Depth through thought

OUCC News 12th May 1993

Volume 3, number 11

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Last week's speaker meeting was well attended (though not by me), and loads of informative fun apparently. Many thanks to Andy Cave. Perhaps we are back on track for lively Wednesday meets? Tonight should put paid to that.

Despite failure of club trips both this and the previous weekend, some people have been caving recently (though rumours of people enjoying themselves on sunny cliffs are also well substantiated). Trips to Mendip, where Fixer could be seen in full powertool heaven with his Kango hammer and Sean drove to Cornwall to look for the key to Tynings Barrow, and to Carno, where some new passage was found, are reported below.


This Weekend: Punt Party

Well, we haven't managed a club caving weekend so far this term. I wonder if apathy stretches as far as the river Cherwell? Meets Sec for details (he probably needs volunteers).

Next Wednesday: Charles Bailey

Speaker meeting with slides and talk about the exploration of Carno Adit - Britain's biggest find for a few years. Charles is coming a long way to talk to us, so please be prompt for 9pm start. St. Hugh's buttery.

Wigmore Swallet

As our pleasure bubbles expanded to fill most of the known universe (Bat Prods) we sought lots of info on Wigmore Swallet. Wisely choosing to ignore Trebor's need for some sherpas we toddled off to Wigmore Farm. After a femto phaff we had the entrance rigged (25') and roped. The heavily engineered shaft led onto a couple of climbs down through bouldery chambers and on into the crawls. Well slicked with a red mud the cave meanders through the conglomerate beds until it hits a deep rift, a series of climbs and squeezes and some interesting bits of scaffolding under a very large chamber (awesome dangly boulders in the roof). Then the gymnastics. Down a slot, turn round and ascend into a small parallel rift, ascend the rift (Double falco with Pike and axel 9.98) Crawl out onto an akro bar over a pit and turn round (reverse 2.5 summersault with chocolate sprinkles). Through a horizontal crawl and under a low arch (backflip, flipflop, runout and stubbed pinky OW). If the pitch is rigged turn round and head out onto the pitch feet first (Cowstails essential) flail madly until you find the big ledge below the top of the ladder. Arrange your self-lining gear and help the next person onto the ledge: demand ice-cream on a stick or a quick hug, they will be in no mood or position to refuse).

The pitch (25') is a spacious drop onto a shingle floored chamber. The first piles of diving gear become obvious. A slot off to the right opens directly onto the last pitch (25') and a big stream can be heard. Down the bottom and round the corner drops you straight into the streamway at the downstream sump. Upstream is a mix of walking and stooping passage getting steadily more aqueous and strangely insectivorous. The impressive stream has been traced to Cheddar but the downstream passage continues in the opposite direction in a dead straight line (the survey does look weird). Having surmounted all the difficulties with not a little swearing and the odd tear we were able to exit pretty easily. Really a shame that the trip was marred by taking along excessive and unco-operative tackle.

The cave excepting the entrance pitch is presently rigged (check with either J Rat or Trebor (BEG)). There is no access restrictions at present, we just chatted with the farmer (OK we didn't know where the entrance was, its down the bottom by the third set of farm buildings, yes through the gate, its a pretty obvious swallet). If you have to rig the second pitch your going to have to think "Tight Spanish rift opening out onto pitch" (there is a good thread in the top of the approach rift) or "Fuck this! I'm off to the Hunters".

Remember, the content of DTT in no way reflect the policies of the committee of OUCC, its Aardvark or dependants. Hugging is potentially dangerous if attempted without the proper training.

Jim wrote this
Jenny and Tim carried the tackle bag
Jenny bought the ice-creams.

Jim Ramsden

Carno update

The last few weeks.

Knowing how keen you OUCC punters are to enjoy the Carno experience, if only in the comfort of your armchairs, I thought I would bring you up to date on where exploration has been going over the last few weeks.

Well, despite Tim and Gavin's abortive trip before Easter, when we succeeded in taking a seed tray as far as the first food dump, Tim, Jim, and Phil Rose managed a trip a week later to Tumbling Bay to work on the "cross rift". Although the rift appeared to continue, the trip was essentially a near disaster. Phil broke the ladder on Thrutching the Void, and then dropped a boulder on it, jamming it in the rift, and isolating us all 15metres above the floor. We rerigged the pitch, though, and its now quite easy and no longer one of the psychological barriers at this far end of the cave. The second near disaster did not become apparent until days later when we learnt that Charles Bailey had attempted to get into the cave on the Tuesday following our trip. Although there had been no rain since before our trip, the cave had sumped just below the greasy pot. Clearly, Carno's response to weather is not at all obvious.

Camp Carno

That visit catalysed a firm decision to set up a camp, both for reasons of safety, and because of the inefficient nature of pushing day-trips in the Littoral Zone. So, Gavin and I set-off to the scout shop in search of cheap goodies, and came away with everything needed and more all at a 20% discount. A few week ends ago, Dave Lacey, Pauline and Gavin carried the first clutter to Saturday 13th Chamber, and made the first brew. Last week end, Gavin and I took in the rest needed for a two person camp, and spent the first night underground. Its a wonderful place to camp: huge airy chamber, level sandy floor, lots of nice ledges for putting things on, and close to the sharp end. We even bought complementary zipping pits for cold cold nights...

Saturday afternoon was spent hammering and digging at the terminal squeeze in Red Herrings. After three hours of hard, constricted work, we broke through into 10 or 15 metres of miserable rift, ending in a desperate looking squeeze. Perhaps Gavin's dig off Sensory Drive would be an easier route in after all, we thought, and, amidst cries of "is it supper time yet?" we backed out and headed to camp for a delicious three course meal.

On Sunday morning, as a steely sun rose over the 1) 548 ft far end of the chamber, we nattered about 2) 473 ft prospects, and decided to try the cross rift beyond 3) 486 ft Tumbling Bay. This is also where you have to get the water from, and do the washing up. It really is a silly sight watching Gavin stretched gingerly over the traverse with pots and pans dangling from his belt. Gavin went first, and thrutched his way into the rift to the point where I had been on the previous trip. Using a button compass we determined that the cross rift does seem to be heading out over the down stream sump. But then just five feet further on the rift closed down at this high level. We back tracked and started pulling gear off the climb. However, it is still rigged because there is one final possibility left here: a lower route up from a mud platform below the cross rift itself. Miserable place, but its position makes perseverance necessary.

So, on to easier things, and, at last, a use for the seed tray (already full of germinating chocolate crumbs). To the West of No-Ways a low crawl leading under the edge of the collapsed chamber was blocked by a large boulder. We removed it, and started a long-term dig. Its a fun place, much like a Daren dig with pleasant sandy mud, and easy progress. Good air, despite the constriction, makes the prospects seem worthwhile. We made about 4 metres progress, but the hope is that is may be the top of a continuation of the main passage that forms the western side of Bonn square. Oh, that's enough bullshit. If you want to come and find out, we need help!

Everything went smoothly on the way out, despite having to carry the drill. And the whole feel of the trip is much improved by having the camp. Now we've just got to find something..... Which is what the BrynMawr club have been doing at the other end - with recent 100metre or so finds likened to Daren entrance crawl. Still, you'll be able to hear all about that from the horse's mouth next Wednesday when Charles Bailey comes all the way from Wales to give us a talk on the Exploration of Carno, 9pm, St Hugh's. Don't miss it, and don't be too late: he's come a long way to talk to us.
Tim Guilford

Surveying Software?

Does anyone know anything about cave surveying software that is free and works on a PC (a what?). If so, Hogin would like to know, and can be contacted on e-mail.

Which Cave?

Liquid prize for the first 3 correct Mendip caves with the following depths.

  1. 548 feet
  2. 473 feet
  3. 486 feet