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Cuthberts Rescue

by Keith Franklin

A party of six from The Pegasus Club were taken down St. Cuthbert’s on the 20th August by Phil Kingston and Keith Franklin.  The cave was entered at approximately mid-day, the route having been decided as Pulpit – Bypass – September – Catgut – Duck and out.  After looking at September Series, it was decided to visit Cone Chamber on the way out.  It was during this part of the trip that Barry of Pegasus fell about four feet dislocating his shoulder in the process.  Later discussion determined that his hand hold had come away and probably fallen on him, thus causing the dislocation.  Phil left, with another member of the party for the surface when the full extent of the injury had been ascertained, and gave the call-out at the Hunters at approximately 2.30pm.  The M.R.O. were alerted and a doctor sent for.  Meanwhile the injured person was now in a more comfortable spot, but it soon became apparent that for his well being, an attempt should be made to get him out of the cave, hoping to meet the doctor of the way in.  It says much for Barry’s mental and physical powers that he had got as far as the ‘S’ bend in the ruckle before meeting up again with Phil, who had come back with carrying sheet in case it was needed.  The telephone party were contacted in High Chamber and after finding that the doctor had not yet entered the cave, it was decided to keep moving.  The Old Route out was selected as the most suitable way out.

Fairly rapid progress was made, with Barry being able to help himself, until Pillar Chamber was reached where the party was strengthen by three who brought ropes for the pitches. Dr. O.C. Lloyd joined the rescue in Upper Mud Hall and made two attempts to reduce the dislocation.  These apparently failed, but on moving off again and climbing the ladder out of Mud Hall Barry felt his shoulder go back in. Besides giving a psychological boost it also gave Barry more manoeuvrability, as he had previously been restricted to a half stooping position – being the one which gave him the least pain.  The rest of the trip out was fairly uneventful.  Barry climbed the entrance pitch mainly unaided using his legs only through two loops of rope for support, and reached the surface at 6.40pm.  He was taken to hospital by car and was discharged the same evening.

The lessons learned form this rescue are difficult to say.  The surface organisation was left mainly to the B.E.C. and it functioned most efficiently (although one party was kept on standby for far too long at Young’s farm for which I make an apology).  All decisions that had to be made underground proved effective and all things considered, the rescue proceeded satisfactorily.  As was shown in the Stafford rescue so much depends on the victim.  Barry, being a very experienced caver, is also a leading member of the Derbyshire C.R.O. and undoubtedly his physical condition, and even more his mental attitude contributed much to the success of the rescue.  There are factors which can only be assessed at the time, but these are the ones that play the most important part in a rescue of this type (i.e. where the victim is mobile and is able to help himself to some extent).

P.S.  The fixed tackle on the Old Route was essential to the success of this rescue!

P.P.S.  Place no trust at all on any hand or foothold in September series!


We have received a request from the U.B.S.S. to publicise their rule that NO CARBIDE LAMPS ARE PERMITTED IN THE LADDER DIG EXTENSION IN G.B.  PLEASE NOTE!!!!!