Depth through thought

OUCC News 4th December 1991

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Thanks to everyone who helped save the Rodneys this weekend with such excellent flower arranging. Mendip Madness was just that again... Special thanks to Mark for his bizarre confessional scene beyond the drainpipe, Sherry for hanging around in Pierre's with a green plastic machine gun for hours, and to Jenny the worm for failing to dress up at all at the bottom of Sidcot. I met a bunch of first time cavers in the Sidcotjam: "Wow, is caving always like this?", one said... Someone complained that Mark's prayer meeting incense was burning up all the oxygen in Goatchurch. I wonder if they survived? If "Fixer" Bell hadn't smashed the van headlamp, it would all have gone perfectly smoothly. How's your hand, Dave? Must have been a great party at Dave's the night before.

Well, have fun over Christmas all of you, and hope to see some of you at New Year. And in the meantime, get your acts together and give David a few responses about what you want to do on expedition.

Expedition news

There follows the text of a letter that David has been trying to distribute to all those who he hopes will come on the 1992 expedition. The reason that it is being put in the newsletter is that very few people have actually replied to it yet. If you would like the expedition to be run the way that you want then you MUST make you views known to the expedition committee, preferably in writing. At the moment we know what a few people want, but there is a silent majority who don't seem to have any opinion. Do you really not care what the expedition does in Spain in 1992? Please let us know what you think. If you really have no opinion then TELL US that you have no opinion. PLEASE!!...

This year, for the first time in several years, there is uncertainty about what the expedition should do. There are some people who feel strongly that we should go down 2/7 and others who feel equally strongly that we should not. People on both sides have said that they will not come if the expedition is not run the way that they want. This puts the expedition committee in a difficult position, because we obviously want as many people as possible to come on the expedition and to have a good time.

If you want to come on an expedition that will do some serious shaft bashing then come on the Huerta del Rey expedition in 1992. There will be lots of like minded people there, and you can have a good time Looking for caves that will provide a quick way to the bottom of 2/7, while at the same time providing exciting and technical caving in their own right. There are three going caves, all over 100m deep, and all with the possibility of dropping into a big system, be it Xitu or 2/7. There is also a lot of unprospected land remaining, and the 1992 expedition will capitalise on the 1991 Asturian caving conference and the good relations with FAsE to extend our caving areas in order to Legitimise some of the work of previous years. You will find an expedition that will be supportive of your aims and will provide you with all the tackle and logistical support that you need.

If you want to explore 2/7 in 1992, then come on the Huerta del Rey expedition. You will have to be prepared to help rig the other discoveries of 1991 before you can start rigging 2/7. You will also need to be pan of a very efficient team. 2/7 is a difficult cave, so you will need to be competent and fit. The aim of rigging 2/7 is not to investigate Choke Egbert, but rather to explore open, going, cave that has never been looked at (for example Dave Lacey went 100m upstream from the Big Ledge in a short time and without getting his feet wet). The things that need exploring are relatively close to the surface, so to start with, at least, you must expect to do deep, long, trips from the surface rather than staying at an underground camp.

So those are the choices. Whether you hate the sight of 2/7, or whether you think that it is the most amazing cave in the world, we think that you will find that the 1992 expedition caters for your needs. So why not come with us..
Love from the Expedition Committee.

Treasurer's plea

Pauline wants everyone who incurs expenses on the Yorks weekend or New Year trips to write their bills in the log book (so, whoever has the log book, please make sure it goes along). Also, please get any old bills in to her quick before she exercises her right to ignore them. Pauline's number at home is 0278 423507

Yorks at New Year

So you want to go to Yorkshire! (If not see Tony and be convinced otherwise.). Well a very wise choice, New Year with the ex-Yellow Van Speleos is "such good fun" (lied my liver after last year), especially if we don't leave you behind in the New Inn (sorry Bill.)

Well how are you going to get there? The easiest way is to travel up with the van, if you can bear leaving the cold turkey on Boxing Day to find your way to Oxford, but that would be far too simple for any fully spirited caver. In which case, you could find someone else to take you, but be warned, they'll need a Little fluid persuasion in the bar before you ask. Or else you could make your own way there, so how do you go about that? Well there are trains and coaches which go to Settle, only 4 miles down the road, or else if you want. you could go to Horton in Ribblesdale, 3 miles up the road, but the trains are less frequent. An alternative means of travelling is to hitch, I did it last year in one day starting from Torquay, arriving at about 4pm, but you do so at your own risk, remembering that most drivers are a little too full of the Christmas cheer.

Once you're at Settle, be prepared to use old Shank's pony. From the station follow the main road down through the heart of the town and under the viaduct. Shortly after this, and before reaching the river, a B-road turns off to the right. Take this road, it roughly follows the line of the railway up the right side of Ribble Valley, and should be signposted for Horton in Ribblesdale, Ribblehead and Hawes. The road passes under the railway and through Langcliffe after about a mile, then over the railway twice and through Stainforth after another mile and a half. A mile and a half further on again, there is a road off to the left, (probably signposted for Austwick, Wharfe, and the Quarries), which crosses the river on a bridge. and passes through a small group of buildings, this is Helwith Bridge, home of the Y.S.S. We will be staying in the old schoolhouse, quite an obvious building, as it's neither the pub nor the barn, (the Y.S.S. doesn't own the pub yet, but that doesn't stop us using the facility.)

If by fate you should end up in Horton, well you either went to far or by train, in which case there are only two routes to choose from, you want to head South down the valley. but you could always ask in the cafe to make sun, (and have hot apple pie with cream and a big mug of chocolate while your there.) Well I hope you have a smashing time, as for me I'm heading South for the milder climate (and watery beer) of Cornwall.
Paul Mann

Dates: 26th December to 2nd January

Exploring here

Digging in Daren...

While the rest of you were sleeping off the excesses of the Mendip Madness, Gavin and David got up terribly early (though not as early as Fred, Jenny and Tony) and went to Wales. Gavin has found this cave called Daren or Tracey or something, and he thinks that it is a potential dig site. When I saw the entrance I knew that this would be another cave like Dallimore's: there would be a short bit of thrutching, and incredibly tight bit and then, in about 20 minutes, we would be in the new stuff. This wasn't the case. The thrutching went on and on and on. It involved lying full length in the water (cold). It involved fitting my psychologically large body through some physically small holes. It knackered my elbows and my knees.

To add to the fun, Gavin had decided that my first experience with Daren would be immeasurably improved if I had something to carry. He gave me a stupid blue plastic tool box with a handle on the top. It was very blue and very plastic and had a proper handle on it. He claimed that this was for digging, but I still harbour a suspicion that what he was actually trying to do was to make me look an idiot. He had not counted on my ingenuity, however, because I travelled through most of the crawl with the plastic box floating in the stream, pushed along by my nose, and in this manner I managed to retain some of my dignity. At the end of the crawl we stopped for a rest. 10 seconds later we carried on.

There was lots of muddy passage. There were also some big drops, some with ropes, some without. I had the entertaining sensation of gripping a rope in my gloved hands and feeling them sliding down it with absolutely no grip whatsoever. Well, never mind, it was only about 20 feet to the ground... The Time Machine was OK. I've seen bigger (Yes, yes, I know, it's impressive for Britain). Frosty Passage was frosty. It really does look a if there has been a severe frost down there. Actually, by the time I had spent three hours sitting in a little hole building a wall out of the enormous rocks that Gavin was pulling out of the boulder choke in the roof, I was so cold that I was convinced that the severe frost was still in progress.

On the way out the bit between Frosty Passage and the end of the crawl seemed to have shrunk, because a lot of the stream passage had gone away. I finally worked out where it had all gone: it had been stuck on the end of the crawl. Why was it that the entrance crawl had got so much longer than on the way in... When I got out it was dark.
David Monaghan

Red Van

The Red Van has a new headlight, fitted by the Van Monitor at an ungodly hour on Tuesday night. Well done Ian. The headlight, thanks to the wisdom of Ford, is a complete unit that costs £70, so please don't break any more unless you really have to. If anyone wants half a headlamp for a Ford Transit, it is in the dustbin at Harley Road, but hurry, dustbin day is tomorrow.

Last week's silly

"The last resort" is Daren's next camp...