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Annual Dinner Questionnaire.

So far, the Editor has received ONE written reply.  It would appear that only one member holds any definite views about the Dinner.  The committee will have to start making plans for this year’s dinner quite early in the year and one presumes that, with the exception of one person mentioned any old arrangements will suit the rest of you! In a more serious vein, there will be no use complaining to the committee if you have not told them what sort of dinner YOU prefer.


As a result of the Cuthbert’s Leaders Meeting, it was decided that a St. Cuthbert’s Library should be started in which all information on the cave should be collected and a permanent record made.  There seems to be a distinct lack of information about the earlier trips and I would be grateful if all information that YOU have could be given to me, either at the Belfry at weekends; the Waggon & Horses on a Thursday, or by post to 3, Kingsley Road, Eastville, Bristol 5.  Information may also be given to Dave Irwin or Roy Bennett.

This appeal is addressed to EVERYONE – not only the Cuthbert’s Leaders.  The effectiveness of this record depends on YOU.

P.A. Kingston.


A meeting was held at the Hunters Lodge on Sunday, 7th march to discuss Underground Communications. Briefly, it was concluded that telephones were mainly of use over short distances, where the line could be laid out at the time and the meeting went on to discuss forms of radio communication. A number of trial schemes are under way, and much is available in the way of engineering facilities for the production of models of the finally adopted scheme.  A further meeting will be called in May at which it is hoped that reports on performance of some or all of the trials will be available.

Notes on Exposure

by Steve Grime.

A look at some cave and mountain accident reports shows that, if the person or persons concerned had been better equipped, the incident/accident need never have occurred. The C.R.G. Publication number 7 by D.E. Leitch shows that exposure constitutes 5.7% of cave accidents (in the section taken for this survey this includes one death).  This is a 5.7% which could well be erased.  I do not know the exact percentage of accidents caused by exposure in the mountains, but it is great deal higher than in caves, possibly because there are more mountaineers than there are cavers.

The key to successful survival is to be able to maintain body heat, because when the deep body temperature falls, the cells stop working and after a period of time, death will ensue. The body has an optimum functioning temperature of 37OC and it has to maintain itself within the very narrow limits of plus or minus 1.5OC.  Temperature regulation is normally carried out without the knowledge of the person concerned, but when a great load is imposed, then active steps to maintain body temperature must be taken consciously.

Now the problem of a cold survival situation (caught out by water in Swildons) will be examined. There are a number of variables which have to be considered: -

TIME.  The longer the exposure, the more heat will be lost.  Short exposures at very low temperatures can be tolerated for a few minutes, provided that the man is fully warm beforehand.  On the other hand, very long exposures to only a moderate amount of cold can be highly dangerous.

THE MEDIUM.  Heat transfer away from the body is relatively small in still air.  In water, it is 27 times as much.  Movement of the medium makes matters worse as it keeps presenting new cold air or water to the body and taking way the air or water which the body has began to heat up.

THE EXPOSED AREA.  Heat is lost as a function of the area being exposed.  Most people accept exposure of the face, head, hand and feet.  When all these area are added together they become a sizeable proportion of the body.

THE HEAT GENERATED.  The amount of heat which any man can generate depends on the food he has had, his own physique and the amount of exercise and shivering he can do in order to produce more heat.

Now we must try to find out what all this can mean to the average caver or climber.  First and foremost, common sense must come into play. If a long trip is planned in a cave, it is advisable to have a reasonable meal with high calorific content. (Steak and beans are ideal and easy to prepare).  Warm DRY clothes are essential and a wet suit is advisable.  I personally carry glucose in either powder or tablet form while on a trip and find this ideal for producing a short burst of energy, but a hot drink is worth far more.  Remember, once fatigue sets in on a caving trip, it is cumulative.  Every caver knows, or should know, his capabilities and it is up to him to inform the leader if he starts feeling the strain. One’s mind shrinks from the idea of spoiling a trip, but this is far better than causing a real nuisance later on. No matter what he may think, a good leader will always abandon the trip if a member of the party is fatigued.

Much can be, and has been said about survival under adverse conditions in the mountains.  The same rules apply – a good meal; warm wind and weatherproof clothing and common sense.  The Chill Index reproduced on the next page is for the guidance of mountaineers and a quick glance will show that when wind and cold are working together, the chances of survival in, say, group 4 are very poor unless precautions have been taken and the party are well clothed and have adequate supplies.

The Water Survival Chart is an index for caving leaders and will form a guide.  The lower line is approximate as it is difficult volunteers for this part!



Still on the subject of exposure, we have received the following letter from Peter Bird which may be of interest

Letter re Exposure

To the Hon. Editor, “Belfry Bulletin”.

The British Mountaineering Council has published some notes on the recognition of symptoms and the treatment of exposure.  In simple language it details the deceptive onset of exposure, which it defines as severe chilling of the body surface leading to a progressive fall in body temperature with risk of death.  The use of water bottles; rubbing the skin or drinking alcohol should at all times be avoided, and the victims’ body must be kept warm.  In the field this may involve putting the patient in a sleeping bag; building a windbreak or erecting a tent and administering sugar (e.g. condensed milk) in easily digested form.

The above is a straight copy from the monthly press bulletin of the council for Nature, No. 58 (for December 1964).  I have omitted one brief bit of guff about it being interesting to naturalists, for that doesn’t concern cavers and climbers.  Since “no hot water bottles” and “no rubbing” are quite contrary to earlier advice, you may wish to put this in the B.B.

It seems to me that frequent, very simple pro-agenda about first aid and safety – aimed at the ordinary caver – is going to save lives.  The B.B. seems a good place for such items.

Editor’s Note:    Looking back through old copies of the B.B., it is surprising how little material on first aid and safety has been published, and it seems a good idea to include this type of article now and again. Another aspect which could well be covered in the B.B. is anyone’s useful hints and tips on dealing with first aid situations underground.  Ed.

Erratic Notes

by ‘Helictite.’

This idea started when Alfie said that if he had been ‘Stalagmite’ he’d have written a more twisted lot of articles and called himself ‘Helictite’.  I don’t want to be twisted.  Not specially, anyway, but I do want to be erratic.  So here I am.  I can’t see myself writing this very often, just now and again, so Helictite seems a good name.

I looked up helictites and found that they used to be called Anemolites because people used to think they were caused by wind or draughts in caves.  So, if you forget the calcite bit, a helictite is all wind and water. I expect that I shall be at times.

I don’t get around as much as Stalagmite must have done and so I can’t write about everything that is going on.  I’m going to pick on something now and again and write what I think about it.  The editor says he wants you to write in if you don’t agree with what I say.  The thing I want to write about now (I think I should start by helping the Editor out) is the club dinner.

It seems to me that most people go to the club dinner once a year and they don’t mind very much where it is or what there is to eat or do afterwards.  A few people think it was marvellous (they’re the ones who can’t quite remember what it was like the next day anyway) and a few people think it was rotten (perhaps they weren’t feeling so good at the time and weren’t in the mood to enjoy themselves).  I think that the editor might get one or two replies from these people but on the whole he’s wasting his time because most people will take whatever the people who arrange the dinner give them.

Some people go to a lot of club dinners.  There is going to be a special dinner for all those people who go to dinners regularly. Most dinners seem to be much the same and the people who go to a lot of them don’t seem to grumble or to say which was best so there doesn’t seem to be much to choose between them.  From all this I would say to the committee that they shouldn’t worry too much about the dinner, but if they want some ideas from me, here are a few.

I don’t mind where the dinner is, but it should be somewhere where the surroundings are nice and where it is easy to park cars.  I don’t expect miracles from the food, but it should be worth the money and served up quickly and hot.  There should be a reasonable choice of wines and it shouldn’t take the whole meal before you get any.  I don’t mind speeches but they should be either short (very) or funny.  Since we’ve all got to be quiet when the speeches are being given, can we have people who can be heard all over the room? Sometimes you hear all the people near the speaker laugh and you haven’t got a clue if you’re up the other end of the room.  It also seems to me that half the people who make speeches don’t seem to have known about it until just before the dinner.  Could we pick better speakers and give them more warning?

Presentations are all right when they’re well done, but we don’t want too many.  One or two are quite enough.  Afterwards, we want a bar where you can get draught beer of the same standard as you would expect in an ordinary pub.

Some entertainment is a good thing, but not too much or for too long.  I liked the sketch last year and Oliver Lloyd’s songs, but please don’t let’s have a sing song at the dinner.  Don’t let’s have a dance either.  A little bit of jiving at the end maybe, but don’t let’s have things that everybody can’t enjoy.

Well, that’s my first go at saying what I think.  I hope to be able to find something else to write about in a few month’s time.


Editor’s Note.    We hope that ‘Helictite’ will continue to put over the point of view of the average club member from time to time. Perhaps ‘Stalagmite’ will also find something to say again soon?


The Mendip Preservation Society

The following has been submitted for publication in the B.B. by the acting officers of the Mendip Preservation Society.

Although the aim of this society is to gather together all these who are interested in preserving Mendip we, as cavers, have perhaps a stronger reason than most for wanting the character of Mendip to remain unchanged.

Does Mendip mean much to you or would you be content to see it gradually encroached upon and built over? How great is the danger of this happening?  Who knows? It is very difficult for an individual to learn in advance of development plans and once they are under way it is too late for resistance.  The Secretary of a Preservation Society with the backing of a large number of members would, however, be able to make enquiries from official sources.

There is to be a development plan for the South West centred on Bristol.  A motorway is to be built through the valley west of Crooks Peak. Does this mean that Western Mendip, being cut off, will become part of Weston-Super-Mare? There is a West Mendip Society concerned with the problem.

The principle aim of the proposed Mendip Preservation Society is to keep itself informed on all matters affecting the Mendip countryside and offer resistance to any scheme which may be detrimental to the rural amenities of the area.  What action is needed and what form it will take will of course depend on the wishes of the members.  It may be possible to give support to other groups or societies whose aims are similar to our own.  We may be able to encourage development which may embrace the natural beauty of the area. It is felt that the Society may be able to help in other ways.  There are historical and other landmarks neglected and falling into disrepair. The chimney at Harptree and the Buddle House at Horrington Bottom are but two examples.   One of the Deer Leap Stones at Priddy was removed accidentally and a little persuasion on the part of an individual got it replaced.

The Society should be able to bring pressure to bear to prevent rubbish being dumped in local beauty spots.  There is an ever increasing amount of rubbish being dumped on Mendip, particularly old cars. There are cases where formerly open land has been fenced and fences extend across public right of way.  These rights will disappear unless the owners of the land are persuaded that fences across foot paths must have stiles.

What can an individual member do to help?  Firstly, write and tell the Secretary of anything you know that is happening. Send in your suggestions.  Attend the Inaugural General meeting.  Recruit other members.  Distribute copies of this circular.  Have you access to duplicating or printing facilities?  Could you produce, say, one circular per year (or ever?). Can you provide the Society with any publicity?  Could you display a poster?

Since the Society needs members more than money, the minimum subscription is only 2/6 per annum.  As this will only cover the cost of twelve postages per year, it is hoped that those who feel that they could or should pay more at which a draft constitution will be presented and a committee elected. The following persons are acting as officers: -

Mr. S.M. Hobbs.  (Hon. Sec. & Treas.)
Major R.E. Lauder.
Mr. A.R. Thomas.
Mr. M.M. Thompson.

Please join by sending your subscription to S.M. Hobbs, Hokerstone Cottage, Priddy, Somerset.

Mathematical Puzzles

by Sett

Bobby Bagshaw sent in the only answer, a correct one, to last month’s problem.  The problem basically was to determine an exact number of pounds up to 27.  This can be done with three weights of 2, 6 and 18lbs.

This Month’s Problem.  A party of cavers leave the Belfry at exactly 12 mid-day on Saturday for a photographic trip down Cuthbert’s.  They take a large number of pictures of all sorts of subjects and eventually reach the furthest point, where they have a meal.  They suddenly realise that they have been rather a long time and note that, as they set out for the surface, the time is exactly mid-night.  They hurry out and make the return journey in good time. Show that they were at one point in the cave at the same time by the clock on both Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.  (The party used the same route in and out).

Warning !

The Committee have been informed that, once again, Belfry washing up is not being done as it should be; in spite of the better amenities provided (hot water heater, redesigned kitchen etc.)  IF THIS DOES NOT IMPROVE, the Hut Warden will be empowered to REMOVE – for an unspecified period of time – ALL cutlery and crockery from the Belfry and each member will be forced to bring his own out.  If even this does not result in greater tidiness, the removal of saucepans and frying pans could follow.  Nobody WANTS to remove or lessen the facilities at the Belfry.  We have one of the best – and certainly the cheapest to stay in headquarters on Mendip, but funds do not run to employment of servants.  It does not take long to wash up YOUR plates and eating irons AND SAUCEPANS after a meal.  Please let this warning suffice – there will be no others!!

February Committee Meeting.

Again, a very large amount of business was handled at the February meeting, and a very satisfactory amount of progress recorded on those items which had been discussed at the January meeting.  Plans for completion of the Cuthbert’s Drainage Scheme are now well advanced, as is the plan for the showers in the Changing room.  The Annual Dinner was discussed and Norman Downes and Ann Farrington elected as members of the club.  Other subjects dealt with included the sale of carbide at the Belfry; the cleaning of club blankets; the charging bank for Nife cells; the photographs of Ian Dear and Jack Waddon; the scheme for flush toilets at the Belfry; the meeting of the Southern Council of Caving Clubs; the Club Officer’s Reports; surveying the stone workings; membership of the Ramblers Association; ratifications of probationary members; the provision of new membership application forms and the Ian Dear Memorial Fund.

March Committee Meeting.

At the March Committee Meeting, the final phase of the work on St. Cuthbert’s Drainage arrangements was planned.  New members elected were Nicholas Dunn, Paul Williams, David Pole and Cedric Green. The meeting then went own to discuss progress on the showers, arrangements for the 1965 Annual dinner, the sale of carbide at the Belfry, the Nife cell charging bank, progress on the photographs of past members (has any members a good photograph of Ian Dear?) the scheme for flush toilets and a sceptic tank, the collection of refuse and provision of dustbins, the arrangements for surveying at Bradford-on-Avon and the Ian Dear memorial fund.  Kevin Abbey is resigning from the Committee owing to pressure of work and other commitments.