Depth through thought

OUCC News 10th February 1993

Volume 3, number 4

DTT volume 3 index

DTT main index

OUCC Home page


Well done Paul M and Dave B for cleaning out the hut this week end. These noble lads will be auctioning off the bits they didn't like tonight, so if any of its yours you'd better lay claim to it quick. Regular hut-watchers may have noticed, however, that the junk seems to be being replaced by office equipment. What's going on' Lots of relatively new faces are starting to reappear with encouraging frequency: what did we do? Perhaps it's meeting in the Harcourt, or perhaps it's just that the club seems to have started caving again. Who knows. Anyway, you can read about Dan's first trip to Yorks in this issue. Also, bits about Mendip, and latest OUCC exploration in Carno.

Because this issue is so full, I thought I'd try an experiment, and split the text into 2 sections. Yes, you guessed it: Caving and Accountancy.


Speaker Meetings

Dr George McGavin, from the University Museum, will be giving us a talk and slide show on 17th March. His talk will be entitled 'Exercise Tham Farang: a caving expedition to central Thailand'. George is an entertaining speaker, as those of you who heard him give a short section on the Zoological details of this expedition at the BCRA Conference last year will know, so please put it in your diaries and come along (exactly where, of course, who knows, just yet anyway: probably St. Hugs Graduate Centre?).

Next week (17th February), Sherry and Mark will show us something about the Central Picos Expeditions. Caving by cable-car, so don't miss it.

1: The Caving Section

Wales: One of our ladders is missing...

Despite our hideous experiences in Carno two weeks ago, the desire to wallow face-down in liquid mud was just too much to keep Gavin and Tim away. Always on the look out for new, usually one-time, gullibles to make up a trip, this time I managed to persuade Noel Crane to come along. Noel is gullible enough to go on climbing expeditions with 'Simon the knife', of Touching the Void fame, so that may explain his eagerness. We split into two teams right at the start, and Gavin sped off to reach his dig at the North end of the cave in a mind-boggling 2 hours. Despite cries of 'you bastards' in the partly flooded section of Full Moon Crawl, Noel not only kept up an excellent pace (he hasn't been caving for about 8 years), he actually seemed to enjoy himself. We reached Two-ways in about 2 and a quarter hours, picked up the drill (oops, let that one slip out), and slid South down Great Strait to attempt a definitive rig of the aven climb and push beyond last week's find. Noel is a climber. He even asked me if he should bring rock boots for the aven. Wellies, I said, are the perfect climbing gear (though crampons might have helped in the mud). He trusted me, and wore wellies. But once he had seen the climb, and witnessed my enthusiasm for mud-holds, he seemed less sure. Then the 'of-course-it-will-last' FX2 I had procured for him gave out.

Noel stood and shivered at the bottom of the climb (Hi, Jim!) while I repeated the climb, and placed a high bolt to hang the ladders from. 'One of our ladders is missing', Noel announced, and it was. The definitive rig is a truly bizarre sight. It consists of a single ladder, rigged too high to reach from the bottom, and rigged too low to reach the top. Once you arrive at the head of the ladder, you have to grab a tape and haul yourself onto the un- nervingly perched boulder pile above. In fact the climb is only about 14 metres, nothing close to the gross exaggeration of mine now immortalised on the Carno survey, but with the extra scramble up an awkward rift onto the big sharp boulder at the top, its at a promising point high above the level of the lake.

Buzzing again, I crawled off down the crawl found last week, and soon reached the terminal constriction. 10 minutes clearing, and I pushed through into a disappointingly smaller than anticipated chamber, full of boulders and leading into a miserable looking little rift. Oh bollocks, I thought. Noel had declined to follow through the constrictions, and had gone off down the southward rift instead, but we were still in voice contact. I cogitated, then decided that I had been in far worse looking rifts, and inserted myself. It was no squeeze at all, just a bit of fear. At the bottom, I dropped under a lip of rock, and my mood immediately flipped back again. Phreatic tube continued, easy crawling. Down, up, then into a corkscrew bend, and along a bit. Buzz. Past a cross rift to the right, down which I could hear Noel's ranting about the glow-worm of a Zoom I had given him as a back-up light, and then a weird squeeze under a tiny rock bridge. Shall I? Of course. No problem. Then I'm standing in a rift, with a right-angle junction to the left. Plenty of room, just a bit intimidating to drop into with no back-up. Is it worth it? I look at my watch. 40 mins 'till our rendezvous with Gavin. Time to leave. Phew! But I had to take a look anyway. I stuck my head in and shouted. Echo. A reasonable draught blows in my face. It's going East, and I can see a continuing larger passage just 2 metres ahead. Fuck. Time to leave.

We abbed off the climb, having discovered about 60ft of new passage, and grovelled back to Two- ways, just a few minutes late for once. Things had not gone so well at Gavin's dig, where a large boulder, the only thing between Gavin and Daren, had jammed itself into the rift. It now seems that Bang is the only option, but by all reports the draught is good, and there is continuing passage beyond. Again, its going East.

So, it looks as if OUCC may be on the verge of discovering dry passage again. Those of you who know the layout of Carno will realise that although most of the Brynmawr club are concentrating on digging out the main collector to the West, and an excellent find it promises to be, there is nothing but blank mountain to the East, until you reach Aggy and Daren.
Tim Guilford

Mendip: Longwood

Well, this weekend Paul and I cleaned up the hut, and found some rather unusual items, along with the usual assortment of lost stuff, dirt, sump oil , bits of metal and wood etc. We took the lost stuff away to wash, the wood to Mendip to burn, the metal to the MNRC to recycle and the dirt to the bin. Then we went via the MNRC to the pub. We were celebrating my car's 6th Birthday, which I thought was on Saturday, but it wasn't, its not 'til Thursday, anyway we drank. The next day we got up - but not until after the IRA had tried to steal all the Semtex from a nearby quarry, sold a Bosch Drill, and went to the pub. We met David, Nickie and Phil (Someone who works with David), and went caving. Longwood was wettish - the surface water was low, but the subsurface inlets were very wet. We went (relatively slowly) to the sump, and came back. Paul and I came back up August - it was not as wet as I expected, nor was the wet chimney as difficult as I remember. Well - enough about the caving... We went hack to the MNRC, the other 4 went home, and I ate a pancake. Then went via my house to the pub, just in time for last orders.
Dave Bell


Team Laid-Back's Trip To Yorkshire - 5th-7th Feb.

Friday - Team 'laid-back' were - Urs, Tony, Michelle, Harvey & Dan. The drive up on Friday night was that sort of magical mystery tour where anything can, and probably will, happen. Here I was, a man who ha, never been down a hole in the ground in his life, being whisked away in a dubious red minibus surrounded by a strange assortment of bits of people, caving gear and clothing (all intermingled in some random manner: Steve's expert packing soon went to pot once his back was turned). Listening to the sound-track from Rocky Horror seemed somehow appropriate to the whole affair. (First hilarious incident when we picked up Harvey in Birmingham - the sound track was just getting to the point where Janet & Rocky are having a bit of fun [in full audio detail!], which proved rather startling to Harvey who didn't know quite what was going on!) After visiting some of the more remote corners of Yorkshire, team laid-back finally made their way to the delightful luxury hotel (okay, so it was a hovel near Ingleton, but I've got to soften the harshness of my memories somehow), and promptly crashed the lock-in which was quietly happening in the pub next door.

Saturday - National Ground Hog Day (ask Urs for details) Team laid-back finally dragged themselves back into the land of the living just in time to say 'goodbye' to morning, stumbled round lots, drank some tea, ate some breakfast, and then stumbled round a bit more. Then it was off to see the delights of Ingleton, including the nasty, dangerous flight of stairs feared by all old men alike (ask Harvey for details). Then, suddenly, and to everyone's great surprise, a decision was made. 'Let's go caving' said Tony. After pondering on this novel idea for a little while, team laid-back piled back into the dubious red minibus to go hunting 'them there dark holes in the ground'.

And off from one farcical incident to the next. Team laid-back were just about to drop Tony off at a particularly nasty hole in the ground (far too nasty for us poor novices), when we notice that the vans little petrol-gauge thingy is on the red. Whoopee! So, we went and dropped off Tony anyway, and after a brilliant, inspired 3-point turn by Urs in the middle of the road (Urs was actually driving the van at the time) headed off back to Ingleton.

By now we were really determined to go caving (so what if it was getting dark), and so, with full tank of petrol (which we might just need in ease we got lost), headed back towards Kingsdale. Chapter 83 'The hunt for the parking space near the cave.' I won't go into much detail here. Let's just say that many more, inspired, 3, 4, and 5 point turns were undertaken, followed by a great group exercise called 'Oh dear, our minibus is sinking in the mud.'

Time for a touching piece of scenic beauty just as team lad-back were heading down into the depths of Bull Pot the full moon rose out of the mist into the night sky. All in all a fun cave to be in, involving lots of SRT. Definitely the way to learn when you've never even seen an SRT kit before in your life! Especially entertaining is the way you dangle at the top of a 55 foot shaft in the middle of a stream of water with your foot jammer jammed (surprise, surprise) with hardly any clue at all about how to release it. But all was well as Harvey bravely saved the day (going from being perfectly dry to being perfectly wet whilst doing so!).

Four hours later (10.30pm), team laid-back stumble out into the misty night. It's a very reflective moment when you're stumbling round a field in the depths of night, you're cold, it's goddam misty, and who knows where your minibus is (with your Snickers bar still locked inside it)! You start to think unbelievable things like 'These caver people are mad' I mean, what makes them do it ( I mean what makes them go caving). Is it the cold? Is it the wet? Is it the mind- numbing feeling of someone else's SRT kit digging into your vitals? Amazingly, or horrifyingly, I do believe it is! Even worse, it provides final conclusive proof that I myself am also mad. After several more inspired minibus manoeuvres, and a further group exercise called 'Where the F... is Tony?' team laid-back finally made their way back to their hovel. And not a Ground Hog seen all day!

Sunday - A miracle occurs. Team laid-back get up and it's still morning. Now I call that being eager.

A second miracle occurs - I can still move my Limbs!

Team laid back once again set off to find 'them there holes in the ground.' This time a mucky, wet, crawly sort of cave is planned. Once we found the entrance in the middle of a field, Michelle, Tony and Harvey headed on in. And then it happened. I lost my nerve. The entrance to the cave was just that bit too small and awkward for me to persuaded myself to go down into it. So of I went with Urs, leaving the rest of them crawling round underground in the mud, to go down 'Roaring Cave' instead. And what a devious woman that Urs is (I suppose it comes from being a lawyer- type)! This rather fun, innocuous cave, with nice big passages and caverns, soon turns out to be a series of boulder-chokes (narrower than the afore-mentioned gap) connected by crawl-ways. But I did it, and enjoyed it. The one memory that I will always keep from that cave is just how small a gap your body can fit through (especially when it's soaking wet). I did manage to get my own back on Urs though, by dropping a nice big boulder on to her head on the way out (unintentionally of course!) I must admit, I felt so amazingly exhilarated when I got out off that cave - quite an experience.

And so, team laid-back finally got themselves together (making sure that no body parts were left behind in any caves), and after a bit more tea-drinking, eating and general stumbling round, headed off back towards the real world.
Dan Tompkins

2: The Accountancy Section

David has been reading the paper. I read the newspaper at the weekend. Among the articles that I found interesting was one that I would like to share with you. It was in the holiday section, and was about Insurance. (Yes, you guessed it, this is another mutton dressed as lamb article, where David pretends that he is describing what he did at the weekend, when in fact he is going to talk about administration and money).

The author described how his son went on a. trip to France without travel insurance, but with an Elll. In France he was knocked down by a ear, and broke his pelvis very badly. Medical treatment for tire accident cost about £300, including a month or two in hospital, this is what it would have cost a French person, and most of the bill was met by the Elll. The point of the article was that medical treatment was only a, small fraction of the total cost. The injured son did not need to be repatriated, but that would have cost £2000-3000. Instead a relative went to live in France while the son recovered, because it was felt by the doctors that his recuperation would be improved if he had contact with someone who spoke a language he understood.

The moral of the story war that even in Europe you need the best travel insurance you can get. The Elll doesn't cover repatriation, visits, or anything, so if you hurt yourself badly while caving abroad, you could be spending months in a foreign hospital, on your own, and not understanding anything of what the medical staff are saying, or your nearest and dearest will be desperately searching for the money to bring you home, money which they could have got from an insurance company. An E1ll is not enough - get good travel insurance, you know it makes sense.

And on Sunday I went down Longwood with DRB and PMM, the men who tidied the hut.

Gear Auction

On Wednesday 17th February there will be an auction of unclaimed property from the club hut, the proceeds of which will go to the club. You are invited to bid for the items; those items not bought will be thrown away / given to the Expedition / given to a charity shop / etc as appropriate. The highlights of the sale are :

I look forward to receiving your bids. Dave Bell

PS Paul will be modelling all the unclaimed clothing, for your delectation.