CUCC Expedition Handbook
This is far from a complete checklist, as no recent leaders have
stepped forward to write the guide. However, it is a series of notes
outlining some expo jobs and giving a vague timetable. It will be
as useful if someone says "this is complete tosh" and writes a better one,
as if it actually provides some help!
In order to make sure that various necessary jobs get done, it is
always best to assign tasks to specific people, since otherwise everyone
thinks that someone else will be doing it. Define responsibilities early!
- Overall coordinator and motivator.
- Collects deposits to fund gear-buying. Keep track of accounts and
sends out expo bills in the autumn. Provides expo tallies book.
- If you are going to pursue sponsorship, start early (you will be
competing with many similar groups and most potential sponsors will
be more impressed by an air of efficient organisation than one of last
- This covers more than just rope and hangers. Will need to liaise
closely with sponsorship officer and club Tackle Master.
- The logistics of getting 20 or so cavers and half a tonne of miscellaneous
gear out to Austria, on a shoestring budget with a limited number of cars, are
daunting. Whoever does this probably ought to be a driver themselves, so they
know what's involved.
- Project officers
- If there is a special project which has its own special needs (radios,
aerial photos or whatever), it may be best to have one person specifically
- Previous expo members can help a great deal, even if they are not going.
Don't be afraid to ask questions, solicit suggestions, or ask for help with
equipment or training. Keeping older members involved will also make it
more likely that they will return to expo in the future. This is particularly
useful in view of the amount of information which is still not written down
adequately, like where to find cave XYZ etc.
Every expedition depends on the work of previous expos. The first priority
is to make sure that all the work of last year's expo is finished. This means
trips written up in logbook, survey data into the survey book, question mark
lists made up (both new questions marks added and ones dealt with removed to
the "done" list). Each piece of survey drawing and each missing passage
description or rigging guide should be assigned to a specific person so you
know whom to hassle. This should be the job of last year's expo committee, of
course (especially as this work needs to be started well before the next expo
starts to become organised), but the current year's leadership needs to check
that everything has been done as soon as they start organising.
- All survey data from field notes to survey book
- Survey book photocopied for security - copies to librarian and webmaster.
- Logbook typed in.
- Passage descriptions written
- Question mark lists compiled
- Full surveys drawn up
- List of Equipment left in Austria up to date
- If sponsors asked for reports on their products or photos of them in
use: get them done promptly, before the main report
- Report written for Sponsors
- Report written for Descent/Speleology (basically same report
but a rather different emphasis)
- Filled in forms for new cave numbers given (or sent) to Robert TWC.
Preparing for the next expo
- Get some people interested ! Don't intimidate your novices by making
them think that expo is compulsory and hard, but do hold it up as one of
the main aims of the club and well worth getting competent for. A few expo
pictures in any squash presentation are always worth while.
- Start motivating your core of experienced cavers by New Year - you
will need to start assigning jobs to people by then, and an idea of the
size of the expedition is essential when looking for sponsorship or applying
- Establish some goals. Last year's members will know whether there are
major projects to do or lots of smaller ones, or just prospecting. Knowing
the main goals establishes the style of the expedition. Its no use hoping
to tackle promising leads far from an entrance with a small expo of
relative novices, nor can you keep a large crew of hard cavers happy with
B-leads near the entrance. The potential personnel help to define the goals
- A budget ! If you have some goals, you can estimate what gear is needed,
and therefore how much you will need to buy it. Having clear accounts from
previous expo treasurers will help.
- Get an idea of numbers - get a deposit off people to provide a float.
First deposit should be refundable on cancellation so you can get some
finance without forcing people to commit. You are looking for the experienced
cavers at this stage, but you should be able to make a guess at how many
new expo-goers you will get from the general state of the club.
Once you have an idea of the size and style of expo
- Get grant applications in early - keep copies of all correspondence so
that you know what has actually been applied for!
- Ghar Parau / Sports Council: the main grant to expo as a whole
- College travel grants: motivate individuals to apply, make sure deadlines
- Alex Pitcher Award: any motivated new expo-goer can apply for this award
(admin by Ghar Parau committee). Usually a job for whichever of this year's
novices seems the keenest: if this individual then does not actually go, we
have to return the money (obviously), and our chances of getting it in future
years decrease sharply.
- Other grants, bursaries, awards etc.: always keep a look-out for new
sources of cash - perhaps for some unique piece of gear that this year's
expo will need, or maybe some existing scheme has a different emphasis
this year and caving might qualify.
- Start pursuing sponsorship. The first step is to work out what equipment
and supplies the expedition needs. It is always best to approach a sponsor for
some specific item rather than a generic plea for help. If you can convince
them that you think their particular piece of gear or food is the best the expo
could get, all the better.
- Other equipment: make sure you know what gear we have, and what we need.
Some stuff will have been left in Austria, and there should be a list. Some
stuff will have been binned (rope, especially) and will need replacing.
New members will probably need new personal gear for expo (tents, for
example). Get contract price lists for people like Field and Trek or
Cotswold. Bigger orders tend to get bigger discounts, so coordination helps
everyone save money.
- Survey gear may need servicing. Books, pencils etc. need replacing.
Remember to buy envelopes for saving loose sheets of field notes.
Getting people committed
By Easter you should have broken the back of the administration, but
you will still be surrounded by people who haven't decided / haven't paid.
Organising transport is one of the biggest nightmares and the sooner you
know who is going and when, the easier this gets. Getting a second (non-
refundable) deposit off people helps to tie them down.
- Names, dates, deposits, commitments. Names for expo caving insurance.
- Find the best ferry/tunnel deals. This may mean booking in advance,
so where possible do so.
- Tell the Austrians when we are coming. Make sure we have permission
for top camp. Have any serious political developments occurred since last
- Tell Hilde and Karin when we are coming.
- Make sure people are competent. This is mainly for new people, as those who
have been before will know what to expect. SRT training sessions (or some good
serious trips), surveying practice on the surface or underground in the UK.
- Motivate people to read the website so that they know what is being
talked about and might form their own ideas of which projects will interest
- A pre-expo Yorkshire meet (and summer dinner) with exCS so your novices
have met the old lags before expo.
There should be nothing left to the last minute (ho ho !).
But unless you are an amazing organiser with unbelievably cooperative
expo members of exceptional competence and self-reliance, there will be
a panic for the last couple of weeks at least.
- Passports ! Yes, people do forget them. You need them to get out of
the UK, after which they are (mostly) superfluous.
- Expo computer - up to date with all the documentation and survey data.
- Expo handbook - printed versions of the various how-to-do-it guides
and the list of known and missing entrances. A list of projects with an
idea of the work involved in each might also be useful (based on the expo
goals file and various QM lists).
- Next of Kin ("the death-list"), contact numbers for parents or whatever.
Usually resides in the:
- Bier book, which should be properly produced and bound; if it falls to bits
and has to be reconstructed from the sweepings of the potato hut floor, the
expo treasurer's job will be almost completely impossible.
- Remember to book good weather for the full five weeks - this gets
forgotten nearly every year :-)
Have fun, don't push so hard that it gets dangerous, the caves will still
be there next year.
- Call-out book - make sure everyone uses it, and notes actual TU after
trip (zero if trip failed to happen).
- Log Book - get people to write trips up as soon as possible. If passage
names are decided later, go back and write them in, as it makes the log a
lot more usable. Standards of logbook writing have been a little poor lately;
there are certain repeat offenders who should be strongly encouraged to write
- Survey calibration - make sure people do it, or at least record which
instruments they used.
- Survey book - as soon as surveyors are at base camp, get this written
up - don't let anyone go home without writing up their survey!!!
- Photos - make sure some are taken, preferably underground in new finds.
If sponsors asked for photos, take relevant ones, eg. photos of their
products in use. Don't be stingy with film on this - two or three
photos of all the sponsorship stuff together is not adequate.
Before going home
- DERIG !! - sorry folks, but this is essential :-)
- OK, some fixed ropes may be left in. Make sure you know what has been
left (when left, age; length; diameter and type of rope, what is it
belayed to). This info needs to be used to update the
Fixed Aids list. Remember to record any fixed
aids which were derigged, too!
- New Caves or old ones documented - fill in forms and give to Robert
(or leave at Staud'nwirt for him - don't bring them home!) to get kataster
number. Keep copies to bring back to UK.
Back in the UK
It's easy to relax when you get home, and then meet up at the BCRA
conference in a state of panic because there are no slides, no-one to do
the talk, no surveys etc. Timescales are short and expo members are dotted
around the country. Not everyone will come to BCRA. But the quality of the
talk affects the size of next year's expo grant since the people who
administer the cash will all be there and good impressions do count.
- Photos - make sure they are developed promptly and that whoever is
doing the BCRA talk gets them in advance.
- BCRA talk - ensure person who is doing it is briefed about things that
went on when he/she wasn't present on expo.
- Surveys - should have been processed in Austria. Get surveys of
significant new finds drawn up. Go through the survey books and produce
a Question Mark list while things are still fresh in memory (unlike 1998
- Sponsors - keep sponsors interested if you want stuff next year.
Send a preliminary report and any photos of their products (especially if
they specifically asked for any). Make sure the webmaster has a list of
sponsors so the relevant web page is up to date (unlike 1998 expo).
- Archive everything with CUCC Librarian and Webmasters. Latter, in
particular, want copies of all files changed or added on expo machine,
copies of Log Book, Call-out Book, TU tally from the beer book, KH and not-KH
survey books (preferably after QM numbers written in but before BCRA),
Top Camp log book (if there was one) and any cave description forms given to
the Austrian Cavers to get new kataster numbers.
- Update this page with ideas/suggestions of what was missing ;-)
- Go back to "Have we finished ?" and start again