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Yes, it’s happened again. For the second time during the Editorship of the present editor, a number has to be missed out.  The last time this occurred was November 1959.  On that occasion, a series of mishaps to the duplicator was to blame.  This time, it has been mainly the lack of material.

When the first editorial of this “regime” was written, for B.B. number 110 in March, 1957; it was said that articles would be obtained “by passing amongst you with a big stick”. The editor has, for some time now, felt that he has not been doing this job as well as he once did.  Eleven years is a long time, and it would seem to be the best thing for the Club to have a new face running the B.B. next year.  We hope to be able to make a suitable suggestion to the A.G.M., but meanwhile, the present editor will try to produce a last minute spurt with the few issues remaining under his editorship.

“Alfie”

de Joly and all that

by Kevin Barnes.

Belgium contains on of the finest cave systems in the world – the Grotte de Han.  Its size, formations and waterways are well worth a visit in spite of the extravagant entrance fee.   But what I intended to tackle was the Chasm of Belvaux where the river Lesse disappeared underground, only to appear 1,138 metres through the mountain at the Grotte de Han.

In 1818, the Comte de Robiano tried to sound the mystery of the chasm, and more recently, M de Joly attempted the source in a diving suit, only to find the same trouble as my story will tell.

To look at the chasm on a postcard is quite something, but when one gets close up in real life, it is different.  The river Lesse, in a fast swirling torrent, enters the chasm and turns round an ‘L’ shaped bend and then travels for fifteen metres in an underground gorge before disappearing below the rock.  However, packed between this sump and the ‘L’ shaped bend is the most grotesque collection of bottles, tins, bits of wood and debris in general.

This, however, should be nothing to daunt the foolhardy, so I donned my wetsuit and secured a line with a belay by two companions, I entered the water.  The water in the chasm may be divided into two parts.  On the opposite bank was the fast rushing white water, while the near side was a slightly more placid type.  My first attempt got me within ten feet of the debris, and it was only when I found myself drifting upstream that I realised that the more placid water consisted of a strong eddy current in opposition to the main stream.  This meant that I could only approach the debris from the fast flowing side.  I had the good fortune to have an airbed, which was quickly inflated and, hanging on to it, I paddles forth.  Every time I got near the main stream, I was forced out again. A few seconds later, I fell off the airbed and was ignominiously dragged ashore.  Having taken a few breaths and told myself I was an idiot, I once more sat astride the airbed.

This time I lunged at the stream and suddenly I was in the main flow.  Disaster struck.  I headed straight in to the rock face.  The airbed overturned and the pair of us were hurled with some force against the debris. I straightened up, shaking and found myself on a log which was submerged four feet below the water.

The debris was a mass of oscillating rubbish and the smell was vile.  Using the airbed as a type of float on a mass of quicksand, I climbed on top of the debris, and made my way to the sump end.  The debris ended in a mass of logs each a foot in diameter completely blocking the way on.  I could find no way through, round or over them, and I set out for the return journey.

To enter the rushing water was like jumping into the unknown.  By myself, it would have been impossible to return.  I gave a signal for my companions to pull.  The water hit me – forced me under – my helmet fell off – and a bootee was wrenched off my left foot.  Then it was all over, and I was pulled close to the bank where – spluttering and cursing – I touched terra firma again.

Monthly Notes – No 4

Editor’s Note.    The compression of the May and June B.B.’s into one (short) number – the editor will be on holiday for the next fortnight – has meant that Dave Irwin’s excellent Monthly Notes on caving matters will be found below at number 4 (for June 1967) as this one contains more up to the minute information….

by Dave Irwin.

Gough’s Cave. Permission is being sought to stage classical plays in the Black Cat Chamber.  (Daily Telegraph 25.5.67.)

THAT’S US!      “They have such lost degraded souls
No wonder they inhabit holes;
When such depravity is found,
It only can live underground.”  (G.K. Chesterton)

Emborough Swallet     Keith Franklin and Phil Coles have begun work.  To date, a shaft some seven feet deep has been dug, but now needs shoring (This has been done temporarily – Ed) Any help would be appreciated.  According to both diggers, it looks extremely promising.

Lamb Leer.      Over the past few years, M.N.R.C. have made an extensive effort to locate Palmer’s Chamber.  The latest dig off Agony crawl is plagued with a high concentration of Carbon Dioxide. Another dig off the main chamber could possibly lead to Lyon’s Lake Chamber.

White Spot Cave ( Yorks.)         Members of the Happy Wanderers Caving Club have reported to have discovered three miles of new stream passage.  This was found by the discoverers of a new entrance to the system.  A connection with the show cave has been made.  Anyone with more details?

C.R.G. Publications.     A new survey of Lancaster/Ease Gill system complete with report is now available. Price 17/6.  Available form Bryan Ellis.  62 pages of text plus photographs and bibliography.  Very good value.

Lightweight Carrying Sheets.  These are manufactured from a material developed for space garments.  A sheet of this light plastic will carry the weight of a man.  It is treated with and aluminium coating which reflects body heat.  This sheet – or ‘rescue blanket’ is 84” x 56” and folds down to 4.5” x 2”.  Weight is four ounces.  Price is 20/-.  The other version made by the same manufacturer is of heavier material and has corner eyelets.  Wt. 11oz. Price 68/6.  Whether this material is suitable for cave rescue is not known, and will be worth trying.  U.K Distributor – SAMS BROTHERS LTD., CONDUIT LANE, HODDESDON HERTS.

Longest Caves.            Flint Ridge (U.S.A.) 55 miles.
Hollock ( Switzerland) 53 miles.
Mammoth Cave ( U.S.A.) 51 miles.

Flint Ridge and Mammoth come within 200 miles of each other!

M.R.O.              The Hon. Sec.’s Report (Published March 1967) for 1966 pointed out some serious comments as a result of rescues during 1966.

1.                  Clothing for sump trips does have to be adequate.

2.                  Sitting still when cold is as tiring as caving.

3.                  Climbing on a tight lifeline is good, as long as the subject can climb.  When he falls off the ladder it is best to let him down to the bottom at once.  It is only possible to pull him up by direct pull if there is a second man on the ladder to stop the subject from jamming on the overhang.

4.                  The long round trip (Swildons – Shatter Link and Figure of Eight) is exceptionally difficult and arduous and have given more than half the parties attempting it serious trouble, including two M.R.O. callouts.

Procedure in the Event of an Accident.

1.                  Person having knowledge of accident will go to the nearest call box or telephone (details at cave entrance) and ring the police.  WELLS POLICE TEL. No. WELLS 3481)

2.                  The police will require the following information:-

Name and address of caller.
Number and situation of call box or telephone.
Nature of Accident.
Name of Cave.
Position of accident in cave if known.
Number of people on party.
Whether experienced cavers

3.                  The informant will remain at phone for further instructions.

Edison Lamps. (Model ‘L’)  Spares for this lamp are available from CASEY BROS., 208 WESTFIELD STREET, ST. HELENS, LANCS.

Dalesman Publications.           Have a revised version of “Caves of Derbyshire” back in print.  It is a slightly different format with limp covers. Price 10/-.  “Caves of the Marches and Wales” is now out of print.  A new edition is expected soon.  Incidentally, clubs making bulk purchases are given generous discounts.

St. Cuthbert’s.  Work continues at the sump.  The ‘big’ traverse for the new survey is about to be closed and corrected.  When the traverse is completed, several of the new surveys will be drawn and published in the early autumn.

B.E.C. Caving Report No.5.      A revised edition of this report Headgear And Lighting will be available soon. Revision by Geoff Bull.  Price and publication date details later.

Nine Barrow Swallet.  Following the collapse of the shaft at Fairman’s Folly, Wessex C.C. have switched their attention to the old B.E.C. dig at Nine Barrows Swallet.  On the subject of digs, the U.S.S.S. are said to be progressing well at manor Farm and M.N.R.C. have prepared the ground to commence digging at Stockhill Swallet.

B.E.C. London Section.            Some time ago, enough members lived in the London area to form a London Group which, during the time of its existence, was extremely active.  The same situation exists today, and any member interested  in re-forming the section are invited to contact Dave Irwin, 9 Camden Hill Gardens, London, W.8.  Telephone PARk 6127.  A general get together and a natter can then be arranged.

Rock and Fountain Inn.           The proprietors of this pub are prepared to serve cooked meals as a reasonable price to any members caving in the Aggy area.  The pub is located on the old Brynmawr road.  At least a day’s notice would be appreciated.

Letter to the Editor.

Withy House,
Withy Close West,
Bristol 9.

Dear Alfie,

I wonder if you would like to have two corrections for the B.B. concerning cave rescues.  (No. 230, Page 14).  The reason for contacting John Childs is not in the case the C.R.O. is needed. It is to enable him to put caving parties in Ireland in touch with each other, so that they know where to turn for help if needed.  Call out is through the local police or Gardia.

If cave rescue is required in the Devon area, it must be done not through Col. Fraser but (as everywhere) through the police.  Dial 999 and the police are supposed to contact the nearest rescue team.

Oliver. C. Lloyd

Pitons

A very informative report on pitons has recently been published by the National Engineering Laboratory at East Kilbride, Glasgow on behalf of the British Mountaineering Council.  This report (which is short and available in the club library) is well worth reading by anyone who uses or who intends to use pitons.

Even climbers who make regular use of pitons may be surprised – and perhaps dismayed – at some of the conclusions drawn.  A good piton should be made form high tensile steel, shoulder have a small eye as close to the shoulder of the piton as possible (in the case of elliptical eyes, the ellipse should slope downwards towards the rock face when driven in with the shoulder downwards).  The shoulder should be as square as possible, to enable the piton to be driven right up to the shoulder.  This should always be done, and where this cannot be effected, a loop with a karabiner attached should be tied onto the piton right against the rock face.

The use of pitons in vertical cracks is generally frowned upon, although it is recognised that individual skills in the placing of pitons plays a large part of their ‘holding power’. Even so, the report prefers an indifferent horizontal crack to a good vertical crack under most circumstances.

Pitons were ‘pulled off’ by use of a hydraulic test rig – and in some cases the pull requires was as low as 400lbs from hard limestone!  On the other hand, well designed pitons of good high tensile steel driven into hard volcanic rock stood pulls offs in excess of 5,000lbs.

S.J. Collins

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Helmets.  Fibreglass helmets are now on sale at the Belfry at 10/- each.

Donation of Furniture. The Hut Warden would like to thank Bob Price for his gift of chairs for the Belfry.

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(We will be printing Steve Grime’s interesting letter next month).

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