23rd October 1991

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Some senile members of the club thought it would be fun to try a newsletter, aiming to be ready for each Wednesday meeting, and perhaps to be sent to those who don't make it. It is not intended to be the Chair's personal organ, so to speak, so anyone who has suggestions for it, or things they want to put in, then that will all help. I'll start it off, and see how it goes. Anything to go in should be sent to me by e-mail, pigeon post to Zoology, 'phone, or word of mouth by Wednesday lunchtimes. Dates, deadlines, trips, parties, news, suggestions (controversial or otherwise), eulogies about caves you've been down, or haven't, change of addresses, book or gear reviews, etc. Anything you think other cavers might like to know.

Catching up in a sentence...

Proc 13 now exists, and copies can be bought from Urs for £3.50, or from JRat for £3.95 who claimed they were selling well at the BCRA in Manchester, where incidentally Gavin gave a fine presentation in which the audience went ooooh! aaaaah! at the 'photo of Just Awesome, predictably, and were dead impressed by the horrible shots of Tony's rebirth in Skull's "Eft", certainly more impressed than by the conference stomp where the Ceilidh survived despite its PA system being lost on the motorway only because there were lots of cheery old lags such as Paul Brennan, well healed even though Jenny gave his expedition T-shirt to Carlos from Italy, to boost things along, and where incidentally an OUCC meeting was held to rubber stamp David's decision to be 1992 expedition leader for which he was, sensibly, unopposed, and to mandate "fixer" Bell to buy the club a new (well, newish) red van to replace the veteran (now deceased), and first rate it is too (thanks to Urs, Mike and Dave H who now lives in Dublin with 12 TV stations in his room).


Party at Chris' house: fuck up

Chris was rightly miffed to hear that at the introductory meeting last Wednesday that a party had been organised at his house without even consulting him. Apologies from the chair, who has now been suitably sat on.  The party will actually be on Friday 1st November, at 8.00 p.m. Novices welcome, even if you haven't been caving with us yet. Chris lives at 16 Peel Place, which is down the Abingdon Road (South, past the Police station) turning left towards Donnington bridge at the traffic lights just before the Fox and Hounds pub (Weirs lane), then first right. Chris and Joan will provide baked spuds, but please bring a bottle (and firework if you can afford one).

SRT training

Single Rope Technique is how you get up and down the huge shafts the expedition is going to discover next summer.   Its also becoming enormously trendy on Mendip. Anyway, it's fun learning how to do it, so come along to the SRT training sessions on Friday's at 6.30 p.m. [note, different from term card] (starting fifth week) in New College School gym (turn right off Mansfield road as you cycle towards New College). Trainers and tracksuit advisable. Apparently the big ropes have gone, so Sean says we'll have to climb the walls to rig. For the real hearties there's weight training too, meeting at St. Anne's weight's room at 6.30pm on Wednesdays.

Joint speaker meetings with the Exploration Club

We now have a semi-formal arrangement with the Exploration club whereby we get in to their speaker meetings free in return for their members being allowed to ours absolutely, completely and utterly free (teehee). Tim Martin (SJC) is their contact, and he's promised to send Sean some termcards (ask Sean if you want one). Incidentally, Tim and/or Gavin will be giving a talk on grovelling in Britain at the Exp. Club on 14th November, Human Sciences Centre at 8.30.

Jrat refused to come and give a talk, but we persuaded Pete Bolt (did the mad free-climb that led to the discovery of the Time Machine in Daren) to come next term sometime: either on the history of Mendip digging (including current stuff) or what he's up to now (digging the Aggy/Daren link I expect). Any preferences? Or should we just let him choose? "They" say he has great pictures.

Sasha Belyaev is going to talk about Siberian Caves next term.

Expedition news

Reports and Surveys 1991

1991 expedition reports will be out soon, and will cost £2. You can order them from Gavin or David. Gavin would like some volunteers to label the surveys: please see him if you want to help contribute.

A.C. Irvine grants 1991

Jenny wants to remind you generous souls who gave your A.C. Irvine grants to the 1991 expedition that your reports must be sent to Dr Sills, Department of Engineering, before 1st November (that's Friday of 3rd week).  Ask Jenny if you want to copy hers...

Exploring here

Tony and Gavin visited Dallimore's in September and pushed a new roof tube above the little pot beyond the ant lion (I think), but it closes down. Curious Love still looks the most promising lead (if it can be called that), but is probably not a safe place to labour with a hammer or have an epic in (ask Gavin or Tim about bad air)..- Jrat has promised to go and blow it up (ethical murmurs anyone?) very soon, so things could be moving again. Steve made another assault on Brown Hill, but was stumped by bad weather. As usual he'll be looking for a strong, thin portering team for the next attempt (see Steve if you're keen, or if you just want to tell him he's flipped). There's a drain under the Parks which has a weird echo and goes further than Jenny, Tim and Noel (big fella with carrot shaped fingers) could be bothered to follow the other week. The end of Tyning's Barrow has a ripe terminal dig that the BEC have apparently pretty much abandoned (says Jrat). The main problems look like finding places to stash the debris (gravel), and possibly flood-proneness (can anyone verify or refute this?), and the fact that the farmer charges 50p each for entry, but other wise its bliss. Apart from a wetting grovel near the end, getting to the dig is clean, open, relatively mud-free, and, yes, easy (not like certain places I could mention...). Anyone interested? Stoke Lane is changing hands.


Swildon's 1st week

The first novice trips this term seemed to go really well. The novices were a really good lot. Clifford managed not to break his shoulder for the 4th time, Steve didn't break his jaw again (gave up hang-gliding for a "safer" sport!), Jo "sump-runner" carried all David's tackle out, and people generally seemed to have had fun. Hope some of you come back for more... Beware though: weekend traffic jams in Swildon's are now being made more interesting by Andy Sparrow's ladder pitch aerial bypass scheme. No water. Does anyone think we should try a different cave? RUCC use Tynings. Age Concern use Goatchurch.

Obituary: the Yellow Speleovan

Members of OUCC will be deeply saddened to hear of the death of the Yellow Speleovan last week after a long illness. Acquired for the 1983 expedition by The Man Who Knew About Engines, the yellow van, known affectionately as "the yellow van", served club and expedition well, if not reliably, and cheaply for almost a decade. Many will miss the bracing chill of the 94 rear passenger seats, with their grade iv access. Some will miss the one-person-only Luton head bunk (two if you're stacked, so Sherry and Mark tell me).  Some will even miss annual body-work patching sessions. Tourists and drunken cavers alike will miss the familiar Lagos landmark, and cows the convenient head-scratching site. The Guardia Civil will probably sigh with relief, and SWCC will allow us to camp again. But we'll all miss the mobile (well, semi-mobile) changing hut. Perhaps the £50 scrap might buy us a memorial bumper for the new red spanker.

Caving in Wales

At the end of 5th week (16th & 17th November) there's a club trip to South Wales, visiting OFD. OFD is a spectacular system: Britain's deepest cave, and underground nature reserve (so it has some well preserved formations such as Trident and the Judge, Column Hall, the Nave, and the Straw Gallery). It's a huge system, with several miles of master streamway in black limestone with characteristic white marbling. Access is restricted, so it won't be full of people. For relative novices the OFD trip promises a first look at a really major cave system, involving complex route finding, huge chambers, exhilarating stream stomping, beautiful formations, and an interesting climb up the twisting, water washed Maypole Inlet. For the more adventurous there's Jenny's round trip, pulling through down a series of "interesting" free-climbs in Pendulum Passage, or a trip to the remote Smith's Armoury via the hair-raising Traverses, and a sporting waterfall climb up Niagara.  All this in the bleak scenery of the Brecon Beacons National Park. See Tony if you want to go.

Useful Numbers

Pauline now has a 'phone: [77486]
Chris & Joan: 16 Peel Place, down the Abingdon Rd. :[241487]
Dave Horsley will be in Oxford on Friday October 25th to get his degree (I thought it was all a hoax).  Drinks at the Temple bar 7.30 followed by an Indian meal 8.30 for anyone who wants to come. An idea of numbers for the meal would be useful. Horsley's address: 12 Eaten Sq., Terenure, Dublin 6.or Botany Dept.., University College Dublin, Dublin 4. Tel: [010 3531 7062259]


Free drink for first correct answers (to Tim) to the following questions:
1) Where is "Mountbatten's chamber", and why is it so called?
2) Where are the "Blue Meanies"',
3) How many ropes do you need to reach "The Spout"?