• Ghar Parau dinner invitation

    Have you or your club benefitted from Ghar Parau funding for an expedition?

    To mark the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its creation, a meal is to be held at the Anchor Inn in Tideswell, Derbyshire on Saturday 11th February, 2023. As well as a meal there will be speakers on behalf of the original Ghar Parau explorers and the current GPF committee.

    Details here

Dot to dot cavers

i think it goes

New member
Also as a club in south Wales we focus on doing horizontal caving as we have a limited amount of SRT kits and rope , so when we do go to the dales or the peaks it is nice to have topos that make SRT easy and quick and also to know the amount of gear we need to bring, so that we can run multiple trips on the same day. Almost all of the SRT trips we run are to do with teaching people SRT and the occasional sightseeing or sporting trip so safe and easy rigging is a priority.
From the perspective of a student club in the midlands I tend to agree with you. Student clubs have such a fast turnover time for introducing complete newbies to vertical techniques it is often difficult to show the general student caver more niche parts of srt and rigging. We're often lucky if we train more than a handful of riggers per year and at the most it would usually be the basics and how to be safe.

Of course if we have any keen beans then the (vaguely) more knowledgeable members (those who like to procrastinate their work) are always happy to show them new things. I have been on several trips where the only option is to bring your own hangers/no topo and it is an interesting element to add and, I find, a very fun one.

I feel student clubs have the responsibility to run multiple trips on the same day and guide members through trips more closely than other clubs perhaps, and ensuring all participating are capable and enjoying themselves (not to say this isn't an important part of any club's trip but more so when you have the SU to look out for, and likely don't know your fellow cavers well). I tend to find resin anchors and topos speed up the process greatly, meaning people are warmer and can enjoy what the cave has to offer at the deeper/farther reaches. Likewise, in the case of multiple trips running simultaneously its really helpful to know reliably what rope lengths are needed per cave so you can plan what trips can happen and not double book ropes.

I am all for more training though! I, for one, like the sound of learning more trad/exploratory style rigging techniques.


There is a risk - judge the magnitude for yourself - that by only using p-hangers and a topo, that when you do go further afield, you'll treat spits and naturals as if it were a P-hanger. Having lost the bolt could easily fail mindset (rather than perhaps the 'may fail' of p-hangers), the rigging requirements are less forgiving.

But I don't know how you'd teach/find practical examples of a bolt failing, and without that it's all a bit academic.


A lot of old spit bolts aren’t great ambassadors for safe rigging there’s plenty of one bolt wonders out there in esoteric places where the effort of bashing an extra bolt in out weighed the explorers instinct for safety.
I think the most useful thing to do if teaching about bolts is to show the actual bolt to the novice on it’s own not in a rock this does a very good job of getting over the difference between a spit and a p bolt because spits aren’t very long if you add in a comment that sometimes people forget to put the cone in and folk generally get a bit more conscientious with there rigging…


Well-known member
I remember following a certain caver down Leviathan in JH and got halfway down the final 30m pitch to find the now-far-too-short rope terminating in a fig-8 with a krab, with a small rope-bag containing the remaining rope clipped to it - with said caver lying on his back on the floor below pissing himself with laughter, and holding a pull-through rope he'd brought in specifically for that prank. That takes some planning. I couldn't even reach a rock to throw at him from there.
I remember when we found Leviathan we had to tie an electron ladder onto the bottom of a too short rope to get to the floor, great fun


Well-known member
That's just what I did once in Lost Johns - packed a 50m rope for Mud/Centipede instead of 60m. At the time, I just thought I'd f'd up through not having my specs on when selecting a rope at the club store, and reading that '5' as a '6'.
But I now realise I was creating a learning opportunity for our party to pick up improvised techniques!
It must have worked, as we got down eventually...
Yes, it might not be pretty, but you can get down some places with a little ingenuity.

The op asked: “How many people only do srt on provided topos?”

If you force yourself to go ‘off script’ then your going to have to think
1) can I miss out this bolt and save 2-3m of rope, whilst maintaining safety.
2) can I rig this rebelay tighter/more “expedition” style to save on 0.5-1m worth of rope.
3) can I change this rebelay to a deviation, it’s only X metres from the bolt above, will it compromise safety?

I was caving in the last couple of months and got to a pitch head and tried to rig a simple, couldn’t even pull any slack up. I turned my hand from vertical to horizontal and the rope went tight. I had to call down to my tripmates and inform them I didn’t care whether we got to the bottom, I just wanted some more rope to get down this pitch!

The skills of saving rope are necessary. If a tripmate has an accident (say sprained ankle) and needs a handline to be able to help them get back to the pitches. Then you’re going to need to find some savings somewhere. Keeping them moving and warm should be a priority, if being able to think outside of the topo provides these savings then there’s no harm practising every once in a while.