Depth through thought

OUCC News 13th November 1991

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I agree, the North Quad is for crusty lectures about Middle English, not Cave Club meetings. Lets see how we fare with trying to book the Prestwich for the remainder of this term? Next week is the TGM. Lots of documents about the Van have now been circulated one way or another, so think about them in advance and we may just be able to make some decisions on Wednesday.


Noel Crane plus some rather famous mountaineers will give a slide show bonanza in New College on Thursday November 21st. Jenny has details.

Termly General Meeting is at 9.00pm Sharp next Wednesday. 20th November, Prestwich Room. Please arrive early, because it would be nice to get the meeting finished before the bar shuts... Anything you want on the agenda should reach Sean before Tuesday night (19th November).

SRT training starts this Friday, New College School Gym, 6.30. See Tony or Gavin.

Expedition news

Asturian Caving Conference

OUCC sent two representatives, William Stead & Martin Laverty, to a caving conference in Oviedo, N. Spain, organised by Juan Jose Gonzales Suarez, boss of the Asturian Caving Federation, and the man who decides each year whether we get permission to go caving in Spain or not.

William writes... "This visit report shows that I have been working for Unilever for far too long, however, as I shan't be seeing you for some time I think it's important to get some thoughts down on paper.

Thursday: Arrived with Martin at Asturias Airport mid afternoon. We rang Juan Jose Gonzales Suarez (Juanjo) and were met by a couple of cavers, one named Jesus, and taken to a hotel booked by Juanjo - 4 stars and expensive. At 10pm we were taken round local Irish bars meeting cavers until 1.30 am. We were bought drinks.

Friday: We were met at hotel by Jesus and 2 friends, to go caving. We went down Vega Longa, a cave explored by British Cavers in the 1970s. It's not in the Picos, but in the more rolling, though still quite remote, country north of Oviedo. It was very like a S. Wales cave, about 200m deep with dry chambers above a sizeable stream. Their caving seemed pretty reasonable using Petzl gear, though the rigging was on snap crabs. Jesus put in a rebelay bolt while we were on the trip to give a free hang, although he sheared off one due to overtightening (apparently this is quite common in Spain - something I've never seen in England.) My Expedition furry proved too hot. Supper and Calvados (we were paid for again) then back to the hotel. We were picked up again at 11pm, and taken back round Irish Bars complete with chilled Guinness, chilled John Smiths and Irish Music. I showed Juanjo "Beneath the Mountains", which he hadn't seen before. There was lots of friendly interest in what we had been doing, with various Spanish cavers trying out their English. We finally got to bed at 4.30 am.

Saturday:  First day of the conference. I was feeling like death. I need my beauty sleep. Juanjo introduced us and was very complementary. We were the only British club represented, although the Speleoclub de la Seine were around, and SEII gave an account of M2. There were no reports on Cabeza Muxa or on Sima 56. One caver from Castro Urdiales says he walked up to 2/7 entrance, though we weren't there. Another was in Polifemo when we were based in Top Camp. I also met Frank Nicholson from Liverpool Poly, who is caving in the coastal region. I suddenly click Frank was the British person I met outside the Ario hut in the sun the day after the 1982 shepherd's fiesta; I'd missed the drinking as John Singleton, Jan Huning and I had been surveying Optimisto (where's that Bill? - Ed), but Graham hadn't, and wasn't feeling too well, periodically raising himself onto hands and knees to throw up. I also met Michael Walker. He is now based in Murcia, but lived for 15 years in Australia. He was on the 1961 expedition and knows John Wilcock. He has a son, Dominic, who's nicked his SRT gear and who is at Imperial College.

There was no attempt to keep to the schedule. Juanjo loves talking and never cut anyone short. The SEII went on for ages talking about the York Expeditions. There was lots of incomprehensible geology, and I have vague memories of a rash of similar articles in the British caving press in the past. Lunch is at a sidreria at 4pm. Juanjo, most keen to entertain, prevented us from having fabada (obviously not suitable for foreigners) and ended up paying for us. The conversation was wide ranging, but included suggestions on ways that we could mark caves without offending ICONA, and a discussion of possible new caving areas. Juanjo apologised for keeping us up until 4.30 that morning.

The afternoon and evening went on and on. We were last on the schedule, the star attraction. Michael 'Walker planned to talk about the 1961-65 expeditions, Martin Laverty about 1973-81 including Xitu and I was to talk about 1982-89 including 2/7. As the afternoon went on it slowly dawned on me that, although Juanjo specifically invited me over the phone to talk in English, every talk except ours was in Spanish, even those on Trave. Michael Walker offered to translate for Martin and me sentence by sentence, an offer we gratefully accepted. It was a close run thing whether we would talk first or whether the porters would come in to close the hall, as it was by then 11pm. Michael talked at considerable length, but in a more interesting style than the other speakers, followed by lightning accounts of Xitu and 2/7 by Martin and me. We were both tired and whizzed through our slides while saying very little. I think we left the audience feeling rather stunned Typical English Understatement, I heard them feeling! I was asked how deep 2/7 would be if it went to the level of the Xitu sump. After this came the fiesta. I couldn't face it, as I felt dead beat. You'll have to ask Martin, who rolled in at 2.30am, what it was like. Apparently he had a good time and talked a lot to Michael Walker.

Sunday: By now I felt almost normal. Lots of talking on Trave, and a video. We asked for a copy, but were told that none were available. There was lots of interest in the Procs and in Beneath the Mountains. I acquired sheaves of Spanish Procs for exchange. I gave two copies of the video to Juanjo, then revised and asked if he could send one to the Trave people- I want OUCC to get a copy of the Trave video. It was a race against time as to whether our video would be shown before we had to go. When Martin and I turned up on time the lecture room was locked, and proceedings started 3/4 hr late. In the end we had to leave before the video was shown, with umpteen more hours of talks to go. God knows what time they finished. Actually we were in loads of time for the plane, and had a surprisingly good lunch at the airport."


Bonfires at Peel Place

Well, a splendid party was had at Peel Place a week ago last Friday. Thanks from Chris & Joan to all those who came, sorry not to see those of you who couldn't make it! The evening started with a friend of Chris' popping in for a cup of tea only to get stuck building, and rebuilding bonfires, frying onions for an enormous crock of chilli which went nowhere when devoured by 40 hungry cavers - 12kg of spuds and 8 bowls of coleslaw slithered away quite easily too along with the evening's top favourite jelly & angel delight! Early in the evening Chris & Joan were having the collywobbles that rain would ruin all, but thanks to some well placed polythene over 2 well built fires, one match got the bonfire going a treat when the sky cleared up just as CUCC arrived en masse.

It was jolly nice having 2 Univ. clubs around together, it would be nice to see them more often. Luckily CUCC brought some tents so a small encampment set itself up in the light of the dying fires. The rain started again at about 3 in the morning but even so it had trouble dowsing the enthusiasm of the late (?early) revellers who were busy raking the last baked spuds out of the fire. Saturday morning saw one of the fastest clean-ups in history, thanks to CUCC for that. They all had breakfast and went. The soggy spare carpets were rolled up and put back in the shed and by 11.00 when the piano tuner timed up there was neither sight nor sound of a party - all gone. The only thing left to do was to relay the turf by the bonfire, and sit and feel mellow about a jolly good inaugural party at Peel Place.

Everyone seemed to have a good time, so perhaps next year, if the nerves aren't too frayed by the English weather we may be tempted into having another! p.s. we had fireworks, some of which went "bang!!", but the loudest thing of all was John Hutch's tie - always a snappy dresser he was sporting a particularly brightly coloured and very art-moderne little number this time around. Joan Arthur

Cellist wanted

For those who have drifted through Peel Place and been subject to musical entertainment, relief is at hand - not from Chris' or my playing but from our badly tuned piano. The piano tuner has been (and is having to come again almost immediately) so whilst the technique carries on as before the music will be a little more sonorous. Are there any cellists in the club? Are any of you hiding a musical light beneath some bushel? If so please let us know as we might be able to get together over a few beers - oops I mean bars (of music). Ta.

Yorks weekend

Even the sky went mad in Yorkshire this weekend, with only Dirge bored by the northern lights display. Why? I reckon he thought it would outclass his fireworks. As it happened, they caused quite another scene, with naughty school teachers Tim and Dirge accused of being both professionals and tarts. Tony dived Brown Hill, and lived (we also found a little bit of new passage), whilst novices Memmet, Steve, Mary and Richard froze in Bar Pot waiting for Graham to rescue an SRT bungle (well, come and learn how to do it then!). KMC nearly claimed Richard and Graham on Sunday, whilst some of us bottled out of a white water boulder squeezing trip in Roaring. Meanwhile, Gavin and Sean were digging from Frosty passage to Daren 2nd streamway, imminently promising a classic round trip featuring the world's longest sand swim...

This week's sillies

Where are 1) Turtle Corner, 2) Bat Passage, and 3) Thompson's Gazelleschaft?