161 - France

Thu 22 Jul 1993
Julian Todd

The other four departed from Top Camp an hour before I did and were still faffing at the entrance. One hour later, Spencer was still not underground. I poked around in an unmarked hole, then thought about going down. Met Spencer before 2nd pitch (there are only two pitches) and waited a bit more. Apparently Anthony fucked up on the Algeria rebelay by clipping _around_ the loop of the rebelay (thus wedging krab over knot) instead of through the loop. He didn't die. Or even fall. The task was to explore the hole in the wall opposite the pitch rope (free climbed, but now had a prussiking rope). On the other side is "Twin Tubs". Two pitches, one next to the other. The closer one (which you have to traverse over) is the "Washer". The other one is the Drier. Julian H rigged Washer on Wook's BCRA prize rope while Anthony and Ali did work on the Drier (more bolts required 'cause of ledges). J.H. asked Spencer if he wanted to go down it or survey (with me). Spencer opted to go down. Julian H surveyed with me. We were fairly efficient. And got around to Washer (after part of Drier). Shouted down to Spencer. "It doesn't go", he said. Ali went down. Came back after a poke around. Very silently. Due to the water. Then we waited for Spencer to come up. It definitely sounded like a Monkey House down there. Groans and cusses. Julian H identified problem as bollocks. This was confirmed. He must have attached the tackle sack to his scrotum instead of central MR. A & A were "cringing" behind a boulder with each wail of pain. J.H. and me surveyed down. An appallingly rigged 5m pitch bolted to a boulder was below this 26m pitch. I went down. It was a standard boulder jam that makes you feel intimidated and unwilling to poke around too much. We got out. Horrible drippy pitch which makes water pool in your oversuit bum and fill your wellies. (Before this, Ali and Anthony discovered that their route merged with this route so J.H. handed them the survey equipment.) I cleared out of the cave early. Too cold. It was raining (it fucking rains all the fucking time. This country has a weather woman, not a weather man, thats why its so crap). I walked back in caving gear with 3m visibility, many backtracks necessary 'cause to lose the path would have been epic. It took over an hour. The others arrived at 3:15 am (I got to Top Camp at 1 am) after shoving in a few bolts in readiness for their next pushing front. 13 hrs (the others)

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