Author Topic: Using tape in Caves (was Agen Allwedd Trashed ?)  (Read 4200 times)

Offline The Old Ruminator

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Re: Using tape in Caves (was Agen Allwedd Trashed ?)
« Reply #25 on: August 19, 2021, 08:46:00 pm »
I nominate the OP to replace the tape with the solution they prefer and apply to BCA for the funding.   :clap2:

I am 75 next year so will start a fund for hand rails and steps on all the difficult bits of AA entrance series.

Offline Stuart France

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Re: Using tape in Caves (was Agen Allwedd Trashed ?)
« Reply #26 on: August 21, 2021, 11:02:28 am »
There's a bit of a misunderstanding in the above.

The MLCMAC until very recently was[...]

... I don't believe the MLCMAC is an access controlling body (in the 'registered with the BCA' sense) - again I could be wrong. Which leaves the question of what they are, assuming they still exist?

I thought I'd covered all that.  MLCMAC was a government committee, most recently controlled and chaired by NRW.  There was clearly a goodbye meeting with NRW in NRW's offices in Abergavenny but there has been no paperwork or other agreement emerging over the management of the Llangattock caves.  NRW has a lease from the Beaufort Estate on the Craig y Cilau NNR which includes Aggy and Eglwys Faen but not Daren Cilau or Craig a Ffynnon which are also on Beaufort land.  The NNR lease makes NRW responsible for managing cave access within it and they've abrogated their responsibility by informally winding up MLCMAC and not leaving anything in its place other than  the suggestion that the cavers previously involved with the committee should run it themselves.  Basically NRW wants to keep control at least in theory (the lease) but not have any responsibility or involvement at one and the same time (having done away with the Old MLCMAC but not put that in writing nor really figured out what the future should look like before NRW left the room).

The New MLCMAC (i.e. the usual cavers minus NRW personnel) could approach the estate to set up a new written access agreement running in parallel to the one that NRW is no longer operating but has not revoked.

However, in meetings I had with the estate longer ago concerning the wider area and issues, it emerged that its position is that cave access and appropriate conduct when caving is a matter for cavers to organise for themselves.  By that the estate might possibly mean that you can do what you like so long as you can justify it to yourselves as responsible behaviour and don't involve the estate in micro-management of activities at one extreme or general purpose written agreements at the other.

So informality is pretty much what's happened and we'll just have to see how this works out.  You can get a key for Aggy or OCAF or the Ogof Cnwc entrance to Daren Cilau from Malcolm Reid or from Adrian Fawcett or get it from Whitewalls by prior arrangement (see http://chelseaspelaeo.org/index_htm_files/contact.htm)







Online andrewmc

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Re: Using tape in Caves (was Agen Allwedd Trashed ?)
« Reply #27 on: August 21, 2021, 05:55:12 pm »
I thought I'd covered all that.  MLCMAC was a government committee, most recently controlled and chaired by NRW.  There was clearly a goodbye meeting with NRW in NRW's offices in Abergavenny but there has been no paperwork or other agreement emerging over the management of the Llangattock caves.  NRW has a lease from the Beaufort Estate on the Craig y Cilau NNR which includes Aggy and Eglwys Faen but not Daren Cilau or Craig a Ffynnon which are also on Beaufort land.  The NNR lease makes NRW responsible for managing cave access within it and they've abrogated their responsibility by informally winding up MLCMAC and not leaving anything in its place other than  the suggestion that the cavers previously involved with the committee should run it themselves.  Basically NRW wants to keep control at least in theory (the lease) but not have any responsibility or involvement at one and the same time (having done away with the Old MLCMAC but not put that in writing nor really figured out what the future should look like before NRW left the room).

The New MLCMAC (i.e. the usual cavers minus NRW personnel) could approach the estate to set up a new written access agreement running in parallel to the one that NRW is no longer operating but has not revoked.

However, in meetings I had with the estate longer ago concerning the wider area and issues, it emerged that its position is that cave access and appropriate conduct when caving is a matter for cavers to organise for themselves.  By that the estate might possibly mean that you can do what you like so long as you can justify it to yourselves as responsible behaviour and don't involve the estate in micro-management of activities at one extreme or general purpose written agreements at the other.

So informality is pretty much what's happened and we'll just have to see how this works out.  You can get a key for Aggy or OCAF or the Ogof Cnwc entrance to Daren Cilau from Malcolm Reid or from Adrian Fawcett or get it from Whitewalls by prior arrangement (see http://chelseaspelaeo.org/index_htm_files/contact.htm)

So... for the time being at least, the MLCMAC does not formally exist? Which means that as a cave within their area that no other formal BCA member body controls, CCC is the 'relevant' caving body?

Half of me feels this is off topic, and the other half feels it is _on_ topic because the point of the BCA/regional councils is to represent caves and cavers, and if you can't work out who has the responsibility for that representation for a cave then the system isn't working...

Offline Graigwen

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Offline Huge

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Re: Using tape in Caves (was Agen Allwedd Trashed ?)
« Reply #29 on: August 24, 2021, 11:14:32 am »
Bringing the discussion back to the merits of taping and other conservation methods :-

I was going to say that I consider taping as the lesser of two evils but thinking about it, I don't see it as an evil at all. I even don't mind the red and white road marking tape! Maybe it's because I've been caving at Llangattock for 30+ years and I'm used to it! I'm fine with seeing tape in photographs so don't see what all the fuss is about? Maybe if the photos are intended for publication or a competition but even then, the tape just shows that the cave is being cared for.

Sometimes when I come to a section of passage with no tape, I think it is nice to see without tape but then I start to think about what's been lost. With tape, the floor wouldn't be wall to wall, featureless uniform brown. There'd be textures, a variety of sediments and perhaps differently coloured gravels and possibly even crystals lying around. Again, the walls wouldn't have had crystals brushed off and features smothered under mud from cavers oversuits.

I've been involved in placing raised tapes on pegs and they have their place in certain environments - wet, muddy areas and on active formations. They are not needed in other places, where tape laid along the floor does the job and is more minimalist - coming back to causing as little change from the natural as possible. Raised tapes have been over used in some places. I find them very artificial and give these places the feel of a lightly developed show cave, whereas tape laid on the floor gives the impression of a wild cave, that conscientious cavers have given minimal but very adequate protection to. I don't like having to drill lots and lots of holes to support the pins and producing the associated rock powder, which is almost impossible to completely clean up.

I've heard the view that all that's needed is good education for the last 30 years but have still witnessed avoidable and completely unnecessary destruction so I'm not convinced. Maybe if we could get the simple message through that moving through caves carefully and with thought and not touching anything that does not need to be touched, would go a long way to helping? The conservation and access balance is maybe cyclical? Originally it seems there was not much thought given to looking after our caves. Then, having seen the destruction that had been caused over the years and realising what had been lost, cavers started to think about conservation in the 70s and it was in full swing in the 80s and 90s. Certainly when I started caving in the late 80s/early 90s, conservation was being talked about all the time. Things have swung around now, it's all about access and conservation seems a dirty word with people who promote conservation through access control being vilified. Give it another 10 years and maybe it'll swing around again, with people not willing to put up with what's being lost again.

Explanatory signs can help but like tape, can be ignored and some people take offence. I'm reminded of an incident that occurred shortly after the breakthrough into Draenen. A passage was found that had a pool with a superb calcite raft at it's start. The raft was about 1m X 2m, certainly the largest I've ever seen. The passage beyond was explored by a single group, who carefully traversed over the pool on ledges. A small amount of damage was done to the raft from crystals falling from the ledges and creating tiny holes in it. The passage beyond was a dead end and while it did have other formations, there was nothing special. It was felt that if cavers continued to cross the pool, more damage to the raft was inevitable and so it was decided to place tape across the passage at the pool explaining this and that the best thing to see was the raft and the best place to view it from was where people were stood, reading the note. Withing two weeks the tape and note were found lying on the floor and the raft was gone, just a muddy pool left in its place! I hope someone took photographs of it because there's no evidence of the raft starting to reform.

Offline kay

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Re: Using tape in Caves (was Agen Allwedd Trashed ?)
« Reply #30 on: August 24, 2021, 11:44:41 am »
it was decided to place tape across the passage at the pool explaining this and that the best thing to see was the raft and the best place to view it from was where people were stood, reading the note. Withing two weeks the tape and note were found lying on the floor and the raft was gone, just a muddy pool left in its place!

You seem to be saying that the presence of tape/explanatory note actually annoyed someone enough for them to remove it and deliberately? accidentally? trash the raft. Are you suggesting it might have survived longer without the notice/tape?

Offline Huge

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Re: Using tape in Caves (was Agen Allwedd Trashed ?)
« Reply #31 on: August 24, 2021, 12:44:09 pm »
What I'm saying is that the tape and note were not enough to save the calcite raft. Who knows how many eons it had been there but within a few weeks of cavers entering the cave, it was gone. The pulling down of the tape and note and them being left on the floor, could not have been anything other than deliberate. But whether the raft was destroyed accidentally, when someone slipped when trying to traverse over it or it was a deliberate act of vandalism (let's hope not!) or through ignorance (maybe someone just didn't recognise what it was, although the note did point it out), can only be known to the people who were present. As to whether the raft would have survived longer without the note, it's impossible to tell. I've certainly heard complaints over the years about closed off passages, there are a couple in Otter Hole, for example. "I should be able to go wherever I want." "What are they trying to hide from us? Are they keeping the best formations to themselves." etc.

Offline Ian Ball

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Re: Using tape in Caves (was Agen Allwedd Trashed ?)
« Reply #32 on: August 24, 2021, 01:44:22 pm »
That's an awful tale Huge.

Offline droid

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Re: Using tape in Caves (was Agen Allwedd Trashed ?)
« Reply #33 on: August 24, 2021, 02:11:22 pm »
That's an awful tale Huge.

It's rather typical of the 'entitled' attitude some access zealots project. >:(
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Offline Jenny P

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Re: Using tape in Caves (was Agen Allwedd Trashed ?)
« Reply #34 on: August 24, 2021, 02:21:52 pm »
Many years ago I was chatting to Tom Sykes (at that time CNCC Secretary) about the damage to Easter Grotto in Easegill.  Not only had straws been broken off by people passing through but some had left sweet wrappers on the floor and even left spent flashbulbs after they'd taken their fancy photos. 

Tom said that there were areas in Easegill that they had found on the first explorations and deliberately left off the survey and closed the passage off so that no-one else would find it and it would stay pristine.  The explorers had seen it themselves and were happy to have done so but never showed any photos of what they'd found and were content never to see the area again as long as it stayed intact and undamaged.

People who know OFD II will remember the occasion when the tip of the Trident was broken off.  The floor area around the triple stalactite had been taped off so that no-one could accidentally walk into it as it hung down to just about head height.  But someone crossed the tape and broke off about 15 cm of the tip of the longest of the 3 stals and then left the broken piece lying on the foor - it could not have happened accidentally!  The broken piece was found not long afterwards and re-attached by SWCC but the culprit was never found.  Yet visitors to OFD are supposed to be members of established clubs who book a key in advance and collect it from SWCC HQ - so what were the rest of this group of cavers doing and how did they allow it to happen?

Taping is never going to stop this kind of deliberate damage by people who should know better.  So what is the answer?

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Re: Using tape in Caves (was Agen Allwedd Trashed ?)
« Reply #35 on: August 24, 2021, 02:56:57 pm »
so what were the rest of this group of cavers doing and how did they allow it to happen?

Why would it have to be someone in a group?

Offline Jenny P

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Re: Using tape in Caves (was Agen Allwedd Trashed ?)
« Reply #36 on: August 24, 2021, 03:37:00 pm »
Normally cavers from visiting clubs have an OFD II key for a group of a maximum of up to 6 cavers in the party.  There is always a note on the tally board at SWCC HQ to list the names of everyone who is underground, including members of a visiting club, and a rough idea of their route.  (This is for use in case of a callout or someone overdue.)  Although there are members of SWCC who do solo trips, I would think it extremely unusual for a visiting club to have just one single member applying for a key.  I can't think that an SWCC member would have been responsible for this vandalism.  Both visiting groups and SWCC members are usually very quick to report back on any unexpected damage they come across because most of them care about conservation of the cave.

However, there have been just a very few occasions when a member of a visiting party has behaved in an inappropriate way and this has usually been picked up almost immediately by other members of their party or by an SWCC member who spotted some damage and checked on the tally board to see who had been down.  In the case of the damage to the Trident, it wasn't spotted by another group or an SWCC member in time to check the tally board and the broken off piece was found on the floor later.  Maybe the damage was done by one member of a group whose mates didn't realise what had happened and so didn't report it. 

The point is that only cavers from recognised clubs are normally down OFD II and it could only have been one of these people who did the damage.  That is what is so depressing!  And that's what Huge was implying - that it's the cavers from established clubs who ought to know better who are responsible for at least some of the damage in caves.

Offline BradW

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Re: Using tape in Caves (was Agen Allwedd Trashed ?)
« Reply #37 on: August 24, 2021, 06:44:40 pm »
Sorry, Jenny, SWCC are no different from other clubs. When I was a member, there were a number of, let's call them "individuals", who certainly did not behave as you might think an upright honourable caver should. As far as I know, they were effectively "removed" or not encouraged to remain members, but all big clubs have rogue members from time to time. You cannot dismiss the possibility that a "lone SWCC agent" didn't cause the damage you refer to. It is just as likely as a non-SWCC caver. The greatest risk to the conservation of caves is individuals who think that spoiling things is the best way to express their resentment over some stupid grudge they hold. It's human nature, and we all have a duty to guard our precious environment and sanity from their craziness. Suggesting clubs other than SWCC are the only places where idiots lurk is just unrealistic.

Offline Stuart France

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Re: Using tape in Caves (was Agen Allwedd Trashed ?)
« Reply #38 on: August 25, 2021, 10:00:40 am »
Quote
So... for the time being at least, the MLCMAC does not formally exist? Which means that as a cave within their area that no other formal BCA member body controls, CCC is the 'relevant' caving body?

Half of me feels this is off topic, and the other half feels it is _on_ topic because the point of the BCA/regional councils is to represent caves and cavers, and if you can't work out who has the responsibility for that representation for a cave then the system isn't working...

Well I suppose Cambrian as the Regional Caving Council (RCC) could take it all over (Aggy, Daren, OCAF, Capel etc) but it would need a discussion with all the Old MLCMAC members rather than just barging in.  Let's wait and see if the New MLCMAC develops into something clearer than it currently is, and if not then discuss it at the next CCC AGM where people at regional scale can have a voice.

The only caves in the 'Cambrian Access Portfolio' at the moment are Ogof Capel and Ogof Gofan.  Historically there has been a reluctance to turn our RCC into an Access Control Body.  Its constitution only refers to assisting ACBs and it does not envisage the situation where an ACB defaults or when one is clearly needed and it does not exist leading to a situation where the RCC needs to take the initiative itself until a suitable ACB forms.

Capel and Gofan are examples of an ACB being needed but didn't exist.  The NRW mines access scheme is an example of direct action by the RCC to set something up, followed up by formation of a new and independent ACB in the shape of Cave Access Ltd (CAL) to take over and administer it.




Offline Huge

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Re: Using tape in Caves (was Agen Allwedd Trashed ?)
« Reply #39 on: August 25, 2021, 11:17:32 am »
I wasn't 'implying' anything, sorry Jenny. I mentioned that in response to an earlier post which said that extensive taping was somehow old fashioned and that education and signs were what's needed. We don't know if the damage mentioned in OFD and Draenen was deliberate (I've heard it said a couple of times that The Trident was damaged when someone tried to climb behind it, up to a high level passage and fell). What was definitely deliberate in both cases, was the crossing/ignoring of tapes and getting too close to the formations, with the consequences that we've seen, disastrous in the case of the calcite raft. There's nothing that can be done to prevent deliberate vandalism but thankfully it does seem to be extremely rare.

We need to use all types of measures to minimise the change cavers make to caves and tape is a very important part of that. Taping is a change in itself but it's better than the general degradation that occurs without it. Reflectors may be appropriate in some places but my experience is that the worn path tends to be wider as people don't tend to stick  closely to a direct route between each reflector. So tape, reflectors,signs, education and even access control all have their place.

Offline The Old Ruminator

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Re: Using tape in Caves (was Agen Allwedd Trashed ?)
« Reply #40 on: August 25, 2021, 01:40:34 pm »
There seemed some insinuations that photographers are a bit of a pest. That they should put up with roadworks tape in their photos. Well I for one certainly wont and for me it spoils the look of any cave photo. AA has been overdone to a point of nonsense . Do we yet know who was responsible ? Not only had the horse long left the stable but the lurid tape just ruins the good bits that have survived ( IMHO ). We had to protect areas of The Frozen Deep from the very first day and eventually used fairly innocuous white rot proof electric fence tape after removing the more traditional orange tape which looked horrible. Even then it was just to mark the pathways we had devised rather than tape off every nook and cranny. Our fixed aids, if you like, were two platforms added for safety reasons on unstable pitches. Both had large unsafe boulders on where any line or ladder would hang. When you start adding fixed aids just for the convenience of less athletic cavers ( and at 74 the climbs posed no problem to me ) you are in danger of creating a caving culture that expects such things. A process that once started that could easily proliferate in AA and other caves. To my mind both Shatter and Withyhill on Mendip have been over taped. Sometimes the actual damage done is insidious. Pillar Chamber in Shatter lost its sparkle years ago. Not so much from tape transgression but by dust from passing cavers clothing. As for shutting passages and caves forever that too goes against all that I believe. Sure have more control and " open days "but shutting things permanently is just daft. That brings me back to those pesky photographers. I have photographed every dig and discovery I have been involved with for nearly 60 years. More folk should do the same for how else are we to know what happens over the passage of time. I am still digging twice a week at different sites. Still taking the photos. Still doing the odd trip.

Offline Leclused

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Re: Using tape in Caves (was Agen Allwedd Trashed ?)
« Reply #41 on: August 26, 2021, 11:37:28 am »
In the past there were some good threads about taping

One of the better was the following https://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=16892.0

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Offline mudman

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Re: Using tape in Caves (was Agen Allwedd Trashed ?)
« Reply #42 on: August 26, 2021, 04:53:07 pm »
I wasn't 'implying' anything, sorry Jenny. I mentioned that in response to an earlier post which said that extensive taping was somehow old fashioned and that education and signs were what's needed. We don't know if the damage mentioned in OFD and Draenen was deliberate (I've heard it said a couple of times that The Trident was damaged when someone tried to climb behind it, up to a high level passage and fell). What was definitely deliberate in both cases, was the crossing/ignoring of tapes and getting too close to the formations, with the consequences that we've seen, disastrous in the case of the calcite raft. There's nothing that can be done to prevent deliberate vandalism but thankfully it does seem to be extremely rare.

We need to use all types of measures to minimise the change cavers make to caves and tape is a very important part of that. Taping is a change in itself but it's better than the general degradation that occurs without it. Reflectors may be appropriate in some places but my experience is that the worn path tends to be wider as people don't tend to stick  closely to a direct route between each reflector. So tape, reflectors, signs, education and even access control all have their place.

The story I have heard is that the tip was broken off, taken home and then the culprit identified by checking the day's trip cards followed by a visit from the SWCC 'heavies.'  I'd love to know what the true story is. I assume someone must know.

I haven't been in Aggy for a long time and due to Covid, I won't be again for a while yet but I don't remember taping being too over the top. Has it been renewed or added to much in the last few years?

As to tape, I'm with Huge on this in that I think it is a necessary evil. It would be great if education and signs would protect the caves but this really can't be relied upon. You will always have those who don't understand or interpret the 'education' in different ways to others. Some will err on the side of caution whereas others will think it's okay to wander over to a get a better look. This of course is something that will still happen with tape as there are always those that want to get a closer look or get that different photo. I did know of one person that advised newcomers that conservation tape was 'for guidance' so I dread to think what might have happened without tape. The thing is, most people tend to judge everyone else by holding a mirror to themselves when in reality there will be a lot of people far less considerate or thoughtful than them. Some will be okay with being told to keep to the centre, don't touch formations, don't take anything etc. and will heed this advice and proceed as you would. Then there are those that nod and wander off but then completely forget or misunderstand the advice. It's these that need the 'in your face' indicators that mark out lines of demarcation that shouldn't be crossed. This group may be small in number but the damage they can cause is cumulative and irreversible. Then of course there are the complete w@@kers that take no notice and go off to do their own thing and grab a couple of souvenirs at the same time. Unfortunately there is very little that can be done about these.
So, I believe that in general, tape has done what it was supposed to do or at least minimised or slowed the rate of damage that is seen in most South Wales caves. I have often wished I could see the caves without tape but I'm willing to forgo that if it offers even a small amount of protection.

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Using tape in Caves (was Agen Allwedd Trashed ?)
« Reply #43 on: August 26, 2021, 07:19:01 pm »
...Our fixed aids, if you like, were two platforms added for safety reasons on unstable pitches.

The hideous platforms in Frozen Deep have been described by caving colleagues as "the contents of a builder's skip nailed to the wall". They're an abosolute disgrace in an age of SRT and technical bolting alternatives, frankly.

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Re: Using tape in Caves (was Agen Allwedd Trashed ?)
« Reply #44 on: August 26, 2021, 08:38:16 pm »
I'm jealous. I would love to have discovered a HUGE chamber with lots of formations that I could potentially reach without buying a long haul ticket to south Asia. So, they've built a couple of useful but aesthetically imperfect platforms with the kit they had to hand. Why is this a problem compared to the scale of the achievement?

If the wider caving population wants to make them more beautiful (and want to pay), that's up to them. From the pictures I've seen, the platforms don't detract from the pretty bits....

Offline The Old Ruminator

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Re: Using tape in Caves (was Agen Allwedd Trashed ?)
« Reply #45 on: August 27, 2021, 09:36:06 am »
I cant say that I agree with my old mate the good Cap'n. Many cavers are still not adept at bolting and SRT though no doubt he would like to earn a few quid by training some more. As stated the platforms were put in place to avoid dangerous parts of the climb not as fixed aids which we see randomly placed in AA. Access to High Country required hauling up gear from the bottom whether that be a ladder or anything else. I cant say that I like this snobbery regarding ladders and SRT. Still that's another long running argument and going right off topic.

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Re: Using tape in Caves (was Agen Allwedd Trashed ?)
« Reply #46 on: October 07, 2021, 08:03:12 am »
New post about MLCMAC moved to new Topic in 'Wales' section: https://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=28643.msg350945#msg350945 by Global Moderator
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Offline Huge

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Re: Using tape in Caves (was Agen Allwedd Trashed ?)
« Reply #47 on: Today at 07:23:09 am »
The Old Ruminator may be happy to hear that the scaffold pole aids have disappeared from the Aggy entrance series. He'll probably be less happy that the conservation tape is still there in the Main Passage though.

 

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