New CNCC Anchor Scheme

11 June 2017

In March the CNCC voted to appoint an Anchor Coordinator, and agreed to the expenditure of up to £3900 to purchase approximately 650 CNCC-owned IC stainless steel resin anchors for use in our region. Work is now ongoing to bring this to fruition and we hope that production on the anchors can commence soon. These are the first steps in revitalising CNCC-sponsored anchor installation and replacement in our region. More news will follow in due course.

A history of anchor research and installation

Spanning three decades, the CNCC Technical Group were endorsed to install stainless steel resin bonded anchors in northern caves. Their work saw installations in many of the most popular potholes, replacing older spits which were starting to become unserviceable. Their work was published in the CNCC Rigging Guides and their extremely familiar and popular rigging topos are now available on the CNCC website and in the recent book ‘Northern Caving’ (Les Sykes, 2015).

Undoubtedly the northern caving community owes the CNCC Technical Group gratitude for this excellent work.

The CNCC Technical Group have always been independent from the CNCC (despite their name). In 2014, work slowed down partly due to some issues with a recent batch of anchors (which were supplied in the wrong grade of stainless steel) and then due to issues sourcing more satisfactory anchors.

A new type of anchor

At about this time, Simon Wilson was working on developing the IC anchor, an alternative laser-cut stainless steel anchor with benefits over the traditional P-type resin anchors.

The IC anchors were designated as the CNCC’s preferred anchor in 2015 owing to their conservation benefits.

The IC anchor group has operated independently from (but endorsed by) the CNCC from 2015 to present day. They have installed anchors in a number of potholes across our region including Rift Pot, It’s a Cracker, Long Drop, Large Pot Red Herring Series, Birks Fell Cave, Car Pot, FOUL Pot, Gingling Hole and others. Much of this early work has been personally funded by the IC anchor team, but now that the scheme is becoming more active, this is not sustainable.

Securing the future of CNCC anchor installation

Over the last year the CNCC has discussed bringing anchor installation within the Council, rather that endorsing an independent group. It was clear that many cavers already (mistakenly) believed this to be the case. In fact, it is a recommendation of the BCA Equipment and Techniques anchor policy that Regional Councils do take an involvement in anchor placement.

On the approach to our AGM this year, a suggestion was put forward by Simon Wilson to make this happen.

At our AGM on 11th March 2017, the CNCC voted unanimously in favour of accepting this suggestion. This includes agreeing to the expenditure of up to £3900 to purchase approximately 650 commercially produced, CNCC-owned IC stainless steel resin anchors for use in our region. The BCA Equipment and Techniques Group have kindly agreed to assist funding up to approximately half the total cost, the remainder being from CNCC funds.

We also voted to appoint Simon as the CNCC anchor coordinator to oversee the anchor scheme in our region.

Work is now ongoing to bring this to fruition. We hope that production of the anchors can commence later this year. These are the first steps in revitalising CNCC-sponsored anchor installation in our region, and will go on to include appointment of at least one additional installation trainer, and additional anchor installers as required.

These exciting changes will help support anchor installation in our region for the immediate future.

It's not all about installing new anchors

Remember though that the anchor scheme is not always about installing new anchors. Much of it is about keeping track of existing anchors. Cavers are strongly encouraged to report any anchors that they deem defective through the CNCC website so that information about unsatisfactory anchors can be collected to help us plan for longer term initiatives. Remember that it is a requirement that ALL users of resin anchors inspect EVERY anchor before use and make your own decision as to whether they are satisfactory for use. Lots of information on how to inspect anchors and report unsatisfactory ones can be found on our website - https://cncc.org.uk/fixed-aids

More news will follow in due course.

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