Author Topic: Underground mishaps and other incidents...  (Read 17599 times)

Offline Brains

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Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« on: February 16, 2012, 06:37:06 pm »
In view of the thread on lack of caving content, and my own temporary lay off from caving, I thought sharing some anecdotes may help keep the caving spirit alive. First off I have repeated my story from the mid rope transfer thread:
Quote
When descending a wet shaft and you find it is too wet or the rope too short, dangle and spin gently in the water while finding your footloop jammer in your 'sac. Once attached now find your chest harness and croll in your sac and attach via a maillon or crab as you cant now undo your main D. Continue to dangle and spin under the water while trying to keep your carbide light in. Attach the footloop, stand up and attach the croll, step up some more and remove your descender. Return to the pitch head while still spinning under the water in the dark as your carbide lamp has now given up! Retire to the pub and tell me and the rest of the club in confidence...

And another to get the ball rolling; On a wet day some members went for trip in Bar to visit GG, wearing neoprene. In main chamber the 'fall was thundering and a lake across the floor. The victim went for a close look at the spray, and was caught by a deluge that stripped his wetsuit to his kness and knocked him over. Hobbled by the 'suit round his knees and wrists he staggered cold and wet from monsoon.

Do you have any stories you would share, changing names to protect the guilty? I have more but will save them for later if things start to flag a bit

Offline Alex

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2012, 06:52:14 pm »
I have so many to tell! I have been unlucky several times then again I was Lucky, cause I am still here!.

Well I think my biggest mishap has got to be this one back in 2009, which is summed up nicely in the linked trip report:(Which is a good warning about doing a grade 5 cave before you are ready!)

http://www.brcc.org.uk/reports/pdf-north/HammerPot.pdf


This is also the reason I am going into LittleMeregill this Saturday, I know what it is like when no one is willing to help you get your gear!

Other incidents: I have had big boulders fall at me, been trapped by floods twice once abroad, once in Dales (Neither was my fault, however and was glad for my survival bag!). Caved very hung over with near disastarous conciquences in Titan.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2012, 07:16:19 pm by Alex »
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Offline paul

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2012, 07:52:17 pm »
Well I think my biggest mishap has got to be this one back in 2009, which is summed up nicely in the linked trip report:(Which is a good warning about doing a grade 5 cave before you are ready!)

http://www.brcc.org.uk/reports/pdf-north/HammerPot.pdf


Excellent story Alex.
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Offline Alex

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2012, 08:11:46 pm »
I got more where that came from though one does need editing to protect identities.
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Offline Penguin

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2012, 08:23:11 pm »
I'll offer up this one... 

A very wet day in Upper Cradle Hole, Co. Fermanagh, the second of my two flooding incidents in here...

Normally the streamway takes about 15 minutes or less to negotiate with bags.  Sit tight or keep moving...?

My first flooding incident in UCH, two years previous to this May weekend, was less of a flood but it hit Artur and myself while we were beyond sump 2 in the Monastir Way.

Offline Amata

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2012, 12:06:38 am »
I have two...LOL I've been told not to talk about mishaps becuase I shouldn't go caving then. Whatever.

1) Climbing out of a 120ft pit after a fast and hot cave trip about 40 ft up had a freak one of those once-or-twice-a-year instant migraines. Sat off on a flowstone ledge and took some med, but it was too late it came on too fast. After resting about 10 min trying to get it under control (and failing) had to decide a) keep climbing and hope I dont screw something up (harder to f*ck up when climbing at least) or b) ?? other options? In no way was I having CR called lol. But hey bonus for caving in a good group because all 5 I was with are vertical rescue experts, two already up top and they had rig stuff in the car which was close. Decided that while I could likely make it out going slow, talking to be sure I kept my brain about me okay, etc, it would be safer and faster to put a 3:1 haul in. Took like 10 min and I was out. Luckily dark and no noise is nice for migraines I fell asleep while waiting :P but assisted getting out (pushing myself off the wall and walking up along it, getting myself around the lips, climbing past the main lip which was totally undercut, etc)

2) Ran into carbide users for the first time. Holyshit is that stuff horrible. Could. Not. Breathe. I now know what gasping for air feels like, it sucks. Also it triggered a migraine but one dull enough I stopped with the meds I carry without trouble. Not being able to breathe was the more concerning thing. It affected other members in our group too who had troubles breathing and were coughing as well. Person in the other group using the carbide when spoke too scoffed it could ever be a problem, and purposefully fouled up air in the clean pockets we found in side rooms to hide in. Didn't want to stay behind our group so we let their group cave through and waited about 15 min for the air to clear out.
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Online owd git

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2012, 12:41:33 am »
I still have a pronounced graize / bruize  on my chest from Meccano passage mis routing :lol: . If Clive Bennet ( cave & crag.) hadn't been able to 'retrieve me' I thinkI might still be there. :lol:(T'was in August last year write -up on 'cave& crag phorum / caving /fishermans tales in the depths of meccano passage)
Again ta Clive :thumbsup:
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Offline gus horsley

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2012, 12:28:55 pm »
I've got a couple of embarrassing mishaps, one from nearly 50 years ago.

I bought an old ex-RAF goon suit for a few pence.  For those of you unfamiliar, they were designed for pilots who had to bail out of their planes over the sea, consisting of a watertight "oversuit" with really tight cuffs and neck which were inflated by an orange plastic tube in the willy region which was then tied off in a knot.  Apart from not being able to inflate the thing myself (which caused much merriment due to simulated blow job from cavers), I used it quite successfully in Old Ing and Lower Long Churn.  However, it all went horribly wrong in Calf Holes after I'd inadvertently created a small rip in the goon suit, probably going through from Browgill through Hainsworth's Crawl.  As soon as I got in the canal I went from comfortable to bloody freezing in seconds.  By the time I'd got to the bottom of the pitch I could hardly move due to the volume of water in the suit and had to hang onto the bottom couple of rungs while someone fiddled with the cuffs and orange tube to release all the pent-up water.

The other incident was a few years ago in the entrance pipe of Valley Entrance due to being a little overenthusiastic and literally jumping into it.  I wouldn't have thought it was possible to be jammed by the knees in a sitting position but for a full five minutes I couldn't move in either direction.  It was only when I heard approaching voices from the interior that I summoned enough force to liberate myself but Christ it bloody hurt.

Offline matthewjc

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2012, 01:08:40 pm »
And I must thank you Ric for releasing me & Tim from a rocky tomb when Nigel pulled that slab down in the futher reaches of the lower workings in Jug Holes :thumbsup:

Offline Alkapton

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2012, 01:27:14 pm »
Here is a cautionary tale that highlights the importance of using SRT gear correctly....
Firstly I need to say that I use a left foot Pantin and seperate cowstails, so a la "Alpine Caving Techniques" I should have long cowstail on the right of my D and the short on the left.   Unfortunately the aforementioned book does not explain why the order is important, so on the day I got the order wrong I shrugged thinking it did not matter much and could not be bothered to undo my sit harness and get it right.
I am in Pwll Dwfyn and have met up with some Polish people one of whom wants to dive the sump at the bottom of the cave (this is happening about 12 months ago),  uneventful trip to bottom and it was uneventful comming back up, until I am half way up the second pitch.    By the time I'm half way up second pitch I've gone up 3 1/2 pitches with the cowstails the wrong way round so when I stand on my footloop and pantin something went wrong.   I thought my right foot had slipped out of my foot loop but it turned out the footloop broke because it had been rubbing a cowstail.   When the footloop broke I jerked causing my chest ascender to come off the rope.  At this point the only thing holding me on the rope was my pantin and I know I'm about to slip so I can't get the rope back in the chest ascender and figure what is wrong with the foot loop.  The only thing that will save me is long cowstail which is of course in hand ascender.   Normally a pantin comes off the rope real easy but when I slipped down the rope it didn't come off the rope, so I end up hanging from my long cowstail hugging the rope because my body is trying to turn upside down, so I'm now hanging almost horizontal 10 - 15 meters off the ground unable to get the pantin off the rope and so reorientate myself.
Due to language problems it took a while for the Polish cavers to figure what was the matter with me.   Fortunately there was a second rope rigged, so after a while someone climbs it, frees my pantin from the rope, and I can now be the right way up and get the chest ascender back on the rope.   A little confusion with language later, a spare hand ascender and footloop is presented to me and I can finally finish my ascent of the cave.
When I got out I found not only had my footloop broken because the cowstails were the wrong way round, but my short cowstail was almost completely worn through on the fig 8 loop where it attaches to the D.
Now I remember to always double check I have cowstails the right way round!!!
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Offline r_walklate

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2012, 03:21:31 pm »
This is not a 'near miss' but at the time we thought we were going to die!!!
Taking a group through a flat out crawl one child was reluctant but with some persuasion an adult at the front and one at the back they  were happy to do it. About 5 m in a smell appeared one that you just ignore until you think this ain't normal!!! The child had literally shown us the colour of fear in a confined space!!

I can honestly say that hanging on a single jammer is so much more appealing than experiencing that!!!!!!!!! ;)

Offline Fulk

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2012, 03:42:11 pm »
Hi Alkapton,

I'm glad you survived what sounds like a very unpleasant experience, but I'm slightly baffled as to how so much wear and tear took place so quickly; would it be possible to post a sketch or photo of your SRT set-up?

Offline skippy

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2012, 03:43:49 pm »
OK..Here’s my little incident.
20 years ago I was an impetuous youth and rushed head long into everything. My down fall.
A mate and I had done the Giants round trip but still wanted to do a little more. We decided to do the upstream series from Base Camp Chamber, heading up to the outlet sump along the narrow passage, climb up, traverse back in the roof..and climb down the rift. This was one of the first trips I’d ever done a few years earlier and was confident I knew where to climb down as one place was a 40 ft pitch.
We arrived at the chamber where the pitch was(above the inlet at base camp chamber) and started looking at holes back from the pitchhead that would enable a free climb back to the streamway.
I looked at one hole, noticed it was 15ft back from the pitch and assumed it was well over the rift passage…and duly threw myself into it. Realised then it was a bit snug and thought it wasn’t the right way. I tried to climb out but I went in at an angle and it was too tight to reverse UP. My mate threw a few slings down to act as footloops but I couldn’t get purchase. The only way was DOWN!!
I asked my mate to check the distance from the pitch to my ‘hole’ and I  was confident I was in the rift….I slid down 2 ft….The hole opened up and I fell 35 foot though the roof of the chamber….landing in a sitting position where  Sump 1 outlet is.
I was in total darkness(Oldham battery smashed but save my spine)……next thing I know I heard screaming…..it was me!!!.....But it was just shock setting in.

I had no major injuries…couple of bruised vertebrae and a sprained wrist!.....Where I landed saved me. I was in a perfect sitting position on a smooth ledge.1 ft either side and I’d have landed on boulders….and probably not survived.

I have since returned to the spot as I didn’t believe I fell as far as I did and walked away.….20 years down the line and it still sends shivers down me when I look up into that aven…… 
Hindsight is wonderful….and thankfully I have the opportunity to think how I should have got myself out of the situation.

Offline Andyj23UK

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2012, 04:02:13 pm »
bloody hell glenn - i know you told me the story when we were down there - and pointed at places - but i had trouble getting my head around it

reading that now makes perfect sense

for the recod - i absolutley detest down climbing unknown routes - even worse than ladders - for that vey reason - that if rifts start to widen - i could get stuck with no way to retreat - and a continutation too wide to get puchase on

Offline langcliffe

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2012, 04:07:46 pm »
20 years ago I was an impetuous youth and rushed head long into everything. My down fall.

Probably the commonest reason for having a mishap - the stupidity of youth...

Mine occurred when we broke into Far Chamber Extension Series in Notts Pot in 1970. Ron Bushell and Alan Proctor dug out the entrance and eased themselves gently down through the squeeze, and into the passages beyond. I then turned up, and hearing them on the far side, charged in head first, and totally missed the widest part. Extricating myself involved breaking a rib and tearing the sole off one of my boots. Getting out again proved to quite interesting.

Around the same time, access into the Adamson Series and Birthday Pot used to involve going all the way up North Inlet, and returning at a higher level through a roof crawl. One could then walk across a boulder bridge straight into the start of the series. After some very heavy flooding, some of the supporting boulders disappeared, and the bridge decided to follow the dictates of gravity whilst I was crossing it. It fell about 3 metres, with me riding it down (it's the big boulder that can be seen on the floor there). For some reason, I was able to step off at the bottom whilst the rest of the party were having kittens. We had to take in a signal box ladder to allow us to get back into the extension, which is still there today (or was two weeks ago), and access is now along the traverse from Three Ways Chamber.

Offline skippy

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2012, 04:15:31 pm »
Hey Andy..I was gonna draw a diagram..but I cant draw :-[

Offline skippy

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2012, 04:17:10 pm »
Hey Langcliff....I cant imagine you having any 'incidents'....yer one of the calmest peope I've caved with :-)

Offline langcliffe

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2012, 04:48:22 pm »
Hey Langcliff....I cant imagine you having any 'incidents'....yer one of the calmest peope I've caved with :-)

It's a mask adopted to hide a permanent feeling of mild terror when underground. I learned the trick from Mike Wooding.

Offline Alkapton

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2012, 05:22:53 pm »
Fulk:

Sorry I tried photo but can't make one clear enougth, and I can't draw that good, so a verbal description should work-

Sit harnes is the cheapest Petzl one, its OK but one day I'll get a better one.    Cowstails are fig. 8 to attach to D ring and barrel knot to attach a krab.   Hand jammer is Petzl Croll and chest jammer is Petzl Croll Basic, attached to D via a mallion and attached to chest harness via a delta mallion.  Other stuff on D is breaking krab and a spare mallion used as a spanner to undo D ring, but that is well out of the way as it needs to be to function as a spanner.     At the time my foot loop was 1" tape webbing tied directly to hand jammer running through a mallion on the D ring, krab from long cowstail into hand jammer.   So its a standard sort of set up.   I wasn't wearing the Petzl Stop.

The footloop had served me well and was in good condition, but now I use Petzl footloop attached to hand jammer via a mallion, which is better because I can easily remove the footloop for traverses or hauling.

Most people I tell this tale to are shocked because they don't understand how such wear happened in such short time, and it did not feel like there was a problem with the footloop rubbing.

The only scary bit was when I realised my chest jammer was off the rope and I was soon going to loose grip of my hand jammer and fall on the long cowstail.   I trusted my cowstail and jammer but nothing I could do if they fail as well!!!   If
I'd been on my own I could have kicked off my wellie, I happened to have a spare double footloop in my bag (but Polish girl had gone ahead of me with my bag), so I think I could have self rescued OK.

I tell this tale because its such a seemingly trivial mistake to make - just reversing the order of the cowstails - but it had catasprphic results.   You could see on fig. 8 knot of short cowstail the climbing ropes had just about sawed through its loop.
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Offline damian

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2012, 06:23:32 pm »
Alkapton:

I cannot begin to understand how having your cowstails the "wrong way around" can possibly cause the series of events you describe, particularly your croll undoing itself because you "jerked".

I also find your "standard sort of [SRT] setup" somewhat odd.

However even with this I cannot make the series of events you describe happen.

Surely there was something else going on that you didn't realise at the time??

Offline Alex

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #20 on: February 17, 2012, 06:50:33 pm »
I dont understand the point that his hand jammer was attatched to his cows tail?

Eh? hows that safe lol, I guess you learned your lesson there. I always use a seperate rope with a screw gate. I guess your method saves weight but at the very least it would slow you down as you would have to keep removing the hand jammer from the cows tail at every rebelay/pitch head?

As for chest jammer coming off that has happened to me but that was because I was at a funny angle.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2012, 06:59:58 pm by Alex »
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Offline Anon

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #21 on: February 17, 2012, 06:53:33 pm »
Alkapton:

I cannot begin to understand how having your cowstails the "wrong way around" can possibly cause the series of events you describe, particularly your croll undoing itself because you "jerked".

I also find your "standard sort of [SRT] setup" somewhat odd.

However even with this I cannot make the series of events you describe happen.

Surely there was something else going on that you didn't realise at the time??
Glad I'm not the only one that found it somewhat puzzling..

Offline Alex

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #22 on: February 17, 2012, 07:07:03 pm »
Hmm just looked at the book and it does show hand jammer attached to the cows tail, how weird. Never noticed that before.

I think, however I will stick to my method, i.e. seperate rope attached to the mallon via screw crab. The method in alpine is probbably best for long expeditions where weight is really a premium. Though no one used that method in Dachstien that I know of.

Anyway we are off topic, keep the stories coming.
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Offline Brains

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #23 on: February 17, 2012, 07:30:08 pm »
I'll chuck in another... Back in the day a friend went on a solo digging trip one evening. The dig is on the far side of a wooded valley, across a small river, and is essentially a long crawl through beddings, boulders and tubes to a too tight constriction. On the day it was wet and rainy, but undeterred all the kit was duly dragged to the dig face, holes drilled and rocks ready to break. In trying to squirm around and get some kit, my friend banged his lamp and killed the bulb. Not to worry, he carried a spare bulb in the headset. On finding his backup light lasted all of 3 seconds he proceeded to change the bulb by feel, and blew that as well... On reflection he decided to exit the cave by feel alone, abandoning the kit for another day. Being his dig, he knew it well and made it to the exit eventually. Now the fun began. In deepest Derbyshire in the dead of a moonless night in a wooded valley in the rain, he had to negotiate the climb down from the cave, cross the river an!
d climb the far side through cliffs and badger sets back to the car. Apparently when he finally opened the car the courtesy light blinded him, and his explanatory phone call to me for being late out was only qualified by our both realising he hadnt actually set a call out time with me or anybody else! BTW the rock was removed, and all kit retrieved, the offending lump gaving access to another 6 feet of flat out crawl to a too tight ongoing passage
« Last Edit: February 20, 2012, 10:36:05 am by SamT »

Offline paul

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Re: Underground mishaps and other incidents...
« Reply #24 on: February 17, 2012, 07:46:25 pm »
I posted this before, see http://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=696.0 for more, so I hope you don't mind a little repetition..

I suppose my second most frightening experience was finding out we had missed the lock-in at the Hill Inn one Saturday night while camping in the car park as we walked down to Clapham after doing Lizard Pot after having got there too late the night before to get a drink.

The most frightening was in Lamb Leer in Mendip in the 70's. Me and a schoolmate had borrowed 3 25 foot ladders for the pitch from the platform in the big chamber and had a lifeline for that. We hadn't a rope for the entrance pitch as it was supposedly a fixed 70 foot or so iron ladder and we thought we'd be OK. Dave headed down the entrance pitch and soon returned ashen-faced as the "fixed" iron ladder was swaying back and forth to and from the wall and sections which were bolted together often had bolts loose or missing.

We decided to use the lifeline on the entrance pitch! Continuing on down all went well and we had a good trip exploring all the nooks and crannies. Dave re-ascended the 75 foot of electron ladders, no lifeline, remember, and I followed. At the top where the ladder was lying flat on a slope of rock I couldn't get onto the slope. After numereous attempts I realised my arms were giving out and decided I best go down QUICKLY! I climbed downwards as quick as I could but my arms were knackered and I had them wrapped around the back of the ladder with hands gripped together. Thinking I must be very near the bottom, I glanced down to see I was still 15 feet or so then fell off! Luckily I landed OK with my Oldhams battery taking most of the shock and I was just winded.

Dave heard the crash and assumed I had fallen a long way as I had climbed down so quickly he thought I couldn't have gone very far. After a good rest I managed it the second time. Phew.
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