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Rot - Decay - Twang.

The fact that the Yorkshire accident did not occur for the reasons originally rumoured in no way negates the value of the following article, submitted by Stu Lindsey.

The death of a fellow underground explorer, in pursuit of the fulfilment that voyages into the rocky depths imparts, is never an easy thing to accept, although some may shrug their shoulders and mumble, "It will never happen to me,"  You win a few, you lose a few," etc., etc.  To this end, and prompted by the death of a young girl in the Top Sink series of Easegill, I should like to remind aspiring Belfryites intending to embark on the explorations of the Yorkshire 'pull through' systems to TAKE CARE, and please take note of the following nine hints.

  1. Primary belays should always be backed up by a secondary one.
  2. Never use belay loops (tapes, ropes or cords) that have been left in the cave.  The chances are that the person responsible for leaving it there had deemed it of no further use after his trip.  Remove and take out of the cave these remnants and replace them with your own.
  3. Use two tapes (belay loops (diagram C & D)) on the primary belay point (B).  Make one longer than the other, and place it over the shorter one.  When the rope is placed through both loops the weight is taken up on the slightly shorter one.  Should this loop, but not the bolt, fail then the weight is transferred to the second loop.
  4. Loop the back up belay (A) through the two loops (C & D) and allow 2” - 3" (50 - 70 mm) slack.  This provides adequate cover should the primary hanger (B) fail.  Use tape, cord or rope with 'dynamic property'.
  5. BEFORE each descent check the state of the belay - more so if tape, cord or rope is used in direct contact with angular, metal hangers.
  6. When the belay point is a ‘spar’ wedged across the passage, make your descent from one of its ends.  A hang from the middle only encourages the law of physics to act against your interests.
  7. Descend as smoothly as possible.  Avoid undue bouncing.  Use a low stretch rope.  Marlow S.R.T. rope is ideal for this venture.
  8. Be prepared to ascend - just because you are on an abseiling trip does not mean that you will not have to reverse procedures.  Carry ascending gear or cord suitable for prusik loops.
  9. Finally enjoy yourself.  Doing so makes others happy.  Enjoyment is reflective of your having done the job right, and reflections are what the rescue teams like to see as they sit at home polishing their krabs…..waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting


Primary belay arrangement.

(A)               back up belay with a dynamic tape property

(B)               Angular belay hanger

(C)               Primary belay loop under tension.

(D)               Secondary belay loop, is long enough when primary loop under tension just touches it. Usually ½" longer when folded flat.

(E)               Doubled rope for abseiling - nylon, terylene, polyester, but not polypropylene.

Suggest ½” super blue tape for A, C and D.