Author Topic: Risk  (Read 851 times)

Offline Barny

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Risk
« on: February 16, 2019, 07:40:04 pm »
Risk
I think ultimately this is the reason that the majority of folk cave. The pleasure, the “raison d’etre”.
Whether the risk is just perceived or real is debateable. I would reckon for the majority it is perceived. However the results being is that they feel good, in some cases superior to the tiddlywink players. Probably nowhere near as dangerous as a walk in Peckham or any other suburb in a major city but more satisfying.
Risk is often defined as evaluating the hazard by looking at the possible consequence and the frequency that said consequence has actually occurred historically. You cannot apply a Lockerbie to every situation. We each evaluate and make our own decision as whether to continue. This necessarily excludes those paying for sanitised adventure. In major risk assessment you are still only allowed one big IF. Many seem to create scenarios that could but have never happened by adding several IFS. Search CRO and the other teams data.
One of my fears is that all the risk averse posts re knots and anchors is actually increasing risk. My experience in the workplace is that one of the greatest factors leading to an accident is complacency / familiarity. That is to say if you start to believe all safeguards are in place and the responsibility of others then you cease to use your own judgement. There is nothing better than a dodgy spit to make you search for a suitable back up. But you have to see that dodgy spit.
The difficulties of untying knots is not a great issue when it comes to the choice of knot. After all when you recover the rope just stuff it into the sac and sort it when you are sorting the kit later above ground. How often is this a critical factor that you need to undo the knot underground in extremis?
Adding percentages of efficiency into knots and increasing complexity when the simple overhand would suffice seems completely unnecessary, though many others may be more clever.
I particularly like knots and have a reasonable repertoire but prefer the simplest in the dark so you know that everyone else recognises them and is confident.
We regularly use spit placements that are in excess of 30 years old, we back up but to date have never experienced a failure, but to listen to some of the posts justifying the sanitisation of caves you might expect every other one popping.
Create some safe honey pots but please leave the rest for what caving was.

To misquote Jim Eyre it isn’t a game, there should be no whistles and referees.
Enjoy your adventures and close shaves.
Go for it Aberystwyth.



Offline mikem

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Re: Risk
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2019, 07:54:42 pm »
Or it could just be cavers who aren't able to go caving & looking for something to pontificate about...

Offline Kenilworth

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Re: Risk
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2019, 09:10:21 pm »
If the majority of cavers are in it to experience risk then they are a dreadful lot of nitwits. A lot of gear conversations do reveal that there is an enormous overestimation of the risks involved in caving. Cavers are made uncomfortable when someone like me shows up doing srt with minimal gear, not because they are afraid for my safety, but because I am illustrating the pointlessness of their hardware and deglamourizing the simple act of climbing and sliding down a rope.

There is no end to possible disaster scenarios. Eliminating risk should not be a priority, especially in such a basic thing as caving. Seeking out risk should also not be a priority, ever. Thrill-seekers are either forced to lie to themselves concerning the real danger of their activity, or to be truly negligent with their lives. Two styles of stupidity.

Offline ZombieCake

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Re: Risk
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2019, 10:51:38 pm »
Risk - can't get enough armies to hold Asia, Europe is a bit dodgy too.  South America and Australia are better bets.  Use escalating sets and you can take it turns to sweep across the board until the beer runs out.
There's a few variations - the Walking Dead version is good and entertaining, reminds me of committee meetings  ;D  ;D  ;D

Offline RobinGriffiths

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Re: Risk
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2019, 11:00:47 pm »
Kenilworth has a point though. I've seen many an unnecessary meal made of going up and down a rope

Offline kay

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Re: Risk
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2019, 07:59:34 am »
Risk
I think ultimately this is the reason that the majority of folk cave.

Really? So it's not about seeing the beauty of a hidden world then, or the sheer pleasure of finding where this hole leads to?

Offline nickwilliams

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Re: Risk
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2019, 10:56:33 am »
Or the pleasure of spending time among like minded friends?
"Economics is simply the branch of sociology that deals with people trading items and the fact that they use more numbers does not make it anymore of a science."

Offline Laurie

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Re: Risk
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2019, 11:33:32 am »
Caving is FUN!.
It's also one of the great equalisers. It doesn't matter who you are or what you are in the surface world. Attitudes are toally different underground. I've known young ladies to whom a broken fingernail in the office would be the world's greatest disaster, yet they'll exit a cave with nails destroyed and hair a total mess grinning from ear to ear.
MNRC

Online The Old Ruminator

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Re: Risk
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2019, 11:48:52 am »
Risk or wanting to experience it has nothing to do with caving and even more so for deep diving. Reducing risk aspects certainly do . More so with diving as the simplest error can lead to " the incident pit " where the problem magnifies until you cannot get out. I was deep diving for 25 years and have been caving for 55 years. I am not a thrill seeker. Coming home with a broken arm or bent to hell is not my idea of " fun ". I find caving ( and diving ) spiritually rewarding in a way hard to explain to the uninitiated. There were times on a dive when the sheer pleasure of my surroundings lead me into a different conscious state . A non drug related euphoria if you like. The absolute pleasure of doing something you love when all goes perfectly. Risk is the distraction. The spanner in the works that destroys the emotional well being . Why carry such a thing in your head. It leads only to apprehension , fear and unhappiness in whatever you are doing. Risk should be accessed and as much as possible eliminated.   Over reliance on " risk  assessment ", though, leads to a nanny state. " Oh I had better not do such a thing its too risky ". Perhaps I will just sit in my armchair all day. ( having decided that the risk is minimal ). At age 71 I have done 11 caving trips so far this year. Not bad for an old bloke. Anyone riding along on an adrenaline rush never stays the course. They burn out. Ultimately you have to find something to keep your interest. As age increases you learn to modify your expectations. You are no longer quite sure of your capabilities. I guess that is a risk of sorts so I don't think I will be attempting a trip to the sump in Daren ever again. The sensible evaluation of risk.
If I had to answer that oft repeated question " why do you go caving " I would struggle to find an answer but risk would not be part of it. I am happy and at home in a caving environment. I always look for something different and seek to understand the world of caves. I remember my old diving instructor saying " look at the others they dash around and see nothing ". They absorb nothing, learn nothing just seek to overcome the alien environment they have placed themselves in. People like that never remain in a hobby for long. Thrill seekers and risk takers. It all wears off in a while then off they go seeking more in a different area.

Offline JasonC

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Re: Risk
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2019, 03:15:07 pm »
If Barny had headed this thread "Danger", he might have had a point.

Risk and danger are not synonymous, but are obviously related.

I often think that danger is a bit like salt: too much is bad for you, but none at all makes things taste flat.
Perhaps none of us goes looking to increase the risk of our activities, but be honest, if caving was completely safe, would it still be fun?


Offline andrewmc

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Re: Risk
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2019, 10:52:01 pm »
Perhaps none of us goes looking to increase the risk of our activities, but be honest, if caving was completely safe, would it still be fun?

For me - yes.

Offline Kenilworth

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Re: Risk
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2019, 11:11:53 pm »
If Barny had headed this thread "Danger", he might have had a point.

Risk and danger are not synonymous, but are obviously related.

I often think that danger is a bit like salt: too much is bad for you, but none at all makes things taste flat.
Perhaps none of us goes looking to increase the risk of our activities, but be honest, if caving was completely safe, would it still be fun?

Yes.
Besides, caving is darn near as completely safe as anything else. It's a little embarrassing that so many cavers believe or pretend to believe that caving is dangerous.

Online The Old Ruminator

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Re: Risk
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2019, 07:43:22 am »
Darn site safer than deep wreck diving we lost about eight of our extended group. Statistically caving has fewer fatalities in the UK than most sports. Two people died on the mountains last week was it ?

Offline andrewmc

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Re: Risk
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2019, 08:38:20 am »
Darn site safer than deep wreck diving we lost about eight of our extended group. Statistically caving has fewer fatalities in the UK than most sports. Two people died on the mountains last week was it ?

It all depends though...

Caving (outside of instructed groups, which probably account for a large fraction of all caving in the UK) is probably more dangerous than climbing _on average_, given that a large fraction of climbing is done inside, a fair bit is relatively 'safe' sport climbing or bouldering (plenty of injuries but fewer deaths). Then most trad climbing is pretty bimbly and not that risky. Winter mountaineering and alpinism, and even scrambling, is more risky and I suspect more like hard/expedition caving (with a continuum on both sides).

There are not that many people caving in the UK; there are far, far, far more hillwalkers and climbers, so absolute comparisons are probably misleading but a single caving death of a BCA member probably implies a death rate of greater than one in ten thousand...

Offline andrewmc

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Re: Risk
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2019, 08:45:18 am »
Turns out there is plenty of stuff on climbing fatality rates:

https://www.outsideonline.com/2127176/ranking-worlds-toughest-outdoor-sports?sf50702063=1
suggests 0.145 per thousand, whereas in the 80s in this US national park:
https://www.wemjournal.org/article/S0953-9859(90)71338-1/pdf
it was about 5.6 accidents per 10,000 climber hours, of which about a quarter were fatal. This was an area with mixed trad and mountaineering, and was 30+ years ago.

Would be interesting if someone did have some statistics...

turns out the Yanks did it.
https://www.wemjournal.org/article/S1080-6032(12)00095-6/fulltext

Approximately 3 fatalities per year out of an active caver population of probably around ten thousand and a total 'caver' population of 2,000,000 per year (the majority of safe guided trips - not sure if that includes showcaves).

By comparison looking through the list of caving fatalities for the UK on Wikipedia since 1990 and removing all the ones that are diving-related, natural causes or 'led' groups (e.g. 'management exercise', 'schoolboy') you get about 20 fatalities, so a bit under one per year out of an active caving population of around 10,000 again (rounding to the nearest 10,000!).

And Porth yr Ogof appears far too many times.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2019, 08:59:08 am by andrewmc »

Offline langcliffe

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Re: Risk
« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2019, 08:55:14 am »
but a single caving death of a BCA member probably implies a death rate of greater than one in ten thousand...

I'm probably being thick, but can you expand on this? Is this a death rate associated with the number of trips enjoyed by BCA members over a fixed length in time. If so, what period, how many members, and how many trips are you assuming?

If it's over a year, and we assume that 5,000 BCA members go caving 20 times per year, that's a total of 100,000 caving trips. With less than 0.5 deaths per year over the past decade, isn't that an death rate of less than 1:200,000 per trip?

Offline andrewmc

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Re: Risk
« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2019, 09:05:34 am »
but a single caving death of a BCA member probably implies a death rate of greater than one in ten thousand...

I'm probably being thick, but can you expand on this? Is this a death rate associated with the number of trips enjoyed by BCA members over a fixed length in time. If so, what period, how many members, and how many trips are you assuming?

If it's over a year, and we assume that 5,000 BCA members go caving 20 times per year, that's a total of 100,000 caving trips. With less than 0.5 deaths per year over the past decade, isn't that an death rate of less than 1:200,000 per trip?

Ah yes, I was being very very unclear. I was assuming that there were around 10,000 active cavers (I think there is slightly more than 5,000 BCA members, and I'm assuming a few non-members), and I meant a death rate of greater than one per year implied a death rate of at least one in ten thousand per active caver per year. The death rate I very briefly counted was about 2/3rd of that for 1990-2018 or so, but just rolling with 1 in 10,000 active cavers per year to make the maths easier...

You could probably try and work out a lifetime risk by making extremely dubious assumptions about the average length of caving carried out by a BCA member. For example, if you take that 1 in ten thousand per year per active caver, and you cave for 50 years, then you have a 99.995% chance of survival :P

These figures could easily be wrong by 100 times either way...

Offline langcliffe

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Re: Risk
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2019, 09:44:07 am »
The death rate I very briefly counted was about 2/3rd of that for 1990-2018 or so, but just rolling with 1 in 10,000 active cavers per year to make the maths easier...

Fair enough.  One problem we have is that we are dealing with very low numbers, which can easily be skewed by a single incident. Of the four deaths in the past decade, only Gordon Aitken's unfortunate accident in Bull Pot could be considered to be a 'normal caving' incident. Two of the others were associated with cave diving, and the fourth was due to natural causes.

I must say that I do not regard regular caving to be inherently risky when undertaken by those with reasonable experience. The main cause of death in UK caves has been by drowning, and that risk is now much reduced with weather forecasts being more readily available and more accurate. The next major cause of death has been falling from height, and this has much reduced since the adoption of SRT - just one incident in the last 20 years.