Maskhill - Oxlow Exchange - 29/01/2009

Written by RobEavis.

Report by Jon Pemberton

Team Maskhill - Mark Harrison (EPC), Jon Pemberton (EPC), Tam and Leann Rennie (EPC).
Team 'Ox-slow' -
Bernie Maddison (EPC), Sam Pemberton (EPC), James Wood (EPC).
Team 'Pissed at the TSG' - Jim Alder

We all met at 7:00pm in the lay-by beyond Oxlow House farm. Jams must have got kitted up within two minutes while I hectically froze! Ten minutes later kneeling near Mark's car, still complaining, still freezing, my hands nearly falling off! I was ready! So Mark and I were the last to make our way up to Maskhill (officially.) The entrance pitch got rigged and and we abseiled down the rope with all of us dreaming to make it out in time for the pub! Bernie and Jim Thompson had managed to mistake Mark and myself for Jams and Dervish thus making the unnecessary hike up to Maskhill. Tam was next while Leann kindly offered her position to me noticing me stumble around with my hands in my mouth (the best and only way to keep warm at the entrance to Maskhill.) Within five minutes Mark was last to enter with some nice closing of the lid.

We had already done the Oxlow - Maskhill exchange a few weeks prior to this trip (01/01/2009) with a lot more people, so after descending murmuring churn and short ‘free-climbable?!’ pitch we came to the decision that rather than drop down into Pearl Chamber (6th pitch of Maskhill) as we did on the previous exchange we would traverse across to the rock bridge and abseil straight into the far west of the West Chamber.

From the rock bridge we could see team Ox-slow sitting in the bottom of the west chamber having bagz of fun! We abseiled from the rock bridge into the impressive West Chamber taking in the view. ‘Tagged’ each other and declared a ‘de-rigging’ race to the pub. (copyright Jams.) On reaching the West Antechamber I decided to head up the inlet on the left knowing that our party (the bigger one of the two) would take longer to ascend the last couple of pitches in Oxlow. A very clean scalloped crawl for 35m to a sump (dived for 43m, not today.) The stream emitted from the passage has been dye-tested from Black’s folly, the rocky tube before Castle aven in the New Oxlow series.

When I eventually got back to the West Antechamber everyone had almost ascended the 5th pitch leaving only Tam at the bottom and Leann halfway up the rope. I was last to ascend/de-rig unsure of what Dervish had intended us to do with the pitch/traverse (too busy thinking about pitches and Pantin’s.) Oxlow got de-rigged and on the surface I met Tam who hastily departed once he had received the mammoth tackle bag I had dragged out from the bottom of Oxlow. I decided to do the noble thing and wait on the surface. We hauled the 50m entrance rope out tackle bag attached. After getting changed back at the car I noted it was 10.45pm! With no sign of team Ox-slow. (Pubs out ‘a window then.) 11.25pm saw Jams back at the car, not bad for an evening trip!

We even got to see Big Jim slurring his words back at TSG absolutely blotto arguing he couldn’t make the trip due to flu, a right treat!

-“Whera azh Devishb then…?!” Big Jim 2009