Win a ?50 Starless River Voucher!!


Staff member


Remember the kind donation for the Inglesport competition?  Well I've received another message...

I've just seen the message about the caption competition, what a generous gesture! I saw that you offered to cover a Starless river voucher, I'm lucky enough to still be in work so I'd like to chip in to that....I'd also like to remain anonymous.

Thank you so much  ;) (y)

How to enter:

We want to hear your caving equipment tales!

Either - Gear Fettling:  So far during lockdown you've cleaned the cupboards, baked cakes, sorted out the garden shed but what caving gear have you repaired, cleaned, found (at the back of the shed) or are thinking of buying for when we're let underground again??  Surely no one has a heap of festering kit not yet sorted since that last trip - but if you do, before and after shots would be great, ditto kit repairs etc etc.

or - amusing gear failure tales from decades gone by or present day.  Tony was particularly keen to hear about these!

Help to raise a smile and entertain your fellow caver...we could all do with a little light relief  :)

The best posts will be shortlisted then will choose a winner.

Closing date 10pm, Monday 27th April

Good luck!!

You can support Starless River and Inglesport here:


Staff member
Have (finally) hung this picture of Poetic Justice taken by Mark Burkey with help from Team Dudley  (y)


Ian Ball

Well-known member
I often am caving on the train and use a rucksack that opens from the front rather than the top and so I can stick a big dry bag inside it easily.  Inside that dry bag is a big Bernies red plastic bag, circa 1999 and to be honest I don't think that inner bag has been out of the dry bag since then so I took it out to check for holes really. 
At the bottom of the dry bag underneath the plastic sack I found a YSS club belt, oops!  I must have forgotten to return it.  The last time I know I borrowed a club belt was December 2012 which is bad, I know, but compounded by having written in the club newsletter this time how it is time to return all your 'long term' borrowed club kit, I feel a little red faced.

Back in the early 2000s I arranged a trip to Juniper Gulf and got in touch with my old uni club to borrow their ropes as I didn't own enough (any).  We managed to treat it as a sort of reunion trip with 6 of us up for the weekend.  Stories of the bad step and the big pitch and the forecast rain after a long dry spell had us all a little nervous, none of us had been there before and getting lost was a real concern.  We'd map and compass though I'm not sure I would be any good using it in the dark.

Having traipsed up the hill with far more rope than needed, we sat in the shakehole waiting for the last two chaps to arrive with the rigging kit.  They arrived after a fair wait looking glum, they'd left the maillons on the driveway outside their house 2 hours away.  Cobbling everything of our srt kits we got down as far as the third pitch before having to rethread knots into the p bolts and to be honest I descended the 3rd pitch more nervous than I can remember and bottled the 4th pitch.  fun times.


Well-known member
Equipment failure:

Many years ago on a trip down Notts Pot I was rigging the ?Double Bucket? Pitch when I caught my hand on what must have been a very sharp flake of rock, because it cut my hand open, and the cut started to bleed profusely. My friends said that they?d abandon the trip and escort me out, but I said I?d be fine, and I didn?t want to spoil their trip; at length, after some discussion, and with some reluctance they continued down and I set off up.

I hadn?t taken many steps when the little spring that actuates the cam on my chest jammer chose this (very inopportune) moment to break (is there an opportune moment?), leaving the cam to flop about uselessly and me sliding down the rope until my weight came on my foot-loop safety cord. I found that I could still prusik by standing up (Frog System) and pushing the cam into the rope with every step, but I made every slow progress, leaving a trail of blood behind me ? on the rope and on the walls and floor of the cave. Eventually my companions caught me up ? they?d had twinges of conscience and decided that to leave me alone wasn?t such a good idea after all. They also told me that they?d used their helmets as buckets for washing away the blood!

Anyway, I got out safely ? but I?ve never heard of another such failure before or since.

Does this count as ?equipment failure??

Many years ago a friend and I went down Strans Gill Pot on ladders. I was first back up the entrance pitch, which is so narrow at the top that we figured it would be difficult to fall down it and we never used a line-line there (it does open out for the last 20 feet or so). Anyway, I fortunately had a rope tied round my waist for tackle hauling, and when I had pulled out all the tackle my friend started to climb the ladder. He hadn?t taken more than two or three steps when, ?before my very eyes?, the tape knot tying our belay tape came undone, and dumped him unceremoniously on the floor.

There then ensued a slanging match along the lines of ?Your bloody knots come undone? ?My knots don?t come undone?, before I  pulled up the ladder and re-belayed it with a secure knot . . . funny to think what would have happened if the knot had come undone when I?d taken just two or three paces (especially given that in those days we often didn?t bother to tell anybody where we were going).


Ian Ball

Well-known member
Not so much equipment but on a trip out of Dow Cave with a few people on their first trip I looked backwards and told them to be careful as it is green and slippery.  Looking forward again I was surprised to see both of my feet off the ground and realised I was mid fall.  It was like being Wylie Coyote running off a cliff and floating until I looked down!


A friend recently moved to Sheffield and has been dragging me away from the clean-washed potholes of the dales to the grimly gritty holes of the Peak.

As we tend to use my ropes rather than any club ropes and we don?t generally pop into any huts, the ropes were going uncleaned.

I began thinking about simple rope washer designs that could solve my problem.


I bought a chopping board and some simple pulleys from Amazon and began construction. It probably took 2 days work split over a week. Luckily I already had the fixings such as screws, bolts and rivets but the other ingredients weren?t too expensive. I think I probably spent ?30-40 all in.

I realise there are other options such as washing machines but I really enjoyed the process of making something functional from scratch.




Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk


Well-known member
For many years I used one based on the late Ralph Johnsons rope washer device.
A length 2' of 2" domestic waste pipe with some astro turf doormat cut to size, rolled up and inserted, with a T piece in the middle to accept a garden hose. Using U pipe clips it was fixed to an outside wall near the tap and masses of rope could be washed really quickly by pulling one way then the other. 3 or 4 pull throughs would all but the worst of clag. To insert the rope I had a length of 15mm copper water pipe that fitted through the astro turf. A rope end would be pushed in and then the copper pulled out, leaving it threaded and ready to go. Sadly misplaced it over the years, might be in a box somewhere...


Well-known member
Fulk's post above reminded me of the very first time I went down Notts Pot , as a youth. It was on a CPC meet and I remember (the late) Don Mellor slicing his thumb open in that exact place. I wonder if it was the same sharp flake! There was blood everywhere, along with predictable jokes about making black puddings, etc.

Anyway, I digress. I knocked up this case for my caving camera, from 6 mm neoprene, a scrap of Velcro, a bit of nylon tape for a belt loop (out of shot on the back) and (inevitably for me) skilful application of "Aquasure". (If Mr Whitney sees this, it might finally help him understand why I've bought so many tubes of Aquasure from him, over the last umpteen years.)


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Probably the most significant kit failure I have experienced outside diving (whcih always makes even minor issues seem rather serious) was the great flapjack failure.

On a longer trip a cheeky Boost bar slips into a pocket and is a lovely whilst waiting for someone to ascend a wet, windy pitch. Once however, I elected to take a flap jack from Inglesport Cafe.  Slipped it neatly into my little SRT bag.  Throughout the trip I thought "mmmm that will be lovely, buttery, badness at the end".

Unfortunately when I slipped my hand into the bag to grasp the oaty bastard, I recovered a handful of cold, gritty, porridge. The wet crawls had done it in. Great flapjacks, but obviously not wrapped in cave-specific cling film.


Staff member
I took sponge cakes on a fabulous through trip in Mexico - Chorreadero (supplies were limited!)  Got bashed into a soggy mush  :cry:  :LOL:


It was a lovely summer day on witch my worst gear failure occurred... To the cafe in inglesport we went, here we joked and planned our trip; it was also the site where I purchased my fateful millionaires flapjack.

With our plans made our bellys full and all excuses spent we headed towards easegill and the entrances of Link and Mistral. Before we entered I entrusted my glorious cake to my dear friend, reverently he placed my cake into his tackle sack and we thought nothing more off it for several hours of caving.

Enough caving! Its snack time, we cracked out the water... Ahhh lovely, so refreshing. I moved on to my caramel soaked shortcake to find the terrible terrible truth... It had met a fair worst the death! Little had we realised how much wet crawling we would experience on our trip. Crushed soggy and perhaps worst of all, melded into a fishy muddy cling film mass with my friends tuna sandwich. Never have I seen such a sad sight in a cave, with our hopes crushed we poured the foul mixture back in to the cursed bag, and movd slowly towards our destination.

"Onwards to the exit my friends, for we have tackle sacks to wash and cakes to mourn"


Home made wetsuit fail during trip down Simpsons.

Attempted to fix it the next day with masking tape.

Wetsuit repair fail!


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Well-known member
yrammy said:
Home made wetsuit fail during trip down Simpsons.

Attempted to fix it the next day with masking tape.

Wetsuit repair fail!

That outfit looks like it belongs on another website  :eek:.

Sorry about that


New member
I haven't got as far as fixing the broken kit yet...  However, following a successful test of Cave Lidar version 1, I have started putting together Cave Lidar 2.0 ready for when I am finally released from house arrest.  I have also machined a helmet mount for my twin Zebralights so I wont get snagged up on the elasticated helmet straps anymore!


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New member
I made a cheeky fix a few months back to my srt bag, with the help of a few rivets, washers and a square of plastic. It's still holding up strong, but now I've got to replace the string, luckily got lots of spare boot laces for that.


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Duck ditch

New member
During a trip to Mexico, a team of 5 of us flew into a remote valley.  Just outside a village a cave was explored revealing Olmec Artificats including skulls.  We set up camp in the entrance.
Feeling keen I walked off from camp up the hill behind.  Sure enough I found a descending rift entrance.
I had dismantled the carbide generator off my helmet leaving me with just the back up electric light. Charged by a flat pack battery at the back of the helmet.  A single dim bulb inside a casing at the front.
The descending rift angled down at about 40 degrees wide and easy.  After about 30m depth a couple of bends and passage of about 50 m of level caving. Then another wide descending passage. Bats were in the roof and flew off as I disturbed them.
Suddenly you guessed it, my light went out and suddenly I was in pitch black. My last sight was a continuing descending rift. 

I leant back feeling for better footholds. I felt a half seat and found footholds so I could squat with my knees up. I removed the helmet and fiddled with wires near the battery hoping for a loose connection.  No such luck.
When I moved the helmet I heard a rattle.  The bulb had worked itself loose.  I had no spare.

Slowly and surely I unscrewed the casing. Bats kept coming close unnerving me.
It finally came off with a jerk. I held onto the bulb but lost the perplex glass. I held the bulb carefully but tightly.  This bulb was everything.
Now the scary bit. In the pitch black I held the bulb between finger and thumb and felt for thread with the other hand. I couldn?t do it.  I calmed down listening to the bats.

The next attempt and I finally got the thread and started screwing it in.  Suddenly what normally feels like a yellow glow, seemed like a searchlight. Slowly and carefully I retraced my steps and returned to camp.

At camp I started retelling my tale.  The rest of the team were completely uninterested. Distracted because the local people had told them that we were going to be crucified if we didn?t clear off.


Another story involving a caving light failure:

Years ago while returning from a long trip in Dan yr Ogof, I noticed I was gradually dropping behind the others. I then realised I was going so slowly because my Speleothchnics FX2 cell was beginning to fade and as I approached the end of the show cave, I was waking along stooped over trying to make my way towards the entrance with only a dim red glow from the almost exhausted light.
I was than that I heard the noise of approaching cavers in the distance, who had realised I had been left behind. When they got nearer, I could not believe how bright their lights were after having got used to the dim red glow.
Someone leant me their spare light, a Petzl Zoom with a rather knackered elastic headband, which was great as now I could actually see.
Because the showcave was closed, we were using the cavers entrance to exit the cave, and as I was first to start climbing down to the river below, the damn Petzl Zoom fell off my helmet and hit me in eye and then into the river leaving me suspended in the dark with one eye watering until one of the others climbed down to give some light to continue.


New member
Not so much gear related, but Manchester University Speleology Club has been keeping the caving spirits high during lockdown by getting in touch with our artistic side. Here are some of the results (sadly I can only upload 6)


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