Hillocks Mine - 16/01/2003

Written by RobEavis.

Report by Jim Thompson
Cavers: Steve (Stik) Rider (EPC), Jase Rider (EPC), Pete Pollard (EPC), Carl (Bog) Bergmann (EPC), Jim Thompson (EPC)

A few of us met at the Knotlow triangle for a fun little trip in Hillocks Mine. The idea was to give Pete a bit of SRT practice, and for me, at least, it came in pretty useful too. The way we rigged everything meant that all 3 pairs present could do a couple of different through trips. Bog and I initially rigged and dropped the Whalf Engine shaft, meeting up with the rest at the bottom junction. Nigel and Pete rigged the Whalf climbing shaft whilst Stick and Jase had come in via the ladder pitch and climbers. We said hello and passed each other on our way back out.
From there, one team went back up the engine shaft, another up the Whalf climber, and Bog and I out via the climbing route and old coffin level (apparently the longest of it’s kind) to the oil drum entrance. We bumped into Lee Langdon from the Masson CC who showed us the way as I wasn't sure I could remember it, although I did as it turned out. The climbs back up the hand picked shafts were thrutchy little affairs and great fun.

Back at the top we passed Pete and Nige who were just making their way into the oildrum entrance, and I then dropped the Whalf climbing shaft, passing Nigel's frugal rebelays with interest! It seems however that the others had viewed my 'extended Y hang' with similar surprise!
Once down, I jugged back up the 180m engine shaft, cursing Bog who had wisely elected to wait for me at the top! The fine free hanging pitch which was a breeze to abseil down on the way in, is a bit trickier to get back up- the rope boings all over the place making prusiking a tiring effort. Eventually however, I reached the top where Bog was waiting, and expertly climbed up the ginging past my perfectly rigged Y hang, wondering what the rest were on about. If there had been no holds in the ginging I suppose it would have been a different matter…. Oh well, I knew that in the first place!

Once derigged, we were met by Stick and Jase who had already got changed and were wondering where we'd got to. In the end it turned out that we had been quicker than Pete and Nige, who had got confused in the mine and done a couple of circles before finding their way back to the shaft and getting out. Once we saw steam coming out of the shaft and heard voices, we knew they were on their way, so Stick and Jase left us to it as they had to get home. I ran back to the car as I was freezing in my damp suit, following the previous night’s dig in Bagshawe. Luckily for us, we just got to the Bull's Head in Monyash at 1 minute to 11, but the kind landlady let us stay for a couple anyway. As usual, it was well appreciated after that long, bouncy climb out of the engine shaft!