INCIDENT 2/2020 – Jan. 11th. Sat. 21.56hrs – Large Pot – Rift Pot, Thornton in Lonsdale,  – Cave Incident

Four cavers (all m) were reported ‘stuck’ while on an exchange trip (two each way) between Large Pot and Rift Pot, beneath the fell, above Masongill. Although not strictly ‘overdue’ (They had given a ‘call-out time’ of 23.00.), they had gone underground as it began to rain and had been there for almost nine hours – three or four hours (?) longer than they might have expected. With heavy rain during the afternoon, when Masongill Fell Lane was cut off from the settlement, their club-mates, on the surface, had been concerned for their safety.

CRO controllers made a surface reconnaissance, then escalated this to caving members’ investigations in both ends of the exchange route. Limited by what the floodwater allowed without excessive personal risk, team members were unable to see or hear anything of the ‘missing’ cavers. Two team members remained for the rest of the night, acting as a picket, in case the cavers found their own way out as the flooding declined slightly.

Next morning, with water levels decreasing a little more, CRO members, now supplemented by members of UWFRA, Swaledale MRT and Derbyshire CRO, entered Large Pot and were able to bottom it and move towards Rift Pot. Just before noon, all four ‘missing’ cavers were found ‘safe and well, but cold’ in Necropolis, along the main through route. Their survival, in good condition, may be attributable to the emergency kit – including a group shelter – they had taken with them. To the pleasant surprise of their rescuers, they were able to make progress, mostly unaided, the last one emerging from Rift Pot a little over 26 hours after going in.

Our thanks to members of the kindred cave rescue teams for their considerable support and to the retained staff of NYF&RS who brought their Welfare Unit from Thirsk to provide hot food and drinks as rescuers and rescued returned down Masongill Fell Lane.

Volunteer hours: CRO members 484; other teams’ members 189.