Depth through thought

OUCC News 1st November 1995

Volume 5, Number 21

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Many thanks to Pauline for editing Depth whilst I was away, but all good things come to an end. Lots of stuff this week, including reports of new finds here and in Australia. Keep the stories flowing.

Three weeks ago I suggested that it might be nice if people paid the Treasurer their membership without her having to badger them. The response was stunning. No one, not even me, had the courtesy to pay up. Come one, do it.

SRT Practice

SRT practice will take place this Friday at New College School gym from 7-9pm. These sessions are invaluable if you're new to the club and are interested in doing more caving (especially vertical caving which is fairly common in Yorkshire). Can you let James know if you're interested in coming or can lend a set of (cleanish) SRT gear? These events are always a laugh and are followed by going out for a drink, so bring some beer money and old clothes.

AC Irvine Talk

The AC Irvine slide show evening - where everyone who went off climbing, caving, and mountaineering during the summer gives a short talk on what they did - will take place at St. Catz on November 16th, a Thursday. (Not on the 17th as I reported last week).
James" Clearly Out of Focus" Hooper.

The Case of the Missing Survey

They seek it here, they seek it there, James and Wlodek seek it everywhere. Is it with Jim, Dave or S.G.R.? That damned elusive C9 data.... The guilty point, the innocent stand accused. Can anyone who has information as to where the 1994 C9 survey information is (ie. coordinates, L,R,U,D, delta EE etc. and Wlodek's drawings on A4 graph paper) please, let James know with the utmost urgency. Clear out your cupboards, search under the bed. Confidentiality is assured.
James "Trillby" Hooper.


Then NO permission for O.F.D. Thanks S.W.C.C. Grumble, grumble, the Meet Sec. frowns. To be fair, O.U.C.C. should be O.K. in the future if a motion is passed at the next committee meeting. Hmmm politics to the minimum, speleology to the max., I say.

The Picos Conference

Oxford on a misty morning, the start of many a weekend. Wandering down the back streets with a back on my back, I was heading not for Wales, or the Dales, but south to Asturias in Northern Spain. The coach rolled its way through the English countryside, arriving at Stanstead in two and a half hours. I've always had a fascination with airports and train stations and this one proved no exception. Watching people coming, going, nervous, excited, lost, vacant, meeting and leaving each other, tears, laughter. I suppose I belonged to the nervous/vacant categories. A futuristic monorail soon drove me to the plane, a DC-9 with about 100 seats. It was half full, mostly with Spaniards, though I managed to get a window seat.

As the plane accelerated down the runway, beams of static electricity jumped from the engine to my window and with a pang of guilt for indulging in superstition I recalled it was Friday the 13th. I was soon calmed with a Spanish lager and moved by the sight of the silver clouds below. I started dreaming of Spain, and expedition, and went over my talk for the following day. At the airport, I was met by a couple who drove me to Oviedo and an unforgettably crazy, caving/cider drinking weekend ensued, details of which could fill several dtt's. I'll stick with the Conference, suffice to say that all cavers are well, cavers and the Spanish are not known to stay on board during a Fiesta.

The Second International Picos Conference had one international member, from OUCC. A large number of Spanish groups gave reports on the last 4 years of exploration. My talk was the last on Saturday. It was billed to start at 7:30 but such is the Spanish way, My Translator and I didn't get going till 10:15. Fortunately it went down very well. (Upstream 2/7, Sierra Forcada, F64 and C9 illustrated with Martin H.'s, Tim's and Paul's slides could hardly fail to be impressive though I think we'll be linked to Trogloditoes for a long while). On Sunday I showed First Light, (made by OUCC in 1967). This was hugely enjoyed by all but especially by a group that is actually named after one of the caves that it was filmed in. They've been exploring it for the last twenty years, have just made a video in it themselves and didn't know that our film existed!! I promised to send them a copy of First Light.

I also renewed links with the SIE who are now pushing a cave halfway between Cabeza Muxa and Cueva Culiembro. (345m and still going) This means we'll have to liaise on dye testing. We also got given a cave. Situated on Gustuteru, ie. directly above C9's Underground Overdrive, it was pushed in 1981 to over 100m, ending in a too tight rift. Too tight then equals worth another look. Unfortunately Lancaster have probably lost there area and if you're interested in Picos politics speak to James. In a nutshell foreign expeditions in non-Asturian regions may have trouble, though we should be OK. Although, I undoubtedly had a good weekend, I was always conscious. (Error, error) I was always conscious of the fact that club members had pitched in money for me to be there. I'm certain in my own mind that everyone got value for money, and Oxford has undoubtedly taken the Conference by storm. (I believe this to be true so I'll bin all traces of modesty). I'll also try to write up a short report for "Caves and Caving." We and I remain indebted to Juan Jose for all the work he's done for us over the years (I presented him with a copy of Beneath the Mountains). All I have left now is a blur of memories (and a new cider stained T-shirt).

Yet More Draenen

At the risk of it sounding boring, Bolty & (not?) the BEC found yet another 1km in Draenen this Saturday. Apparently it is mostly in little bits & pieces around the 1km 'Big Country' streamway they found last weekend. But it is still apparently not quite as far South as The Last Sandwich and all that, so OUCC still has some influence in the area...
Chris Densham

Big Flashes in Small Country

I, Paul Mann & John Pybus were one of the Oxford trips into Draenen this weekend. After what seemed like huge amounts of organising, lots of Oxford turned up at the same place, at roughly the same time, with a key that worked. We arrived at Fault Chambers (near the start of Elliptic, in the South East) sans incident, and set off in search of Big Country, last weekend's big find by Pete Bolt & co. Well, we didn't find it: plenty of new territory, & even a streamway, but none of it very big. Clearly the Wessex stuff. We shouldn't have been surprised, since none of us had been to the area before. So after crawling around for hours, we gave up in disgust and ran off to do the round trip instead. Paul let off some of the Vernon-acquired Very Big Flashbulbs in St David's Hall en route. It was all-right really.
Chris Densham

The Secretary's Redemption

Swildon's Hole Sunday 22 Oct.

On Sunday eight novices turned up for their first trip down Swildon's, and no one too early because of the clock being changed! Quite quickly all were kitted up although many were missing some bits on their bum. After an uneventful journey to the Hunters Lodge Inn, with only Knobby unable to sit on a seat, we met up with Pauline, James and Bill. It took some time before everyone had lunch, since half the rural population of the Mendips decided to have lunch at the same time. We split up in three groups, James and Knobby taking two novices, Charlie and Tom, on the long round trip. All went well and everone enjoyed themselves getting moderately wet and so on. However, coming out of Barnes Loop Nicole made a rather nasty, scary fall of a couple of feet. Luckily no broken bones, but Pauline and I decided to take her out anyway. It just happened that the third group, led by Bill, Chris and Kitti appeared out of Barnes Loop as well (whereby Justin made an involuntary quick descent at the same spot), so that Pip and Joanne, who were really keen, could continue with them further towards Sump 1.

Us three went out quite well, and Nicole managed to do so mainly under her own steam. Since Charlie and Tom more or less outran James and Knobby (!) they were out before the big group, who were obviously slowed down because they were now with 8 people. This must have caused some confusion within the big group, since they left the ladder in place, to be used by James & Co. This was naturally quite unnecessary, if only that novices who can outrun James and Knobby could bloody well have free-climbed these 20 feet.

Anyway, Kitti and Chris raced down in record time to retrieve the ladder, and were back before the others were finished changing. On the way back we had a semi-epic quest for a Pizza place in Bath, got totally lost in a one-way system (just as well there are no one-way systems underground!!), raced past our friendly local guides 3 times ("What are you doing HERE??"), until we settled for the Bath Charcoal Grill, were Justin and Tom were introduced to the delights of Donner Kebab. I think most of us had a great time, and I think we will see some of the novices back on another trip. Thanks to all the leaders and those providing gear without bums.
Maarten Krabbendam.

New extension in Drum Cave.

From our Australian correspondents...

Drum cave is a pleasant (though rather short) cave in Bungonia, one of the most well trodden caving areas in Australia, and a popular haunt for boy scouts and "adventure" caving groups. Despite the unpromising locale we've actually managed to find 300m of new passage in Drum. The new passage was reached via a 13m bolt climb up to a hole in the roof. The hole led through to winding low phreatic passage and then (to our surprise) into big phreatic passage more than 10m wide and high. We did the bolt climb using HKD internal-wedge bolts and a petrol driven Ryobi drill, which proved to be a bloody good combination. The passage closed down to a sump but we still have a lead in a climb which we hope to look at in March. We can't go back before then because the cave is closed while all the bats have wild batty sex and lots of little batty babies.
love Sherry and Mark.
ps It was great to see you all in Spain!