Dave Neville was taking pitch 1, leaving me to enjoy the crux on pitch 2. The way took us up slabby corners to the foot of the dark cleft. I'd made it clear that the 'proper' way to climb this pitch was by bridging up the outside of the cave. Dave stopped beneath the opening fissure and muttered something about it 'looking a bit bold'. I didn't know if he meant the cave or the bridge up the outside. "I'm just going to have a look inside." He announced, and was gone from sight. Grunts could be heard from within. The ropes inched out. Further grunting, then the ropes came back towards me a couple of inches. I duly took in the slack. "Trouble is, my head's too big with this helmet on." Dave yelled from the darkness. The ropes inched out again. "Oh man!" came from within. I could no longer see Dave at all, but there was a fair bit of rope udging going on, and he was definitely putting up a fight. And losing, by the sounds of it. "Shit!" he yelled, "I'm going to have to take my helmet off if I'm going to climb through here."
"Dave. Why not come back out and climb it properly on the outside?" I called into the black hole. The ropes continued to move into the void. Something dawned on me. "Dave." I yelled. "If you've taken your helmet off and left it in there, I'm going to have to bring yours and mine through with me when I follow you." No reply. I envisaged trying to squeeze myself through narrow and awkward gaps, possibly with a helmet in each hand if I too would have to take mine off. "Dave, have you left your helmet in the cave?" There was a shuffling sound, then Dave yelled back, "Nah mate! I've taken it off and wedged it into the crack higher up. I'm using it as a handhold!" I collapsed laughing. The tension had been broken. I could hear Dave giggling from within.
Then the ropes came back towards me yet again. They kept coming, and before too long Dave slithered back out of the bottom hole of the cave, helmet on his head. "Oh man!" he repeated. "Shit!" I thought, "He's going to tell me I can have a go!".
But Dave's made of sterner stuff. He bridged elegantly up the outside of the cave, placing the biggest cam we carried and ploughed on to the top of the flake. Within a couple of minutes he was belayed and yelling down for me to follow. That pitch was indeed a bold lead. The cam - his only bit of gear - wasn't really big enough, and walked in to a widening as I climbed, soon wobbling out and sliding down the rope towards me. Of course, I had the benefit of the rope coming down from above, so I could just enjoy the climbing.