Last month, 3 CBC members took a drive south to the land of Toblerone, holey cheese and even holier mountains.
Number1 had some business in Montreaux on Lake Geneva and as he is terrified of flying, decided a road trip was in order.
He invited myself and big Number 2, presumably in the hope that at least one of us would be too busy but neither of us were so he had to take us both.
This was handy as it is two days worth of driving to get there so we were able to share the joy.
On the way down through France, we stopped at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial with its trenches, tunnels and excellent museum. We were unfortunately too late in the day and missed the last underground tour of the extensive bunkers and tunnels.
After that, and as we were nearing the Swiss border, Number 1 remembered that there was a c*ve he could dive in so we took another small detour to the ‘La Source Bleue’ and he disappeared for an hour whilst myself and Number 2 waited in the rain.
We decided to try to climb the North face of the Eiger.
Remembering that Number 1 was scared of heights and that I didn’t know what a crampon was, we scaled down our plan a little and opted for a Via Ferrata at the bottom right hand side of the North Face which would take us up onto the West flank.
Apart from the torrential rain and the force 8 gale, this was an excellent plan and we carried it out with aplomb having tea and selfies in the snowline of one of the most famous mountains on the planet. Plus the sun came out for a lovely dry climb back down. We also found one of the famous windows in the Eiger which are for the Jungfraubahnen, the railway which runs up inside the mountain.
Number 1 had meetings to attend so myself and Number 2 went for a slightly more friendly Via Ferrata just across the valley in Champery.
Although this was a much more friendly looking Via Ferrata it was also technically more difficult for a novice like myself and was really quite thrilling in places. The scenery was stunning and the return walk to the town was cut into the side of a sheer cliff and was spectacular.
We thought we would try some culture for a change so we settled on visiting a medieval castle and walled town which also happened to house the Museum of H R Giger, better known to most as the man who designed Alien. To say his work is epic would be an understatement as would be the word ‘dark’ and Number2 left the museum in a state of shock and bewilderment.
A cross border raid into France to buy cheaper diesel and to go canyoneering near Chamonix. Due to a rock fall on the road leading to the top of the canyon we were only able to do the lower half of the trip but it was nonetheless excellent fun with ropes and slides and water and pretty young girls from Brittany. The guide was ace too even though he was French and we would thoroughly recommend him should you ever be in the area http://oxo-canyoning.fr/
On the way back into Switzerland through the mountains Number 2 showed us the roadside bunker complete with cannon which he had spotted in a pass. We discovered that there were to other bunkers with canon and machine gun ports disguised as a farmhouse and a barn. Switzerland is a veritable fortress.
The van needed to be packed ready for the return home so we thought that a local mountain rummage for some massive underground forts we had heard about was in order. We had narrowed down the search to one sticky-outy bit of mountain which cuts across the valley. In it we found a catholic church 50m up the side of a sheer cliff, a 700m long limestone cave with an underground lake and waterfall and the (very locked) entrance to 2 separate forts inside. Outside the caves, we started to see canon ports in the cliff above and then spotted a small cable car which went into a cave in the side of the cliff above us….a short explore delivered a precipitous hidden path which let to the entrance, but as Number 1 and Number 2 were just entering, an alarm sounded, and we beat a hasty retreat.
We have since found that you can do tours of the forts as long as you book 2 weeks in advance. So…next time.
With a long drive ahead, we said goodbye to Switzerland ( and summer as it happens) and drove back up through France, stopping once again to see some more trenches at Massiges. These were less sterile and a little more intact than the others we had seen and there was a huge amount of found artifacts to see just lying about.
It was very moving.
Apart from the ferry, a KFC stop at Gordano services and the massive cheer on crossing the Tamar, the rest of the trip was entirely uneventful.
The Crew has been oh so busy over the last few months i havn’t had a chance to catch up but a big effort was put into Helping the Friends Of Portheras Cove cleanup some disgraceful fly tipping, to save me regurgitating everything here please have a look over here Carbis Bay Crew on Facebook and see the videos, pictures and details as to what went on, A massive well done to all envolved and we are always happy to help were we can
Victory indeed….or in the case of the CBC Elite Underground Tunneling Crew finding new ground
Here’s a few pic’s from a CBC dig which has been ongoing over the last 18 months. This 40ft tunnel has been dug through some extremely unstable ground, around 20 tonnes of material has been shifted.
Difficult work, but luckily we have an ex-miner and a ninja-fabricator in the Crew to make light work of it.
Our second assault team on the “land of whippets and flat caps” comprised of four of the most mentally disturbed Cornwall could offer .
Over four days in late October the CBC ate, infected and abseiled its way around the Ingleton area.
Bernies Cafe and Inglesports were visited ,bolts were purchased and hearts were broken.
The trips consisted of :
Jingling Pot, all routes..
Sell Gill, a little peach with a very nice waterfall.
Long Churn, Dolly tubs, Alum pot, through trip. Excellent!
Marilyn Pot, some snug pitches and some loose rocks..
This whole area of Yorkshire is so geared up for SRT trips it can’t be ignored and should be on every vertical caver’s hit list.
It will be another 10 days or so until Ebola breaks out in the Ingleton area so the cost of a fry up in the area should become more affordable… might be worth waiting 6 months.
Brief resume of author; Pat Moret.
I have been involved in mine/ cave rescue teams for over 15 years and I am currently diving officer for Cornwall Search and Rescue Team underground/rope team. I have been diving side mount for 5 years in both open water and over head environments, some of which are “snug”. My usual “configuration” is an UK style side mount harness and when buoyancy control is required, a drysuit and or a buoyancy bladder. My diving style has evolved to reduce weight and increase mobility as much as possible which allows me to enter/exit the water in areas that would not normally be possible.
I make a living from consultancy in; access and rescue from difficult/dangerous environments.
My first impressions of the side mount harness / BCD were of a quality piece of equipment. The webbing appeared to be of a higher quality than that used by other manufactures and the components had a similar feel. The harness comes equipped with removable padding on both back and shoulders which was promptly removed. Part of my ethos of side mount diving is a minimalist approach which allows for easier transportation over rough ground to the water’s edge therefore every gram you carry has to have a benefit, so the padding had to go.
Over the course of a week I dived four times with the side mount harness, three times in flat conditions and once in a large swell. The dives were completed wearing gloves, up to a depth of 11m in open water.
One dive was completed on a single cylinder, five and seven litre cylinders were used for all four dives.
The bladder on the harness offers 20 litres of lift and is equipped with two dump valves, both on the underside(divers face down),now here lies the first problem. Once inflated entering the water in a “head up “position ,dumping air effectively was very difficult and would require excess use of lead or aggressive down swimming, both options aren’t really fit into the side mount frame of mind. The head up position traps at least half the bladders volume above the dump valves. If the diver is in the face down position the dump valves are more affective but still require the user to roll to allow air to migrate towards the dump valve.
I could see no provision for lead on the harness so a standard lead belt was worn under the harness.
The harness holds both a single cylinder and a pair in excellent trim even when I used my own cylinder band system. The BCD gives a clean profile through the water and offers very few “snag” points in an overhead environment.
The big area of concern for myself was the difficulty encountered whist trying to dump air, the pull toggle was incredibly difficult to find whist wearing gloves .The toggle seems to hide behind your right hand cylinder and this wasn’t helped by the zip tab on the protective bladder cover, which kept giving me false hope .The situation was alleviated by diving on a single cylinder, by doing so, giving easier access the pull toggle.
During the dives the BCD took on at least a litre of water each time ,this was very difficult to drain from the bladder post dive, I am guessing this is a glitch with the dump valves and bladder design.
On the whole the harness seems to be well proportioned and well made with the only real down side being the dump valve positioning. I know that Beaver have put them on the underside, like Hollis etc, in order to protect them from abrasion in an over head environment but this comes at a cost of usability and I can’t help thinking that someone who can design and make a bomb proof dump valve will find a niche market for such a product.
We are hosting an SRT day down here in sunny Cornwall on the 15th feb (venue tbc)
ALL are welcome to come along and have a chat, learn and have a look at different kit and generally have a good time, we will be folowing this up with a bolting day along with a Big shaft day and Self Rescue Day lateron in the year
Please bring your own kit, we may have some spare kit for a few who are interesting in learning but please contact us and we shall find out what is available
Please check back soon for more details
Welcome to 2015, may it bring you all the………..stuff……that you are looking for, blah blah blah anyway back to normal service, seems a few of the crew have been off camping underground and getting a bit dirty, cheers to Pat for the writeup!!
During our one of our current visits to Perran St George mine a plan was hatched; stay in the mine over night between the tides…
The plan would also involve following the adit to its conclusion and would give us time to cross a flooded winze off adit.
On a rather pleasant evening Chuckles the monkey and myself waited, impatiently, for the tide to give us enough beach to gain entry to the mine. Ok, we went in too early and ended up nostril deep in sea water, compounded by bags weighed with camping gear, but we made it…
First job was to establish a camp site, this wasn’t easy; room to stand, free from drips and puddles, good air? Well we found good air but not a lot else.
After setting up camp in some stoping, making the best of a bad job, we moved up the adit system against a draught .A shaft had to be crossed on a large ledge and the the going was good. This was to change a point where the adit passed through a large stope. The air flow stopped, the ceiling became low and the ochre/water came up to our necks in one place.As we pushed on the going again got easier but the air now felt still and toxic then without warning the end, a collapse came into view. We had travelled a fair old distance and must have been getting near the inland valley behind Perran Porth . The blockage was a rock fall holding back a huge quantity of orche sludge.
Hot drinks and food lifted the spirits and its wasn’t long before we retreated to our sleeping bags to endure a night of fitful rest. When the tide was at its highest point we could feel the stope reverberate as the waves drove into the sea cave 70m from our stoney camp site as to remind us that we weren’t getting out til low tide!
During our overnight we did notice another level in the roof of the adit, this was later pushed to yield another 50m or so of passage.
For years Petzl have been the market leaders with all things to do with ropes, however in the last few years Petzls reputation has gone downhill with numerous new products being released and numerous products being recalled, not very reassuring when that equipment should save your life. And with these new products they all seem to be smaller which equals lighter but not much seems to of changed…. So smaller = lighter and less materials = more money and harder to operate in difficult conditions!
I recently decided to purchase a new caving harness and wanted to try and stock it with anything but Petzl, while searching on the internet I came across a company called ‘Climbing Technology` based in Italy. After looking at their website they seem to have split their equipment into sections (work, play, rescue) just like thou who shall not be mentioned! So looking at their products I decided to break away from the noms of society and try the unknown!!!
I purchased 3 products from CT, a chest ascender (Croll), Simple hand ascender (Basic) & a quick-step (Pantini).
The three products I brought were no cheaper than Petzl but only marginally more on average about £4 per item. As CT get bigger and more stockists appear in the UK I feel this price will come down to compete against other Rivals.
All three of the products meet exactly the safe safety standards as the Petzl models (EN567, EN12841 : 2006) with the added advantage the CT products work on a range of 8 – 13mm and Petzl work on 8 – 11mm.
I would love to tell you that the 3 items looked amazingly different but they actually all looked identical to a competitors products only it seems they realised the designs were good and only tweaked the designs slightly and improved on it.
Spending 4 days in Yorkshire caving I gave the devices a good road test and the fact that on the climbs out we often started with cold, gloved hands and that was when I really appreciated the devices were made for adult hands! All three of the devices worked nicely with the ropes and other equipment.
With all three ascenders I brought they all had a great design feature which meant that if the jammer had been pushed up against a knot or still had some slight tension on it (the weight of the rope) you could use the built in camming motion which would allow you to get the device of the rope easily.
The second advantage was they have three small cuts on the cam which are designed to allow the escape of mud to help prevent the device from becoming clogged.
The third advantage was with using the CT simple ascender for my foot loop I could put my cowstail through both eyes at the top of the product making the rope secure in the device and giving me more to hold when ascending.
In conclusion having the Petzl chest ascender that I can hold in one hand and squeeze and watch it bend doesn’t fill me with confidence! Yes I realise materials flex to absorb shock but I’m not exactly the strongest guy and it doesn’t fill me with confidence!
Yes all of the new products from Petzl are new shapes, smaller and lightweight but when have you ever thought to yourself “oh no, my chest ascender is so heavy I don’t think I can carry on”!?
The CT products I brought worked really well had great features and did exactly what they said on the tin. I would not hesitate to buy more CT products or recommend them to others.
Thanks to Corin for the writeup
Four days of underground frolics. 11, 12,13 and 14th September 2014.
The usual long drive from sunny Blaenau Ffestiniog, through the very scenic Mid Wales; I will not discuss the hours. But it was better than a Bank Holiday – thanks…
Thursday evening: Dan’s band was playing in Penzance – so us groupies tarted up and trotted into town. The band was great and the beer excellent.
Friday – cheery Claire, Mad Rab and I went off to Bottalack (please check spelling). An interesting mine, twisty and smallish with some pleasant traverses and then further on a rope and a tatty wire ladder. So up we went and it felt (to me) as if there was a through trip waiting – we couldn’t find it. Suspicion – it exits in a private garden????
Saturday – the gang arrived and Bellan was assaulted.
Kim, Mark, Steve, Chris, Rab, Justin, Claire and Corin – two pleasant drops and a good long explore of the bottom level. Kibbles and wagons and bizarre rock samples (I am told)…
Sunday: The big drop: 280 ft down a very well painted shaft….
It is always fun to watch pro’s play with rigging – lovely J.
A few unprintable pictures of tongues and giggles – oh well…..
Then a lovely set of tunnels and ladders, lots of ladders – running up besides a beautiful double track.
Then ‘I’m bored why don’t we go U92 hunting’ so Rab and I sat getting our parts irradiated whilst Claire got more frustrated – picking up little bits of silent rock.
To cheer her up Rab and I started clicking our fingers, she smiled ….
Tallan, Pat, Claire and I off to an unfinished dig. Abseil then crawl and crawl some more. Put Claire and Tallan on the digging, Pat videoed the happy sludge as it squirted out the hole… He did not record the thunder of settling rock on the levels above us….. There was a moment of silence J.
Climbing out we passed an adder, slightly nervous. Not wishing to be unconscious on a rope …….
Scotty Johnson RIP
We all missed him and look forward to seeing this plaque in Rosevale.
Thank you Justin….