The
Bristol
Exploration Club, The Belfry,

Wells
Road
, Priddy, Wells,

Somerset
.
Editor: Ted Humphreys

Cover: The
Treasurer, Blitz, sketched by REG.

 

1992 – 1993 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Martin Grass
Treasurer                 Chris Smart
Caving Sec.             Jeff Price
Hut Warden             Chris Harvey
Tackle Master          Mike Wilson
B.B. Editor               Ted Humphreys
Hut Engineer            Tim Large
Membership Sec.     John Watson
Floating Members     Nigel Taylor

 

Editorial

What I want to talk about this time is car thefts.  There have been an awful lot of them recently
– several BEC members have been ‘done’. At the Belfry there is a notice pinned up from the local police listing
various car numbers you should beware of. These are so called ‘community cars’, that is, cars which have been
stolen and hidden and are then used by the thieves or their associates for
ram-raids or breaking into caver’s cars or for perpetrating other crimes.  These people do not waste any time, it’s a
case of smashing the car windows and making off with whatever they can
grab.  Malcolm Davis was very upset when
he came out of Tyning’s Barrows and found his windows smashed and some clothes
missing in spite of the fact that he had left his boot unlocked!

I suspect most of the perpetrators come from Weston or

Bristol
although there may
be some local, copycats.  The only
defence there is, is to either have someone stay in the car (which could be
dangerous!) or to be chauffeured to the cave site and picked up again at a
pre-arranged time.  Thefts most commonly
occur in the Charterhouse area and Burrington Combe although at least one has
happened in Pelting Drove.

Club Business

The AGM and club dinner will, as usual, be on the first
Saturday in October.  The venue for the
dinner is changed this year.  Details
will be forthcoming shortly from Mr. N who is producing a short news sheet.

There will be an election for the committee again this
year.  Nominations should be sent to the
secretary as soon as possible, please (I shall not be standing).

One of the three club survey kits has gone missing.  If anyone knows where it is please could you
try to get it returned!

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of the

Bristol
Exploration Club Held at the Belfry
on October 3rd, 1992

The meeting was convened by the Secretary, Martin Grass,
there being a quorum at 1035.

Present:

Martin Grass, Chris Batstone, Nigel Taylor, Glenys Grass,
Bob Cork, Mr Wilson (Senior), Hilary Wilson, Mr Wilson (Junior), Kev Gurner,
Chris Smart, Richard Payne, Babs Williams, Jeff Price, Richard Blake, Trevor
Hughes, Dave Aubrey, Terry Earley, Dave Turner, John Watson, Nick Gymer, S J
McManus, Andy Middleton, Tim Large, Ian Caldwell, Rob Harper, Chris Harvey,
Colin Dooley, Barrie Wilton, Dave Yeandle, Phil Romford, Dudley Herbert, Alan
Turner, Dickfred, Brian Prewer, Robin Grey, David Ball, Sarah Macdonald, Henry
Bennett, Pete Hellier, Dave Glover, Greg Villis, Graham Johnson, Clive Betts,
Alan Downton, Ian Gregory, Ted Humphreys, Jeremy Henley and Les Williams.

Non Members:

Kirsten Turner, Florica Cowie.

Apologies:

Dany Bradshaw, Lavina Watson, Jim Smart, Dany Bradshaw,
J’Rat, LiI Romford, Ruth Baxter, Loopy, Angela Garwood, Nick Cornwall-Smith and
Andy Sanders.

Chairman:

Bob Cork was elected Chairman.

Tellers:

Hilary Wilson.    Pro. Nigel Taylor.           Sec. Blitz.

Babs Williams. Pro. Mac.                      Sec.
Blitz.

Brian Prewer.     Pro. Nigel Taylor.           Sec. Batstone

Members Resolutions:

None.

Minutes of the 1991 AGM:

Previously published in the BB.

For acceptance of the 1991 AGM
minutes by the meeting.

Proposed: Mr Nigel. Seconded:
Phil Romford. Carried with two abstentions.

Matters arising from the minutes:

  1. Long
    Term Plan: Tim asked for the Long Term Plan the Committee was instructed
    to produce.  Various discussions
    ensued.  The Committee reported that
    a meeting was held although the minutes had not been published in the
    BB.  Tim asked that the minutes with
    current updates be published.

For 26, Against 0, Abstentions 2

  1. Rob
    Harper asked for the Tackle Warden to publish a list of current tackle
    available.  Sec. Blitz.

For 28, Against 0, Abstentions 2

  1. Phil
    Romford asked how the discount on early payment of subs had worked.  John Watson replied “Quite
    well.”
  2. BCRA
    Insurance:  The NCA had looked into
    this and the Treasurer reported that the new BCRA scheme was an
    improvement.  We will stick with
    this for the immediate future.
  3. Phil
    Romford asked if regular checks were made at the Belfry to see who was
    staying.  Martin Grass replied that
    this was on an informal basis but seemed to be working.

Secretary’s Report:

Previously published in the BB.  Phil Romford asked about the vandalism
mentioned in the report. Martin replied that this appeared to have stopped.

For acceptance of the report by
the meeting.
Proposed: Nigel Taylor. Seconded: Greg Villis
Carried unam.

Caving Secretary’s Report:

Previously published in the BB.  Trevor said he could obtain epoxy resin for
the stal repairs.

For acceptance of the report by
the meeting.
Proposed: Tim Large Seconded: Chris Batstone
Carried unam.

Hut Warden’s Report:

Given verbally to the meeting.  (To be published in the BB).  Mac suggested that the Hut Warden’s job is a
thankless one.  A vote of thanks was then
proposed by Nigel Taylor, seconded by Blitz.

For 35, Against 2, Abstentions 1

For acceptance of the report by
the meeting.
Proposed: Mike Wilson. Seconded: Rob Harper.
For 37, Against 0, Abstentions 1

Hut Engineer’s Report:

Previously published in the BB.  Nigel said he wished to thank all the members
who worked on the hut on the working weekends. Martin Grass asked when the new showers would be installed.  Nigel said that he had left this to next
years Hut Engineer.  Nigel asked that a
book be kept in the Library by the Hut Engineer detailing work carried out and
locations of any pipe work/wiring run. Tim asked whether the Central Heating would actually heat the hut or be
used as background heating.  It was
reported that the latter will be the case.

A vote of thanks was then proposed by Blitz, seconded by
Robin Grey. For 37, Against 0, Abstentions 1

A vote of thanks to Pat Cronin was then proposed by Dick
Fred and seconded by Blitz.  Carried
unam.

It was suggested that the Secretary write to Pat expressing
the BEC’s thanks.  For acceptance of the
report by the meeting

Proposed: Mac. Seconded: Slug

For 37, Against 0, Abstentions 1

Membership Secretary’s Report:

Previously published in the BB. Colin Dooley asked if we had
looked at Direct Debit arrangements. Jeremy Henley explained that this was very
expensive.  John Watson said more people
had played early this year probably as a result of the discount system but
several people also chose to pay at the very last minute.  Dave Turner said we must get people to
realise what they get out of the club and that we should have a regular BB full
of member’s articles.  Much discussion
followed regarding how to get early payment of subs!

For acceptance of the report by
the meeting.
Proposed: Tim Large.
Seconded: Dave Turner.
Carried unam.

Tackle Master’s Report:

Previously published in the BB. Rob Harper asked how much
use the club SRT rope gets.  Mike replied
“Very little.”  Rob Harper
proposed that the fixed tackle be removed from St. Cuthbert’s Swallet.  Trevor seconded the proposal.

For 5, Against 32, Abstentions 5.

For acceptance of the report by
the meeting.
Proposed: Phil Romford. Seconded: Richard Blake
Carried with two abstentions.

BB Editor’s Report:

Previously published in the BB.

For acceptance of the report by
the meeting.
Proposed: Henry. Seconded: Robin Grey.
Carried with three abstentions.

A vote of thanks was then proposed by Phil and Romford
seconded by Dick Fred.

Carried with one abstention.

Hon Treasurer’s Report:

Handed out at the meeting. Mac suggested that we look at the possibility of coin meters for
electricity.  Much discussion then
followed.  Mac then proposed, seconded by
Rob Harper that non strategic electricity be put on a coin meter.  For 7. Against 31, Abstentions 8.

Tim Large proposed that the Committee review hut fees for
mid week use and look at the possibility of differential rates. For 39, Against
1, Abstentions 3.

Les Williams asked that we look at energy efficient/saving
appliances when are due for replacement.

Tim asked as to our BMC membership.  The Treasurer undertook to rejoin.  Jeremy Henley proposed that anyone using the
BMC facilities during the next year inform the Treasurer so that we can decide
whether or not our continuing membership is justified.  This was seconded by Rob Harper and carried.
For 26, Against 9, Abstentions 8.

Mac asked the Treasurer if subs or hut fees should be
increased.  Blitz said that hut fees were
raised last year for guests but not for members.  Martin Grass said that we should look at
putting subs up annually so as to avoid large jumps every couple of years.

Dave Turner proposed £22 subs, seconded Mike Wilson.

For 34, Against 8, Abstentions 2.

Discussion then followed regarding the early payment
discount scheme.  Nigel said that he
would prefer a late payment surcharge rather than the early payment discount
scheme.  It was then suggested by Mike
Wilson, seconded by Trevor that we have a base rate discount of £18.  An amendment was proposed by Tim Large,
seconded by Jeremy Henley that the base rate discount be £20.

For the amendment 31, Against 14, Abstentions 2.

For the original proposal 31, Against 6, Abstentions 2.

Trevor asked that it be minuted that a 25% subs increase is
not normal.

The Treasurer proposed that the non discounted subscription
be £24.  This was seconded by Jeremy
Henley.  An amendment of the
non-discounted subscription at £25 was proposed by Dave Turner and seconded by
Dick Fred.

For the amendment 14, Against 24, Abstentions 7

For the original proposal 38, Against 2, Abstentions 1

Rob Harper proposed that the Treasurer comes to the AGM next
year prepared to state how much the subs should be raised.  He or she will need to look at future income
and expenditure and make an educated guess.

For acceptance of the report by
the meeting.
Proposed: Phil Romford. Seconded: Les Williams.
Carried with two abstentions. Nil against.

Auditor’s Report:

The Auditor stated that the Treasurers accounts were a true
representation of the finances of the club. Barry also said the club must look at raising the money to meet the St
Cuthbert’s pledges.

For acceptance of the report by
the meeting.
Proposed: Tim Large. Seconded: Mac.
Carried with two abstentions. Nil against.

Ian Dear Memorial Fund Report:

Previously published in the BB.  Graham Johnson thanked the IDMF for the money
given to the

Philippines

expedition this year.

A proposal was then made by Mac that the BEC do not transfer
any money to the IDMF this year. Seconded: Nigel Taylor.

Votes for the proposal Carried with 3 against and 3
abstentions.

For acceptance of the report by the
meeting.
Proposed: Mac. Seconded: Mike Wilson.
Carried with two abstentions. Nil against.

Librarian’s Report:

Previously published in the BB.  The Secretary read out a letter from the
Librarian saying that he is happy to continue. Martin Riddle has loaned the club a word processor.

For acceptance of the report by
the meeting.
Carried unam.

Voting:

The tellers reported that 81 members had voted as follows:

Martin Grass              69
Nigel Taylor                68
Chris Smart                64
Ted Humphreys          63
Mike Wi1son              61
Jeff Price                    59
Tim Large                   48
Chris Harvey               43
————————————————-
Graham Johnson         42
Ian

Caldwell
               32
Angela Garwood         31
Trevor Hughes             29
Richard Blake             16
Jim Smart                  14

1991-92 Committee:

Post


 

Proposer

Seconder


 


 


 


 

Secretary

Hon Treasurer

Caving Secretary

Tackle Master


 

For Mr Wilson 34

For Tim Large 4

Hut Warden


 

For Zot 25

For Tim Large 10

Martin Grass

Chris Smart

Jeff Price

Mr Wilson

Tim Large


 


 

Chris Harvey

Tim Large

Les Williams

Mac

Rob Harper

Mac

Rob Harper


 


 

Mr Nigel

Mr Wilson

Jeremy Henley

Nigel Taylor

Alan Downton

Nigel Taylor

Mac


 


 

Mac

Robin Gray

Rob Harper raised a point of order on the Chairman’s comment
that we put History behind us.  He said
it was always behind us.

Hut Engineer


 

For Tim Large 36

For Mr Nigel 2

BB Editor


 

Tim Large

Mr Nigel


 


 

Ted Humphreys

Nigel Taylor

Dick Fred

Mac


 


 

Alan Turner

Trevor

Mike Wilson

Chris Smart


 


 

Les Williams

Kevin Gurner

Nigel Taylor said that he could not do the job very well if
elected but would do his best.

For Ted Humphreys 33
For Mr Nigel 5

Possible commercial interests/conflicts of interest were
then asked to be revealed.  Chris Smart
declared that he was the Treasurer of the Council of Southern Caving
Clubs.  Mac said that he objected to
this.

Membership Secretary


 

For John 24

For Mr Nigel 12

Joh Watson

Nigel Taylor

Tim Large

Babs

Jeremey Henley

Jeff Price

Non Committee Posts:

Auditor

Librarian


 

For Trebor 37

For Jim Smart 4

Barrie

Wilton

Trebor

Jim Smart

Mac

Rob Harper

Mac

Jeremey Henley

Jake

Tevor

Members Resolutions:

1.

County
Membership
.  Nigel Taylor proposed, seconded by Mike
Wilson that this AGM forms “a Country Membership or Retirement Membership,
that would have to be applied for by bone-fide members who would assure us that
they would who longer cave.”

Much discussion followed. Brian Prewer, as an OAP said that he would be offended to be offered a
lower sub or special status.

For acceptance of the resolution
by the meeting.
For 3. Against 24. Abstentions 10

Nigel undertook to publish in the next BB a note regarding
this Country Membership/Retirement Membership.

Any Other Business:

St Cuthbert’s Report.

The Treasurer drew the meetings attention to his
report.  The Secretary said the Report
was available in most caving shops and that copies are available at the Belfry
for leaders to sell to tourist parties. Nigel Taylor said that he will organize a box at the Belfry to be locked
with the Cuthbert’s lock so that all leaders can get access to copies.  Colin Dooley reiterated that when we sell all
the reports we will make a very respectable profit but that we need to push the
sales.  Robin Grey suggested that we sell
to caving clubs at one third discount. Rob Harper said that it was a dead duck from the outset and that we
should get out and cut our losses now. Colin Dooley asked how many people were going down Cuthbert’s each
week.  Phil Romford proposed that he look
at setting up a deal with Cordee to sell the Cuthbert’s Report.  Accepted with one against.  Phil also offered his services to sell the
Cuthbert’s Report.  Accepted unam.  Nigel Taylor will liaise with Joan Bennett to
explain that Phil will help her as Sales Officer.

Martin Grass said why not pay back some of the pledges now
and send out a letter requesting an extension to the loan.  Chris Smart said that he would request his
money back on time.  He explained his
action saying that he thought it a very poor show that 22 people were being
asked to carry the 200 strong membership of the club.  The AGM noted last year’s resolution that the
money needs to be repaid at, or before the 1993 AGM.  Les Williams proposed that the Belfry be used
as security for a bank loan if necessary so that the pledges can be repaid on
time.

For acceptance of the proposal by
the meeting.
For 28, Against 13, Abstentions 1.

Phil asked the incoming Committee to consider calling an EGM
if finances looked bad.

Voting:

It was agreed to burn the voting
papers.

Vote of Thanks:

A vote of thanks to Nigel Taylor for organizing the AGM food
and Dinner was proposed by Alan Turner and seconded by Rob Harper.  Carried unam.

There being no other business the Chairman closed the
meeting at 15.50.

 

Correspondence

Dear Ed,

I have been a member of the BEC, off and on, for the last 25
years and have always found a great deal of pleasure in caving and socialising
within the club.  I returned to the club
in earnest a couple of years ago and have since become a ‘Cuthbert’s Leader’;
the cave has always meant something special to me.  Needless to say I spend a considerable time
down St. Cuthbert’s Swallet, digging (my dig is near Plantation Junction),
exploring and leading tourist trips. Obviously I still visit other Mendip caves and so think that, with about
three trips a week, I can still consider myself fairly active!

The above leads me to my next comment which is that I am
really “pissed off” with Bob Cross. Bob and myself go back many years and hopefully will for many more.  As members are aware (BB 467) Bob fired a
salvo, with some venom, at the running of the Belfry which was suitably replied
to in the same BB.

However the crux of my moan to you Bob, is: –  Is the Belfry to be used by active cavers and
non active members of the club with still a genuine interest or by people such
as yourself who, in recent times, have done nothing except criticise either the
Belfry or the members.

This came to a head for me last Saturday (12th June
’93).  I, with other members of the club
plus a guest, had an excellent trip down Cuthbert’s.  Unfortunately, as we were coming out, the
guest became very tired so I returned to the Belfry to collect the various bits
of tackle required.  When I walked into
the Belfry I met Bob, no one else was present. Bob and I had a conversation about the whereabouts of Zot and generally
passed the time of day.  I then collected
all my tackle from the tackle store and the changing room and was about to
leave when Bob became very aggressive, shouting “Look at the mess you’ve
left” and as I was going out of the Belfry door  “What about turning the fucking lights
off”, I thought, ignore it, bearing in mind I was thinking more of
extricating a tired caver from Cuthbert’s. Afterwards, however, I thought those brief comments were, to say the
least, upsetting!

I feel sorry for the need to write this letter but I believe
and always will that the BEC is a caving club. If any members do not agree with this basic philosophy and do not wish
the noise or mess associated with an active caving club but wish instead to
have a quiet time (unless there is a “free barrel” about) they
should, perhaps, spend their nights at an alternative hostelry.  I believe the New Inn can be very quiet and
clean.  I think the

Wessex
would,
nowadays, be too noisy for them!

Oh, by the way, if Bob ever wishes to visit Cuthbert’s again
I would be more than pleased to take him.

Many thanks for publishing,

Dudley Herbert.


 


China

93

How it actually came about I don’t know as I had never
really considered going to

China

before and there I found myself planning a trip.  Actually, I originally chose

China
because I
heard it was a fairly safe place to travel on your own.  As I started to research locations, I
realised that this could easily be transformed into a caving trip as all the
areas I wanted to visit were the limestone regions of

China
.  Being an avid caver this appeared an
opportunity too good to miss, so holiday plans were brushed aside and a caving
trip with the odd city excursion was planned instead.

The first problem that I had to overcome was that I couldn’t
cave on my own, so who could I persuade to come caving in

China
with me?  After asking around at college and gaining
several replies of “I’d love to but….”  I
changed tack and asked around the Hunters instead.  This proved more profitable and by Christmas
I had tentative plans to meet Nick Hawkes in

China
.  The only problem being that he lives in
Australia and I live in

England
.  However, corresponding with his father,
Chris, arrangements weren’t too bad to organise.

Caving partner found, flight booked, travellers cheques
arranged, I set off for the wilds of
China
via
Hong Kong. As all cheap flights go, I travelled the direct route of
Bahrain-Bangkok-Hong Kong.  This wasn’t
too bad and the landing at
Hong Kong airport
was an experience I will never forget. Have you ever been in a plane that flies between skyscrapers and banks
right down the middle of a street?  I
hadn’t and it proved quite entertaining.

 

Hong Kong itself was quite
a wondrous place, but not exactly relaxing. However, it was a good place to meet up with my caving partner
Nick.  Upon his arrival we sorted out
visas and planned our route into

China
.  The cheapest option was to take the train to
Wu Lu the border town between Hong Kong and

China
, and walk through
customs.  This only takes a mere two
hours with numerous queues and forms to fill in, but not as bad as we had heard
it could be!

After walking across a very smelly river (the border) we
arrived in Shenzhen where we received our first big culture shock, everything
was written in Chinese.  I know this
might not surprise some of you, and we had expected it, but it suddenly made us
realise that travelling or just doing anything could pose a major problem as
neither of us spoke a single word of Chinese! After this initial “What have we done?” we wandered around and
stumbled across the bus station where we were grabbed and placed on a bus that
we were told was going to Ghangzhou (Canton) the capital of the province where
further transport could be found.  Unfortunately
the bus wasn’t going there and we had to continually change bus to reach our
destination.

Eventually we were dumped on a busy road and told “

Canton
”.  This wasn’t very helpful but we found the
railway station and got our bearings. Next stop was the ferry dock and an attempt to buy tickets to
Wuzhou.  Trying to read a ferry timetable
is another entertaining experience, especially when one word looks exactly like
another in Chinese.  Alas we had missed
the last ferry and instead had to buy a ticket for the following day.

The ferry trip had two large bunk rooms with a 6m by 2m
space each, that was your seat and bed for the 20 hour journey.  At least it allowed us an opportunity to see
the Chinese way of life and practice a few phrases on the locals with the use
of a phrase book that I had remembered to bring!!  Sleeping was only possible because I was
already tired, and it meant I slept through the onslaught of cockroaches who
were the local residents on the ferry.

The Chinese way of life on the river was interesting and
very busy.  We passed many barges
transporting goods around the Pearl River Delta and several small fishing boats
(or rafts) with the owner using lines to catch the fish.  All of these rafts had their own resident
cormorant which sat on the edge of the raft waiting for fish to appear.  Apparently a cormorant can match three
capable fishermen.

 

After docking in Wuzhou we departed with the masses and were
pointed in the direction of the bus station. Here we discovered that we had missed the morning bus so instead bought
a ticket for the night bus going to Yangshou. With a day to waste we went on a tour of the town.  The first stop was the animal market, where
almost any animal could be bought to eat. We were offered turtles, snake, cats, porcupines, monkeys as well as
many other unusual and weird animals. This gave us a good insight into the Chinese life and some of the
cultural differences with which we would have to become accustomed.  However, we declined any offers of tasting
these exotic delights.

The local cuisine took some getting used to.  At first the overall smell of the food was
enough to make anyone lose their appetite, but eventually you become accustomed
to it.  The food proved most edible.  We ordered by pointing at what we wanted and
then crossing our fingers and hoping it would be alright.  In all, the Chinese cuisine was excellent
even if at times you weren’t sure what you were eating (there was strong
possibility of dog on the menu).

The bus journey to Yangshou took about 3 hours but at least
travelling at night meant that it was fairly cool.  It would have been unbearable in the day
time.  The monsoon season made the
weather incredibly hot and humid with the odd thunderstorm thrown in for good
measure.  This made achieving anything an
extra effort in the extreme heat.

Having arrived at night we saw little of the area except
eerie views of tower karsts silhouetted against the night sky.  This meant that in the morning the view was
quite spectacular.  Everywhere we looked,
we saw tower karst rising out of the flat land and the

village of
Yangzhou

was tucked into the base of three limestone outcrops.  The

Lijiang
River

was also an amazing site.  As you
travelled upstream on a boat the karst became more and more spectacular.  The river life incorporated wallowing water
buffalo, children playing, people fishing on rafts and numerous tourist boats
all intermingled as rice was grown in the surrounding fields.

Once settled we went in search of caves.  Armed with our

China
85 guide and a couple of bicycles
we rode off in the direction of the cave known as LOTEN.  The book showed a massive entrance which
should have been easy to see from a long way off, but after cycling across
numerous paddy fields we still could not  find it.  To clarify that we were
in the correct area we decided to ask a local. Naturally speaking little Chinese we asked, “DONG” (cave) and pointed a
direction, whereupon the farmer would say, “DONG”, nod his head and point the
way we were going.  Reassured we
continued and found a gated entrance to a small cave, not exactly the massive
entrance we were expecting.  So we
continued to look for LOTEN,  After
asking more locals we realised that the information they were giving us was
useless as whichever way we pointed they would say, “DONG”, not exactly helpful
for finding a specific cave.  Eventually,
numerous paddy fields later and about 20km of cycling we saw the entrance to
LOTEN across the valley, but by this time we had to turn round and start the
20km cycle home.

Transport proved to be our major constraint.  I suppose it was inevitable that there would
be no public transport direct to the cave entrances, hence, we had to rely on
bicycles and were limited to the distance we could travel.  To solve this problem we headed off to

Guilin
, which proved to
be a fairly run of the mill city where you had to continually watch that you
were not being conned.  Here we went to
visit two show caves; Ludi Yan (
Reed
Flute
Cave)
and Qi Xing Yan (

Seven
Star
Cave
).  Both of the caves were badly lit by multi-
coloured fluorescent lights which flashed on and off, not exactly natural
lighting effects!  We also had to pay a
foreign tourist price for entry to the cave which was 5 times what the local
people had to pay.  The caves themselves
were fairly large with lots of formations and well worth a visit although the
hazards of tourists distracted from our enjoyment.

Whilst visiting these caves we stumbled across another cave
entrance so went in for a look much to the bemusement of the locals.  The cave wasn’t very 1ong and we soon arrived
at the sump pool to find a great many bats and to my horror … spiders!  On sight of these I exited the cave very
quickly without looking back, much to Nick’s amusement.

After
Guilin we had the
pleasure of an 18 hour train journey sitting on the floor before reaching

Guiyang
where the
International Caving Conference was being held. However, we arrived too late and the people had (10 of them) gone caving
to Anshun.  We decided this was a good
idea and got on a bus going to Anshun ourselves.

Anshun proved to be a delightful place to visit, off the
well beaten tourist route so it was much less affected by tourism.  In the five days that we were there we saw no
other western tourists much to our relief. The town itself is a fair size and is the original home of the Batik
factory and many items were available for sale. We found several interesting eating places on the streets and had a
marvellous meal with beer for 35p each. In all, Anshun proved an ideal location for cavers. The transport was
good as there were many local Chinese buses visiting the tourist caves in the
area which were in close proximity to the caves that we were intending to
visit.

The first problem we encountered was that once on a bus how
could you tell where it was going?  On
two occasions we had got on a bus intending to go to one place and arrived
somewhere completely different.  This
proved to be a lucky mistake as it introduced us to areas that, we didn’t know
existed which were well worth a visit. We visited the Huangguoshu Waterfall (the largest in
Asia
at 68m high and 84m wide) which was very impressive especially as it was the
wet season, and Star falls, a beautiful and quite tiring walk by the river in
out of caves and over Waterfalls.  Then we
went in search of some caves.  The first
one we visited was

Longgong
Cave
(Dragon’s
Palace).  This was one of the major
scenic spots in the province and consisted of magnificent karst river caves and
waterfalls.  The tourist trip takes you
through the cave by boat and brightly coloured lights marked the way.  The cave system is 15km in length, but as it
appeared to be a swim the whole way, we took the boat instead.  At the upstream entrance it was, possible to
pass through the scenic

cave of
Hxue Dong
and up a
huge cascade to the end of the tourist trail.

At this point we wandered off up the hill despite much
protesting noises of a local trader, but we pointed ignorantly to our cameras
as we were only going to take a photograph. Walking quickly away we found the path and wandered through corn fields
and banana trees to reach several huge cave entrances.  The roar of the water could be heard so we
knew we were in the right place.  The
most impressive entrance led to a sump pool with fast flowing water so we took
the dry entrance into Yemma Dong.  On
arrival here I had to become accustomed to the thousands of bats which were
redsiding in the cave.  Having never
caved outside of the

UK

before this was quite an experience.

Yemma Dong itself consists of high level walking and
scrambling passages with a very active and roaring streamway in its lower
levels.  We knew that it was possible to
do a short 1km through trip in the cave so we set off keeping as far away from
the river as we could.  We scrambled over
boulders and up ancient gour formations and located the exit.   Having found this we made our way to the
river clambering over the debris.  It was
quite an impressive sight as the power of the water coming from a blue sump
pool was, incredible and it had splendid gour slopes coming down to it.  The stench of the bats meant that a brief
look was plenty and we headed off out of the cave.

The following day was to be our last in Anshun and we had
planned to visit the lesser know tourist caves (well it wasn’t in

China
‘s
Lonely Planet Guide) Zhijin Dong.  The
only way to get there was to travel by bus for three hours through extensive
karst scenery and  hundreds of massive
cave entrances:.  Throughout the journey
we were both itching to get out of the bus in order to investigate some of
these giant holes, but unfortunately it was impossible to leave the bus.  The journey was, however, most enjoyable and
did give us another insight into Chinese life.

Zhijin cave itself was said to be one of the biggest and
most peculiarly shaped caves discovered in

China
at present.  It extends for about 10 km, the broadest part
being 173m reaching a height of 150m. The tourist trip took 2 hours and involved walking up and down hundreds
of steps carved into the calcite formations.  It made a nice change to have the cave
illuminated by white, not the not the normal fluorescent lights.  The cave was massive, comprising a phreatic
shaped passage which had only a few side tributaries leading from it.  The formations were also good in the
cave.  There were huge columns, massive
stal. and even some helictites.  In fact
the cave is said to have over 40 types of karst precipitation forms.  The trip around Zhijin cave was well worth
the visit and the area itself holds great potential for further cave
exploration in the future.

Finally we visited the city of
Kunming
in the south west of

China

and the famous stone forest.  Kunmimg was
like any other cities, full of money changers, bicycles for rent and tourist
temples.  However, it is the only place
in
China where you can get
cheese because the Chinese do not eat dairy products, but in

Yunnan
province they do produce goat’s
cheese as a delicacy. The

Bamboo
Temple
was the most
impressive temple that we visited that day, despite the fact it had no
connection with bamboo whatsoever!  It
had a display of hundreds of clay sculptured Buddhas surfing a great wave on
various animals.

The stone forest was an amazing display of karst
scenery.  Huge blocks of limestone all in
different shapes rising from the ground, but it has suffered from being a major
tourist attraction.  We made the effort
to leave the main forest area and walk into the more distant stone forest.  This allowed more interesting exploration
away from the thousands of tourists who arrive in bus loads every day.  There was also an amazing thunderstorm that
lit up the entire area spectacularly. Edible specialities included the steamed

Yunnan
duck, cooked in a clay oven over a
bed of pine needles.  It was a bit bony,
but for £1 for an entire duck we were not complaining.

 

This ended our tour of

China
.  We flew back to Canton ( a choice between 3
hours in a plane or 3 days on the train) and left on the ferry via Macao for
some rest and relaxation, eventually arriving in Hing Kong to await the flight
home.

In summary,

China

was a wonderful experience that I thoroughly enjoyed.  The main problem with travelling in the
country is that doing absolutely anything is an effort, even buying a
drink.  However, the people more than
compensate for this as they are all very friendly.  As for the scenery and the caves,

China
will be
difficult to beat, especially from a cavers viewpoint.  Karts is everywhere in the southern areas and
is well worth a visit.

I would like to thank Mike Palmer and Sett for their support
in providing a donation towards my expenses from the Ian Dear Memorial
Trust.  I hope that this article will
inspire other BEC members to go travelling and caving in

China
.  If anyone would like any more information
please feel free to contact me at the BEC.

Rachel (Bob) Gregory

 

Caving in
Aruba

During a recent business trip to the Caribbean I spent a few
days in
Aruba and managed to visit three of
the major caves and get some diving in as well.

Aruba is the second largest
of the three ABC islands.  (Aruba,
Bonaire and Curacao) in the Netherlands Antilles, just off the northern coast
of

Venezuela
.  All the caves are in low lying limestone
close to the sea.

Caving:


Huliba
Cave
:
This is also known as the tunnel of Love and is a 200 metre through trip.  Lads at the entrance hire out helmets and
lamps but do not give guided tours as the cave has no other lighting.  The cave is a series of medium sized chambers
with a steep boulder slope out of the lower entrance which is surrounded by
large cactus plants.


Guadirikiri
Cave
:
This is an incredibly hot and humid cave being only a few metres below the hot
desert above.  A series of chambers with
two daylight shafts and lots of bats.


Fontein
Cave
:
The cave has some old Arawak Indian drawings at the entrance and one had a gate
to protect them.  The cave is different
to the other two as it has lots of old stal. columns in the entrance
chambers.  These lead to a low wide crawl
between stal. columns to a final chamber where I saw lots of bats and a white
hermit crab.  An interesting cave but
like the others tiring, because of the heat.

Diving:

Antillia – A
German freighter.  This wreck off of the
North West end of Aruba is not only the largest wreck in the Netherlands
Antilles but in all of the
Caribbean.  It was a U-boat supply ship.  When the

Netherlands
entered the war the
Dutch seized the ship.  However before
they could board the ship the Captain blew it up.  The officers were sent to the prison on
Curacao for the duration of the war.  At the end of the war, using their savings
sent from

Germany
,
they bought the prison and turned it into a hotel and became millionaires!

The wreck is in good condition and the main deck and some
holds can be entered.  There are loads of
fish and some big Groupers.  The top mast
is just out if the water and the bottom is at about 17 metres.

Martin Grass

 

GPS + Surveying in the future

Blitz

GPS or Global Positioning Systems use a hand held receiver
to talk to an interlocking network of 24 dedicated satellites.  By a lot of magic and by computing time
delays to and from four satellites the receiver’s position, in latitude,
longitude and height on earth can be calculated.  The military have been using GPS for many
years now and will admit to achieving positional accuracies in the order of
about a metre.  Their satellite signals
are however specially scrambled and the best that the public can have access to
is about three metres.  In recent years
these have become in frequent use with the sailing fraternity.  Their use there for position fixing is
obvious but they are very expensive.

The receivers work in the GHz frequency range so will be of
no use underground and until a few days ago I was not sure that anyone has
seriously considered their caving use for accurately position fixing
entrances.  (I may be very wrong on this
as I have a nagging memory of recent use on an expedition that says Irian Jaya?

China
?

Russia
?)  This would be of particular use in areas
lacking adequate map cover.  I was
therefore very interested to read on the Cavers Computer Internet Forum that
GPS had been successfully used in November 1992 in the Colorado Bend State Park
(CBSP) research project.

The

Texas
Parks
and Wildlife
Department (TPWD) is buying GPS equipment for one of their survey teams and Bob
Burnett of TPWD, who is a long-time caver, was invited to attend a GPS
seminar.  While there, A&M told him
they would be willing to loan the equipment for research purposes.  Apparently the equipment is so automated
that, without any need to understand how the equipment works, you can learn to
use it in about ten minutes.  In one
weekend coordinates were obtained for 27 cave entrances.  The electronics company, A&M, is working
on new algorithms to enable the data to be corrected to within an absolute
position of one foot.  Even more mind
boggling is the fact that there are designs in the works that will increase
this accuracy to within one centimetre or even less.

As it is possible to buy USGS digitised topographical maps
on computer disc these maps can be transferred to a computer-aided design
system and GPS cave locations and underground cave survey data can also be
plotted on the map with a very high degree of accuracy.  This will then save hours of photocopier
reduction by trial and error and evenings of retracing.

It was with this in mind that I was interested to read on
the Internet Forum that a company in the States called Damark is listing the
Sony Pyxis for US$599.99.  This is a
handheld GPS unit that runs on AA batteries. Unfortunately accuracy is traded off against price and is only 30 meters
although the unit can store 100 entrance stations.

A

UK

company, Trimble, market a GPS called Flightnav at £550.  This apparently has extra functions to do
with flight navigation, but is cheaper then the basic model.

But before you ask ……. No, we can not afford one:

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

Forget your notepad and pencil because….


Automatic
Cave
Surveying is Here!

Another little gem from the Internet Cavers Forum concerns a
“Laser Rangefinder”  This would
appear to be the cavers long dreamed of complete digital cave survey
instrument.  The device is a laser
rangefinder which can measure distances up to 2500 feet or 750 metres (some
passage length!).  It doesn’t even need a
special reflector but works using rocks, poles or trees as targets.  At the maximum distance it has an accuracy of
plus or minus 15 inches or about 0.4 metres. Unfortunately the accuracy at shorter distances wasn’t given.

The digital bearing display reads between 0 degrees and
359.9 degrees with an accuracy of plus or minus 0.5 degrees and the vertical
range is also given.  It can be connected
to a computer to download the data.  It
runs from a 4 hour battery pack.

Sounds too good to be true? Well hang on to your note pads and pencils for a few more cave surveys
as it costs US$8300!  The alternative, if
you’re still looking for something to do with the small change, is either a
digital clinometer at only US$99.95 or a digital geological compass for
US$2290.

But to repeat myself – No, we can’t afford one!

And to the future…. Will we see a motorised self levelling
and self recording instrument that will rotate through 360 degrees creating a
detailed slice survey of the cave.  We
would still have to move the instrument through the cave station by station but
at the end of the trip instantly download the data in a computer and use this
to produce a near perfect 3D model of the cave.

This would then put us into the realms of Virtual Reality
Caving: Just think about it.  All the
pleasure with none of the pain, none of the wet, none of the mud or none of the
cold with a simulated walk and crawl through the cave.  It would never catch on would it?  Will it be possible to buy Virtual Reality
Survey discs from Bat Products.  Will
Wigmore become a best seller?  Will the
novices still be knackered on the twenty? Will I still get lost in Cuthbert’s?

 

The Waist of Thyme – White Pit

Since the breakthroughs at the bottom of the 1st Pot on 4th
and 30th November last year no further digging had been carried out in the low,
wet and muddy crawl leading on down-dip below the entrance shaft and some 10ft before
the top of the 1st Pot.  During January
and February this year the writer concentrated on building a cement and stone
wall in the cave to hold back talus slope below the entrance pitch.  Once this job was completed the way on was
clear to restart the dig in the hope that it would either connect with the top
of Prophesy Pot or possibly go over it altogether on its way to the
Swildon’s/Wookey missing link!  Evidence
of major development here was indicated by the phreatic roof tube going
straight into a mud wall at the end of the dig. The way on appeared to be in a low tube to the right heading back
towards 1st Pot.

On 10th February work recommenced here and on the second
visit, with Chris Castle and Andy Dennis, a breakthrough was made directly
ahead into some 10ft of mud and rock floored crawl with a clean washed phreatic
ceiling and a slight draught.

Trev Hughes, Rich Blake, Vince Simmonds, Ivan Sandford,
Estelle Sandford, Brian Murlis and Chris Tozer assisted over the course of the
next four trips and a vast amount of rocks, boulders and clay was excavated and
hauled to the surface.  The dig was now
some 25ft long, including a small chamber with a decorated 15ft long
inlet.  A way on could be seen continuing
down-dip but blasting was necessary to gain access.

Four trips later, with the help of Brian Hansford and a
passing car thief, we were ready for the next breakthrough.  On 21st February a large calcite boulder was
blasted and Vince squeezed through into a 10ft diameter phreatic chamber with a
spectacular display of white and yellow flowstone, straws and stalactites
adorning the far wall equal to anything in Talus IV, the “upper
series” of the cave.

To avoid despoiling the chamber work now started on
trenching out all of the dig and excavating a choked bedding plane to one
side.  Several hundred skip loads of
spoil were sent on their way to daylight and the passage became some 3ft square
and heading steadily down-dip with windows on the right hand side into the
grotto.  At a point some 50ft in we decided
to dig both to the left, across the debris filled bedding plane and to the
right towards and under the end of the grotto. An open and draughting hole was found partly blocked by boulders of
limestone and solid calcite.

A couple of sessions here revealed a dodgy looking hole
through a partly calcited boulder choke directly below the flowstone cascade
above.  Tim Large squeezed through into a
solid and roomy section of passage with a view into more cave beyond.  This was entered after another half hours
work and followed down-dip in a 6ft high, clean washed and scalloped bore tube
for some 60ft.  Halfway along a 12ft pot
dropped into a 15ft long pool and at the end a mud choke blocked the way on.  The total extension was some 100ft.

The pool has since been checked with diving gear by Vince
but there was no outlet.  Trev Hughes
created an outlet by digging UP into it from the rift leading to Prophesy Pot
in the lower series!  He picked a day
when the pool was 5ft deep and after poking a crowbar into the roof of the rift
he got the lot on his head!  Trev was
damp but his enthusiasm wasn’t and he was delighted to have proved his survey
correct.

Meanwhile, above, the continuation of the phreatic tube was
dug through sticky clay and sand.  The
passage cleared was some 2ft diameter with a couple of small holes on the right
hand side giving a view into a clean washed but very small parallel bedding
passage.

On 8th April, Andy Dennis, Andy Legg and Alex Gee opened up
a small airspace some 20ft into the dig, but despite being able to see into a
small decorated “chamber” they ran out of time and it was up to the
writer and Andy Legg to push this dig on the following day.  An hour or so of awkward digging revealed the
underside of a flowstone floor which was broken up to allow access into a 4ft
diameter chamber with some 10ft of phreatic rift passage heading up-dip.  This choked and the way on was a tiny
airspace in the down-dip direction.

Work has stopped here temporarily until Trevor opens up the
pitch between the lower and upper passages. Spoil can then be dumped down into the loose ruckle below Masters’ Hall
and we can press on into the system which undoubtedly exists beyond the Waist
of Thyme.  Trevor’s pitch will also
provide an easy way to the bottom of the cave.

The rest of the digging team were Andy Sparrow, Pete Hellie,
Andy Sanders, Martin Ellis, Alison?, Matt Tuck, John Riley, Alison and Grant
from Oz, Greg Villers and mates, “Trailer”, Estelle’s brother and
Phil Romford.  The passage was named from
the initial response of those who thought the dig would not go.

Tony Jarratt  May 1993

 

St Cuthbert’s Plantation Dig

Just to let members know I’m still having a go at this
site.  As a lot realise the dig is in
large phreatic tubing which unfortunately after removing lots of spoil is now
in a somewhat nasty pool.  However, after
a little persuasion, this has dropped in level a bit.  It’s very tight but I can hear a small stream
on the other side of a stal barrier.  I
don’t think we’re looking at anything major but if anyone wants to have a look
or help (I go down on Wednesday nights) please give me a call.

Dudley Herbert

Elphin Epics

This year’s gathering of the clans of Mendip (and
Devon) was surprisingly sober mainly because we couldn’t
get off the hills in time for a decent drink. Snatched pints of 80/- preceded late meals.  However this lapse in conspicuous alcohol
consumption was of course due to our discovery of new cave which is what it is
all about.  The divers thought they were
going to score heavily but failed to deliver the goods although had a good time
and some exciting moments in the process. The diggers muddy plodding really paid off.  Though although they had their moments,
inquire of Tony Boycott whether you can borrow his compass and clino – from the
far side of a crowded Hunter’s.

Richard Blake (Gobshite), Malcolm Stewart and myself arrived
on Mayday but the others having arrived a day earlier were already hard at it
caving digging and GSG hut building.  The
following day the diggers headed towards Lower Traligill and two divers headed
towards

Ardmair
Bay
and the lobsters seen the previous
evening by Pete Dowswell.  A long surface
swim across the bay got us to a cliff face in 6 metres of water but no
lobsters.  Peter Glanvill decided to go
deeper and introduce Malcolm to our new staple diet – the scallop.  After a 30 second identification session we
started filling the bag.  The fin back
was cold!

Meanwhile back at Lower Traligill Pete Mulholland
(Speleochef) was trying to gain his laying spurs in

Lower
Traligill
Cave
.  With lowering water levels and reasonable
visibility he spent 25 minutes sorting out a new line in this seemingly awkward
sump which has repelled Pete Dowswells repeated attempts to pass it since he
got through briefly in 1988.  After this
lengthy spell communing with the trout all seemed clear for the big push that
afternoon and having warmed up from our sea dive Malcolm and I made our
grovelly way into the cave late the same day. Pete dived first again advising us to wait ten minutes before
following.  After a suitable pause I
followed a beautifully and tightly laid line down to a junction and off
horizontally upstream.  Suddenly the vis.
dropped and I found the line slackly looping all over a variably wide bedding
which surfaced at last in a tiny oozy air bell!

Peter was still fully kitted much to my surprise but it
turned out he had such an epic with the line that he had only just
arrived.  We looked around – didn’t take
long – and found we were in an air bell with a low tube exit emitting the roar
of a stream.  A de-kit proved it
impassable.  We then sat shivered and
waited for Malcolm.  After 30 minutes of
developing hypothermia we left having had to belay the line to a rather dubious
boulder.  Back at base we discovered our
belay prevented Malcom for getting through! A retreat and regroup was called for and the air bell was dubbed Scotch
Mist Airbell mainly because we had expected to surface in somewhat larger
passage.  Over a pint of 80/- Pete
Dowswell’s reputation as an accurate recorder of information was severely
abused!  We then returned to the hut and
a fine meal of scallops.

Meanwhile the diggers were hard at it between the rising and
Lower Traligill digging out an insignificant hole named

Disappointment
Cave

had been known for years to issue tantalising sounds of running water.   The Mendip nostalgics were happy ‘Death by
Chocolate’ was tight sh*tty and dire but it was a goer!  Julian Walford meanwhile was inspecting Uamb
Ard (the sink 900 feet above the Fuaram rising) and hoped to persuade some
idiots to pump the sump or worse.

After the usual trip to Lochinver by the route – airfill,
listen to Jim Crooks yarning, stock up with pies from the delicatessen –
Malcolm Pete and Pete went to dive in a small rocky cove at one end of

Clashnessie
Bay
. They spent 40 minutes being whirled around kelp fronds the size of small
palm trees.  Peter Glanvill went verdant
with envy when he discovered that Pete Mulholland had photographed a creature
that sounds like a Belfry game (the lumpsucker).  This is a very ‘kit friendly’ site in that
one can walk out of the cove over the road and dive immediately into a fresh
water lock for instant rinsing.  The loch
life was non existent – acid rain?

Gluttons for punishment, we returned to the hut, picked up
bottles (and kit except for the more sensible Glanvill) and walked up to the
Claonite shakehole.  We then walked over
to Anus where Pete Glanvill wanted to take piccies.  This photo session was a dreary flop (as were
all subterraneous photo shoots this year) so we soon left for the Inch and more
80/-. The diggers were full of it Death by Chocolate had gone to 100 metres of
roaring streamway with up and down stream sumps.  They were now haying a go at Tree Hole.  Unfortunately for the divers Death by
Chocolate could only be negotiated by flat chested dwarves (and certain
Belfryites).

The dry weather continued and after the Lochinver run, a
small team of diggers and divers went and did a very dry Claonite.  This was the day sump 6 was going to go – or
so we thought.  Goon had been in on
Mayday and with Mike O’Driscoll a wandering Oz cave diver providing support had
carried a gigantic line reel in and dumped it by a son of slot in the roof.  We all had forgotten the dreadful carry
between sumps 3 and 6.  This took an hour
with 6 bottles and kit before Pete could be pushed into an almost static sump
6.

He emerged a few minutes later to announce that a) goon
specialised in Schwarzenegger sized line reels and b) the hole Goon thought we
could pass was an eye level underwater squeeze through a letter box.  With the deathless line “You have a
go” he handed me Malcolm’s reel and off I went.  I decided to look at the bedding I had
followed last year which happened to contain the old washed in line.  This was a mistake: after squeezing up an
ascending ever tightening underwater crawl with lowering visibility I chickened
out and had to reverse out onto a slackly belayed main line which wrapped
itself around my bottles.  I emerged
cheesed off and chastened.

Apart from the diving sump 6 fiasco the photography did not
go too well either and culminated in my doing wiring changes with Swiss army
knife to get some kind of working flashgun. Meanwhile Malcom had very sensibly gone off exploring and found more
than either Pete or I had done.  The
trouble was we did not know which bits were new or where they were in relation
to any other known bits.  This area is
down for an above water blitz with digging tools next time.

A look at the watch then confirmed the inescapable truth -:
the sherpas would have left the cave. The carry out was as vile as we expected and then there was the carry
out from the near side of Sump 3.  An
hour’s struggle saw 3 divers 6 bottles and kit back at the entrance.  Then it was roaming in the gloaming with a
bottle by your side as we trudged down the hill at 10 30 pm.  We just made it to the Allt for closing time.

The next day dawned sunny with wisps of vapour slowly rising
from the hilltops.  A migration to the
hills took place.  Pete and Gobshite
walked to the Coluinn waterfall and others footled off somewhere else.  Malcolm and I did CuI Mhor.  After an hour we were down to T shins in the
blazing sun.  Wraiths of orographic cloud
drifted across the summit ridge as we rambled to the end and a glorious view
across to Stac Pollaidh and Suilven.  We
munched apple cake the silence only broken by the distant call of a cuckoo and
the unrelenting buzz of a chainsaw half a mile below on the shores of a loch.

At the third summit we lay down and drowsed in the afternoon
heat among the tufts of dwarf spruce. Sheer heaven and nobody else in sight except a lone and eccentric walker
making his own route up the hill.  A
leisurely stroll down the hill and we were back at base.  Time for phase 2 of the day – hut
building.  The new GSG hut is now
liveable although the shower and bunk block needs completing.  We spent a happy hour or so painting on fire
retardant paint while waiting for Pete Dowswell to come out and dive.  We picked the site on the Drumbeg road where
the salmon cages had been moved.  This
site, apart from the carry down the bank, is splendid at high water.  You can swim straight off the rocks without
struggling with seaweed.  We surface
finned along the shore for a while before finally submerging and landing almost
immediately on a dogfish.  I was able to
introduce Malcolm to the brilliantly coloured feather stars which abound here
while we grabbed as many scallops as we could spot.  Meanwhile Pete who in true Grampian style was
diving with no ablj or contents gauge on his bottle had managed to lay his
hands on more scallops and an edible crab.

A good meal was had by several of us that evening.

The next day was a Traligill day (we had to try and erase
the memory of that Claonite trip).  Pete
Mulholland decided to attack down stream Lower Traligill while Malcolm wanted
to dig at Waterfall rising and dive Main Rising.  Waterfall proved to be discouraging in that
the silt excavated last year had mostly washed in again so the site needs a
concentrated burst of effort for real results. We then walked up to main rising in which Malcolm had dived solo into
new cave about 3 years earlier.  The
crawl, fully kitted, up the bedding to the sump is low snagging and
unpleasant.  The line was tied on and
Malcolm squeezed into the low sloping gravel floored bedding which is the start
of the sump.  Several ‘bloops’ later he
emerged to say it was tighter than he remembered and would I like to try.  More underwater moling by myself and my legs
and lower half were through.  Taking the
reel I slid into a decidedly murky sump. After scrupulously belaying the line to a large cobble to enable me to
renegotiate the squeeze I set off upstream. After I had collided with a soft
murk producing mud bank I lost all enthusiasm for the sump and just as things
started to improve my undone belt dumped my battery onto the sandy bottom.  Dumping the reel and clutching everything
else I torpedoed back to base emerging sans battery and nearly minus a
bottle.  The crawl to get to the sump had
clearly been mischievously undoing belts on the way.

Time for retreat and regroup.  With a battery and line reel in the
sump.  I had to go back.  More apple cake and a canter to keep warm
were called for so we went off to see how the others were getting on.  Tav who we met at
Lower
Traligill
solved the mystery of the gloomy vis – the diggers had
been surveying Disappointment, that is, until the compass and clino threw
themselves into the streamway when Tav was looking the other way.  That was the end of the Grade V survey.  J Rat was stufffing Pete Mulholland into
lower Traligill as we turned round and headed back for Main Rising.

Slightly warmer and with a full bladder to empty at the
appropriate moment I headed back to the sump.  A short dive got the battery back and then it
was action stations.  The now pleasantly
clear sump now fulfilled Malcolm’s earlier description of being a descent to a
roomy ascending tunnel and a minute after picking up the reel I was breaking
through the turbulent surface of the streamway. A quick de-kit and off the to boulders which were the previous
limit.  After crawling round these I
could stand up: unfortunately in a boulder chamber where suspended death
abounded.  Ducking out of the other side
I followed the passage for a short distance to the inevitable next sump.

Feeling well pleased now I made an uneventful journey
out.  I could tell Malcolm was keen to
get his own back on the sump which he did the next day by passing it,
transporting all his kit to the far end and diving the next sump for 15
metres.  Hopefully this will link with
that in downstream

Disappointment
Cave
with the prospect of
a further dive linking that to Tree Hole creating a sort of Traligill
Traverse.  The final dive exchange will
be a thin man job though so be warned.

What of everybody else? Well Jake and Estelle had found a new dig up valley and Tony Boycott and
Julian Walford were busy either finishing off Uamh Ard or starting the new dig
at Damoclean dig which lies between Anus Cave and Claonite and which Tony
describes as looking like an Eastwater entrance.  More drinking in the Inch followed by what I
think was a musical evening when Nike Williams ‘Mr. Gadget’ linked his CD
player to 2 FX5’s and gave us doses of the Battlefield Band.  It was about this stage in the week when with
declining food stores we would give Speloechef the chance to range free over
everybody’s food boxes and cook some indescribable gastronomic delights.  Pete is booked for next year!

The next day saw Pete Mulholland doing some complicated
things with manifolds and bottles to avoid going to Lochinver for air.  The diggers departed for Damoclean Dig – I
think some went to look at Smoo and after a scenic wander around

Lochinver
Harbour
the Traligill diving team
assembled at Glenbain cottage.  The two
Petes went off to Lower Traligillieaving Malcolm to Main Rising.

Due to some major damming and excavating by Pete the day
before the water level in
Lower Traligill had
dropped.  Pete pushed me into the sump first.  I felt happier carrying a 50 which proved to
be major overkill.  In crystal clear
water the first part of the sump with Pete’s beautifully laid 1in was a doddle.  Beyond here it was clear what needed to be
done.  The main route is on the right of
sump going in and the line could be pulled down and ‘hand railed’ under chert
ledges on the floor.  At Scotch Mist a
new line was belayed to Pete Dowswells old one and shortly after I emerged into
a vast thrust plane passage sloping upwards at 30 degrees into the
darkness.  The stream thundered along the
base of the rift.  Pete soon arrived but
found his lights rapidly failing so after running the belayed line to a high
level we rapidly explored beyond the Dowswell limit and decided to call the
whole section we had entered ‘For Pete’s Sake’ to record the fact that it had
taken 4 years to get in here and that so far only people named Pete had been
there.  Ascending the bedding for 20
metres or so led to a cobbled crawl.  At
the far end the passage became a slight descending trench.  To the left at the top of the thrust plane
were some low bedding plane grottoes filled with straw pillars and
helictites.  The descending trench
dwindled to a squeeze along the plane.  I
left at this point and found Pete in the dark. When we had both got to the far side of the sump I discovered his only
light had virtually packed up in the sump. Now we know why cave divers have supposedly redundant systems!

We had one more day to go. The return to Claonite was postponed for a final exploratory push on
Lower Traligill especially as Mike O’Driscoll, a likely
looking thin man had appeared.  While
Pete Mulholland headed for Lochinver, Malcolm, Mike and Pete G. headed up
towards the

Bone
Caves
for the bottles dumped from our
Claonite epic earlier in the week. Bottles retrieved we headed for Traligill.  The white horse no longer galloped up to meet
us cavers were no yielding touch for food as he had learnt over the last
week.  The familiar shuffle into
Lower Traligill, following the red paint flakes from
Pete’s bottles led us back to the sump. Soon I was back doing some trout worrying and retrieving Peter Dowswells
original diving line plus belaying our two new lines together.  After a long wait Mike appeared shivering
violently – thin Oz cave divers get cold easily in Scottish sumps- and we set
off to explore the unknown.  Mike soon
passed the previous limit but the new bit -‘for the love of Mike’ got too tight
after twenty metres or so.  As Mike had
vanished from sight on the other side of an impassable squeeze with no helmet
and only one light I was glad to see him return.  He had reached a point where the bedding
width had diminished to something no wider than my dive torch.

Back at stream level we pushed upstream for about 30 metres
and although the stream could be seen and heard pounding down the passage ahead
there was no let up in the flat out crawling. At stream level the place is very claustrophobic and should only be
attempted again in settled weather and low water conditions.  At present prospects look poor for further
extensions and it may be better to concentrate on diving the downstream water
slide sump, – armed with a lump hammer. It all seemed a poor reward for the man hours put into re-passing the
sump which is however the best tourist dive in the valley found so far.

And that really is it. Lots of leads left to follow up and promising digs to continue.  A week is almost too short.  Maybe we will see you there next year.

Peter Glamill
18/05/93

 

Recent Discoveries At Uamha A’ Bhrisdeadh-Duile And Tree Hole.

Uamha a’ Bhrisdeadh-Duile was an 11m long, dry cave situated
in a small cliff at the side of the generally dry Traligill River between the
Rising and Tree Hole.  It was discovered
in October 1975 by D. Storey and other members or Aberdeen University Potholing
and Climbing Club who dug into a small chamber and impassable inclined bedding
plane, with the sound of the underground River Traligill echoing temptingly
somewhere ahead.  It may at one time have
been a resurgence and probably still becomes active in flood conditions.  It was first visited by the writer in August
1978 and again in April 1991, having to be re-dug both times to gain access.  It was one of the projects for this year’s
invasion of Assynt by the Grampian Mendip Section (BEC, DSS. UBSS, etc.) to
drill and blast along this bedding plane during the course of the week on the
off chance of reaching the stream and filling in a bit more of the Traligill
Basin System survey.

On May 1st Julian Walford, Tony Boycott and the writer fired
the first charge of what seemed to be a hopeless task.  On clearing the debris the upward section of
the passage was examined more closely than previously and it was thought to be
worth an attempt at squeezing up.  Being
the skinniest, the writer managed to get through the squeeze after 4m to reach
a tighter, horizontal squeeze of 3m into a small chamber with a tiny inlet and
pile of collapsed boulders above the impassable bedding plane below.

The following day Rich Blake and Robin Taviner also passed
the squeezes but Tony B. failed at the first fence.  Pete Mulholland later got through the upward
section but was defeated by the horizontal squeeze.  It was named 40″ Squeeze that being the
maximum chest size to get through.  Digging
now commenced behind the boulder pile in a continuation of the bedding
completely full of peaty mud with the colour and consistency (but luckily not
the smell!) of baby shit as Tav assured us. After four hours of hard work we had gained 3m and had enough.  The sound of the stream increased as we
progressed and we estimated that another half hours work would see us in.  Exhaustion, cold and cramp drove us to the
Inch.

On May 3rd enthusiasm was low but three pints of Murphy’s in
Lochinver worked wonders and we were soon back at “Death by
Chocolate” with a plastic skip. Exactly half an hour later Rich, digging upside-down in the rift and
looking like the contents of King Kong’s nappy, plopped through into open cave
in an outburst of obscenities.  A bit
more digging along the bedding was necessary before the three filthy but
jubilant explorers clambered down to the open streamway below.  We had reached the underground

Traligill
River
where it sumped after flowing
along the bottom of a 10m high inclined thrust plane – the continuation of the
entrance bedding.

Following a desperately needed wash we headed off upstream,
generally having to squeeze through at mid level and after some 50m reached a
decidedly dodgy boulder choke.  Halfway
along the thrust plane the river had emerged from a sump pool but could be
heard again beyond the choke.  At floor
level a way through was noted and the writer gingerly crept through into a low
crawl in the river for some 3m to a section of 2m high streamway ending in a
duck and upstream sump after 10m.  The
noisily cascading river and loose boulders rolling underfoot made this an
impressive spot and certainly not the place to be in flood conditions.  Highly pleased with ourselves we squirmed
back out through an avalanche of slimy mud and headed for Tree Hole to bang the
end choke found in April 1991.

Water conditions being low we reached the end easily and
whilst Rich went back for the bang (from an overlarge Tony Boycott!) the writer
took a second look at the horrendous choke and spotted a possible way through
between a couple of nasty looking “Henrys”.  A very tight 0.5m squeeze led up into open,
loose thrust plane typical of the rest of the cave.  Rich reappeared with the bang and also
squeezed into the new stuff.  Comments to
the effect that “the twat who said it needed banging wants his head
read” were received icily by the writer who was the twat in question!  At Tav’s suggestion the extension is now
“Twat’s

Temple
“.  From the squeeze a descent over boulders led
to a downstream sump pool, some 20m of streamway and a large mudbank-lined
upstream sump.  A higher level oxbow
passage was also explored.  Total length
is about 35m.  The extension was not
surveyed or visited again during the week but a foray was made to the 1991
extension where Rich hammered and chiselled his way upwards through the 2m
waterfall to gain a view into 1.5m of impassably low streamway and an
undiveable inlet sump.  His
disappointment and fury was only equalled by the pain of the gash in his leg
caused by a rock dropping on him not a unique experience for the dear lad!  It was noted on returning through the flat
out squeeze in the stream that a considerable amount of water sank to one side
possibly accounting for the waterfall which may not after all be a separate
“main river”.

On 6th May the three “thin men” returned to Uamha
a’ Bhrisdeadh-Duile with intentions of carrying out a grade 5 survey but on the
fifth leg Tav earned the undying gratitude of Tony B. by dropping his Suunto
compass and clino. into the sink below the choke.  This was an expensive error but the cause of
the naming of this bit “The Compass Sucker”!  The tape measure survived so we were able to
get a reasonably accurate length of 119m for the cave, 108m of which was new
stuff.

These two extensions have filled in a lot of the gap in the
lower part of the system.  Short dives
should link Traliglll Rising through to Tree Hole.  With the diver’s extensions to Lower
Traligill Rising providing a way upstream the missing link in this part of the
valley may be gained via Lower Traligill Flood Sink.  An accurate surface/underground survey of the
valley is now needed, as are thin cave divers and dry, settled weather.

Tony Jarratt

References:

Uamha a’ Bhrisdeadh-Duile

Storey, D. (1976) G.S.G. Bull.
2nd Series 1 (4), p.15.

Lawson, T.J. (1988) Caves of
Assynt. G.S.G. Occ. Pub. No. 6 p.31.

Tree Hole

Ford, T.D. (1959) C.R.G. Trans.
5(2) p.139.

Jeffreys, A.L. (1972) G.S.G. Bull
5(1) p.24.

Jarratt, T. (1991) G.S.G. Bull.
2(1) p.12

 

 

What grade of caver are you???

I thought it would be interesting to list what the various
coloured bezels denote on an
Oldham cap
lamp.  These NCB codes are strictly
adhered to, both above and below ground.

WHITE.  Trainee not
allowed to go unsupervised underground.

YELLOW.  Completed
training but not allowed within 20 metres of a working coal face.

RED.  Completed basic
coal face training but has to work a period of time before he is considered
finally coal face trained.

BLUE.  Craftsman,
allowed anywhere.

GREEN.  Persons
driving roadways but not allowed at a coal face

BLACK.   Allowed at
coal face or driving roads.  Completed
full coal face training and roadway training.

Martin Grass

 

Climbing For The Over Forties 

By Dave Yeandle

1971: A rainy day at Stannage.  I lead up the route with difficulty.  I get in four runners, I’ve no confidence in
any of them.  Sixty foot up and almost
there.  I lunge for the top hold, miss
and fall off.  Three runners come out and
I’m certain I’m going to hit the ground. To my immense relief and surprise the last runner holds and I find
myself one foot off the ground being held by Mart who is shouting something
about my total incompetence and why I shouldn’t be allowed near a crag.  He lowers me to the ground.  I untie the bowline around my waist, and rant
about how there is no way I’m going back for the one remaining runner.  At this point it falls out anyway and we both
get enveloped in coils of rope.

This sort of thing has been happening a lot.  I decide on the spot to give up
climbing.  And I do.

1992: Another rainy day at Stannage.  Steve and I have been invited by Rachael on a
weekend of caving, climbing and partying to celebrate Sue’s twenty first.  I have little intention of caving and no
intention of climbing (after all I gave this up more than twenty years ago!)

I’m trying to think of something to do to get out of
climbing.  A fell run maybe or perhaps a
walk.  I look up at the crag and remember
the last time I was here, so long ago. Perhaps it will be fun to just hang around and watch.

Sue leads up a V diff. Some way up she decides she doesn’t like the look of it.  This seems pretty reasonable to me as by now
it’s raining heavily.  She reverses back
to a ledge.  To the left I notice a
chimney, I’m sure I can climb it easily. “Ahem Sue I wouldn’t mind a go at that route to the left, can I tie
on and lead on through?”  Sue says
O.K.

I tie a bowline around my waist and climb easily up to
Sue.  I don’t have much trouble getting up
the chimney, after all it’s a bit like caving and only some moderate
anyway.  As I pull myself over the top I
look down.  The view is marvellous: rock
below my feet, the moorland below the crag giving way to lovely Dovedale, where
the sun is trying to shine a bit.

I feel ridiculously pleased with myself, getting into it now
I go looking for Ian so he can take me up something harder.  We do a v diff and getting really excited I
decide to go for a severe.  No problem,
some of the lads have rigged a top rope on a severe, Yeandle can have a
go.  Most of the group have finished
climbing now and have been watching each other attempt the top roped
severe.  As I tie on with a bowline people
try to get me to use a harness.  Not
interested in such new fangled nonsense I refuse.  Steve says something about would Sir Edmund
Hillary please hurry up and do the route so we can all get out of the
rain?  So I start, determined to give my
all.  The climb starts as a corner which
I manage with a desperate sort of shuffle using as many points of contact as
possible.  The next bit’s a hand traverse
which I somehow manage with much flaying of legs and uncoordinated
lurches.  Still I don’t fall off.

It’s really raining hard now so it’s decided to go back to
Sues’ via The Foundry  What’s the
Foundry?  An indoor climbing centre.  Whatever next.

Having no real climbing gear I don’t climb at the Foundry,
only watch from the spectator area in the balcony, amazed by the whole
thing.  Climbers swarming all over the
walls, doing very hard looking things. They seem to have no fear of falling off, and do so frequently and I
soon realise in total safety.  It occurs
to me that I could train like this and get to be a better climber than I had
ever imagined I could be.  I start to
dream.

We all get drunk at Sue’s and Steve and I decide to become a
team.  I vow to give up all pleasures of
the flesh and devote myself to leading extreme rock climbs.  Well yes, one can get carried away on
occasions,  Still we do manage a few
routes at Froggot, the next day.  We’re
pathetic though.

The Bristol Indoor Climbing Centre has just opened and I
decide to join.  I quickly get over my
prejudices against chalk, harnesses, sticky boots and things in general
invented since 1972.  I start to use cool
words like “FLASH” and “DYNO”.  I offer accommodation to top visiting sports
climbers from
Sheffield when the British
National Indoor Climbing Championships are held at St. Werbergs.  A really great group of guys and girls.  I’m rewarded by being allowed to escort the
competitors to the toilet during the competition.  No really, somebody has to make sure they
don’t sneak off and watch other climbers on the route.  Inspired I enter a friendly competition at E1
level.  I don’t even come last.

But am I getting any good? No not yet!  A day with
Snablet.  A typical example of an early
Yeandle lead.  Gronk a V.S on the Sea
Walls.  Snablet has been borrowed from
the Hunters.  The first two pitches pass
with only moderate fear, as I manage a modicum of protection.  On the third pitch I wander off route onto a
route called Terror Firma, which is, sadly, E4 and several grades above Yeandle
on a good day.  I realise I’m off route
when I’m twenty foot above Snablet who is belayed to a rusty peg and I’ve
failed utterly to get in any protection. The rock is overhanging a bit and I haven’t a single hold I like.  I realise I am unable to move up or down and
that I’m getting weak.  Does my whole
life flash through my mind at this moment of mortal danger?  No, but I feel a bit like Arthur Dent about
to be thrown out of the Vogon Space Ship through no real fault of his own.  Also I’m sure Snablets’ Mum is going to be
really annoyed with me as he has not been long since his last hospitalisation brought
on when Quiet John fell on him at Split Rock. I announce to Snablet that I’m falling off.  He’s not impressed by this and suggests I
consider another approach to my problem. I desperately look around for a gear placement and manage to get in a
tiny No 2 R.P. before starting to slip. It holds and I manage to climb back down to Snablet with the rope in
tension.

Back on route we make good progress, move flows through to
move in an effortless progression and time, exposure and fear cease to be
barriers!  We reach the hand traverse
over the two hundred foot drop, I’m feeling unstoppable now; and then Snablet
informs me that he won’t put up with any more of this and refuses point blank
to go across the hand traverse and wouldn’t it be a good idea to leave the crag
in one piece via the last pitch of Morpheus (a V Diff) and he isn’t feeling
very well and I’m a nutter anyway!

Steve is more understanding and we slowly tick off Severes,
VS’s and the occasional well chosen  Hard
VS.  The big day arrives when we will
attempt our first Extreme.  The Baldest
at Portishead Quarry. El 5b, 90ft.  This
is delicate balance climbing up twin blind cracks offering not much
protection.  I don’t take much gear,
knowing I won’t get much in.  I climb
confidently to about thirty five foot, wasting time and energy putting in a
runner I don’t trust.  Never mind I can
see what looks like a good placement a little bit higher.  As I move towards this it starts pissing down
with rain!  Very quickly I have no
friction; fortunately I’m in a position to traverse hastily right to an easier
route.  After much gibbering I’m off the
slab, and refusing to do any more climbing that day under any
circumstances.  We now have an argument
as Steve doesn’t want to give in so easily. In the meantime the rain stops and a fresh wind dries the rock.  Plan B emerges!  Yeandle will go straight for the good
placement at about forty foot to conserve energy.  After some consultation we have to admit that
we will not be able to claim an on site flash for this climb as we now have
prior knowledge of the route.  Could we
claim a beta flash though or would we have to be content with a mere redpoint
accent!  Such moral dilemmas!  In any case “the good placement”
turns out to be crap and it’s not until more than half way up the climb that a
bombproof runner is placed.  Happy now
that he won’t hit the ground Yeandle stops complaining about Redwood
“distracting” him and Redwood stops calling Yeandle a Poof.  The rest of the route goes easily.  Steve follows with no drama and all that’s
left for us to do is to sort out the gear and to accuse each other of stealing
each others equipment.

To be continued…..

 

Caving Without A Roof

Babs Williams

Our holiday this year was in the
Ordessa
National Park, which is home to the
highest limestone mountain in
Europe.  Mount Perdido.  We stayed at a small, picturesque mountain
village called Torla, only 4km from the mouth of the

Ordessa
Canyon
.  We camped at a site on the river ArIa which
had excellent facilities, a fantastic view of the mountains and (most
importantly) a bar!

I had known for some time that the area boasted having some
excellent canyons.  I have always wanted
to try canyoning so we drove down to Ainsa (the nearest large town) to check it
out.  Sure enough, a visit to the sports
shop and the trip was arranged for the following Sunday at 10.00am.

The Ordessa equivalent of Andy Sparrow duly arrived at
11.00am.  (Bastard, could have had
another hour in bed!) together with four Spanish lads, up for a day’s
canyoning.  We were kitted out with a
wetsuit. Wetsocks, sit harness, a figure of eight and a rucksack, then it was
off in his “Tin Box on Wheels” (not a Landrover) to a small and
ancient alpine village called Buerba which was full of Norbert Casteret
look-alikes.  We were instructed to wear
just shorts and boots (I wore a swimsuit to show a little decorum unlike me I
know!) and to carry the gear in the rucksacks. After an hour’s gruelling walk in the noonday sun, we arrived at a small
bridge.  Here Fernando, our guide,
produced a bag of prunes and a bag of wine. Interesting fare I thought and then dreaded the consequences that this
would have on Jeff’s notorious bowels! We donned our kit, set off downstream and soon reached the pitch at the
canyon mouth.  The walls of the canyon
were only about eight feet apart and about eighty feet high, so it was very
dark beyond and promisingly “cave-like”.

Fernando had previously rigged the pitch with an 8mm bolt in
which he used 10mm Cousin rope and on which we abseiled down 10m to a small
ledge.  This was where the fun began, as
for the first of many times, we launched ourselves off into the deep, green
water.  Descending the canyon took two
hours and involved sliding down white water chutes, a lot of swimming and 14
kamikase leaps into pools.  It was truly
fab.  The water is crystal clear and
refreshingly cool but not cold at all. The canyon varied from 4 – 30 feet across and much of the time was so
dark that we might have been in the green canal in Dan-yr-Ogof!  When it widened sufficiently for sunlight to
penetrate, it was covered with rich green vegetation and many beautiful alpine
flowers of which “Ramondia” was one and is the name Fernando has
given to his business.

Eventually the canyon widened into a small river and the
trip, sadly, was over.  A killer walk
followed.  Back up the mountain in that
bloody heat, to Buerba and a delicious spread of bread, local sausage and plenty
Vino Tinto (much to the amusement of the locals).

All in all it was an excellent day which I would thoroughly
recommend.  The day was expensive, but
without local knowledge and a good command of Spanish, I doubt that we would
have found the canyon alone.

The rest of our holiday involved walking and climbing
Pyrenean peaks, looking for caves using local maps (not very helpful) and
pissing it up with Dutch people!  The
scenery and waterfalls in this area are stunning.  This was our fourth trip to the
Pyrenees and was certainly the best so far.

Holiday Bible: The
Pyrenees-The
Rough Guide

Paul Jenner & Christine Smith

RAMONDIA SERVICIOS TURISTICOS
22330 AINSA (HUESCA)

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