This is an astronaut






This looks like someone you might know, getting underground on a Saturday, doesn’t it? Actually, (according to ESA) it’s an astronaut from the European Space Agency training in Sardinia.

Well, they do say more people have been to the moon than to some of the places cavers go to!

(Photo courtesy of ESA)

“Old” Croll

Petzl have issued a news release concerning two instances of failure on the rivet head on the old style Croll. This is NOT a recall and Petzl say the problem applies only when the item is used intensively in a commercial environment – both the issues arose on a North Sea oil rig. See Petzl’s information release at:

It’s always worth digging…

…. but watch where you stand!

This picture courtesy of BBC News is of a sinkhole 49m wide which opened up on Christmas Eve in the village of Foolow in Derbyshire. Read the full BBC story at

Out now – Mendip Underground

The new edition of Mendip Underground is out!

Including the new discoveries at Charterhouse Cave, Reservoir Hole and Upper Flood Swallet, topos, surveys, rigging guides and some really nice photographs.

What our customers did on their holidays, Part 1

This is Sverre Aksnes, Kjetil Avset, Professor Stein-Erik Lauritzen, Ane Mengshoel and Danja Mewes, at the base camp for their exploration of Trude Hole, a 4km long white marble cave in Nordland, Norway.

Speleo Olympics winners at Brno 2013

Starless River congratulates all the winners. Brits who brought home prizes were:

100m rope – male 18 to 44  – Henry Rockcliff

Ladder climb – female 18 to 44  – Becka Lawson

Obstacle Course – male 18 to 44 – Rob Eavis

Obstacle Course – male over 45 – Wookey (are you really that old, Wookey??)


Ario Caves Project

This isn’t really news, but I want to take the opportunity to wish the Ario Caves Project the very best of luck with their summer.

They’re leaving in about a week from now, and are all working very hard at washing and preparing ropes, putting together shelters for underground camps, and double checking that all the rest of the necessary clatch is in place. I’ve seen them at work these last days and you can see the tremendous amount of effort and preparation that’s going into making it work as smoothly as these things can go. I remember that sense of rush, the insuperable, seemingly endless series of jobs that always finishes (always, miraculously, just in time) when you slam the boot of the car, get in, and say “right, now we’ve just got to get there”…

I can’t make it out this year – the Congress in Brno is making a big hole in my expedition season – and already I’m deeply jealous. The Picos de Europa is one of the loveliest caving areas in the world; wild but not harsh, grand, but still on a human scale. The cave that is the prime objective – Pozu del Xitu (as I still call it, although not the best local name as we’ve found recently) is possibly the best trip out there, so far. Challenging, varied, not unduly nasty and with some excellent situations. Plus, I’ve had some cracking days caving in there over the last couple of years with some very good mates; it’s that sort of cave, and the expeditions to the Picos are those sort of trips.

But this year, all that’s to do is to feel proud to have been part of the tradition of exploration out there; to look at old photos; and to wish the team heading out a grand old time and a safe return.

New van and premises

The news for this week is that we have new premises in Richmond – the new business address is:

Unit 4C, 4/5 Fairfield Way,

Gallowfields Industrial Estate,

Richmond, North Yorkshire

DL10 4TB

We are also going to have a new vehicle – it’s a bit smaller and niftier so we can hopefully get up the track to Whitewalls at long last. We’ll be out with the new pickup from the weekend of 18th/19th May (TSG).

This is a picture of the chaos of moving in:

Starting to bring order to chaos....