OBJ Hole: Brief Introduction, Description & Trip Report
In 1949 members of the BSA explored a shakehole between Gaping Gill and Flood Entrance Pot, naming it after a beer brewed by Dutton's brewery in Blackburn (the initials stand for Oh Be Joyful!). The shakehole led, after a short climb down, to a false drop over which the first pitch was reached. This led down to either a too tight rift or a 20 odd metre drop to a shingle floor with no way on. At this time, the map of the Eastern flank of Ingleborough, at least in terms of cave entrances, was very different. Along with the two known routes into the main chamber; Direct Route and Jib Tunnel, Flood Entrance Pot (so named as it allowed entry to the system when Fell Beck was in full flow), was also well known having been discovered in 1909. Rat Hole and Disappointment Pot followed but that was it, 5 entrances. Then in 1949, both Stream Passage Pot and Bar Pot were discovered, not only new entrances but new areas too. Perhaps the draw of new areas pushed OBJ Hole to the back of the mind, where it stayed for 60 years, despite having a definite vocal link with Flood Entrance Pot near Cigarette Chamber.
Six decades later in 2010 at the Bradford Pothole Club winch meet Gerald Benn and Fred Rattray worked the too tight rift and connected OBJ Hole to the Gaping Gill system, creating its 21st entrance. You can read about it in the BPC Bulletin 7 and it’s a great read with maypoles, fluorescein and incidents galore. Despite my fear of a too tight connection, the Bradford did a good job of making it human size and although chossy in places, it adds variety to a GG trip, a difficult extra bit compared with Bar Pot, or Wade’s Entrance.
The cave is equipped with 8mm bolts which are solid but not always obvious. From the surface the climb down the shakehole is no bother, it does narrow, forcing a wriggle at floor level past drink bottles and discarded gubbins dropped into the inviting “poubelle” by the walkers path. It gets surprisingly drippy, drips that seem to home in on the gap between suit neck and helmet. On the right is the backup for the first pitch, just as you pass over a small inlet running into the exaggerated false drop mentioned in NC2.
The first pitch drops 7m down a rift to a rebelay where the rift narrows in creating a false floor and a 2nd, narrower section of the rift that drops a further 7m to the floor. One bolt is higher than the other and took a while to spot. At first I didn’t spot it so rigged without it. Over 6m of rope above to the previous bolts so it’s ok as a single rebelay but requires delicate climbing to avoid rub.
As the bolts are offset, I used a BotB due to the ease of adjustment. Squidge through into the 7m drop below, passing a rift leading ahead before a few metres more lands on the floor. A waist height spit in the wall acts as backup for the 2nd pitch named ‘Killer’ by the Bradford crew. The rift passed on the way down, at the top of a diggers’ dry stone wall, leads to the mysterious 18m ladder pitch shown on the LUSS 1980 Bar Pot and Flood survey. It shows the pitch in a chimney ending at a gravel floor with near vertical sides, but interestingly the depth is greater than the corresponding passages in Flood Entrance Pot. Any connection would not be to Flood so where does it go? Is it half filled with gravel? There are no known passages in the area, or at the known depth, it is a mystery which could well be waiting a while. The rift to the head of the 18m is a little tight, too tight for srt kits and straight over the 18m drop so no kitting up the other side and very little to belay a ladder to. There is a spit placed there to help, not that I found it mind, possibly as I didn’t look for it. I imagine the BPC hold first refusal over digging rights, but the enigma of that shaft is plain to see on the LUSS survey, anyone fancy braving the rift is welcome to give it a go
Killer Pitch, a solo trip from April 12th 2015.
This is where the fun begins. So named as it caused three potentially serious accidents during the 2010 BPC works, Gerald was hit in the shoulder by a falling flake, another team member Andy was narrowly missed by a falling chisel and finally Fred was hit in the ear and shoulder by a rock dislodged as someone was battling the squeeze above. It’s less of a pitch and more of a sloping downward horizontal squeeze just before a pitch. In fact the advice from the explorers is good; go through on cowstails only clipped into a knot 7m or so from the wall bolt and once over the lip, standing on a useful ledge, spanner in the bolt so everyone else can slide through on just cowstails.
The rift is a little damp and so being slow isn’t fun. I got through with srt kit on but only with the help of my little friend ɡ. It’s nervy as you can’t see what’s ahead or below, nor where the next spit is! The first time through can be a little daunting, Keith sailed through with Col belaying him on a rope; I knew what to expect 2nd time.
The spit to protect you down the 2nd 5m section is just past the lip of the squeeze in the same side of the wall as the backup spit and gives protection as you drop down to a ledge above the final drop. It would be a grim place to spanner in a bolt but as you can reach it from the dry ledge below it’s fine, that is if you’re over five foot tall.
The last bolt is low, really low, possible ankle height, on the left as you face down through the roof of the Flood Entrance passage. It requires thoughtful rigging as getting to it awkward, either going low in the rift past a buttress which looks too tight for me, or over the top of it which feels a little exposed. I found that the simplest thing to do was to go over the top to a large ledge and flake across the drop, then turn back and spanner in the bolt. Ideally a sling or something would also be good to share that rebelay as the rope path to the previous one is a bit rocky, so sharing the load across bolts is not practical and although again over 6m of rope to the spit it’s not something you’d like to try out. Being only 6 metres off the ground I didn’t bother looking for a suitable natural and abseiled off the bomb proof piece of garage shelf holding kit placed by an unknown, an unknown amount of time ago. The rock is rather flaky and chossy, so I told myself that a sling on sharp rock is no better and set off for the floor.
At this point I thought I saw a bat?! Are their bats in Flood? I hung as still as possible, lights off, in the dark, listening for the sound of hundreds of blood sucking vampire bats rushing to tear me to pieces, but the only sound was the creak of complaining from my sit harness, perhaps the smell of my undersuit kept them at bay? I abseiled to the floor for coffee and cake, before starting the battle out, sadly it was more of a battle than expected.
The shape of the rift means that there are many, many places for your tackle bag to catch and mine seems better at it than most. 1m forward half a metre back but that was easy compared to getting up the squeezy section. Keith and Colum had looked at it the first time and said they thought it looked completely fine. I was dubious but having been through it twice, what could go wrong? I first got stuck by my descender jabbing me in the ribs, then my spare bolts were prodding me in the hip. I felt I was through only to be snagged by a cowstail somehow managing to get itself stuck between the wall and my ribs. At least my top jammer was out the way pushed up the rope. Lain in the trickle, legs dangling over nothing, knowing I was up against the call out time I was feeling the all too familiar rising panic when stuck in a narrow bit. Luckily I worked out what was jamming me, the squeezy bit is a little wider all of an inch or two off the ground so a fair few leg kicks at nothing and I was on my way through feeling rather relieved, getting stuck on your own is grim, aren’t things meant to get easier with practice?
Back on the surface, watching the sun set, I knew I had to quicken so set off bounding down the hill to make up time. More haste less speed, I dragged the Bar Pot gate off its hinges! I made good time, 30 minutes late to meet Ian, he had set off up the Nature Trail to see if I was stuck again. He ribbed me for being late as always, but I didn’t mind; stuck in the squeezy bit with a stream tricking in one arm, pooling around my right nipple was far less pleasant.
Super quick change, dehydration perhaps but my head was bursting with church bells! I feel sorry for the people of Clapham when the church is practising bell ringing, blimey, it is loud! Back to the Helwith for a few pints of water and lemon juice to go with a lovely beetroot and goat’s cheese burger, a most pleasing end to an evening trip.
Many thanks to Ian Vincent who made this trip happen, cheers pal.