Derbyshire
Caving
Association

Anchors

As a Regional Caving Council, DCA is part of the British Caving Association national anchor scheme (british-caving.org.uk). DCA trained installers place resin anchors in caves and mines in our region using a nationally recognised set of installation protocols. This work is one of the core roles that DCA plays in the region.

anchor testing
Anchor testing in Snelslow Swallet

DCA has been involved in the installation of several generations of resin bonded anchors, from the DMM ‘Eco’ bolts, via the short lived PECO anchors, and now the BP resin anchor. DCA has also installed specialist shaft top anchor eyes, backup anchor stakes and specially made extra long anchors for reaching through layers of mineral vein into the good rock beneath. The Eco, PECO and BP anchors all share the same visual appearance of a ‘P’ shaped eye formed from 8mm stainless steel bar, making them identifiable by cavers from across the UK. We use resin fixed anchors because, when installed correctly, they do not stress the rock, cannot have hanger plates stolen, are usually far stronger than expansion anchors, and give exceptionally long service life.

All anchors installed by DCA are logged and we produce topos that are freely available on our website PDCi (peakdistrictcaving.info). These topos show all the anchors installed under the national scheme. Other anchors installed by other persons do of course exist in the caves and mines of our region. You can find details about these through publications like ‘Caves of the Peak District’ of the Crewe CPC rigging guides. Anchors installed under the BCA scheme have been placed by trained installers and are insured by the BCA.

Installation training

installation training
Installation training

Approved installers are based all over the region and are a mix of individuals, club cavers, rope access technicians and caving instructors. Anyone with some experience of anchor installation can join the installer team. To join the team they would be taken through training by the DCA Equipment Officer. This covers selection of suitable sites, assessing rock quality, drilling, and preparing holes and the installation of the resin and anchor. We also ensure all our anchors are tested and installers are trained in how to do this once the anchor has set. All DCA anchors are installed using the same methodology and materials, ensuring consistency across the region, and nationally.

Testing

anchor testing
Anchor testing in Snelslow Swallet

DCA are one of the few regions that voluntarily proof test anchors after installation and before telling cavers they are ready to use. We use a Hilti HAT-28 or Hydrajaws tester to pull each anchor axially to a force of 6kN after installation. This is far below the force needed to extract or damage the anchor, but above the level of force it will ever likely receive in sport, instructed or rescue use. We choose to test anchors after installation to give cavers total piece of mind.

Any anchor can degrade or become damaged over time, so cavers are asked to make some basic checks before using any anchor and to report defects to DCA so we can issue a warning and replace any weakened anchors. Details of those checks and how to report issues can be seen here: Derbyshire Caving Association. - Resin set anchors (thedca.org.uk)

Requesting new anchors

anchor testing
Removing old anchors

Cavers are encouraged to submit requests to DCA for new anchors. We are proactive in looking for places that need them, but most of our work comes off the back of new discoveries by digging teams or sites where access has been arranged for the first time. The criteria for DCA agreeing to install anchors is usually as simple as there being a fair access agreement in place and that the venue is robust enough to withstand the traffic generally brought on by having a published route. We fully recognise that cavers will install their own anchors in digs and exploration projects, but we respectfully ask that you do so with a view to future cavers safety. Use the highest quality anchors from the outset, or use anchors that can be removed or drilled out in future to permit the installation of DCA resin anchors. We also request that cavers do not install additional anchors themselves in well-known venues or on trade routes. Please speak to DCA so that we can look to place anchors consistent with the type and quality already there.

If you think a site could benefit from new or additional anchors, please get in touch with the Equipment Officer or come to one of our regular meetings. See the  DCA Event Diary for meeting dates.

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