Depth through thought
OUCC News 2nd June 1993
Volume 3, number 13
|DTT volume 3 index
I've discovered a novel way to find lost club gear. Steal into the hut (whose door has now been mended), add a few extra items to someone's gear sign-out sheet, and notice that they get ticked back iI1 after the trip. Clever eh?
Next Wednesday, 9pm. St Hugh's Graham Proudlove, Safety & Survival
Over the weekend, Sherry, Mark and I did the second camp down Carno at Saturday the Thirteenth. Most of the camp was fairly uneventful. We continued with the dig at the start Sensory Drive, which Tim and I started a couple of months ago. On that trip the dig had continually looked like it was just about to go, and so we had not bothered making it very large; the result was that getting to the end was fairly desperate. We therefore spent a lot of time on this trip making it bigger and easier to get along, and then extended the dig by about a metre.
I also started a dig in the passage leading to the second bit of streamway -- half way along this is a hairpin bend, and I started digging straight on. I made about 70cm progress, and was able to push the crow bar in a long way ahead. It's possible that this is just an undercut, but there's a lot of evidence to suggest that there is actually a passage there.
We started out shortly after one o'clock on Sunday, and made good time to Two Ways. However, as we were heading down towards Southern Discomfort we heard a stream roaring. Normally there is no stream there at all, but on reaching the start of the traverse we found water about two metres deep backing up from the sump. And rising. So we returned to Two Ways to start sitting it out, making occasional forays to check the water level. After an hour or so we were convinced that the levels were dropping, and so headed off. The going was fairly easy: at first we were traversing one to two metres above the stream level; once we had cleared the area of back-up, we were typically wading knee-deep in a Swildon's size streamway.
At the end of Southern Discomfort, we noticed a lot of water in Apollo Pot, so we scarpered through Full Moon Crawl, which fortunately was dry. We continued and had got to Worm Crawl, about fifteen minutes from the entrance when we hit ... a sump. At first the water level was falling quite quickly, but then slowed to only a couple of centimetres per hour, so we decided we were going to be stuck there overnight, and so returned to the equipment dump at Cough and Drop, and got into the sleeping bags.
We got up at six the next morning, and were just starting a brew when Charles Bailey,
Chris Brady, Geoff Newton and John Stevens arrived. Chris headed out immediately to stand
down the rest of the rescue, and after another brew we followed out. The water in Worm
Crawl had dropped a lot overnight, becoming a simple wade. We reached the surface shortly
after seven. Many thanks to all involved in the rescue.
Here are a few notes on water levels, which should help us to understand the hydrology of the system better, and may prove useful if anyone else gets into a similar situation.
The first sign we had of high water was at Sunday lunchtime when Mark went to fetch water from Tumbling Bay, and reported the water level to be about 15cm higher than normal. The backing up here seems to be less than in other parts of the system, which is encouraging with respect to the prospects for diving.
We arrived at Southern Discomfort at about 3pm on Sunday to find water about 2m deep, about 1.5-2m below the start of the traverse level. This rose a couple of centimetres over the next ten minutes, and so we decided not to risk the streamway at that point. At 4pm the water was still at the same level, and at 4.45, when we set off, the level had dropped by about five centimetres. The initial traverse level stayed well above the water level; later we took the normal route along the bottom of the rift. The stream was typically about knee-deep, flowing at a rate of maybe 50 litres per second. It may be possible to remain dry by traversing -- and this might be advisable in view of the likely sitting around ahead - but we just waded so as to get through as quickly as possible. I would suggest that if the water level at the start of Southern Discomfort is at least a metre below the traverse level, and the level is not rising rapidly, then it should be passable.
Apollo Pot was full to about three metres from the top, but Full Moon Crawl was dry.
Pandora's Pot was initially full to about 810m from the top, but this level dropped at a rate of about one metre per hour. Water was also visible at the bottom of the chamber below Silo Pitch.
The water level in Worm crawl initially fell about one centimetre every eight minutes, but this slowed to five centimetres over a two hour period. This latter period seems to correspond to more rain falling on the surface. Overnight the level dropped about one metre in ten hours. Thus this obstacle drains fairly quickly, as long as no more rain falls.
Greasy Pot pool showed no signs of having flooded. This is surprising as in the past
this has been what has stopped cavers getting into the cave, and nobody has ever had any
trouble with Worm Crawl before.
"Three horrified cavers were trapped by rising floodwater" it said in yesterday's paper. Well I thought that since I was a member of this 'alternative hydrological expedition to Carno Adit' I should put a few words in DTT. Its funny how you brain blots out the nasty bits shortly after such an experience, but I can still recall the scaredy-icicles that formed in my stomach when we first heard the roar of water on the way to Southern Discomfort. "Roar of water" and "Southern Discomfort" aren't the sort of phrases that should hang around together in my view. The look on Mark's face, and the way Gavin said "FUCK!" hinted to me that the lads were not too happy about this development either. It was quite a relief when the water started dropping, particularly for me as floodwater is my special cave phobia. We raced along Southern Discomfort, gasped at how full Apollo pot was, crawled rather anxiously through Full Moon Crawl, trundled through Cough n' Drop, gasped (again) at the water in Pandora's pot, and halted at worm crawl. It was sumped. Boo. Just as we were thinking we were going to get out too!
After watching the water going down very slowly for about half an hour we went back to the emergency dump at Cough n' Drop for a brew to give the water levels a chance to drop. Gavin had a rather curious attitude to the situation, he seemed to think that we shouldn't eat the chocolate etc at the dump because someone might need it in an emergency. I dread to think what kind of dire situation would rate as an emergency on the Gavin scale! Needless to say, after a pico-wrestle with our consciences, me and Mark tucked into the choc. After two hours we returned to worm crawl to find it still sumped, and we headed back to Cough n' Drop resigned to spending the night. Fortunately there were 3 pits at Cough n' Drop. Unfortunately only one of them was warm, and Mark got that. I had an ancient nylon pit, evidently designed for an extremely hardy midget. Consequently I spent the night alternately quaking with cold and fear as in half awake moments I imagined the sounds' of approaching flood water for the nth time, or awoke with a start to find I wasn't in my nice bed but was still in that bloody cave! Gavin didn't fare much better 'cos me and Mark, both in plastic survival bags, sounded like rustling crisp packets every time we moved.
At 6 am Gavin's alarm went off, and just as we were getting up and brewing some tea the
advance rescue party arrived in the form of Chris Brady and friends. The water was
completely back to normal so they didn't realise we'd been flooded in, they assumed
something much worse had happened and seemed very relieved not to find corpses. Well, from
the safety of my computer terminal it all seems like a bit of a jolly adventure now, but
as some witty type said: adventure is nothing but pain and discomfort reflected upon from
the viewpoint of a warm armchair.
After last week's AGM I spent some time thinking about club finances, and the problems that Paul had outlined. One thing that came up repeatedly was the inability of the club to replace the gear lost during . the year, about 700 quid's worth according to the tacklemaster. I came to the following conclusion: Despite the black picture painted of the club's finances at the TGM, I don't think that the club finances are really any worse than they've ever been. Of course membership and trip fees have to go up a bit from time to time, I have no problem with this. What is different about the current situation is the new attitude to the gear that the expedition puts in the hut when it returns from Spain. The view of the current expedition committee is that the expedition 'loans' gear to the Club, and appears to expect it back IN FULL. This is a completely new attitude, and puts a large extra financial burden on the Club that it never had before. The club has never paid (or been able to pay) for wastage of gear used during the year, this cost has always been covered by the subsequent expedition's gear order. I disagree with the view that this is 'unfair' in some way to the expedition. On the whole everyone in the club goes on some expeditions, so everyone ends up contributing a share to the gear they use during the year. I don't think it's 'unfair' on expedition members, since we are all at some point expedition members. On the contrary, I think it is a way of using the subsidies that the expedition gets to benefit everyone in the club.
I agree that it is a good idea to try and keep tabs on gear, and not to lose it if
possible, and Dave B has worked hard to do this. The club should buy gear when it can
(especially ladders/cells etc which the expedition doesn't buy). However, gear will always
go missing or wear out, and for the club to cover ALL of this expense would cripple its
activities. I think it's time to remember that the 'expedition' is something that the club
DOES rather than being an entirely separate entity in itself. Neither the expedition nor
the club could stand on its own without the other; they're just two halves of the same
thing i.e. a way to help us go caving, and after all, going caving is what we're all
about! End of rant. Thanks for reading it (if you got this far!).
Sherry Mayo, ex-chair, ex-expedition leader.