Anyway. The organisation of this trip was a bit of a bugger, but in the end it all worked out. At some farmyard, in the cold wind, six eccentrics gathered, and changed into their kit. Three more were expected, but they were late, nobody had their contact information, and it really was cold, so we decided to make a move. (It turned out they had simply failed to let me know they couldn't make it after all.) We came to the cave, and went in. Only casting a glance already makes it clear why this cavern bears this name. We soon came to where Richard decided to fix a rope, and that's where the adrenaline started. I hate traverses I hate traverses! But I stuck to Rule 1 and made it over the first terrible bit.
We had an interesting scramble through the rest of the cave. Some bits were not scary; some were. There were a few squeezy bits that didn't get my adrenaline flowing, but that had a stronger effect on the more solidly built men. Being a small girl has strong advantages in a cave! But soon after the last squeeze we came back to the rope; this time approaching ot from below. And that was where it really became terrifying for me. I was quite exhausted after doing this very sporting trip, much of which I did using way, way too much energy, because I was scared. And now I had to wiggle my way up! That's not easy at the best of times. I slowly managed to ooze up, given some initial help by Annabelle, a caver I had not met before, and then urged on by Adrian; her boyfriend, who I'd met on three previous occasions, and who is great for that job. By a cruel coincidence, when I was hanging there in mid-air, sweating and swearing and cursing my decision to not just stay at home and have a beer, Ferret was in the squeeze, being about equally uncomfortable. That was one hell of a trip! We all made it, of course. All my limbs were somewhat wobbly when I came out (I came out! Alive! The bliss!), and my whole body hurt, but I had managed Afton. I had proved stronger than my fears! I never panicked, but blimey, it was NOT fun to be propped up there, after having scurried around above gaping chasms that really freak me out for quite a substantial part of two hours. But when I got out of the car, about to enter the pub for a bit of a non-alcoholic post-hell breather, I was laughing out loud. The elation of such a moment! Splendid. I have no idea if I would do it again anywhere soon, but the possibility can't be excluded!
Me about to make it up the terrible vertical bit. See the exhaustion in the sort-of-smile! And see me hold on to the rope; a good caver wouldn't. Pic by Adrian.