Day Five: Gouffre de Couey Lodge Rigging Trip - minus 249m

Objective No.1, a deep trip. Cunning plan, rig the entrance series to -249m, have a rest, then come back another day and bottom the beast !

Webbo and I had found the entrance shaft the day before and had been pleasantly surprised to see two loverly shiny p-hangers ! This was definitely the way ahead and would cut down the rigging time to a reasonable 8hrs(ish!). So, all the 25+ hangers I had brought over were ditched, save for a couple of emergency ones, and the rigging commenced !

The first section of the cave was a veritable choss-fest, but then the hugeness started and all the choss was left far behind. The pitches were huge, airy, clean washed in lovely white limestone and airy ! There were stonking p-hangers everywhere and a mid-pitch pinnacle on which to rest halfway down the P65 !

Cascades, tension traverses on moonmilk and another airy pitch followed the P65 to a chamber, some meanders and another pitch in black limestone with a 45 degree deviation. This was the bottom at -249m, the deepest most of us have been on a vertical trip. The cave led on via a crawl, so we left rigging the next few pitches until the bottoming day.

As Webbo and I waited for the Horton Hippo to slowly haul his bulk up the P20, Andy busied himself cooking ravioli over firelighters. A stroke of genius indeed, and very tasty !

The rig to -249m and out took 7 1/2 hrs. Not bad considering the exciting rigging !


Gouffre de Couey Lodge - Weaner's finest hours

The entire cave had been liberally studded with p-hangers which made out job of rigging somewhat easier. Never-the-less, it was Weaner's finest hour (well hours) down to -250m. Dispelling fear he swung below the netting gravel traps, bridged across the moonmilk traverse and adjusted rope tensions on the monster pitches. All very tidy, safe and efficient too. I was impressed and glad he was at the sharp end.

The frightening bits continued to frighten me to the bitter end: The hairnets full of gravel were horrible; the little pitch below the double y-hang (just below the aforementioned nets) was especially tricky on the way up when the rope threatened to be pulled out of the chest jammer; and the fearsome moonmilk traverse.


Couey Lodge entrance series

Speleo Sportif guide book topo

Pendle rigging Guide

Pendle rigging topo© (SW/DK)

The dangers of caving (or a mis-heard comment)

A terrible incident underground

Day Six: Lourdes

We went to Lourdes. It was madness. Webbo bought a Virgin Mary water bottle for 0.85 to use in the Couey Lodge, we robbed 2ft candles from the Lourdes pre-shrine area for next to nothing to use in out gite and Bloomster remained the only person standing as the entire religious community of Lourdes trundled past, with all bystanders kneeling in reverance (we were hiding behind various objects).....There was also a search across many many tat shops for a present for Misery Mason, but it was a tame city compared to Fatima !


Mexican staring local

Life-like representation of a mexican-staring local as seen in Lees-Athas