Depth through thought

OUCC News 3rd February 1993

Volume 3, number 3

DTT volume 3 index

DTT main index

OUCC Home page


The old spontaneity of the cave club seemed to return this week end with a massed trip to Mendip. I spotted multifarious Sunday morning bodies at the MNRC, where a Vodka event had clearly happened, and Roberts' car (remains of) outside GB for sure. Perhaps I'II get some reports of trips for next issue. Meanwhile, Trips to Daren and Carno are reported in this issue.


On Mendip, Wigmore went again last week. The downstream sump has finally been dived to several hundred feet of new passage currently ending in a pitch with a clear continuation beyond. Apparently, Wigmore is off-limits at weekends for the duration of that strange season in which hoorays spend more money on shooting the pheasants they have already paid large sums to breed and rear.

Recent digs in White Pit have revealed new passage containing some rather pretty formations. Unfortunately for Gavin, access seems difficult.


Digging in Daren again (this time at Twelve O'clock High)

Two weekends ago. Tim, Gavin and Jenny braved the weather on Saturday night and drove over to Llangattock. The wind was incredible; banging and buffeting the cosmic banana of happiness, almost off the road. In South Wales tiles were being tipped off roofs and branches tom off trees. We spent the evening in the pub, then had an uncomfortable night in the van, followed by an equally uncomfortable wriggle through the entrance crawl.

Daren never fails to provide a rewarding trip. We rattled on through, to Hard Rock camp and beyond into Rock Steady Cruise, to the small chamber (just after the squeezy bit called Miami Vice) where Jenny left her second diahorrea 'crap in a bag' when she was down on a recent camping trip with Gavin. The route to Twelve O'clock High is a left turn off from this chamber. It is a lovely section of cave, which none of us had visited before, with lots of spacious walking passage and some crawls in incredibly soft sand. There are also some peculiar formations. One looks like a pool of pure white vomit draped over a rock slab, and another is a cluster of bright orange and white nodules. Twelve O'clock High itself is a section of rift passage where the roof is way, way up, and the dig is just beyond.

A couple of years ago, Pete Bolt banged a way through the first pan of the terminal boulder choke, and extended the passage 10 or U) meters further into the choke. It's in a good position, way over the second stream way and heading roughly south west into the empty mountain. But the problem now is knowing where to dig. There are lots of potential leads and the whole area is draughting convincingly. Gavin even brought joss sticks down so we could try to trace the draughts, but they didn't help much. Draughts seemed to be coming in and out of holes randomly, and after about an hour's digging in what might have been the best place, we headed out.

Stomp, stomp, stomp. Crawl, crawl. Splash, splash, splash, splash. Wander, wander, wander. Grunt up, grunt up. Squeeze. Traverse. Climb up. Long climb down. Stomp. Crawl. Stomp, stomp. Grunt up. Wriggle. Stomp, stomp. And, finally, crawl, crawl, splash, crawl........., aah, out at last, to be greeted by the most vicious weather imaginable - raging wind blowing horizontal, freezing sleet. Walking down to the van and changing was more of an ordeal than the caving. We were all totally 'caved out' after a 9 hour trip and no-one envied Tim having to drive home.

Carno hurts

It looked grim right from the start. Jim had been coerced to join this most recent attempt (31/1/93) to get into Carno whilst in an alcoholic stupor. Far too early on Sunday morning in the less-than-congenial haze of burnt vegi-banger smoke and Vodka memories that swamped the MNRC kitchen, Jim squinted in hungover disbelief at his earlier folly. "Caverns measureless...", "virgin passage...", "Came goes again...": even I thought I had been a bit over persuasive. Still, we did Tim's confidently predicted 1 hour journey to Carno in nearer 2 hours, unfortunately still in time for Bill Gasgoigne to let us into the Adit. Previous trips this winter had all been abandoned because of flooding, but we had determined to try and locate the high bypass to Full Moon Crawl. The entrance was characteristically wet but we grunted through to the first camp, and rested while Gavin went off to check the flood levels in the crawl. Plan: if he didn't get back in 10 mins, Jenny, Tim and Jim were to head on. 10 mins later, rattlings were heard ahead, and Jenny and Jim, now on the point of mutiny, shrieked with delight at the prospect of jacking the trip. But it was not to be. "Its open" shouted Gavin, and the first deep trip into Carno this year was on.

Actually, it was "open" only in a technical sense. Full Moon Crawl contained a substantial and rather intimidating flat out duck. Crow-bars were dropped, prussic bags abandoned, oaths abused. But we were through, and nothing to stop us. Well, nothing but Jim's sleep-deprived nausea, Jenny's deteriorating spirits, and a truly horrid new version of Southern Discomfort stream way. We found foam 4 or metres above the normally dormant stream-bed, and everything covered in a fresh layer of slippery mud. At one point Jenny's foothold plunged into the rift, and not an insubstantial one at that, reminding us that Carno still has a distinctly unvisited feel. The final nasty traverse had both me and Jim properly gripped (the one where you have to shimmy on hands and knees staring down into a frightening version of your own future), but we found an easy bypass to it on the way back (climb up higher into the rift well before you reach the bad bit). Two ways, and we split into two groups. Jenny and Gavin headed off to dig in the North, and again had to negotiate a flat out duck - though otherwise there appear to be no wet weather problems beyond Full Moon if you can clear the crawl. Jim and I went south to try and finish bolting the climb I started months ago.

The climb is an obvious high, airy aven just before the terminal lake, with a dark space above. All went well until I started trying to drill the next bolt some 30 feet or so above the floor. All I could get it to do was polish the limestone. Convinced I had a blunt bit I took to hand drilling instead, despite having dragged the whole ludicrously heavy beast all the way here. Eventually, I finished the hole (well, nearly...), and placed the anchor. This time I remembered to tighten the hanger, and, aching, I pushed up the next stage. "I think this boulder may roll, so perhaps you should move your belay position Jim?". Minutes after he had moved, the boulder did indeed do just what it was told. But by this stage, and although it was now getting late, the top seemed tantalisingly close, and I decided to go for it. A tiring vertical mud-thrutch, over some perched boulders and I was into a high level continuation of the rift heading South. Behind, an interesting traverse looked worth checking one day, but the direction ahead was not encouraging. Chris and I had visited what was probably the blind end of this same rift on a previous swim across the lake, but I didn't follow it to a conclusion, and it may yet go over the top. I didn't follow it because I very soon hit a junction, with a rift then low crawl heading off to the left (East). Tired, but determined to take a short look, I followed this into an overflow passage for about 30 feet until a an easy constriction. Beyond this looked like a larger passage, probably an aven down. Perhaps its just another blind aven, but East is definitely the way a psychospeliogenicist would want things to: a look at the survey shows that all the North-South stream passages are intersected by East-West connections. Fingers crossed.

Despite finding about 100 feet of new passage, and three open leads, happiness was at an all time low at the foot of the climb. Jim, half dead with cold, me with exhaustion. We sat and slowly packed the gear. The haul back to two-ways was desperately slow, and when we arrived very late Jenny and Gavin were gallantly restrained in their abuse. Time for a Pizza. But no, Scotty was off saving worlds somewhere. 3 hours of sheer dogged unpleasantness followed instead. But eventually there was the Adit, there was the van, and there were Pizzas. And Carno had sounded like such an easy place to find new cave passage. But there's no doubt about it. Carno hurts. Tim


A friend of mine came out of Bar Pot many years ago on a freezing cold night in February. He was using a carbide lamp, but had run out of water. To re-start his lamp for the long walk down, he needed a supply of water and the only thing he could think of was to urinate into the filler hole of his generator.

Unfortunately, a few seconds later there was a howl of pain: he had forgotten that the metal of his generator had become very cold. Yes, you've guessed it; a certain part of his anatomy had FROZEN onto the metal. Obviously all he needed to do was to start urinating, and the warm liquid would have warmed up the metal. But somehow he had lost all desire to go! He was eventually freed by another member of the party (whose light was still operational) playing a flame onto the side of the generator. The rest of us lay on the floor almost dying of laughter as this delicate operation was performed. Mark Dougherty (from the Net)

Film Review

I was at the movies yesterday and saw the preview for the new Sylvester Stalone (sic) movie, Cliffhanger. The preview had ample alpine rock climbing scenes, snow, explosions, violence and action inside a cave. Maybe the story is based on, "Shambooie" (another sic). The movie will be out in May. Hollywood has gone underground with a multi-million dollar actor which will allow millions to see what you can do in caves. Gary Petrie (from the Net)

Who Said...

Of Daren entrance crawl.. "Can you imagine what sheer hell this place would be if it was dry?"