THE BELFRY BULLETIN ____________________________________ Volume 25
No. 283 ____________________________________ CONTENTS Caving Letter from ‘Wig’ Measuring CaCO3
Climbing Torrindon ’70 Climbing Section Writings
Miscellaneous Monthly Crossword 24 ____________________________________ Hon. Sec. A.R. Thomas, Allens House, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Editorial MAIL BOX MATTERS The B.B. mail box in the Belfry has at last yielded some letters. Unfortunately almost all its contents to date have not been suitable for publication and the writers (and others) may well want to know why. There were two complaints by visitors about the state of the Belfry. Now, anonymous letters traditionally belong in the dustbin, which has been thoughtfully placed just underneath the mail box – and that’s where they went. By all means complain, and by all means use a pen name if you wish to remain anonymous if published. Call yourself ‘Stirrer’ or some thing like that, but LET US ALSO HAVE YOUR PROPER NAME. Apart from the general principle that any bloke ought to have the courage of his convictions, there is the more practical point that the club committee may well want to investigate a complaint and wish to know who made it in the first place. In any case, complaints about the state of the Belfry, however justified – and unfortunately they usually are – get us no further unless they are accompanied by some suggestion as to how the state of affairs might be improved. Ever since the first Belfry was built, people have been complaining about it, and almost any constructive suggestion will be examined by the Hut Warden and the Committee – but vague general complaints are no use.
Other letters ‘knocked’ members of the club. Again, by all means do this if you feel it is justified, helpful or Hon. Editor, S.J. Collins, Lavender Cottage, useful – but don’t expect the B.B. to publish a letter Bishop Sutton, Somerset. calling another member something derogatory. It may well be fair comment to say “we would be more impressed by X’s argument if we saw him down a cave more often” for example, but it is NOT fair comment to call X a useless loud mouthed twit. State the fact, and leave any judgement to the readers. One last letter was short and to the point. The writer complained that the siting of the mail box just above the dustbin caused him to bang his head on the sharp corners of the mail; box whenever he put things into the dustbin or emptied it. Although he did not give his name, at least he deserves a pat on the back for using and emptying the dustbin. Let us hope that the bangs on the head which he gets may act as a constant reminder for him to write to the B.B. “Alfie” _______________________________________________________________________________________
BARBECUE 19th J u n e Get in touch with Pete Franklin for details. TICKETS will be issued and possession of one will ensure GRUB and BOOZE. Don’t forget the date and don’t forget your ticket.
18 14461 D Redhill Ave. Tustin, California, 92680 U.S.A.
7th March 1971 To the Editor, Belfry Bulletin Dear Alfie, When I made my short visit to England last Christmas, the current topic of conversation seemed to be the removal of fixed tackle from St. Cuthbert’s Swallet. This subject is an annual event, and perhaps rightly so. Times have changed somewhat since its installation in the cave – better techniques and equipment may have put some of the arguments for its installation out of date, and an annual discussion of the requirements is essential. Not being able to attend the proposed Leader’s Meeting, I would like to put some suggestions forward. There is certainly a lot of tackle in the cave – should it come out? I have personally felt for some time that certain items could well be removed from the cave without any problems. In fact, the Leader’s Meeting of 1967 decided that the maypole tackle should come out. This involves only the Maypole Pitch ladder which is to be replaced with a system similar to that used on Pulley Pitch. This was ratified by the club committee at the time and, to my knowledge, this still stands. As the bug hunting up there revealed nothing to date, the tackle could be removed. That really ends the problem of Maypole. If, however, the leaders want to get rid of the chains and Pulley Pitch attachments, then this is another issue – and one with which I could not agree. For the remainder of the cave, there are many items which could be removed which will not cause any undue problems except to make the trips a little longer. I have always felt that the only reason that St. Cuthbert’s has been relatively free of accidents has been because of the fixed items in the Old Route – mainly the ladders on the Arête and Ledge Pitches and the ladder and chain at the bottom of the Wire Rift over Waterfall Pitch. The reminder of the tackle on the Old Route serves no purpose at all – that is, the Mud Hall Pitch and the three-runged ladder near Pillar Chamber. The upper parts of the Old Route – Wire Rift to Arête – really want the tackle kept in as this is where most of the weaker tourist parties meet trouble. It is mainly a mental attitude on their part, I’ve no doubt, but the struggle up the Wire Rift with the thought of climbing back up the entrance rift on a first trip can be very considerable. Many leaders are quite aware of this problem I’ve no doubt. The other items of tackle in the cave are quite easily dealt with. Those which serve no useful purpose are the chain in Rabbit Warren Extension; the chain on Water Shute (take a rope if necessary) and Stal Pitch chain (which has already been removed about 1966). On the other hand, the chains on the Great Gour and Pyrolusite really ought to stay as these climbs are fairly difficult. For me, the Pyrolusite climb would be impossible, as it would for most people if they are honest with themselves. Whilst on the subject of tackle and general ‘upkeep’ of the cave, what about removing the steel ladder from the entrance shaft itself? What about the repair and cleaning of the flood pipes by the entrance? The pipes have worked well over the last five years, and only on a handful occasions has the cave been closed due to flooding in the depression. Before the laying down of the pipes, the closing of the cave was a regular winter feature. See you at the end of April, I hope. “Wig” Editor’s Note: Apart from it being most welcome to receive a letter from ‘Wig’; this is the sort of subject which could well be aired more in the B.B. By putting points of view on controversial subjects such as this one, members can not only make sure that their views become known to the club in general, but those who have the decisions to take obtain a much better view of member’s feelings. Has anyone a different set of ideas about the Cuthbert’s tackle? Is the subject of gating and restriction of entry to caves still one which arouses strong feelings? How about the Belfry? The committee? The Annual Dinner? The A.G.M.? The B.B.? These are a number of subjects on which your views could be of interest. Drop us a line. S.J. Collins, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr. Bristol, is the address.
19 MEASURING THE AGGRESSIVENESS OF WATER TO
The Cave Research Group of Great Britain has recently published two papers which I wrote on the measurement of the aggressiveness of water to calcium carbonate. The term ‘aggressiveness’ refers to the quantity of calcium carbonate which water will either dissolve or deposit.
Many B.E.C. members helped in the collection of samples, and CALCIUM CARBONATE some have asked if I could explain what I was doing without going ________________ intro a lot of chemistry. This is what I will try to do in this article, at the same time explaining how the project started. A Background Article…. Back in 1965, I started measuring calcium and magnesium concentrations to find out more about the streams flowing through St Cuthbert’s Swallet; in particular trying to find out if variations in hardness coincided with the temperature variations, that had been discovered. As is the unfortunate way in which science work, the work uncovered more problems than it solved. I wanted to add the measurement of aggressiveness to the properties being measured. By the end on 1966, I was able to start measuring aggressiveness by there different methods. One was by measuring the dissolved carbon dioxide and calculating the aggressive carbon dioxide. The second was by calculation form the acidity of the water (pH value) as it changed when the water was shaken with calcium carbonate. The third was to measure the increase in hardness when the water is shaken in calcium carbonate – the direct measurement. Calcium carbonate is the major component of limestone. When it dissolves in water, caves form. When it is deposited by water, cave formations grow – so the measurement should be useful in many kinds of studies in caves. ….by Roger Stenner.
The three methods measure the same thing, so the results should have agreed with each other. By the summer of 1967, it became clear that they didn’t. They worked very well in laboratories, but laboratories and caves like Cuthbert’s are not exactly mutually compatible. I had an idea of trying to get a method which would be reliable in places like Cuthbert’s, described as ‘in the field’ since this phase is normally used to describe work done outside the laboratory – and in any case Cuthbert’s is in a field. To establish a reliable method for measuring aggressiveness in the field, the reasons for the errors in the three methods already used would have to be found, and one of them would have to be adapted to avoid the errors. I would then have to prove that the adapted method worked. The previous two years experience gave me a pretty good idea where the errors were coming from, and how to side-step them – but a load of statistics would be needed for the proof. This could be done by studying the streams in G.B. cave for a year, sampling weekly. Temperature and discharge (stream size) measurements taken at the time of sampling could be expected to give a great deal of information about hydrology of the system at the same time as the necessary data for evaluating the aggressiveness measurement procedure was being collected. Why take measurements in G.B. rather that in St. Cuthbert’s where so much of the early work done? G.B. has a fairly straight forward steam system, easily covered comprehensively in a short time, and a feasibility study of St. Cuthbert’s ruled out this cave on each of the three fundamental criteria. To explain this in more detail is beyond the scope of an article such as this, and interested readers will be able to find out more about this in an the appropriate Cuthbert’s Report. The fate of the project now depended on being able to obtain £200 for apparatus and chemicals. An application to the Scientific Research in Schools Committee of the Royal Society was successful, and, in addition to the money, I now had two enthusiastic chemists from the University of Bristol to supervise the work – Professor Everett, Dean of the faculty of Science, and Dr. Nickless, who teaches advanced chemistry. I was completely astounded to find that I had free use to tens of thousands of pounds worth of the latest equipment. I took advantage of this to extend the original scope of the work to include an investigation into changes in trace element concentrations when pure calcium carbonate is added. These results might be useful outside the limited scope of the aggressiveness measurement. The results form the basis of another paper to the C.R.G. which is not yet published. The U.B.S.S. very kindly gave permission for the work to be carried out in G.B. cave, and 1968 became an endless sequence of sampling and analysis, with the odd surveying trips in Cuthbert’s to prove that a change is good as a rest. A prep room in school was littered with polythene bottles, automatic burettes, ion
20 exchange columns and all sorts of reagents and apparatus, including an extremely pretty crucible and lid made of platinum. Any free periods and dinner breaks were spent making sure that one set of samples were finished before the next load were collected. Thirty hours a week were added to the normal teaching load, and holidays spent in the university labs. After the July floods there were less samples to analyse, but more time was spent on the trace element analysis, so the work load stayed the same. After the flood it was not possible to stick to regular weekly sampling, and after eleven months, a bout of flu gave me an excuse to call a halt. 1969 was spent tabulating, computing and evaluating results, writing up the work and using X-ray fluorescent spectrometry for the trace element work. The results established a procedure based on the direct measurement, with the welcome advantage of very great simplicity. The method and its limitations are explained in a C.R.G. paper. From G.B., several facts about limestone solution have been discovered by the use of this method. It is also being used by several other people, who are finding it worth while to measure aggressiveness. My own work is continuing in two directions. First, I am measuring aggressiveness using natural limestones of known composition, finding the effects of minor components in the rock and water – particularly magnesium. Secondly, I am using the new computer at the university to complete the analysis of the results from G.B. What is the use of all this work to cavers? Indirectly, it will lead to a better understanding of the process which create and decorate caves which will surely help cavers in the future, particularly as the more obvious sites to dig get fewer. Also, the results so far obtained may encourage the Bristol Waterworks Company to fight quarrying concerns when they want to expand into caving areas. The major risings have particular characteristics which make them particularly vulnerable to the Bristol Waterworks. They posses for instance, a marked attenuation of discharge response to rainfall. These characteristics depend largely on the slowly evolved limestone surfaces which are therefore very much in the interests of the waterworks to preserve. Now to the direct usefulness to cavers. It would be useful in the exploration of sumps from the downstream end, especially at complicated junctions. Again, it could in certain cases give an indication of whether or not an inlet stream comes from a major undiscovered cave system. As an example, the final drip in the downstream passage in G.B. could only have come from a stal decorated passage or chamber, well ventilated, draining into a muddy boulder ruckle. Obviously, this is fitted by the ladder dig extension, but the drip was known long before the ladder dig discoveries were made, and, had the method been available then, this could have been deduced from the drip. Although these uses are limited they deserve to be applied a good deal more than they have been at present. For anyone interested in this, I will be happy to do the analysis if they are prepared to collect the samples – 60cc bottles don’t take up much room in a pocket. I can also supply sample bottles, so please get in touch with me if you have place where you think the method could be used. My address is, R.D. Stenner, 38 Paultow Road, Bristol BS3 4PS. _______________________________________________________________________________________
Scientific articles are always welcome, and go to show that there are members of the B.E.C. who are engaged in furthering the scientific study of caves. Members will be glad to hear that Roger has just been awarded his M.Sc. for this work. _______________________________________________________________________________________
Prizes of pints of beer go to ‘Sett’ for being the first to produce the right answer, which was BOB BAGSHAW and to Alan Kennet for the best mathematical solution.
70 ……by Steve Grime
After the summer courses with sixty students in each, we were looking forward to a quiet time in September with just sixteen boys to cater for. The course started with a bang. A big one – for Tony Cardwell and myself when we tried to motor through a weegee bus with the land rover. We were not quite successful. Tony’s head went through the windscreen, and he got cut up a bit. I banged a two inch deep hole in the glove compartment. He ended up in hospital for a week and I was put to bed with orders not to move for three days.
I was fit for the first expedition – a thirty mile walk taking three days, and the weather was fine for the first two days. The main six day expedition was to be in the Torridon Hills which neither Tony or myself had been before, except for some low level climbing on wet days. A fine drizzle accompanied us over our hill and all the way to Torridon. We pitched camp down by the river and, as we were doing so, the cloud cleared slightly and a watery sun dribbled down on us. So, after a brew, it was ‘on P.A.’s’ and away to the crag where we pranced around in manner supposed to show the boys how to do it. Sunday didn’t dawn – it just came in with the tide. Typical west coast weather. It was bolted down on us with no sign of a break. We told the lads to stay in their sleeping bags for the day, and settled ourselves down to a day of tea and cards and seeing who could hold on longest before having to brave the weather for a leak. The weather did clear for a while in the late afternoon and Tony and I went for a stroll down to the beach. We saw that the tourist information office was open and so we strolled in. We took a few leaflets and paid our bob to boggle at the stuffed wild life in the natural history section and then waded back to the camp. It was from these pamphlets that we read about Coire Mhui Fhearcher, and the germ of an idea born. It must be obvious that not everyone fancies climbing, and with this particular bunch of lads, only half of them were really interested, and as we see no point in pushing people, we decided to concentrate on those that were keen. The plan was to take tents and food up into the coire (two thousand feet) and climb from there. On the Monday, we set off. Three instructors and four boys. One of the instructors had only just joined us, and he was for the sailing side and had never seen a hill in his life. We arrived at the coire at 1 pm and pitched camp. Tony said he wanted to have a closer look at the huge buttresses which rose above us into a cloudless sky. These buttresses are a thousand feet high and are composed of quartzite resting on a sandstone base. It was along the junction that Tony wished to traverse, a five to six hundred yards. I took the boys over to see some small problem stuff – about ninety feet of vicious climbing, and we enjoyed ourselves for a couple of hours in the sunshine. Occasionally we looked for Tony, but the scale is so vast that a human sized object is lost. Eventually, we heard shouts coming from the cliff, and there was our sailing instructor on his first climb doing his first tension traverse and seemingly suitably impressed. As dusk closed in, our two ‘hard men’ arrived at the tents, one radiant – the other ashen. Living conditions were cramped and soon humour had the upper hand as sweaty feet vied with pipes for the most persuasive odour, each one gaining points for its strength and the owner of the top scorer being threatened with eviction. As the moon came up, we stepped out of the tent to look at the cliff above us. The setting was superb, the triple buttress soaring into the velvet darkness of the night sky – utter quiet but for the distant sigh of the wind on the ridge eleven hundred feet above us. The site of the camp itself nestled in a hollow by the side of the loch with the moon reflected in its mirror-like surface. The following morning we were up bright and early. The sun was not yet over the ridge and the air smelt crisp and clean. The sky was pale blue with a wisp of frontal cloud drifting across it with promise of a good day. As we were but prospecting the area, we decided to split up into two parties and climb up gullies of five hundred feet or so to get a better look and the arêtes. To the east there was a beautiful wall about four
22 hundred and fifty feet high that was as smooth as the proverbial bum. It even had the cheeky bulge halfway up and the rest was quite vertical. Leaving the tents, my lads and I climbed our gully at a reasonable speed but were thankful for our helmets as the rock is not all that sound and the odd boulder jumped out at us. On reaching the top of the Ben Eighe ridge, we struck off east to look for the others. We stood at the top of their gully and shouted. Their answer was lost in the echoes. Looking down, I could see that a descent for two hundred feet or so was quite practicable do taking two ropes; I set off down the thing. It was fortunate that I did as the rock was even worse than in our gully and Tony could hardly move without bombarding his rope with young boulders. However, a fixed top rope sorted that problem out and soon we were all at the top. We then decided to do the ridge and a wonderful day. Of course, we met at the usual bumbly in shoes who told us that one of the pinnacles was ‘quite severe’. Rubbish! From the final cairn, we struck of down beautiful scree to the northeast and the road, where we were picked up by the bods who had stayed behind. We spent the night in our base camp and the next morning set off for the coire again with another bunch of lads. The agenda was much the same but that day we did some further pushing of the arêtes. The guide book is out of print at the moment, so for us it was real exploration work and all the more enjoyable for that. The coire itself is fantastic and well worth camping in for a week. There are good sites for tents at the southwest edge of the loch and the scenery is pure joy on its own, the climbing adding that final touch that makes it Utopia. One bad note. It takes two hours to reach the road, and the nearest boozer is nine miles away. _______________________________________________________________________________________
THOSE S P E L AE O D E S
Having become rather tired of announcing that copies of the Spelaeodes ‘will shortly be available’, we have kept quiet until there is absolutely no doubt about it. You can now buy them in a 91 page printed booklet with a glossy colour cover, printed by the Cheddar Valley Press and published by Barton Productions at a discount price of 55p (11/-) which is 5p (1/-) less that that charged by bookshops etc. Get in touch with Alfie (S.J. Collins, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton. Bristol.)
The drawings – by ‘Jok’ Orr – are really fist class and are alone worth the price of the book.
The Western Dailey Press says: ‘If you know all about bedding planes, rifts and boulder piles and what it is like to be life lined on a pitch, these vigorous and highly grotesque tales of underworld characters will undoubtedly amuse.’
The Wessex Journal writes: ‘Should be in every caver’s pocket for the moments when life gets tedious.’ Profits after all printing and publishing expenses have been paid ARE GOING TO THE B.E.C. _______________________________________________________________________________________
Occasional Writings of the Climbing Section ….by Roy Marshall
The rapidly expanding climbing section frequently holds meets in ‘foreign’ parts. These are usually North Wales or Cornwall. The Lakes and Scotland are occasionally graced by our presence. I use the term ‘Climbing Section’ to include all those whose main interest is climbing rather than caving. Just as we cave, there are many of the caving section who climb. As we are a relatively small group, we carry out most of our activities as a group. One such meeting took place in December in North Wales. On the Friday night we pitched out tents under a cloudy sky. It does not seem right to dismiss pitching tents in one sentence. Anyone who has camped in the Llanberis Pass knows of the strong winds that blow up the pass at night, and the Welsh trick of placing rocks just where you want to place your tent peg. To compensate for this, one places boulders on the guy ropes to stop the pegs pulling out. This results in a primitive walled encampment on the lee side of any hill.
That is, it always used to be the lee side. After we had all gone to sleep, the wind, contrary to its usual custom, blew DOWN the pass. One was awakened by curses and the wild flapping of canvas. One fly sheet almost took off, nearly taking the tent with it. The fly sheet was ruined, thus allowing the tent to leak. In the morning, we surveyed the damage and made what repairs we could. The damaged tent was collapsed and weighted down with rocks. This was the Saturday morning. Due to alarming foresight, someone had booked our breakfasts at the Pen-y-Pas. We arrived to finds our tables marked ‘Reserved for the bat-men.’ I suppose some acknowledgement of this characterisation was indicated, but at nine thirty in the morning, enthusiasm was rather lacking. The weather was what the weather men call ‘changeable’ – raining most of the time and drizzling the rest. We drove out of the rain to Ogwen, walking from there to Idwal Slabs. I was immediately reminded of an article in a previous B.B. – Sell’s Baptism. This was more of a confirmation. We were all at various stages of routes on the slabs when it began raining. The skies emptied. Rivers ran down the face only to be blown back up to repeat their misery by the high winds. An experience of this sort either confirms or breaks any mountaineering spirit. In a small way, I think we all felt this was real mountaineering. Many will disagree that it was, but what is the difference between rock climbing and mountaineering?
A slight misunderstanding between certain members and a barman ended a quiet crib game and Saturday evening. A peaceful night gave way to a fine Sunday. After breakfast, we moved off together toward Cern Las. The whole party finally reached the bottom of Cern Las, it was decided to climb up to Snowdon. Skirting Cern Las, we climbed up the marshy ground towards the Snowdon Ridge. As we climbed up into the clouds, our visibility decreased, the gully got steeper and steeper. Eventually we were bridging up a narrow gully on friable rock. It was in this gully that we found our only snow – a four foot cube. We at last emerged exhausted into the freezing wind at the top of the ridge. With hands deep in pockets we moved across the frosty ridge towards zig-zags to go down to the Pyg Track. As we all knew the way along the Pyg track, we were again straggled out under Snowdon. One by one we staggered into Pen-y-Pas. Pints of hot ribena rounded off our meet before we started to make our way back to Bristol.
24 MONTHLY CROSSWORD – Number 10. Across: 1
Solution To Last Month’s Crossword W P
1. Pulls on rope to two directions. (4) 4. Rude and Crude song. (1,1,1,1) 8. Swildons way. (3) 9. This ground for caving. (5) 10. You could be wedged in this like the last part! (7) 14. Cuthbert’s boulders. (5) 16. Comes but once a year (1,1,1) 17. Caver’s route. (4) 14. Part of 7 down (4)
1. 1 across ends in opposite direction. (4) 2. Wet R.A. underground. (5) 5. A Swildons sump (3) 6. Change race and take this underground. (4) 7. 18 across is a part of these. (7) 11. Stony in Stoke. (5) 12. Pitch in stranded rope? (4) 13. Traditional last word? (2) 15. Needing gut? (2)
Published on Jan 6, 2010
Published on Jan 6, 2010
Monthly Crossword 24 ____________________________________ Torrindon ’70 21 Climbing Section Writings 23 Hon. Sec. A.R. Thomas, Allens House,...