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New Fixed Aid in OFD II

by Gary Vaughan, 14 December 2013

Those longer standing members amongst us will recall the Fixed Aids Working Party and the passion that sometimes goes hand in hand with the debate over the pros and cons of fixed aids.

By way of explanation to newer members, fixed aids exist in a number of places throughout the caves controlled by SWCC. Some exist because without the fixed aid it would not be possible to access a particular section of the cave or a particular passage. Although not an SWCC fixed aid, the Rising Ladder in Dan yr Ogof is a good example of such an aid. Other fixed aids exist on the grounds of safety on main routes. Without the fixed aid a hazard would exist that would offer un-acceptably high risk to the vast majority of cavers. A good example of this are the poles across the deep pots in the OFD I streamway.

Fixed aids also exist to help conserve the cave and to prevent un-necessary wear and tear to delicate areas. A good example of this would again be found in Dan yr Ogof in the form of the hand line around the crystal pool.

There is a proposal to install a new hand line in OFD II to protect a formation which is recognised as being at risk of severe damage. The formation in question is the crystal pool that is found half way along the connecting passage between the bottom end of Northern Canyon and Edwards Shortcut. Some members may know this section of cave as the Elephant Trap. The proposal is to install a hand line so as to persuade people not to climb the steep sand face immediately alongside the crystal pool.

SWCC committee recognises the sensitivity of the proposal and would welcome comments and contributions from members. There is to be a site inspection of the area on Saturday 18th January and a decision on the best form of protection to the crystal pool will be made by the committee at the meeting that evening.

If you would like to contribute to the decision making process can you please let me know in time for your views to be taken into account on 18th January. E-mail me gary@dorsetland.co.uk or telephone on 01202 896481.