Depth through thought
OUCC News 11th March 1992
|DTT Volumes 1 & 2 index
Sir, Sean H last week described competitive caving as "a bit dubious". While
this is undoubtedly true, I should point out that I have never witnessed any other sort of
This week is gear order week. You should decide what you want and put in your order by the first of May. You should also pay for it by then. Catalogues will be available at Harley Road during the vacation, so please come and consult them. Mark Crossley is the man to see if you have any queries or problems.
The first of May is also the closing date for the payment of the fixed part of your personal contribution. See Sean if you can't remember how much this should be. See Pauline if you would like the amounts of deposit, the dates of expedition etc.
It would help the planning of the expedition if you could let Dave Bell know whether
you will be coming out at the beginning or going back at the end and would like to use
expedition transport. It is possible that we will be taking a second expedition vehicle,
and we need to know soon whether we can get enough passengers in it to make it economical.
It would also help us to know if you will be coming to Spain and will be able to drive the
minibus. We will save a lot of money by having a few named drivers while in Spain, but we
obviously need to know who those named drivers are before we go.
Love from the expedition committee
Those of you who went to Pete Bolt's talk a few weeks ago will have some idea about what life is like down Damn and what the Rock Steady Crew get up to in their spare time. Last weekend Gavin, Steve and I got some hands on experience of 'life, the universe and everything' down Daren.
By lunchtime on Thursday, Gavin and I were underground and battling our way through the entrance crawl with tackle and prussik bags loaded with whiskey, chocolate and dried fruit. Everything was fine until the start of the sandy passages beyond Hard Rock , then I got my first bowel twinges...oh no...DIARRHOEA. Stop, shit copiously and smellily into a plastic bag. Ten minutes later, the same again. There certainly was an incentive to get to the Restaurant FAST. At camp there was lots to do. I went straight to the Drugs Daren drum and blocked myself up with Immodium. Gavin got a brew on while I fetched water - not a simple task. Water has to be hauled up a short ladder pitch and rock scramble from the stream to camp, and on the way the water bags are heavy and sloppy, difficult to manoeuvre, and often leaky.
Next day we went exploring in the passageways beyond camp. We dug a couple of digs. One quite obviously wasn't going to go. The other quite obviously was, so we got all excited until we realised it was just a tight side passage that looped back into the main passage. A typical feature of digging in Daren. Next we dislodged boulders from the roof of the Big Chamber. This is a big chamber (surprise, surprise) near camp that lies on the Frosty Passage fault line. Gavin was keen to link his frosty passage dig from the other side. Next we went to Pain Killer Passage to see the pretties; at least I went to see the pretties. Gavin probably just went because the passage was there. They were truly, madly, deeply, amazingly beautiful formations, and even so, it turned out that we had missed the best ones, the Blue Greenies.
Steve and the others arrived at camp about one o'clock Saturday morning. The others being Pete Bolt and his girlfriend, Ami, Andy Cave and Rich, both Mendip people, and Hugh and John, both Cardiff people (I think). We spent Saturday digging in Dweebland. On the way from camp to the dig site Andy gave us a blow-by-blow account of each discovery. Not surprisingly, every bit of cave had a story associated with it, and once Andy was smoked up with his alternative tobacco, he just smiled all the way through the sand swims and smiled (and smiled some more) and told us stories of Daren in the hey-day of its discovery. So THAT'S how the Rock Steady Crew cope with the terror of the sand swims!
Gavin and I furtled about in UpDweeb, and Hugh and John spent some time in InbeDweeb, then we joined the others at the main dig site at the end of DownDweeb. The digging was very productive. With 7 of us we managed to haul out lots of spoil and enlarge a couple of the tight squeezes near the 'end'. It's not really the end of course. It will go somewhere, or if it doesn't, something else will. There's lots of potential down there.
Got back to camp around midnight - hot, achy, dehydrated and utterly knackered. Steve and I went off to see the famous Blue Greenies. Where we got the energy from, I'm still not sure, but it was worth it. Back at camp there was gallons of hot sweet tea, stew and even 'cocktails' from the Restaurant's 'Cocktail Cabinet'. Andy fell asleep while he was sitting up cooking and Pete stumbled around making all sorts of weird concoctions with different alcohols and soda-stream juices.
Ahh...our last night in those horrid damp mouldy sleeping bags. Gavin and I set off
fairly early next day with tackle bags full of shits and rubbish. Going out started off
feeling like a killer, but once I got going it was ok. I was paranoid that I'd be slow and
"feak and weeble" on the way out and hold others up, hence the early start. As
it turned out, we were out in a little over five hours, despite several rest stops, and
light and tackle bag hassles in the crawl. I was one-hell-of-a knackered Jenny at the end.
Are you seized with the desire to become a way honed rock animal? Is your winter climbing training program lacking that certain something? Do you like posing in lycra tights? If you answer "yes" to any of these then "Undercover rock" at St Werburghs church, Bristol, may be just what you're looking for. Personally I just like watching other people posing in lycra tights, so I went along with Mark at the weekend to check it out.
Undercover rock is a climbing wall built inside an ex-church, it is constructed in the same way as a competition wall, holds bolted onto boards on a scaffolding support. It is all designed for top-roping or leading (with most of the wall being bolted). Top ropes are provided for most routes, and you can hire harnesses/boots etc if you haven't got your own. Suggested routes have colour coded holds, and a list of grades for the different colour routes. There are routes of all grades from around severe up to £7 (I didn't check that one personally though!), though one criticism is that the wall is somewhat biased toward the harder climber. This may be rectified when the wall is finished, currently it is only half built, though it already is considerably larger than, say, the Uxbridge wall (or about 20 times bigger than the poxy Oxford wall). When its completed, the main wall will be extended, a competition wall will be put in at one end of the church, and a bouldering wall will be built opposite the main wall, underneath a mezzanine floor that will have a shop + cafe on it. However, even in its present state Me and Mark found there was plenty of climbing that we could manage, and got thoroughly knackered.
Undercover Rock costs £3 to get in, which is quite expensive, though you can spend all
day there if you're energetic enough. I think it is definitely worth a visit, and will
become better value for money as more of it is completed.
Well yet another year has ticked round and some sturdy feaster have gathered together for the annual dinner. Less than usual since some people decided to go caving for the weekend, well I suppose that's what we're about really. So sadly just a few of us were left to tip a rather substantial amount of Sherry down our throats. Never in the field of human enjoyment has some much been drunk by so few etc...It may have been some nominal confusion but Sherry decide to drink rather too much Sherry. Sadly she had to go home before her dinner arrived lest some hideous embarrassment occur when munching some lividly red Tandoori chicken. Well after the booze up at St. Hugh's grad. centre it was indeed on to Jamal's for nosh. People looked very resplendent in smart DJs, outstandingly LOUD TIES (well done Hutch, yet another triumph) and the like. Much chatter, much drinking, much eating, much deafening noise from Joan who spent the whole meal begging about seven waiters for one blessed naan bread. Life isn't worth spending in a restaurant in large numbers unless something gets forgotten. It did arrive eventually.
Enough of that. Everyone ploughed down to :Peel Place where the Densham Palace was open
for late night further boozing. Unfortunately the owner was at the Cambridge annual
nosh-up for which we cry "shame". Right so what did we do? Well Sean tried
'table traversing' the piano stool, its too short in the leg sad to say. Katya led a
series of daring body traverse round Paul Brennan, over Paul Brennan and around other
sundry bodies. Paul tried Traversing Katya and Phil but only succeeded in nearly pulling
off Katya's britches. The great triumph was the kitchen stool which provided endless
entertainment for all sorts of interesting through trips. Jim Ramsden took this all in his
stride...he fell asleep in the corner. So about oneish many tramped home, and about two
thirtyish the rest of us gave in, and so came to rest another annual general dinner-do. In
absentia of those who should do the job the Lemming was 'awarded' to Paul B and the mugs
went to SHERRY for just that, but please don't anyone get the wrong idea and feel that
they have to fill both tankards with the stuff, she can't afford to miss too many dinners!
Tony, Tim and brother Johnny flew to Spain for week's sunny cave exploration (in the
rain) in the limestone foot-hills of the Sierra Lujar near Granada. OUCC-GL-2, Cueva del
dissolucion, discovered by OUCC last year, was pushed and surveyed as far as possible in
the time. It is now about 60m deep, with two large chambers, and is very well decorated.
It is the third, or perhaps second largest cave in the region, and is fault formed so is
extremely complex. Another cave was discovered and surveyed, and currently ends in a
strongly draughting constriction. Two other caves were pushed, one successfully through a
series of tight and awkward squeezes to a rift and chamber (though the main draught issues
from a tight rift in another direction), the other unsuccessfully
to an annoying boulder constriction beyond which draughting passage can be seen. Pics and