Depth through thought

OUCC News 21st October 1992

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Sherry and Tony finally proved it all last week with a rumbustuous bonanza of silliness which bewildered all six novices who had bothered to navigate out to St. Hugh's Fab new bar (and what a welcome...). Yes, it seemed so far out of town when I was about to micturate, or whatever ever that theatrical induction ceremony was called. Meanwhile, new cave passage has been discovered (well, its a start), novices have been deep-frozen, kilometres of rope has been washed, measured, and observed by strange orange bobbing aliens. Oh, and if you want to buy the new mega 2/7 survey in glorious black and white at size A0, then Sean has 'em at £4.

So what's wrong with Eastwater? No-one seems to like it in OUCC, but a trip two weeks ago with Jenny, Jim, Tony, Vodka and Gerkins persuaded me otherwise. The upper series (don't be fooled by the guide book calling it "lower series") is a Mendip classic of routefinding through boulders, then fine, steep-angled bedding traverses, with canyon-like vadose sections. Nice pitches connect to the lower series (read "upper series") where a cascade adds a spectacular note before you grovel into the west end series: Soho with its strange pendulous roof projections; Regent Street with its pretties; Threadneedle St. a lovely maze of tight rifts. For the well-tackled, Greek St. leads to good Ladder pitches (excellent for Mendip), and lots of physical thrutchy bits. Beyond, the Blackwall tunnel, and an almost feeling [wot? SGR]. It's a great trip, and up to lolly pot at least, best done in a dry suit. But don't take anyone with Giardia.


Digging in Daren Cilau

On Sunday, Tony and I went to Daren Cilau to continue our dig there. For those people who don't know, Daren is a very large cave in South Wales. Nearly all of it has been found during the last decade, and there is still a lot of scope for discovering more new stuff. We have been concentrating on the north-west of the cave: here a large streamway disappears into a large boulder choke (Aqueous Chokes) and is not seen again until about a kilometre further south where is flows out of a sump (Seventh Hour Sump, near the main underground campsite, Restaurant at the End of the Universe). The idea is to dig through blockages into open passages intercepting this streamway.

A couple of weeks ago, Jenny, Tony and I started a couple of digs in Eglwys Passage. The idea on Sunday was to continue with these, but on the way in we noticed a small side passage. This led to a low section - just a bit too small to fit through which seemed to open out ahead I therefore started digging here, while Tony continued on to the main dig of the previous trip. After only an hour's digging I was through the low section and into a small chamber. A narrow but not particularly difficult rift led into another small chamber. Here the rift became too narrow, although it will be easy to widen it with a hammer. The extension to date is only about 8m, but you can see at least another 5m along the rift, and it seems to open out ahead. Very promising. It's particularly encouraging that you can still discover new passage after only an hour's digging.

As I didn't have a hammer with me, I went to help Tony with his dig. This is at the end of Eglwys Passage, where there is a blockage apparently caused by run in from a chute above. We made quite good progress, including shifting one huge boulder. Again this is looking promising, although it's going to be a few trips before we actually break out into open passage.

Novice trip

Swildon's hole 18th October: There was a novice trip on Sunday. There were no major problems, although I was not very happy when I had to give my nice, new. safe, expensive and comfortable Petzl Ecrin to a novice in exchange for a crappy helmet with no head band and no proper chinstrap. (There is a moral here for those who are new to leading novice trips: when you issue gear from the hut check that it fits the novice to whom you are issuing it and that it is safe. The helmet that I had to wear did not satisfy either of those criteria) (There is also a moral here for Harvey (who ought to know better) and chose a helmet for himself that did not fit and had no chinstrap at all...). Anyway, back to the story. When coming out of the cave warm and dry, having carefully preserved that state for the whole trip by a combination of careful caving and declining to go through the sump, I fell into a pool near the entrance and got completely soaked. This is because the crappy helmet I was wearing fell over my eyes and prevented forward vision at a critical moment. It really was a crappy helmet.

I wonder if the air in Swildon's is suffering from the onslaught of lots of novices? Throughout the entrance series there seems to be steam hanging in the air, presumably from people's bodies. If there is steam then there is probably also CO2, and this would explain why I get unreasonably out of breath and headachy on the way out. OK, to forestall your criticism, so I don't go caving that much, but I do swim 3 miles a week, and even I should be able to follow a complete novice out of Swildon's without getting out of breath. Tony agreed that he had suffered the same, but maybe I am unfit and he is suffering from too much good living, and then is no problem with the air. What do you think? Other than that it was a good trip, and everyone seemed to have a reasonably enjoyable time.

News From SWCC

Another Caving Death in Porth yr Ogof

Yesterday members of the West Brecon Cave Rescue Team recovered another body from the resurgence pool at Forth yr Ogof, Ystradfellte, South Wales. He was one of two leaders of an party of kids from an Outdoor Pursuit Centre. The party was exiting via the cave resurgence when one of the kids in the party got into difficulty swimming across the resurgence pool. The instructor went back into the pool and the 15 year old managed to be revived after being dragged out. The instructor then was dragged under and drowned. His body was recovered from about 45m down, near to a submerged log, but it seems that he had not been entangled in it. The rescue team had been called out be Carmarthen police, being advised that there had been a fall in the cave.

This is the second death in the resurgence pool this year, the other being in June when a female soldier drowned while trying to swim out of the cave. In both incidents the victims were wearing oversuits and furry suits, There are clear warnings, both inside and outside of the cave, about the dangers of the exit pool. There have been between 15 and 20 deaths in the cave in the last 30 years. This makes it the cave with the most fatalities in the U.R

As a footnote, the inquest to the June tragedy has still not taken place. although the both the Police and Cave Rescue are ready to proceed. This is most likely due to army and their reluctance to admit any guilt in the affair. The female soldier the previous day had declined to take pan in Canoeing because she could not swim. Previous inquests have recommended the sealing shut of the cave, but with 13 entrances (esp. the size of the Main river entrance) this is impractical. The cave is widely used by Outdoor Pursuit Centres and groups as apart from the exit pool it provides ideal beginner caving. Any comments would be appreciated.

Malcolm Herbert University of Glamorgan 44 613 480480 ext. 2241


Monaghan Frowns: David, as he promised last week, frowns upon the following people: Daveunpauline, Paul, Tony and Steve Phipps who did not turn up to rope washing. They are all very very very naughty. He also frowns upon anyone else who did not nun up and hopes that they feel very guilty.

Thanks: David would like to thank all those who turned up to rope washing, especially those who did not come on the expedition and didn't, therefore, get the rope dirty. If you weren't there (why not?) you will be pleased to hear that it was a very efficient operation - the rope washers that we used got the rope clean very quickly, and it has all been measured and checked, and once it is marked it will be ready for use. Did anyone pick up two tape measures from under the bridge after the rope washing session? Tell Dave Bell if it was you, or if you know who it was.

Paul Brennan's Party: Paul's party is on Friday night, 8 till late. 105 Furlong Lane, Halesowen, W. Midlands Tel 0384 411445 (home) 021 5413361 (work)

Dan Mace's new address: 26 Saffron Road Histon Cambridge CB4 4U 022323j75

Weakly Nutter

A very crusty solicitor is droning at his Lordship...

"...and so many years ago, M'lud, when I as but a mere fresher myself, I remember Life at St Portercatz. There were famous people there then. The cleaner, Mrs Sprat; the porter, Mr Monument; the dean, Dr Message; and the other porter, Mr Rap-scullion who was reputedly mown down in his former years by Dirge's Pig...eventually Mr Rap-Scullion became the subject of some tome or another but the Pig I fear, now dwells in obscurity at the hands of a new owner. Of course there was the small matter of St Francis of Assisi and the bike pump full of water. Quite how this is related to Dirges study of Hiss-and-Piss or Hiss-of-Sigh (Sci?) I have little memory now. But in conclusion, m'lud I would like to say that sex was a thing that didn't happen in those days of newly bisexual colleges, and certainly doesn't happen now since the tutors have discovered that most useful of, forgive me m'lud, 'lettres francais' which is to say the first week's workload. This dreadful thing is currently too small and bears no lubrication. If it were bigger, then one would seek lubrication in the form of constant imbibing of alcohol, and, although thereby all would be anarchic, it would also be good. And here, m'lud, I rest my case.....and my empty glass..."

The weakly nutter, or, a small interlude at the Wheatsheaf (with an ageing solicitor).
Weakly Nutter