Pinch & Punch conquered



Westminster Pinch & Punch


South Africa
Trip Participants


Sharron Reynolds
Jessamine Ward
Ashleigh Warwick
Jeremy Gray
Dave Ingold

 We arrived our usual meeting place and as there was only the 5 of us we decided to go have another look for Pinch & Punch – Dave was determined he was not leaving the cave until he had found it. Jeremy, Ashley & Jessie have now decided that the up-side-down-turn-around entrance is a walk in entrance – I’m afraid I still have to enter the traditional way. Jessie took the lead with Dave taking over at some stage just before Rising Star.


I was amazed at the amount of Histo type fluffy stuff there is at the moment – specially as there is no obvious bat activity – I have seldom seen more than 2 or 3 bats in that section of the cave.


We were soon down that nasty little climb and passed the cave pearls Dave was on a mission and soon disappeared down a hole only to reappear a few minutes later shaking his head. While Ashley & I sat on a rock contemplating the universe Jessie (Who answers to Silver after proving her pack horse ability at Sudwala over the weekend) Jeremy and Dave disappeared in and out of possible holes.


The sudden gleeful cry from Dave of Bingo set Ashley off on some child hood song which she soon had all of us singing – something about a dog and his name O …. Dave’s gleeful cries soon had us joining him at the elusive entrance to Pinch & Punch. By the time I got there Dave was through with Jeremy in hot pursuit. I then stuck my head into the hole and declared there was no bloody way I was going to get through there. Both Jessie & Ashley decided to go through without overalls – thank goodness for spandex. By this stage Dave had left them, to get me through, while he went off to make sure he could find the way up and out.


After much coaxing from the girls I made the decision to follow – This after 30mins was not a good decision I decided. I was well and truly stuck – or so I thought. By this stage Dave had re-joined the group and was offering lots of verbal encouragement which was not helping at all cause by now I could not go forward or backwards – my broken finger was definitely proving to be a problem. I have no idea how much longer I wallowed in that hole with my hip and upper thigh wedged into a slot and nothing I did would encourage it to move. It must have been at least an hour later, (how time flies when you are having fun) the girls were starting to go horse from trying to talk me through, Jeremy and Dave we exhausted from trying to pull me through and I had just resigned myself to the fact that by next week Wednesday when they came back to fetch me I would be skinny enough to just walk through.


Dave and Jessie were about to head off out and back into the cave to come up behind me to see if they could get me back out that way. This I pondered for a while, as being a good idea, and then realized that Ashley & Jeremy would then be stuck on the wrong side of Pinch & Punch and Neither of them knew the way out from there, and did I really want to subject them to having to come back through because I was being a wimp, and if Dave & Jess couldn’t get me out I would have split up the group for nothing – with that thought in mind I decided that Jeremy being the biggest of the group would be the best person to explain to me how he had got through – you have to understand Jeremy is at least 20kg’s lighter than me in proportion to my height …… What he figured out and what I had been trying to do for the last hr+ was that I needed to lift myself up but there was just nothing to put my hands on to push against – then and only then did Jeremy come up with the obvious – “when I was there I managed to push down with my elbows” Ummmm now why didn’t he suggest that 45min’s earlier cause less than 5 min later I was safely through and really pissed off with myself for not thinking of that in the first place.


I have been told by several people that caving is as much a mental as physical sport, something I didn’t fully appreciate until last night – I stuck my head down that hole and made up my mind that there was no way I was getting through. Dave was convinced I could because he has seen bigger people than me do it so knows it is possible, and it was only when I fully realized the consequences of me giving up was I able to do what I should have done an hour before.


I have to say I am keen to do it again and sometime soon before I loose my nerve; though I think I may have re-aligned the broken bone in my finger so should probably wait till it is fixed. Considering how painful, because sore is just not a strong enough word, my knees, stomach muscles and elbows are I may just put off going back for a good few weeks.


Dave I am really grateful to you for pushing me to my limits – never over – Jeremy, Jessie & Ashley, your patience and ability to stay cheerful and more importantly to keep every one around you cheerful and calm, specially me, was most appreciated, I am truly lucky to have all of you as caving partners. THANKS!!


Monday, January 1, 2007 (All day)