Depth through thought

OUCC News 28th April 1993

Volume 3, number 10

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A new term. A new venue, a new committee to run a thoroughly rejuvenated OUCC? Actually, we're back in an old venue. St. Hughs' bar will be our Wednesday night meets. Jenny has organised a good list of speaker meetings, with Andy Cave (May 5th - that's next week) hosting the classic Daren video, Charles Bailey talking about the exploration of Carno (gave a nice, entertaining talk at the BCRA last year), and (hopefully) Graham Proudlove. The tone and the quality will be lowered only by an evening watching slides of what Tim, Jim and Phil did on their Easter holidays. Lets hope that having a venue close to the regular spot, and proximity to ale, will encourage more people to come and broaden their perspectives than was the case last term (when one speaker practically had to bring his own audience). No, its not a hew committee either -just a "cover version" of the old ones with a few new notes.

Anyway, welcome back everyone. Over the next few weeks it would be good to cover stories of what people got up to underground over Easter, so please jot something down for DTT. Well, you must have been doing something, because none of you were in Yorkshire (the YSS were well pleased). This week, Jim kicks off with his usual wit, recounting trips to Mendip and the Lakes, while Fixer winges on at length about gear.

A couple of Mendip Gems

Always on the look out for caves I haven't done before. A couple of recent trips to less popular Mendip caves have provide some fun.

Stoke Lane Slocker

Things seemed very different from the guide book description. We knew the anecdotal stuff about drowning in liquid shit, but that was in sump 1 we couldn't find sump 1. Tim had been there before, twice, he tried pulling the it was a long time ago/my first trip excuse but that didn't work. I tried shouting at him but that didn't work either. Sean tried climbing up into the roof but got no where. We left. We reread he description. It rained a little. We decided the guidebook was crap and we tried again. At the point where the stream finally sank into a gravel sump, Pebble crawl led off. A crawl over boulders and down to the right led to a small occasional streamway. This opened into a small chamber with the sump passage at floor level. Downstream into Stoke 2 was a piece of cake and we were into the big stuff with lots a pretties, Tim got very excited and had to be shouted at again. After a good look round we headed out. Tim went first, followed by myself. Sean reached through and I took his hand which was lucky since he then proceeded to swim through the sump, and without surfacing headed off in the direction of the entrance. Once he realised that I was not going to let go of his hand he came back and coughed and spluttered a bit. Tim coughed and spluttered a lot more when he tried to drink his way out of the constriction at the end of the sump passage. We are eagerly watching for signs of Weil's disease. A return Photo trip is on the cards. There are strange goings on around Stoke St Michael at the moment, as a consequence access to SLS would seem to be along the lines of turning up and doing it.

Tynings Barrow (Twinings teabag cave)

On the pretext of Urs trying out her new furry and oversuit (OK it was just too clean), and looking for a cave neither of us had done before we set out for Tynings Farm (having picked up the Key and paid our 50p's at Pinelea). The 20 foot concrete shaft was followed by a squeeze to the second ladder Gong belay) which dropped into stooping passage. The cave is steeply dipping and noticeably joint controlled (excellent for noticeably dippy and joint controlled cavers). The passage alternates between crawling, stooping and stomping passage, with little inlets giving a small stream. The passage eventually peters out into a flooded choked grovel. The biggest inlet (drunken Horse) can be followed for some distance to a small and loose boulder choke with a climb up into the gloomy Mountbatten Chamber. On the way out just past the Aardvark Trap an obvious inlet can be followed past two junctions, taking the left trending passage, White Dog passage leads via squeezes over calcite to Dragon Chamber. This large slopping chamber in dark limestone drops steeply down to a little slot. an oxbow and interesting climb drop into Sheep's Jaw which leads back into the main passage near the entrance.

What you need:
Ladders for 20, 25, and 10 foot pitches
V short, V long and short belays
Lifelines (we considered them optional, but then we're reckless and foolhardy).

What you don't need:
A very new and very warm furry suit, this can lead to;
a) muddy teeth
b) muddy heaving breasts

Jim Ramsden

Coniston Copper Mines

Well it was raining, we didn't want to go walking, it was raining very hard. Phil hadn't done anything reckless underground for nearly a week so a trip into a dry copper mine seemed like the best of all possible worlds. Clutching a copy of Eric Holland's guide, and with a big bag of camera gear we headed up copper mines valley then round toward Levers Water. Just before the footbridge over the raging torrent squatted the drippy entrance to Hospital level. Knee to thigh deep wading past a junction brought us to dry land and the start of the traverses. With our cowstails clipped into the non SWCC maintained bits of tat we peered down into the screaming void where the mud, boulder, and rotten wood floors had collapsed. Beyond Hospital Shaft the passage widened, then further increased in size in the ginormous Big Open. This large cavern was excavated at a particularly rich part of the copper lode. Another section of stooping passage led to a chamber that once held donkey powered winching gear, and know contains the fabulous blue copper carbonate formations. Also , at this point, a hole in the floor allows you to peep into the numbing depths below. These too were coated in green Malachite, and a wooden ladder could be seen dropping into the depths. The next bit was a bit scary too, squeezing through dug out sections held together with 4 inch fence posts and wire (lovely). Back in solid passage we followed a series of tunnels that miners had excavated in attempts to locate more valuable sections of the copper vein, but as collapses became more frequent we decided to turn back. Tim then spent a couple of hours taking photos which will be appearing soon at cave club meet near you.
Jim Ramsden

One of our maillons is missing...

Well - OUCC has excelled again We have, with no trouble at all ,managed to lose loads of gear this year. From October 92 - 26th April this is what's missing:

'Broken Ladder' 1
Tacklebag 1
Belt 2
Screwgate Krab 3
Wire 2
Ladder 2
Spreader 4
Snapgate Krab 9
Tape 16
Hanger 30
Maillon 45
Rope 60 (m?)

This amounts to about 510 quid's worth of gear. There is also about 530 quid's worth of OUCC gear in Carno Adit. The time is approaching when we need to replace this gear if it really is missing - and some members have asked for additional purchases to be made. However - to replace over 500 quid's worth of gear , we have only 350 quid. So - If you have any of this gear in your car , in your house, in your shed, in your SRT bag etc - then please return it THIS WEEKEND - or tell me that you have it. Next week we must decide what to replace and what to right off. If you return - for example 2 Ladders and 2 Spreaders that we have just replaced - you will not be popular. So - do it tonight - look for this stuff and return it NOW - its almost your last chance.

Changes to Signing Out Gear

Owing to the loss of so much gear I will try a new system of signing gear out. It was tried before, and I don't know why we stopped doing this. Some people when they write in the Signing ~t Book, do not put all the info which we require - they forget, or think its not important. According to the Signing Out Book there are 3 trips in the last year who returned no gear at all - when they obviously did. Instead of writing in the Blue Book - you will now find a Ring Binder on the table. At the Front will be Blank Forms with Boxes on them - please write in the boxes - if the box applies to you - write in it - the more info you give , the better our chances of tracking down the lost gear - it only takes a few seconds (assuming you can spell your name). When you return from the trip - write on your form again to say what you returned, what you left in a cave (and which cave) , and what you lost Then put the form in the Back of the Ring Binder - with the other filled in forms.

Simple. Try not to lose any gear. What we have lost in 2 terms this year amounts to about 17 quid each - and is more than our total bank balance.. If you lose it , you can't use it.
Dave Bell

MRO Pitch hauling Practice

Saturday 5th June - 2 sessions, am and pm, approximately 3 hours each. Teams of 8 people, registered in advance with Tim Large. Various hauling techniques including Lifeline, Ladder, SRT and Stretcher can be practised. All involved will require Sit Harness, Full SRT Kit and Helmet. It's being held at Split Rock Quarry - so it will be light and we can see what we are doing ...

If anyone is interested then reply to Dave Bell and we'll see what we can organise.