Win 300M Spanset Gold!!


Staff member



Great for pitches!                      Got in a bit of a knot                    Pete sorted it out!!

To quote Pete Ward of Spanset:

'SpanSet were happy to support the 3D Laser Mapping Project with SpanSet Gold rope for their recent survey of the Torca Del Carlista.

After the project and with the rope (300m of 10.5mm SpanSet Gold only used on that trip) looking for a home, a competition on UKC seemed too good to miss. As a leading provider of Industrial Work at Height and Lifting Training and with the launch in June of our online booking system, a training theme seemed appropriate.

Spanset Training Website: NOW LIVE!!

[size=14pt]We would like to hear your experiences of the training you have received through your Caving Club, Group or Organisation.

The best tale/experience will win the rope for their Caving Club, Group or Organisation.

The training can be in any form ? Introduction, SRT, Surveying etc, etc.

This is a chance for you to extol the virtues of those who pass caving knowledge on and for newcomers to caving or UKC to be able to see what training opportunities are out there.  Hopefully Groups/Clubs/Organisations etc may gain a member or two and maybe even win some Gold!'

Please post your 'entries' on this thread.

Closing date - end of June 2015

Winner to be chosen by Pete Ward - buy him beer if you see him!  ;)

Note: The rope has been used - (7min 40 second in)

Details of the lengths it was cut into (long, don't worry) will be confirmed soon - and it will be washed  ;)

Good luck everyone!!

(y) Once again, thank you Spanset  (y)



Well-known member
I suppose I could go into detail about my time with York University learning about Pull throughs in Eldon after a night of Castle Assaults and wearing tin foil hats in Castleton or when we visited Bull Pot farm and were asked whether we wanted to learn how to hilti cap at three in the morning. But how many times have I used a pull through or used a hilti cap? Not many yet.

In more recent years I have been learning about the art of Digging from the TSG.

My first experience of Digging was going out to new rake with a group of TSG members, carrying lots of gear, scaffold tubes, a Farm Jack, a drill and some rope. On a warm and sunny day we set upon lifting some Concrete railway sleepers to gain access to the shaft beneath. I spent most of this day enjoying the sunshine as there was not a lot of room beneath the ground, I think Pwhole dropped down about fifty foot where a rebelay was placed before the shaft started to become more body tight and the exploration was aborted.

Pwhole has a real interest in exploring mines and has taken me to a few places in Derbyshire mines where there are Intersections with natural cave, and are certainly on his long list of projects. I?ll be more than happy to go back when he?s sorted out the false floor access to one of the pitches, needless to say it was a little bit hairy when I was trying to get out and three feet and three inches of floor disappeared beneath me!

Back on New Rake again we found ourselves bumping into the Badgers on occasion whilst we were changing for our dig in JH, knowing there to be quite a bit of promise going west in JH as Pwhole had done quite a bit of reading around it and worked out how many westward meers were left to be discovered.
The lessons I learnt in digging here were that digging in the first place you find is not always the best option.
Popping through the hole at the bottom of the Entrance shaft to JH you will find yourself in JH West. From here there is a slope down followed by a pile of mud most probably originally found in the roof above as a false floor but long since collapsed. The original intention of the JH west dig was to dig a channel in the vast mud pile to enable the flooded stopes beyond to be drained. This would have been an immense job but all diggers are optimistic so we embarked on digging our channel. Little did we know beneath our feet was a relic of the mining days, the miners had already had the problem of draining this passage so had created a drainage channel beneath our feet which runs underneath the mud pile and seems to disappear into the floor somewhere around the bottom of the entrance shaft, perhaps in natural passage (but that?s for a different story).

Once the formerly flooded stope had been drained it was time to turn our attention to the sloppy mud dig beyond, this is a formidable dig as more mud slops out of the ceiling as soon as you take it out, but me and Charlie continued to attack this while other members of the group attacked different digs above us. Quite content with our progress we continued work on this, after 4 trips of about 3 hours digging while kneeling in water we had made a foot of progress!
With various leads someone had decided that we should return to JH on the second Sunday in September 2013 and I would learn how to bolt climb, for various reasons this was thwarted, not least because of my lack of sleep but it was also thought bad taste to ask for the key on this particular day?
So I missed out on a big learning experience of bolt climbing as someone else bolted it on a different weekend, and dropped into the lead vein beyond via butch Pitch. After recent surveying we have found out that our dig in the formerly flooded stope is about 33ft-50ft from the vein beyond and one of those digs above is about 6-10 feet from the vein beyond.
Hmm digging plans in the formerly flooded stopes thwarted! Oh well, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

More recently I have been learning about the dark digging art of Shaft Capping up on the hillside above Castleton, again on one of Pwhole and Wayne?s crazy projects we find ourselves finding the best way to destroy calcite and laying concrete in thin air, but we?re probably best leaving that for a sequel?


Active member
Mmmmm forgot about the "science" of digging, how remiss.
Great start and looks like you have got yourself a full apprenticeship.
Don't forget to plug the organisation who helped and who you want the prize for - I assume TSG in this case?
Good luck to all

cap n chris

Well-known member
CSCC is now actively offering coaching at a range of venues you pick  - nothing like training whatsoever, but maybe if you squint and stretch your mind real wide it could be vaguely in a similar ball park.

There's a new CSCC Coaching numpty, too, so perhaps if fingers are pulled out, stuff happens and a report gets written, someone on Mendip could end up with enough rope to properly rig Goatchurch Cavern to the lower series.


Goatchurch, for those unfamiliar with it, here:

Mrs Bottlebank

New member
What training I have received in my time with the Earby Pothole Club?
1. How to look at a dig and come up with 3 different approaches to the same end. Time to discuss 3 hours, time to carry out the decided task 10 minutes maximum.
2. How to cave carrying the minimum amount of gear.

The pitfalls of the above training will become apparent upon further reading.

Perhaps more importantly is what we need extra training for has been highlighted on our recent club 70th anniversary trip to Mallorca.

A. When using a wet suit to canyon / cave make sure the panel covering ones derri?re is reinforced.

B. If you don?t know the length of the pitch tie a knot in the end of the rope.

C. Following on from point B. make sure lead rigger also has a full set of upping kit and not that the only upping kit in a party of 10 is at the back of the group together with the rope they do need which is still in use and waiting for the last three members of the party to descend.

D. Always ensure that the topo with all pitch lengths etc is
1. In English
2. With the rigging party
3. Not stuffed down the wetsuit of someone in the second party.

E. DO NOT wear a shortie wetsuit when you are likely to be hanging around at the cold and windy top of a pitch in the shade for an hour while pitch is re rigged and lead member sent upping gear to try again, you will become hypothermic.  (See also Digging Training point 1 above as this training was used in the various discussions on how to re-rig and get over the first mess) . Think we need more training on point 1 come to think about it to enable a quick and fast thinking response.

F. When hypothermic do not drop rope in bottom of deep, deep cold pool only to realise two pull through pitches later when staggering around and exiting said gorge in merino wool hat and every bit of dry warm clothes because despite 25 degree heat in the sunshine you a chilled to the very core. (Reason number 1 that the Earby needs some new club rope)

Following on from the above you may say ?After that experience surely you don?t need any further training????..

G. Now the reason we need even more rope for the club follows the loss of more metres in another canyon. (A second length of Mamut now needs replacing with Spanset Gold). DO NOT act like mad dogs and Englishmen and start in the Midday sun as you will.
a. Be benighted
b. Get lost
c. Run out of water and food.

H. Back up should be considered. Always leave 2/3rds of your team back at the all-inclusive hotel /care home in case a rescue / search is required at midnight after the bar closes. If leaving a non driver at the bottom of a canyon ensure it?s not a one horse town with only one bar and no shops otherwise 10 hours later she may not be very pleased.

I. Try not to rely on 20 year old memories of what the walk/ how many pitches/ length of time to complete said activity.

J. Finally remember we are all a little bit older (but not wiser) than the last time we went and if can possibly go wrong it will.

The answer to all this is yes you do need to teach an old dog new tricks and that our long established caving club of little wealth could really do with some new rope.

Over the Hill

New member
Well where does one start? How about do not let people into your club who manage to allow your hostel you fought hard to get hold of go to rack and ruin and lost to future generations.  :mad:

Mark R

Well-known member
A Training Disaster

It was our first time caving outside the UK. The group comprised around a dozen Buttered Badgers and LUPC (Liverpool Uni) members and we were situated in the extremely picturesque Vercors region of France.

At the time the group was very young and very inexperienced with anything outside of the UK?s P-bolted classics. Even the prospect of rigging a cave with hangers was alien, not to mention the unreal scale of some of the French caves we had in our sights. We were excited beyond belief to have planned such an amazing adventure for ourselves but intimidated by the challenges we had ahead of us.

The whole group were proficient in SRT to a good standard, everyone could cope in most UK caves and could look after themselves, we realised though that we had to be slightly more self-sufficient to tackle some of the Vercors excellent deep trips and as such decided at the start that we would make some time for everyone to brush up on, amongst other things, their rescue technique.

It was a gorgeous sunny day, we were on a great camp site and surrounded by friends in a beautiful part of the world... that sells cheap 10 litre boxes of wine. Being students (and only just not students) we had one or two drinks with dinner and all bundled into the cars to drive down the road to a small overhanging crag by the side of the road. There was an old tunnel at the base and the whole place was peppered with resin bolts, primarily as far as we could tell for the purpose of SRT training. We set about standing on cars and rigging several drops of rope with various obstacles to practice against. People divided up and we ran through some of the usual self rescue bits and bobs and then progressed to the job of rescuing a casualty off a rope in both descent and ascent mode. It should have been safe, it should have gone without a hitch...

I remember clearly where I was stood when it happened. I remember what I was doing, I remember the smell of the air and the colour of the setting sun. That sort of thing tends to stick with you in situations such as these.  A few metres to my left Hannah and Adam were performing a snatch rescue, Adam was the casualty. Hannah had descended to a point just above the suspended Adam who had been sat there in his harness for several minutes. She knew what she had to do and Adam was ready for being ?rescued?.

I was talking to the person next to me when all of a sudden the cooling evening air was split by the piercing shreak of a scream. ?Aaaaaaaaaarrrghhh?. OH GOD NO!?

My heart turned to lead in my chest, I felt that immediate panic and my world slowed down as I turned to see the chaos suspended before me. Adam and Hannah were both still suspended just off the floor, Hannah?s face had turned an ashen grey and Adam was borderline hysterical.

?This rescue is a DISASTER!!!? screamed Adam?. 

The puddle of red liquid spread across the dusty ground reflecting the setting sun in it?s ruby sheen and as Adam began to quietly break down into sobbing, the now empty wine glass rolled to a stop at the foot of the cliff.
I learned a valuable lesson that day, as did we all. If you are playing casualty and are part way through a glass of the fine 2010 vintage of Bon Cepage (9euros for 10L!) Make sure to warn your rescuer to watch where they put their feet. Or alternatively- next time give Adam a tippy beaker.

Mark  R


I suppose my first trip, learning to rig and bolt would be a great start... Not strictly a cave, in fact it was a mine. We had spent the last 3 hours or so working our way to the back of the mine. It included five pitches taking us down to 25 fathoms (just under 50m) with several rebelays. Further back we were crossing false floors, and finally got to the traverse. Two slings of one beam, line to a bolt and up a climb to the next bolt. From here we crossed two winzes (shafts linking different levels) and eventually over to west shaft. On the way back out the trip leader was de-rigging, removing one bolt at a time and on his ascenders. One of the bolts was a little tighter than the others and when it finally came loose he managed to drop the bag of rope and all the bolts down the winze. one person ran back to the 5th pitch to grab one of the bolts at the bottom so that he could re-rig the bolt that he had just removed in order to descend down the winze and collect all the gear that he had just dropped. We eventually got out after 8 hours underground, and the main lesson learnt that day was.... do not drop your gear, keep it attached to you.
I would be most grateful for some rope as i ended up cutting my last one in half to remove a small damaged section.
My youngest, Patrick, aged 10 asked me the other week whether he could go caving again. I'm not sure he knows what a rhetorical question is - but its a fairly good example. He invited his friend Tommy along. Tommy had never been underground before. Patrick had his eyes set on Great Douk. Again  ;) It's not just that he likes the place - more to do with the fact that he likes blooding his novicey friends on the crawl out to Middle Washfold. After a nice introduction its a great way to sandbag your friends.

But, there's only so much Great Douk I can take - so I suggested Runscar and Thistle for an alternative introduction. Tommy is a sound lad and I knew he'd be ok - but nonetheless I'd planned out our little training session.

We'd gear up, explaining what an undersuit is, what an oversuit is and how wet socks keep your feet warm. I'd explain how his lamp would work and then we'd trot off over the boggy moor at Ribblehead.

First up, I'd decided would be Runscar 3. A nice introduction. I had it all planned. I'd get them into the entrance and then I'd run through my routine as we made our way on the little through trip. "Notice lads, how the rock isn't slippy once your underground", "See, how the water is deeper immediately below that little cascade", "Here lads, have you seen these fossils in the rock" (que, long spiel about how limestone is formed), "let's turn our lights off", "this here is called flowstone", etc etc etc.

But, Saturday was a nice day. I'd marched on ahead and got to the entrance before them - I laid down next to the entrance and felt the sun on my face and the cold breeze on my cheek. My reverie was disturbed by their arrival just a bit too soon.

"That's the entrance lads - why don't you two go on and explore, I'll catch you up and if you reach daylight just hang around there - I'll be with you soon enough"

And that's just what they did. I mooched along behind them eventually and rounded a corner and took a quick snap of them - I don't think they were that keen to see me.


And then, we were out - and back in - to Runscar Two, then Scar Top Cave and back through Thistle.

They'd had enough by then - but I insisted we drove round to Yordas to show Tommy something a bit different and a bit grander. I trained them in how to be slave monkeys whilst I snapped away


and then they mutined and legged it out the cave - with flashes still going off!


As I followed them I wondered whether  I'd trained them or whether they'd trained me. Sure, they need to know all the things I was going to point out to them but half of them they'd work out themselves and the rest they'll find out themselves if the bug catches them. Geology, geomorphology,  civil engineering, rope access, surveying, photography, diving, biology, archaeology, hydrology, millinery- all useful, some need training in - but all totally pointless if you don't feel a sense of excitement or potential as you round a corner.

Lesson learned. Thanks lads.


Staff member
Way on back I caved with the Hyperion Caving Club - a great bunch.  At the time they, like most clubs, used ladders and line for club trips.  I was keen to learn about SRT but there was very little knowledge about.  Club members told me about American SRT systems that they had read about and before long me and a mate had purchased a couple of Gibbs ascenders and enough kit to rig up a system based on what we had seen in those books.

We tried out our rope walking system in an old quarry first of all and it was something of a shock as our SRT method seemed infinitely harder than any ladder climb we had done.  Not only was climbing hard work and painful but getting over the edge at the top took an herculean effort.  We pretty much decided to shelve the whole idea and stick with club methods.

Soon after this, I booked on a summer holiday to the Pyrennes with Whernside Manor Cave and Fell Centre.  As part of the summer jolly package we were all invited up to the Manor for a free weekend of training.  It was a great weekend and under the instructive eyes of Dave Elliot, John Forder, Paul Ramsden, etc we all learnt how to SRT properly.  Frogging up in the trees and then over to Rowten for my first proper SRT trip.  It was a fab  time and in great company and I am still in touch with some of the people I met for the first time that weekend.  I used that weekend as the basis of my knowledge to go on and cave all over the world and even turned it into lucrative employment. 

I guess the moral of this story is that getting the right type of training at the right time will hold you in very good stead for the future.  As for the Gibbs ascenders I still have them - one careful owner and no wear and tear  ;)


Active member
When I first went caving in the scouts, we wore old clothes, hired lamp, hat and wellies from Bernies in Ingleton.  We went to Alum Pot Upper Longchurn, heading down Dr Bannisters on a handline, which was the most adventurous thing I'd ever done.  We were underground for maybe an hour at most, about 6 of us, I got the bug and a year later the scout badge too.

As I got older (or colder), joined a university club, kit became more of a need, must have gloves, wetsocks, undersuit and oversuit with a hood and a balaclava and knee pads, and elbow pads and 3 torches, food and drinks, I just got more kit and wore it every time.  My srt kit got fancier, foot jammers and ultra light spare jammers, braking krab which is no use other than a braking krab, karabiners only useful on a tackle sack, twistlock cowstails, oval krab and pulleys, and of course a super duper lamp which made the Oldham I borrowed on that first trip seem like a joke, I even got a dangly piece of tape to clip karabiners to, how did I ever manage before I had one of them!

One trip I forgot my knee pads and I refused to go underground because I didn't have my full kit, the full kit that I had become to believe was necessary to venture underground because caving always needs this full kit.  I have a bad knee from an old rugby accident but we were going to Jingling Pot which is not exactly a horizontal knee wrecker, how had caving become no more than following a rigid routine and the dots in the CNCC rigging guide, we even went to Rift Pot in Marble Steps, and arriving in Coates Cavern we sat down and had a chocolate bar before setting back up the rope, getting to the bottom of the ropes had become all there was to caving. 

A few years ago I heard of a story of a RRCPC member seeing my uni club kitting up to take novices caving, handing out undersuits and oversuits and wetsocks and knee pads and all sorts of stuff and this anonymous bloke mentioned that all you need to go caving is a torch which must have sounded odd to the novices when you'd just been given a whole pile of gear.

I found that resonated with me.  All this concern over making caving as comfortable as possible for your first trip, it doesn't get away from the fact that caving isn't a walk round the croquet lawn on a lovely summers days, it's exploration and all you need to go exploring underground is a torch and the curiosity to find out for yourself what is there.  Fair enough you can't get down pitches, or comfortably push a long wet crawl, but why would you if your curiosity wasn't more powerful than the obstacle in your way.

Since that day, I've become bolder in caving, nothing like Abbott, Crossley, Griffiths or Yeadon and the real caving trailblazers, but I've found a new intrigue in just exploring caves and am happy to try trips which in the past I've shyed away from because I hadn't been there before.  Some trips are short as I turn back earlier than most, some are the best trips I can remember, but they are always a thrilling exploration of somewhere that is hidden from view and seen by few.

So my thanks to the anonymous bloke at Bull Pot Farm, in the few years after hearing that story, I've done more caving, seeing more places that I've always wanted to than in the decade before it.    (y)

cap n chris

Well-known member
Not quite an SRT haiku:

Individual pieces lying on ground
Put together from scratch, no fumbling around,
Success, with a blindfold, found.

The essence is that as part of instructor training it was commonplace to always create your SRT kit from component pieces prior to each roped session, occasionally with a blindfold on that it could be demonstrated that you didn't need to see what you were doing to get it right as in a cave there could be instances where confined spaces compromise you; to this day I still do this (obviously without the blindfold on - unless anyone else is around and then I usually put one on as a courtesy to them so they don't scream with terror by catching an unexpected glimpse of my hideous gurning countenance) since it is WAY quicker than trying to pull a rig up over your suit, like a pair of snaggy jangly chandelier pants. Often wonder why people don't keep their SRT kits separated out and my ever-so-slightly-cynical-suspicion is that they daren't for fear of not knowing how to rebuild it afterwards without poking their tongue sideways from their mouth and looking like a child trying to fit blocks into one of those boxes with cut-out shapes on the sides. (Would make a nice bit of video......)

Mark Wright

Active member
Cap'n Chris said:
Often wonder why people don't keep their SRT kits separated out and my ever-so-slightly-cynical-suspicion is that they daren't for fear of not knowing how to rebuild it afterwards without poking their tongue sideways from their mouth and looking like a child trying to fit blocks into one of those boxes with cut-out shapes on the sides. (Would make a nice bit of video......)

We should maybe test this theory at HE this year. We could make it a prerequisite for entering the SRT races.



Well-known member
Often wonder why people don't keep their SRT kits separated out and my ever-so-slightly-cynical-suspicion is that they daren't for fear of not knowing how to rebuild it afterwards without poking their tongue sideways from their mouth and looking like a child trying to fit blocks into one of those boxes with cut-out shapes on the sides.

Maybe some people think that if they separate out their SRT kit, wash it, hang it up to dry, put it away . . .  they might arrive at the cave entrance missing a vital bit?


New member
Mine stays fastened most of the time, I simply slip it on and go. I'm perfectly competent to rebuild it if necessary.

And I'll guarantee I can kit up faster than anyone building it from the separated parts, including Cap'n Chris, although I'm sure he'd catch me before the top of the rope :)


New member
Hi guys

I am totally new to caving and the my family have recently joined our local caving group Brynmawr Caving, which happens to have a few members with a wide range of skills, the majority of them are new.  On the weekend I went on my second trip to Clydach Gorge, walking up through the Gorge and checking out all the caves on route.  We then turned up a gully and climbed upwards, we had to climb a broken tree that was 20ft high which was the only route out.  Halfway I got stuck, I've got a fear of heights and just literally froze.  Jamie and Barry, the organisors ended up wrapping rope around me to aid me up, got to be honest, I absolutely sh*t myself.  Only to find when we climbed up there, there was another 30 ft waterfall we had to climb.  The rope was my lifesaver, and not just me, almost all of us had to use it on the tall waterfall.  I am so pleased these guys were fully equipped, and skilled.  But their patience is admirable.  For a newbe, the adventure I am having is second to none.  I am entering this competition because the club is small, the equipment is shared and I know they would love this rope, you will add to the newly found spark that Brynmawr Caving is trying to ignite to allow future generations to follow in their footsteps and keep caving alive.  Thank you  :clap: :clap: :clap:


New member
We all have to learn somewhere, surveying in Valley entrance and Rift.

We didn't really know how much of Valley entrance we'd get to survey so we took a ladder for the pitch just in case and set off. Jane and Jane sped off to go and play with the fancy new GoPro whilst we sorted out who would do what job with the surveying. I was given the book as obviously I'm the most artistic and we began our survey just inside the entrance tube. Adam originally started with the disto whilst Mark talked me through the various symbols again, sketching out the most accurate cave survey man has ever seen.

Bit by bit we edged along the twisting entrance passage of the cave with a reasonable degree of success until there was a call from Jane to come be GoPro models. We didn't entirely take this seriously and ended up creating several clips of how not to cave. Chris swapped onto the disto after this and we carried on.

It was same old same old for a while until we reached a exciting 18m aven, with the pitch just 4-5 survey stations away. I have no idea how long it took to get to here but it must have been getting on for 2 hours. We decided to go any further would be silly so we made a break for the surface. Just over 450m surveyed, about a 5 minute cave to get out! We redid the very entrance for a few more survey points and then escaped to fresh air.

Back at the surface we got the data into survex and later on I drew up the survey properly on the computer. I seem to have misplaced this drawn survey at the moment so have the survex one instead!


The following day we were assisting in taking some dead weight, I mean digging equipment, down rift pot. It was just Mark, Chris and myself today with me manning the disto and Chris on the book. We surveyed back from the dig to the main chamber, something a bit bigger and different to Valley the previous day.

It takes a bit of practice but you can really get into a rythm surveying, practice really does make perfect. Having witnessed several disto surveys before it was good to get a go myself, the surveys even seemed to represent the caves we were in so thats a win.  (y)