Diving news – Sneznya in Abkhasia

Tony is on his way home from Abkhasia having found the way on from the Lake of Mozorov at the bottom of Sneznya Cave (-1800m). A sump of about 250m leads to large open passage ending in a boulder choke.

Taking your Scurion in hand luggage – Dubai warning

Scurion have reminded us that normal IATA rules say you should be able to carry your Scurion (or any Li-ion light) in your hand luggage provided the labelling on the battery is not worn so that the security officer can’t tell what he or she is dealing with. However there have been rumours of cavers flying via Dubai (e.g. to Meghalaya) having their Scurion confiscated. See http://scurion.ch/jm/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=218:transport-of-li-ion-batteries-in-airplaines-&catid=40:faq&Itemid=63&lang=en

Breakthrough beyond Ink Sump

The boulder choke in the roof of Doom’s Retreat Aven beyond Ink Sump in Peak Cavern has been breached and a way on found into a large chamber beyond, “Endeavour”. There is a further climb, passage and chamber above Endeavour. For the moment the team is concentrating on consolidation work, mainly strengthening and enlarging the shaft from Doom’s Retreat to Endeavour. Radio location has shown that the surveyed location of Doom’s Retreat is accurate with reference to the surface but it has not so far been possible to measure the depth of the chamber from the surface.

This is a significant breakthrough after many years of work on the other side of a 200m dive, and it seems that the logistics of supply have been daunting. Congratulations to everyone involved.

Neanderthal cave dwellers dated to 176,500 BC

Structure built of broken stalactites (photo Michel Soulier, www.libération.fr)

The French newspaper LibĂ©ration reports that a structure discovered in a cave in the Aveyron gorge, which is made of broken stalactites arranged in a circle, has been dated to 176,500 BC (by uranium/thorium dating of the calcite on the surface of the broken piece, compared to the base of overlying calcite deposited after the structure had been created). It is believed that the structure was made by people because there is evidence also of fires being lit inside the circle. If the interpretation is right, this is the earliest manmade structure found in a cave so far, and is over a hundred thousand years older than Lascaux and Chauvet. This is extraordinary because there were no Homo Sapiens in France 176,500 years ago – the structure must have been made by Neanderthal man. Hitherto (the article says) it had not been believed that Neanderthal man made art or created anything for non-subsistence, cultural reasons. Have a look at http://www.liberation.fr/futurs/2016/05/25/surprise-a-bruniquel-neandertal-explorait-deja-les-grottes-il-y-a-176-000-ans_1455127

Draenen entrance – care needed

The PDCMG tell us that following the failure of a couple of timbers at the bottom of the Draenen entrance series scaffolded shaft, work has begun on inspecting and replacing the current shuttering. A team from Morgannwg and Brynmawr CCs has started the work, which involves very carefully knocking out the current timbers and replacing them one at a time. Most of the newly-installed timbers are permanent, but at the moment there are a couple of pieces towards the bottom of the shaft which are temporary and will be re-engineered on future trips.

Teams are being asked to take extra care in the scaffolded shaft for the next couple of months. Work on the side walls of a shaft inevitably disturbs the choke, and some movement is likely.

Titan open!

On the weekend of 13th-14th February, remedial work on the entrance to Titan was completed after months of hard work.

Dave Nixon is taking bookings for trips to take place after March 13th. Further details are on the Peak / Speedwell website:


Many thanks and congratulations are due to the team of volunteers who have worked over the last fourteen months to the benefit of the caving community as a whole. Especial mention of Dave Nixon who was instrumental in the whole project.

Eldon Hole Ground Anchors – warning

DCC tell us that they are replacing the Eldon Hole ground anchors and the bollards at the top of the East and West routes were partially cut through yesterday before their grinder battery ran out. The two damaged bollards will be replaced completely within a couple of weeks, but in the meantime they are asking people not to use them.

The North and South route ground anchors are ok.

Photos from diving trip – Snezhnaya-Mezhennogo

Getting ready to go up the hill. The truck takes you 5km up to the start of the trail (but it wasn’t available for us on the way down!)

The cave entrance is just up the hill.

Getting ready to go underground for 6 days.

God knows how I managed to scrape the end of my nose. This is after a night’s sleep!


Titan entrance temporarily closed

Access to Titan entrance shaft has been temporarily suspended. The glass fibre rings and the metal stemples in the middle section are showing “signs of severe deformation” and are believed to be at risk of immediate failure. See www.peakdistrictcaving.info.

Empires of Rock

Forthcoming event this week: Andy Eavis, Roo Walters and Frank Pearson will be talking about the most spectacular caves in the world and Cumbria, at the Rheged Centre at 7pm on Saturday 28th November.