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Letter to the BB

S.R.T. Tackle

Whilst welcoming Tim Large¬ís comment about the proposed S.R.T. equipment in the last BB., I would like to put forward the other side of the debate.  I should first take issue with some of the points he has raised.

1.                  No record of a discussion about S.R.T. at an AGM has been found so, presumably there is no set club policy about the equipment

2.                  The suggested tackle would not be for general club use.

3.                  a. The tackle would be stored off Mendip and would only be used on organised club meets in Yorkshire, Derbyshire etc. (This is a system already used very successfully by other Mendip caving clubs).

b. The Tackle Master would administer it and keep a log of usage. He would also check for damage and say when a rope is unsafe.

c. There is a demand for group S.R.T. equipment amongst the younger, less wealthy members of the club.  In real terms we do not have the facility to teach the up and coming keener members the basics of modern vertical caving techniques, let alone bottom any respectable Yorkshire pot.

d.  A basic stock of maillons, hangers etc should be kept a a foundation to be supplemented by the individuals on the trip.

4.                  On the Berger trip, worries were expressed for two reasons, the main one being misuse of equipment due to the inexperience of various members of the team.  I would have thought that their experience should have been gained closer to home in order that they may not jeopardise an expensive and well organised trip abroad.  The Berger S.R.T. training meets showed up a lack of basic knowledge in several members of the party.

5.                  If the tackle were kept in the Tackle Shed for general use, would be inclined to agree with Tim that its safety would always be suspect and the hardware would disappear in no time.  However, as I suggested in point 3, this would not be the case.

6.                  What can possibly be more important than caving equipment in a caving club??  We have just spent a small fortune in refurbishing the hut (and very nice it is too), but surely the ultimate objective 15 to get people caving proficiently.

In summary, it is unrealistic to expect the younger members of the club to cave solely on ladder when a much wider scope to their activities is offered to them with S.R.T. There is, of course, a responsibility to the individual to equip himself with a reasonable amount of equipment but you cannot expect anyone to be self sufficient in ropes, bolts etc for a long Yorkshire trip.

Clearly it is a subject that is open to debate.  As Caving Secrtetary I have been asked to organise some Yorkshire trips and do not propose to bottom large systems on ladder.  Nor do I intend to leave it to chance that the Individuals coming might just be able to muster up enough ropes, hangers etc. for the job.  The only alternative as I see it is to forget the ideas of meets elsewhere in the country and let the club potter around the hill on ladder with individual members taking the initiative upon themselves for more ambitious trips - but doesn't that make a mockery of the existence of a large caving club in the first place?

The committee will not go ahead with the purchase of Club Meet S.R.T. tackle without first publishing its exact proposals and ensuring that it is carrying out the wishes of the caving members, so let us know what you want.