Starting caving again - when?

Pitlamp

Well-known member
PeteHall said:
Pitlamp said:
Alex said:
So expect small numbers of cavers about now, those who are lucky like me to live with someone willing to go caving and those who are willing to solo.

Like many readers, of course I'm itching to get what limited and low risk caving done which might be reasonably possible. But first I'd welcome any guidance which BCA might feel able to give, before getting too excited and sticking any lamps on charge.

From your perspective Pitlamp, other than public perception, I can't see any reason why you shouldn't have continued your projects all along...

True - but I value solidarity with all my mates in the caving community and it just didn't seem fair. There was also the issue of the gravely overstretched NHS to factor in.
I can easily cave and even cave dive by walking from the front door but I wanted to come out of this with my self respect intact.

Just seen your last post Badlad, for which thanks. My view is that collective guidance if possible, rather than every (wo)man for him/herself, would put us all in a stronger position.
 

bagpuss

Active member
I was talking to my partner about this today. From Wednesday from a personal point of view I don't think our behaviour will change much - we will continue to stick to walking locally from our front door. We collectively enjoy caving, outdoor swimming, climbing and hiking in the mountains and will respect what advice the governing bodies of these sports give out. The spread of infection rate still feels quite high to suddenly change our behaviour.

Are the BCA working on any guidance to clubs in terms of how caving in the future might look? When restrictions are loosened will clubs be looking to give guidance about how people should cave?
 

Alan Sp8

New member
Note - in most cases you will not be welcome by the locals of places like Horton in Ribblesdale or Austwick etc - and you would certainly not be welcome at caves near any farms.
Is caving actually OUTDOOR exercise ;)
 

PeteHall

Moderator
Alan Sp8 said:
Note - in most cases you will not be welcome by the locals of places like Horton in Ribblesdale or Austwick etc - and you would certainly not be welcome at caves near any farms.
Is caving actually OUTDOOR exercise ;)

In this context, that question actually seems much more reasonable than how we usually see it in the CRoW debate.

From the point of view of transmission, crawling over the same damp surfaces in a potentially confined environment shortly after someone else has, regardless of a 2m spacing would appear to carry a greater risk, than say playing football.
 

Alex

Well-known member
You also probably cannot go caving in Wales, not sure what their advice/directions are, I have not looked.
 

bagpuss

Active member
PeteHall said:
Alan Sp8 said:
Note - in most cases you will not be welcome by the locals of places like Horton in Ribblesdale or Austwick etc - and you would certainly not be welcome at caves near any farms.
Is caving actually OUTDOOR exercise ;)

In this context, that question actually seems much more reasonable than how we usually see it in the CRoW debate.

From the point of view of transmission, crawling over the same damp surfaces in a potentially confined environment shortly after someone else has, regardless of a 2m spacing would appear to carry a greater risk, than say playing football.

I agree with you Pete. It would be good to see governing bodies confirm that it's excluded for now and to also to publish potential solutions/ or discussion on how it could work in the future.
 

mikem

Well-known member
First up:
https://www.rya.org.uk/newsevents/news/Pages/return-to-boating-update.aspx

Although following can only really be assumed to apply on their waterways or publicly accessible sites:
https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/safety-on-our-waterways/coronavirus/coronavirus-and-boating-faqs
 

Bob Mehew

Well-known member
I would suggest there are some key aspects which need to be taken into consideration in making a judgement about going caving even if one ignores the potential hostile response from visiting a 'distant' area as opposed to your local neighbourhood. 

The virus spreads by air as well as surface.  I would suggest masks are impracticable in most caves.  Comment has been made about the social distancing within buildings being less reliable than outside where air drafts aid dispersion.  I therefore sense that the 2m rule would not be sufficient to protect persons in cave.

Obviously common gear such as rope or ladder and indeed the surface of the cave itslef will be a possible transmission system.  Whilst gloves could be worn to avoid direct transmission onto one's skin, that does not stop the potential for touching one's face / mouth with the hand and transmitting the virus.  My guess is that the virus will last long enough (i.e. hours) even in the colder conditions of a cave for transmission to potentially occur across an otherwise socially distant party. 

So I think that limits caving with just those in your own household.  (My thought is that in due course when the 'social bubble' concept has evolved, then perhaps it may be possible to expand the party.)

It does appear that the threat to overwhelm the NHS has receded.  I think that means the risk of adding to the burden of the NHS by having an accident is now back to being acceptable.  However, that does not make any difference to the virus related risk to rescuers if one does have an accident.  And please note, virus related harm suffered by a rescuer is not covered by the police insurance. 

I await with interest the clarification statement expected to day and the further guidance notes to be issued tomorrow.  Let's hope they shed further light on what one can and cannot do.

And of course, it looks like all of this only applies to England. 
 

Pitlamp

Well-known member
Agree, the clarification statement should be rather more explicit than last night's announcement.
Mr Sp8 made a good point, a few posts above as well.
 

Fishes

New member
I know we all want to get back underground but I think that there is good reason to be cautious about this.

Although most rescue teams are in a position to mount a rescue they are operating at reduced numbers. If there is a rescue then it is highly likely that those team members involved would then have to self isolate for 14 days. Its also likely that any kit used on a rescue will not be usable for 3-7 days due to possible contamination.
 

bagpuss

Active member
Bob Mehew said:
I would suggest there are some key aspects which need to be taken into consideration in making a judgement about going caving even if one ignores the potential hostile response from visiting a 'distant' area as opposed to your local neighbourhood. 

The virus spreads by air as well as surface.  I would suggest masks are impracticable in most caves.  Comment has been made about the social distancing within buildings being less reliable than outside where air drafts aid dispersion.  I therefore sense that the 2m rule would not be sufficient to protect persons in cave.

Obviously common gear such as rope or ladder and indeed the surface of the cave itslef will be a possible transmission system.  Whilst gloves could be worn to avoid direct transmission onto one's skin, that does not stop the potential for touching one's face / mouth with the hand and transmitting the virus.  My guess is that the virus will last long enough (i.e. hours) even in the colder conditions of a cave for transmission to potentially occur across an otherwise socially distant party. 

So I think that limits caving with just those in your own household.  (My thought is that in due course when the 'social bubble' concept has evolved, then perhaps it may be possible to expand the party.)

It does appear that the threat to overwhelm the NHS has receded.  I think that means the risk of adding to the burden of the NHS by having an accident is now back to being acceptable.  However, that does not make any difference to the virus related risk to rescuers if one does have an accident.  And please note, virus related harm suffered by a rescuer is not covered by the police insurance. 

I await with interest the clarification statement expected to day and the further guidance notes to be issued tomorrow.  Let's hope they shed further light on what one can and cannot do.

And of course, it looks like all of this only applies to England.

For popular caves even if you stuck to family groups you'd still be repeatedly touching the same surfaces others have touched, some of the more popular caves could have significant numbers passing through if people decided to return to caving. I'll be interested to see what guidance the BMC issues in respect of scrambling and climbing, as in terms of surface contact that will be similar.
 

mikem

Well-known member
There's also the risk of a team member passing the virus on to you (as well as their colleagues)!

Same thought as Bagpuss - BMC advice for climbing will be most appropriate alternative activity, as hillwalking & most watersports are more "socially distant" anyway...
 

Pitlamp

Well-known member
Fishes said:
I know we all want to get back underground but I think that there is good reason to be cautious about this.

Although most rescue teams are in a position to mount a rescue they are operating at reduced numbers. If there is a rescue then it is highly likely that those team members involved would then have to self isolate for 14 days. Its also likely that any kit used on a rescue will not be usable for 3-7 days due to possible contamination.

Agreed. This article may also be useful:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-52615443
 

mikem

Well-known member
HMG have published:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/884171/FINAL_6.6637_CO_HMG_C19_Recovery_FINAL_110520_v2_WEB__1_.pdf

Bob -
Hygiene considerations for climbing and hill walking are no different to current advice for those going on low-level walks on public rights of way from their houses.
? Our advice would recommend use of hand sanitising gel before and after contacting any surfaces whilst outdoors.
? Upon arrival back at home, decontamination should take place by washing hands and quarantining any equipment that has contacted other people or surfaces, for as long as possible outside or in a dedicated area inside.

& Take the opportunity to visit new and less frequented areas.
? Avoid visiting popular venues and have several backup plans so that if you arrive at a busy venue you can go elsewhere.
 

pwhole

Well-known member
All this makes me wonder just how many people have previously become ill by visiting, say, Suicide Cave in Winnats Pass, or Odin Cave, which are regularly used as a toilet, or as a sex-site. Last year, two of us popped into Windy Knoll Cave and found a used condom way beyond daylight, in the muddy section! I can think of better places, personally, but - whatever. And what about the Speedwell Canal in summer? There's up to 30 people crammed into a draughting drainpipe, with the ones at the back heading out getting a full dose of everything from everyone!
Why I always sit on the floor of the boat if I'm cadging a lift ;)

But that's an important point, even with gloves - the draughts are a problem in many sites, as everyone in an enclosed passage will be sharing the air. I keep thinking of ways how I can easily go caving with social distancing, and then the caveats kick in, as Bob points out, and it seems way more difficult. Everyone I know reports to be healthy, and we've all shared each other's air many times before (in many cases digging, almost completely), but then we've never had this virus around before. A lot of my caving colleagues are also in DCRO - so if we could go caving together, then they clearly could also rescue me. That's the balance we've got to strike and it isn't easy.
 

MarkS

Moderator
The pessimist in me thinks that the comment, "You will still not be able to use areas [...] where there is a higher risk of close contact and touching surfaces" implies that (for anyone not in the same household) caving would not be deemed OK under new guidelines. :(

Let's also not forget that with no UV underground, the likelihood is that a virus would also last longer in a cave than on an equivalent surface outside.
 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
I'm not suggesting anyone should be going caving at the moment but there are a lot more places where we share the air than in caves.  Aeroplanes for one, anyone down wind of someone else, alley ways, ginnels, lifts and car parks.  It's not a problem unique to caving.  Nor is contamination of surfaces or equipment, but it all needs to be taken into consideration when assessing the risk.

You may be interested to know that several rope access training companies have been back at work for several weeks.  They have looked at the risk of both social distancing and contamination and seem to have come up with solutions they are happy with.  I've assessed two courses during lockdown and been quite impressed with how they have gone about it.

Anyway I reiterate that I am not suggesting anyone should be going caving at the moment, only that we are not unique and that others are finding quite thoughtful ways of mitigating similar risk.
 
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