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BAR POT - FAR COUNTRY - 22nd October 1988

Rusty, Bill, Paul A and Pete

This was billed to be one of the most popular meets of the year, and at one time, more than eight people were committed to the trip. Sadly only four of us made it. Rusty arrived on his motorbike, full of his usual enthusiasm - and impossible stories of his adventures on the booze the night before! Rusty wanted to go to Radagast. Now I'd only got psyched up for Mountain Hall!

Rusty rigged the entrance and main pitches, and we duly followed him down. Once we were all arrived at the bottom, Rusty announced he wasn't feeling very well - it wasn't the ale, note - it was all the fault of some mysterious bug! So out he went, and then we were down to three.

So Bill led us down Mud Henslers, and, rightly dismissing the faulty memories of his companions, he brought us into the Master Cave. A climb up on the right led to the comfortable passage which goes to the Iron Ladder. Here our leader confessed he was feeling weak - he'd just got over the bug, which could have been Rusty's! Did we really want to go any further? In the face of the usual empty threats - you know, like we might go on without him, even though neither of us knew the way or had ever been so far before! - he compromised, and the trip to Radagast was aborted, in favour of a visit to Mountain Hall instead.

So up the iron ladder, through the Blow Hole and down Echo Aven. After that, it was nearly all crawling - comfortable crawling, mind in wide bedding planes, where the water was cold. At length, we reached the Southgate Duck. Here, our leader paused to scrutinise the extent of the available airspace, and observed gravely that he'd never seen the water level so high. So, he was in two minds as to whether or not to abort the trip. We were already wet and cold, and the idea of total submersion wasn't exactly very inviting. So, we waited and hoped Bill would give us the excuse we needed. No chance - with a splash, a splutter and a prolonged gargle., Bill was gone! He emerged on the other side and thereupon triumphantly gasped he'd never seen the water level so low! So we had to follow him through.

The character of the passage changed again after the Duck. It was not all crawling: there was stooping room - and even the rare stretch where you could stand up and walk. There was a surprising chamber with straw stalactites - clear evidence that even at this level, you were unlikely to find too many passages which flood completely, except in a truly exceptional storm. Then we were into crawling again, and eventually found the climb through boulders into the lofty void of Mountain Hall. The size of this chamber was impressive, and the mud formations on one wall were interesting, but there was nothing very pretty or exceptional there. It was just somewhere to go to to make the trip worthwhile.

After a bit of exploring and a vain effort to move a 'boulder which refused to budge (and a climb under the said boulder - where we'd vowed not to go unless the boulder was dislodged first!) we made our may back the way we'd come, and promptly adjourned to the pub.

It was a good trip; it makes a change to do Bar -for a reason other than to visit the Main Chamber, and it is nice to know that it is possible to visit the far reaches of the system without waiting for the Winch .meet. The plunge through the Southgate Duck is truly invigorating - one of those exciting masochistic experiences which make a memorable meet! Many thanks to Bill for his expert route finding and excellent leadership (and excuses for my insults!). I was particularly glad to have the chance to make my first faltering efforts at de-rigging an SRT pitch from a traverse line.

Paul A.