The
Bristol
Exploration Club, The Belfry,

Wells
Road
, Priddy, Wells,

Somerset
.Telephone: Wells (0749) 72126.

Editor: G.
Wilton-Jones

CAVE DIVING TRAGEDY IN WOOKEY HOLE: Keith Potter, from
Wedmore, a member of Oxford University Caving Club and South Wales Caving Club,
died during a dive to the further reaches of Wookey on Saturday November 14th.

The cause of death is not yet known but it is not thought to
be due to equipment failure.

RHINO RIFT: Several tons of boulders have made their way
from the top of the 3rd. pitch in Rhino to the bottom.  Even more tons are waiting for their time to
descend.  This time is not far off.  I suggest you avoid the area until further
notice.

*****************************************

Some while ago I suggested that we could print photographs
in the B.B. or even use good examples for photographic covers,
occasionally.  We have the technology,
but not the photographs.  You supply the
pics., I’ll see what I can do.

We shall shortly be requiring a new screen for the
Gestetner.  If anyone knows of a cheap or
free source, please let me know.

*****************************************

PUBLICATIONS: Alan Thomas has taken on the task of producing
the next three sections of the St. Cuthbert’s Reports.  These are Part G., Cerberus and Maypole
Series;

Part
I.
,
September Series and Part J., Long Chamber Series and Canyon Series.  Alan is determined to have these produced by
Christmas.

The surveys turned up at last, in Chris Howell’s house in

Birmingham
.

250 to 300 of each report are being produced, and these
about £1.00 each. 

Some back copies of previously published Parts are still
available – contact me or ask at the Belfry.

Bassett.

 

Summer Exped., alps, 1981

by Bob Hill.

Whilst being as keen as the average B.E.C. member at talking
about doing various character building, physical activities, there comes a time
when you’ve actually got to go and do whatever you’ve been talking about doing
for the last few months.

And so it came to pass that three persons, several tons of
gear (most of it belonging to Dave Aubrey) and one blue Mini-Traveller all
arrived together at Southampton and got on a ferry for

Le Havre
.

The sight of a blue Mini heading south down the Autoroute de
Soleil at 70 mph. with, ice axes and crampons sticking out of it and a Home
Rule for Langdale sticker in the back window caused several stares from
incredulous English caravan drivers but we comforted ourselves in the thought
that we knew what we were doing.  We
think!?

The journey to Chamonix took about twelve hours and we
arrived in the valley, which is the same height above sea-level as the top of
Snowdon, at about 8.30 in the evening.

After pitching the tent and sitting down to look at the
mountains, thinking about how far it was from Mendip in this small, isolated
corner of France, and how nice it was to get away from everybody for a while, I
nodded to the fellow next door who, looking at my sweat-shirt, said,

“Hello: do you know Trevor
Hughes?”

“O God, No~” said I.

“I’m going home,” said
Dave.

“I’m going to fart,”
said Jem.

We then discovered that the camp site was half full of
English and the evening was spent enquiring into mountain conditions, weather
forecasts, the state of the refuges, price of beer, etc.

After a day playing on the local glacier to get back into
the swing of things, we decided to attempt the traverse of the Domes de Miages,
a fine, easy ridge rising to 3300m, but as we walked up the glacier to the Refuge
de Conscits the weather began to worsen and by the time we reached the hut we
were in thick clag.  After a meal we
settled down and I awoke at 4 am to look at the weather, which was still bad,
and again at 6 am to see no improvement. However, by 8 o’clock it started to clear and, although it was really
too late we thought we would give it a try and in better weather we climbed to
the base of a steep snow slope leading to a col.  Unfortunately, with the sun on it the snow
was like icing sugar so we decided to return. We then made a mistake which could have cost Jem his life and it was a
miracle that he was not badly hurt. Walking down the glacier in the afternoon Jem fell straight into a snow
covered crevasse.  Because we were
hurrying we were not roped up and he fell 30 feet to land on an ice boulder
which was wedged about half way down. Fortunately his rucksack slipped over his shoulders and protected his
face, and he landed on some soft snow.

To us on the surface he just disappeared and the first time
we crawled to the edge and called down to him there was no reply.  To compound, it all he had our rope in his
rucksack.  However, he answered our
second call and, with the aid of some French climbers and their rope, he was
quickly hauled out, amidst cheering and photographs from some of the French. We
spent ten minutes taking deep breaths and reflecting on how lucky we were.  We returned steadily to the valley, roped up,
I might add, and drank ourselves into oblivion.

The following day was spent festering to recover our nerves,
and we took the Telepherique to the top of Le Brevent, a mountain some 8500
feet high on the opposite side of the valley, which affords a magnificent view
of the whole
Mont Blanc massif.

We spent the next couple of days drinking litres of French
beer at 30p a time and watching the rain come through the tent until the
arrival of Jane and Graham on the Friday. After another day on the Bossons Glacier fitting Jane into her crampons,
and finding bits from a plane that was wrecked higher up the glacier 25 years
ago, we set off to the Aiguille d’Argentiere.

However, when we awoke in the hut the following morning it
was snowing and clagged in.  We set off
anyway but were forced to turn back about half way up because, of bad weather.

The next day, in fine weather, we all climbed the Aiguille
de la Glieres, 2888m., a fine peak on the other side of the Chamonix valley
which gave excellent views of
Mont Blanc.

The following day saw us plodding up to the Albert Premier
hut on the side of the Tours Glacier, for an attempt on the Aiguille du Tours,
a fine twin peak with excellent views. We were unfortunately without Jane, who had a blister on her foot.

Once again we were into this Alpine start business:

At 4 am the Guardian bangs on the door of the dormitory and
people start groaning and fumbling for torches and various bits of kit.  Suddenly from under a pile of blankets in the
corner of a bunk comes a sound like someone tearing asunder a 6 feet length of
carpet:

“Gott in Himmell”

“Sacre Bleu!”

“Bloody Hell, Jeremy!”

Jeremy emerges beaming and happy from under his blankets and
everybody makes a frantic dash for the door. Breakfast is a bowl of hot chocolate followed by some cheese and
crackers.  Then there is climbing into
boots and gaiters, putting on crampons and roping up, before plodding off on
the crisp, frozen snow by the light of our head-torches.  As we trog across and up the glacier the dawn
begins to touch the surrounding peaks, lighting up the tops while the valley is
still in darkness.  We climb a steep snow
slope to a col and emerge in brilliant sunshine at 6 am with everybody fumbling
for suntan cream and sunglasses.  On the
route to the summit we are accompanied by 10,000 French and Italians who are
all trying to knit their ropes into a large net to catch people who fall off
from higher up (or at least, that is what it seems like to us).  We un-rope and climb separately as none of
our party can knit, and a short scramble sees us on the summit.

The Matterhorn sticks out like a huge thumb 60 miles away
while 100 miles away are the Eiger and Jungfrau, standing like giant sentinels
(I copied these last few lines from a good book – Author).

On the way back down we were resting under a large boulder
when a Golden Eagle soared overhead to have a look at us.  For anyone who has not seen one before, it is
a most awesome sight, especially when one realises that this beautiful bird
could rip your arm off if it wanted to. We watched it until it disappeared and then wandered down to meet Jane.

So – we had been there for two weeks and managed to climb
two peaks.  A pretty poor average really,
but the weather was getting better and we were all fairly fit.

Auntie Jane and Bassett went off for a few days on their own
somewhere so Jem, Noddy Dave and I decided to have another go at the Aiguille
d’Argentiere.  At the hut that night the
weather was grim and, true to form, we got a lie-in in the morning, but this
time we decided to stay another day.  We
spent the morning waiting for the sun to come out, which it eventually did, at
which point Dave put on hat, gloves, goggles, mask, etc. (he came back to
Britain the same snowy white colour he was when he left) so that he did not get
sunstroke/snow-blindness/exposure/V.D. Anyway, Jem and I sunbathed with everyone else, while Dave cooked inside
his wrapping.

Next morning it was cold and clear and, well, we had no
choice really, and 3½ hours later we were on the top of majestic peak, 3902m.,
12,802 ft., which gives marvellous views. I would recommend this peak to anyone visiting the area.

I felt a tinge of sadness as we descended, as we saw a
rescue helicopter fly in to pick up two climbers, one dead and one seriously
injured, who had been avalanched 2000 feet off a route on the opposite side of
the valley.  In fact, five people were
killed in three separate accidents in the area.

With only a few days of the holiday left we had to have a go
at
Mont Blanc, so Wednesday saw us taking
first telepherique, then rack railway, to the Nid d’Aigle terminus at 2250m on
the slopes of the Aiguille de Gouter.

Soon after we had set off Dave had to give up because of a
gammy knee.  This was a great shame as
the following day was his birthday and he would have loved to have spent it on
the summit.

Jem and I reached the Tete Rousse hut at about 8.30 pm and
then slogged up to the refuge de Gauter at the summit of the Aiguille de
Gouter, reaching it by about 11.00. After sorting out crampons and ropes we set off towards the Dome de
Gouter.  It was dry but very cold and I
was glad of Dob-dob’s duvet to walk in. We stopped for about half an hour to watch an electric storm over
towards

Geneva

as we were at the same height as it and we were anxious to check that it was
not coming out way.  We then continued up
over the Dome and up to the Vallot bivouac box. By this time we were absolutely shattered.  It took us half and hour to climb the last
150ft. to the hut, where we arrived at about 2.45 am.

Inside I melted some snow for soup while Jem slipped into
unconsciousness for a few minutes.  We
then had cheese, peanuts, garlic sausage and three Gitanes for breakfast.

We were on our way again by 5 am, generally in front of the
crocodile of head-torches that was streaming over the Dome. (We learned later
that 320 people had stayed in the Gouter hut the night before.  The hut has accommodation for 60.)

The final slog to the summit turns you into an old man and
every step takes all your strength.  For
those who had had more time to acclimatise it was not so bad (truce note), but
eventually we reached the top at about 7 am, shortly to be joined by the world
and his wife.  In spite of all the people
it is a fantastic sight and we have since realised that we could see mountains
which were 150 miles way.

The descent was uneventful and we arrived back in the valley
at about 2 pm.

So that was it.  After
a day looking around the shops and sorting out the duty-free wine, we took two
days to drive the 520 miles back to

Le
Havre
and the boat home.

A wonderful holiday enjoyed by all.

The Exploding Alpiniste.  (a
cautionary tale).

One incident occurred on the campsite while we were there
which is worth noting.

Three English lads returned very tired from a long day, and,
having lit one gaz stove started to change the cylinder in another.  The chap who was doing this did not move away
because he was so tired.  It was the type
with bayonet fitting retaining lugs underneath and he obviously did not fit the
base correctly.  As he screwed in the jet
assembly the cylinder shot out of the bottom and exploded, ignited by the other
stove.

The chap concerned was very lucky in that he did not receive
serious burns.  However, he lost all the
hairs on both legs and one arm, and had three large skin burns, two on the leg
and one on his arm.  Fortunately for him
a British doctor was in the next tent so Dave and I did not have to perform a
Belfry operation.  However, I would
imagine he was a very sore, sorry little Alpiniste for the next few days.

Be warned!

NOTE: I have various guide books and maps which are
expensive.  If anyone wishes to borrow
them in the future then drop me a line, c/o The Belfry.

Bob Hill.

 

Dates For Your Diary

Sat.

-Sun.

 

Sun.

 

Sat.

Sun.

 

Thur.

-Sun.

 

Sun.

 

Sat.

-Sun.

 

Sat.

 

Wed.

 

Fri.

-Sat.

 

 

 

 

Sat.

 

 

 

Sun.

 

Sat.

 

Sat.

 

Fri.

-Mon.

 

 

 

Sat.

-Mon.

 

Sun.

 

 

Fri.

-Sun.

 

 

Sun.

 

Fri.

-Mon.

 

Sun.

 

 

Sat.

28th

29th

 

6th

 

19th

20th

 

24th

4th

 

17th

 

23rd

24th

 

6th

 

17th

 

19th

27th

 

 

 

 

27th

 

 

 

28th

 

6th

 

21st

 

9th

12th

 

 

 

1st

3rd

 

9th

 

 

28th

6th

 

 

20th

 

27th

30th

 

19th

 

 

2nd

Nov.

Nov.

 

Dec.

 

Dec.

Dec.

 

Dec.

Jan.

 

Jan.

 

Jan.

Jan.

 

Feb.

 

Feb.

 

Feb.

Feb.

 

 

 

 

Feb.

 

 

 

Feb.

 

Mar.

 

Mar.

 

Apr.

Apr.

 

 

 

May.

May.

 

May.

 

 

May.

June

 

 

June

 

Aug.

Aug.

 

Sep.

 

 

Oct.

Mulu Symposium, BCRA, UMIST,

Manchester

 

 

St. Cuthbert’s Rescue Practice.

 

Out Sleets Beck.  B.P.C. Fancy Dress.

Cherry Tree Hole.

 

Mendip for Xmas. All Welcome.

Those requiring Xmas Dinner see Tim Large.

 


Tunnel
Cave
.       

 

North Wales.  Walking
and Climbing.  Staying in a hut in
Llanberis.           

 

Wookey, dry passages.  Numbers limited.

 

Paul Esser Memorial Lecture. Details later.

 

Lake District. Staying at Fir Garth, Gt. Langdale. To book
cottages, write to: Mr. Sanderson, “Fir Garth”, Gt. Langdale, Nr.
Ambleside,

Cumbria
.
LA22 9JL.

Mention that you are with the B.E.C.

 

Penyghent Long Churn.  Geoff Crossley’s birthday party.
Queens Arms, Litton.  Snow permitting.

 

To be decided, but obviously in
Yorkshire.

 

Bleadon Cavern. Numbers limited.

 

Peak Cavern.

 

South Wales. Camping at Crickhowell. Caving, Walking,
Diving, Drinking.  Agen Allwedd, Rock
& Fountain, Ogof Cynnes, Pant Mawr, Llanelly Quarry Pot, etc.    

 

Devon.
Devon Great
Consols Mine. Diving.

 

 

O.F.D. (Smiths Armoury, in via Top Entrance and
out via OFD 1)          

 

Gaping Ghyll.  Camping as guests, of B.P.C.

Special winch rates available to B.E.C. members.

 

Dan-yr-Ogof.

 

North Wales. Caving. Staying at N.W.C.C.

 

 

O.F.D. Traverse route from Marble Showers to Clay
series.

 

A.G.M. and Dinner.

(see G.W.-J.)

 

 

(see M.G.)

 

(see M.G.)

 

 

 

 

 

(see G.W.-J.)

 

(see M.G.)

 

 

(see M.G.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(see G.W.-J.)

 

(see G.W.-J.)

 

 

 

(see M.G.)

 

(see M.G.)

 

 

 

 

(see M.G. & G.W.-J.)

 

 

(see G.W.-J.)

 

 

(see G.W.-J.)

 

 

(see M.G. or G.W.-J.)

 

 

(see M.G. or G.W.-J.)

 

 

 

(see G.W.-J.)

 

(see Sue Dukes)

These dates are subject to amendment.

There are bound to be numerous additions made throughout the
year.  In forthcoming B.B.’s I will,
hopefully, list the important dates for following two months or so.  I will try to give notice of amendments,
additions and cancellations as soon as I can.

Bassett and Martin.


Friday
Night
Cave

Club Meets

Jan       8
         Swildons

Jan       22
        Sludge Pit/Nine Barrows

Feb       5
         Lamb Leer

Feb       19         Eastwater

Mar       5
         Longwood

*Mar     20
       
South Wales

Apr       2
         G.B.

Apr       16
        St. Cuthbert’s

Apr       30
        Manor Farm

Hay      14
        Stone Mines

Hay      28
        Tynings Barrows

June     11
        Mystery (meet at Hunters)

June     25
        Burrington

July      9
         Rhino

July      23
        Longwood

*Aug     7
        
South Wales

Aug      2J0       Thrupe

Sept     3
         St. Cuthbert’s

Sept     17
        Tynings Barrows

Oct       1
         Eastwater

Oct       15
       

Fairy
Cave

Quarry

Oct       29
        G.B.

*Nov      13
       
South Wales

Nov       26
        Reservoir Hole

Dec      10
        Swildons

* The location/itinerary of the
South
Wales
meets will be decided at a later date.  Note that these dates are Saturdays.

Otherwise meet at the cave at 7.30 p.m.

If you are interested in joining one of these trips, then
contact:

Brian Prewer Home: Wells 73757  or Greg Villis Work: W.S.M. 27641..

The Friday Niters have been active now for several
years.  Almost anyone is welcome to join them
on their trips.  The trips are not super
hard, specialist ones.  The core of
Friday Niters enjoy taking their time underground and seeing each cave properly
not hurtling through a system at Mach 12 and failing to appreciate the full
beauty of the underworld.  If their
caving sounds like your kind of caving, why not join them.

 

Letter to the Editor.

Dear Sir,

Whilst the general Belfry populace are quite prepared to
tolerate children in and around the hut, I feel that I must express my surprise
and dismay to see someone, changing their children’s nappies in the main room
of the hut on the weekend of the Dinner.

Apart from the hygiene aspect, as the main room is also the
cooking area, I feel it is distasteful and bad-mannered to allow children to
sit on their potties while people are cooking and eating.

Bob Hill.

B.E.C. T-Shirts.

There are only six left. 2 small – 34″.  4 medium –
38″.  Send your cheque to Sue Dukes,
plus 20p for postage – £3.50 First come, first served.

 

Monthly Notes

ROCK & FOUNTAIN: or Ogof Craig nr Ffynnon, if you prefer
the Welsh.  Just beyond the pitch down
into the Promised Land, the diggers have pushed up a pitch above the rift for
40 feet, along for 20 feet, up a further 50 feet and finally into 200 feet of
phreatic passage ending at a dry sump. (phone up Jeff Hill if you want to know what a dry sump is!)  Not much, perhaps, compared with the present
length of Rock and Fountain, but it does show that the system’s potential for
growth is still being pushed, even if new passage is now that much harder to
find.

OLD ING – RED MOSS: Apologies. The dive/link-up was not made
by John Cordingley, as reported in the last B.B., but by Paul Atkinson, backed
up (or backed out) by none other than Mendip Jim Abbott, et al, during a B.P.C.
trip.

NIDD HEADS: The connection of New Goyden Pot with the Goyden
Pot – Manchester Hole system was briefly reported in B.B. Number 400, page 7.
Since then Julian Griffiths and Rob Shackleton have been at work in the rising
at Nidd Heads.  Only a few weeks ago they
found a route through the underwater boulders and emerged in large underwater
passage that is clearly the main route towards the Goyden system.  They have lain 900 feet of line
altogether.  They are working at a depth
of about 50 feet.  They have a further
5200 feet to go before reaching the line in New Goyden, which terminates 750
feet into the sump at a depth of 45 feet.

PIPPIKIN POT: Beyond the choke in the Pippikin streamway
below the Hall of the Ten, the streamway continues briefly to drop down a
further pitch and a climb into Waterfall Chamber.  To the left is the sumped route to Link Pot,
while to the right is the main downstream sump of Pippikin.  The original Belfry Boy, Dave Yeandle, dived
this downstream sump for 200 feet, going no further in order to conserve air
for a dive in the upstream sumps.  Now
Geoff Yeadon has dived the Pippikin downstream sump and has laid 600 feet of
line.  The sump continues.

Northern Cave Club members have bolted up one wall of the
Hall of the Damned to a short horizontal passage and further upward
pitches.  Radio-location from the end
showed this point to be 40 feet up in mid-air, but this figure was corrected,
understandably.  The point is now
reckoned to be only 5 feet beneath a particular shake hole on the moor.  A new entrance to Pippikin here would improve
access for digging no end.

DUB COTE-CAVE: This resurgence cave appears to be the original
route for water that now rises mainly from the capped Drackenbottom
Risings.  Dub
Cote
only issues a small stream except in time of flood.  Geoff Crossley and Jim Abbott believe they
have now found an even earlier route for the water, now abandoned.  Returning from a dive to Dub Cote 3, Mendip
Jim noticed a hole in the roof, just before they dived back through sump
2.  He disappeared into this for over
half an hour, leaving a rather worried Geoff, all kitted up, in the sump
pool.  Jim found himself in an old,
fossil, trunk passage.  Subsequent
explorations have shown this to be 747 feet long, with a further 150 feet of
side passages.   At the end one route
leads to 30 foot and 50 foot avens, but another branch, the apparent way on, is
silted up.  Above this infill there
appears to be large, rounded, gritstone cobbles, such as are quite common in
the abandoned stream passages of some northern caves.  Above the cobbles seems to be a 30 foot high
chamber or passage.  Only further digging
can now reveal whether this passage leads towards Brackenbottom, or Douk Gill,
or perhaps into the Penyghent master system.

The appears to be another large passage above sump 3, but is
going to need bolts to gain access.

KINGS
COLLEGE,
CAMBRIDGE,
REUNION: What has this to do with caving, you may well
ask.  Answer – nothing. However, O.C.L.
decided to go along and meet his contemporaries there but, in his own words,
“They were a lot of old cronies there and I was extremely glad to get back
to Mendip and normal people!”  Sorry,
Oliver.  Overheard you at the Dinner.

DINNER 1982: Yes, I know it is long way off, but, it has
been suggested that we go back to the Cave Man next year, and have a Disco in
the Grotto Bar downstairs for those who would like it.  Let’s have your views.


 


France

‘81  

by John Watson

A joint B.E.C. cum W.C.C. contingent embarked for

France

in mid-July with the aim of having a good time. Failing that, we would venture underground. Our group leader was Jeff
Price, the other

Wessex

member being Pete Watts.

Having braved the English Channel we arrived at

Le Havre
at 10
o’clock.  An hour or so later we had
managed to find the right road and were on our way destination
Dordogne.  The
first night was spent just outside

Le
Mans
.  Having
arrived at 3 am, tents were hurriedly pitched when, only to be found the next
day on the camp-site road.  No wonder we
had bent so many pegs.

We arrived in the
Dordogne
on the Saturday, the rest of which was spent recuperating.  On the Sunday morning we visited
Padirac.  We all agreed that this was the
finest show cave that any of us had seen – a huge shaft 200 feet across and
deep, which can be descended either by a lift or by iron stairs, which lead to
the bottom of the shaft.  From there a
short walk in a large river passage leads to a canal, where a boat trip is
taken.  After this a short walk leads to
a huge chamber some 300 feet high.

Jeff had brought with him a French Caving Book, containing
some of the
Best
Caves
in

France
.  Between us we managed to decipher the description
and plumped for The Grotte de Braugue. After an hour or so we managed to find the cave, with the help of the
land-owner’s daughter.  Without her
assistance we would never have found it.

Initially the cave consisted of a large passage, 15 feet
wide and some 20 – 30 foot high, leading past several climbs and a tricky,
muddy traverse, to what looks like the limit of the cave – a large choked
passage containing what used to be a fine grotto, but now severely damaged by
souvenir hunters.  A systematic search
was made for a possible continuation.  A
passage, small by French standards, was followed for some 200 feet as an
inclined rift.  Caving in wetsuits we
were beginning to sweat in unmentionable parts, and wondered whether to pursue
our goal or take the easy option and turn back, but, like all keen Mendip
cavers, we continued.  After another 150
feet we were back in the main passage beyond the choke.  The climb down to this passage was helped by
a conveniently placed log.  The passage
upslope terminated at another grotto with some fine, large stal, whilst
downslope was the way on.  We were soon
confronted by a river of mud, similar to Tynings but on a grander scale.  Slow progross was made in this glutinous mud,
until a small chamber with some fine white pretties was reached.  We pressed on.  The mud became deeper – knee deep in
places.  At one point I nearly lost a
tightly laced boot, whilst Pete decided to go for a mud-bath.  Finally we were confronted with a large void,
a chamber 100 feet in diameter and 50 – 70 feet high, dominated in one corner
by a huge stal boss, with a column on top some 20 feet high and 15 feet wide at
its base.  After a short rest we followed
the chamber downslope to a very muddy sump. A passage was followed leading off the chamber, which led to another,
smaller chamber, similar in shape and size to Chamber 3 in Wookey, but that was
where the similarity ended, for the rock was festooned with hundreds of
stalactites, one to three feet long.  A
closer examination made all the mud worthwhile – in between the stal were
hundreds of thousands of eccentrics branching off in all directions like
tightly baled straw.  The trip took just
over two and a half hours but for those who like revelling in mud it was a
classic and its vast forest of eccentrics would be hard to beat anywhere.

The following morning we embarked for the
Pyrenees.  All went well until we reached

Toulouse
.  Having been suitably impressed by my

Wessex

colleagues carbide gobblers we went in search of a speleo-shop where one was
purchased.  Jeff and Pete could not
resist the temptation to spend some of their money and purchased two Petzl
helmets for around £11 each.  Leaving

Toulouse
was far from
easy.  Like a magnet it attracted us to
its centre.  Our problem was solved after
more than an hour by taking a compass bearing south.  From here we went to

Andorra
.  Jeff lost ten years off his life, driving up
the mountain passes in a night fog. 

Andorra
itself
is a tourist trap.  A word of warning –
do not purchase drinks in night clubs. Jeff was stung £2 for a coke.

From

Andorra

we travelled to the Ariege valley.  Here
the glaciers have truncated huge systems, the entrances to which are now some
200 – 300 feet above the valley floor. Some of these entrances are 100 feet square.  The best of these are the show caves of
Grotte de Lombrive, and Niaux, with its fascinating cave paintings which are
well worth a visit.  Apart from the show
caves we visited the Grotto de Emite, a modest but impressive cave – you could
call it a French Goatchurch.  Apart from
its sporting aspect it had a very colourful, historic past, having been used by
an outlawed religious sect in the Middle Ages for an initiation test.  The poor participants would be led into the
cave and left there for days at a time.

The day after visiting Emite we went to the Grotte de
Sabart, which virtually consists of a huge chamber, one of the biggest in
France, some 650 feet long and 200 feet wide. We were dwarfed by its huge stal, one column being 30 feet high and 5 –
10 feet in diameter.

From Tarascon we made our way to Villefranche de Confluence,
an old, walled, medieval town.  Having
set up camp we took a wander round this quaint old town and were very surprised
to find a Speleo headquarters. Consulting Jeff’s book once more we planned to do the Grotte de Gorner,
a large system some 14km long, and one of the finest caves in

France
.  Finding the entrance from the book’s
description was impossible and somehow we had to get permission to enter the
cave.  In the midst of a hopeless
situation we were struck by good fortune. We had searched in vain and, as a last resort, had asked an elderly
French gentleman if he could help.  In
very broken French we tried to explain our predicament.  This was partially understood, at which point
he beckoned a younger man over and started to chat to him.  Luck would have it that he was the president
of the local Speleo Club.  He explained,
in French, that the cave was locked but said he would take us to the
entrance.  He told us that if we were
outside the cave the following morning we could go down the cave with another
party who just happened to be going in then. All three of us then retired to the local bar, where all this was
confirmed by a translator.

The following morning we were up bright and early and parked
near to the cave.  After an hour’s wait a
car drew up full with what looked like cavers. They were totally dumbfounded when we tried, to explain to them that
they were taking us caving.  They
immediately told us that it was not possible, so we tried to explain to them
that their president had OK’d it.  Words
were fast and furious and confusion reigned. The leader pointed to our car and we followed him back into town.  This went on for about an hour.  We told them we had our own gear, at which
point they relented and we drove back to the cave entrance, heads thumping with
confusion.  Our French friends found it
very amusing when we donned our wetsuits. This was followed by numerous gesticulations and tugging of boiler suits
– I think he thought we would be too hot. I explained that all English cavers wore wetsuits.  All this commotion had attracted a large
crowd.  Within minutes we were surrounded
by dozens of amused French speleos (by way of comparison the leader, who never
stopped talking, wore a boiler suit and a woolly hat, and had a hand held
torch).  The entrance to the cave was
like

Fort
Knox
– a three inch thick steel plate
door, 12″ x 18″, with an internally fitted lock – definitely pirate
proof.  The cave was impressive from the
start – a large phreatic passage with interesting holes in the floor, some over
100 feet deep.  After a hundred metres or
so we reached a large, sandy chamber.  We
were entertained every step of the way by our woolly-hatted French friend would
point out the numerous formations with cries of “Inglish” (he was a
real piss-taker).  After 500m we reached
a section called the Metro, a huge phreatic passage, 30 feet round with a flat,
sandy floor.  Although the passage was
dry it floods to the roof in wet weather. This went on for another kilometre until we reached the start of the
aquatic section, which can be followed for 2km, to another entrance.

After lunch we were taken down a French dig?  I was under the impression that the French
did not dig for caves – a huge misconception – as it would have put any Mendip
dig to shame.  We had been told by our
French friends that the cave was very small, and that we would be better off to
carry torches rather than carbides.  By
this time Jeff started to worry.  The
entrance was a sandy crawl similar in dimensions to Cwm Dwr entrance
series.  Anything small, i.e. squeezes,
had been blasted to leave a comfortable sized passage whose draught threw us
into darkness many times.  After 250 feet
a small chamber was reached, where an inlet made the going wet.  The end was reached after 350 feet.  The way on could be seen, tight and.
wet.  This was not pushed, since we were
clad in T-shirts.  Very impressed, we
followed the compressed air hose out to the entrance.  It was later explained that it had taken
eleven years to reach the end.  The
potential, however, is enormous.

After the trip we retired to the bar, swapped addresses and
said farewell to our French counterparts.

The following day we left the
Pyrenees
to sample the delights of the Med.

 

For

Sale

Two nife cells 8 hours + light in each plus complete head
set.

£50.00 for the lot.

Karabiners – an assortment of about 20.

£1.00 each.

Contact Mike Palmer Wells (0749) 74693

Two Ceags – complete   £15.00
each

Two
Edison’s – complete, 3
cell type       £15.00 each

One
Edison – battery only,
3 cell type

                           one cell faulty

                           good for spares £5.00

Two Nifes – batteries only, 3 cell type £10.00 each.

Variety of useful bits and pieces, free to any buyer of the
above!

Contact Bassett Aylesbury (0296) or at the Belfry. 28270

Why not sell your surplus gear through a FREE advertisement
in the B.B.  Come on!  I need something to fill up the space if
you’re not going to write enough articles.

Locker Fees

Belfry LOCKER FEES are now due for the year 1981/82, as
shown below:

Honk

£1.50

Quackers

£2.00

Garth

£0.50

Spew

£1.00

Stonebat

£1.00

Stu L

£1.00

Blitz

£1.00

J-Rat

£1.50

Bob X

£0.50

Ross

£2.00

Nigel

£0.50

Colin D Screw

£0.50

Trev

£2.00

Tim

£0.50

Worm Hole

£0.50

Quiet John

£1.00

Dave Glover

£0.50

John Dukes

£1.00

Jem

£1.50

Bob Hill

£0.50

Bassett & Jane

£0.50

Ladder Construction

We have a large quantity of 4mm hemp cored steel wire (free,
of course) which John intends to use for ladder making using Pin and Araldite
construction.

Firstly, he needs information on the type of Araldite, or
similar resin glue, to use.

Secondly, does the wire have to be degreased before
construction and if so, can it subsequently be re-greased without destroying
the bond.

If you can help with information, please contact John on
Shepton Mallett (0749) 4815.

 

On A Trip On A Trip ?

by Jeremy Henley

“Who is this bastard stuck in Cuthbert’s Entrance Rift
anyway?”  I hear someone say amongst the
splash of falling water of which I am vaguely aware down the neck of the
immaculate wetsuit borrowed from a yachtsman, who loaned it unaware of the
tatters likely to appear in the neoprene in under an hour’s caving.  To be fair, I was equally unaware until this
moment, when I realised that a rent was appearing, that water was going in one
end and out the other, cooling effectively parts that are not supposed to get
too hot but certainly not that cold, and to cap it all I was stuck – not stuck
jammed but stuck because I had not got the energy to move.  My first Friday night trip, halfway up the
rift and it dawned amongst the muddle that I was the bastard stuck.

Now this is the sort of chaos that an uncontrolled diabetic
can cause in a cave.  Some great strong
bloke free-climbed below me and I gratefully used his head and shoulders as a
moving platform to eject myself – just. The idiot feeling that I had was nothing to the fear and trepidation of
Villis and Prewer, who decided that a diabetic caver was something of a
liability, and it took some time to prove otherwise.  They eventually relaxed when, some trips
later, they realised that, like a magician, I could produce an endless tube of
glucose sweets from inside my helmet to feed not only me but also other,
healthier persons a hundred feet or so below Mendip.

So a diabetic on insulin, short of sugar, is uncoordinated,
weak, vague and remarkably unintelligent which, mirroring my normal self I find
most useful in warding off stinging Belfry remarks from the regular gang with
their in-jokes and private language, I can always plead sugar shortage when I
fail to grasp the gist.  However it is
not a good thing to have in a Cave so you will see me, gnome like, on a
suitable pedestal rock away from falling water, with my helmet in my lap,
groping about in the shadows, looking for and then eating with greet speed one,
two or even three tubes of glucose sweets (fourteen to a tube) before
continuing my journey.  The healthy caver
takes, when offered, one or two daintily between his bleeding, muddy fingers
and then feels sick at the cloying sweetness; consider eating 28 at once!

Cave pollution has gone up on Mendip: about 5% of all
glucose tablets miss the mouth and there is now a sure way of telling where
Henley’s been, and if you know the colours he was eating
on particular day you can date the journey for the hitch-hiker’s guide to the
grottoes.

Then there is this bracelet that identifies the diabetic –
Medic Alert No. 12345, telephone 01-000-000 – very convenient at Swildons 4 – I
always wear it – equally as good for cavers with one kidney, epilepsy, and foot
and mouth.

So why this rubbish about diabetics – well I actually got to
sump 2 and back one night without recourse to glucose as I had eaten half a
stone of spuds before setting off.  This
joyous feat I was expounding to Martin Grass who, bored to tears, said it would
be useful for others to know about the problems, that I was not the only
diabetic in the caving world, and why not write an article for the B.B.  The next paragraph explains it all and should
make all you healthy people feel secure.

Quote: “
Normal people burn
glucose in their muscles to provide energy. The glucose, which is obtained from digested foodstuffs, is absorbed
from your intestines and enters the bloodstream.  Insulin acts by pushing the glucose from the
blood to the muscles where it is burned.” This goes wrong in diabetics and younger onset diabetics need injected
insulin and a diet to balance it exactly. In healthy people the balance is automatic.  If too little carbohydrate is eaten for the
insulin injected, or more than usual exercise taken, then blood sugar level
falls to a point where the diabetic becomes exhausted and disorientated.  Therefore a diabetic caver must always stoke
up before going caving, must carry instantly available fuel sources such as
glucose or Mars Bars and should always tell others that he is a diabetic.  No leader should go on a trip with a diabetic
who has not obeyed these simple rules. If obeyed, no-one need worry!

 

Belfry Rules

The following rules have been created ‘in committee’ during
the past two years, for the better running of the Belfry:

1)    2nd.
February 1979

     Item 57

    

 

2)   18th. April 1980

     Item 66

 

3)   1st. August 1980

     Item 88

 

 

 

4) 5th. September
’80

 

 

 

5) 7th. November ’80

Animals may only stay at the Belfry at the discretion
of the Hut Warden.

Generally animals are to be kept out of
bunkrooms.

 

It was agreed that, for safety and social
reasons, smoking be banned in the bunkrooms.

 

It was agreed, following an incident at the
Belfry, and taking into account that no-one under 16 years of age could join
the club, that 16 be the minimum age at which a person could stay at the

Del

 

No personal gear is to be stored in the library
or the loft.  Both library and loft
must be kept locked when no committee member is in attendance.

 

Any person found storing or using explosive
devices at the Belfry will be banned until the following committee meeting,
when a decision on the matter will be taken.

 

Monthly Notes, Continued.

Diabetes: Dr. Don Thompson had added a few interesting and
useful notes to Jeremy’s article:

“Have you come across Glucagon?  This is wonderful stuff.  It’s given by injection and can be given by
amateurs to uncooperative hypoglycoemic diabetics while two or three other
people sit on his head.  It raises the
blood sugar within a few minutes sufficiently to enable one to persuade him to
eat glucose sweets.  It can be repeated
if not sufficient, and it cannot be given in doses too large for safety as there
is really no maximum dose.  The only
limitation is that it will not work on starvation hypoglycoemia because it
cannot mobilise intracellular carbohydrates which are not there.  Your friendly G.P. can supply this on
request.”

So the next time Jeremy looks vacant after some loving
Belfryite’s hostile remarks, just sit on his head and pump him full of potatoes
and glucagon.  He’ll soon get the
message:

STOKE LANE SLOCKER: Stoke 8 has only been visited twice –
only once according to written records – in spite of the fact that the way on,
through a boulder constriction, was clearly visible and simply needed
enlarging.  This lack of attention may be
partly due to the evil reputation of

Stoke
Lane
, especially beyond sump 2, but is also
because sump 6 has been blocked for some time. However, sump 6 is now receiving attention, last week (7.11.81) of a
chemical kind.  After a healthy thump,
perhaps the way to 8 is now open once more. Divers: Pete Moody (chemical hit man), Chris Milne, Ian (wormhole)

Caldwell
; Sherpas: Martin
Grass, Blitz, Jane and Bassett.

P.S. Wormhole is now convinced that he has Weil’s Disease.

RHINO RIFT: Tim Large and Phil Romford have been hard at
work here putting in new bolts for rescue purposes, affording free-hangs for
hauling.  When their work is complete the
bolt positions will be concealed so they are not used for normal trips into the
cave.

CHEDDAR GORGE: Have you driven down there in the day time
recently and seen how much loose rock has been brought down, especially off the

Coronation Street

face, since the climbing season began. Beware where you park your car, unless you want a sunshine roof.

THE RUMOUR: We know where it is. It’s big and it’s black and
it is hairy and you won’t like it.

Bassett

© 2024 Bristol Exploration Club Ltd

registered in England and Wales as a co-operative society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, registered no. 4934.

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