Depth through thought

OUCC News 21st February 1996

Volume 6, Number 5

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We actually elected a new committee last week. Fantastic. Good luck to them all, and many thanks to the outgoing has-beens:

New Committee
  1. President - Steve
  2. Chair - John
  3. Secretary - Fleur
  4. Meets Secretary - Nobby
  5. Tackle - Alison
  6. Lamppost - Jo
  7. Loris - Luke
  8. Treasurer - cant remember, sorry...


Of late Weight training at 7pm. on Wednesdays at Univ. College Gym has been reduced to a hardcore group of dangerous fanatics.... I've been missing it too but aim to go more often. The more the sweatier (merrier).
James "Heaving" Hooper.

SRT Practice

There will probably be another SRT Practice at 7pm. at New College School Gym on Friday of Seventh Week. If you can't make it and have SRT kit, could you lend it to James? I plan on finding some live music afterwards (unless I sneak off down Ore's Close).
James "Is that a Chainsaw" Hooper.

Hut Keys

A quick notice to all those new members of the commitee, and anyone else who uses the hut regularly (not including those intending to live in it). I'm going to get some new hut keys cut, so if anyone doesn't have one see me so that I know how many to get.
John "He's lost the Chair's Hat already" Pybus

Easter Vacation

Does anyone have any idea of going caving (perish the thought) over the Easter week? At the moment Mongo Gill is all we have booked and we have no accommodation. This can easily change if people let James know their thoughts. Yes, this is the same "short" as two weeks ago, but only Gerhard has replied. The trip to Transylvania is still going ahead. Contact Chris or Chris soon if you're interested.

Where exactly is F64?

I'm trying to track down an altitude for the entrance of F64, This is quite significant as the cave has been dye traced to Culiembro (alt 340m) and represents the highest proven entrance to the Culiembro system. The Snow Pole is at 1855 m, Top Camp at 1913 m, La Verdelluenga 2129 m, C3 1943 m. Estimates so far: James 1990 m (educated guess); Steve 1973 m (i.e. 60 m above Top Camp). As the inlet on Whistle Stop Cafe in F64 has been surveyed to +18m above the entrance this gives a depth potential of 1668-1651 based on these estimates.
Jim (

Priddy Green Sink

Last Saturday, Rich Blake of the S.C.C. made a breakthrough, digging in Priddy Green sink. He believes he's got to a short pitch, dropping into something big (above Cowsh Avens in Swildon's Four). The first Swildon's through trip should soon be on the cards. Or at least that's the gossip from the Hunter's.
James "Just Another One" Hooper.

Pick-a-Styx Aven

Horizontal sleet swept across the Draenen car park, as JC and me set out for yet another attempt at Pick-a-Styx aven. Fast work and we were there in 2 hours, to find the hole open. But there was much to fall still, so we played a little game of me blocking up the exit from above like a deranged gull, then JC pulling it all out from below like a deranged mole. Over a boulder pile, then we were in to a rift, A small chamber was soon followed by a nasty little squeeze round a corner. But an hour and a half of attack with rocks saw me round it, and into... a small chamber with no way on. 20 metres were surveyed, and at least, I suppose, we have tied the lead off and no one ever needs go there again. Ever. Too shagged to do anything else useful, we pottled out. Pick-a-Styx had died, but horizontal sleet still swept across the car park. At least some things are reliable.
Tim Guilford

Ore's Close Folly Mine

Inching my way carefully past loose walls, liquid mud oozing its way down my ear canals, brown squalor everywhere, I ask myself, "Why?" The unknown, the great potential for the Mendips, the rediscovery of a mine perhaps 300 years old? I think its just that I like the place. The enjoyment starts before you even think about getting changed. "Where do you think the entrance is?" Chris Densham asked. I scanned the environs looking for a wooden pallet or a manhole cover. One foot away, a small corner of a metal lid lay bare. A minute of scrapping revealed the entrance, little more than 12 inches by 6. I can easily envisage a short video in the making. Bemused locals wandering round with chainsaws, an inquisitive farm dog, scared of the black hole and confused at the scent of cave mud, cavers struggling through the top of an 80 foot shaft. Voice contact is quickly lost as you ladder down the winding pitch. At the bottom, an incline past once loose boulders leads to a second 50 foot shaft. I confess to having a different approach to Chris's "Easy, easy." That is, The Wlodek-Academy Controlled Demolition Tactic. (The WAC. D. TAC) Much more fun and I think safer.

On my first trip down (ten days ago) we forgot to bring enough ladders for the second pitch. Anette spotted an alcove, however, level with the end of the first ladder. Climbing down, armed with a "just in case" crowbar, I decided it was worth a dig. Dig, dig, dig, Arghhh. My spoil and I slipped down the shaft. I lunged for the bottom rung of the ladder, Chris catching me on a line. More startled than anything, I returned to my dig. Ten feet of grunting to a sump. Fascinating. A sump half way down a shaft. Chris and I resolved to return as soon as possible. After almost 5 years, surveying still needed to be done. Back at the Nutters and Ravers, we spent one hour washing our oversuits and three hours cleaning the changing room.

Last Saturday, my Trojan-Horse plan worked once again when Chris and Paul woke me in the hut at 8am. Before long we were back on Mendip and at the base of the second shaft. At least, at the current base. Old rope abrasion marks prove that the shaft once went deeper. It's a dream. A dig you KNOW must go. Our mission was to survey, however, which is what we did for 6.5 hours. (45 legs). Nightmare Scenario on a normal day but we were an efficient team and at every turn more puzzles presented themselves. Is this hole backfilled (and hence digworthy)? Why is there burned wood? [I think it's rotted, not burnt - Ed] How old is an old clay pipe that Paul found? How many people worked/died down here? When? Will that wooden prop hold for another 4 hours? Even my pen has caught my enthusiasm, words write themselves. I just don't really see why people have ignored the place. In what seemed like no time at all, Chris had total light failure. So we finished off a few more survey legs, as you do, before Paul left to cancel our callout. Surprisingly we moved quite fast on one working light, last orders remaining a viable objective. Tandeming up the entrance pitch, heavy mud-caked gear weighing us down, I struggled for the last quarter of an inch. A quick detackle got us to the Hunter's minutes before eleven. "The can't have stopped serving?" Only a powercut. Ah.... A Hamlet cigar. As for Ore's Close, there's still more to be surveyed and pushed. After all, there were once over 100 shafts in the proximity, Ore's Close, according to records, being one of the largest mines on Mendip. Predictably, I can't wait to return. Dealing with the most hideous oversuit I've ever seen, is another matter.

Beyond Tumbling Bay...

Martin Farr has recently dived the Littoral Zone sump in Carno. He passed three short sumps (~30m, 50m, and forgotten), finding 200-300m of passage in total. He ran out of line just as he surfaced from the third sump. Unable to tie the line off to anything, he turned back at that point. He is planning to return soon. I predict now that it'll go big time. Time and line will tell.
James "I Love the Place" Hooper.


The following is an amalgam of recent correspondence from "Our Man in the SIE":- Hello again James, This evening (Tuesday 20/feb) I have been talking by phone with Javier Blanco from Leon, (we met him in Oviedo) and he has said me that there is no problem in sending you the report from Torca Cabeza Llambreda 1995. [The 800m cave in El Joon]. He is very interested to contact with OUCC/SIE. I have also detailed news about Canalizos [the 200m cave between Gustuteru and Xitu]. I've been talking with Manel Boronat] (an old SIE member) and he has told me that at least there are two open wide leads in Canalizos #1!?!! in the lateral series. And in the meander that follows the main shaft, with very easy hammering it's also possible to force the final squeeze, (with gently draught coming from the unknown). I will send you again the survey, with the location of the open leads. (one of the to leads was a short drop with sound of water below and difficult to descend without rigging because Manel was alone, the other open lead is a meander that Manel Boronat] explored also alone till he get back and it was still going... !?!!) Manel said me that he every time was saying that Canalizos was going, but SIE did never get back to that cave. So now is the chance for you to join La Verdelluenga streamway through Canalizos! Here in Spain we have a hard winter with lots of snow in the mountains (like 20 years ago!) Next summer the caves in Picos will be wet, I think. , Best wishes,

"Look at them looking for caves, and look at them when they find water in a cave. What they are really looking for, is alcohol." Groucho Marx (sorry if the translation is not very accurate)

Lost & Found

Found - in my car after abortive last trip to Yorkshire. One Inglesport red plastic sack full of caving gear. Owner please describe to reclaim. "Smelly, dirty and full of holes" is not sufficient, unless it describes the owner.

Lost - one temper. Apologies to those still present at the end of the AGM.
Steve Roberts