SLUGS Newsletter – October 2000

How can we top the amazing Tresviso experience? Never before have so many SLUGS gathered together in one place. If you missed it, no description can convey the wonder. George Shaw and Dick Willis are going to put together a website of people’s photos, stories, musings etc., so please send them whatever you can. Chris Baxter (El Caudillo) has appended a valedictory piece.

Stop Press from Colin: Just a quickie to let you and your readership know that at 10.40pm on Monday 23 October on BBC One under the series 'Extreme Lives' there is the film 'The Road to Certain Death' being shown. There's a lot about cave diver Gavin Newman, a bit of me and an incey-wincey bit of everyone who was on the 1979 Tresviso expedition.

Address changes / new members:

Unfortunately my hard disk crashed recently and I lost most of the amendments that people had kindly sent me since April. Could I ask you all to send them again please? I promise to do better next time. Any changes I did manage to rescue are incorporated in the attached address list. (Notify changes to Phil or Sue I’Anson.)


November 4-5 - Raw Head, Langdale, Lakes (GR 303067). A Fell and Rock Club cottage, ideally placed for walking, climbing, or just dossing in front of the fire. There will be a civic firework display in Ambleside that weekend, we understand. Contact Ken and Anne, 01254 883934

December 9-10 - Raw Head, Langdale, Lakes (GR 303067). As above, but colder.

John Boardman Ski Tours will be hosting a January 2001 trip, but no details firmed up yet. If you’re interested, contact John 01535 681863 (mobile 0777 5796270).

Henry Beakbane is also thinking about ski-ing with other people for the coming winter. Particularly keen on ski touring - Alpine or Telemark or might consider flat X-C. Orlando would probably like to snow board. If anyone is also thinking about it, could they get in contact please. 01562 820561

February 3-4, 2001 - Party at Phil and Rosie's, to liven up the dull and dark mid-winter. Kick off 7.30-ish, but there will be hot food available earlier (RSVP for this). Plenty of sleeping space. Other activities may be organised, weather permitting. 48 Rydal Road, Lancaster, 01524 36788.

February/March - OMC Hut, Crianlarich - the annual trip to Scotland in search of snow and ice (but not rain). Dates not yet confirmed: Contact Ken and Anne, 01254 883934.

Easter 2001- Trip to New Mexico: Jes Petersen writes: Flights Leeds Bradford to Dallas are about £350 adult, £230 child for week ending Friday 6th April. School holiday starts then for two weeks, but it is cheaper to go before school holidays start, so that means one or two days off school. Even cheaper before 31 March if any one is interested. My intention was to hire car from Dallas and drive approx 350 miles to Carlsbad Caverns National Park, southern New Mexico. There is the Carslsbad Caverns itself as a tourist cave to visit. If there are any cavers interested the Lechugilla complex is fascinating with a couple of short SRT entrance pitches, and then into a large system. Consent is required from the National Park for caving groups, and I am writing provisionally on behalf of "Slugs" indicating a that party of say 4 may be interested, and will report back on the National Park requirements. The rest of holiday to do kiddie things and a little walking in the park and other parks in New Mexico. There is camping and accomodation at the White City resort. I am writing for info. Is there anyone out there who may be interested? Can they contact me ASAP on 01642 397795 work or 01642 655574 home. The other question is whether anyone prefers the October half term 2001, when the weather should be more stable and offpeak fares should apply again?

May 5-7, 2001 (May Day Bank Holiday) - Cycle from Dalwhinnie to Culra Bothy, climb Ben Alder with Meg and Pete. 01925 263507 for details.


Simon Dawson has suggested that everyone submits a current photo and a short piece about what they are doing now, to be published in a future newsletter. If you're interested, please send details to him (40 Meadow View, Rolleston, Burton, Staffs DE13 9AN, UK).


I’m trying to get as many Slugs’ e-mail addresses as possible - it cuts down on the mailing costs and delays in receiving the newsletter. So let me know if you’re on e-mail. Phil Johnstone, 48 Rydal Road, Lancaster, LA1 3HA. 01524 37688. E-mail:

Tresviso 2000

Phil has been pestering me (quite rightly) to write some kind of round-up to the trip, so here goes.

5 years of anticipation, 1 year of preparation, a two week dream in Tresviso, rather humdrum thereafter.

Wasn't it great to be back? (I think I need Fran to kick me out of my reflective mood.)

Big thanks

Lots of people sent emails, cards, letters. Sorry I didn't reply individually - but very much appreciated - thank you. Thanks also for the whip-round (I apologise for not responding correctly at the presentation - too much beer). I spent it all in the bar - mostly on Jack's ice-cream habit. And thank you for the signed poster which I treasure.

Some facts and figures:-

Ex-expeditionaries - 35

Partners, friends etc. - 20

Offsprings - 38

Total - 93

(Sadly, Tony Hammes and Sheila Hurd had to cancel for parent health problems)

Members of 1975 expedition - 11 (plus an apology from Jonah who was caving in France - we weren't active enough)

The expedition now possesses - 2 toilet tents, 3 chemical toilets, one giant frame tent (16ft x 18ft), 2 cookers, numerous Gaz bottles, a very small tent, a camp bed, and who knows what else in my garage - any suggestions gratefully received.

A gift to Tresviso

We presented a plastic bag containing £265 and 81,000 Pesetas (roughly £590) to the village. This was extracted from camping fees with very generous donations from Jim Thompson, Fran and Sheila.

We had two ideas:-

1 A bench at the Tresviso end of the Sobra valley - where the villagers walk to on pleasant summer evenings.

2 A drinking fountain in the village.

Miguel liked the former, Javier the latter. Javier is currently the Mayor. So we left it for them to decide. We offered to arrange construction but they insisted on doing it themselves. They were keen to source the best materials (old oak timbers or good rock) and then, presumably, employ someone to make it. We thought a plaque would be a good idea and suggested some themes:-

the gratitude of cavers worldwide for the welcome given by Tresviso

a memorial to Tony Harrison

a memorial to Miguel and Javier's father

Discussions got totally lost in language difficulties so I don't know what's going to happen.

Jobs still left to do

Anna, of La Casa Gallega, Sotres, really wants a team photo taken on Janes's birthday - hope Mark S can help us out!

I think that's it - but I'm sure there are more. (I'll be sending a Christmas card to the bar - I think they might get quite a few.)

The big one - do we do it again?

I enjoyed the trip so much it's not true. I imagine I'm not the only one who found it almost too good - it was really painful going back to the routine. We're pretty lucky to have such a connection to a place like Tresviso and I fully expect to be back there in the next few years. And we're pretty lucky to be slugs (though why I should enjoy the company of a load of ugly, bearded blokes I don't quite understand - perhaps the delightful ladies make up for it, humph) and weren't the offsprings great?

I'm afraid I'm going to pass on the question - perhaps 5 years, perhaps 10 years - you know the real one to do is the 50th. I just don't know.

All the best



The awards

We didn't award prizes at the time but these are my nominations:-

Most organised person - Nicole Boardman (Actually it should read - Only organised person)

Least organised - always hotly contested - so a tie between:-

Jack and Orlando spending two hours retrieving the key to a bike lock from a crack in the limestone.

DB's Resplenda trip - taking 6 hours to find the entrance and only then realising they had forgotten to bring enough caving lights.

Grand team effort - a day on the beach - but going to 3 different beaches.

Most 'filled-out' person award - tied Nick Airey and Martin Walters

Best dressed man of the expedition - Mark Sefton (A living style statement)

Most gripping moment - Matthew Daykin and Fran Bagenal. Two world-class intellects battling it out in public forum. Would Fran crack? Was Matthew's trip for a wee genuine or another ploy to unsettle Fran?

Expedition heroes - big thank you to all those who emptied the chemical loos (Special mention for Jane)

Special award for Mad Women living in Spain - Helen and Linda who also take the Best decorated tent award, The Forcing Aperitifs Down Unsuspecting Passers-by Award and (solo effort by Helen) The Obedient Dog Award.

Sunburn award - Sebastian (or was it just a ruse to use the campbed)

Crudest joke award - Mike Avison - sorry, can't repeat it.

Bad taste award - Kelda, Zoe, Sophie and Rowan for being so keen about any songs referring to bums.

Travel award - Phil and Rosie Johnstone - who had planned to use Tresviso as a base for a touring holiday but never got beyond Arenas.

Gone native award - Paul Simm (El Beardo).

Best (and loudest) singing - the Jane and Sylvia Midnight Choir

The Martin Cook award for funny hats - joint Ian and Henry - see 1975 photo

Open sluices award - Orlando - and a very fine effort too.

Worst sleeper award - Miles Willis - much appreciated by all

Late (as usual) Award - Dave Bryant - we would expect no less.

Special Engineering award - La Cueva del Agua (fully swaying) Millenium Bridge - Engineers - Dave Checkley and Colin Boothroyd (with my rope) (why didn't we do it twenty-odd years ago?)

Super Special Award of Merit - Everyone who came along and made it such a great trip.