Author Topic: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!  (Read 7012 times)

Offline ronofcam

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Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« on: April 08, 2013, 02:43:35 pm »
Good afternoon all speleologists!

I have been writing in the Royal Meterological Society's 'Weather' publication for a number of years now. I write about survival of snow on the hills of Scotland, Wales and England. For many years I had assumed that no snow survived in England much past May or June, and that if it did it would be generally in the Pennines or Lakes.

However, I received a report from a caver a few months back, informing me that he came across a large snow plug in November 2010. The report of the correspondence, and of the general chat, is here: http://www.winterhighland.info/forum/read.php?2,149146

What I'm after is a report from anyone on here as to whether the huge snow deposits of late March has filled up the hole in any way. The opening is aligned SE/NW, so would have been ideal for the snow that fell recently. Any reports or photos would be most welcome indeed.

A long shot... I will be up that neck of the woods on the week commencing 22nd April. I'd be dead keen to actually get down there, if that's at all possible. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Thanks,
Iain
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Offline Peter Burgess

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2013, 03:08:05 pm »
I believe it also happened in the late 1970s - 1978 or 1979?

Offline Rob

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2013, 03:12:25 pm »
You will be interested to see this report then...
http://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=14940.msg195708#msg195708

As for getting down, you'll need to be proficient at rope techniques, as it's one of the deepest surfaces shafts in the area.
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Offline Goydenman

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2013, 03:14:34 pm »
It did indeed I remember going down in late 70's and finding way through blocked by snow/ice in August!!! There had been no snow on surface for many months.

Offline ronofcam

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2013, 03:30:14 pm »
Thanks chaps. I've emailed Paul to ask him what depth there is.

As for the year in the late '70s, my guess is 1979. That year there were also massive blizzards from the east. A patch of snow persisted in the Pennines until 18th August, on Great Dun Fell. That would square with the dates being discussed.

I'm an utter novice, so it seems I will have to wait for others to report their findings!

Thanks again, and if you know any others going down there then please mention my name!

Iain

Offline paul

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2013, 05:10:55 pm »
To be honest, the snow doen Eldon Hole is more like a Victorian Ice House as it is about 200 feet deep and when there is an appreciable amount of snow down there it can persist for many months. The ambient temperature in caves, once you are well away from the entrance, is roughly the average for the location, so it would be fairly cool down there without the snow anyway. Quite different from snow persisting on the surface.

Whet worried us was the large chunks of snow and ice hanging in the edge of the East wall on the surface (we descended via the North Gully and there were no footprints from previous visitors) - especially when the sun made an appearance and started melting things...
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Offline graham

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2013, 05:28:26 pm »
To be honest, the snow doen Eldon Hole is more like a Victorian Ice House as it is about 200 feet deep and when there is an appreciable amount of snow down there it can persist for many months. The ambient temperature in caves, once you are well away from the entrance, is roughly the average for the location, so it would be fairly cool down there without the snow anyway. Quite different from snow persisting on the surface.

Quite right. The difference is that snow/ice does persist in similar situations in caves across Europe (doubtless further afield, too, but I've only visited European ones) on a regular basis. Thus this remains an interesting datum point for researchers such as ronofcam.
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Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2013, 06:55:04 pm »
A lot also depends on altitude. For example the Northern Caves guide states that the entrance to Knock Fell Caverns (east of Penrith) is "normally" blocked by snow, December to April. Anecdotally that snow can last much later in some years. This cave entrance lies at 762 m but it's just an ordinary shakehole, not an "ice house" situation.

Several hundred miles further south in the French Jura (and from memory at no greater altitude) is the Grotte De La Glaciere. I think this has snow at the bottom of a huge sloping chamber all year round - but this is an "ice house" situation, in a way like Eldon Hole. On hot summer days, this snow is the main feature attracting tourists to this show cave.

I was up on Ingleborough this afternoon and many of the bigger shakeholes still have very substantial amounts of snow in. Unless we get a heat wave I'd like to bet that snow lasts a fair while this year. Certainly some of our well known potholes have been blocked by snow for some time.

Offline bograt

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2013, 07:14:22 pm »
I recall going down Eldon in July to find that the "North" route, usually 90ft was only approx 47ft,(measured by ladder lengths), blocked by snow, I thought this was in the earlier '70's, but I may be wrong, IIRC the route through to the chamber stayed blocked for a couple more Winters (by snow).
 I think this was a joint trip, VOPS and MCEST, before I joined TSG, anyone out there recognise those initials?.
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Offline ronofcam

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2013, 09:49:13 pm »
Thanks everyone for replying.

I'd be very grateful if anyone who goes down there could keep an eye out for the snow that will undoubtedly persist for while yet.

Paul reckons there is a good few feet of depth there. Be interesting to know exactly how much has settled at the bottom.

Offline paul

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2013, 10:06:12 pm »
Paul reckons there is a good few feet of depth there. Be interesting to know exactly how much has settled at the bottom.

A lot. The problem is that the floor slopes steeply down to the continuation of the underground section of the cave and the snow tends to level out so it isn't easy to estimate the quantity.

Plus there was still quite a lot of snow and ice overhanging from the surface above wo we didn't hang around for long - especially when the sun came out and things began melting...
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Offline pwhole

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2013, 11:57:56 pm »
A group from the TSG went down on 17th Feb, with deep snow on the east and west pitch heads - the west being a particularly large cornice that had to be kicked down to even get near the edge. However, at the bottom, there was no snow at all. A trip in April 2012 had a snow plug, and I'm certain I saw one down there in June 2011 but don't have a write-up to check. On one occasion I visited outside winter it was at least a metre deep, judging by the mini-crevasses worn by water-drips. Some thought the direction of the prevailing winds may have an impact on whether the plug forms or not.

Offline ronofcam

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2013, 09:59:51 am »
Thanks again, folks.

A good picture of the snow from June 2011 is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/steve-sharp/4727701813/#in/photostream/

There's little doubt that the direction of the wind plays a large part in the gathering in the hole. For my part I think that anything from the east (particularly NE) is likely to aid accumulation. This is backed up by 2010's remnant, which lasted until winter of 2010-2011.

If anyone's got any contacts who are likely to be down there any time soon, please tell them to post up on here!

Iain

Offline zomjon

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2013, 10:36:50 am »
Should be popping down tomorrow depending upon how lazy we're feeling!

Offline ronofcam

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2013, 10:59:34 am »
Should be popping down tomorrow depending upon how lazy we're feeling!
Would really appreciate a picture or two!

Thanks,

Iain
iainjamescameron@hotmail.com

Offline pwhole

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2013, 02:30:25 pm »
Wow - that's the one! Thanks for digging that out - I was beginning to think I'd imagined it being June! The other image next to it is equally great:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/steve-sharp/4727699817/#in/photostream/

Offline ronofcam

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2013, 08:58:34 pm »
Bump! Anyone been down Eldon Hole, or know of anyone who has? I'm wondering if the snow is still persisting.

Offline zomjon

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2013, 09:08:54 pm »
Hi I'm afraid that my trip was three weeks back now and I forgot the camera and spade. Kicked my way down for about a metre before giving up and back up the rope - guess the plug would have gone down at least another metre into the hole.

Offline Pete K

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2013, 09:24:09 pm »
Some friends of mine went down last week and could not get into the chamber as it was blocked by the snow.

Offline robjones

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #19 on: May 07, 2013, 11:19:57 pm »
My experience of snow pluged potholes has been limited to August in the Haut Jura.  :)

As regards semi-perennial snowfields in the UK, a very accessible summary was given in the opening chapter of M.Moran "Scotland's Winter Mountains: the challenge and the skills", David & Cgarles, Newton Abbot, 1988. It states that one researcher considered that at Braeriach in the Cairngorms "a tiny ephemeral corrie glacier may have subsisted there as late as 1810", and Moran states it is "the most likely spot in Britain for glacier regeneration" but pessimistically states that if present warming trends continue "Scotland's mountain winter would be but a fond memory in a hundred years' time". More encouragingly for climbers of the future he also states that as the climatic optimum of the present interglacial occurred 6,000 years ago, it may "be more correct to  regard Scotland's present semi-permanent  snowbeds as ahrbingers of the next glaciation than the lingering relics of the last Ice Age."  8)

All well known to ronofcam through academic articles  :smartass:, I'm sure, but Moran's popular account may be of interest to cavers who go hill walking.

Moran does have gentle dig at researchers such as ronofcam: "The few dirty patches of near-perennial snow have roused a volume of research and emotion out of all proportion to their extent or scenic significance."  ::)

And in lighter vein, G.J.Dutton's second hilarious accounts of climbing and walking misadventures in Scotland (G.J.Dutton "Nothing do simple as climbing: more stories of the Doctor and his friends among the long suffering Highlands", Diadem Books, London, 1993) includes "Beating the recession", originally published in the "Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal". Its a just-plausible account off one man's attempt to assist a semi-perennial snowfield to persist and grow from one winter to the next in a large scale experiment to create Scotland's first glacier in some hundreds of years...   ;D

Offline Anon

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #20 on: May 07, 2013, 11:37:04 pm »
a tiny ephemeral corrie glacier may have subsisted there as late as 1810", and Moran states it is "the most likely spot in Britain for glacier regeneration" but pessimistically states that if present warming trends continue "Scotland's mountain winter would be but a fond memory in a hundred years' time".
Global warming all those years ago, there we were claiming it was a modern ideal.

I recall reading something, somewhere, that a small drop in temperature would result in year round snow/ice in the Cairngorms (at probably the above cited example). Personally I've had more problems getting to a cave due to snow than actually in it...

Offline ronofcam

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #21 on: May 16, 2013, 08:05:07 pm »
<...>
All well known to ronofcam through academic articles  :smartass:, I'm sure, but Moran's popular account may be of interest to cavers who go hill walking.
Ha! Busted. Yes, the more astute amongst you may have gathered that I write about snow for the Royal Meterololgical Society every year (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wea.1918/abstract)
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wea.1969/abstract

Moran does have gentle dig at researchers such as ronofcam: "The few dirty patches of near-perennial snow have roused a volume of research and emotion out of all proportion to their extent or scenic significance."  ::)
Moran gets a couple of facts wrong in his otherwise excellent book! I've been observing snow seriously now for a number of years in Britian, and let me tell you there's nothing out of proportion about the subject. It's both fascinating and a great way to see the countryside of Britain.

Any updates on Eldon Hole? Can members on here cast their nets and find out if there's any left? I'd be very, very grateful.

Offline jonnyrocketboots

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #22 on: May 16, 2013, 10:11:25 pm »
Hey Cam,
Whether or not my reply is of use to you I don't know, but a year or so ago  I had a trip into Eldon Hole with Lincoln Caving Club.  I'll never forget it as I was asked if I would like to rig it.  My 'Mentors' obviously thought I was worthy and had taught me well.  I jumped at the chance, thinking I was finally a useful member of the team!
With hindsight, It was a beautiful, almost summer like day and my more experienced friends (who have been down Eldon umpteen times over the years)
seemed quite relaxed with my steady (ok, slow!) rigging.
Experience has now taught me that the most experienced member of the team gets to go first and keeps warm!! One way or another!
Cave in winter the boss goes first, Cave in summer the boss either lets you have a go or fucks off paragliding if its not very windy!
Suppose it's just pecking order at the end of the day!

You know what, You could do worse things in life than learn how to cave mate.
You can get in touch with any caving club and they would help you.  You could then get down Eldon or any cave of your choice and see for yourself buddy~!

You sound like an outdoory type to me, Why not learn the skills you need to know in order to answer your own questions??

You be in for a real treat here, trust me!!

Scott.

My people also have a claim upon the riches in that mountain.

Offline Alex

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #23 on: May 17, 2013, 12:55:42 pm »
I few of the shake holes on Ingleborugh last weekend still had sizeable snow plugs at the bottom of the pitches.
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Offline bograt

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Re: Eldon Hole - Snow reports!
« Reply #24 on: May 17, 2013, 01:11:40 pm »
You could do worse things in life than learn how to cave mate.

When I started, there was no learning involved, you just went out and did it !!.
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