Club Rules & Constitution, Membership List and related matters are incorporated in the Craven Pothole Club Handbook published biannually.
Published by the Craven Pothole Club, Ivy Cottage, Horton-in-Ribblesdale, North Yorkshire. Copyright - Craven Pothole Club. No part of this Record may be reproduced without permission from the Committee of the Craven Pothole Club.
Contributions to this publication are welcome in any form and can be accepted on MSDOS disk. (ASCII or Word preferred)
Dr. R.A. Halliwell, Academic Office, The University, HULL, HU6 7RX
Tel No: 01482 465948(W) 876544(H) 466441(FAX)
As a consequence of the paucity of material submitted by members this edition of the Record is rather biased towards the forthcoming PSM trip. Why didn't any of those people who had their first introduction to moving a stretcher at the CRO Practice in January write about it? On the day they all said how useful and interesting it was. Did anybody go on the Tatham Wife Meet? The less active members have always told me that they like to read Meet Reports to see what is going on; there is a prize for the best Meet Report, so why don't more people write about their Meets.
I hope that two items in this Record will start members thinking and letting me have their views for incorporation in the next Record. The least controversial is probably the new rules for the Club's Annual Competitions. The Committee was asked to look at revising the rules and new proposed rules are included in this Record. If you think that the revisions haven't gone far enough, have gone too far, then why not put your views to the rest of the Club via the Record. The more controversial item is an article by Peter Barnes. When he sent me the article Peter was at pains to stress that he didn't want to put people's backs up but wanted to get people thinking. I know that although I agree with some of the points Peter makes I do not agree with others. Again I hope that some of you will write with your comments on Peter's views, or should I assume that you all agree with all his points?
One of our members, who regularly writes in another Club's publications but not in ours, has complained that there has been little on new cave in the Record recently. I have to agree with him and the reason is because quite simply we haven't found very much. Some of us on the Forest of Dean Meet had the pleasure of a trip into the magnificent new cave in South Wales, Ogof Draenen. In the next Record I hope to include some fairly hot information from a group of our members who are off to Majorca in the near future. A large extremely well decorated chamber has been found there very recently and I'm sure we will all be interested in hearing first hand what the chamber looks like. Until, as a Club, we start doing more digging that is likely to be as near as we get to new cave. A sad state of affairs for one of the largest and oldest Clubs in the country.
With this Record members will have also received a copy of the new CPC Handbook. One of my tasks over the next month or so will be to try and pull together the material I have received for the Gouffre Berger Publication. I hope that it will prove possible for this to be mailed to you with the July Record, if not before.
Copy date for the July Record is Monday 26 June but as usual if you can let me have material earlier that will ease my problems scheduling CPC work around paid work, and maybe allow me to attend a few more meets and try and get fit for the PSM.
Northern Cave Diving News
Apologies for not submitting any diving news last issue due to the editor forgetting his long term promise to ring me just before the copy date! There wasn't a lot to tell anyway; no-one will need reminding what a mild soggy winter it's been.
The main happenings over the last 6 months are as follows. Chapel-le-Dale has seen some digging activity by A.Goddard; the entrance sump of Bullphobia Cave was passed after about 15m to a low bouldery area where work continues. The gravel choke at the end of the downstream sump in Ellerbeck Hole has also been worked. Elsewhere on Ingleborough the writer has finally connected Clapham Beck Head with The Abyss Sump of Ingleborough Cave via a dive of 175m.
Our dig 625m into Malham Cove Risings has probably seen more activity than anywhere else this winter. Many divers have helped transport a huge pile of scaffolding inwards which has been used to shore a 2 tonne boulder hanging out of the roof. Work is now going on beneath this to empty a rubble filled shaft with most of The River Aire gushing up it. CPC members who saw Channel 4's "Cutting Edge" programme on 27th February would have been amused to see some film footage of the divers' antics here.
Over in Wharfedale The Gallery Sump of "old" Sleets Gill has been extended slightly by A.Goddard and D.Brock but digging is hampered by lack of flow in conditions when the cave is safe to go in. The upstream sump in Nape Well Cave has been forced a bit further by P.Murphy and friends but the main diving news from this side of The Dales is of the passing of the downstream sump of Hagg Gill Pot. CDG Newsletter No 114 carried details of the discovery (by White Rose divers) of 150m of streamway beyond the awkward 38m dive. They found a further (wet) pitch and another sump. A connection with Deepdale Rising is now nearer.
Steve Warren has written pointing out to me that it is possible to misinterpret the comment in my editorial in Record 37 as implying that the dives in Hagg Gill were being undertaken by CPC Members. Because I knew that the dives were by White Rose members this possibility had not occurred to me but if it caused any offence then I apologise. Maybe I also need to stress that there were no CPC Members involved in the discovery of Ogof Draenen; although one of our past members, Nig Rogers, has recently discovered over a kilometre of new passage in Draenen
Steve has also asked me to remind members of the excellent White Rose Pothole Club 40 Years Journal, which includes a comprehensive account of the discovery and exploration of Hagg Gill. Hagg Gill has also featured recently on the Cavers Email Bulletin Board with a discussion on how the formations have been damaged, suggesting that the cave has not been as well conserved as it should have been, or indeed might have been if it had been found in an area of Britain where the caving ethos respected gating and leadership schemes.
Attending: Ric Halliwell (replacement leader), Pat Halliwell, Stephen Lent(P), Tony Jackson, Denis Bushell, Tony Walker(P), Chris Little, Bill Hughes, Dave Kaye, Rob Scott, Kay Fairnington(G), Sheila Phoenix(P), Peter Whitaker(P), Edward Whitaker, Jonathan Weaver(Pros.P)
The entrance was found fairly quickly and Dave and Tony J were sent in front with the tackle for both pitches. The rest followed and eventually arrived at the junction where Denis took a group to view the upstream duck (which was sumped) and the rest continued towards the pitch and downstream sump. Partway along the passage they were joined by Tony and Dave who had made a detour amongst the boulders and once at the pitch it was rigged. Tony J (wearing wetsuit) descended to the bottom and almost immediately came up again - very clean washed! Edward (in his bright oversuit) thought that he would have a go, got to the ledge and then a few feet lower and came up again - very clean washed. At this point is was decided to de-tackle and return.
Denis' party was met in the middle of the boulders and having heard about the wetness of the pitch decided not to take the tackle back with them. Back at the junction, Dave and Tony J decided to view the sump and the rest made their way out. Edward, Peter, and a few others headed off with tackle to visit Darnbrook Pot while the rest waited for Tony and Dave.
Large Pot/New Rift Pot exchange
(11 February 1995)
Large Pot Group: Simon Ashby (Leader), Denis Bushell, Mick Thompson, Edward Whitaker.
A rather wet period preceding the meet looked likely to put paid to an exchange trip, but an attempt was made none the less.
The Large Pot team was underground by approximately 10.30am, with a rendezvous time of 2pm at the connecting duck. The cave seemed somewhat "drippier" than on previous visits, but good progress was made, with the tight sections not causing any real problems. Denis was "volunteered" to investigate anything that looked a bit grim. Colossus was soon reached and proved a bit damp, but more of that later.
The others were impressed by the scale of Necropolis, but we were reduced to poking around in the boulder choke looking for the way forward. Initially cairned, the route is approximately half-way up the right-hand side of the choke and goes forward for perhaps 10m before emerging up into a low bedding plane. This is followed forward for approximately 15m to emerge in the side of a bedding chamber. Turning right, this quickly degenerates to flat-out crawling and then finally a tight squeeze to a larger section. This descends gently to the connecting duck, approximately 4m long. The duck had, predictably enough, sumped, but after a few minutes the Rift Pot team arrived at the far side and we were able to have a rather echoey and boomy conversation. The thought of their 2 hour journey out compared to our 4 hours was rather galling, and nearly led to Denis making a free-diving attempt. There is no guide-line however and he sensibly refrained.
The journey out was smooth enough, except that Colossus had become distinctly wetter not helped by the fact that the only available hang is next to the stream. Also, section of the rifts that had been drippy on the way in, had turned into small shower baths.
We regained the surface at about 7pm, and had the dubious pleasure of changing in rain and sleet driven by an icy wind. Bring back the sunny Vercors! Talking of which perhaps Edward could restrict taking his 40l rucksack to down those caves, rather that the cramped confines of Large Pot. Thanks to those who were there.
Rift Pot Group: Simon Rowling (deputy leader), Simon Parker, Rob Dove, John Clark, Mark Ashworth, Andrew Knight.
I had been elected to be a sub leader for Simon on his Rift/Large exchange trip. I have some dismal memories of Large Pot and so was glad when Simon was to lead Large Pot and I was to lead Rift Pot.
After a night of rain we set of to Ireby Fell, arriving in true leader fashion 5 minutes late, only to our horror to find a group of people eagerly waiting to go caving!!. We set off 1 hour after Simon as we knew his trip would take longer to rig.
We all soon made it into the cave where there was an appreciable amount of water flowing down the bedding plane crawl, at the end of which we were all thoroughly wet!!. Luckily I had been down before and so knew to go feet first through the narrow piece of passage before the pitch. Just beyond this as we dropped down the narrow passage to the pitch head itself, Rob was unsure whether he could get through, but after perseverance managed to make it. While everyone else was rapidly becoming cold I was trying to rig the pitch as fast as possible. A deviation was placed on the first half of the pitch as the water was cascading down with some force which would have made ascent very wet and if not dangerous.
All safely at the bottom of the pitch we first headed off towards the dryer part of the cave to see the magnificent straws on the ceiling. We then headed off to the connection with Large Pot as our meeting time with Simon's group was looming. First negotiating the small muddy climb before getting into the drier part where again the formations are magnificent.
Through the muddy crawls and stoops we arrived at the connection where the water level was very high, no air gap was visible through the connection. We then heard the cries of Dennis who had now arrived at the other side. He was very keen to make the connection but from previous experience we knew that this was not possible, especially without a line through the duck. We headed off back and all made it safely to the top again with Simon Parker and myself derigging.
I was pleased to have done Rift as this seems to be the easier way in. The best part of the trip for me was to find a piece of my carbide generator still sitting where I had left it, on a rock at the bottom of the large pitch, 3 months previous.
Scottish Meet - Crianlarich
(12 to 19 March 1995)
Present - Simon Ashby, Steve Kelley, Dave Milner (Acting Leader), Simon Rowling and Ian Woods.
A disappointingly low turnout for our annual "official" Scottish foray, but given the poor weather conditions for the week those who stayed away made a wise decision.
Having stayed in the relative opulent splendour of Loch Dochart House for the past two years, it was felt that a return to the "Workhouse" was needed (had this any bearing on the turnout?). Little has changed at the Workhouse since our previous visits, it still retains its olde worlde charm, in spite of the extension being constructed which will double it in size. The work is scheduled for completion during 1995, and will provide such untold luxuries as separate male and female loo's and showers.
A brief run down of the week's activities was:
Sunday 12th - arrive and unload personal gear plus kindling and 1cwt of coal (DM only)
Monday 13th - Ben Lomond attempted - rained off (DM only)
Tuesday 14th - Bienn a'Chleibh - (DM only)
Wednesday 15th - Meall Glas - blizzarded off (DM only)
Thursday 16th - Skiing (SA, SK, SR & IW)
Friday 17th - following "double header" snow-plough over Rannock in a blizzard (all)
Saturday 18th - skiing (SK & IW)
Sunday 19th - Home, in best weather of the week
Not too hectic a week's sports programme. In contrast to the poor weather the social side was excellent.
N.B. Bienn a'Chleibh - On the route from Glen Lochy it should be noted that the railway bridge, which provides an alternative to wading through the river, was scaffolded and with a prominent sign saying "unsafe structure - do not use". All that was left of the original bridge being the two metal spans. Whether the scaffolding was there just to aid demolition, or will stay to enable rebuilding, or will disappear leaving no crossing is not known - future visitors might like to check this beforehand. (The scaffolding was very well constructed and very safe when I visited - the dodgy bit was climbing past the "Do not use" sign).
Forthcoming Meets and Events
Wharfedale Meet (6/8 May)
This meet, over the Bank Holiday weekend of 6 to 8 May, will be a camping meet based in Lambert's Field at Kettlewell, the same place as previous years. Amongst the caving trips will be a trip down Birks Fell, weather permitting, on Monday 8 May. Further details from Patrick Warren, 11 Bryony Way, Rock Ferry, Merseyside, L42 4Ly; Tel 0151 6441525.
Caving Films (13 May)
Those persons who were at Gaping Gill last August will remember the antics of the German film crew making their film about Martel. Whilst present they filmed the camp, our very own Don Mellor, Alan and Fritz dangling down the main shaft on bits of string, got their Discovery bogged down, etc, etc. They have now sent the club a copy of the film (in french) and it will be shown as part of a pie and peas supper at the Crown Hotel on Saturday 13 May. Please book your pies (meat or veggie - price [[sterling]]1.50) with either Steve Pickersgill or Barbara Jenkins, 37 Sandown Close, Bagby, Thirsk, N Yorks, YO7 2PL; Tel 01845 597300.
Belgian Meet (26 May to 3 June)
The Belgian extravaganza will begin for many on the evening of 26 May with the 6.15pm sailing from Hull to Zeebrugge. Others should join us at the camp-site in Purnode sometime in the early afternoon of the 27th. Purnode can be found by leaving the A4(E411) at junction 19 (Spontin), heading West and finding the N937. As far as I am aware there is only one camp site in Purnode. We should have time for a late afternoon trip of some kind on the Saturday.
The caves we visit will pretty much be governed by the weather and all that is certain, at present, is that the first three or four days will be spent caving around Namur. The two deepest caves in Belgium are here (Trou Bernard and Trou Weron) and we will look at at least one (possibly both) of them. I have been recommended to visit a couple of pretty caves here as well so photographers bring your kit.
After Namur I hope to move to Han-sur-Lesse for the rest of the week. Here again I have had a couple of caves recommended but, alas, it looks as though it will be impossible to visit Grotte de Pere Noel. There will be ample opportunity to visit the magnificent show caves around here as well as time to drink the infamous local Trappiste No 10 beer.
As a final note the caves in Belgium are quite diverse in character and tend not to be long trips. I expect the vertical side of things will be dealt with primarily by ladders but there will be caves descended exclusively on rope so bring your gear.
Camp site places have been booked for everyone that has already contacted me. If you intend coming the address of the camp-site is:
DU BOCQ, Avenue de la Vallee 2, 5520 Purnode (Yvoir)
Tel 00 32 82 612269 or 00 32 82 613373
PS As the only guide I have so far found says of one of the caves:
Aan de voet van een rotswand waar de Grotte d'Eprave zit, linkeroever van de Lomme. Can't wait! For further details contact Alan Weight, 7 Avenue Victoria, Old Park Road, Roundhey, Leeds, LS8 1JE; Tel 01132 696569.
Digging in Wharfedale (2/4 June)
Members are invited to a meet based at Moorend Far, on the fell to the north-west of Kettlewell. The farm was originally the offices of a lead mining company which operated on both sides of the valley, above Starbottom and Kettlewell.
There are a number of interesting mine relics near to the farm and it is possible to trace a leat to a dam near some dressing floors which were obviously once very busy. A Napoleonic War sword was discovered in the workings recently.
Of more interest to us perhaps is the potential for finding some new passage or even a new cave, and that's the reason for this invitation; several leads have been noted on recent prospecting visits. Further along the fell are some of Wharfedale's finest caves including Birks Fell and Langstroth Pot. Several projects are suggested for this weekend; one is the reopening of Moorend Pot No 2, a deep flood sink which has been blocked by rubbish for many years. An attempt was once made to dig here but not persevered with. Recently the stream has been diverted from sinking at the less inviting Moorend Pot No 1; this has led to the appearance of a large sinkhole just above the wall and below the track, hopefully the water enters No2 Pot.
Further along the fell, Foss Gill Pot swallows a large stream, yet considerable vertical distance exists before the water is seen again in Foss Gill Cave. A through trip here would really make news in Wharfedale. Higher up on the fell are many other open rifts and smaller though not insignificant stream sinks and shakeholes with obvious potential. For several years now speculation has existed regarding a new system in this area.
Accommodation at Moorend Farm is basic. No electric but gas lights and coal fires. Gas and coal are provided and there are 24 bunks. The kitchen is similar in facilities to Ivy Cottage and there is a bucket bog in the barn. Cost [[sterling]]1 per night. Meet in the Bluebell on the Friday night or come on Saturday morning. For further details contact Tom Thompson, 16 Slater Avenue, Colne, Lancs, BB8 9SB; Tel 01282 864444.
Gaping Gill Working Weekend (17/18 June)
As part of the GG Insurance cover our equipment is inspected annually. In the past this inspection has concentrated heavily on the engineering side, ie winch, cables, guidewire, etc. Last year for the first time we were visited by a two man team, one of whom was a scaffolding specialist. Following his recommendations some modifications are required, many of which will have to wait until the meet itself when the gantry is fully erected.
One major, and time consuming task, which can be completed before the meet, is a comprehensive inspection of the pre-formed gantry base. It is hoped that this working weekend will enable us to replace the long, main load bearing, poles and standardise the scaffold clips used. All this can be done at the barn. There are a variety of other small jobs which need doing on the gear stored at Flatts Barn.
Please spare some time to help. No special skills are required. (As you all know we have more than our fair share of "experts"). The more of the gantry work we can complete before the meet itself, the smoother and quicker we can be up and running in August. Further information from Dave Milner 01756 790420(H) or 01274 306063 ext 4230 (W)
On the tackling weekend and meet similar arrangements will apply as in previous years assuming we achieve our gantry rebuilding on the above working weekend. Further details of the arrangements will be published in the July Record.
Great Sell Gill Expedition (1/2 July)
So you thought the Berger was hard; that was only the training for the real expedition - Sell Gill '95. This is a major expedition which is scheduled for 1/2 July. Only those with a high standard of fitness should consider attending in view of the arduous walk-in carrying vast amounts of food and equipment. A number of underground camps are planned and as with all expeditions there will be a charge to cover the cost of the cream teas at these camps and the ever necessary expedition T-shirt.
If you are interested and think you are hard enough then contact the expedition leader well in advance (he needs to order the T-shirts), R Espiner (Harpic), 177c Highgate, Kendal, Cumbria, LA9 4EN. Tel 01539 731029.
Here is as much information as we have at present, but time is running out fast so if you require any other information then please contact us an we will endeavour to help you.
For the period of the permit, plus a few days before and after, we are allowed to camp at Bracas, which is similar to La Moliere but a little smaller. It is about a 10min walk from the ski station and there is a water source close by. It is easy to find as it is off a sharp bend in the road between Arette and the ski station. See map.
The area commonly suffers from very heavy thunderstorms, which can not only disrupt the caving, but also means you need a good tent!.
PSM ski station:- Baker (maybe), bar and not a lot else.
(closest to Bracas)
Sainte-Engrâce:- General store and bakers.
Arette/ Tardets:- Similar to La Chapelle and Autrans, therefore all the basic
needs, probable petrol & banks.
Mauléon-Licharre:- Supermarket, almost certainly petrol and banks.
Pau:- Large regional town, therefore has all facilities.
Speleo Sportive A La Pierre-Sainte-Martin. M. Douat, J.F. Pernette, S. Puisais.
The maps we have used are:
SC3 & EDF entrances IGN Cartes de Randonnees Pyrenees Carte No.3
1:50 000 area:- Béarn
SC3 entrance IGN Top 25 Series 15470T
1:25 000 area:- Ossau Vallée D'Aspe
EDF entrance IGN Serie Bleue 1447 nord
1:25 000 area:- Larrau
After contacting a few insurance companies (including Snow Card) we decided to go for the BCRA Insurance. This may seem more expensive when just comparing prices for the number of days abroad but when reading the small print on the policies BCRA is by far the best insurance cover to have, covering loss of caving equipment (not underground) and also air rescue is more substantial should we need it. Also by previous accidents we know it pays out!!
We have already made one group booking with BCRA Insurance and the next one will be on 6th June 1995. The current rates are as follows:-
Standard cover for Europe/Mediterranean
Up to 8 days [[sterling]]23.80
9 to 17 days [[sterling]]36.75
18 to 25 days [[sterling]]44.10
Rates for individual BCRA members
Up to 8 days [[sterling]]19.50
9 to 17 days [[sterling]]30.00
18 to 25 days [[sterling]]37.30
The cover is fairly standard: Medical & rescue expenses, baggage & personal effects, money, personal accident, cancellation & public liability (further details on request).
A large enough group booking may make us eligible for a discount if payment is made with a single cheque, therefore we require cheques made payable to Craven Pothole Club Pierre St Martin Expedition by 1st June 1995 for the rate you require. As we do not know the exact group booking discount until all the cheques have arrived, it would be preferable if a "no more than.." cheque (this is where the words "no more than" are written where the amount in words is written followed by the amount in words of your full premium, but remember to leave the amount in figures blank for us to fill in, see example.) was sent to us so we can enter the correct amount to avoid having to make refunds later. If you are not happy with this arrangement then send a cheque for the full amount.
Please supply the following information on a separate piece of paper:-
(i) Full name and address
(ii) Dates leaving home and arriving back home
(iii) If you are an individual member of BCRA, your membership number.
(iv) Any countries you are visiting or travelling through in addition to France for the PSM. We also suggest you include Spain as we are right on the border and there are caves either side.
If you do not intend to take out the BCRA insurance then we MUST have a copy of your caving insurance certificate by Friday 30th June 1995.
For the first few days we will be acclimatizing, caving in other systems close by and visiting the entrances. If we can get the keys to the EDF tunnel early then we will do some initial recce trips in there. On Wednesday 2nd or Thursday 3rd August we hope to move up to Bracas, if we are not already there.
At the start of the permit we will be ready to start rigging the SC3 entrance series and recce to the Tunnel du Vent taking the boat. Within two days we should be able to do through trips. The intention is to have groups of people on the through trips who consist of both SC3 entrance and EDF exit recce parties, so in theory they should know the system between them!?!.
The last through trip party will bring the boat out with them, to just leave the entrance series to be derigged in the last day or so of the permit. We will then have a party with plenty of falling down water to celebrate.The permit ends on Friday 11th and we can stay at Bracas for an extra 2/3 days if we wish.
At the moment we are unaware of any local supply of carbide. If you have any information then please let us know ASAP. We therefore suggest that you take carbide out with you (at least 5 to 6 kg) plus adequate containers to carry it underground, and also to remove your waste carbide. A good thick plastic survival bag should be taken, plus any other personnel survival equipment such as hats/balaclavas and gloves. The main section of water, the Tunnel du Vent, will be crossed by boat, but there are other short sections of deep water. The Speleo Sportive Guide recommends waders, but apparently they are not essential. It is possible to swim it, apparently, wearing a wetsuit. The water is supposed to be cold and the tunnel is about 50m long.
(i) The discount is 20%
(ii) This discount is only available for one day
(iii) If you require any thing then please be up at the cottage or contact us in advance.
We will be asking everyone to lend us a screwgate crab for rigging purposes. Can anyone lend/obtain for us:
2 Stoves and any small old pans for brew kits under ground.
Tape/ chalk (water proof) for route marking.
Boat (we will also be taking the new club boat).
It is felt that there are ample forthcoming club meets for training so specific training meets will not be organized. If, however, you consider your SRT may not be up to scratch then please contact one of us so training can be arranged. We have however arranged two meets to allow everyone to get together and to cave with one another as you will in the PSM. These will be:
Sat 27 May Grange Rigg Pot/Christmas Pot.
(the day before bulk buying of equipment
The club Gingling Hole meet and the CRO rescue practice on the 24 and 25 June.
Finally, anyone wishing to come is quite welcome and they do not have to do the through trip as there is plenty of other passages to explore by entering via the EDF tunnel. These will in general be long but not requiring much vertical work. We still have places available on the trip so if you want to come then send us a cheque for [[sterling]]50.00 payable to Craven Pothole Club Pierre St. Martin Expedition.
Simon Rowling (Treasurer), 30 Walgrave Street, Hull, HU5 2LT. 01482 471027 (H), 01482 465432 (W).
Simon Ashby (Leader) Flat 3, 626 Beverley Road, Hull, HU6 7LL. 01482 493526 (H), 01482 801801 (W).
Maps 1 to 7 are not present in the electronic Record.
Brief history of the exploration of
La Pierre-Saint-Martin (PSM)
It was discovered by Georges Lépineux and Giuseppe Occhialini in 1950 when they saw a jackdaw flying out of a small black hole, since these birds normally nest on cliffs he hoped that this might be a good sign. It was, the hole was enlarged and stones dropped into the shaft could not be heard to hit the bottom. The depth was finally plumbed at -334m. The find was named la Pierre-Saint-Martin as it was close to the Spanish/French frontier stone 262 Pierre-Saint-Martin.
The entrance now known as the Gouffre Lépineux or Puit Lépineux and was first bottomed by Lépineux in 1951 on the first of a series of yearly expeditions to this region, led by Max Cosyns. Lepineux was first to be lowered down using a pedal operated winch which had taken 8 days to construct at the entrance, wearing a parachute harness . After he had spent some time below he exited and Jackie Ertaud went down the pitch and spent the night below ground photographing . The following day Haroun Tazieff (journalist and volcanologist) and Marcel Loubens (a very active caver and one of the discoverers of the Henne-Morte, Haut-Garonne) went down and started the exploration of the system. Loubens squeezed down through many loose boulders following the sound of running water to reach the river at -505m, having left Tazieff filming.
The following summer (1952) the second expedition took place led once again by Cosyns and involved some of the most famous names in French speleology: Cosyns, Casteret, Loubens, Lévi, Labeyrie and Tazieff armed with tents ladders and an electric winch. Loubens was the first down followed by Tazieff, Labeyrie and Occhialini, they established an underground camp and began surveying and filming the find. 50kg of fluorescein were thrown into the river, which surfaced at Sainte-Engrâce, 1300m lower down. The river discovered by Loubens quickly disappeared into a sump, but finally an abandoned high level passage was eventually discovered.
After 5 days of surveying and exploring underground Loubens decided to leave the passage for his colleagues to explore. He started to exit the cave and after a series of delays was winched to a point 10m above the floor of the chamber where once again there was a delay in winching. Tazieff asked him to light a strip of magnesium flare so that he could do some cini-filming, but it was too draughty. Suddenly the cable clamp failed and Loubens fell 10m to the ground, and bounced a further 30m down a boulder slope (the harness made free movement impossible). The expedition doctor Mairey was only able to get down the shaft 15 hours later when the cable clamp had been repaired. He diagnosed fractured skull and broken back, and started to treat Loubens but realised that hospital treatment was required. Mairey put a plaster cast on Louben's shoulder but inspite of blood transfusions and injections after 36 hours he died without regaining consciousness. A few hours later he was buried under a pile of boulders (15th August 1952) because the group did not want to risk further injuries to the group in removing the body.
Tazieff and Mairey decided to continue exploring in honour of Loubens and found a large chamber which they named after Loubens, followed by huge regular passage for more than 1km (Le Metro). At about -600m they decided to return to the surface with the passage still continuing on before them.
The 1953 expedition built a new winch and were able to reach the previous limit of exploration without major problems. At the end of the Metro a series of chambers were discovered, Queffelec, Adélie, Chevalier and the passage continued. At -650m the passages opened into a "huge emptiness, so large that they though they had exited the cave and that it was night on the mountain''! They had discovered La Verna which at the time was largest chamber in the world, 180m wide, 230m long and 150m high. Unfortunately at that point the river flowed down through boulders on to a shingle beach where it filtered away. Norbert Casteret concluded at that time that this was the end of PSM.
Political arguments then made trips difficult because the Lépineux shaft was just over the Spanish border. Thus the expedition in 1954 was given permission by the Spanish government to remove the body of Loubens, but not to explore. However the upstream passage was pushed to the Tunnel du Vent, a low section of passage through which the river flows and a very strong wind blows downstream.
In 1956 L'Electricité de France (EDF) started work on a tunnel to intercept the underground river (for a hydro-electric power plant). They found that the survey made in 1953 was not sufficiently accurate and 4 years later had discovered a new system (Grotte d'Arphidia) which had no surface entrance, but no sign of the Verna. In July 1960 a new expedition was organised in which two EDF surveyors took part (via Gouffre Lépinaux) and 2 months later the EDF tunnellers found the Verna (the tunnel was however obsolete before it was completed).
Accessing the system by this tunnel a group of Spanish cavers were able to explore the Verna in detail, and having climbed 70m up one of the walls discovered a gallery leading to a series of tight mud filled meanders and pitches (ending at the Parment shaft). These eventually lead to a depth of 339m below the entrance of Gouffre Lépineux. This point is still the lowest in the system.
In 1966 using the EDF tunnel, the river was followed 2km upstream beyond the Tunnel du Vent, through a passage named the Grand Canyon to a chamber named La Salle Susse. It was soon realise that these passages were under the area of lapiaz (limestone pavement) known as the Arres d'Anie, and so exploration shifted to a study of surface shafts in this region. Many new shafts were discovered without connection to PSM. However on the 27th August 1966 in hole D9 (named Téte Sauvage) having pushed down 400m of pitches, a connection was found with La Salle Susse. Making the system 1171m deep and at the time deepest in the world.
In the summer of 1972 a large number of British cavers visited the region including Sid Perou who made a BBC documentary on the history of PSM exploration (the Meandre Anglais was also discovered 1.5km of traverses and walking passage).
In 1976 the CPC visited the region J.Allonby, B.Andrews, H.Beck (leader), J.Cordingley, G.Kaye, and M.Scratcher. They helped with the early exploration of Aniallara, and visited PSM via EDF tunnel. (Beck 1975).
In 1975 two new entrances were discovered in the Arres d'Anie region. One was M3 or Gouffre Moreau which had been an on going project for 5 years and which was eventually connected with the PSM making it 1273m.
The other SC3 or Gouffre du Beffroi which was discovered by John Dukes and Graham Wilton-Jones of BEC. They had asked the ARSIP (L'Association pour la Recherche Speleologique International a La Pierre-Saint-Martin created in 1966) for an area to do some exploration.
They were given an aerial photograph of 2km sq. of lapiaz to look at. SC1 and SC2 were explored by them and found to be blocked. SC3 was discovered on the 17th August and after 350m of pitches which were large and relatively easy, they joined the river in the PSM (23th August 1975). The entrance of SC3 being at 2037m altitude made the total depth of the system 1321m (some of the surveying of this entrance was undertaken by Arthur Champion and friends - Ed). That same summer the first through trip SC3/La Verna took 30 hours (it has since been done in less). In 1979 the first trip SC3-Parment pitch-SC3 took place.
In 1981 a new shaft was discovered M31 which was pushed to -420m, and in the following year was connected to the PSM, making PSM at 1342m the deepest in the Pyrenees.
Beck H., Six men in a Landrover, the PSM ....only just, CPC Journal Vol5 No 4, 1976, Pg203-205
Brooks D.(sic), FRANCE: PSM and M3 link imminent., Descent No.23, April 1973, Pg9-11
Champion A., The PSM and all that ..., CPC Journal 5 No 3, 1975, Pg141-146
Douat M. et al., Speleo Sportive a la Pierre-Saint-Martin, Edisud 1985, in print 70 FF
Lovelock J., Life and death underground, Bell and Sons Ltd 1963, out of print.
Pernette J-F., A la decouverte des Gouffre de la Pierre-Saint-Martin, SNMJ 1982, in print 53FF
Tazieff H., Le Gouffre de la Pierre-Saint-Martin, Athaud 1953, out of print.
Translated as: Caves of Adventure, Hamilton 1953, out of print.
Wilton-Jones G., PSM retains record, Descent No.33, April 1976, Pg4-6
Extract from CPC News No.3 August 76
CPC Expedition to the Gouffre de la Pierre St. Martin
Those taking part are:9
J. Allonby (food man?)
Baz Andrews (transport??)
H.M. Beck (leader)
P. Gray (PUBlic relations???)
M. Scratcher and Jan
C. Green and wife
Additionally it is hoped that A. Weight, G. Proudlove and the Bolivian guano miner will join us after the Cigalere trip has flaked out.
Besides executing a through trip from the top entrance to the EDF tunnel (involving a descent of 3,000ft in 14 pitches and 7 miles of river passage and cyclopean chambers) the team will be spending some time on the west flanks of Pic d'Anie, in search of caves connecting with the resurgence of the St.George river. The exciting prospect of 6,000ft depth potential exists in this area.
On the through trip SRT will be adopted on the larger shafts while conventional techniques will be used on the remainder. Marlow 10mm 16 plait terylene will be used in conjunction with rappel racks. Almost a mile of swimming exists in a passage 25ft wide between the "Grande Barriere" and the "Hildago". I am pleased to say that my swimming ability has improved a hundred-fold over the past two months!
It is hoped that we will be home in time for the start of the Yawning Gap extravaganza.
(an interesting comparison with the 1995 trip - Ed)
It is rare that caves make the news other than when major rescues are underway. I was therefore surprised when watching the TV news one night in January to find an item on cave paintings. This was followed by widespread coverage in the newspapers over the following few days.
The paintings which were discovered in December, the actual date seems to vary depending on which source is used, are located 40 miles north-west of Avignon and have been claimed to be at least as significant as Lascaux or Altamira. The paintings have caused great excitement not only because they show a greater variety of animals than at other sites, including animals such as owls which have never been seen in other prehistoric paintings, but also because of the high standard of the drawings. The animals have been painted in great detail with impressive use of perspective and it has been suggested that the discovery totally turns upside down our understanding of prehistoric art. The paintings have been dated at 18 to 20,000 years old.
The cave, named Grotte Chauvet after its discoverer, has been sealed by the authorities to conserve the paintings and avoid the deterioration which occurred at Lascaux. The site has been designated as a historic monument and only limited scientific access will be permitted.
This situation contrasts sharply with that in Portugal where protesters are seeking to halt construction of a huge dam which will flood a valley containing hundreds of stone age etchings. UNESCO have described the find which was made in November, as Europe's finest collection of Stone Age engravings. A minority of people have argued that flooding the valley could preserve the etchings some of which have been re-outlined for tourist cameras or been defaced by recent graffiti! Other Portugese archeaologists have suggested that the government is carrying out a cultural holocaust. The British Council has promised to send three archaeologists to help work on the etchings and campaign against the dam.
Finally in this cultural pot pourri, members may be interested to know that Marcel Ravidat, the original discoverer of Lascaux and its famous paintings died last month.
Although not members of the CPC I would like to draw the attention of members to the deaths of two important figures in the development of British Cave Studies. The first loss was Professor Marjorie Sweeting who died on New Year's Eve. Marjorie was a major reason why cave studies developed at all in Britain with her papers on speleogenesis and her interest in all aspects of karst. Her books included Karst Landforms in 1972 and Karst Geomorphology in 1981. A string of research students worked with her including Alistair Pitty on cave hydrology and Derek Ford on the speleogenesis of Mendip Caves. Both went on to develop their own groups of karst specialists with Derek Ford's team at McMaster University still leading the world with their work on flowstone dating. Many years ago if a caving expedition wished to obtain any sponsorship it was necessary to convince Marjorie that the expedition was likely to be a success. When Steph Gough approached her seeking recognition for the Nare River expedition she asked whether or not he could prove he was a competent caver. "I'm a member of the Craven and the Wessex" was his reply. "In that case you must be both keen and competent" was her response.
The second legendary figure was David Heap who died in February. Over 30 years ago he organised the first of many expeditions to Arctic Norway. In addition to organising trips to many areas of Europe he was a founder member of the Kendal Cave Club. However he may be better remembered by our members as the author of Potholing: Beneath the Northern Pennines. Thirty years ago this was one of the very few books readily available in libraries to enthral budding cavers.
Some members may also remember Vladimir Kisseljov from a South Wales meet several years ago, when he considerably reduced visibility in the SWCC car park whilst attempting to fathom out the workings of Hoggy's "lung tester". Unfortunately he died in March whilst cave diving in Arctic Russia.
Possible helpful hints
I haven't tried these ideas so I don't know whether they work or not but here are a couple of suggested helpful hints which appeared on the cavers Email. If anyone tries these ideas perhaps they would like to write and tell me whether or not they work.
Gaskets on acetylene lights can be made more leakproof by use of a little silicone grease. Alternately replace the gaskets with O-rings, which have less seating area and consequently seal with less torque. Ones which can be used come from the valve covers of Honda motorcycles, specifically the 200cc singles or any of the older 100cc singles.
Secondly, the flint from a disposable lighter is longer than any replacement available even after the lighter is spent, and it makes a shower of sparks that eclipses all others.
CNCC AGM 1995
Despite all the attempts to get more people interested the AGM was attended by a grand total of 35 people. Les Sykes reported that the bad weather was delaying the CNCC Bolting Project but progress was still being made. He noted that some people are still placing their own bolts and he appealed for them to attend a CNCC Bolt Placement Training course. Successful attendance on such a course means that the bolts are covered by insurance and legal liability can be removed from the individual. Although there were still some difficulties it was reported that NCA has provisionally adopted the CNCC Guide-lines relating to training, installation and testing of bolts.
The Treasurer reported that subscriptions would remain the same in 1995 as in 1994.
The Conservation and Access report suggested that there were no serious problems at present. The NCA Cave Conservation Document was close to being finalised and may be available in May. It was noted that Mendip Caving Clubs are considering setting up a limited liability company to negotiate with certain landowners on access rights. It was reported that there had been complaints of unauthorised digging on Leck Fell. The possibility of organising Cave Conservation awareness days jointly with English Nature was considered but no firm decision was reached.
It was reported that 225 permits had been issued for Leck Fell during 1994/95 compared with 198 in the previous year. All weekend permits for Leck during 1995 had already been issued. In the Penyghent area 151 permits had been issued; Birks Fell and Mongo Gill, a total of 77 permits compared with 69.
The NCA report stressed that it is possible for Clubs to apply for training grants of up to 25% of the cost of training courses. It was noted that other Regional Councils appear to run several training events and it was suggested that CNCC should organise similar events. It was agreed that Paul Ramsden would be co-opted as CNCC Training Co-ordinator for 1995 and that the CNCC Constitution should be changed at the next AGM to establish a formal post of Training Officer.
It was reported that BCRA/NCA are trying to obtain funding from the Millenium Commission to establish and support a National Speleological Centre
The meeting closed with the re-election of all the Officers and Meets Secretaries unopposed. The Airedale Caving Club was added to the list of Committee members.
There is still some tackle missing from the King Pot, Simpsons/Swinsto and other Meets. Please check your gear to try and locate the missing Club equipment, mainly karabiners and pulleys. If you do find anything please return it to the Horton tackle store where its return will make the Tackle Master very happy!!
Meet Leaders are requested to check that all tackle has been accounted for before leaving the cave entrance/car park to return to the cottage/pub.
Thoughts on Party Leadership and Club Meets
In any club or organisation there will always be issues and concerns which are talked about in the pub and hut but rarely bought into the open in a constructive manner. The following article highlights some of those issues about which I, and others, feel some concern about. I have not intended to preach here, I wouldn't dare! and I apologise in advance if any of the points do come over in that way. Likewise there is no intention that the Craven PC should adopt any rigid code of conduct or techniques. One of the great joys of our sport, if sport it is, is that it has always remained free of the myriad of rules and regulations that pervade other outdoor sports - and long may it remain that way. In the same vein one of our great strengths is the great variety of "characters" that are attracted to the sport, truly it is a sport of rebels and mavericks, but with that individuality must come responsibility when introducing others to caving and this is the debate I wish to foster.
Many things are done in the Craven because that is the way they have traditionally been done. The time has come to ask ourselves if this reason can continue to be given as justification for some of our practices. There are very few activities which have remained as free of legislation as ours, the fact remains however that when taking people underground, particularly novices, the leader, and through him or her the club, has assumed, albeit by default, a level of responsibility. If anyone should think this is not a problem then take a look at what is happening in the USA, the litigation culture there means that leaders of groups, makers of equipment and even rescue teams are being sued on a regular basis for vast sums of money. We haven't reached that stage yet, thank God! but the signs are around that this is the direction in which we are heading.
A few of the issues and techniques which spring to mind are:
Novices on unsuitable trips, whilst we want to encourage people to join the sport, and the club, taking novices on some of the club meets is not only unfair to them it could also pose problems for the rest of the party. Should the meet leader be ensuring that people in the group have enough experience before the party is four hours into a trip and the unknown novice is struggling to return? Should a probationer's first couple of trips be limited to simple caves unless they are already experienced?
On a similar topic, should people be allowed on trips where ladders are involved if they have never used one and/or cannot tie knots or belay others, might a training session for new probationers be an idea? Do people need to know things such as the correct climbing calls and whistle signals.
Who takes responsibility for equipment carried by individuals in the party? Does everybody need to carry things such as whistles, spare light and karabiners, should the party be carrying a first aid kit and bivvy bags? On vertical trips such as Simpson's-Swinsto or Alum Pot should everyone be wearing cows tails, and even more importantly using them? Should people be doing long ladder pitches such as Lancaster on just a waist line where if they fell off the ladder death by asphyxiation might take only a minute or so? If the "old boys" in the party casually swarm across areas such as the bridge in Alum Pot is this setting a bad, and highly dangerous, example?
Do we need to look at our belay techniques? Sticht belay plates have their uses but they are very limited, for example; they will not operate correctly if the belayer is stood in front or below them, if the belayer is not secured then there is the danger that any fall will slam them into the pulley or even worse over the edge. How many people know how to release a locked off sticht plate, the ones we use are not dynamic enough to make lowering on them a simple solution, which in any case could not be done if, for example, somebody was tangled in a ladder. Should we be carrying enough gear to winch someone up if it becomes essential? The Italian Hitch knot, however, can be tied straight into the belay so taking the belayer out of the system, it can used to lower somebody, does not jam and will lock from in front of the system, how many people can tie this knot quickly and simply? Should we be making more use of it?
On belays; it is hard to believe that people are still setting them up using wire tethers and "C-links", this is more than dangerous, it is lethal!! "C-links" will open under even a small shock load, should we be carrying tape slings for belays and keeping wire tethers for securing the ladder?
As for care of novices underground, should we be adopting a more formal approach with somebody designated to look after them rather than leaving them stranded on tricky little climbs and ledges? Does there need to be some control over a party which suddenly disappears to all four corners of a warren like system? Is there any way in which numbers on trips could, or should, be limited? Should leaders only take groups down caves they know well and, dare I say it, should we be thinking about some form of validation for leaders?
And finally; can we ever justify people on their first few trips waiting for an hour or more by the road side whilst the leader and other party members are still sleeping off a hangover in the cottage? I know it is a bit of a Craven joke but there have been a few meets over the last few months which have been ludicrous for late starts, in fact I know of people who have travelled some distance and still got fed up with waiting and gone home again.
I'm sure other people have their own pet issues about which they feel strongly, these are just some of mine. I am very aware that I have yet to lead a Craven meet, in my defence I can only plead twenty years of caving and ten years or so of instructing it.
To end on a positive note I do believe that as a club we are very welcoming, friendly and helpful. I am just concerned that one day there will be an avoidable accident and the party leader and the club will be left wide open. I hope, if nothing else, that this article has provided food for thought.
Great excuses Number 1
This was quoted in a recent Burnley Caving Club Journal
"I've got to go out now, I've left a primus stove alight in my rucksac"
Members may wish to note that the venues for the Annual Dinner have now been fixed for 1995 and 1996. As on previous visits to these premises the Annual General Meeting will be held in the same building. The 1995 Annual Dinner will be held at the Watermill Inn, Pately Bridge, the same location as last year. The 1996 Annual Dinner will be held at the Black Horse in Skipton.
Proposed new rules for the annual awards
The primary aim of the annual photographic competition is to encourage Members to build up a photographic record of the activities of the Club. The secondary aim is to ensure that in future years the Club will be able to mount a high quality display when necessary. It is hoped that that the Club will be allowed to retain winning entries for the Club records but this is not a condition of entry.
President's Challenge Cup
For the best underground print
For the best above ground print
Men of Kent Trophy
For the best underground colour slide
Down Valley Trophy
For the best above ground colour slide
Philip Tyas Cup
For the best portfolio of six prints on one caving theme.
JR Nield Cup
For the best humourous photograph, any medium.
Spirit of Gaping Gill Trophy
For the photograph, print or slide, above ground or underground, which best depicts the spirit of the current year's Gaping Gill meet.
There will also be money prizes for each winner and runner-up.
Conditions of entry
1. Exhibits must have been taken by a member, in the 18 months prior to the Annual Dinner (except for the portfolio) and they should reflect the aims and objectives of the Craven Pothole Club.
2. There is no entrance fee. Entry of exhibits will be taken as a declaration that it is eligible under the rules. The Judges' decision is final.
3. Each print must be titled and signed and dated.
4. All entries must be clearly marked to indicate the class for which they are entered.
5. Any size of prints are allowed, no more than six entries in any class, slide or print.
6. No restrictions as regards paper used for prints; in case of a tie - own enlarging gains consideration.
7. A trophy will be awarded in each class provided that there is at least one suitable entry in that class.
8. All prints, colour or black and white, may with the permission of the Member become the property of the Club, for record purposes.
9. All trophies are to be held for one year only and must be returned to the Secretary in time for the next competition. Members are encouraged to have trophies inscribed and the Club will reimburse the cost if so desired.
10. All entries to be judged jointly by the President and his nominees. . Entries to be in the hands of the President at least 21 days before the Annual General Meeting: judging will take place as soon as possible after that time. Entries will be displayed at the Annual Dinner. The photographs in each class will be judged on both technical and aesthetic grounds.
Albert Mitchell Trophy
The Albert Mitchell Trophy and a cash prize of [[sterling]]20 will be awarded specifically for a major contribution concerning new cave exploration in the Yorkshire Dales. It will only be awarded if an article of sufficient merit is put forward.
Tom Pettit Cup
The Tom Pettit Cup and a Cash Prize of [[sterling]]10 will be awarded for the best item in the Club publications (excluding photographs) not winning either other category. The award will normally be presented annually at the Annual Dinner of the Club. A second cash prize may be awarded for the runner- up.
Meets Report Prize
For the best contribution to Meet Reports in the current year's publications. The award is donated and judged anonymously.
The judges for the Albert Mitchell trophy and the Tom Pettit Cup will be the retiring President and his two Vice-Presidents or their nominees. Entries in all categories will be based on all publications appearing since the last occasion of judging.
Amended Rules: adopted by the Committee 10th March 1995
Jottings from the Committee
January: Simon Ashby was given permission to open a bank account for the PSM Expedition. It was agreed that the Club would buy a high quality rubberised fabric inflatable boat and that this would be loaned to the PSM Expedition. A request, with appropriate supporting documentation, to add Pat Halliwell to the SRT riggers list was approved. A change in the rules for Riverside was requested and approved; the new wording states "members making the booking for Riverside are responsible for payment of all the fees". It was agreed to hold the 1995 dinner at the Watermill Inn, Pately Bridge.
February: It was reported that a fire-door was to be fitted at the bottom of the stairs in Ivy Cottage over the weekend. It was agreed that the 1996 Annual Dinner should be held at the Black Horse in Skipton. The Treasurer reported on his concerns regarding the re-valuation of non-domestic properties for rating purposes; the approximate increase for Ivy and Riverside was 30% and for Bridge End 60%. It was noted that the insurance premium for Gaping Gill had been raised substantially by GRE. In the light of the 60% increase in the number of subscriptions received compared with the same time last year, it was suggested the possibility of maintaining differential rates dependent upon payment date should be discussed further. The warden had fitted, or was intending to fit, RCDs to all the Club properties. Noted that 150 feet of ladder had been prepared and was awaiting resin. All the SRT ropes have been remarked and some extra maillons, together with large non-screwgate karabiners on which to carry hangers, had been ordered. It was agreed that the PSM Expedition, like the Gouffre Berger, should be permitted to borrow a number of Club Hangers.
March: It was agreed that the Club would purchase a Mager rescue stretcher, mainly for Gaping Gill availability. The Treasurer confirmed that he will be appealing against the rating re-valuations. It was noted that the roof by the chimney breast in the back bedroom of Riverside was leaking badly. The photographic competition rules were discussed and a new set of rules was agreed.
April: It was noted that the stretcher would be available at the end of April. The gas fire in the Ivy Cottage front room had been stripped and the flue checked, it was agreed that we probably need to fit extra ventilation from outside the building. A local builder has been asked to check out the leaking chimney breast. It was reported that we have 234 full members and 28 probationary members. On a recommendation from the GG Sub-Committee it was agreed that the descent fee be raised to [[sterling]]7. It was also agreed that any member wishing to take a vehicle on the fell during the GG Meet must request permission in advance from the leader and that only two vehicles will be allowed on the fell at any one time, priority will be given to vehicles which will be available for emergency use for the longest period. Finally it was agreed that henceforth all none-burnable rubbish will be brought down from the fell.
Mark Ashworth, Peter Barling, Peter Barnes, Harry Brisland, Chris Humphris, Emma Porter, Peter J Whitaker.
The following have been accepted as probationary members and will probably be attending meets during the next few months:
Stephen Dent, Kay Fairnington, Julia Kernot, John O'Melia, Cliff Poole.