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Cripple Creek - 04/11/2017

Written by Jon Pemberton.

A Team Awesome away day!

With me fleeing the country in the not too far future we decided to organise a Team Awesome away weekend to get us away from the grit of Derbyshire exploration. Hummin' and Arrrrin' about what trips to do we eventually settle for Ireby Fell Cavern and the Cripple Creek round trip. Dave Gledhill had told me about this trp years ago, not too long after the connection had been completed and said it was a right bugger of a trip which sounded like fun to me.

We made the journey up t' Dales on Saturday morning and stopped for a quick bite to eat at Inglesport before making our way over to Masongill. Not wanting to use loads of rope and kinda hoping Ireby is always rigged (right?) we took the basics and headed up the hill for what would be Luke's Yorkshire Dale Caving debut. Entrance finding was not a problem and we were soon slithering down the entrance tube to the top of the entrance pitches (which were not rigged - FYI). Luke made a fantastic job rigging these pitches (inc. deviation) and we were soon bimbling along down the Upper Main Streamway passing the duck which was fairly low. On reachin Well pitch we found a rope so we had a dilema of either dragging a 30m rope through Cripple Creek or completing the round trip and walking back down to collect it from the top of the pitch which'd take roughly 20min. We decided on the first option and took our rope along for the trip.

Quick progress along the Lower Streamway and we were soon admiring Duke Street and how great it must have felt to discover this passage back in the day. We progressed forward until we reached a short rope hanging down from the roof. This Leads up to Skylight Passage and the other bypass to the Duke Street sump (let it be known as the much easier of the two bypasses). We had a quick bite to eat and set of up the rope and made swift progress along the crawl. This pops you out in the connection of Whirlpool crawl in Ireby II which was connected in December 2008. It's worth mentioning here that the Cripple Creek connection was created in February 2008 which meant a good 9 months of bastard long trips through Cripple Creek to dig the other side. The passage drops you down a climb into a passage which lead NE to the sump which connects to Notts Pot. SW takes you to the rather impressive Duke Street II. We followed this until a passage snakes off on your left to a series of pitches. It was from here where Dave G's description started...

  

His description sounded pretty vague and basically said just follow yer nose and if its not tight and squalid you've gone wrong! YUP... So we headed up the ropes and eventually found Jupiter Cavern (4x ropes up). From here stick right and traverse over a large hole in the floor (traverse line on right) from here a rope ladder climbs you up into a rift passage leading to a squeeze, after this the Cripple Creek connection is found by dropping down into a tight rift and then follow ye nose. Rob pushed through first a soon shouted back that it might not be the right way as it's pretty small! He squeezed through and shouted us to follow. The initial breakthrough squeeze is a short section of passage 2m long and approaced from this end its a 45% upward incline with gravity against you. I managed to sneak a quick picture of Luke here.

 

From here on we did just follow our noses up and down many a rope ladders and through some lovely awkward squeezes at roof level. We approached Numpty Rift in the same manner as everyone else and manouvered this at roof level with much struggle. When we finally arrived at Ramsays Kitchen (the only major junction to date) we were completely screwed! Dave had forgot to mention a prominent junction in his discription... We headed left knowing that's where we roughly needed to be heading to an aven with another ladder hanging down. We had all looked at the survey in Inglesport that morning and knew that there was only one junction not far after Cripple Creek (Ramsays Kitchen) and the next left would be our left to exit the cave. Now fully aware of how little we had moved up this passage and pretty exhausted we continued right along Turtle passage which conveniently someone had placed a small model Turtle only a bit of the way down. Once we saw this we knew we were on track and quite relieved as the thought of heading back through Cripple Creek was pretty grim.

We finally ended up back at the Upper Main Streamway Just below Pussy Pitch dead excited that we had managed to negotiate our way back here! We celebrated with some food and young Luke scoffed down 3x Wispa bars! We had picked up a large ULSA team at this point and made clear that we'd like to exit before this party - which we did. De-rigging was uneventful bar the idiot below me blowing my mind with sea shanty's! Once on surface we made our way back to Rob's motor in the dark. FYI it was freezing. Ready for a beer.