• Hello From Descent

    The publication date for issue 289 is the 10th of December, meaning subscribers should receive their copies during the week leading up to that date. It is also available from caving suppliers such as Inglesport and Starless River, or from our new website

    New Descent board here:

Win two pairs of Sealskinz Socks!!

Pegasus

Administrator
Staff member
I am bringing the deadline forward for this competition to this Sunday 22nd November at 10am (Because I have another competition all ready to go  ;)) - so if you have a tale about cold tootsies, best get writing!!

...and thank you to all those who have entered so far  (y) (y), made entertaining reading  :coffee: :coffee:....brrrrrrrrr.....
 

alastairgott

Well-known member
A few years ago I helped Dr Wrong with a dive in a slate mine in mid wales. A great little place for the dry caver, with one or two galleries, but with a few bottles to carry it made for sweaty but dry work, so carrying the bottles in normal clothes was possible (as far as I remember) but I took my wellies for good measure splitting them from my normal caving gear. After the trip we threw all the kit back into Dr Wrong's car and then shuttled back to my car so that we could go our separate ways.

Having no plans to use my wellies for another week, i left them in Dr Wrong's car and got on with whatever I was doing that afternoon, I think driving out of llangollen I got distracted by cliffs of limestone and ended up driving through the single track roads through Esclusham Mountain and down to Minera.

The week after following some PM's and posts on UKC, I found myself back in North Wales on a trip into a mine level with a local fanatic called Mike. what a trip we had planned, I again left my car behind and jumped into his van never having met the guy before.
We get to where we were getting changed and I empty my bag, then I shuffle the stuff I've emptied around the floor a little, look under the bag i've just emptied it all from. place all the gear back in the bag and take it all out again. Nope, No wellies!

I'm there stood in some cheap trainers I bought a couple of weeks before thinking hmm what do I do now... I know I'll be wading, but how bad can it be. I mutter something under my breath and admit to Mike who I'd met not half an hour previously, that I didn't have my wellies on me so I'll have to wear the trainers!

By this point Mike must have been thinking who IS this muppet I've agreed to take on a trip.

Still we made our way down the mine past the ladders and assorted bits and pieces that Mike and co have put down this mine, the handiwork is great! We soon get down to the level, and Yeh what a mine level it is, quite wide with space for a boat on one side, and if memory serves me right, the water was between knee and ankle depth nearly all the way. perfect welly territory! Ah well.

Still muppetman carried on the trip, thankfully muppet's feet at this point were not freezing as he just had to keep moving.

On getting out of the mine, there was no option but to put on dry socks and wet shoes for the drive back to the Derbyshire hills, surprisingly wet and cold feet for a June or July evening. Then began the task of trying to get the shoes dry (the only pair of footwear I had on me!), first by putting them in the club drying room while I wandered round in damp socks. Then wearing them to try and dry them out with my body heat, being cheap trainers they absorb water and dirt into the fabric of the shoe.

Finally by Tuesday I think they were touch dry, and I noticed that wherever I was going I was being followed by a duet of tiny out of tune trumpets. squeak squeak!...squeak squeak!
I wore these shoes for another couple of months, as they were not too old by that point and had plenty of serviceable life left in them, I was surprised one day to find that one of the pair of shoes had mysteriously disappeared from my car. So I can only assume that though the shoes had a few more months of life in them, people I know did not have months worth of squeak tolerance! ;)
 

CavingPig

New member
Where do I start? I get cold easily. I?ve been cold on many occasions underground ? some would go as far as to say most. I have a safeword for if I?m feeling particularly chilly while caving ? I mutter ?Penguin!? and one or other of my well-trained friends will usually come and huddle. I had to use a foil blanket in anger in Borneo.

There?s the Swinsto pullthrough one snowy New Year?s Eve, where my toes were already numb in the entrance crawl and I couldn?t feel below my knees by the time we got to the split pitch. The time I didn?t actually get down Eldon Hole because I didn?t think my hands would work, so I just sat wrapped in a foil blanket by the stake we'd rigged off while the others went and had fun. Every Short Round I ever do.

But these are mere shivers in the great caving trip of life.

A few years ago, a Polish student from one of my caving clubs decided he would like a taster of caving in his home country, so he contacted various clubs until one of them agreed to let us tag us along ? and so the long weekend in the Tatras was born. The caving we would be doing was going to be broadly similar to Yorkshire potholing, except the temperature underground would be 3 degrees. Fine, I thought ? I?ve caved in the Alps, just stay dry and pack a balaclava.

A 6 am flight and a supermarket spree later, myself, Haydon and Radost had been packaged into a small hatchback with Jakub (the only member of the club who could speak enough English to be trusted with us) and were headed for a hut not far from Zakopane. Upon arrival we were introduced to Soplica (a brand of vodka that comes in many delicious fruity flavours) and informed that ?This is a national park, so we aren?t allowed to walk to the caves in caving gear. Everything needs to go in your rucksack, and please try to look like a tourist... Here are some crampons, and this is your ice axe.? At that point in my life, I?d never even held an ice axe, let alone used one, so getting to the cave entrance the next day was a bit of a steep learning curve. Bit of a steep mountainside too, for that matter. But we found the right hole, and got changed among the icicles adorning the entrance chamber (you can probably see where this is going?), then set off into the darkness.

We made our way downward, then upward for a bit (it seems the Polish love a good mid-trip aid-climb and detest fixed aids in caves, unless displaying horrendous amounts of galvanic corrosion), and across some fairly exciting traverses. We admired mud formations and stretched catlike around some pools to a bit of the cave I was informed was called ?The Nest of the Golden Duck?. Visions of cave pearls as big as eggs soon evaporated ? what lay before me was instead a replica of Swildon?s Sump 1, but tighter, and with a silty, gravelly bottom.

I was already pretty chilly, robustly hungover from my induction into Polish drinking culture, and I hadn?t been expecting a wet trip. But our new friends? boots were rapidly disappearing through the murky water, so I gave myself a pep talk, took a deep breath and thrashed my way through ? to find that the way on was waist deep wading as far as the eye could see. Reader, I cried. However, this only served to make Haydon even more gleeful at my abject misery vis a vis the situation, so after a bit of a sniffle, I decided that as I was thoroughly soaked now anyway, I might as well keep going and not give him the satisfaction. The ?very beautiful sump? that was the aim of our trip involved a wriggle up a very long chimney and a bit more SRT, both of which were complicated by the fact that my legs might as well have been wooden stumps. The Golden Duck grit had also found its way into every conceivable moving part of everyone?s metalwork, so we had to spend quite a long time sucking it out, the plentiful water supply having buggered off by this point. The sump, once gained, was alright I suppose ? not very big, but quite blue. And then it was time to survive it all in reverse.

Entrance regained, I was exceptionally glad of those dry hiking clothes to change into before commencing the icy three-hour trek back to civilisation. I was even gladder of the wild strawberry vodka and smoked cheese awaiting me by the fire in the hut, and the feeling had started to come back to my toes by the second round. It usually does.
 

Cavematt

Active member
My third ever caving trip when I was a new student caver, after the obligatory Long Churn and Bar Pot ventures, was White Scar Cave. Having no SRT, our club had judged this an excellent option for a large number of freshers equipped with ancient and ineffective fleece undersuits and wetsocks that were more hole than neoprene (and were wet from the off from trips the weekend before).

We merrily stomped through the showcave looking forward to a couple of hours of glorious streamway. Turns out there?s a deep lake to cross. Who knew! Our experienced leaders (who were in wetsuits... turn out they knew) led us into the lake, but with zero thermal protection, the shrieks must have reverberated through the show cave, making anxious tourists wonder what was in store for them.

Miraculously, as many students emerged from the lake as what went in, freezing and miserable. Most seemed to warm back up as they stomped down the river passage, but once I get to that state of cold, warming back up requires a warm radiator and a steaming cup of tea. I waddled down the stream passage, barely able to stand up due to the agonising cold in my feet.

A few of the leaders took pity and handed me their neoprene gloves and a balaclava, which addressed my immediate cold, but I had no choice but to turn back.

Clearly this trip was terribly irresponsible, and the club has certainly learned from such things. However, it gave me an understanding for the hazards associated to getting cold in a cave, and a life-long appreciation for good quality kit (I believe that the weekend after I was spending my student loan at Bernies). Moreover, I have never since taken warm feet for granted!
 

MarkS

Moderator
I'm quite enjoying reading these stories, but am I the only person whose feet don't really seem to get cold? :confused: I'm not sure I can remember any trips that would qualify as an entry for this!
 

alastairgott

Well-known member
Did you not even have cold feet when I saw you at rowter farm in the freezing rain and sheet ice. that coated the springs on the gates so you had to whack them with a descender just to unbolt the gate.
 

andrewmcleod

Well-known member
MarkS said:
I'm quite enjoying reading these stories, but am I the only person whose feet don't really seem to get cold? :confused: I'm not sure I can remember any trips that would qualify as an entry for this!

Not sure I've ever had problems in a pair of Warmbac wetsocks (which aren't the most waterproof anyway)... clearly we don't deserve the socks :)
 

MarkS

Moderator
alastairgott said:
Did you not even have cold feet when I saw you at rowter farm in the freezing rain and sheet ice. that coated the springs on the gates so you had to whack them with a descender just to unbolt the gate.

When it took about 10 minutes to get into the car? Cold fingers, yes, but not feet particularly. I never wear wetsocks for Rowter, either. Just fortunate I suppose.

Anyway, back to the stories.  (y)
 

PeteHall

Moderator
MarkS said:
I'm quite enjoying reading these stories, but am I the only person whose feet don't really seem to get cold? :confused: I'm not sure I can remember any trips that would qualify as an entry for this!

I've also never had a problem with cold feet caving (including trips with bare feet in wellies), but I have been pretty cold above ground on a couple of occasions.

Other than my previous entry on this thread, only one other cold-feet story comes easily to mind...

Above my stairs is a large canvas print of the headgear at Groverake Mine in the Weardale, taken one snowy morning before a trip down the mine. It was a glorious day and we spent ages enjoying the sun and snow above ground and didn't get underground until pretty late in the day. The trip was a bit chilly, we had to smash our way u the icicles in the short entrance crawl, that leads immediately to chest deep water,  where the level was bulldozed after the mine closed.

By the time we got out, it was getting dark, blowing a gale and snowing again.

Needless to say we changed as quickly as we could,  with wet feet actually sticking to the frozen road. This wasn't cold numb feet, it was sharp burning cold like nothing I've felt before or since. We paid no attention whatsoever to the solitary passing car as we bared our naked bodies to the blizzard.

Fortunately it didn't last long and we were soon warming up in the car, only for the plod to show up on reports of "suspicious activity" at the mine!  :LOL:

The sealskin socks wouldn't have helped on this occasion, and this story is probably disqualified anyway as I'm sure I've told it before in a previous competition thread, but my feet were definitely very cold!

And for good measure, here's the picture I took before the trip.
 

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Frog2

Member
Not entirely down to just cold feet and not mine to boot! But a story hopefully worth repeating.

It was a longish time ago, maybe 15/20 years or more when our club had a visit to OFD, there were 5 of us including one relatively new member who should have known better.
Being posh Southern softies, we were staying at the Copper Beech in Abercraf.

It was early November. After a pleasant through trip without too many incidents ? Top to Cwm Dwr, we all exited slightly tired and damp but happy. We headed back to the SWCC cottage to shower and change with the intent of heading back to the B&B for beer & food & beer. On reaching the car, Paul, the newbie, remarked should I have brought a change of clothes?!

So, he was stuck wearing a cold damp furry whilst the rest of us showered and changed. Once we were comfortable and changed and warm he was allowed to sit in the boot of Keith?s estate car ? not allowed on the proper seats.

Temperatures were close to freezing.

The remaining 4 of us, clean and warm, decided to pop into the Clubhouse to have a quick look at the survey on the wall. Wonder of wonders, seemingly being close to Guy Fawkes night, there were barrels of beer set up and pints ready for purchase. It would have been rude to refuse, so a couple of pints or so each later we returned to the car.

Huddled in back, having wrapped himself in whatever was available was Paul, a shivering wreck.

Keith drove us all back down to the pub with little regard for Paul in the boot, allegedly thrown from pillar to post.
On arrival at the Pub, Paul ran/hobbled to his room, with almost frozen fingers and toes he requested assistance with the zip on his furry, which was politely refused, and he then  just sat on the middle of the bed wrapped in the duvet for the rest of the night.

The rest of us had a very pleasant evening. He did join us for breakfast.
 

Pegasus

Administrator
Staff member
Apologies for the late winner announcement...

I've loved reading all these tales - never knew so many cavers went without socks  :eek:  and read with envy tales of those who didn't get cold feet....what???!!  Though I never thought I'd read about using a foil blanket in Borneo  ;)

Sod the shortlist, I loved them all so entered them all...and the winner is...

Ian.P who was right when he said
I really think this is the sort of competition i might be able to win...

Congratulations!!

PM me to arrange delivery.

Thank you to everyone who took part - I'm sure I'm not the only one who has enjoyed this 'bit of fun'  (y) (y)

  :D New competition coming soon  :D
 

ian.p

Member
Picked up the seal skin socks from pegasus today. Rachel and I put them to immediate use on a soggy plod up Whernside. We were both very pleased to still have lovely warm dry feet at the end of the day even after a couple of impromptu meetings with CRO on the fell :)
Big thanks from our feet to UK caving!
 

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