CUCC Expedition Handbook - New Cave

Creating a new cave in the online system

Great, I have discovered a new cave...

So, you have staggered off the plateau with a fist-full of notes and surveys, and you want to let the world know of your massive discovery.


After 40 years or so, we have a well-defined process which you will need to learn. Read all this list first, then follow the instructions section by section which tell you how to actually do these things.

and either later or at the same time, you will be doing these other tasks

This documentation assumes that you have recorded your survey data in a waterproof paper notebook. If instead you are using a PDA to record the survey readings digitally for your first cave, don't. Use the paper process first, then when you are familiar the overall process, look at the PDA additional notes.

Starting a new wallet

  1. Put all your written notes into the next empty "wallet": (a transparent folder/envelope) in this year's lever-arch file labelled e.g. "Expo Survey 2018" in the potato hut*.
  2. The wallet has a paper sticky label on it with the wallet-identifier, e.g. 2018#22, already printed on the label.
  3. Write the date and the names of the people on the trip on the label.
  4. Tick whether your trip was a surface or a cave trip.
  5. Write the name of the cave (with number if you know it), e.g. "264 Balkon"
  6. Write the area in the cave you did your surveying, e.g. "mongol rally"
  7. Now turn to the index sheets at the front of the folder, and fill in the line (e.g. 2018#22) for your wallet
  8. Now, if you have not done it immediately after you left the cave, photograph all the pages of survey notes with your phone. Get one or more of the people also on the trip to do this too.

* As people spend longer and longer at top camp, we may establish a wallet file at top camp too, with pre-allocated numbers.

The original notes and sketches should be filed in the clearly marked wallet. Rip them out of the notebook, don't take them caving again and don't leave them lying around to be "Gössered"!

The notes (all of them, including dates, personnel, calibration, LRUD, station details, etc.) should be filed away in the wallet in the current year's surveys file. You should include a transcription on a sheet of paper if they are illegible (to other people; if you can't read them yourself, go back and do the survey again!). Even if you do this, never throw away the original notes.

Scan the notes into the online wallet

Each wallet has a corresponding folder in the online system where a record is kept of what information is in the wallet and where the corresponding survey data is filed:


This is where the scanned (or photographed) copies of the survey notes are kept.

To use the scanner attached to the expo laptop, select the "Simple Scan" icon from the vertical menu of icons which you get by clicking on "Activities" in the top lefthand corner of the screen.

[ Normal people should skip this,
  but nerds need to look here for the online wallet maintenance process ].

If your initial backup photos of your notes were poor quality, use the scanner in the potato hut to make better copies. Scan to JPEG format as .jpg files.

Name the scanned pages "notes1.jpg, notes2.jpg" etc. This is important as a script detects whether these files exist and if you name them something else it will hassle you unnecessarily.

Scanned survey notes are voluminous and so are not kept in the version control system. Instead it is all kept in the file bucket "expofiles" on the expo server in Cambridge.

You will be using the expo laptop to do the scanning and you will put all the scan files in the folder for your wallet, e.g. for 2018#19 it is:

and tell someone nerdy when you have finished and they will ensure that it is copied to the expo server. [ If you want to do this yourself, or are using your own laptop, then learn how to use Filezilla - as documented for uploading your expo photographs. The correct folder on the expo server is the same as that on the expo laptop- because we set up the expo laptop to be like that. But only copy files to the server that you created yourself and which live in your own wallet folder ]

Storing your electronic survey files

If you used a PDA instead of making notes on paper, you need to store your .topo files in the right place.

If you using the expo laptop you can put the .topo files in a special "X" folder for your virtual wallet, as there is no physical wallet, e.g. for 2018#X16 it would be:

and tell someone nerdy when you have finished and they will ensure that it is copied from the expo laptop to the expo server.

[ If all else fails, use the "Upload your photos" documented process and store the .topo files where you would have stored your .jpg photo files. Otherwise you can email all the .topo files to a friendly nerd who will put them in the right place. ]

to be further documented - probably in a separate page

Typing in the survey data in survex format

[This has been described in several places and we are in the process of consolidating the documentation and getting rid of out of date notes.]

The survey data typed up must include all the notes, including station details and passage names. Make a backup copy to another machine or USB stick as soon as you have typed it in. New users will be using the expo laptop to create the .svx file and you will put it in the folder

and tell someone nerdy when you have finished and they will ensure that it is saved, committed, and pushed appropriately.

If you have several parts of the cave surveyed on one trip, create several distinct .svx files.

[Nerds: survex cave data belongs in the repository "loser", e.g. loser "caves-1623/264/mongolrally.svx". We are assuming that normal users have never worked with an distributed version control system at this point whcih is why we are only telling them to use the expo laptop.]

Running survex to create a centre-line

to be documented

Transcribing and re-scanning your sketches

to be documented See drawing up the sketches.

The files of your scanned and re-scanned sketches should be stored in the same folder as the scanned notes, i.e. (for wallet #19) you would put them in:


Using tunnel (or therion) for final survey production

to be documented

Tunnel only produces plan surveys, but they are very pretty.

The tunnel (or therion) files should NOT stored in the same folder as the scanned notes. They should be uploaded to the version control repository //tunneldata//.

Interim rigging guide

The logbook is the place where we record the rigging of caves as we discover them.

When a cave is derigged, a good way of getting the rope lengths for your rigging guide is to leave the knots in ropes removed so they can be measured, but these days our caves are a bit deep and complicated for this to be feasible. Although a good survey and details of the belays can be used to estimate the length of rope needed, this is no substitute for measuring how much rope it actually took to rig.

Guidebook description and final rigging guide

This is the last thing to do - typically after all exploration has been finished for the summer. The rigging guide sections will have been written into the logbook, and the passage descriptions will have been written into the survex files, with more lyrical descriptions written into the logbook for each trip.

to be documented

Write a passage descriptions by copying and extending the descriptions given in all the component .svx files.

This should be detailed enough to be followed by someone in the cave who hasn't been there before, and should include all passage names, lengths of pitches and climbs, compass directions when this makes left/right/ahead clearer. If your passage is a connection it is worth while writing descriptions from both directions.

In written descriptions, underline passage names the first time they are mentioned, or when they are "defined".

You will type this description, and pass it on to someone more nerdy who will file it in the right place. This will involve "creating a new cave" using the troggle system.

to be documented

Complementing the passage description in vertical bits is a Rigging Guide. This is usually easiest to do as a sketch, but include notes to ensure that all bolts can be found again and any deviations and natural belays recognised.

to be completed