News 2011

Caving news received too late for inclusion in Descent ...

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Speleo Abstracts

Speleological Abstracts is an annual compilation of the world's speleo literature – around 4,000 articles are listed each year and, as these are searchable, it is easy to locate sources of information on virtually any topic or specific location. However, to maintain the listings your help is needed: if you would like to see your club journal, expedition report or book included, you should extract the details required and, for a UK publication, send these to the UK Speleo Abstracts Coordinator, Gina Moseley.

The information included in the publication (not all of which is necessarily applicable) is:

  • Article title
  • Year
  • Full name of author(s)
  • Publication title
  • Volume and issue number
  • Web address
  • Page numbers for the article or total number of pages for a book
  • Abstract covering the subject matter (maximum 700 characters)

You may send this in any format – pdf, Word document, text file or even a link to a web page – as long as it is in a copy/paste format. (Descent 223)

Nidderdale publication

Page 9 of the December issue reports the publication of a booklet on Nidderdale hydrology. We try to get things accurate 100 per cent of the time, we really do, but there's an error in the report. The address to download a copy is correct but, with apologies to all concerned, the booklet was published by BCA (not BCRA). (Descent 223)

Sheriff's findings

In 2008, while walking home across the moors, Allison Hume fell into a disused mineshaft in Ayrshire and, although she was attended by the emergency services, she died during the rescue attempt. Scottish legal history was made when the sheriff reopened the subsequent enquiry and new evidence was heard in February 2011 (see Descent 214 and 217).

Of concern were delays that could have contributed to the fatality. The fire service was first in attendance and a mountain rescue team was called out, but neither the Mines Rescue Service nor the Scottish CRO were called out, despite possessing appropriate information, equipment and training.
The sheriff's findings have now been published. In some areas these are critical of aspects of organisation and decisions taken on the ground and the document makes for interesting reading. (Descent 223)

Monuments threatened

In Ireland, archaeological remains are documented in the Record of Monuments and Places and are granted statutory protection. However, the relevant department has a backlog of work and is under pressure to cut costs. The answer seems to be to delist everything more recent than the abitrary date of 1700; thus, any mining heritage remains would lose their status and be open to planning proposals. The full monument list appears on the department's website. (Descent 222)

Rescue anniversary

Mark Helmore writes that 2011 marks 75 years of operation of a cave rescue team on Mendip, the second oldest cave rescue team in the world! To celebrate, Mendip Cave Rescue is holding a day of cave rescue related activities and displays followed by a social evening, all based around Priddy village Hall on Saturday 19 November. Events will include rescue workshops together with above- and below-ground practices. The evening will round off with the usual caver’s stomp.

Cavers and non-cavers alike are more than welcome to join in and refreshments will be available throughout the day and evening. For more information click here. (Descent 222)

Shannon access

Shannon Cave on the border of Co. Fermanagh and Co. Cavan was affected by ground movement in mid-September, when some 300m of passage, from the Rebirth Canal to at least the Old Entrance, was affected by rockfall. No progress has been attempted beyond this point as yet and cavers are advised to stay away until it has been properly assessed.The cause of the movement is unknown, though it does not appear to be flood-related (stal in fossil areas has been broken and fractures have appeared in parts of the walls). (Descent 222)

Cave surveying course

The Misty Mountain Mud Mining Corporation and Red Rose CPC, in conjunction with the Cave Surveying Group, are organising a course on paperless surveying using Pocket Topo and Therion to produce 3D surveys. The course is being held at Bull Pot Farm over the weekend of 3-4 December; e-mail Andy Chapman for further details (andychapm [at] googlemail.com). (Descent 222)

Ogof Ffynnon Ddu access

There has been a permanent change to the route that cavers should follow to reach the entrance to Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 1. Previously, cavers were able to park at the bottom of the hill and walk to the cave via the landowners' garden; the alternative, when walking down the hill from the South Wales CC headquarters, was to follow the footpath alongside the fence to the property.

Ownership of the cottage has now changed and in future cavers should either follow the upper, established route or, if parking on the road as previously, walk past the cottage and take the footpath on the right (close the gate) and follow the path to the site of an old gate and turn right across the drystone wall – at this point you have joined the final part of the upper route.

Please take care when crossing fences and keep noise to a minimum to maintain a good relationship with the new landowners. (Descent 222)

Cave vandalism

Vandals have severely damaged a classic cave site in Oregon by lighting fires, damaging trees in the collapse entrance, and spray-painting the ancient art found in Hidden Forest Cave. The lava tube lies within the Deschutes National Forest and initial indications from officials are that restoring the cave will be incredibly difficult, if not impossible. Fears have been raised that this may lead to restrictions for all cave visits in the area.

Cavers, naturally enough, are incensed and the Oregon High Desert Grotto has begun fundraising for a reward to help catch the perpetrators; donations can be made through the grotto's website or at any Bank of the Cascades branch. In addition, anyone with information may report this by e-mail to Crime Stoppers Cascades; a cash reward may result, though you can remain anonymous if you prefer. (Descent 221)

White Nose Syndrome

The report about White Nose Syndrome in Descent (220) can be extended, as on 17 May (after the magazine went to print) the Fish & Wildlife Service in the USA published a National Plan to combat the threat to North American bats. The report and supporting files are linked from the agency's website [no longer direct linked in 2015: link is to the main website]. Notably,although there are no requirements for closing caves to cavers, many regional bodies and state organisations have nevertheless developed cave management plans which restrict or prevent access; the report provides 'guidance on regulation or restriction of human actions that are likely to pose a risk of spreading WNS'. (Descent 220)

Pwll Du CMG meeting

The Pwll Du CMG meeting reported in Descent (220) is scheduled for 18 June with a venue 'to be confirmed'. The meeting will take place at 7.30pm in the Lamb & Fox public house on Pwll Du, South Wales. (Descent 220)

Calling cave photographers

The Cuban SS is organising a five-day expedition to Cueva Martín Infierno in December 2011 and wishes to throw open an invitation to cave photographers from around the world to join in and help photograph what is often quoted as the world's tallest stalagmite at 67m high in a chamber that is up to 80m high. The cave will be rigged and transport provided; participants must supply their own photographic and personal kit. For more information e-mail Angel Grana Gonzalez, but note that you must commit to the expedition and supply the required information before 1 August, as permits have to be arranged. (Descent 220)

Whitely Fund for Nature awards

Descent (220) includes an article on the Whitley Fund for Nature awards, in 2011 one of which went to Jana Bedek for her work on biospeleology in the Dinaric karst. The following 2min 20sec video concerns her project and is narrated by Sir David Attenborough.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

If you missed the first showing of Werner Herzog's film about Grotte Chauvet (see Descent 219), there is a one-off showing at Taliesin (an arts cinema on the Swansea University campus) on 14 July. (Descent 220)

Whitley director

The Whitley Fund for Nature, which is featured for its support of caving in the current issue, needs to appoint a capable individual as part of temporary cover for the Director while on maternity leave from August 2011. The successful candidate will have a key role in donor reporting and management and work with the team to continue the smooth running of the charity and deliver the Whitley Awards Ceremony 2012. The successful candidate will at minimum have several years' experience working in an office environment, ideally within the charitable sector, and a keen interest in conservation. Formal conservation qualifications are not a requirement but could be advantageous. For more information make contact by e-mail; the deadline for applications is Friday 1 July 2011. (Descent 220)

Ingleton Overground Underground

The Ingleton Overground Underground Festival will take place over the weekend of 27 to 30 May and is described as a weekend of family friendly exploration in and around Ingleborough. It aims to celebrate the unique landscape of the Ingleton area through a varied programme of events, including taster sessions for caving novices, climbing and mountain biking, guided archaeology walks, talks and displays on local mines, wildflowers, rocks and minerals, and the option to visit local showcaves.

On Saturday evening there will be a showing of Sid Perou’s What a Way to Spend a Sunday (introduced by Jack Pickup of the CRO) and The Underground Eiger (introduced by Geoff Yeadon). Caving talks are being given by Dave Checkley and Andrew Hinde (7.30pm on the 29th: 'The Key to the Ancient History of the Earth'). (Descent 219)

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

In March and April 2010, film maker Werner Herzog, renowned for his documentary feature films, gained unprecedented access to Grotte Chauvet in France. This cave, rich in prehistoric art, is both superbly decorated and protected; it is a veritable time capsule and a stunningly suitable subject for a new film shot in 3D. Visitors to Chauvet do not touch any part of the cave; indeed, nobody has since a raised walkway was installed, and Herzog was treated no differently: all filming was conducted from the path using specially adapted cameras.

Herzog

The resulting Cave of Forgotten Dreams was premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September and was subsequently picked up for a general release (see Descent 214 and 216). The great news is that Herzog's record of this Palaeolithic art, made 30,000 years ago (meaning that it is twice as old as that at Lascaux), will reach UK cinema screens on 25 March 2011. It's going to be well worth seeing. (Descent 219)

Cambrian AGM

The Cambrian Caving Council AGM scheduled for 6 March has for several months been tabbed as probably taking place in North Wales. However, the venue has now been fixed for 10am at Pendarren House Outdoor Education Centre near Crickhowell, as it was considered that a North Wales venue would be costly and result in a low turnout. (Descent 218)

Found

Too late for inclusion in the Lost and Found column of Descent (don't forget it is there to be made use of!), a 'found' note came in from Adrian Bennett: a 1W Unilite found in Tratman's Temple, Swildon's Hole, on 18 January 2011. Contact Descent for the contact details to reunite yourself with your lost light. (Descent 218)

Ogof Nant Rhin

Cambrian Caving Council reports that a collapse has occurred in Ogof Nant Rhin, just beyond the entrance crawl. This would obstruct a pull-through trip, so check the situation before committing yourself. (Descent 218)

Caves of the Peak District

The review of Caves of the Peak District in Descent (218) mentions its lack of index, but that a pdf was being prepared for download and printing in the same A5 size and format, so that it can be tucked into the back, or as a set of A4 pages for reference. This download is now available HERE. (Descent 218)

Odin Mine unstable

DCA has issued a warning concerning Odin Mine in the Peak District. A collapse has occurred at the base of the first handline climb, about 50m from the entrance, where the entire floor has disappeared into a large crater with a 10m drop. The material has fallen in front of the stempled passage linking to the Cartgate and taken out the first two stone stemples so, although the passage is open, the heap of deads, gravel and mud is very unstable and still moving. With such a dangerous situation the passage and, by implication, the Cartgate and beyond must be considered inacessible. DCA strongly recommends that no one enters Odin Mine until stabilisation works have been completed. (Descent 218)

Cave diving lecture

Martin Groves is presenting a lecture on cave diving in Castleguard Cave, Canada, at 7.30pm on 17 March in the Small Chemistry Lecture Theatre, Cardiff University. The talk is organised by Cardiff UCC; entry costs £3 on the door with all proceeds going to Save the Children. (Descent 218)