Author Topic: Cuckoo Cleaves  (Read 1217 times)

Offline bagpuss

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Cuckoo Cleaves
« on: August 30, 2021, 08:06:39 pm »
Hi all,
I know the situation regarding air quality can vary day to day, but just wondered if anyone had been in Cuckoo Cleaves recently and what the air quality was like? I am the club budgie (ie I seem to get effected sooner than everyone else when it comes to bad air) so interested to know what it's been like on Mendip before committing to a trip! Barely been caving since pre covid so not really aware of what it's been like on Mendip over the summer. Hoping the cooler weather may have made it less of an issue...

Thanks :) 

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Cuckoo Cleaves
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2021, 10:43:46 pm »
I know the situation regarding air quality can vary day to day
Possibly one for another thread, but can air quality really vary day to day? I'm no expert, but I'd have thought air quality takes time to shift one way or the other, based on longer term atmospheric conditions and water levels.

As for current air quality in Cuckoo Cleaves, I'm afraid I can't help, but we do currently have a strong outwards draught at our dig in Bos, so perhaps a reasonable assumption that the caves in the area are breathing well at the minute.


Offline mikem

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Re: Cuckoo Cleaves
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2021, 08:36:04 am »
There was also a good draught at drunkards this weekend. Somewhere like cuckoo may change after heavy rain, but not on a daily basis - some friends were down there a month ago & survived, but no more recent reports than that (manor farm wasn't great a couple of weeks ago).

Offline bagpuss

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Re: Cuckoo Cleaves
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2021, 09:21:17 am »
I know the situation regarding air quality can vary day to day
Possibly one for another thread, but can air quality really vary day to day? I'm no expert, but I'd have thought air quality takes time to shift one way or the other, based on longer term atmospheric conditions and water levels.

As for current air quality in Cuckoo Cleaves, I'm afraid I can't help, but we do currently have a strong outwards draught at our dig in Bos, so perhaps a reasonable assumption that the caves in the area are breathing well at the minute.

Thanks Pete, poorly worded on my part, I suppose what I really meant was that I understand that it could change between visits, ie it might have been okay when someone visited it one week, then could change if we visited a week or so later, ie would still use our own judgment when caving.

Offline mikekushy

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Re: Cuckoo Cleaves
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2021, 09:22:51 am »
Depends how far you want to go really, most of the bad air sinks to the bottom of the cave.

Looking at the higher galleries should be safe and near the entrance for a quickish escape.

Other than that wait until there's frost.

If you suffer bad then I wouldn't risk it/waste time right now.

Regards.
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Offline wormster

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Re: Cuckoo Cleaves
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2021, 10:15:47 am »
If yo go during a high atmospheric conditions it tends to be a bit less "Huffy Pugfy" a low barometer pushes the carbon dioxide down to the end. Coming out is interesting to say the least
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Offline Tomferry

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Re: Cuckoo Cleaves
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2021, 12:08:21 pm »
Basically if your going to risk it go on a high pressure day where their is no clouds in the sky and the weather throughout the day you are 100% sure is not going to change , if your in any doubt about this cave it’s probably worth doing a few trial visits and making notes on the weather to learn it’s breathing pattern , how the person who teached me about it “sinker “ explained it is  imagine in your case cave breaths in on a high pressure day and out on a low pressure day .

Hope this helps

Offline wormster

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Re: Cuckoo Cleaves
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2021, 07:00:24 pm »
Go search out: "Pink Puffers And Blue Bloaters " somewhere on the net is an Australian Article that is worth reading before you venture underground, knowing how your body reacts to high Co2 concentrations, then you can have a much better trip than going in blind and possibly panic. ABOVE all: Go slowly and carefully take your time to plan how you intend to progress down the passage and an escape strategy should you or ANY member of your party starts getting affected (it takes twice the energy to cajole/drag by the chinstrap anybody out of that cave.) Plus you have to be a fooking racing snake to get to the lake!! I'm a slimfit caver and even I didn't like the look of it!!!!!
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Offline Tomferry

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Re: Cuckoo Cleaves
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2021, 07:26:20 pm »
I am curious as to why no one is mentioning a gas detector in this conversation? Surly it would be best for the person in question just to take one of these so they could pull out at 19.5 or 18.5% o2 depending on how hard their going to press it ?  I agree completely if you don’t own or want to hire one then as soon as a member of the party gets the first issue leave as said above .

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Cuckoo Cleaves
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2021, 07:57:11 pm »
A gas detector is the only way to be sure if you are worried, however they need to be calibrated regularly and also need turning on in fresh air prior to taking into a confined space (cave) in order to be accurate. I'm also fairly sure they don't like getting too wet. Therefore, I don't think they are a practical option for most recreational cavers.

I would certainly be interested to carry one (once in a while), as the first symptom of elevated CO2 is elevated breathing rate and heart rate, which are also a symptom of exercise.

Poor fitness can easily be confused for bad air and a gas detector should clarify which it is. I guess this would be particularly the case after a period of reduced (or no) caving, as your gauge of your own cave fitness may be out of tune. On this basis, perhaps it's better to avoid places know for poor air after a break from caving, as you could equally confuse it the other way, assuming you are out of shape, when actually, you are entering an area of bad air?  :shrug:


Offline alastairgott

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Re: Cuckoo Cleaves
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2021, 08:11:40 pm »
I know the situation regarding air quality can vary day to day
Possibly one for another thread, but can air quality really vary day to day? I'm no expert, but I'd have thought air quality takes time to shift one way or the other, based on longer term atmospheric conditions and water levels.

As for current air quality in Cuckoo Cleaves, I'm afraid I can't help, but we do currently have a strong outwards draught at our dig in Bos, so perhaps a reasonable assumption that the caves in the area are breathing well at the minute.



Not sure what you mean?!? does air quality change week to week, month to month or is it year to year?  :tease:


Surely the atmoospheric pressure can change drastically within one week? otherwise we wouldn't get gale force winds? in which case day to day could probably be the correct term?

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Cuckoo Cleaves
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2021, 08:17:55 pm »
As for current air quality in Cuckoo Cleaves, I'm afraid I can't help

Would be interested to know the RN222 level.

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Cuckoo Cleaves
« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2021, 09:37:42 pm »
Not sure what you mean?!? does air quality change week to week, month to month or is it year to year?  :tease:


Surely the atmoospheric pressure can change drastically within one week? otherwise we wouldn't get gale force winds? in which case day to day could probably be the correct term?

Air currents can certainly change pretty quickly as atmospheric conditions (or cave conditions - think breakthrough) change, but this is like turning on a tap. Surely it still takes time before the effects of the atmospheric changes manifest themselves in a measurable difference in air quality  :shrug:

Edit: I'm thinking that the volume of air in a cave acts as a damper, smoothing out fluctuations in surface conditions
« Last Edit: August 31, 2021, 09:47:25 pm by PeteHall »

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Cuckoo Cleaves
« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2021, 09:39:13 pm »
As for current air quality in Cuckoo Cleaves, I'm afraid I can't help

Would be interested to know the RN222 level.

Not sure I've seen Radon on the gas detectors I've used, but it's been over 10 years since I last used one for work, so I might have forgotten...

Offline ChrisJC

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Re: Cuckoo Cleaves
« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2021, 09:56:49 pm »
I've got a Crowcon GasPro, with 5 sensors. Radon is not on the list of options.

But to be honest, I have it to hopefully avoid dying at that time. Radon is a longer term hazard, as far as I know the concentration is never high enough to cause suffocation.

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Offline Tomferry

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Re: Cuckoo Cleaves
« Reply #15 on: September 01, 2021, 07:46:12 am »
I never heard of radon being on a gas monitor when I did my 4x course and my confined spaces . I think the gas out running you in the mine / cave would depend on many things the levels inside you are encountering how much the weather is changing outside , also a key factor to remember is the air you have already used in the confined space is now replaced with co2 , past 17.5 oxygen it gets really bad  and it’s not to be messed with !

Offline wormster

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Re: Cuckoo Cleaves
« Reply #16 on: September 01, 2021, 10:14:52 am »
A gas detector is the only way to be sure if you are worried, however they need to be calibrated regularly and also need turning on in fresh air prior to taking into a confined space (cave) in order to be accurate. I'm also fairly sure they don't like getting too wet. Therefore, I don't think they are a practical option for most recreational cavers.

How about a cheapo lighter? Burning ok no flame get out!! :tease:
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Offline Tomferry

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Re: Cuckoo Cleaves
« Reply #17 on: September 01, 2021, 10:23:32 am »
Candle  Is better I find when the gas detector  is away for calibration

Offline mikem

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Re: Cuckoo Cleaves
« Reply #18 on: September 01, 2021, 10:31:04 am »
What if the lighter won't ignite to start the candle...

Offline Fulk

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Re: Cuckoo Cleaves
« Reply #19 on: September 01, 2021, 10:33:53 am »
You get out!

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Cuckoo Cleaves
« Reply #20 on: September 01, 2021, 10:41:36 am »
I have a photo somewhere of a mate using a diving regulator to get enough air around his lighter for a cigarette underground...

Offline Tomferry

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Re: Cuckoo Cleaves
« Reply #21 on: September 01, 2021, 10:41:51 am »
In a book I just read about coal mining before all the 4x stuff and safety lamps , it was one of the only rules of safety in the work place, that  you could not leave your workplace for breathing issues unless the candle had gone out ! Which I believe is around 17% if remembered correctly sod throwing a pick axe for 16 hour shifts in that ! ,   I have seen it many times when you can’t ignite your lighter in a iron mine.

Offline DaveTheCaver

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Re: Cuckoo Cleaves
« Reply #22 on: September 23, 2021, 03:38:29 pm »
We have an area of blind pits that are only accessible in the winter months. Bad air prevents access at other times.

We all use lighters on a bit of string. Test the lighter at the entrance. Then, as we descend the pit, stop, lock-off and test the air with the lighter. Repeat often. As we encounter bad air, the flame develops a gap between the top of the lighter and the flame. The gap gets larger the worse the air gets i.e. the lower down we go. If it doesn't light then get out quick.

Offline Frog2

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Re: Cuckoo Cleaves
« Reply #23 on: September 23, 2021, 05:49:56 pm »
Reminds me of a trip that formed part of my introduction to the wonderful world of caving.
It was part of a 'managerial' type course that used the outdoors as part of the classroom.

Trips included trying to survey Richmond Copper mine, abseil Buttertubs, visit Crackpot and the trip in question to Windegg Mine Caverns.

We were told of the possibility of bad air, as the only smoker present at the time, I was instructed to use my lighter to test the air as per previous post.

Only trouble was, I was just under 6ft tall and so was raising and lowering the lighter down to just below my neck and all seemed fine.
After a chunk of time one of the team who was a little over 4 foot tall was complaining of shortness of breath etc. Taking the lighter lower showed the problem.
A rapid exit was made and all was fine, with a lesson learned.

 

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