Author Topic: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave  (Read 13509 times)

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Offline paulf

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2008, 07:19:59 pm »
Another reason why nearly all the parents pulled their Kids out of Caving this Wk/end  :(
Even though we told them we didn't need to go into Wet Caves  :read:

Offline richardg

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2008, 08:56:09 pm »
I was thinking about writing about this a while ago, on this topic. feeling it is vitally important that we took stock and rethink our caving practice, I had held off but in light of recent dramatic incidents I realise this has to aired.
 
As cavers we need to be more carefull as the earth exhibits dramatic climatic changes.

Its always been the case that any stream cave has the potentiality to flood. We have until now relied on our accumulated and individual local knowledge, to assess whether or not a specific cave or passageway would be either sporting or potentially lethal to enter.

As the British weather changes then by the same token do the streams and rivers in our caves.

Perhaps our assessments based on past local knowledge should be revised.

Both experienced and inexperienced cavers have died whilst in cave streams and rivers in flood. Experience does not make us invincable when hit by a raging wall of water as it hits you in a cave. No matter how big (or popular) the passage might be.

Times are changing, and so should we as a community, caves have become more dangerous. These recent incidents have to be seen as a warning to each and all of us.

 
   

Offline Anon

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2008, 09:07:30 pm »
Quote
Even though we told them we didn't need to go into Wet Caves
Ahh, but your opinion doesn't count as the British public and media know far more about caves and how dangerous and flood prone they are than we ever will.... :-\

Offline Anon

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2008, 09:29:29 pm »
Quote
As the British weather changes then by the same token do the streams and rivers in our caves.

Perhaps our assessments based on past local knowledge should be revised.
I can't see why people need to revise assessments etc - I would have thought it was obvious there has been significant rainfall so thus we take more care anyway - or do some people not use their own judgement anymore in our country because 'why should we do that when we can be told what we should be doing'.

Offline ChrisJC

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2008, 09:56:19 pm »
I do wonder given the state of the rivers now, and the weather forecast, why anybody is out caving with groups! Asking for trouble IMHO. :spank:

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Offline langcliffe

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2008, 10:34:26 pm »
Perhaps our assessments based on past local knowledge should be revised.

It's been pissing down in Wharfedale all week. The ground is saturated and both the river and the becks are in full spate, sometimes overflowing their banks. It didn't require any revision of the risk assessment criteria to know not to go underground in active stream caves today.

darkplaces

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2008, 11:15:45 pm »
I do wonder given the state of the rivers now, and the weather forecast, why anybody is out caving with groups! Asking for trouble IMHO. :spank:

Chris.

Better then caving solo as a group has more chance of surviving by helping each other, surly.
 
I know what you mean, organized groups... Doesn't matter as long as a judgment is made regardless or money spent, permits got or distance traveled.

Offline ChrisJC

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2008, 09:40:34 am »
Better then caving solo as a group has more chance of surviving by helping each other, surely.

True. What I really meant was that 'groups' tend to be a couple of leaders + loads of novices. By that definition I was excluding groups of experienced cavers who all understand the risks.

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Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2008, 09:41:45 am »
The leaders will understand the risks whether or not the organisations they are working for do; the leaders might also consider the conditions "sporting"* and make the decision to continue anyway.


* A common expression in caving, blurring the distinction between hazardous and enjoyably challenging.

Offline kay

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2008, 12:48:01 pm »
One of my very first trips was to Alum in mildly 'sporting' conditions. It was a true novice trip, ie a leader and a gaggle of us, not on a 'so you want to try caving?' trip but on a 'so you want to do something different today?' trip. Water was (on me) a bit over knee deep going to almost hip deep where you step out of the stream into the dry oxbow, and flowing fast. Leader fastened each of us on a rope attached to him and took us one by one. Even so I almost lost my footing (I was small and light and easy to sweep off my feet).

I'm not saying he was wrong to take us in there  - he knew the cave well, and that the water levels were going down. He felt it would be safely challenging for us, and we did indeed have an enjoyable trip. But now I know my limitations (which are many) I sure as hell wouldn't go down there in those conditions now!

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2008, 04:21:28 pm »
I was in Kettlewell on business on Monday. As i drove by Kilnsley Crag the water resurging out of the hill at the end of the Crag was like something i had never seen before from this area. The low lying fields were badly flooded. Anybody seeing this with any common sense would not of taken any  group into any system. As quoted above maybe we do need to revise the way we kook at water activity in volatile systems. But i also think its now time to do more research on the main sink or water catchment areas that feed, and to which the system reacts.Mother nature is becoming more and more of an unknown quantity with the way the climate is going and i feel the more we defy her and dont use our common sense to say enoughs enough then incidents like these and even fatality's like the 3 we had in one month will inevitably become more regular. Look at previous incidents all involving water. Does this not get the message across. Just another not needed unnecessary kick in the teeth for a struggling sport.

Offline Getwet

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2008, 05:36:08 pm »
I really dont think the supposed climate change issue that is oh so fashionable these days has anything to do with recent incidents.

Sodden fields, swollen streams and a wet forecast tell the story, assessments to enter a system should be made on those factors

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2008, 06:04:45 pm »
I agree with Getwet - the current weather is nothing new. Just because there have been some flood related rescues lately does not mean that flooding is getting worse. You can have all the qualifications and written risk assessments you like but I'd usually prefer to put more faith in the considered opinion of a very experienced local caver.

In the early 1990s there was a monumental flood in the Peak Cavern system. Sheffield to Stockport traffic intending to go via "Lake Castleton" was at a standstill for hours. The Three Roofs Cafe was in the middle of standing water up to the windows. Such a flood has never happened since. Does this mean the weather is getting less wet than previously? Of course not. In a similar way the present spell of rotten weather doesn't indicate that caves are flooding worse or more often. We've always had big floods and always will. The worst flood related caving accident happened over 4 decades ago.

Most cavers who have been around for a long time have lots of stories to tell about floods - and a healthy respect for water as a result. This is one (of many) good reasons for being part of a decent caving club. You have access to vast collective experience and advice about the safety (or otherwise) of trips in unreliable weather.

I respect richardg's suggestions above, as he's obviously posted his comments for the very best of reasons. But let's keep things in proportion folks.

Offline Les W

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2008, 06:22:56 pm »
 Well said Pitlamp :clap2:
I'm a very busy person

Offline spikey

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2008, 07:03:49 pm »
Richardg ......  are you a journalist by any chance??

Whilst well meaning, I'm sure, I think there must be a degree of care in using this type of sensationlist style text (eg "...dramatic climate change...", "...raging wall of water...") which can portray the sport in an even poorer light than the actual incident.

Witness the media reporting of the last couple of tragic incidents.


Offline paul

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2008, 09:14:44 am »
Well said Pitlamp :clap2:

Seconded. Changing climate may mean more very wet weather (or the opposite). Either way, the conditions on the day and the days preceding plus local knowledge and experience should always be taken into account.
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Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2008, 09:20:54 am »
Granted; in which case why are people still getting "caught out"? - surely its because people are going caving anyway, irrespective of whether it has been raining; in fact from personal experience there appear to be more people caving when it is raining than when it isn't, suggesting that there are those among us who seek out this added element.

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2008, 02:07:29 pm »
Well said cap n chris it does seem that people are entering systems in knowlingly Dangerous conditions. Nowt we can do about that but cringe. I also totally agree with the comment on needing good local knowledge, maybe we should try and find a way of making this more accessible maybe a link on this forum somewhere where local cavers can warn us of areas to stay away from. I am not jumping on the climate band wagon but conditions do seem to be getting pretty bad and for more prolonged periods.

Offline Andy Sparrow

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2008, 04:39:47 pm »
Well said cap n chris it does seem that people are entering systems in knowlingly Dangerous conditions. Nowt we can do about that but cringe. I also totally agree with the comment on needing good local knowledge, maybe we should try and find a way of making this more accessible maybe a link on this forum somewhere where local cavers can warn us of areas to stay away from. I am not jumping on the climate band wagon but conditions do seem to be getting pretty bad and for more prolonged periods.

If you look back at CRO records you will find the same caves involved in flood rescues on an almost annual basis and the most regular has always been Long Churn.  I don't think the problem is "that people are entering systems in knowlingly Dangerous conditions" but the opposite - that cavers of limited experience don't understand that a usually benign and novice friendly cave like Long Churn can become a potential death trap - and that this is not a rare event but a regular occurrence.
Andy Sparrow



Offline kay

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #20 on: January 20, 2008, 05:16:01 pm »

If you look back at CRO records you will find the same caves involved in flood rescues on an almost annual basis and the most regular has always been Long Churn.  I don't think the problem is "that people are entering systems in knowlingly Dangerous conditions" but the opposite - that cavers of limited experience don't understand that a usually benign and novice friendly cave like Long Churn can become a potential death trap - and that this is not a rare event but a regular occurrence.

You also have to take into account the amount of use a cave gets. Long Churn is one of the most heavily used caves in the Dales so is more likely than other less used active stream caves to feature in rescues. And not all the rescues have been of cavers of limited experience.

Offline Andy Sparrow

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #21 on: January 20, 2008, 05:54:32 pm »
And not all the rescues have been of cavers of limited experience.


I think going down a floodable cave in the wrong conditions defines and demonstrates a lack of experience. 
Andy Sparrow



LoneRanger

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #22 on: January 20, 2008, 09:08:55 pm »
... it does seem that people are entering systems in knowlingly Dangerous conditions. Nowt we can do about that but cringe. I also totally agree with the comment on needing good local knowledge ...

I'm local, and when I started caving I asked in the local caving shop which caves are safe in any weather, Dow Cave was in the list that I was given. As a result, I've been in there several times in very wet weather and never had any problems. On Friday, my local knowledge was revised.

LoneRanger

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #23 on: January 20, 2008, 09:22:09 pm »
Hands up anyone who can honestly say they have never been in a cave on a wet day, that with hidsight, they probably shouldn't have been in.

What? no one!

MSD

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Re: Trapped Students rescued, Dow Cave
« Reply #24 on: January 20, 2008, 09:30:46 pm »
Does anybody know exactly how bad it was? It doesn't sound like they were in any danger and maybe the leaders just played it safe by going for the rescue. Well, better safe than sorry (especially after recent events) but maybe it wasn't such a sensational happening.

Mark