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We are happy to announce the revival of the The Peak District Cave Exploration Prize! With support from Descent, and sponsorship from Lyon Equipment and Hitch n Hike we have set up a fund to run it.

The "competition" will follow a similar format as before with the winners receiving up to 200m of Beal semi-static rope. The winner will be the caver or team of cavers who find the most new cave at a single site, by digging, diving or climbing, within the Peak District caving area during the calendar year. They will receive 1m of Beal Antipodes semi-static rope for every metre of new cave found, up to a maximum of 200m. If the discovery is less than 200m the remaining rope may be shared with other teams and anything left over will be donated to "The Peak Fund" to re-equip fixed ropes in the Peak Speedwell system, helping to ensure continued access to the high level parts of the cave. If nothing is found, The Peak Fund will get all of it.

In the past there were two separate prizes: one for discoveries made by "dry" cavers and one for divers. These days, within the Peak District, divers are no more likely to make a discovery than diggers or climbers, so for 2016 there will be a single prize with the competition open to all.

Updates and progress will be reported in Descent magazine with the final results announced in the February edition.

Rob & Shaun, Peak District correspondents for Descent magazine.

The Rules! (subject to clarification over time if questions arise).

1: What does "cave" mean?
Natural passage, not a mine or mined passage.

2: What does "new" mean?
Cave or passage that prior to its recent discovery was unknown. The discovery of natural passage or cave with evidence of t' o'd man (Derbyshire's old lead miners) can still be classed as "new" so long as its recent discovery wasn't based upon existing documentary evidence.

3: What about the length of the dig?
The length of dug out passage would be included within the final length of the new cave that is found. If the dig was started before January 1st the measured length would be from where the face was on January 1st.

4: What if a previously unclimbed aven is climbed?
The climbing of a known but unclimbed aven would not be classified as new cave, even if the route taken accesses parts of the aven that can't be seen from the start point or previously accessible positions. However, previously unknown passages intersecting the aven and any new cave beyond accessed via such a climb would be classified as "new cave". The length of the climb or height of the aven would not be included within the surveyed length of the new cave.

5: What about mines or mine passage?
Mines and mine passages are not classified as being "cave", but any previously unknown natural cave passage discovered or dug into within a mine or beyond a mined passage would be.

6: What if two teams claim to have found the most new cave?
The claims would be investigated and reviewed and a decision made. In the event that it is impossible to differentiate between two or more claims the rope may be split equally.

7: What does "most" mean?
The straight line surveyed length, including side passages, oxbows and pitches. Not volume and not including every hole and cavity in a boulder choke. When it comes to boulder chokes it's only the main line or lines through it that count.

8: Would the height of an aven in a chamber be included in the surveyed length?
If it's a small blind aven and all of it can be seen from floor level then no, but if the aven goes up out of sight and has to be climbed to see what's there, or if there's a genuine passage going off it, then yes.

9: What about caves just outside the Peak District?
For Peak District read Peak District Caving Area, as covered in The Caves of the Peak District guidebook.

10: What if someone finds some new cave but doesn't want to publicise where it is for some reason?
If the location and details of a new cave are kept secret then it can't be included. All the details and survey information have to be published.

11: Can a team linked to, or including any of the award organisers or sponsors be allowed to win the rope?
Yes - otherwise the organisers or sponsors couldn't go caving with anyone.

12: When do finds have to be submitted?
Ideally, as they're found. Actual locations don't have to be published until the end of the year if the area is "sensitive". All submissions have to be in by midnight on the 1st of January. This will allow "last day discoveries" to be reported.

13: When can the winning team collect their rope?
Later in January after a date to be announced.

14: Would the discovery be eligible if the find was subsequently gated restricting general access to cavers?
The gating of caves and restriction of access is and always will be a contentious subject and it would be wrong for the organisers or sponsors to enter into the debate. So... as long as access arrangements are reasonable, and by reasonable we mean that they don't exclude anyone, and access can be arranged for mid week and evenings and not just weekends (there are a lot of people who can't get time off at weekends), or if the gate is temporary, only limiting access while the new cave is explored, made "safe" and surveyed etc. then yes, such a site would be eligible. If stricter access controls are imposed by land owners etc. the site again, would be eligible.

15: What if a discovery is made in a cave or on land to which access is not permitted?
The discovery would not qualify. Exceptions to this rule are:- 1; "Grey" areas, like abandoned quarries to which cavers have historically enjoyed hassle free access over many years, where permission isn't sought but nobody minds.

16: How are entries submitted?
All entries, with supporting reports, photos and survey should be submitted either by email to exploration@peakdistrictcaving.info, or on CD/DVD/USB by post to Peak District Caving, c/o Hitch n Hike, Hope Road, Bamford, Hope Valley, Derbyshire, S33 0AL. If you don't get an acknowledgement to your email phone Shaun at Hitch n Hike on 01433 651013.

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