THE first CNCC rigging guide appeared in 1994 as a photocopied, hand-assembled, comb-bound booklet covering the twelve caves with installed Eco-anchors at that time (see Descent 118). ‘Rigging’, of course, essentially meant the kit and routes required to descend the caves in the north of England by SRT and, although lowly in production quality, the booklet proved extremely useful in disseminating information.
By the middle of the following decade, anchors had been installed in many more caves and three booklets now covered different regions, each selling for £5. The price was set to cover the cost of installing one anchor and the overall sale of guides funded the complete Eco-anchor programme across the whole of the region; everything was then rewritten and combined into a single volume, which was published in 2008 as the first edition of the CNCC Rigging Guide Vol 1. Commercially photocopied, it was still assembled by hand and sold for £15. Since then things have moved along and we now have a commercially printed and bound third edition, still selling for £15.
This latest guidebook is printed on heavyweight gloss paper with large print; no excuses for not being able to read this in the dark, though it is unlikely to be taken caving with you as opposed to a copy of the topo for instant reference. Most of these are accompanied by a photograph of the entrance, a neat and useful addition which will aid newcomers to the area: now you know what you are looking for, as well as – where there is more than one entrance – which hole to head for.
A total of 34 caves are included, ranging from Leck Fell (Big Meanie, Gavel Pot and the like), through Kingsdale (Rowten Pot, Swinsto Hole ...) to Nidderdale (New Goyden Pot), though a little care is required to avoid mismatching topos with their texts (the topos do not generally bear a cave name and, as they usually appear at the end of the entry, it is easy to mistakenly match it to the next title on the facing page). Each section covers the precise location and access procedure, defines the path needed to reach the cave, then gives a route description, a list of equipment required and any other relevant details such as weather warnings: all very valuable stuff. General advice on rope care, safety and rigging techniques completes the volume.
If you appreciate the work that has gone into this publication, thank the members of the CNCC Technical Group, who are already working on a second volume – while this first continues coverage of the caves in the original booklets (with some new routes added), the next production will extend this to new systems (expect to see this in the shops by this summer). The team then intends to add further information and combine both these volumes into one book, to reach you in the summer of 2013.
In short, if you cave in and around the Yorkshire Dales, you will not only want to have a copy of the CNCC Rigging Guide, you will need one to keep up to date with the best approaches for tackling the caves. Don’t hesitate!