Here are three articles about the more exceptional (!) trips that have occurred this year - read on....
Original logbook entry by Wookey (talking), Del (writing) & Jeremy (drinking)
Another epic trip by CUCC. This is the hardest 'caving' trip I've ever been on (bottoming Quaking being a mere bagatelle in comparison) [Note major Ego trip by editor here!]. It all took place place on the CUCC fester trip to Majorca (see elsewhere in this marvellous journal).
We listened to 3rd hand ULSA bullshit about the trip in Escorca café before our walk down the 'Torrente de Pareis'. Some of their hardest members had done it last year, wetsuits were required, there were at least 25 pitches, it had taken 12 hours and there was even some swimming!
The walk down the 'torrent ded parrot' was very hot & easy, apart from a couple of climbs. We hardly saw any water at all until we got to the sea and it was generally a shorts and flip-flops trip [but please read this warning, WebEd.]. ULSA said last year they had had to use ropes on wet climbs etc. etc. Allowing for a year's bulishit inflation and the obvious drought conditions the real gorge trip looked like an easy proposition.
A couple of days later team hard: Wookey (me), Mike the Animal, Tina White, Del boy Robinson, Julian strange-person Todd, and Jeremy hard-person (so-long-as-there's-no-big-pitches) Rodgers, set off. The team composition being decided entirely by the members having brought their wetsuits to Majorca with them.
[The rest of this piece is based on the logbook entry written the day after.]
We set off at 11.30 am in beautiful sunshine, looking a little silly and sweating profusely in our wetsuits.
We jogged happily through some brambles until we reached the first obstacle:- a pool of nearly pure insecticide 20 ft across. Oh dear, swimming! Hope there's not too much of this. Ho! Ho!
A little further down we passed a tributary gorge coming from the left. Here, large red arrows were painted on the wall indicating the sensible way out (back up the tributary). We dutifully ignored these and continued down the ever deepening gorge (now about 60 ft high, 35 ft across).
Pitch 1: 15m, worrying belay, Jeremy cringed & whinged, actually one of the good ones. Pulled the rope down at the bottom. Committed!!!
At this point Del & Wook noticed that despite the presence of two SRT bags, we had no jammers!! Keep quiet and make sure we don't get any of our pull throughs wrong! [Both dangly bags were full of sweeties and the owner of each thought the other contained the gear, oops!J
Pitch 2: Short pitch into water - how unusual! Jeremy dive-bombed in 'cos he's so hard (he had been holding the rope onto the natural as it was so round). Realised that he really should have brought his hat!
Pitches 3 to too many: Very long period of complete awfulness, highlighted by: Tina diving 10 ft+ for sunken tackle bag. Tina & Wookey significantly hypothermic for a bit (chokky, a huddle, & heads-shoulders-knees-and-toes required), Julian may have been ill as well but hard to tell!
Saw sun on opposite wall of main Torrente de Pareis: The End, after 4.5 hours. Easy, only an hour more at most. Everyone's spirits rose. Continued to be one hour from the end for next 5 hours!!
Arrrrggggghhhhhh!!! Hatred of gorge increases exponentially with time, missed dinner, went dark, no sky, this is a cave isn't it and we're all going to die; etc. [gorge now several hundred feet high and 10 ft wide, unbelievably oppressive, and very, very cold, with duckings every couple of minutes].
All depressed except Jeremy who was hard for 10 hrs, swimming ahead looking for another rock for us all to climb onto. Tina also did an impressive job looking after Mike T.A. who isn't a very good swimmer! Del, Wook & Julian looked after the pulldowns a couple of which had to be done whilst treading freezing cold water.
No idea where end was. This was the worst. No idea how far we'd gone, how far we had to go, how far we could go!
More & more swimming although gorge narrowed sufficiently for some traversing which allowed people to warm up a little between dunkings. Hundreds more pitches & dunkings. 6pm, 7pm, 8pm, 9pm (Arrrrrrrgggggghhhhhhh!) You get the idea yet?
Some sky: 9.47 pm
Fucking water just seeps into the ground to spite us.
We are all dead.
Two hour plod back up the gorge to find Keith frozen to Panda steering wheel after a 6 hr wait. Got up at 4pm next day.
Time underground? 5 hrs. Trip 10 hrs. Walk 2 hrs.
Even in a drought & lovely, hot, sunny weather, this trip is a serious proposition. You would, quite simply, die without a wetsuit, you need to be a reasonable swimmer (you have to swim about a mile in 10-50 ft lumps), and taking a lifesaver along is fairly obligatory. If it was significantly wet or cold I think it could be a killer.
There is only one route so you can't get lost. If possible take someone who has been before (if you can persuade anyone to do it twice!) so that you have some idea of how far you've gone. Put plastic containers full of air in your tackle bags to make them float, and it would be prudent to take a few belays to replace the worst in-situ ones with.
The number of pitches is very hard to gauge as you lose count quite badly & a lot of the pitches are arguably jumps or climbs, depending on how good/reckless you are! The longest pitch is 15 m, but most are quite short (3-5m) so a 40m rope & two 15 m ones should do.
And finally remember to take a ridiculous amount of chokky with you!