Darren, Helen, Sedgey, Ray
A great trip down a classic Yorkshire pothole. Rowten is one of my personal favourites – technical SRT in some very impressive situations. And it can be done whatever the water levels.
Unusually for this year, the weather was kind to us. A bit chilly, but sunny, which made for a pleasant walk up the hillside. As it was a Sunday, there was none of the usual Wednesday evening rush to get out at a sensible hour. So the first (surface) pitch was rigged at a leisurely pace. For the first 3 (surface) anchors I prefer to use maillons, which led to the usual barrage of abuse. I was first down, followed by Darren, with Helen giving Sedgey some moral support (as he hadn’t done anything quite this serious before). He did very well indeed, so he’s well on his way to being an expert!
The 2nd Y-hang rebelay over the edge of the first pitch is always a bit awkward as there’s nothing to stand on to remove your short cowstail, but everyone seemed to cope ok. At the bottom of the first pitch, you land on a ledge above an even bigger drop, from where you teeter across a rock bridge to another ledge. The 2nd pitch starts at the far end of this ledge and is certainly not for the faint hearted. There’s a rebelay just over the edge, then you have to swing (awkwardly) into a rift. This rift is challenging for 2 reasons: (i) it is narrow, and (ii) the bottom is about 40m below your feet. Traversing along this rift leads to a very well-placed Y-hang for a stunning descent down into the Main Chamber.
Helen took over rigging for the 2 pitches below Main Chamber. The first of these requires abseiling down exactly the right distance to find a Y-hang rebelay hidden around the corner. This isn’t easy to pass, as Sedgey found out… although he did a great job of it.
After that, there’s another awkward rebelay and then onto an interesting traverse to the final pitch… all expertly rigged by Helen.
All arrived safely at the bottom, but it was a bit on the wet side to get to the sumps. So a relaxed retreat was called for. Darren “2 bags” McKenzie did all of the derigging. We tried my new MicroTraxion for hauling bags up the big pitch, which worked a treat. To cap a great trip, the sun was still shining as we emerged triumphantly.