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Monthly Notes Number 37

By “Ben.”

Away Trips.  Although more ambitious things had been planned, the recent B.E.C. and S.M.C.C. trip to Yorkshire ended up as an amble down Bar Pot to the more accessible parts of Gaping Gill, where some photographs were taken.  The next trips should prove more interesting and are:- JAN 9TH – BIRKS FELL CAVE and JAN 3RD – MARBLE SINK POT.

St. Cuthbert’s News.  The weekend diggers (C. Priddle, G. Phippen and T. Large) have dug through the original end of the unusually dry stream passage below Cone Chamber and reached a constricted flooded rift which is thought to be fairly close to Continuation Chamber.  Sump I is still fighting back.  Martin Webster had had to dive it with air for the for the second time so that it could be bailed and the pipes refurbished.  A week later, the sump was again flooded, and the Tuesday night diggers are considering leaving it that way until the drier summer weather arrives. As a diversion, the choke downstream from Traverse Chamber has been dug through by the Tuesday team.  This now offers a quick, wet and thixatropic alternative to Bypass Passage.  It is hoped to enlarge it to make a feasible rescue route from the bottom of the cave. As such, it will probably always be rather wet but could save a considerable amount of time.

Stoke Lane Practice Rescue.  The recent C.D.G. practice rescue through Sump I was quite successful and three people found it quite easy to guide the victim through the relative spacious underwater extensions of the sump, avoiding the awkward upstream exit used by cavers.

St. Cuthbert’s Practice Rescue.  As there were only sufficient people for two teams, it was decided to test the advantages that would be gained by using a rescue route via the Main Steam choke.  The first party carried from below Stalagmite Pitch to the Choke where the victim disembarked from the carrying sheet and went round Bypass Passage.  Both the haul up the pitch, via the outside route, and the subsequent carry were found to be quite easy and the whole section took about an hour.  The victim was then taken from Traverse Chamber to the top of Pulpit Pitch by the second party.  This also ran well at about an hour and a half.  Pulpit Pitch was rigged for hauling from the bottom.  There was a little difficulty at the top because of insufficient numbers, as at least three people are required to take the victim up the last few feet which are above the effective height of the pulley.  The cast was as follows: - Victim: Tom Gage. First Party; Colin Clark, Dick Wickens, Martin Huaun, Pete Stobart, Colin Dooley, Roy Bennett (Leader). Second Party; Tim Large, Gerald Phippen, Bob Gander, Dave Turner, Steve Summerhayes, Martin Mills, Bob Craig (Leader). It was confirmed that it was a good route provided that the problems of the choke itself can be sorted out.

St. Cuthbert’s Leader’s Meeting.  The most important decisions to emerge from this meeting were to re-open Maypole Series and to remove five chains and the four rung ladder from the sixteen items of fixed tackle in the cave.  The B.E.C. committee accepted the Maypole decision but deferred the tackle because of the limited attendance of leaders at the leaders meeting. The question will be discussed again at the next leaders meeting on May 23rd.  A full report of the recent leaders meeting will follow.