204 - "Merry Fucking Christmas"

Tue 28 Aug 2001

Early start from bivi at Stone Bridge but despite having packed gear the previous evening didn't get underground until 12:40. Spent some time shifting rocks from the previous trip's spoil heap to make more room, and then Earl set about the boulder squeeze with a lump hammer until it was possible for us to remove the somewhat diminished remains. Then tedium getting ourselves and tackle through the crawl. Once at 7-11 chamber, 3 spits and 11m rope got us down to the ledge, and a further 3 spits and 19m rope was more than enough to reach the other side and the foot of the climb. Climb was only about 3 or 4 m, and easy. Placed a bolt for protection towards the top, largely because I could. Disappointingly, there was no passage leading off on the far side, just a 6m pitch with a small stream entering from above. At the foot of the pitch, a very tight nasty streamway (Infidelic Pagan Scum) led off almost due S, so took off string gear and thrutched down it. It goes round a very awkward bend to the right after ~4m and then one has to thrutch in a widening ~1m above the stream. After about a body length, could see the passage turn right again, and it got echoey - lobbed a rock down to confirm presence of a big pitch, almost certainly that in the floor of 7-11 chamber. Retreated back to the end of MFC overlooking the chamber, where Earl set off rigging a lunatic traverse 'Dancing with Boulders', using skyhooks, virtual naturals and probably a fair amount of divine intervention to reach ~15m of small passage which again led to the same big pitch. After Earl had made a rather exciting return journey across his traverse, we decide to call it a day. So did my light, and getting everything back through the small stuff was crap. Borrowed a light off Earl, and we were both out by 11:20 pm