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Route Severity Diagrams

by S. Collins

Part 10 cont. from p. 88.

We can traverse along a rift if it is sufficiently narrow, by striding it, by doing a ‘back and feet’ traverse of it, or if it very narrow, by crawling along it with our body horizontal.  In all these case, we are not on the floor of the rift and so exposure signs are in order. However, the normal exposure sign means that you can’t touch the wall which is dotted, so we denote this form of traverse as under: -


Rift traverse above the floor – straddling or ‘back and feet’


Narrow rift traverse. The danger is not from falling but from slipping down and getting stuck.

PART 11.  Streams, pools, waterfalls and sumps.

By using the ‘black and white’ technique, we can make our basic sign for water indicate all the things in the title of this part.  The thing to remember here is that the WHITE constriction sign shows that the passage may be narrow , but is HIGH.  Thus, the WHITE water sign indicates that water is coming down from a HIGH place on to the caver.

The BLACK constriction sign shows that the passage is CLOSE TO THE FLOOR and thus the BLACK water sign shows that we are dealing with water ON THE FLOOR of a passage.

Again, like constriction, water signs come in two sizes and, again, one is half the passage width (all passages are always shown as being the same width) while the other is the full passage width it is reasonable to expect that the deeper signs for water indicate that there is more water about.  With these remarks in mind, the following should be self-explanatory: -

Heavy drip from above. Enough to endanger carbide lamp or camera.

Falling water.





Stream too deep to wade through.


Pool too deep to wade through.


Sump free-divable under normal conditions.


Sump.  Non free-divable.



PART 12.  Boulders, passage ends and entrances.

A little more on boulders completes our detail.  Boulder strewn floors entailing clambering over the rocks are shown thus: -


                                                …..while unstable boulders on roof or wall are shown hanging in a menacing fashion like this: -


                                    ….and of course, an unstable boulder ruckle becomes: -


It may seem odd to leave entrances until last, but the subject also covers passage termination in general.  We have: -



Pothole open to entrance.


Passage ends in solid rock.


Passage ends in boulder choke.

Passage ends in impassable rift.


Passage ends in impassable rift.


Passage ends in impassable sump.


Passage ends in unclimbed pitch.


Passage ends in unclimbed aven


The Grand RSD Competition

Quite fine detail is possible on an R.S.D. by suitable and intelligent combination of the R.S.D. symbols. In order to popularise this form of describing a cave, the author is prepared to give a prize on ten bob’s worth of beer to the reader who provided the best and most complete description of the imaginary cave illustrated by R.S.D. below.  The 10/- has already been deposited with Ben, and the arrangement is that the Editor will tell Ben who to supply with booze when the time comes. Closing date January 31st 1970.

The R.S.D. is on the following page.  Signs used inside pitches denote type of tackle.  Depths outside.  Some features of the cave may be inferred from the R.S.D.


All entries to be in to the Editor by the end of January 1970.


The new Year issues of the B.B. includes articles of great interest.  Diving in Little Neath River Cave and Care and Maintenance of Nife cells.