Depth through thought

OUCC News 26th April 1995

Volume 5, Number 9

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Tonight is our first night at St. Cross for the Wednesday meeting. Once teething problems have been sorted out, I'll post the access procedure in DTT for the benefit of those who aren't here to tonight (and perhaps some who tried, but failed to get in...). Anyway, DTT wishes to thank the bar staff and management for letting us in.

Unattributed, but completely reliable, sources tell me that the DYO ban has been extended for 5 years, and that Blue Peter actually ran a TV story on the completely fabricated dog rescue event despite being told in advance that it was untrue. I also hear that the BEC are training bats to dig boulder chokes.

Exploration News

Rob Davies won't be along tonight: he's gone to the Gower "for the weekend" to continue with the good progress that he and Bill (plus some help from Tony and Urs) have been making in OCM. They have surveyed around 600 Metres of passage to date, and, weather permitting, will be pushing into new passage this weekend. After a weekend of shambolic arrangements, I managed to drive to Wales on my own to join Peter Bolt on a trip down Draenen. We went to the far South East (Elliptic Passage area) and surveyed 600 metres of new passage, 150 of which we found on Sunday, the rest found by Nig Rogers the previous week. It's dry stuff, festooned with Gypsum formations in abundance I have never seen before. But there is a lot of crawling, and digging through boulder chokes.
Tim Guilford

Indoor Climbing

For those, like me ("You can tell he's not a caver") who've been away, the exciting news is that Oxford has a new indoor climbing wall at Brookes University. This is supposed to be as fun and as challenging as other big climbing walls and the Cave Club should be going there on Monday nights a guaranteed excellent laugh and a good way to keep fit. Speak to Chris D. for details.
James Hooper

Spain '95

Well the summer is here again and as sure as I'm grinning, in two months time we'll be driving off to the sunny limestone hills of the Picos. So now's the time to pay your expedition deposits (Cheques to Ukey, 8 Cripley Road, Oxford - made out to OUCC Boca Del Joon Expedition 1995 - 125 pounds); plan your holiday; dream of BIG shafts and Cuarenta y tres; and let Dave (tel:01865 60132) or James ( know if, when and how you'll be joining one of the deepest shows to leave the UK ths year. Can you also please return your completed gear order forms to James a.s.a.p. (Resident country members should get one with their term card). Blimey, what else? Make sure you keep the w/e of 27/8 May free for a rescue and survey practice in the Mendips (including a possible fondu party with forfeits A la *) and brush up on the ol' first aid. There's two open expedition meetings on the term card so you can ask questions, find out more and convince yourself that you're coming. You know it makes sense. The deptometer rests at -485m. Vino Tinto. Depth Through Thought.
James "He's sunk too far" Hooper

My First (Mini) SRT trip

I finally got to use my spanking new gear underground. Tony (thankyoukindsir) kindly hung around the entrance of Marble Steps while I had a small go at SRT in a real cave. It was brilliant! The entrance is very beautiful and I felt nice and comfortable in my harness and abseiling was completely brilliant and prussiking went just how it was supposed to and I did it all by myself and I felt *wonderful* about it! I can't wait to do a proper SRT trip! Dales, here I come!
Sharon Curtis

Carno Camping (and Digging)

Gavin and Jenny went down Carno at the weekend and had lots of fun caving and camping, and not quite so much fun digging in Western Super Mire. The dig site is truly cold and wet and muddy, but very promising (even in the eyes of an eternal pessimist). The two main problems are: (i) having to lie flat-out on your tummy in the stream whilst digging away at the streambed in front of you (Gavin mostly did this job) - you get cold, and (ii) disposing of the spoil, which is gloopy, sloppy, thixotropic mud that won't pile up neatly, but instead sloops back into the stream almost immediately. We reckon that the most efficient way forward is to have three-person trips; one digging in the stream and the other two ferrying spoil way away from the stream. Day trips would be possible, but totally knackering (at least by my standards). Camping trips would be more fun. The camp is brill; clean, sandy, well stocked with yummy food, comfortable and right near the dig site. What more could happy campers ask for? Anyone who's keen, particularly anyone masochistic enough to want to lie in the stream at the 'sharp end', should talk to Gavin. It will 'go' eventually. It really will (??).
Jenny Vernon

Fermanagh '95

Guinness has no effect on me anymore.... It took us a day to travel to Fermanagh with a pleasant ferry crossing and lots of duty free. Yes, we got lost, but we met a hitcher who knew the way. It was that sort of week. We rented two cottages by a lake, waking up on the first morning to watch two wild deer eating placidly outside. None of us had been to the region before but on the first day a trip to Tullyhona Rising was planned. The guide book talks of long ducks and low airspaces, so donning our wetsuits, we set off with photo gear to this resurgence cave. After taking photos ("can you just lie in the duck with the flashgun") and meeting a team from Huddersfield (a frequent occurrence), we set off upstream. The cave was unexpectedly beautiful - stalactites, curtains, crystals and delicate gour pools aplenty. In fact we soon discovered that all the caves in the region have formations to rival the cream of those in Britain. Meanwhile, a team of "real cavers" got lost in the show cave part of Marble Arch (another large resurgence a few kilometres away) passing the same group of tourists five times! When we did later find the way into the system proper, this too proved to be a cracking trip, even without Mike and Catherine's "orgasmic mud."

After two trips with no tackle, I felt the need for a change and so the 80m entrance pitch of Noon's hole (named after a traitor who got thrown done it) seemed to fit the bill. I spent a couple of hours (f)rigging in the entrance while Olly, Mike and the others walked around this separate area of karst that looks like a mixture of all British areas rolled into one. At the bottom the cave took on the features of Carno, both sporting and gloomy. Will dragged out a hideously heavy tackle bag full of carpet endings and we emerged, grinning, to Guinness at sunset.

Wednesday morning. A leisurely start. Malheureusement nous avons oublie le bateau. However the chosen cave, Pollnagollum (of the boats) has four lakes. And so undeterred by lack of neoprene and much to Katinka's amusement, the plan to build a giant raft of inflated condoms was launched. It worked too, kind of. I'll never forget the experience of being pulled round a corner of a dark 30m long lake clutching a torpedo-like tackle bag full of rubbers and blown up wine cartons, my nose skimming the surface of the water. The other lakes were bypassable and the stream passage was fantastically beautiful on the other side.

The following day a big barbeque was planned so most people spent the day on the lake canoeing and windsurfing (at which Wendy is particularly skilled). Amber, however managed to find herself caught between "the eternal optimist on one side (me) and the man who can stick to anything on the other (Tim)" on an enjoyable trip down Prods where we freeclimbed some "interesting pitches". Later in the week Mike, Pauline and Pauline found an undiscovered 60 foot aven here, of which Tim climbed up 50'. Passage continues at the top.... That was in the future though. "A student sat at the lib-rar-ry, Put down her pen and said, 'Bugger That'." In the present, we were sitting round a huge barbeque on the lake shore, watching the moon rise, singing, laughing, whispering to Harvey, "Vino Tinto." Suddenly all was calm as the surreal notes of Pauline's flute floated across the lake, augmented by the soft paddling of the rowing boat from which she played. The whole scene, the music, the soft lapping of waves on the shore, the occasional crack of the fire, produced one of the week's most vivid memories.

Our Ireland days passed too quickly for any of us to realize that our time was almost spent. Steve P. joined a large trip down Pollnarafta, after hitching to the West coast and back, while Marius (caver, friend and cottage owner) showed Shannon to another team (and was shown some by us). We also experienced the joy of being able to leave for the pub at 11:10 (p.m.), returning a few hours later to initiate Marius into the fun of squeezing and body traversing. On the last day, I went on another trip down Noon's with Harvey and Chris D., finding the elusive connection to Arch 2. This is a real collectors piece, only recently open to non-divers, in which Chris and I bundled on down an incredulously muddy pitch holding a thin piece of tat, totally unsure of our ability to return. (Team tactics were needed.) We spent Easter Sunday, our final night, in the great city of Dublin. A brilliant holiday. God bless the Irish. Thanks to Marius and Isabelle. Who is Mister Square? Who is Mister Round? Why did they drink so much vodka? Guinness has no effect on me anymore...
James Hooper.

Next Week...

Easter in Yorkshire, and "why University and Recognised clubs are different..."