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Pink Pillar Chamber. The Ethics of Secrecy

The Old Ruminator

Well-known member
One for Kenilworth ? ::)

Many Mendip cavers will be familiar with the story that Willie Stanton found such a lovely passage in a cave that he decided to block it up again. I know which cave but sadly Willie took very little photos so we may never know what it looked like. In any case Willie decided the passage was a dead end so in a way nothing lost.

Here is a case of mine.

Pink Pillar Chamber.

As far as I know only two people know where this is. The other was with me at the time but did not see it anyway. Let's just say it's an awkward place to get to. As ever I had my camera and took a few photos. ( This from a while ago. ) The name is mine for obvious reasons and the chamber is not on the survey. It's possible somebody may have been there in times past but no photos exist to my knowledge. These are from my archive and have never been published.













OK What makes this place special ( apart from the Pink Pillar ) are the calcite filled mud cracks on the route in. I cant think I have seen the like anywhere in a cave before. Now they are still pristine and I would like them to remain so.
 

The Old Ruminator

Well-known member
Pink Pillar Chamber.

Thereby comes the name. The odd broken bits have not been knocked off by cavers.



The pillar and pure crystal floor.



A corner of Pink Pillar Chamber with helectites.



Now photographers are a funny lot. They might get all fired up just to take the same images as these. Well these are about the best angles you can get without spoiling something. So you have these as a record. Do you need any more ? ( possibly unpublished in any case ). I intend never to return here. Will the knowledge be lost. I doubt it. It's in my log which may be published somewhere after my demise. Of course the thing is am I being selfish ? ( Well I have shared the photos ). Am I taking conservation to an acceptable limit ? I know that floor would get damaged if visitors went there.
Have you a "secret place " you wish to share ?
Comments welcome even if you have a totally opposite view to mine.
 

Leclused

Active member
We as a club have 2 parts in 2 cave sealed  after discovery/survey/...

For one of them we give an explantion on our website. It's 'Salle de Delimme' in grottes aux contrastes

Explantion in dutch
http://www.scavalon.be/avalonnl/discov/contrast.htm (see 1.6)

The photo beside the tekst shows how this room was explored :)

The other part (in an other cave) is kept secret and the entry is sealed of.

It's Always a trade off what to do in every case and the action can be different from case to case :)




 

Roger W

Well-known member
Thanks for sharing that, O.R.

I can fully understand why you want to preserve the chamber in its pristine beauty.
 

Alex

Well-known member
I believe in these delicate places a once in a life time policy should be enacted there is a place in DYO with a large stal that I have only visited once, photo'd it and do not intend to return to that corner. However, people should be allowed to see it this once time. You do not own that corner of the cave, or the cave itself, so you have no real right as far as I can see to decide who can and who can not visit the place.

As for your questions about my secret places. There is a place in Spain where only I have been a large passage with a jaw bone sticking up looking as if it had been placed there on a rock bridge. The reason for this was because on that trip I was the only one brave enough for foolhardy enough to abseil backwards through this tight passage and down the drop beyond to explore it. The cave fills itself if every time it rains so no one has ever been back.

But... it's no secret it's published on the website.
 

langcliffe

Well-known member
Alex said:
You do not own that corner of the cave, or the cave itself, so you have no real right as far as I can see to decide who can and who can not visit the place.

I didn't get the impression that the OP was making a decision as to who can and who cannot visit the site, nor can I see why he is under an obligation to divulge its location. Presumably, if anyone else wants to see it, they simply have to find it.
 

cooleycr

Active member
That of course is the problem, if the place exists and someone has (obviously!) found it then even if the location is not published now, someone else will no doubt find it in the future and because details haven't been published will probably have no idea of this conversation about conservation and it could easily end up getting trashed (inadvertently or otherwise).
A bit of a conundrum exists.

It is indeed a beautiful place and deserves to be protected but how? And who amongst us has the right to say whether or not others should access this place?

Maybe in cases such as this we should, where practicable, install physical barriers to prevent ingress to the 'delicate' area yet still permit a clear view such as vertical metal bars?

Thanks for sharing this inspiring piece O.R.
 

adam

Member
I think secrecy is a perfectly reasonable way of preserving particularly vulnerable 'honeypots' like the mud floor in pink pillar chamber. It's completely up to the discoverer(s) to decide whether or not to publicise their findings. The risk you take is that the next people to find it may not have the same idea as you and could very well take 'credit' for the find by publishing a survey (if that's something you're interested in).

Deliberate obstruction of cavers by physical or other means is another matter. My opinion is that there's very little justification for cavers obstructing other cavers.

In more general terms, I tend to think that there's still loads of caves to be discovered and if people want to see pristine they can go out there and find it for themselves. Humanity isn't long for this planet and people aren't going to be caving in perpetuity (but this doesn't justify needless damage).
 

Kenilworth

New member
It is indeed a beautiful place and deserves to be protected but how? And who amongst us has the right to say whether or not others should access this place?
 

The Old Ruminator seems to have adequately answered both of your questions already. He has assumed the right to make decisions for his discovery, opposite the rubber-spined glory-hounds who claim they "have no right" to keep secrets. And he has protected the place to the best of his ability while still allowing others to appreciate it to a degree.

Well done sir
 

cooleycr

Active member
I suppose the fact it is "an awkward place to get to" lends it a degree of protection, certainly from the casual visitors that are not suitably prepared / equipped so that is something...
 

grahams

Well-known member
"Now photographers are a funny lot. They might get all fired up just to take the same images as these. Well these are about the best angles you can get without spoiling something. So you have these as a record. Do you need any more ? "

I appreciate your reportage style of photography Ruminator which is entirely appropriate for recording a new find. But surely this place, particularly given that it is to be kept secret, deserves a more 'artistic' approach. Is it possible for example, to take photos with off-camera lighting without damaging the place? I have in mind the photos of the Boreham Cave straws or the Cigalere's hidden passages so well filmed for the Realms of Darkness series by Sid Perou.
 

JasonC

Well-known member
Leclused said:

Off-topic, but I loved the Google Translate version of part of this story:
"She passed only after three weekends, we eliminate block after block with death-defying. The first weekend while Rudi is under the collapse straddling an 8 m high and gently pokes with a crowbar, the whole mess falls suddenly 15cm. Choice sweat in the gloves Rudi and Flip eggs for their money. "

- not sure it's entirely accurate but it gives a vivid impression  ;)
 

Leclused

Active member
JasonC said:
Leclused said:

Off-topic, but I loved the Google Translate version of part of this story:
"She passed only after three weekends, we eliminate block after block with death-defying. The first weekend while Rudi is under the collapse straddling an 8 m high and gently pokes with a crowbar, the whole mess falls suddenly 15cm. Choice sweat in the gloves Rudi and Flip eggs for their money. "

- not sure it's entirely accurate but it gives a vivid impression  ;)

The 'She' is referring to the previous paragraph. Where she is the collapse with the name 'Tr?mie des Nerfs Eprouv?s'. Choice sweat is beter translated as cold sweat

;) ;)
 

ttolyaj

New member
Willie took me down a passage he had found soon after it was found and told me that it would be closed off to preserve it so I know that he did this, and I can understand why.
 

NewStuff

New member
Kenilworth said:
It is indeed a beautiful place and deserves to be protected but how? And who amongst us has the right to say whether or not others should access this place?
 

The Old Ruminator seems to have adequately answered both of your questions already. He has assumed the right to make decisions for his discovery, opposite the rubber-spined glory-hounds who claim they "have no right" to keep secrets. And he has protected the place to the best of his ability while still allowing others to appreciate it to a degree.

Well done sir

You know what happens when you keep something secret and someone else finds it, but does not know about th eplaces sensitivity, because it's "Secret"?

http://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=17620.0


 

NewStuff

New member
mikem said:
NewStuff said:
You know what happens when you keep something secret and someone else finds it, but does not know about th eplaces sensitivity, because it's "Secret"?

http://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=17620.0

They publish a paper about it?!?
http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/513625/

Mike

So, I should read academic papers, and not forums with, y'know, active cavers. As should everyone else in that thread that wasn't aware of the place.
Guess we've all been doing it wrong so far.  ::)

I have many, many terms for someone like yourself, but I suspect that all of them would get me into trouble on here, so I'll just let you imagine them.
 

G. Hardwick

New member
NewStuff said:
mikem said:
NewStuff said:
You know what happens when you keep something secret and someone else finds it, but does not know about th eplaces sensitivity, because it's "Secret"?

http://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=17620.0

They publish a paper about it?!?
http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/513625/

Mike

So, I should read academic papers, and not forums with, y'know, active cavers. As should everyone else in that thread that wasn't aware of the place.
Guess we've all been doing it wrong so far.  ::)

I have many, many terms for someone like yourself, but I suspect that all of them would get me into trouble on here, so I'll just let you imagine them.


No, I certainly wouldn't expect you to read academic papers.
I don't know about everyone else.

But the grace with which someone responds to having their lack of attention to detail politely pointed out to them may have a bearing on how well any future posts are received.
 

alastairgott

Well-known member
clearly both the S.wales one and the derbyshire one are similar in reaction. (i.e. negative)

I don't think parallels can be drawn between them, or even with the pink column.

From a personal viewpoint the derbyshire lot are systematically sweeping the hillsides in derbyshire for sites and keeping others informed of their progress as they go along, apparently some social media s#|+.

Absolutely fantastic as far as my view point is concerned, conservation at it's finest! Don't they always say photograph as you go.

The south wales situation was caused by wrecklessness and those "making entry" didn't help themselves one jot by making it bloody obvious they had been there by blowing the bloody doors off.

The entry in derbyshire didn't leave the site open for others due to the elegance of them getting in, oceans 11 if you ask me. If only they hadn't broken a stal, leaving evidence...

Mendip, no one knows, if he's blocked it up. great! You'll never know! A heap of mud with a gate or a drystone wall behind! Perfect.
I've been told that there's places like this in Derbyshire, it adds to the mystery. Are you going to turn a corner and find one of moose's wellies left behind or in mendip will you turn a corner and find A.M. pair of knickers flying a flag on a conservation tent peg.

Not sure if it's an advertisement for getting out there and doing it, or an outright shocker.

Or even if its just a difficult place to get to, you know you'll just be in awe of caving by yourself that you will just miss the scrotty route off.
 
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