Report by Jules Barrett
Cavers: Jules Barrett (EPC), Gary Bode (EPC), Jim Lister (EPC), Jase Rider (EPC), Chris Schofield (EPC), Ann Soulsby (Masson Caving Group)
A 10 a.m. start at Pindale Farm for a day of hanging around on their SRT platform. As I left Sheffield the weather was better than I'd seen it for ages so we were off to a good start. Whilst I got the kit ready Chris made an excellent job of clearing out the grim brown flood sludge that coated the floor underneath the training platform. Soon Jase and Gary arrived and just as we were making a start Jim and Ann turned up. As it turned out six was a good number as we only needed to run two ropes on the platform.
Ann, Ralph Johnson and I had salvaged the old Block Hall rope from Peak Cavern that had been in there some years. I thought it would be interesting to see what sort of condition it would be in so a totally unscientific test was set up involving Chris, a knife and a slightly slack safety rope. Chris found that he had to cut through every strand of the core but two before it snapped under his static weight and when it went it went with a bang! We looked at changing over from abseiling to prussiking and vise versa and this highlighted a number of issues with kit. We then had a useful chat about improvising kit ("...help my Croll just fell apart!...") before starting to consider assisting "walking wounded" cavers out of caves. We looked at a number of techniques that could be used to belay and assist cavers up short climbs and pitches finishing with some hoisting and associated jiggery pokery to get the injured and feckless off at the pitch head. After a break for lunch we were back at it considering assisting yourself and other people on SRT ropes. We looked at a couple of the more straightforward techniques including a 'snatch rescue' (superb acting by Jim whilst Ann abseiled to the rescue) and a 'pitch-head cut' before a mid-afternoon cup of tea was called for (Chris produced a stove from somewhere and tea-making essentials apparently live in Jim's car in the same way that a spare wheel might live in other people's). It was very pleasant sitting in the sun having a chat about the PSM and all sorts of other stuff. The final session looked at the more complex SRT rescues including caver knocked out on rope above you (potentially very ill and definitely blocking your exit!), what are you going to do? We finished at Pindale at 5:00 p.m. and retired to the Nag's Head in Castleton for a drink where we had a good look at the 'Not for the Faint Hearted' book and planned a trip for the following day. I hoped to have time to cover some basic first aid but we found that there was plenty to cover in the day on rope. I may try to schedule some first-aid stuff in for an evening later in the year. Let me know if you think that would be useful.
Many thanks to the cavers who came along and Pindale Farm outdoor centre for the use of the facilities. From my point of view it was an excellent day and the feedback that I got from everyone was very positive. I will plan to run a similar day prior to the 2008 Eldon trip abroad.
Click on the images above to enlarge.
1. Jim Lister on rope.
2. The Pindale Farm chimney.
3. Chris Schofield prussiking.
4. Chris Schofield rigging.
5. Jase Rider prussiking.
6. Chris Schofield (top) and Gary Bode.
7. Gary 'snatch rescue'.
8. Ann Soulsby rescuing an unconscious Jim Lister.
8. Ann Soulsby abseiling with (a very relaxed-looking) Jim Lister.