bradwell catchment. To get to the end you have to negotiate two ducks, the second one having little to no activity over the past 7 years required a little dig after sediment had been washed through during high water levels (and it's tight!) Once through both of us climbed up into the void which was pissing down with water, strange as the whole place seemed to be dry this evening. The choke looks super promising but requires scaff as it's looks awful!

We retreated back to the base of Madame Guillotine to find Rob just about finishing up. He placed one more bolt securing a horizontal traverse near the bottom. Joe and I belted up and made our way to the top. The first proper ascent using only a belt was AWESOME! It felt so cool to move so fast up this pitch, whereas before it'd require so much faff, dragging SRT kits and passing down gear to people below. This has been something I'd been dreaming of for 10 years and for it finally to become a reality was Awesome! 

Rob followed, shortly after and within minutes we were all at the top - Crazy times! We headed back out elated, not only was it a top achievement for Team Awesome, it made the trip fun! It now opens up some serious prospects in the Hollywood Bowl Series and sporting trips alike. Shortly with the removal of key access to the gated sections of Bagshawe (replaced by a Derbyshire key) hopefully we'll be seeing a lot more activity here.

Some well deserved post beers had in the anchor with copious amounts of snacklets.

Sump luck - 03/08/2023

Joe, Sam & JRP

Ready to snap some "arf" decent photos and with a rare appearance from Sammy Whiskers we met at Baggers for pre-beers and soggy chips. With hindsight and a code, getting Into the Coe was easy and we trudged along to the main drag and Full Moon Series at a reasonable lick, now unladen with bags.

This July has been super wet but we were surprised to see the duck at the lowest point of the French Connection was within centimetres from being sumped! This was worrying as when one crawls through the duck you disperse the water into this lower section meaning we'd definitely be free-diving back out. This could quite easily be done but tonight wasn't the time to experiment. Without the appropriate gear, exiting the sump in reverse would require a struggle up a slippery ramp which is bad enough in the dry. We put a pin in it and hope within a few weeks the sump will drop. 

We retreated and headed up through the first gate for a quick look, as Joe had never been. Pool Chamber was up (Obvs) but only just. On our way out we decided to show Joe the newly discovered Mulespinner Series and had a laugh free-climbing down the pitch which was spicy. After the grand tour we raced back up the stairs and supped post beers at the cars. Photos of Madame Guillotine would have to wait for a few more weeks.