Depth through thought

OUCC News 24th January 1996

Volume 6, Number 2

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Lots of things happened this weekend, principally in Draenen, but no stories submitted I'm afraid. Still, it seems that the Fly trap has all but gone to ground, whilst Anette, Snablet and Vince found 200 metres or so of stuff up Blorens Inlet. Last week too, Boltie et al. found 2km or so of stuff in the waterfall series near the entrance!

Expedition Medical Matters

Thanks to the healthy turn out for out meeting with Prof. Warrell on Tuesday. He seemed to be happy with expedition medical planning. One outcome was his insistence that expeditioners should try and get themselves vaccinated by their College doctors (or GPs) with the new Hepatitis vaccine. I think its called Haflix or something like that. Its expensive, so many doctors are reluctant to prescribe it, but Warrell says that Spain has a significantly increased of hepatitis, and that you should persuade your doctor that the vaccination will be of use to you for several years becasue you are the sort that will be continually off exploring in dangerous countries. So, please try and get immunised if you are coming on expedition.

I also need to know about any allergies of medical difficulties expeditioners have. Please let me know if you are suffering from anything, are allergic to nuts or Raven food, have epilepsy or are Diabetic. Do so in private if you like.
Tim Guilford

First Aid and Rescue

As in previous recent years, we will be organising a Practise Rescue and a dedicated FA course next term. This time however, it looks like we may be able to combine them.. Richard Ward has agreed to come for the weekend to Mendip, teach us First Aid and come on the rescue practice. This should be an extremely informative weekend, so please come along and learn how to save your friends.

SWCC are we are we...

I have heard a rumour that the SWCC has thought up another wheeze for controlling access to the cave systems for which they have responsibility. All clubs will have to provide the SWCC with lists of their members. You've guessed it: if you're not on the list for 'your' club, then no trip. Jolly reasonable, eh? Chris Densham (To the uninitiated, South Wales Cave Club is the biggest and most important cave club in Wales, controlling access particularly to OFD - Britain's deepest cave. Their attitude to University Clubs varies between tolerance and refusal, depending on the year and the person you speak to. Unfortunately, we are a University club, so we are inexperienced and....Ed)

Cat up a Tree near Big Country

This trip had all the sounds of Big Country in it, but without the Tree. Say it, it makes sense!

Peter Bolt took me, Jenny and Tim for a trip to Poetic Justice, just off Big Country in the South West of Draenen a few weeks ago. It is a fascinating and complex area - lovely sculpted rock pendants hang from the ceiling. We walked underneath an inviting aven, where you could clearly see passages heading off in both directions at the top. But Peter had a particular lead in mind. While he started digging out a passage at head level, Tim started to grovel around the corner. "Er, hello, that you?". Hmm perhaps not such a good dig after all. Someone's been here before. A few steps away was the aven again. Ah, says Peter, I think it was ME who was here before! It IS a complex area. We all grovelled around a while in a few digs. Tim and I ended up digging towards a common objective - we could both see the same place but neither of us could actually get there. Eventually Tim's way went, so while he & Jenny continued there, Peter & I went off to bolt into the aven.

Peter & I built a tower, then took it in turns to stand on each other's shoulders to put in a bolt. Tim came back to say he & Jenny had made a bit of a breakthrough. We had nearly finished the bolt, so decided we too could make a breakthrough & finished putting in the bolt. Then it was time to make a lunge & climb up into the aven. Peter kindly let me go up first. Total equipment for the task: 2 short tapes. A fresh draught tumbled down into my face: my dim light made the spaces ahead appear inviting, so I persuaded Pete to come up too. Alas, his better light showed all the leads to close down after a total of only 50 metres - it was time to try to get back down. Pete with the long legs disappeared over the edge with impressive rapidity. I tried to follow. Braced across the gap at full stretch, I could just get my hand around the back of the tape. About a metre beneath it was the bolt, and about 4m beneath that was the top of the tower that we had built. I didn't like it very much. Pete was encouraging: "Look, you've just got to fall off. Make sure it is when you WANT to fall, rather than when you HAVE to." I didn't want to fall off at all. One of my feet vibrated off the slippery ledge, & I just managed to scrabble back up. Like a cat stuck up a tree. I managed to screw up enough courage to have another go, and climbed back down to the tape. Just about to make the lunge, the bolt fell out. Guardian Angel on overtime once more. Another bolt, & a some re-tying of tapes later, I was down safe, sound, & vowing not to try to climb up another aven without just a tad more equipment. Tim & Jenny were just finishing surveying back - they had found a beautiful chamber, and a few potential leads heading off it. We headed out, a bit disappointed not to have made any significant breakthroughs, but I at least was grateful not to have made any other sort of breaks!
Chris Densham

Update: The chamber Chris talks about - Satanic Verse - is off Poetic Justice, and still contains an interesting lead very close by survey to the continuation of the Blorenge Streamway upstream of the currently terminal boulder choke. But its hard to get to, and contains a series of nasty squeezes...


The Peak District is a totally fantastic area and weekend of 24-26 November was without doubt one of the best club weekends I can remember, the countryside, the caves, the TSG (are we are we), the Castleton Carrot.... On Saturday night, after an excellent trip down Giant's Hole to the East Canal and while I was well on my way to getting more hammered than the Crunchy Frog, I was lucky to get invited on a rare trip from Peak Cavern to Speedwell Mine via the trenches. The catch? I offered to carry gear for Phil "Warthog" Murphy who was diving in Whirlpool rising.

So on Sunday morning, head still throbbing, I got changed at the TSG and walked through Castleton (past 4 pubs) to the Entrance of Peak. I had no idea what the cave or trip would be like but everyone else seemed to be wearing a wetsuit..... "They train them hard at Oxford," Warthog said. Hmmm I felt like a stepped on jelly baby. The show cave part of Peak Cavern is without doubt the worst show cave I have ever seen. Goatchurch is better. Once past the tourist bit, the cave improved considerably. Before long we passed through a normally locked gate to a ladder climb. Then followed an hour of crawling through an incredible mud filled dig. Eventually the draught increased and the sound of roaring water got louder and louder. The crawl broke out into the top of an awesome 60' high aven with fixed ladders (several rungs of which were missing). Climbing down these (no lifelines etc.) gained the large Speedwell streamway. Speedwell is (to use an overly worked adjective) fantastic, half mine, half cave, huge amounts of water. Phil did a 30 minute dive down Whirlpool risings - laying 10m of line. A pleasant trip back got us out for sunset. Back to the TSG for pancakes. For those who haven't been, put the Peak district on a "Must visit sometime" list.
James "It can get worse" Hooper.

Mendip in 9th Week

Weeks away at the end of term are becoming legendary and this one proved no exception. Over the course of the week 16 people made it down to the Mendips for a variety of caving and drinking trips. On Saturday, two trips got down Eastwater for either the 13 pots or fun dancing in the dark in Primrose pot. An excellent night back at the MNRC was spent with Dirge, the faithful squeeze box and homemade wine. Sunday saw Steve and me down to sump 9 in Swildon's (direct). In Steve's borrowed words: When you're down in the streamway, Just haul on the line, and take it.... to the limit.... one more time.... Sump 5 a bit full, not nice. Good trip. 3hrs 45. One of the best bits, however, was walking back when a Scout group asked Steve where he'd got to. You had to be there.

Meanwhile the others had a "see the whole cave and more" trip down Longwood, rescuing someone from another club who had trouble getting out August. Monday saw little enthusiasm for caving and I was forced to dig alone down Pierre's Pot. This has really enthused me. Partly because an idea has become a dream and a dream a fantasy (the Burrington Master Cave) and partly because its draughting like mad. An hours work of hammering and prodding loose rocks with a crowbar made an honest five metres progress. It is really draughting though progress will be harder now. Back at the MNRC. Fixed Bayonets NO. Fixed grin YES.

Tuesday saw Rob, Alex, John and me down St. Cuthbert's with Andy Sparrow. A superb trip with lots of pretty curtains, stal. and the particularly fine gour pool formation. It looks more like it should be in the Vercors in places and puts the Mendips in a new light. On my 21st birthday we couldn't get round the round trip in Swildon's as it was too wet so after a walk in Cheddar Gorge we went for a jolly down the Blue Pencil. Thanks to all those who came down for my birthday. I finally got my long dreamed of jugs of Guinness in the Hunters. Thanks too for the Champagne, the fat cigar and for putting me to bed. All in all it was well... a legendary OUCC holiday. See the logbook for photos.
James "Why hasn't everyone got teatowels on their heads?" Hooper.