The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editor: John Williams

1994 - 1995 Committee

Hon. Sec.                Nigel Taylor
Treasurer                 Chris Smart
Caving Sec.             Jeff Price
Hut Warden             Angie Cave
Tackle Master          Mike Wilson
Hut Engineer            Andy Cave
Membership Sec.     Richard Stephens
B.B. Editor               John Williams


 

Editorial

Hello Belfryites one and all.  So much has happened since the last BB that I can't possibly tell you about it all here, you'll just have to wait for future issues.  There has been much foreign travel by members as is evidenced by articles in this rag, not least Snablet et al in Sulawesi.  I believe he is in the Philippines at the time of this going to press but no one has heard from him recently - not even his poor mum!  So who knows.

Treebs (who is also in the Philippines) myself & Ross White spent Xmas in Glencoe, again write up to follow in another issue, although I believe Spike might have something to contribute about this.

Alex Smith has been working at Carlsbad Caverns & I have an article from him but no time to type it up at present.

I am, however, still short of material, so if anyone out there fancies putting pen to paper. .. please do.

Some Notices.

There will be a working weekend at the Belfry on March 11th & 12th.  This is to be coupled with a BEC 'Night In'.  Entertainment fun & games as well as food courtesy of Struan will be provided.

Anyone who has any kit at the Belfry please remove it beforehand - or it stands to get lost / auctioned / junked.

Anyone coming to work please bring tools/cleaning stuff etc.

There will be no cooking facilities this weekend as we intend to renovate the kitchen area. There will also be no changing facilities.

Lunch and an evening meal will be provided at cost (2 or 3 quid) with veggie options.  Should be good fun .... come & join us!

From the Hut Warden ...

Day fees at the belfry are still at the stunningly reasonable price of 50p.  Not bad for a shower, a shit and a cup of tea!!

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

That’s all can think of for now so on with the show .... Jingles.

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

This is the last Belfry Bulletin you will get if you have not paid your subs..


 

BEC Cave Leaders

Mendip

RESERVOIR HOLE

Jeff Price
Martin Grass
Graham Wilton – Jones
Dave Irwin

BLACKMOOR FLOOD

Steve Redwood

CHARTERHOUSE CAVE

Jeff Price
Chris Smart

ST.  CUTHBERTS  SWALLET

BEC  LEADERS

M. Barrington
C. Batstone
I.  Caldwell
C. Castle
A. Cave
J. Dukes
P. Glanvill
M. Grass
C. Harvey
P. Hellier
J. Henley
D. Herbert
T. Humphreys
D. Irwin
Jingles
K. King
T. Large
J. Large
S. McManus
M. McDonald
M. Palmer
B. Prewer
E. Sandford
C. Smart
A. Sparrow
N. Taylor
D. Turner
G. Villis
M. Wilson
G. Wilton-Jones
B. Workman

CLUB  GUEST  LEADERS

A. Butcher (SMCC)
G. Price (CSS)
J. Beauchamp (MCG)
M. Cotter (MCG)
R. Mansfield (UBSS)
A. Moody (WCC)
R. Haliwell (CPC)
M. Simms (SMCC)
A. Boycott (UBSS)

Bristol Region

PEN PARK HOLE

Jeff Price
Chris Smart

South Wales

DAN  YR  OGOF and  TUNNEL

Martin Grass
Trebor
Graham Wilton – Jones
Tim Large
Rob Harper

CRAIG  Y  FYNNON (Rock and Fountain)

Martin Grass

OGOF  FYNNON DHU  1

Martin Grass
Graham Wilton – Jones
Dave Irwin
Brian Prewer
Greg Villis
Tim Large


 

Do The BEC Get Everywhere ?

Dave Irwin

Many members collect all forms of caving ephemera and three items have come my way in the last few years that may be of interest to them.  The first is an advertisement from Country Life, November 24th, 1955 for Nescafe coffee.  This item was found by Bill Tolfree of the SMCC in the south Devon area and eventually a copy of it found its way into my collection. Although there are many examples of show-cave advertisements for the Mendip area one specifically displaying cavers is most unusual.  Perhaps members may remember the advert and more interestingly some may know who the cavers are.  It has been suggested that the cavers may have been BEC members - does anyone remember? The side of the cave passage displays half phreatic tubes and the most likely Mendip cave appears to be Goatchurch main entrance pas­sage. To assist identification of the left hand figure an enlargement is reproduced of the facial features  

Anyone recognise this man?

 

Nescafe advertisement, 1955

Cave postage stamps and 'Cinderella’s' are avidly collected by many cavers throughout the world - so numerous are they that a magazine is published regularly on the Continent. Cinderella's are labels produced to resemble post­age stamps.  There are numerous examples of this type of product usually produced by show-caves as advertising stickers on their picture postcards and general mail. They are not recognised by the post office.

Soon after the discovery of the series of extensions found in Gough's Cave between 1892 and 1898, the Gough family produced sheets of stamps depicting Richard Cox Gough, the man behind the venture.   These appear to have been printed shortly after Gough's death in 1902,   the earliest date of   'use'  of this label seen by the writer in on a picture postcard postally used in 1904. A single specimen on the back of picture postcard nom Cheddar in the writer’s collection is about 1907.  It would appear that this label was available for a number of years.


 

MAROC - 94 - A Youth Expedition To Morocco

EXPEDITION MEMBERS:

Doctor Andrew Newton - (Expedition Leader)
Mr Christopher Willey - (Assistant Leader)
Mr Michael Smith - (Assistant Leader
David Lancaster
James Smith
Robert Canning
Timothy Harris
Alasdair Putt
Stephen Plumbley
Habib Fouilloux

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

The main aim of the expedition was to introduce a group of youngsters (members of the Third Gosport Sea Scout Group) to the challenges of expedition work and to allow them a chance to experience something of Moroccan culture and lifestyle.

As the first ever expedition made by British Scouts to Morocco, MAROC 94 aimed to establish a link with the authorities in Morocco which would prove beneficial for future expeditions visiting the Country.

On the mountaineering side the aim was to allow all the expedition members an attempt at reaching the summit of Mount Toubkal (the highest mountain in North Africa).

EXPEDITION DIARY

TRAVEL

Travel to Morocco was with Royal Air Maroc (the National Airline of Morocco) from London Heathrow via Casablanca to Marrakech.

MARRAKECH

On arrival a one day and two nights stay in Marrakech (the Red City) was taken, to allow for re­organisation of equipment after the flight, provisioning, fuelling and also for acclimatization to the climate.  The time spent in Marrakech also allowed the expedition leaders to make contact with local youth officials including representatives of the Scout Organisation in Marrakech.

Accommodation was arranged at the Grand Hotel Tazi, however, unfortunately due to over booking the first night had to be spent at a small Berber Hotel in the Medina (old town) which afforded those unfamiliar with African travel a crash introduction to the delights of a cheap "doss house" (cockroaches and all).

The expedition travelled from Marrakech to the mountains by bus, using SATAS the local bus company which runs a 3 times daily service from Marrakech to Asni (the regional administrative centre for the central High Atlas region).  In Asni locally run trucks are readily available (at a price) for onward transportation up to the village of Imlil.

PHASE ONE

Using the village of Imlil (altitude 1,740 metres) as a base the expedition undertook a 3 day acclimatization phase which consisted of short day walks of increasing length and altitude.

The walks undertaken included a 5 mile circuit of the middle Mizzane Valley visiting the waterfalls above the village of Around and a 10 mile trek over Tamatert Col (altitude 2,279 metres) to the remote village of Tacheddirt (altitude 2,314 metres).

Imlil makes an ideal base for an expedition as there are plenty of shops from which to purchase fresh rations (albeit at higher than average prices).  The village also has a Club Alpine Francais hut which provides basic accommodation at very affordable prices and also a number of small hotels and family run Gites (Guest Houses).

During this phase of the expedition we befriended a Franco Moroccan mountaineer called Jean-Pierre who runs a mountain guiding service and owns a Gite in the village.  Their exceedingly mountain wise 11 year old son Habib asked to join the expedition and rapidly became both a valuable asset and a good friend to the other children on the expedition.

PHASE TWO

The ascent of Toubkal (altitude 4,167 metres).

Making a late afternoon departure we climbed to the village of around (altitude 1,920 metres) which sits perched on a moraine at the entry to the upper Mizzane Valley.  We spent the night in a small Gite in the village (the Guest House was run by one of the local farmers and had a balcony affording the most magnificent panoramic view of the surrounding mountains).

The next day we made an early start and with a team of 3 mules to transport our rucksacks we made the long ascent up the Mizzane Valley passing through the village of Chamharrouch to the Neltner hut (altitude 3,207 metres).  The Neltner hut is traditionally regarded as being a suitable location for advanced camp prior to a summit ascent. Due to the popularity of the hut with trekking groups the majority of private parties climbing the mountain during the summer months opt to camp on the flats just underneath the hut.

Our expedition took an additional acclimatization/rest day at the Neltner.  For those brimming with energy a one day trek over the Ouanoums Col (altitude 3,876 metres) was arranged.  This Col is famous for the fantastic view which it affords over Lac D'infini and the Jebel Sahro.

The ascent from the Neltner hut to the summit of Toubkal is a 2-3 hour trek passing through the western Cwm (renowned for its loose scree slopes) and then by using either the north west or the south west Arrette ascending to the summit plateau.

A dawn start was made to avoid climbing during the heat of the day and also to miss the cloud which tends to shroud the summit of the mountain most afternoons in the summer months.

We were extremely lucky with the weather and reached the summit with a panoramic view in all directions.

After returning to the Neltner a restful afternoon was spent splashing underneath the waterfalls and re-packing kit for the descent back to Imlil.

Having used all of the food and fuel the descent was undertaken without the use of mules, allowing the expedition members to gain useful pack carrying experience for the final stage of the expedition.

PHASE THREE

Trek to Tizzi Oussem

The final two days of the mountain phase of the expedition were spent on a circular trek to the remote village of Tizzi Oussem (altitude 1,850 metres), crossing over the exceedingly arduous Mzic Col (altitude 2,489 metres) en route.

Tizzi Oussem is a classic northern central Atlas Berber village which thanks to its remoteness from roads has remained untouched by development.  The village is situated in a very fertile valley which is intensively farmed using an extensive system of terraced fields and an ingenious series of irrigation ditches.

A very comfortable night was spent in one of the village houses and the following morning was set aside for exploring the village (with the inevitable crowd of small Berber children in tow).

On arrival back in Imlil we went to stay at our friend's Gite where Jean-Pierre had prepared a huge taggine (a traditional local meal) for us.  Our feast was accompanied by Berber music performed by the local village band which Jean-Pierre had employed for the evening to thank us for looking after his son.

MARRAKECH

After our return to Marrakech a day was spent visiting the famous palaces and sights within the City and also for shopping in the Medina (which has a maze of little streets and alleyways where craft stalls, spice markets and workshops jostle for space and customers attention).

We were lucky to have our touristic wanderings supervised by a representative of the local Scout Association who ensured that we got value for money and also did a fabulous job of defending us against the Marrakech hustlers (whose aggressiveness is legendary).

EQUIPMENT

The following communal equipment was used on the expedition.

One Ultimate Horizon 4-man tent.
Three Hornet 2 man light weight tents.
Four Peak-one multi-fuel burners.
Fourteen Sigg fuel bottles (one litre).
Five Trekker Well water purification systems.
Cooking Equipment.
Navigational Equipment.

Obtaining fuel for camping stoves can be a problem in Morocco.  Camping Gas is widely available (in C206 cylinders in cities and in larger cylinders in more rural areas).

Unleaded fuel is difficult to buy (Government permits often being required), and kerosene and methylated spirits are almost impossible to obtain.

FOOD

During the acclimatization phase, military type compo rations of the boil in the bag type were used. These rations give 3,000 calories per day and come in an easy to prepare format.

For the high altitude phase of the expedition, dehydrated rations of the Raven type were used with dried fruit, crunchy bars, sweets and hot drinks as dietary supplements.  (A total calorific intake of between 2,500 and 3,000 calories a day was aimed for).

CLIMATE

The climate in Morocco is generally warm and dry during the summer months.  In Marrakech the average mid-day temperature is in the region of 110 degrees, however in the mountains the temperature is considerably more comfortable for trekking.

In the central Atlas region it is common for cloud cover to build up during the day with precipitation and electrical storms frequently occurring during the late afternoon and evening.

CONCLUSIONS

MAROC - 94 achieved all of its major aims. In particular the expedition demonstrated that it is entirely possible for a correctly equipped and well supported Youth Party to successfully undertake a major trekking challenge in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco.

Doctor Andrew Paul Newton FRGS MRCGP
BEC Member


 

MRO News

NEW YEAR - NEW ERA

Whatever happens during 1995, be it flood, earthquake, suicidal students, collapsing boulder ruckles or fat people in thin caves, this year will mark the end of an era for the Mendip Rescue organization with the retirement from Secretary of Jim Hanwell at the General Meeting in March.

Since the MRO was formed in 1936 it has placed great store in continuity and has only had 3 previous secretaries - Dr Bertie Crook, Howard Kenney and Oliver Lloyd.  Jim has always been the first to say the MRO is nothing more than Mendip cavers with a different, and more serious, hat on. True - but each secretary has, in his own way, affected how fellow cavers and outside bodies perceive us and our efforts.

Jim became a Warden on 6th March 1960 so his service at the sharp end covers that Golden time on Mendip when it seemed that caves were being extended every weekend.  Equipment for both cavers in general and rescue in particular was sparse and crude by modern standards and it seemed that not a Saturday night passed without the Hunters being cleared prematurely to haul some bedraggled bods up the Forty.  Were we innocent then?  Virtually all the MRO kit would go in a couple of tackle bags and the only interest in "outside bodies" was keeping our good relationships with the Mendip farmers and trying to tell the Press as little as possible!  Jim took over as Secretary at the 1972 General Meeting and inherited a St. John's carrying sheet, a couple of pulleys, some NiFe cells and assorted "string" - the bank balance wasn't much better either and would probably not have bought a beer for every Warden - even at 1972 prices!

How times change - the MRO store is now bursting at the seams with hi -tech kit worth thousands of pounds and we need an Equipment Officer to maintain it and a Training Officer to show us how to use it!  The Secretaries time is increasingly taken up in liaising with others - South West England Rescue Association, Mountain Rescue Council, Association of Chief Police Officers, British Cave Rescue Council, the Press, and, most importantly, the local Emergency Services, the farmers, residents and cavers of Mendip. Anyone who thinks that MRO only exists and functions 10 or 12 times a year when it gets a call is living in dream land.  During Jim's tenure in the hot seat to the end of 1993 MRO was been called out 227 times to assist more than 495 people and assorted animals.

Jim has always said that the Mendip Rescue organization IS Mendip caving - well, yes, he is right.- but someone had to channel the anarchy and bring order from chaos ..............

THANKS JIM ...... some poor sod had to do it ...... glad it was you!

EQUIPMENT NOTE

Thanks to the good work of John Hill and the generosity of the Castle Cary Red Cross we now have several hand-portable radios which can be used in parallel with our Emergency sets. They are not dedicated to the National Search and Rescue frequency so can be overheard by others - please be discreet.  These sets should be a great help during exercises and practices and for non-emergency traffic during incidents.  The Call Sign will be as for all our other communication devices - HUNTER.  They are now in place in the store and in use.

NEW ADDRESS LISTS & EQUIPMENT LISTS WILL BE ISSUED EARLY IN THE NEW YEAR

Saturday 28th January 1995

AIRWAYS, STIFNECKS AND SPINAL SPLINTS

Practical Session by John Hill Hunters Lodge 7:30 pm

Saturday 25th February 1995

RESUSCITATION WORKSHOP

Annual event to keep us all up to date with latest thinking on Artificial Ventilation and External Chest Compression techniques.  Lots of dummies and expert advice.

Hunters Lodge 7:30 pm

Friday 17th March 1995

MENDIP RESCUE ORGANIZATION ANNUAL MEETING OF THE COMMITTEE

Hunters Lodge 8:00 pm prompt

Saturday 25th March 1995

OBSERVATION OF THE INJURED

Practical session covering the observation & recording of vital signs - Blood Pressure, Pulse, Pupil size etc. John Hill

Hunters Lodge 7:30 pm

Saturday 29th April 1995

FOLLOW UP TO CLUB RESCUE PRACTICE REPORTS

After incidents and practices many useful suggestions are made.  This session gives those concerned the opportunity to report their findings, have them discussed and acted upon.

Hunters Lodge 7:30 pm

Saturday 20th May 1995

TECHNICAL RESCUE

A day-long practical session at Westbury Quarry More details to follow - from Nigel Taylor & posters

WARDENS ONLY

Wardens Meetings - Hunters Lodge 8:00 pm prompt

Friday 12th May 1995

Sunday 26th November 1995


 

Caving and Diving in Oman

With Bob Hill

Oman, having an average annual rainfall of about half an inch, is not the place where one would expect to find caverns measureless to man.  However it has been much wetter in the past and although cave development is now very restricted the great masses of limestone that make up the country's Hajar mountains contain some extraordinary examples of "what could have been" had the climate been different.

Below is a rundown on the caves visited and some of the finds made.

Majlis AI-Djinn. (Meeting hall of the spirits).

Having avoided getting to know anybody with a 200m caving rope for two years I finally overcame my abject terror of big pitches for long enough to agree to visit Majlis with Alistair Fraser, a diving buddy of mine, when he imported a suitable rope late last year.

The cave is somewhat remote. A five hour drive from Muscat, 3 1/2 hrs of which is on rough tracks, steep in places, takes you into the mountains of the Eastern Hajar and up to about 2000m before dropping slightly to a village.  From here a 10km walk across the Jebel, (mountains) brings you to the cave. There are two large entrances, one at each end of the chamber, each with a free hanging drop of about 130m onto rubble piles in the chamber.  However the most spectacular way to descend is through Cheryl's crack, (she found it I'm told) which has a single free hanging descent of 169m (555 ft).  The crack is about 5ft wide and, after a descent of about 40ft, you emerge into the middle of this mind blowing chamber.  The problem with the place is that it is impossible to gauge the scale of the thing until you have abseiled down for about 5 minutes and realise that although the roof is now way above, you still seem to be no closer to the floor.  A 15 minute abseil finally lands you on the ground in the middle of the chamber amongst a few scattered goat bones.  (The animal must have disintegrated when it hit the floor).  At this point I discovered that, in my enthusiasm for not falling out of my harness, I had done up the leg straps so tight that I could no longer feel my legs and feet.  I lay on the floor in agony for about 5 minutes hoping no-one threw anything down before managing to drag myself away from under the entrance and recover.  A wander around the wall of the chamber, which is roughly oval and about 200m by 300m, is a good half hour walk.  This accomplished while Doc Fraser abseils into the cave.  After a few pictures the prussik out takes 45 minutes (which was respectable for a man of my age and I wasn't the slowest).

The slog back to the car in the heat of the afternoon makes this a tough day, but it is worth the effort. There are several other large caves in the vicinity of Majlis, one of which is a through trip with several pitches, the major pitch is reputed to be 180m (590 ft). Plans are afoot to visit this in the autumn.

Gubhrat Tanuf Cave.

Not far from the interior town of Nizwa is Gubhrat Tanuf.  A small perennial stream flows from this cave which is entered via a small slit often occupied by "harmless", but long, snakes and a nest of not so harmless, bad tempered, wasps.  This cave was first surveyed by Tony Waltham in the mid '80s (Karst and caves in the Jabal Akhdar, Oman. Trans. BCRA., 12.) as far as a sump, with a side inlet also pushed another 500m or so, also ending at a sump.  I first visited this cave in 1991 and noted that the sumps looked diveable.  Returning with a cylinder a year later the sump at the end of the inlet was passed after 8m (no depth) to reveal 30 m of passage with the stream issuing from a small hole in the wall! 

On a more recent trip two short sumps in the main stream were passed by myself and Alistair, and 50m of passage lead to a third, larger looking,  sump which awaits our next visit with more air and line.  Because it doesn't rain too often here the accumulation of silt in these sumps makes the vis atrocious with the first diver only getting a quick glimpse of where to go before being enveloped in a cloud of silt. The dive back is in pure drinking chocolate.

Khaf Hoti.

Another cave in the same area, Hoti, is a real cavers cave.  It is a 4.5km through trip, also surveyed by Waltham, and is a sporting and enjoyable.  The cave begins in what is essentially fossil passage which floods after heavy rain (rare), and changes to newer more active stream cave after about 1.5 km before the final lake is reached about 1.5km before the end.  A swim of 800m finally ends at a steep bank which leads to 1/2 km of occasionally well decorated dry cave to emerge at the original resurgence.  This cave is well worth a visit!

Goats End Cave.

After the last diving trip to Tanuf we decided to follow a new track up the nearby mountains and quite by chance came across an obvious pothole entrance right beside the road. Exploring further, we found a couple of other promising shafts nearby, all of these had drops estimated at about 50 to 80m based on our trundling efforts.  One shaft swallows a large rock in two bounces with a definite splash at the bottom.  We returned to the first of these with SRT gear recently, and abseiled, to our surprise, down a narrow 45m shaft, passed a liquefying and extremely smelly, goat corpse on a ledge, to end up in a water worn passage, with a reasonable amount of pretty calcite.  The way on is through a choice of two holes in the floor which drop about 30 m to water (not visible).  Plenty to be done in this area too, But 'Goats End' will have to wait until the next flood because I hate having to wash my hands in the only liquid we had left, beer, to remove the smell of putrefying flesh before we could get in the car.

Alistair and I also visited the nearby AI-Ohr spring which proved to be a disappointment.  We were regaled with tales of large, submerged chambers and good vis, with a definite way on by our contact in the Ministry of Water Resources who had snorkelled in the resurgence pool.  What we got was 1ft vis and consequently spent the first half hour trying to squeeze through a very tight hole with our kit on before deciding that we must be nuts.  Eventually however we did find a way on, 4m deeper than we expected and Alistair laid 35m of line to a small, very smelly, air bell with myself following.  At this point we had both had enough, and although the cave obviously has potential someone will have to do some pretty smooth talking to get us back there in a hurry.

Tiwi Sinkhole.

East along the coast, about 120km from Muscat is the local "tourist" attraction of a large Sinkhole.  Inland about 1 km from the sea, a 50m by 70m hole with a partially solid floor is descended by a 15m scramble to a large pool which has a tidal range of about a foot and is obviously dubiously connected with the sea.  Before yours truly and his little bunch began exploring the place seriously in 1992, it had been dived several times by local expat divers, all on base fed line, and tales abounded.  My first dive, on a single tank, at the end of 1992 convinced me that the place was well worth putting some effort into.  We now have a team of divers who have been working at trying to survey what is turning out to be a very large submerged cavern, (see attached sketch). The classic sulphur layer of your average blue hole is found between 8 and 13m after which everything gets very big and very deep.  The cave has turned out to be very frustrating with the wall meeting the boulder floor at depths around 60m.  Alistair and myself have pushed several promising leads, all dead ends.  The most promising so far, an hole in the floor at -50m was pushed to -64m from where it could be seen continuing down, too tight, and too deep to follow.

On a technical note we are considering the use of Trimix for dives below 60m, but find ourselves very isolated from the expertise available in Europe. The gases are available locally but obtaining tables / Algorithms and specialist equipment is proving a problem. Can anyone help?

Needless to say, with summer daytime temperatures often approaching 502 C (1202 F), winter is the time to explore, unless you can park next to the entrance.

If anyone is keen to come and see for themselves please let me know.  It is possible for a limited number to obtain visa's for Oman these days and contrary to most people's idea of the middle east this is a wonderful country with spectacular scenery.

 


 

Cartoon

 


 

Sulawesi Expedition

By Snablet

A Brief summary of events in Phase I.     Oct 14 - Nov 20 1994.

The 'A' Team: Rob & Helen Harper, Tony Boycott, Peter McNab.

We hired a Kjang from Ramayana tours 75000 rp with driver (Anton) and fuel all in.  It was a full days drive from UIP to Masawa, at the base of the gorge/valley. We found accommodation at Pastor Willem's school & church.  Lokko Ledo was visited and surveyed.  We got lost on the way to the cave & spent a couple of hours hacking our way through virgin jungle.  A hard days work for 193m of cave, but it was in limestone.

The area seems to be mainly igneous rock, possibly basalt, with a few limestone caps on top of the hills leaving remnants of old river systems.

The rest of our foray into the Mamasa river area failed to turn up any limestone caves.  A lot of rock shelters and waterfall undercuts as well as granite boulder piles were visited, leading to much disappointment. One of these involved a 36km walk in through dense primary forest, the cave was a measly 5m long!  But the walk was cracking, Cobras crossing our path - monkeys could be heard howling in the trees.  We stayed at the remote village of Mattanguga - an excellent place.  We also tried chickens foot whisky at our guide Fido's house - he was the local English teacher ... there was no school the next day!!!  We also noticed that we could cut a third of the time off that the locals quoted for walking distances as we weren't herding livestock to market!

Note .. .! don't like granite boulder caves, they are loose and don't go anywhere.

We had an interesting stay at a village near Mambi.  We had not mastered much in the way of Indonesian and none in the village spoke 'Ingress' (no surprises there) but we managed to get by.  The whole village came to watch us, my bivvi bag seemed to cause great hilarity whenever I got into it.

After a week or so we abandoned the Mamasa river area our conclusions were that there is very little limestone in the area.  We followed up all our leads of rivers flowing from underground ... they all flowed from underneath large granite boulders.  It was a dirty job but somebody had to do it.

We journeyed to Rantapo next & great excitement overcame the team at our first glimpses of hanging limestone cliffs and massive limestone tower karst, which could be seen from just before Enrekang up to Rantapo.  This called for a celebration, a local Bintang hostelry was located & we proceeded to drink the fridge dry.  Rob & Snablet decided to check out the local disco for a late one.  With about 8 other clientele in the joint Rob & I were the only ones pissed enough to partake in dancing (Involving cossack dancing, morris dancing, somersaults etc.) & we earn ourselves the nickname of ‘Crazy Ingress Men’ ... all this to the Reggee 3, the Indonesian version of Ging Gang Goolie!

Sullukan ... a taste of things to come. (Hopefully.)

20m from the road at Makula, park next to the bar with the swimming pools.  A large impressive entrance 5 x 4m with a reasonable stream flowing into it.  A large gour could just be seen in the gloom ahead.  YES ... here we go!  Unfortunately only 200m to a sump.  The gour is worth a look if you are ever passing by and there is still a going lead in the cave, reminiscent of compost corner, only a bit tighter & with Kamikaze bats flying through it.  Whoever pushes it best keep their mouth shut!

Next stop Lokko Ponte, a bit more like what we were looking for.  Large passage cuts through the remains of the limestone.  It’s well decorated with large dead stal. a bit like a railway tunnel in dimensions, linking two depressions.  A closer examination whilst surveying revealed a lower series.  The cave has the strange phenomena of having two downstreams & we have yet to find any upstream. I suspect it is through a sump somewhere around the first duck. Rob got something of a start when one of his survey stations turned out to be an orange snake!  Passage dimensions are a bit vague at that particular station.  Tony made a sterling effort at diving the 2nd downstream duck/sump through to another surface depression.  Total length of cave 1.5km.

Another cave entrance was noticed across the depression (Tete - Batu).  A quick investigation proved that we would be back the following day.

Tete-Batu, Lokko Nippon/Kandi api system was explored (we boldly went where several hundred Indonesians had been before) and surveyed.   It’s an impressive system with two active streams.  Where they join a 150m swimming canal was followed by Rob & Tony to a sump.  5 other sumps were also found in the system.  There are two high level routes.  On the left by climbing over a large stal boss into an extremely well decorated (for Sulawesi) series to another entrance (We don't know its name).  On the right just inside Tete-Batu entrance, up a steep mud slope is a series going to Lokko Nippon entrance then onwards to Kandi api entrance, this route is used as a short cut by the locals.  (Lots of graffiti in this series).  The total cave length is about 2km.  Apparently the cave is not very distinct as Tony B returned to the cave with J-Rat & Mac and resurveyed from Kandi api entrance through to Tete-Batu approx 300m before he noticed it was the same cave that only ten days previously we had spent 6 hours surveying and photographing!  The graves in the entrance didn't give you any clues, not even the skull with the BEC sticker on its forehead!!!

A word of advice ... don't try to ascend a rope using kevlar shock cord prusik loops, it may be nice and light for the walk in therefore saving you a bit of energy.  This however is totally wasted in the struggle to get out of the shaft, the kevlar cord may as well be super glued to the SRT rope. Great for stopping you from slipping, nine tenths of fuck all use for going up!!  We visited a cave "Sarambo" currently being used to supply the local villages with water, we were allowed in.  It’s a nice cave with two ways on.  One down the main streamway where we stopped at a duck and the other, possibly the flood bypass or an inlet, where we also stopped at a duck approx 160m of passage.  Unfortunately the cave turned into Manor Farm overnight with the local farmer demanding an extortionate amount of money for his favourite charity.  He did however look a bit bemused when he was told where to go!!

The area around Kalosi was our next destination.  We visited four largish caves only to find out on our exit from each that other foreigners had already visited.  We also found evidence that they had already been surveyed, topofoil cotton, stations marked on walls and gardened pitches.  Oh well, they were worth the visit, shame none had published their findings. We moved out of that area.  We decided to wait until the Speleo Sportif guide book comes out about the area so we know what’s been done.

Pasang - definitely no tourists armed with a compass, clino & tape have been here!  We only had time for a flying visit.  We took a short stroll around the area, 22km, taking in four caving trips.  We decided to return to the area at a later date.

Back to U/P to meet the reinforcements.  Liz Price was first to arrive, closely followed by J. Rat & Mac. Chris York caught us up in Rantapo a week later.

Tony B, Liz P & Snablet visited the showcaves at Bantimurung -Maros.  They are quite impressive; if you visit them take your own lamp.

"The Night of The Big Drink."

We were back in Non - Muslim country with beer on sale & Mac & J-Rat had arrived and if we needed an excuse it was my birthday.  Pissed??? -I should say so!!!  I can't really remember much about it- best ask the others, Mac carried me home about oneish, Rob was last in about sixish.  The following day was cancelled!

Returned to Pasang and spent 2 days surveying Lokko Lambale.  The SRT equipment was brought into action, four pitches rigged and descended and a rope climb.  We discovered some nice passage.  The Kepala Desa thinks we're mad "2 days in Lambale” total cave length 880m.  My biwi bag is causing a storm 'all day in Lokko - then sleep in lokko sarong!' they all come in especially to watch me get into it...who cares, at least it keeps the mosquitoes away.

Gua Possoloa: two caves with the same name.  One's above the other by about 4m.  Big dry passages, lots of bats and spiders, we even saw a shrew in the cave.  Cave length 500m & 250m.  We had an overnight stay at Limbuang.  Rob & Helen were given the guest room (because they were married) I had to share a bed with the family & there were 6 of them (I think) the oldest abut 75 the youngest about 6. At least I managed to sleep through the morning prayers (at about 4.00 a.m.)

Tapaan: this cave is halfway between Limbuang and Gua Possollo.  The trail leads down through an eerie gorge - like something out of a sci-fi film.  The entrance is a resurgence.  The stream forks, to the left leads to an unclimbed waterfall in a large bat chamber, to the right is 80m of crawling leading to a duck then onto another entrance. total length 500m.  There are other caves in this gorge but we could not stay any longer - it would have been unfair on the local village.

Back to Rantapo to see the others, unfortunately they had exhausted the area.  Their conclusions were that there used to be massive cave systems but now the majority of the limestone has been washed away by the rivers leaving only tantalising glimpses of what might have been.  Lokko Nippon is still the largest system we visited.

Central Sulawesi.

Rob Helen Chris & Snablet - headed north to central Sulawesi.  It was a good full days drive over the mountain range into the central area.  You can almost see too much tropical rain forest around the hairpin bends and along the subsiding roads.  We stayed at Pendolo on the shore of Lake Poso, its a mellow place. Next stop Beteleme. This is the area which Colin Boothroyd & co visited briefly on their 1989 recce trip, they rated it as the best area they encountered & likely to reveal more subterranean delights. Our journey was ' Palan Palan' ­slowly slowly - first because of a bad road then because the river kept disappearing underground.  This river contained some impressive gour pools.  Beteleme is surrounded by limestone cliffs and holes can be seen in them from the road.  The only problem for locating caves is that the hills are very steep & covered with dense primary forest.  Out of the three caves we visited, two had definitely been surveyed - Gua Tamaoa by Colin & co.  A very impressive cave 1.8km long, at one point the passage is 60m wide and 25m high, it ends in a boulder choke.  It is located at the head of a valley and disappears into the mountain.  There are many more valleys in the area maybe each of them has a cave at the head, only time will tell.  I have this area earmarked for a revisit with Annette & Jim when they arrive.  The other cave visited was Gua Dembiua, approx 100m and we found topofoil cotton running through it, possibly from a Spanish recce trip in '88.  The third cave we visited was near Denbiua.  A local bloke from the Garage popped up to see us while we were exploring and said in Indonesian "If you like that you will love this one."  He then showed us a longer cave nearby, approx 500m long with three entrances. We then ran into problems with the police (nothing new for Mr Harper - ed!) wanting us to make a donation to his favourite charity ... so we left!

Back to Pendolo ... a day relaxing and enjoying the luxury of a fridge in our Penginaden. (Guesthouse.)

The following day I headed north towards Manado, the others headed for New Zealand. Phase I of my trip drew to an end. My route started with a 4 hour boat ride across Lake Paso to Tentena where the boat has to anchor about 40m from the shore as the water is too shallow.  A bloke from the harbour paddles across in a large plastic fluorescent orange swan and then ferries all the passengers and goods ashore.  Its all very surreal.  A 2 hour Bemo ride to Poso harbour ready for the next crossing of Tomini bay.  To Minihasa peninsula via the Togian island.  I travelled economy class and slept in the lifeboat - it wouldn’t have been any -use in an emergency as the bottom had rusted out!  A very pleasant journey across the sea watching the dolphins diving out of the water by the bows of the ship.  I 'm now in Manado awaiting the arrival of Annette and Jim and the start of phase II of my trip.  The planned areas of attention are the rarely visited central eastern peninsula and the south east peninsula.  Then hopefully on to the eastern limestone mountain range on Kalimantan.  Phase III is of course speleo Philippines 1995.

Snablet.


 

Spike's Corner.

Greetings one and all. It’s been some time since I've written anything for Jingles and apparently some of you have missed my ramblings!  (God knows why ... ed!)

Berties Travels!

I am reliably informed that your beloved editor spent the New Year at the Hill Inn working behind the bar.  Fair play to John & Sue for putting up with him.  During this time it was noted that the large brass Bertie that hung above the bar went missing.  It seems that some Certain Unknown Northern Trogloditic Sorts wandered off with it from under Jingles' nose.  When said crime was noted, and two and two added together to make five, certain enquiries were made at a local caving hut.  With his usual diplomacy, and the aid of J-Rat running interference, Jingles cased the joint and missed the article completely.  We have since heard that it was only feet from the BEC twosome at one point.  Sadly the duo had to leave the area without Bertie but not without suspicions as to its whereabouts I'll GRANT you!!!

Over the next few days an interesting series of events took place, involving Liz Fish, telephones and Northern cave divers who shall at this point remain nameless, save to say that we knew who cartered off Bertie!  Offence being narrowly avoided on more than one occasion, Bertie mysteriously appeared by post some days later chez J-Rat, just in time to be returned to John & Sue Riley on their flying visit to Mendip.  It should be mentioned that it was posted recorded delivery and paid for by the nameless one.  (Fair play to him say I.)  Eventually Bertie was restored to his rightful abode along with a poem attached which unfortunately at the present time I am unable to get hold of.  However J-Rat penned a reply which goes as follows ...

To he who pinched the Hill Inn Bat,
No, we don't think you are a pratt
Ten out of ten for splendid jape,
That left the BEC agape.
We worried for this trophy fine,
Lest it be hanging on a line,
A mile inside some dismal sump,
Or mounted in a caver's dump.
Now Its back we raise a cheer,
And settle down to supping beer,
The Bat is, just like Theakstons brew,
Of value great to John & Sue.

Before I leave you I have to say that J met with a very despondent Andy Sparrow in the Hunter's lodge the other week.

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

I enquired of him what the trouble was and he replied in plaintive tones "My wife's away on a course".  Thinking that her absence was the cause of his ill humour I asked what the course was, came the reply .... ASSERTIVENESS!!!

... personally I feel sorry for whoever tries to teach Joanna to be assertive .... !!!

See y'all ..... Spike.