This is my 3rd and final entry. A short video of our caving adventures in Wales  :)


Light into dark into light  - Jarvis Cocker, Devil's Arse 2018.


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Active member
was going to add my avitar, fit light and dark very well, but not mine and it pixelates on the slightest enlargement.


Active member
I have always been conscientious about caving and personal hygiene which I feel go hand in hand.

In my earlier years only having a single undersuit proved challenging to my principles.
How you are supposed to wash and dry caving gear as well as cave regularly was beyond me. Undeterred however I would endeavour to do a stream cave once in a while to keep up appearances.

More recently being older, wiser and of more means I realised the solution was to invest in a second suit - a previously unheard of extravagance.
I am now able to wear one suit while I "rest" the other.
Once the first suit becomes more of a challenge to my senses than the cave is to my abilities, then I know it is time for a change.
The "Rested" suit confirms this as it is now far easier to approach and even smell than the current one.
What is truly remarkable however is that even "resting" a suit in a damp shed or bag will over time ensure that it becomes better than the suit you are wearing, it just takes time and patience.

This process can be repeated as many times as you like with amazing success to the extent that I rarely even have to do a stream cave anymore.

Of course i suppose I could try putting my caving gear in the washing machine, but a single suit is just not enough to justify a wash from my strong "crusty" ecological standpoint.
The alternative is also unacceptable as I have been taught not to mix my caving gear with the other family washing due to the well known rule of not mixing the "Light and Dark". Think of the trouble that would cause.

I rest my case - Oh and my spare suit!


Active member
Another surface one from me.
Silhouetted cavers against the inversion en-route to Christmas pot.


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The Old Ruminator

Well-known member
Above Ogof Draenen this week.

The hill tops sit like islands in this perfect inversion whilst the sunlight bathes the uplands in tones from bright to shadow.

Let the light that shines above
Become the light that shines in us
There's no darkness in Your way
So have Your way
Lord have Your way

The Old Ruminator

Well-known member
Darkness is elemental. It is the very nature of a cave. Yet there is a tendency to blast it away with light . Back light, front light all that elemental darkness reduced to a glaring image. Of course its up to any photographer how he lights his image for there are only two real areas in photography that combine to give the image. One is light and the other composition. How they are combined is a matter of taste. You can seek to say a lot or say very little. Sometimes maybe things are left to the imagination. The stripper may reveal all but the seduction is in what lies hidden. What the mind imagines. Cave photos do have a parallel here. Do we as photographers reveal all and leave nothing to be imagined ? Nothing more when we visit that place ? In truth we shall never see it as the photograph shows it. Our eyes will not seek to edit what we see. Thats for the photographer when he returns back home. In fact we might be disappointed in what we see with our own eyes. Its possible that the photographer has distorted reality. Really that's so common nowadays. I have tried to show little in this image. Only what my eyes have seen with my headlamp. Its that moment in time that can never be repeated. I could have cloned out that tiny bit of rock but it adds balance . It grounds the viewer and reminds them that this is a cave or mine. It makes a relationship with the subject and tells us that he is on a journey. Simplicity is the essence here. No flash kit. Nothing to carry but a tiny camera. No time in setting things up. Perhaps we can tell a story with very little effort and time.



Here is my entry into the competition:​​

I'm hoping I don't end up with a copyright strike from BMG but I believe this falls well within fair use...

For anyone who isn't a fan of the metal genre, I'm parodying "Fear of the Dark" by Iron Maiden. I apologise in advance to Maiden fans, I can't for the life of me compete with Bruce Dickinsons vocals and I chickened out of Dave Murrays solo. I originally made the full 8 minute song but wasn't happy my vocals so I abandoned 80% of it. Everything was done by myself, besides the drums as my kit is in storage, (but I did program them for what it's worth). The video was hastily shot last night so I could get it all finished and submitted today. I even added karaoke-style lyrics for anyone who wants to sing along...

I think it's fairly self explanatory how light and dark fit into this but I can only imagine the terror of trying to get out of a cave in absence of any light. The imagination thrives in darkness, even in the shadows. I had a great time working on this and hope you enjoy it.​

Merry Christmas everyone!​


Staff member
5 days remaining to get your entry in!

....and please, if you have time, help me out by liking your favourites as choosing a shortlist is going to be tough, thank you  (y)


Witches Cave, Easegill

On a bank of cobbles,
By a slow pool of peaty depth,
Facing the cave beyond fallen blocks,
From where the water rises,
The light fades.

All the parts of trees, rock and water
Fall apart into the unknowable,
Vanishing certainties and traceless air.
Darkness falls, or emerges slowly
Out of all things.

The rare gift of light gone
Into solar absence and habitual planetary dark.
A sudden chill and the mind wanders
Millions of years ? and there, the luminosity
Of neritic seas,

Coral shelves and through shoals of blue light
A milky rain and drifting shells.
And below a flicker of movement
disturbed ooze and life in the presence and blaze
Of plunged solar light.

And just as suddenly,
The spell broken and a return back
Into place, darkness and the coil of emptiness
Waiting, still, once more,
For the light to happen.



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New member

More cavers than you might have guessed tell me that they have experienced claustrophobia at some point, though I would venture to suggest, though I confess to no psychological training, that it is unlikely. What I suspect is that, whilst in a small space, a temporary increase in CO2, from their very presence - causes the heart to pump and anxiety to creep in. I think that I may have, though ironically it was in one of the world's largest underground chambers. I was 23, and I was leading a trip into Torca de la Carlista in Northern Spain, my second visit to the cave. For those who don?t know it - there is a broken 60m pitch, followed by a free hanging 90m pitch from the high point in the roof straight into a huge chamber. The chamber, La Sala GEV, was then thought to be the second largest chamber in the world, but nowadays it doesn't even make the top ten. The 90m pitch was a drop into blackness. We were using carbide lamps then, so you could see almost nothing beyond about 10m, and looking down, the darkness was total. So solidly black, that as I was rigging, I reached out to touch it. As I slowly abseiled down - feeding the creaky Marlow rope out of the bag as I went, I became quite disoriented. I was convinced I was going to bump into the blackness, for, apart from a rope disappearing through steam above and the bag below my feet, I could 'see' only blackness. Then in a moment ? ?puft? - my carbide went out. No problem, after five weeks caving in The Picos, my SRT was spot on, and I locked-off and reached for my backup light and turned it on.......nothing, zilch. I could smell the carbide but nothing I could do would coax life into my main light or the electric backup. At this point, one starts off feeling a bit of a plonker, especially as I had told the others to give me 90 minutes to rig these pitches and then follow down. So, I probably had an hour to wait for some light. I waited for a few minutes - but that soon became uncomfortable, so I weighed up the best approach. A rack on four bars - it's going to get a bit faster as I descend, but even if I couldn?t get the fifth bar in place in total darkness, I should be able to control the descent. Could I judge the speed? To a point just through feel, I decided to go for it. I tried the lights once more - nothing - and consigned myself to the abseil. I guessed there was 70m to go. I had backed the bags, so I knew the rope was tied in well to the bag. Gingerly I descended, I could feel myself spinning, but nothing bad. The solid blackness consuming my descent, expecting to be able to touch it, expecting to see something as my eyes were wide open. The anxiety began to grow. I was beginning to feel crushed by the solid blackness. I then felt a jolt, I locked up immediately - had I hit the blackness - or the ground. No - the bag was still heavy with rope. It must have been one of those Marlow Rope ?creaks?, it really was the spookiest of ropes - 11mm and so stiff. Thankfully there is much better rope these days. I found it was better to shut my eyes and continue, I was sure I was going slowly as my rack was not getting too hot and if it did - it was an excuse to stop and rest. I found locking off quite easy, but I knew it was just a soft lock. I was sure that I succeeded in wrapping a loop around my leg too, but everything was by feel. I really was beginning to feel sick, and my braking arm was starting to cramp.  Then I heard the welcome sound of the rope bag touch the floor, followed by my feet. I lowered myself to lie flat on the ground and I just rested. I'm sure I couldn't have detached myself from the rope in the blackness, even if my hands had not been completely useless from cramp. I lay there for ages - I couldn't come off the rope, I had no idea what I was lying on - it felt like solid rock. So, I just released the tension in the rope and shut my eyes. With nothing to do the claustrophobia got worse. I hugged myself to give myself a clue as to what was pressing against me. At last noises and light appeared above. I called back. Even the pinprick of light was enough - my orientation restored - the claustrophobia was instantly gone. I still wanted to vomit, and my braking arm was killing me. I lay there - just watching the growing light. I imagined it like coming out of a coma, brain cells firing up one by one. The light came gently, firstly just the shaft in the roof, then the chamber walls. Flickering shadows and light, creeping down the chamber walls, oddly blue. I still couldn't see where I was but became aware of the cloud of steam surrounding me. The solid blackness was clearing, the blues turning to browns, then clearer noises, confused by echoes but blasted into reality with a superb caving 'wooo haah'. I could see now to stand and found i was on a rock surface surrounded by larger boulders - it was good. The cave walls once again faded into blackness - a friendly blackness this time as my eyes adjusted to my colleague's light. When he arrived - I looked at my light - the hose had detached from the reservoir - I replaced it, flicked the trigger and phomph! reality restored. "Good idea", my colleague said'; "I'm sorry", I replied not understanding his thoughts. "You'll have had a really good view of the chamber with just my light".


Some of you who were caving with me, know I build my caving lights by myself. But not many people knows the story behind it. Like any good caving story - many mistakes were done. I am not proud of it but I did learn my lesson so please forgive me.

I was working on bolting a long traverse line to cross a deep pit, in order to check a window on it's opposite side. It was a very frustrating task since the rock was muddy and finding a solid rock to place the bolts forced me to drill in different heights and weird positions.

It took me (as always) more time than we expected and while I was working, my partner was freezing sitting idle and watching me searching for bolts positions. He finished the hot tea thermos and the heating candles were long gone.
Since I still had about half full battery for the drill, we decided that he start climbing and I will follow him as soon as I drain the battery (huge mistake  #1....).

I was bolting the traverse line alone and my partner was prussiking the long way back to camp. My main light started blinking indicating the batteries need to be changed. Of course I did not want to waste time on crossing the pit back and decided to change batteries while on the rope (mistake #2...).

As I was taught, I carried my backup light around the neck. But since it was a very cold cave I also wore a Buff around my neck. I removed the helmet to change the batteries and held it with my right hand. In order to have some light while changing batteries, I grabbed the backup light with my left hand and tried to pull and place it on my forehead.  Unfortunately, along with the light I also pulled up the Buff that got stuck on my chin.

My situation was as follows: I am alone, hanging on the rope in the middle of the traverse. The Buff covers my face and eyes, holding the helmet in my right hand and the backup light in my left hand (mistakes #3 and #4).

In the attempt to remove the Buff from my face, using my left hand, I let go my hold of the backup light and few seconds later, I heard it crashing on the bottom of the pit (huge mistake  #5)..

Luckily I still had the main lamp mounted to the helmet and another backup light in the tackle sack, but it was the simplest type headlamp runs on AAA batteries and I already used it for few days in the camp (mistake #6).

After this experience I decided to "call it a day" and return to camp so I wore back the helmet and crossed the traverse back to my gear next to the pit's head. While on a stable ground, I took the 3rd light out of the tackle sack and used it to change batteries for the main light.

I wore the 3rd light around my neck (great idea), packed all the gear and start prussiking. After some rebelays, while still on the rope, my main light suddenly shut off, Without any warning. I tried to push the button, hit the light and battery box gently, and then a little less gently. But nothing helped - the light stayed off. I'm not saying of which company the light but it is not Scurion. It is anther well-known brand that cost quite a bit and is supposed to be very reliable.

About 40 min later, I found myself in almost the same shitty situation: alone, on the rope, in the dark. Since I learned my lesson, I did not try to repeat that silly maneuver again and just kept climbing using the light of the backup light while it hung around my neck.

When I got to a relatively stable position at the head of the pit I tried unsuccessfully to bring the main light back to life. Without any other lighting options, I attached the backup light to the helmet but its batteries were already very weak and I could barely see anything.

I had plenty of spare batteries: a battery pack for the malfunctioning main light and 18650s for the backup light that was laying at the bottom of the pit but I did not have any simple AAA for the 3rd light.

Somehow I managed to get back to camp in a reasonable amount of time so they didn't even worried about me and were no idea what happen.

Apart from the lesson I learned, I decided that I needed to build my lights myself so that I could trust them not to break down while caving and if they did break down I would know how to fix them. I also design all my lights to run on the same type of batteries so I have no shortage of spare batteries.

Since then I have not broken any light that I built so they are apparently quite reliable but certainly not as high quality as Scurion.

Hope you like my story and maybe even learn something. Now I can laugh about it but it was really frightful when it happened.