Poll

Under what circumstances is it OK to go caving now?

Not at all.
With members of your household and trips are well within own ability.
So long as social distancing is respected and trips are well within own ability.
So long as social distancing is respected.
Any time, anywhere.

Author Topic: Is it OK to go caving?  (Read 18520 times)

Offline mikem

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #150 on: May 26, 2020, 03:43:06 pm »

Offline pwhole

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #151 on: May 26, 2020, 04:16:10 pm »
That jacket is truly special. But it's such a masterpiece of a movie, on so many levels - especially this one.

What I find so fascinating (and disturbing) about these situations, scientifically speaking, is the need for people to form crowds, even when they don't have to. There's so much beach in Britain it's ridiculous, and if everyone spread out it would be fine. But they can't - even with no toilets they have to bunch together, for some weird reason. This interview from two weeks ago sums it up - it's a classic of the genre:

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/family-dorset-beach-coronavirus-lockdown-complaints-a4444681.html

Years ago during the Iraq war, there was an enormous religious procession across the bridge on the River Tigris, and someone in the middle of the crowd shouted that there was a bomber in their midst. There wasn't, but there was still an 'explosion' of people trying to get away from the shout. As the procession was on a bridge, the net effect was to shovel hundreds of people off the bridge and into the river, killing over 800. I saw the aerial footage from a US helicopter, and it looked just the same, albeit a little bit slower. If it was a terrorist attack it was mighty clever, as they didn't even need to waste a bomb. But more likely it was just the jumpy behaviour of thousands of people magnified until it became chaotic and dangerous:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/aug/31/iraq

I think because the virus is invisible, the threat is becoming less real to people now, and being outdoors is giving them a false sense of security. If it's only a gentle breeze, with several hundred people in a fairly small space, I think there's still a reasonable chance of getting infected if someone has it - especially if most of your body is exposed, as opposed to just your face.

Offline royfellows

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #152 on: May 26, 2020, 04:48:18 pm »
You have mentioned a 'crowd culture' before. A natural instinct of the human race is the herd instinct, I believe that they go in the top 3 - 1/Self preservation. 2/ Sex 3/ Herd, or social.

I am a completely different being. I am happy with my own company and have no reservations about doing something dangerous completely on my own without logistical support or backup. People like me are highly valued in some sectors. LOL.
I like talking to people, and genuinely find people interesting, which I suppose is a bit of a contradiction.

Crowds, as you illustrate so graphically, are potentially dangerous. If you are in any kind of crowd situation, or in a pub, and it kicks off. Get down low, keep your head well down, and get the hell out ASAP.

Paul, I suspect that you are bit of a loner, as am I.
I bet that you go underground on your own as well, as do I all the while.
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Offline Fishes

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #153 on: May 26, 2020, 05:10:39 pm »

The last time I met Roy underground he was alone but then so was I.

Offline kay

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #154 on: May 28, 2020, 09:15:26 am »
We passed through Threshfield Quarry yesterday afternoon on a walk.
The top pool (blue lagoon) was like something from Benidorm at its worst.

Benidorm, probably not at its worst:
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/worldnews/11758089/Benidorms-beaches-crowded-with-hordes-of-British-tourists-in-pictures.html

Offline Alex

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #155 on: May 28, 2020, 05:32:04 pm »
Well now its 6 people allowed "outside" I assume this still makes no difference to caving as far as virus is concerned its inside. I guess still only people in same household, yes? Though its ironic that we can go shopping for non-essentials which is generally inside with lots of people.
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

Offline The Old Ruminator

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #156 on: May 28, 2020, 06:01:12 pm »
Not the same household but must restrict households to as few as possible. Can enter another house but only to access the garden. Must maintain social distancing.  I wonder if they could publish -

Supermarket staff deaths and cases as they have been exposed all the way through. Often without PPE of any sort.

Teachers statistics when coming into contact with children going to a school whose parents work in hospitals. Happened all the way through.




Offline The Old Ruminator

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #157 on: May 28, 2020, 08:34:35 pm »
I think you need to look at the parameters that would have apply for caving to resume. Certainly, on Mendip the caving club huts would need to be open. For that to happen lockdown would pretty much need to be ended. It would also be sensible for caving if two or more people could travel in a car. I cant see caving happening during social distancing restrictions. Shops can open soon but they would have to be " Covid Secure ". That would mean controlled ingress and distancing measures within. Possible with any sort of staffed facility but not quite what happens in a caving hut. Personally I dont regard the " rescue scenario " situation particularly plausible. You are more at risk driving 50 miles to the cave than being down it. In any case that is rather more of a moral dilemma than something used to prevent caving. Anyway, the other things that lead to the minimization of lockdown would nullify that. Sadly I cant see caving returning properly until at least July if we are lucky.

Online Badlad

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #158 on: May 28, 2020, 09:34:01 pm »
People already caving in the Dales, both diggers and sport cavers.  Not in great numbers or large groups and mostly from the same households but probably a few others too.  CRO are expecting this and CNCC is looking to help keep those that are as safe as is reasonable.  Some landowners perfectly happy with it and a few want to wait a while longer.  I expect it boils down to individuals choices.


Offline The Old Ruminator

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #160 on: May 29, 2020, 08:28:57 am »
To be honest, if you are caving with people who do not have Covid-19 you are OK. The same applies if you are from the same household. Unfortunately, the other scenario is not too good. I have been sent a study of transmission rates in confined spaces. The touching surfaces is not the problem its the transmission by droplets. Simply talking results in droplet spread. The louder you talk the more the range of spread. I would not want to bore everyone with all of the details. You can add to that the time in which the droplet spread is likely. A typical caving trip might be four hours duration. Therefore that is the exposure time. Rather different from popping into a shop. The R rate is perilously close to 1. Its 0.8 in Wales. Above 1 of R means that the pandemic will spread more rather than decline. The thread topic is " Is It OK To Go Caving? " Maybe it should have been " Am I Safe To Go Caving " ? Unfortunately, the answer to the latter in relation to Covid-19 is No in the main instance. Yes possibly if all cavers have full PPE or have had very recent testing. Clearly solo caving would be safe from Covid-19 but on Mendip would be in contravention of the minimum party size of four currently advised by the MRO. That is a real dilemma and would not stand up to scrutiny should something go wrong.

My son lives in Western Australia. Here is what our next phase might look like but would it help caving ?

100746114_3327317403967863_2328444093492887552_n by Nicholas Chipchase, on Flickr
« Last Edit: May 29, 2020, 08:53:52 am by The Old Ruminator »

Online PeteHall

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #161 on: May 29, 2020, 09:08:13 am »
Clearly solo caving would be safe from Covid-19 but on Mendip would be in contravention of the minimum party size of four currently advised by the MRO.

A throw-away comment was made by a member of MRO about minimum party size, in reference to the "caving code". The only "caving code" that mentions a party size is decades out of date and all current iterations say nothing of the sort. I therefore consider this advice to be utter bollocks.

There is no club that I am aware of (or permit system for that matter), on Mendip (or elsewhere) that requires 4 people for a trip. Either every club and access controlling body is acting in contravention of MRO guidelines, or the MRO statement was inaccurate and misleading.

The same MRO statement claimed that "most" Mendip caves are closed, yet no list has been provided to confirm that this is in fact the case. Tav is in the process of detailing over 2,400 sites in "Somerset Underground"; a list of half a dozen of the more popular caves that are closed for access can hardly be considered "most".

It strikes me that the MRO statement was written in a hurry, probably by one person and not thoroughly checked. There are a number of unsubstantiated statements/ claims. The tone of the statement is clear, "don't come caving on Mendip" but the actual content is lacking and I doubt it would stand up to any scrutiny in court if it ever came to it.
 - caves are not outside - opinion
 - the caving code recommends a minimum of 4 in a group - decades out of date. Not in current national guidance
 - social distancing cannot be maintained caving - bollocks. you don't have to crawl up the arse of the person in front, you could leave 20m if you wanted.
 - most caves are closed - no evidence to substantiate this claim, but seems highly unlikely (see above)
 - one rescue will put the current positive profile that caving has back for years - opinion
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Offline Fulk

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #162 on: May 29, 2020, 09:12:33 am »
I've always felt that 'the minimum safe size for a caving trip is four' statement is dubious, to say the least. Some of my best trips have been with just two of us (and that includes going back to the 'old' laddering days). I went to the bottom of the Berger with just one other person, although that's somewhat artificial in that there were a few other people in the cave. Anyway, my companion elected to doss down at Camp I, so I solo'ed out from there.

Online MarkS

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #163 on: May 29, 2020, 09:16:58 am »
I have been sent a study of transmission rates in confined spaces.

Do you have a link to this?

Offline LarryFatcat

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #164 on: May 29, 2020, 09:19:50 am »
One main argument for the those not in an "at risk group" to lock-down was to relieve pressure on the NHS.
The NHS is long past peak pressure so if you aren't in an "at risk group" or have contact with such (these have accounted for almost all the deaths), can't we take a few very small "risks" now?

Offline The Old Ruminator

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #165 on: May 29, 2020, 10:35:07 am »
I have been sent a study of transmission rates in confined spaces.

Do you have a link to this?


Its saved on an email but I dont want to pass it on to fuel even more argument.

Online PeteHall

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #166 on: May 29, 2020, 10:41:07 am »
A scientific study that helps people make an informed decision is surely a good thing to share. Any argument is only as good as the facts it is based on...
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Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #167 on: May 29, 2020, 12:03:34 pm »
I've always felt that 'the minimum safe size for a caving trip is four' statement is dubious, to say the least. Some of my best trips have been with just two of us (and that includes going back to the 'old' laddering days). I went to the bottom of the Berger with just one other person, although that's somewhat artificial in that there were a few other people in the cave. Anyway, my companion elected to doss down at Camp I, so I solo'ed out from there.

This is good information. To add to it, there are circumstances when it's easily possible to make a good case for a smaller number being safer than four. This makes the crude "rule of four" unrealistic as a catch-all mantra and is certainly not universally applicable. The common sense it was based on remains common sense (one to stay with an injured person and two to go out and raise the alarm, thereby providing backup for each other in the event of a second mishap) but no-one should be taking the view that it applies to all circumstances.

The role of a rescue team is to rescue people, not dictate how caving should be done.

Offline The Old Ruminator

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #168 on: May 29, 2020, 12:23:04 pm »
Of course the other thing I forgot to mention and regarding this -

 "- social distancing cannot be maintained caving - bollocks. you don't have to crawl up the arse of the person in front, you could leave 20m if you wanted."

Well, of course, it's the time that the droplets remain " active " in a static air environment, and that's difficult to quantify as all caves and parts of caves vary. I will try to find the email as its deleted now but no promises.


Offline The Old Ruminator

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #169 on: May 29, 2020, 12:27:02 pm »
Here is the summary.

Speech droplets generated by asymptomatic carriers of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are increasingly considered to be a likely mode of disease transmission. Highly sensitive laser light scattering observations have revealed that loud speech can emit thousands of oral fluid droplets per second. In a closed, stagnant air environment, they disappear from the window of view with time constants in the range of 8 to 14 min, which corresponds to droplet nuclei of ca. 4 μm diameter, or 12- to 21-μm droplets prior to dehydration.

 

These observations confirm that there is a substantial probability that normal speaking causes airborne virus transmission in confined environments.



Here is the paper. Rather long and I only have a PDF.

The airborne lifetime of small speech droplets and
their potential importance in SARS-CoV-2 transmission
Valentyn Stadnytskyi

Christina E. Bax

 Adriaan Bax

 and Philip Anfinrud


Laboratory of Chemical Physics, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda,

 

Online MarkS

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #170 on: May 29, 2020, 12:29:43 pm »
Thanks to the power of google, here is a link to the full article for anyone interested.

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #171 on: May 29, 2020, 12:34:50 pm »
Thanks OR and MarkS.

With passage names (in Peak Cavern, for example) such as the "Wind Tunnel" and "Ventilator" etc) one wonders whether the research quoted is applicable without allowance for the frequent air currents in caves?

Offline Mike Hopley

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #172 on: May 29, 2020, 12:39:14 pm »
To add to it, there are circumstances when it's easily possible to make a good case for a smaller number being safer than four.


Indeed. Especially when you have lots of SRT pitches or a few ladders, large groups may easily get slow, tired, and cold -- which increases the chance of an accident.

Two fit and efficient cavers will get harder trips (especially SRT) done a lot quicker than a mixed-ability group of 4--8.

It's worth noting that group sizes of 2 or 3 are the most common in really deep expedition caving (at least in my experience). A group of 4+ in those circumstances can get slow to the point of impracticality (not always, but it's a concern).

I recognise the logic of 4+ for being able to split in case of an accident and leave no one alone. But really, you shouldn't be planning too much around the possibility of two separate accidents, and the ultimate backup is your call-out.

In teams of two, you could face the choice of raising the alarm but leaving the casualty. That sounds awful, but with most injuries the extra time from a later rescue doesn't actually make a difference -- especially if you're somewhere really deep or remote.

If their condition is serious, you have to stay with the casualty. If you can't stabilize them, they are almost certainly dead regardless of how fast the rescue gets there, and no one should die alone. At least, that's what I was taught by WMT, and it makes sense to me.

Of course, this all assumes you have a good basic first aid kit (and training!), and a way to stay warm (like a storm shelter). Self-reliance is even more important for groups smaller than 4.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2020, 12:48:21 pm by Mike Hopley »

Offline Fulk

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #173 on: May 29, 2020, 12:44:44 pm »
Pitlamp:
Code: [Select]
The common sense it was based on remains common sense (one to stay with an injured person and two to go out and raise the alarm, thereby providing backup for each other in the event of a second mishap)
My understanding is that this 'rule' was formulated when laddering was the norm, so you needed two cavers to operate the lifeline (rather than to provide backup in the event of a second accident).

Offline pwhole

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Re: Is it OK to go caving?
« Reply #174 on: May 29, 2020, 12:53:40 pm »
I'm still struggling to see any justification for any serious relaxing of the lockdown, on health grounds at least,  despite my utter boredom and desperation to go caving (and working) again. The R rate has not lowered significantly in six weeks, so I don't see any justification for relaxation - though there are clearly economic drivers going on that are equally important. Sorry to endlessly reference The Guardian, but it's one of the few major sensible papers that's still free to read online - this from yesterday:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/28/coronavirus-infection-rate-too-high-second-wave

If it becomes clear that many cavers have resumed the activity, pressure then may grown on clubs to re-open their huts - and thus on the club Committee members to make decisions that may go way beyond maintaining a healthy stash of mugs and plates for guests, and may frankly be above their pay grade. Haha.  Given the extreme unreliability of the government's advice (I'm being kind here) on what organisations should and shouldn't do as regards group access, and the dubious recent suggestion that six people in a garden can maintain social distancing at all times (maybe in their gardens you can - I live alone in a flat and don't drive - poor me), we need to be extremely careful here.

Picture a scenario where some cavers attend a hut for a night, with a high R number still in place - lots of drinking ensues, and social distancing gradually slips. A week later someone contracts Covid-19 and gives it to one of their older relatives, who dies. The infection is traced back to the club hut and then the measures put in place by the club are deemed to have been ill-construed and ineffective, and the Committee are deemed to be responsible for the 'poor implementation', rather than the risky behaviour of the people who stayed over. The family decides to sue the club. If the infection were traced to a 'caving trip', and the virus was passed on via airborne transmission, you can bet that caving will immediately be viewed as even more high-risk by the public than it is already. Ironically it seems that our rescue services are the only ones not active currently - but then our rescue services (generally) only rescue cavers rather than the general public. I know there are exceptions before anyone jumps in, but compared to lifeguards or mountain rescue, our rescue services are pretty lightly used anyway. That's the 'indoor' aspect kicking in - the public aren't there, so won't need rescuing.

I also don't worry too much about touching surfaces underground being a major form of transmission, but airborne transmission certainly could be. On any trip involving serious exertion, most people grunt, cough, pant, swear and do all manner of other exhalations not normally an issue, as we're all more or less immune to most common pathogens. Or the ones we're not immune to probably won't do much harm. Viruses often originate in caves - so they're hardly going to be troubled by the environment. Hazel Barton was on TV recently showing a bacteria in a cave that is completely unaffected by every antibiotic currently known.

Two years ago I spent about three hours breaking rocks with plug and feathers in a reasonably confined spot with one other club member, and got covered in limestone dust, sufficient to need a good shower when I got back to the hut. The evening I developed the worst 'cold' in years, with coughing, sore throat and a headache, and it lasted for over two weeks. I don't remember a fever as such, but I couldn't go caving as I couldn't muster up the energy and felt dreadful. Initially I thought I'd picked up some ancient 300 million year-old bug from the rock (I breathed in a lot of stinky pong), but more likely I picked it up from my colleague - who wasn't visibly ill. But I could have just as easily picked it up from someone at the hut that morning before we left - or on the bus ride over. It was impossible to work out, but if we'd had to isolate everyone as a result, it would have been a lot of people to trace, and we wouldn't get all of them.

I'm not fortunate enough to easily go caving without access to the hut, so it's painful to hear that folks are going out again, but let's see what happens from the Southend and Bournemouth jamborees last weekend - if it looks like not much happened then I'll be more convinced that we're on top of it. But until mainstream testing is available, we'll never really know, and frankly we're just guessing. And if we're 'guessing with intent' - as in, we really want to do something a lot, so let's tailor the rules so we can easily achieve them and hope it all works out alright - then recent history shows that it may not be a good idea. Especially with him 'in charge'. I can't even write his name now, he's such a mendacious creep.

 

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