Oxford University Cave Club

Cave Research Group publication 14

1961 Oxford University Expedition to Northern Spain

1961 Expedition Report (CRG 14)

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Miscellaneous Supplies

"The easiest filing system is that in which everything falls into one file marked miscellaneous".

Any expedition requires an incredible diversity of miscellaneous articles and goods and it usually falls upon one member to think of all these things and to arrange their supply. This is not the easiest of tasks - not only must the member be fully in touch with all the projected phases of the expedition and with what is being obtained by other members, but he is, of course, also blamed for anything and often everything that was omitted forgotten or just "never thought of".

1 had a distinct advantage; my college rooms were used as committee rooms (where all members of the expedition met frequently); as warehouse and general post office, so I could not avoid knowing what was going on in all the various spheres.

It is nearly impossible to mention all the miscellaneous things that an expedition of this type and size might require; but the following items are a must; headed notepaper to create an official and genuine impression and the use of a typewriter to write all the innumerable letters and lists necessary. For the actual trip, fire extinguishers were considered essential.

When large amounts of equipment and food are to be transported long distances, efficient and safe packaging is necessary and for this purpose many metal tins were obtained. Tea chests are rather too large for road transport. Efficient marking of all packages is essential, and felt-tipped pens were found very suitable for this.

It is important not to forget that the members of an expedition must live as well as explore. Thus unbreakable crockery, cooking utensils, soaps, detergents, disinfectant, toilet paper etc., must all be provided. People work most efficiently if they are reasonably comfortable and supplies to this end must include such things as suntan oil, fly repellent as well as more medical items like antiseptic cream and adhesive bandages. These latter must, of course, be included in a comprehensive first aid kit, which must include everything from anti-burn creams to tablets for water purification and for "Spanish grot" - the stomach ailment that affects nearly everybody who goes there.

The work done during a day's exploring must be written up in the evenings - thus efficient lighting arrangements are essential. Paraffin pressure lamps and torches provide mobile illumination (don't forget the spare batteries), but an excellent idea was the purchase of a generator with some cable and light bulbs for a semi-permanent lighting system. Matches are a 'must', and for caving, those adapted for lighting in high winds or in rather damp conditions were very useful.

A wide range of stationery will be used by any expedition - writing paper, pencils, biros, inks, cartridge paper for surveys, adhesive tape, graph paper - to mention just a few items.

To keep feet in good condition, two pairs of boots per person were provided, with the polish, dubbin, etc., to keep them supple. Other necessities are good, hard-wearing socks and blister-protection kits.

For the caving work, miscellaneous items needed included tape measures for cave surveys, notepads, with ammunition cans to keep them dry, vacuum flasks, picks, shovels and hammers for burying rubbish and excavating passages.

For our chemical and meteorological work much Perspex and polythene equipment was needed as anything of glass stood small chance of survival during the journey. This equipment also enabled photographs to be developed on the spot, a very useful check on the quality of the results.

One could go on for ever suggesting things that were, or could have been useful. I hope, however, that the above will prove of some use as a guide to the enormous range of things that are useful and/or necessary on an expedition.

Ken Mills, Totteridge, London. April 1964.