Caving in 2050

I eventually joined a club. I had to! I had tried to go caving on my own and with friends, but we had no access to the combination turnstiles or satellite codes on the entrances. As every cave is tightly shut against pirating, I had no choice. Not only that but the discount on entrance fees is so good with a well established club; landowners and the local council now only charge 45 Euros per person for each trip, so well within my budget.

But of course there was a hitch. I had all of the SRT and anti gravity kit, but I met with the bureaucracy. Sitting in Bernie’s café and hotel complex in the city of Ingleton on a Saturday morning, skipping through the plasma wall screen to see which caves were accessible and not being used, I selected one that looked empty-Rumbling hole. I approached the leader of the trip who said that I was qualified..., to pay the entrance fee, but only do the 5th and 6th pitches, but not the rest. Try another one. OK Notts Pot. Good choice quoth he, but only the second pitch. This grading system was ratified at the international congress years ago, so it must be OK.

I t seems I needed to go on the advanced pitch training course before I can get on to the SRT list, and the next course is run in New York in 6 months. He was happy for me to stay at the plasma screen and watch them doing the trip though. Not the same, even though the installed lighting and 4D camera effects were pretty cool..

I would be allowed to join a trip to White scar as far as the Battlefield, but only with a leader and if I paid the 105 Euros myself. They were switching the waterfall on today at 3pm to re-circulate the lake water that was getting stale, so it should look good, but might pong a bit. Since the thirties water has become scarce in caves, which makes it all so much safer.

Talking of safety the rescue organisation has also shrunk to a manageable size. Just one small helicopter and 3 people. Accidents are picked up on the CCTV units almost before they happen, and the crack team are there within 3 minutes, accessing the nearest escape port, and levitating the person out. Long rescues can run into almost 15 minutes!! If you do get into difficulties, such as breaking a shoelace
[or a nail come to that), you just press the nearest panic button. But I digress..

I thought of borrowing my mates SRT card, but the chip and pin reader on the entrance would see my Bio chip not his, so that would not work. There are rumours though. It seems some cavers (old ones I might add) have started digging (believe it or not), to get into caves. A few have been picked up by the police when they set off the vibration alarms that are pot in the ground around caves to stop pirating, but news is afoot that a new entrance has been found to a cave in South Wales. It also seems that a special speleo police unit has been set up to investigate and close it down so that the landowner and local council can get the turnstile installed, and start collecting fees as is only right and proper.

But what of my trip that Saturday? Well I settled on the trip walking through the old Settle to Carlisle Blea moor tunnel. The new monorail is 4m above the old railway track level, so it is safe enough, and lit up all the way. with heaters every 5m for the comfort of all. In fact caving clothes (and sometimes all clothes) are a thing of the past. It is so warm underground that someone even produced a fully clothed caving calendar last year with money donated to the armchair cavers society. Novel Idea I thought.

Now, my dad used to tell me stories about walking up to caves, and just going in, no turnstiles, no fees, no speleo police!! How we laughed at his stories. Doddery old fool!

The Old Scrote


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