Concerns over unsafe cave

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Concerns over unsafe cave

Postby Lynn » Nov 14, 2005 11:29 pm

Concerns over unsafe cave
15/11/2005 16:06:03

Search and rescue officials on the West Coast are concerned that competitors in an adventure race have been given the go-ahead to use an unsafe cave.

The Department of Conservation has approved the race going through the Te Tahi cave near Westport later this week.
But police are criticising the move, believing the safety of competitors is at risk.

Tasman District Search and Rescue Coordinator Russell Tucker hopes race organisers have a rescue plan if something goes wrong.

He says otherwise it will fall to the same people who have opposed the move.

Source: ... ryID=84154 CAVERS, CAVES & CAVING PHOTOS
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Postby NZcaver » Nov 15, 2005 1:46 am

And for those who are wondering, this "West Coast" cave is in a little country called New Zealand... :grin:

Haven't had the pleasure of visiting that one myself, mostly because I don't pay to do tourist caves. :wink:
But there is some info and photos of the cave here:

For now I am sitting on the fence with this debate. Any wild opinions out there on the ethics of adventure racing through caves? :shock:
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Postby cob » Nov 15, 2005 7:02 pm

nothing you wouldn't expect to hear...
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Postby Cheryl Jones » Nov 16, 2005 11:09 pm

Cave stays open for Coast race
17 November 2005

An 11th-hour bid by police and caving experts to stop the world adventure race going underground has failed, despite safety concerns for international athletes.

Department of Conservation (DOC) staff yesterday met police and search-and-rescue experts to discuss safety fears raised as the competitors prepare to enter West Coast's Te Tahi cave.

However, DOC remained firm that provided race organisers and competitors stuck to their rules, the cave was safe to use.

Renowned multisport athlete Steve Gurney also supported the decision to include the cave in the race, challenging the concerns of police search-and-rescue experts and caving group New Zealand Speleological Society which says the underground leg of the race is unsafe for competitors and may damage the cave itself.

Gurney said the fit, professional and highly-trained athletes were less likely to injure themselves in the cave than members of the public during a weekend visit.

He believed police and cavers were underestimating the experience of top athletes and the safety precautions considered by race organisers.

"First of all, no-one wants to get injured or die in these races. We expect some scratches or bruises but we don't want to get stuck in these caves," Gurney said.

"Secondly, they've blocked entrances and set up tape everywhere – what's the next step, cotton wool? Do we want to go through and hold their hands?"

Gurney said he was frustrated by a growing attitude of fear toward outdoor activity and believed young people were losing out because events were being cancelled as a result of safety concerns.

"Police have to understand that most of those athletes have been in caves before and those that haven't are experts in the individual components of caving."

In response to concerns raised about potential damage to the cave itself, Gurney said adventure racers were the ultimate "greenies", who spent most of their lives in the outdoors and would not like to see ecological systems harmed.

Gurney admitted he nearly lost his life after racing through a cave in Borneo 11 years ago, but that was due to a cut becoming infected while inside the cave, rather than the result of an accident.

Police yesterday remained unmoved by Gurney's appeals.

Tasman district search and rescue assistant co-ordinator Sherp Tucker said so-called "skilled" adventurers were pulled out of dangerous situations by rescuers all the time.

"If you have a look at the people we go and look for, we go and look for adventurers and other people with these so-called skills," he said.

Tucker said search and rescue staff were making no specific preparations for racers expected to reach the cave today. At a meeting with race organisers he had made it clear that their safety procedures should make it unnecessary for the police to step it.

If they were called, it meant something had not been done correctly, Tucker said.,2106,348 ... 23,00.html
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Te Tahi is a challenging little cave

Postby Dave Bunnell » Dec 2, 2005 12:08 am

I've been to Te Tahi, in fact there will be a write-up about this, with photos, as part of my write-up of New Zealand caves in the January News.

I suppose an adventure race might cause no more impact in this cave than the cave-for-pay operations that already take people through. There is a pit entrance of 90 feet and lots of climbing, squeezing, and water. I can't imagine trying to move quickly through such a thing, though, and the risk of injury seems very real. I can see where damage might occur in parts of it if people are moving too quickly.

This is a much more serious cave trip than the one Primal Quest did here in California's Mother Lode country, that was written about in the NSS News a couple years ago.

Hey, NZ caver, might you be Dainella?

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Re: Te Tahi is a challenging little cave

Postby NZcaver » Dec 2, 2005 1:06 am

Dave Bunnell wrote:Hey, NZ caver, might you be Dainella?

No, Dave - wrong sex. 8) But some other cavers I know have mentioned her name to me. :wink:
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