QUODCUMQUE  FACIENDUM : NIMIS  FACIEMUS

Editorial

Bi-Monthly At Last?

No, your editor is not breaking faith with the great majority of club members who still vote regularly for a monthly B.B!  In spite of brave promises to produce the full twelve separate issues for this year, a combination of circumstances has finally made it prudent to catch up by telescoping the April and May issues together in this slightly enlarged number of the B.B.

The basic reason is quite simple.  In these days of high inflation rates, we can either say, "To hell with it" and keep pushing the subs up to meet ever rising costs, or try to keep the subs reasonable and use our ingenuity to make our money go further and further.  On the whole, the committee incline to the latter idea, as being more in the B.E.C. tradition of doing things.  For example, at current rates, the B.B. should cost about £160 to produce for this year (NOT including postage but we are managing to do it for just over £30.  This means that we rely increasingly on members who can provide materials and services for us, BUT it also means that we have to wait on occasion until such things become available.  This has tended to increase the natural delays associated with the B.B. - hence the present state of affairs.  Hopefully, we will grow more cunning and not have to do it again.

Club Finances

The Hon. Sec. and Hon. Treasurer have recently reviewed the financial state of the club.  This was done so that, if there was a need to increase the annual subs, matters could be put in front of members in plenty of time for discussion.  Their report will be published in the B.B. shortly, but meanwhile their recommendation is that subs should NOT be increased for the next club year.  The argument is briefly that we can continue to pay our way for one more year at the present rate, although this will leave the club with very little money 'put by' for a rainy day.  However, since money loses in real value even if invested, there is no point in saving it and this asking members to pay more so that their money can be put away to lose in purchasing power.

Belfry Alterations

Following an urgent need to improve the toilets at the Belfry, plans were produced and modified by getting as many people's opinions as could be done in the short time available. The result can now be seen at the Belfry and consists of moving the girls' bedroom to where the changing room was; making a passage from there to the living room, with toilets etc. leading off it; making a new changing room and slightly enlarging the men’s bed room. The whole scheme has cost remarkably little and has been got on with very smartly - thanks mainly to John Dukes and 'Butch'.  The general opinion is that this will constitute a great improvement to the Belfry.

Half Time

Our Hon. Sec., writing in 'Round and About' this month(s?) reviews progress made by this years' club committee at its mid-point in the club year.  Having seen nearly all the club committees in action since 1953, I would like to go on record by stating, as a personal opinion, that this present committee is one of the most effective we have ever had over this long period of time. If we can keep going with committees of this calibre, we will have little to worry about as a club.

Bridge That Gap

Once again, we have at least one item in this B.B. on the caving political scene.  In this connection, I recently had the experience of attending a meeting of the executive of the National Caving Association at Stafford in the capacity of an uninvited observer. The meeting I attended might not, of' course, have been a fair sample of what their meetings are usually like. Even so, one thing which struck me was the degree of quite fundamental difference of opinion as to what the N.C.A. ought to be doing.  Some of those present were very much in favour of the N.C.A. doing more and talking less, which sounds fine on the face of things.

Others, however, pointed out that rushing into things without considering all the possible effects was bound to do more harm than good, especially since there were few things on which all round the table agreed about. This fact is very plain if you read what has been written and then attend the odd meeting as I have done. For instance, there has been a lot of talk at N.C.A. level about the need for money to run the N.C.A. and to do all that it wants to do.  On the other hand, when the delegates to the last meeting of the Southern Council were asked to suggest what the N.C.A. could conceivably WANT any money for, nobody - I repeat, NOBODY, was able to advance a single reason.

This does not mean that the N.C.A. is necessarily wrong, but it DOES mean that the Southern Council, for one, do not understand what the N.C.A. is on about.  The urgent need is for more and greater contact; for more communication for greater understanding.  This MUST occur unless we all want to see a complete stalemate occur. One would imagine that this would be obvious to all.

Present signs, I am sorry to say, are not good.  It is well known that informal discussion over beer - or even coffee - can often achieve more that many hours of formal meeting.  This was completely absent on this occasion.  So much for greater understanding. Communication, as Tim Reynolds pointed out, unfortunately means more paper, but is essential at this stage of the game.  The meeting came out generally in favour of less.  So much for communication.  As far as contact is concerned, as an example, I left the brilliant sunshine of Mendip that day to spend it amongst the hazy weather of Stafford, which at least showed willing.  Regrettably, the N.C.A. Secretary said that, if she happened to be on Mendip when a Southern Council meeting was taking place, and if she didn't happen to be going caving, then she would come to it but she said that it was no part of her job, as she saw it, to make a definite point in attending.  One is tempted to agree with the N.C.A. Chairman, Dick Glover, when he said at the meeting that he saw little future for the N.C.A. under the present circumstances.

Climbing Secretary

Following the recent resignation of Gerry Oaten as Climbing Secretary, the Committee are formally asking for any volunteers for this position, and this item should be taken as the notice to that effect.  For many years now, the climbing section, although small in number, have enriched the club out of all proportion to their size, and it would, I feel, be a very great pity if the position had to go into abeyance by default.  How about it, you climbers?

Club Ties

Unhappily, the enquires about getting new stocks of club ties, coupled perhaps with a choice of colours, is not going too well.  We cannot find a supplier who will produce a woven tie in quantities less than 200 (we used to be able to order 3 dozen at a time).  Since club ties sell slowly, this would be far too much money tied (note clever pun) up.  Suggestions for a cheaper, printed tie (like the W++++x) or for a tie with a single motif have been made.  If you have any suggestions, please get in touch with Barrie or any committee member. Otherwise, the B.E.C. tie will have to be discontinued until times get better.  Just think - your tie could become a valuable antique!

Then Let Some Bold Caving Lad ...

Following Kangy's poem about the old Hunters singsongs, I sat down the other day to see how many titles of what used to be known as 'Hunters Filth' I could still recall.  I now have a list of 70 titles, which is available to anyone collecting such items!

B.B.'s By Air

To send a single B.B. by airmail now costs 7/- and the Postal Department now say that, unless any member is prepared to pay individually, they will have to send them by surface mail in future.

“Alfie”


 

A Potted Account of the National Caving Association A.G.M. held at Wells on 3rd November, 1974

'Wig' writes, 'The report of this meeting is obviously heavily cut and some sections have had to be omitted, but I hope that the major and some politically explosive items have been covered.'

(A full set of the minutes, and minutes of any other region that we, as a club, are involved with, are available for inspection in the club library at the Belfry.)

After the usual preambles, the 'matters arising' dealt with the non-arrival of both the Hon. Sec's and the Hon. Treasurer's reports.  This had meant that 'the various Regional Councils had not been able to discuss the reports prior to the meeting.'  The reason given was due to circumstances beyond the control of the various officers concerned.  Tim Reynolds, on behalf of S.S.C.C. said that the Southern delegates had been instructed to vote against the acceptance of the reports.  He said that, while there had been practical difficulties it was ' a vital part of the N.C.A. constitution that these reports were available prior to the Annual Meeting.'  A general discussion arrived at various 'startling' points including having the dates of the meetings arranged so that the reports would be available on time. Anyway, the matter was passed to the Executive Committee.  Following a point raised by Ben Lyon the Chairman asked the meeting to accept that the Novice Training Special Committee 'Be asked to look into the matter of trying to stop the Department of Education and Science and local education authorities indiscriminately encouraging caving'.  This was agreed.  Following a question by Bob Lewis regarding Whernside Manor, the N.C.A emphasised that N.C.A. recognition was without prejudice to the 'future development of other centres'.

The Chairman's Address then followed.  Dick Glover, the N.C.A. Chairman, stressed that the remarks which were to follow were his own personal view.  This, of course, can be interpreted as being views for discussion.  Mr. Glover first mentioned that the unpaid executive officers were working their hands to the bone.  'No further workload is possible, and in view of the rapid increase in the cost of travel, less is likely to be carried out’.  He continued to say that this, in conjunction with the fact that other professional sports administrators fix meetings in normal working hours, meant that the problem could only be resolved by the appointment of a paid full or part-time officer and that we must think along these lines 'if the role of the N.G.A. is to continue to develop; if we are to make the best use of the finance and facilities available; and if we are to do much more for the caving clubs.'  The Chairman said that a paid official could keep closer contact with the clubs and the official bodies outside the caving sphere as well as doing all the secretarial work.

Turning to Whernside Manor, Mr. Glover said that he hoped it would not have to close down and that he had been invited to join the advisory committee set up by the Scout Association. The work at Whernside had been running at a loss and the required money had been available in the form of grants from the Sports Council via the N.G.A.  This deficit was running at £10,000 - £15,000 per annum and the Scout Association felt unable to continue the subsidy any longer.  Direct grant aid was not likely to be forthcoming from the Sports Council.  If there was no change by mid 1975, the centre would have to close.  Mr. Glover personally found this state of affairs totally unacceptable and said that everything should be done to ensure the continuance of the centre.  He concluded this section of his talk by urging the meeting to instruct the N.G.A. to communicate our 'surprise, shock and dismay' to the Scout Association over their decision, and to offer the aid of N.G.A. to help try and find a way to keep the centre open.

Mr. Glover then turned to finance and said 'that it was very evident that all constituent bodies of the N.G.A. have ideas, plans and schemes for new development which are continually frustrated by lack of funds.'  The Sports Council pay up to 75% in grants providing the N.G.A. find the remainder. He said that, in addition to this, the quarries were an added problem and that we would be faced with at least one rescue operation each year together with its attendant expenses.  In his opinion, Mr. Glover said that each region should set in motion 'as a matter of the highest priority', some project that would ensure an ongoing and increasing source of cash.  One possibility was to purchase and run a show cave in each region and reap the benefit of their profits, thus enabling larger donations to the N.C.A. without digging into caver’s pockets too much. Each region, according to Mr. Glover, should think of ways of raising a sum between £2,000 and £5,000 per annum. He welcomed views on the topics he had raised.

A lengthy discussion then followed and only a few points can be raised here.  Tim Reynolds said that the N.C.A. had come to the parting of the ways. Either it continued on its present budget, or it entered a very different field which would cost very much more money to operate in.  The chairman wanted to keep up with the Jones's by saying that all the other sports had full-time officials.  Mike Hollingworth said that unless the N.C.A. undertook a better P.R.O. exercise, we would not get our point of view over to the public.  John Wilmut thought that the N.C.A. had been thinking in too small a way and should become an organisation of some status.  In particular, conservation will become an expensive part of caving in the 1980's if we have to fight the quarries.  Ted Meek (Cotham C.C.) felt that these comments were of no great interest to cavers. (Good for Ted Meek! - Ed.  Let us hope that the meek will indeed, inherit the earth!). It was pointed out that, in a majority of sports, members had to join an organisation, but in caving this was still not necessary.  However, there was some danger that an organisation might try to take over access control to enforce this.  The chairman replied that there were similar organisations that did not require everyone to join, but organisations had come into existence because of external pressures. Tim Reynolds said that the caving clubs might take 'a jaundiced view' of a full-time assistant at, say, £1,000 per annum if clubs had to find £250 of this as part of the grant agreement. Clubs would leave the regional bodies rather than pay, and if membership of the regional bodies was made compulsory, then there would be more blowing off of locks from cave entrances and chaos would reign.

Jim Hanwell, in reply to Wilmut, said that the C.S.C.C. had good relations with the authorities in the South and had been involved in discussions with them for the last ten years - there was no need for this type of problem having to be handled at national level.  The discussion then turned to the benefits that cavers would receive if the N.C.A. employed a full-time assistant, or not. Mike Hollingworth said that as the general caver had a caving life of about 4 to 5 years, he would take a short term view of the situation and so N.C.A. had to 'get through to the average caver instead of evolving upwards as it appeared to have done to date.'

The N.C.A. were given permission to instruct the trustees to purchase shares in the quarry companies providing that the regions were consulted prior to any action being taken. An amended resolution on tackle testing, underground communications and the setting up of a trade association was passed for a special sub-committee to investigate the problems and report back to the N.C.A. executive.  After some discussion, the meeting agreed unanimously to allow the N.C.A. executive to investigate the question of grant aid for expeditions abroad.

On the question of a national insurance policy, Frank Murphy said that the premium would be about £1 per head and this would cost about £8,000 at national level.

D. J. Irwin.


 

Travels In Africa

Concluding the useful information given last month by Colin Priddle about the African journey he recently made.

I will finish with some brief notes on the various countries that I visited:-

Uganda.  Enter only by road or rail from Nairobi (or by air.)  Otherwise you are a spy.  It is a beautiful country, but is controlled by the army, who are liable to confiscate property at will.  Men must wear long trousers in public and women's skirts must be below the knee. Necklines must not be more than four inches below the neck.  Things are dear and scarce in Uganda.  At present, I would not recommend casual travelling in this country.

Kenya: Things are pretty easy in general but Nairobi, like any other town, has its fair share of 'wide boys'.  Food is pretty cheap and the people are friendly and helpful.

Tanzania: This is rather an unstable and poor country. We had no trouble, but quite a few people we met had found themselves in trouble with the police for no real reason (like the photograph).  Our policy was to go to the local police station when we arrived and ask for the best place to stay and eat.  They must think that no suspicious person would go to a police station, but even so, they check your passport.  Tanzania's relations with other countries are rather poor at present, which may result in border closures.  They are at present moving people from their tribal homes into communes, and there is a lot of unrest.

Zambia: The border with Rhodesia is closed at present, although one can make a detour into Botswana and thus to Rhodesia.

Malawi: Women must wear ankle length skirts.  All traveller's luggage in thoroughly checked and men with long hair must have a good haircut before entry is permitted. Otherwise, Malawi is a reasonable country.  If you need to hire porters, the rate is 12½p a day, so you will know if somebody is trying it on.  Labour is very cheap in all the countries ( Rhodesia is 30p a day) and it is rather pleasant to have somebody to carry your rucsac especially as it is hot most of the time.

Mozambique: Things have settled down recently, but I wouldn't like to speculate as to the future months, especially if you are heading to a white country.

Rhodesia: One requisite for a traveller is £300 for an air ticket to the country of origin.  It is the same in South Africa, but you will find a free country with well stocked shops and no petty officials.  In fact, it is a civilised country with camping sites for travellers in most towns.  Hotels are dearer but hitching is easy.

I hope that in this article, I have fired the enthusiasm for someone to travel to Africa.  Excellent journeys can be made from Egypt, through to Kenya and beyond or through the Sahara into Zaire and then on.  There is an advantage in reaching Rhodesia or South Africa as money is easily earned to enable you to go on or back home by boat.  The most difficult part of the trip is making up your mind to leave your job and friends in England - as a trip through Africa cannot be hurried, and indeed, you would not want to hurry it.

Colin Priddle.


 

Mik's Peregrinations

I had thought of apologising for not maintaining my regular spot of ramblings for the B.B., but when I received my copy for last month with its excellent articles, I decided that you were better off than if I had written - and it gave me an opportunity to have my own prejudices reinforced by Kangy.  Kangy's rhymes set me to thinking of the caving scene over the years and the way that changes occur.

For instance, casting my mind back through the ages to the days of old H.E. Balch, caving was not a very exact science and outfits such as that worn by Fred Davies were derigeur (except that they wore bowlers and used candles casting treacherous shadows as they expanded the nether world of Mendip).  The tackle used amounted to enormous piles of knotted rope on which the explorers plumbed the depths and boldly went where no man had gone before (my apologies to Star Trek).

The next generation of cavers were much more sophisticated, using carbide lamps to light their way tackling pitches with rope and wood ladders.  These were still bulky and had a great deal of give when weight was placed on them. Indeed, having tied yourself on to a lifeline, using a bowline; granny knot or noose, you stepped off on to the ladder only to find yourself bouncing up and down like a yo-yo and being cut in two the lifeline tightened.

Later again, the weekend wire pullers were able to take things much more easily.  Lightweight wire and elektron ladders had been invented and at one fell swoop the new caver found himself unencumbered and able to extend his exploration with ease.  Several other innovations arose at this time, such as electric lighting sets and 'goon' suits.  By now, of course, the clubs were loaded down with tackle (yes, even the B.E.C.) and new exploration flourished, especially when the ultra light weight tackle arrived on the scene and we were told authoritatively that all caves were located under ground.  With this tackle, and such information, the tigers could not be held back and Saturday nights in the Hunters barrang to voices raised in praise of techniques and of achievements.  This almost reached the stage when caving talk had to be banned so that serious drinking was not hazarded.

You may well be wondering where all this is taking me.  Answer: full circle.  Most of the discussion nowadays in the Hunters is again about rope, but this time without knots.  You've known for years that our climbing chaps could abseil gaily through the air, but in caving there used to be one problem - how do you get back up again? The answer is S.R.T. (Single Rope Techniques.)  Back to the times of H.E., but with a difference.  The modern tiger kitted out with wet suits, electrics, rope, clogs, Whillans Harnesses and the like is now able to stroll fairly easily through the stygian depths carrying out what used to be super severe trips with consummate ease.

It is this very ease which is the undoing of the Mendip musician.  There is now no need to drag yourself wearily to the Hunters to soak aching limbs (from carrying heavy tackle) in beer and sing a few melodies to lift flagging spirits.  As a result, they 'orrible words are falling into disuse and may soon vanish completely from Mendip unless we can persuade Kangy and others to come along and resuscitate them.  Being something of a traditionalist, I am sorry to record this scene and am pleased when times such as a few weeks ago occur when Maurice Iles managed to get a reasonable song session going.

Anyway, turning my thoughts to local events and the social whirl, it strikes me that it's time I got off the soapbox and mentioned such matters as the St. David's Day/Steven's Birthday Barrel which saw the initiation of the new Belfry Boy, which took place amid the restructuring of the Belfry.  Unfortunately, very late in the celebrations, a halt had to be called when Patti Palmer got stepped on.  This put a damper on events and gave Patti a large bruise which she said was spectacularly colourful but refused to exhibit it owing to its location.  There was another barrel when Malcolm Jarrett, Keith Newbury and Chris Batstone celebrated their birthdays - another merry time I am pleased to report.

There has been much movement of persons recently.  One section of the B.E.C. went to Derbyshire (to a pub) and another went to Ireland (to a bar?)  The Thomas's have an addition to their family, Timothy Asleigh (or is it Ashley?).  I don't know if he is a member yet.

Talking of going full circle, another sign of the times is that Mike Palmer has taken to travelling up to the Hunters by pushbike.  Unfortunately, as Barrie pointed out, this severely restricts the amount of beer time available but as Alfie was heard to remark, this not only saves him petrol but beer as well. This intrepid pioneer has now been joined by Andy Nichols, who has a bike with the words 'Andrew Nichols B.E.C.' on the cross bar.  Can this be the start of a cycling craze?  With Priddy Village Sports day close upon us, perhaps the B.E.C. will sweep the board in cycling events!  Hilary Thomas was heard to say that she was thinking of entering the mother’s race, but was worried in case young Timothy found that he was getting butter for tea instead of milk!

Let me leave you with this thought.  I'm told that Sylvia Hobbs was heard to say that her cuckoo clock doesn't say cuckoo ... is anyone surprised?


 

Paul Esser Memorial Lecture

An account of the 1975 Paul Esser Memorial Lecture sent to us by Oliver Lloyd.

The 1975 lecture was given in the University of Bristol on the 19th of February by Mr. Donald Robertson to a crowd of some 500 people, filling the Physics Lecture Theatre to overflowing.  It provided a wonderful sense of occasion and was a fitting tribute to Paul Esser.

In June 1972, Mr. Robertson's schooner was holed and sunk by a killer whale in the Pacific, so that he and his party had to survive the next six weeks as best they could before being picked up.  He told us once again most of the salient features of the story, which he published in 1973 under the title "Survive the Savage Sea", but since then he has been studying the whole problem and has recently published his conclusions in a new book called "Sea Survival".

He maintains that far fewer people would die if they knew what to do or how to behave when shipwrecked.

Insufficient attention is given to the technique of launching lifeboats or survival rafts or of men protecting themselves against the cold, as was shown in a recent disaster off the coast of Cornwall. The information in official survival manuals is inadequate or misleading.  As an example of this, he quoted his experience of trying to attract the attention of passing ships.  They generally take no notice because they do not keep an adequate watch.  Even if they do see your boat, they generally take no notice because they assume that the occupants, if any, must be dead by now.

The shipwrecked mariner must become self sufficient and must try to make some land all on his own. But the official books say that you should always assume that you will be picked up.  Similarly with regard to food and water.  Emergency stores are very useful but may only last two or three weeks out of the many that you nay have to spend on the ocean.  The important things to have on board are multi-purpose tools that can be used for fishing or replenishing water supplies from rain.  Mr. Robertson's team achieved a sort of equilibrium with their surroundings by becoming self sufficient.  And yet it was almost a question of luck that they had with them their two most important items of equipment; a kitchen knife and a Genoa sail.

Water supplies were usually inadequate and they suffered from dehydration, yet they found that a turtle may contain four pints of blood, which is good to drink.  Sea water, of course, is fatal.  Dehydration has the unexpected effect of making it almost impossible to stand or walk when reaching shore or a rescue boat.  Although rainfall was welcome for the drinking water it provided, it was also rather a problem.  Even though they were in the tropics, the rain temperature was only 55OF. You have to keep still and let it run off you; otherwise you increase your cooling rate and suffer from hypothermia. Also, it tends to sink the craft so that the crew, under cover of the sill, have to keep bailing it out.

Landing a raft in a surf can be very difficult.  Many of this questions asked related to "what did you do?"  The main answer was that keeping alive keeps you busy.


 

North Wales Again

Another climbing tale by that old stalwart,

Kangy King

Like diving into a swimming pool.  "Can I still swim after all this time?" - "Can I still climb?" Was my unvoiced unknown after an absence of six years from the steepness of British crags - and in the event the analogy with a swimming bath was apt.  September in North Wales was as wet, with lakes where I'd never seen lakes before; that is, of course, when the peculiar horizontal water allowed vision.

Anyway, Mark James and I holed up for the night in the Helyge garage (he having forgotten the key) and after a brief look at the incredible sight of the foaming, white dimly remembered Ogwen falls, now filled solidly with water at a forty five degree slope, we were soaked in the process.  A social call was in order and we went to my sister who now lives at Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyndrobwll-llantysiliogogogoch. (true, true!)

Beer, lunch, a light stroll to view the Atlantic breakers driven by a massive wind to pound Anglesey, dinner and then, conscience pricking, back to the waterlogged Helyg garage with water jetting through its walls and a stream across its floor.

We were up next morning to much the same.  Then it was suddenly lighter.  Mark dashed outside and shouted that he could see Tryfan!  The wind had become stronger and more squally, leaving holes through which the sun streamed bravely.  Panic ensued. Cramming gear into sacs, we drove to the roadside at Gwern-y-goflichaf and in a lull in the Westerly squalls decided to get on to the East face of Tryfan - just to see.  The violence of the wind left the East face in an eddy.  It was nearly warm!  The higher we climber on the heather terrace, the drier became the rock until it became quite obvious to both of us that what we were really doing was heading for Gashed Crag, an old favourite of a climb.  Mark led out to the gash.  I took the corner chimney, Mark rounded the corner.  I stormed up the long, ribby stretches and he bombed up the final chimney to the summit.  All this in sunshine while amazingly - through the Nant Ffrancon and Bwldd Tryfan horizontal rain lashed by tremendous winds swept ferociously.  We paused in the lee of the summit to eat.  Standing upright was almost impossible and although we wasted some effort trying to persuade two emergency coloured people we met that they should complete Tryfan by jumping from Adam to Eve (the summit rocks) they declined though we offered them our rope.  They could hardly be blamed and, shouting 'goodbyes' in the wind roar, we scrambled rapidly down the North Ridge and, racing to car, reached it before another squall lashed across.

Well.  That was that.  Dry, having done a good when really we expected nothing more than a soaking, we set off early for home.  Another epic, we said.  Another epic.

 



Pyrenees 1974 Report of a Trip Partly Sponsored by the Ian Dear Memorial Fund

Malcolm Jarrett writes: Dear Mike and Sett, Thanks for the money!  I'm sorry this account has been so very slow. Initially I thought you wanted the B.B. article and then after the A.G.M.  Mike pointed out that a more complete article was wanted for reference. This was completed within a few days of the A.G.M. but suffered disastrously whilst journeying to Mendip in a coat pocket.  Only now have I had the time to copy and rephrase it.

This report will be a brief resume of the time spent in France.  More detailed accounts will follow in the B.B. later.  The trip was primarily a holiday and there was little time to organise anything serious due to examination commitments.  Hopefully, we reconnoitred for a trip in 1975.

CAVES VISITED

We arrived in France on the 15th, but due to the heat and the effects of the journey, we didn't get under ground until the 17th of August.

BETZULAKO HARPIA was our first trip.  The name is not French, but of Basque origin.  As Basque is one of only two languages known to exist in total isolation, it is difficult to derive much information from the name.  The -KO suffix is a genitive - hence BETZULA -KO means 'of Betzula (the name of the local mountain).

The cave has been studied for several years by Cambridge University Caving Club and is about 4 kilometres (two and a half miles) long.  We visited the Shipwreck Passage area (a survey is available via C.U.C.C.) and saw some very fine stal.

In the entrance area there are extensive cave bear scratches, although the route that bears took to arrive in the cave is unknown as the only current route involves two short pitches.  We did not follow the main passage due to lack of time.  The return journey to our campsite at Licq in the mist was rather frightening due to exposed drop on either side of several hundred feet.

Our second cave was BETCHENKAKO LEZIA.  This is on the same hillside as the Gouffre d'Aphanice. This sports a 328 metre (1,011 feet) underground pitch.  (Vulcan Pot is a similar number of feet!)  Our aims were more modest, the entrance pitch being a mere 180 feet.  Even this is moderated by having a handy winch installed by a French film enterprise.  We abseiled down on a rope belonging to C.U.C.C.  The funnel shaped entrance rift gave a really distorted perspective to the abseil, the occasional flash bulb from beneath giving it a truer sense of size.

The cave is of grand proportions everywhere and is covered with stal.  Unfortunately three carbide lights made little impression on the gloom.

Once out of sight of daylight there is an under ground pitch of seventy feet, rigged with very high quality steel ladders.  A short scramble leads into an area scarred by the debris of filming - light fittings, generator and film cans.  A further scramble along a wide bouldery gallery leads to a second set of fixed ladders, and another drop fifty feet down to a ledge which leads in turn to a further fifty foot down to a pool.  On the right hand side of the ladder is a steep mud slope at about thirty degrees.  This produces the most impressive sights from the ledge at the top of the last pitch, as other cavers scramble back to the same level and higher, on the mud.

This mud pile is capped by an area of huge gours, and after a few hundred feet a terminal chamber is reached.  This is several hundred feet in circumference and contain a massive gour.  Entry is made via a forty foot high balcony and a thrutching climb leads to floor level.

On the 20th of August we journeyed back along the hillside track past Betzulia to BORATCHEGAGNAHR HARPIA. There were a few details missing from the C.U.C.C. survey which we were to examine.  We were joined by Steve Dickinson from the Eldon after his labours down the Pierre St. Martin with U.L.S.A.

The entrance is a large crater beside the road.  This leads to a large half-lit chamber from which two passages lead off.  The left-hand passage had not been noticed previously and Steve wound his way into it.  I followed, through the faeces of various rodents until the bedding closed own conclusively.  Steve and I returned the others at the end of the C.U.C.C. survey.  There seemed to be a state of chaos with cavers ferreting about everywhere.  Steve disappeared down an evil rift and I followed as far as a climb.  This climb wasn't technically difficult but the friable rock was intimidating and I made an excuse to return to the others.  Steve carried on and discovered a large chamber, which he named the Salle Elisabeth (not after the queen, but his current girlfriend.)  The point of entry to the chamber was the head of a forty foot pitch and a further pitch lead to the known limit of the cave.  It was curious to note how much colder the high altitude caves were.

The next underground trip was into the Pierre St. Martin.  Little can be said of this cave that hasn't been said better elsewhere. Tarzieff and Casteret have both described the Pierre in readily available books.  We entered via the tunnel and set off towards the Lepineux shaft.  Unfortunately we didn't reach the shaft, which has lost much of its former glory by the ignominious addition of a concrete cap. The Spanish hope to turn the shaft into a show cave!

The dimensions of the Salle de la Verna are such that the original party thought that they had emerged into a starless night!

A further trip to Betchenkako occurred, completing the exploration described earlier.

The remaining two caving trips were in the Gouffre des Stalactites Deviees.  Max Cosyns had described the cave and wanted a maypole recovered.  Unfortunately we failed.

Days spent in daylight were occupied in shopping and walking.  Next year, Graham Wilton-Jones, John Dukes and myself intend finishing the work in the Gouffre des Stalactites Deviees if possible.

References:

1.                    B.E.C. at P.S.M. A. Nichols. B.B. No 323.

2.                    Gouffre Des Stalactites Deviees.  M. Jarrett, not yet published.

3.                    Caves of Adventure.  Haroun Tazieff.

4.                    The Discovery of the Pierre St. Martin.  N.Casteret.

5.                    As yet unpublished items by Graham Wilton-Jones, John Dukes and Sue Holmes.

6.                    An account of the P.S.M. by Nicholas Rechet, published in Cave Science.

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank the Ian Dear Memorial Fund for the grant of £30 towards the trip.  Further thanks are due to C.U.C.C. for use of their tackle and influence and to John Dukes and Andrew Nichols for planning the trip.

Does Anyone Know?

Chris Howell writes 'Does anyone have any idea of the origin of the name 'Smitham Hill' (the hill up from East Harptree to the Castle of Comfort).  One possible answer may be connected with the old smelting works, but it seems that in Derbyshire the word 'smitham' was the name given to lead ore which had passed through the sieves after 'bucking' (breaking up with hammers) but before the buddling process.  It would be interesting if some connection between words used locally in Derbyshire and on Mendip could be established.  Chris adds that he is NOT offering a pint for the first correct answer!


 

Round and About

A Monthly Miscellany

Compiled by 'Wig'

174.      Northern News: Birksfell re-opens on April 14th when the five and a half month closed season ends.  Negotiations are under way to reduce this closure time.  Pikedaw Caverns is capped with an unlocked lid by C.N.C.C. and Y.S.S. and there is free access.  C.N.C.C. request that cavers maintain good relations with the tenant farmer Mr. John Haleltine, Hilltop Farm, Malham. There is no need to call.  Mongo Gill - North Shaft entrance has been capped with 'Sheep-proof' slab.  Permits required from D. C. Mellor, 9 Southview, Farnhill, Keighley, Yorks. Fairy Hole, Weardale.  Provisional agreement reached which could give access to one and three quarter miles of cave.  Survey under way which hopefully will discover alternative entrance sites. A.G.M. of C.N.C.C. is at Ingleborough Hotel, Ingleton at 3 p.m. on the 17th May 1975. Magnetometer Pot - Bolton Spelaeos have renewed entrance shaft.  Lancaster-Easegill - boulders on move at Stop Pot, should be treated with utmost caution.

175.      Charterhouse C.C. Permits: Members should check that their permits are still valid.  These are made out for five years.   Reissued permits can be obtained from Dave Irwin or Colin Dooley.

176.      New Members: We would like to welcome the following new members to the club:-

Miss Glenys Beazant.  190 Hinkler Rd, Thornhill, Southampton, Hants.SO2 6GS.

M.D. Barker.  Hunters Lodge, 4 Heath Rd, Pamber Heath, Nr. Basingstoke, Hants.

Miss M. Henderson.  28 Newgreens Ave, St. Albans, Herts.

S. Craig.  49 Stepley Drive, Southcote, Reading, Berks.

E.O. Humphries.  9 Mounters Close, Marnhull, Sturminster Newton, Dorset, DT10 5NT.

J. Wridley. 15 Minster Way, Bath.

177.      M.R.O.  At the A.G.M. of the M.R.O. Committee, the new Paraguard stretcher formed the centre of the discussion.  This professionally designed stretcher is basically by two aluminium tubes some six and a half feet long pitched a foot apart and spaced with a padded frame. Attached to the tubes are two wrap round straps which, together with webbing straps, clamp the patient securely. Additional features include feet straps; side carrying handles and some adjustable head straps for spinal injuries. Lifting gear is also supplied. The time to strap the patient into it takes only a few moments.  So far, it has only been tried in the Upper Series of Swildons Hole, but a carry from the Old Grotto via Jacob's Ladder and down Kenny's Dig to the entrance was shown to be eased considerably.  This is because of the two parallel tubes which enable the rescuers to lift the patient without the need for central support.  Low passages are no problem, compared with the use of a carrying sheet.

The general philosophy at the moment is that the patient will be tied up in the usual carrying sheet and then strapped into the paraguard stretcher. At places where the Paraguard stretcher proves impossible, the patient will be quickly removed and man handled in the usual manner.  In such caves as Longwood, the passages are ideally suited to the stretcher but the entrance series will require the carrying sheet.  Though at first sight this may appear a  'Heath Robinson' approach, the time saved by even a partial use of the paraguard will shorten a carry considerably.  The cost is £130 to M.R.O.  It sounds expensive, but the time saving will be worth while.  During the next few months, a check will be made in the main systems on the hill at places where passage bends might present problems. Some problem areas are thought to be as follows:-

1. Longwood       Christmas Crawl and the boulder choke upstream of the Great Chamber.

2. G.B.               Exit route from Mud Passage at the top of 10’ climb to First Grotto.

3. Swildons         Mud sump and Blasted Boss.

4. Eastwater       Bakers Chimney and boulder ruckle

5. Stoke             Not suitable for this stretcher

6. St. Cuthbert’s  Wire and Entrance Rifts.

7. Fairy/Hilliers    The Link

Other caves present no problems.  Subject to the findings of M.R.O., the clubs may be asked whether they would contribute towards the cost of this stretcher.

178.      The First Six Months: The current committee is in its mid-term and its actions to date have not been revolutionary but a steady trend improving the facilities offered to members.  The shower system has been modified as already reported and the fire moved and installed in the centre of the room.  A long discussion has taken place on the installation of two toilets inside the Belfry but the alterations are now under way with Butch and John Dukes in the midst of it.  With the threat of rising costs, Barrie and Wig have got together and drafted a report that will appear in the B.B. shortly. The Insurance subcommittee have met and its findings will be circulated to all members in plenty of time before the A.G.M. Graham Wilton-Jones has been hammering away rebuilding a quantity of club tackle and has also purchased dies and ferrules thus enabling the club to produce its own swagings for ladders. Chris Howell is obtaining vast stocks of surveys for members and Tim Large is keeping the light spares at the Belfry. Several new books have been added to the library, and the club tie position is being looked into.

179.      Ireland, 1975: While snowbound England ground to a halt and the weegees ran to overheated grates, the B.E.C. contingent went to the Clare coast. Talking to members before they went elicited the fact that each will be caving but all the others will be propping up the bar at O'Connor's!

180.      C.S.C.C. Meeting: The meeting on the 22nd March must have left Frank Murphy gasping for breath.  The attacks on the N.C.A. were most pointed and the Council have set up a sub-committee to look into the N.C.A. and suggest ways of modifying its structure.  This reports back to the C.S.C.C. in May.  The subcommittee consists of Alfie (B.E.C.) Tim Reynolds (W.C.C.) Fred Davies (W.C.C.) Dave Irwin (B.E.C.) and Mike O 'Connell (D.C.C.)


 

B.E.C. Publications

The following publications in the 'Caving Report' series are available from the B.E.C. Publications Editor (Chris Howell) at 131 Sandon Road, Birmingham B17 8RA or from the club H.Q. at the Belfry.  Standing orders will be accepted for any of the club's publications.  When ordering by post, please add 10p per item for postage and packing.  Any excess will be refunded or credited.

1. SURVEYING IN REDCLIFFE CAVES. A last opportunity to purchase this rare report which describes both the caves themselves and the surveying techniques used which included a plane table. 6pp with surveys.

3. THE MANUFACTURE OF LIGHTWEIGHT CAVING LADDERS. Full description of the production of ladders using taper pins and Talurit splices.  23pp with diagrams.

5. SURVEY OF HEADGEAR AND LIGHTING.  Although a reprint of the 1967 publication (at 1967 prices!) the detail of information on the equipment available is still almost current.  72pp with photographs, drawings etc.

10. THE B.E.C. METHOD OF LADDER CONSTRUCTION. Describes several methods of construction, including splicing of wire ropes.  29pp with diagrams.

11. THE LONG CHAMBER/CORAL AREA. OF ST. CUTHBERT’S. Only a very few left. 25pp with survey etc.

13. THE ST. CUTHBERT’S REPORT.  'In depth' descriptions, with Dave Irwin's incomparable surveys and Alfie Collins's Route Severity Diagrams.  Average 14pp with surveys, photographs etc.

            PART 'E' RABBIT WARREN; PART 'F' GOUR HALL AREA,

            PART 'H' RABBIT WARREN EXTENSION.

14. BALAGUE 1970.  Original B.E.C. exploration in the Pyrenees. 11pp, surveys, area map etc.

15. ROMAN MINE.  Full description of this important site with surveys and details of the more important finds.

16. MENDIP'S VANISHING GROTTOES.  Magnificent photographic record of a destroyed wonderland. 40pp, 2 surveys and almost all glossy photographs.

17. A BURRINGTON CAVE ATLAS.  Full historical information and surveys of all known sites in this particular area. 35pp,  surveys, photographs etc.

18. CAVE NOTES 1974.  First of a new series devoted to original work and research. Articles on new sites, legal implications of access, Sea caves in Devon, survey traverse mis-closures etc.  Over 27pp.

Prices Of The Above Reports (Bracketed prices refer to B.E.C. members only.)

No.1

No. 10

No. 13 ‘F’

No. 15

No.18

25p

25p

20p

60p (50p)

30p

No. 3

No. 11

No. 13 ‘H’

No. 16

25p

25p

20p

50p

No. 5

No. 13 ‘E’

No. 14

No. 17

45p (35p)

25p

20p

40p

 

The Following Surveys Are Available Through The Cave Survey Scheme

Aveline 's Hole

Browne’s Hole

Caves of Cheddar Gorge

Coopers Hole

Cuckoo Cleeves

Dallimores

Drunkards Hole

East Twin Swallet

Eastwater Cavern (2 sheets)

Goatchurch Cavern

Holwell Cavern

Lamb Leer

Lionel's Hole

Longwood/August Sheet 1.Plan

Sheet 2 Enlarged plan of Upper Series

Sheet 3, Sections etc.

Pinetree Pot

Quaking House Cave (Milverton)

Read's Cavern

St. Cuthbert’s Swallet

Sheet 1 - Provisional Plan

Sheet 2 – Section ……

Sheet 3. September series

Sheet 4. Cuthbert’s 2 etc.

Rabbit warren (2 sheets)

Shatter Cave

Stoke Lane Slocker

Swildons Hole

Ubley Hill Pot

Withybrook Slocker

Wookey Hole Ravine

Grade

6

5

6

5

5

5

5

6

5

6

6

4

5/6

6

6

6

4/6

4

5/6

 

4/6

4/6

4

6

6

6

5

6

5

5

6

20p

20p

40p

15p

15p

15p

10p

25p

70p

20p

20p

35p

10p

50p

20p

35p

25p

20p

15p

 

25p

35p

15p

5p

10p

20p

40p

40p

20p

15p

5p

Other surveys of Mendip caves available in the near future will include Axbridge Ochre Mine; Fairy Cave Quarry Area; Loxton Cave; Manor Farm Swallet and Rhino Rift.

Surveys of caves in other areas include:-

Gaping Ghyll (Far Country)

Leck Fell

Marble Sink

Marble Steps

Notts Pot (small)

Notts Pot (large)

O.F.D. (booklet with survey)

            Pate Hole 

Rumbling Hole

Threaplands Cave

Washfold Pot

Yordas Cave

 

4/5

 

 

 

 

 

5

 

¾

4

4

10p

25p

10p

10p

10p

35p

150p

15p

10p

35p

35p

20p

Profits from the sale of Rumbling Hole surveys go to Yorkshire C.R.O. funds.

N.B.  All publications are offered subject to availability Prices are correct at time of publication but are subject to fluctuation (upwards!) particularly in the case of surveys where we are bound by prices charged by the printer at the time of ordering.


 

Monthly Crossword – Number 56

1

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

 

 

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

 

 

 

 

 

9

 

 

 

 

 

10

 

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

12

 

 

 

 

 

13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14

 

 

 

 

 

Across:

1. Master goes otherwise through 2 down for example. (6)
6. Have one in the Hunters perhaps or leave entry unclosed. (4)
7. Place containing folk opposed to strike? (6)
8. e.g. Plumley’s. (3)
9. e.g. galena. (3)
12. Work into a right temper perhaps? (6)
13. Tumble down part 5? (4)
14. A hundred and the French are dependable. (6)

Down

2. One of three possibilities underground on Mendip. (3,3,3)
3. Every cave does. (4)
4. Backward meat product show the way. (4)
5. All tar few – with Cuthbert’s pitch! (9)
10. Learner in backward feline can be used with wetsuits. (4)
11. Compiler, for example, of these crosswords. (4)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword

R

E

 

S

E

E

P

E

D

U

 

S

 

B

 

H

 

O

C

U

T

H

B

E

R

T

 

K

 

U

 

S

 

E

 

C

L

U

C

K

 

H

A

L

L

E

 

K

 

T

 

T

 

I

 

S

O

L

U

T

I

O

N

H

 

U

 

B

 

C

 

T

A

R

T

I

S

T

 

I

S


 

Club Headquarters

The Belfry, Wells Rd, Priddy, Wells, Somerset. Telephone WELLS 72126

Club Committee

Chairman          S.J. Collins

Minutes Sec      G. Wilton-Jones

Members           Colin Dooley, John Dukes, Chris Howell, Dave Irwin, Tim Large, Andy Nicholls, Mike Wheadon, Barry Wilton

Officers Of The Club

Honorary Secretary             D.J IRWIN, Townsend Cottage, Townsend, Priddy, Wells Som.  Tel : PRIDDY 369

Honorary Treasurer             B. WILTON, ‘Valley View’, Venus Lane, Clutton, Nr. Bristol.

Caving Secretary                A. NICHOLLS, c/o The Belfry

Assist Cav. Sec.                 T. LARGE, 15 Kippax Avenue, Wells, Somerset

Climbing Secretary             Position vacant at present.

Hut Warden                        C. DOOLEY, 51 Ommaston Road., Harbourne, Birmingham 17. Tele :  (021)  427 6122

Belfry Engineer                   J. DUKES, 4 Springfield Crescent, Southampton. SO1 6LE  Tele : (0703) 774649

Tacklemaster                     G. WILTON-JONES, ‘Ilenea’, Stonefield Road. Nap Hill, High Wycombe, Bucks. Tele : (024) 024 3534

B.B. Editor                         S.J. COLLINS, Lavender Cottage, Bishops Sutton, Nr. Bristol. Tel : CHEW MAGNA 2915

Publications Editor              C. HOWELL, 131 Sandon Road, Edgebaston, Birmingham 17.  Tele : (021) 429 5549

B.B. Postal                        BRENDA WILTON  Address as for Barry

Spares                               T. LARGE,  Address already given

MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY…Mrs A. DOOLET, c/o THE BELFRY.

TO WHOM ALL SUBS SHOULD B SENT.  MEMBERS ARE REMINDER THAT SUBS DUE ON JAN 31ST MUST BE PAID BY APRIL 30TH