Depth through thought

OUCC News 12th February 1992

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First, congratulations to Steve and the Brown Hill crew for their diving discoveries this weekend. Next Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. is the AGM. Nominations for club posts received to date are Steve Phipps (Treasurer), Richard Barnes (Secretary), Ian Barker (Van person), Sherry Mayo (Chair).   Sean would like to have as many nominations (for these or other posts) as possible in tonight, so get thinking. We still need people to stand for Equipment Officer, Meets Secretary, Lamp-post, and Loris. My own view is that we might actually consider having a new president too. No disrespect meant to Dr Bull, but its not as if the Club is short of Senior University members who might just be better qualified to represent us where is matters.   The  Diving  Club has an active participant in the sport as their senior member, and it works very well.


Wednesday 5th week, AGM. 8.00pm NQLR
MNRC AGM 7th March at 3.00pm Green Ore.

Expedition News

The burgeoning bureaucracy that is the 1992 expedition has found a mistake in an internal memorandum that was prematurely leaked to the press.  A data transfer fault on the Harley Road node of the expedition computer network lead to an incorrect announcement of the costs of going on expedition. The person responsible has since been moved to another department. The costs of the personal contribution are now as follows:
Rich people: £120 + £10 per week
Poor people: £60 + £5 per week
This still means that a poor person going for all 54 days will pay less than they would have last year, even without inflation. (£98.57 compared with £100.00). We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause to our customers..
Monaghan et al

Gear Review

Warmbac oversuit
In most aspects this suit is very similar to the Daleswear Kingsdale suit. Slightly bigger teeth on the zip should reduce Muddy Teeth Frustration (my one complaint with the Kingsdale, though may not be a problem if you avoid muddy caves and don't open your suit underground - Ed). The neoprene wrist cuffs (also on the Kingsdale) do lessen the chance of the streamway being channelled into your armpit while clambering about in the water. The neoprene wrap around collar offers only limited resistance to water running down your neck, its just too big (or I'm a pencil necked geek). The big talking point has to be the diamond crotch-piece. whether or not this will extend the life of the suit, only time will tell. I found the suit comfortable in use, it fitted well enough and was not cursed with large amounts of surplus material over the front or around the bum.
Jim Ramsden  

So, that's what Jim thinks of the Warmbac. It costs about £52, compared to about £47 for the Kingsdale unless you get it from Daleswear in Ingleton at about £42. Those of you considering buying your first oversuit should probably regard these two as the major contenders, though Dave Lacey prefers a more plasticised suit I forget the name of (bit like the old Troll suit) at about £55 (? ask Dave), and I quite like the Caving Supplies suit, at least for dry caving. Mac do a plasticised suit that Jenny managed to run for at least two expeditions, but I'm not convinced they are as tough. Don't buy the Bat Prods lightweight if you plan to go to Spain, though it's pretty cheap.

Exploring here...

Brown Trousers...

Colossal new extensions in Brownhill Pot! Well not really. This was quite a slow trip, despite, as Urs put it, my-not-spending the morning "gonking and snapping at everyone". The NPC divers had an amusing couple of hours watching us take a lot of kit out of the car, sort it, and put it all back again. Every item was subjected to close and mocking scrutiny; good job they didn't see the demand valves. The slow start was compounded by the complete absence of willing freelance porters, so four of us had to carry the lot.

Don't ask Urs about why she ran up and down the hill twice. Don't ask anyone about the "evil in the first chamber". Don't ask me about my re-found inability to manage the Z-bends. The winter floods had done their usual job of washing in lots of 4" cube cobbles and silt. We got to the sump at about 5pm, and I found my new wetsuit a real pleasure to change into. "That is, it was still cold and clammy, but at least it fits, and I didn't have to hop about on one foot trying desperately to get the other one in. In very little time the team had me kitted up and ready to go. "Take your line reel in one hand and your good luck in the other" as Oliver Lloyd put it.

The water was like cold old tea. It looked clear, but in fact as soon as I looked up from the floor, the torch beams faded into nothing over about two feet. The line was covered by silt in quite a few places, and the sand had shifted to open out some bits and close up others. It seemed a long trip to the end of the line. On the way I passed the ghostly sheets of plastic, wrapped around the line at 100m in (clear) and 150m (orange). I was, whatever I tried to do to slow it, breathing far too heavily. I got to the end with only 30 bar left to push with. The last 30m were with loose line floating against the roof, and I was expecting to find the reel empty, washed down the passage by the current. No such luck. In fact, I had three attempts at undoing my clever knot that secured the reel, making it worse each time, before giving up, attaching the new reel and running out 60m of line as fast as I could.

The passage was a uniform 2m wide, 1m high tube, running north, give or take 10 degrees. The line follows the right wall; I wandered over to the left a couple of times to see if it was any different but it wasn't. A steady trip back - in a few places needing careful manipulation of tanks over the line and silt banks, and I was back at the well after 40 minutes. I thought to have another look around the bottom, but then the tank I was breathing off fell out of its harness. Better go. As I rose up, the other one fell out too, and my mask half flooded. With only 15m to go, I blundered my way out to the sump pool where Tony put me back together enough to de-kit. Nice hot tomato soup.

The trip out wasn't fast; Urs had stuffed her knee, my arms had forgotten how to prussik, and Tony ran out of song before we were all up Puits Ian Plant, despite singing the whole of Matty Groves. It was blowing a freezing wind on the moor. We got to the Marton at 10.30 and had two very welcome pints. Tony's turn next!

Other notes on the weekend:

  1. Volvos can run 250 miles without a central electrode in the distributor (though not very well).
  2. On some Sundays, Northern Cave Divers light bonfires and whitewash huts (though not very often).
  3. On some Sundays, Aliens blow up vacuum cleaners by running them in the sink, and then destroy them with mighty hammer blows (though they do other bizarre things too).

Steve Roberts

West Carno Adit

Gavin visited the West Carno exten.3ions again this weekend and "...surveyed most of the rest of the old-new bit, and some of the new-new bit. The start of the new-new bit is really nice, but then it hits a choke and a muddy rift -- horrible to survey in 'cos you can't get any decent length legs." This looks like a big runner.

Ireland at Easter

Dan Mace has passed on the following details about the Ireland trip. "I have now booked my car and Jeremy's car for Ireland. The price of the ticket is £214 per car and up to five people can travel with each car. This is with B&I. It would have been marginally cheaper to go Sunday - Sunday but this would mean rebooking the accommodation and telling everyone of the date change. The sailings are:-
OUTWARD Dept Holyhead 04:00  Arrive Dublin 07:30 Monday 13 April 1992
RETURN Dept Dublin 10:00 - Arrive Holyhead 13:30 Monday 20 April 1992

Tony is booking his car on the Monday evening sailing as he has to be at his parent's Ruby wedding anniversary that weekend. CUCC are meeting at Jeremy's cottage in N. Wales near Snowdon on Fri night - mail me for directions - its not easy to find! As for coach travel, the cheapest I have found is with Superbus (Premier Travel, Rose Crescent, Cambridge). They don't have a timetable or fare for April 92 but currently you can get on a bus in London at 8pm and arrive in Ennis (30 miles from Doolin) at midday the following day. The bus picks up at Reading, Bristol and Fishguard and numerous places in Ireland. Current cost is £51 return for anyone and NO student discount is available  Mail me if you have any spare people who want a lift in a car so that we can fill the cars as much as possible.
Dan Mace

Book Review

Lechuguilla, the book, is totally over the top. But then so is the cave. Lechuguilla was once a failed guano mine in the Guadalupe mountains of New Mexico, and was not seriously pushed until 1986. Now it is 90km long. Lechuguilla - jewel of the underground (ISBN  0-909158-55-2; SpeleoProjects) is an exquisite photographic gallery of this extraordinary cave and its formations. From Rusticles to Mammilary crusts Lechuguilla sports the most bizarre collection of beautifully  preserved  speleothems.  The photography is simply mind blowing. Almost too much in fact. But it should certainly inspire the budding cave photographer to fantasise over what might be possible, or encourage the ageing cave photographer to lament over what never happened, and if nothing else you can use it to convince sceptical parents that caving is not so rewardless a sport after all. There are words in the book too. Lots of them.  But I was so distracted by the pictures that I never read any.  Actually, its excellent value even at £30; but is caving really like this?
Tim Guilford