Depth through thought

OUCC News 1st May 1996

Volume 6, Number 11

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Don't forget that the rescue and first aid weekend is the one after this one, and will be held on Mendip. Its really a must for expeditioners, but I think everyone who has been before has found it invaluable. This time Richard Ward will be giving day's first aid course on the Saturday, followed by Gavin talking about rescue. On Sunday there will be an underground stretcher rescue practice. Please could those of you who are writing articles for Proc. 14 get a move on and send them to me. Well over half are in, but those other promised ones just keep eluding the editors...

Wales Weekend

This weekend there's a fun weekend with a difference going on in Wales. For those of you who don't know, this Saturday a BCRA Regional Symposium about Ogof Draenen is being held in the Workmens' Hall in Blaenavon. Doing a cheeky bit of networking, I contacted Bill Gascoine about this to clear up any confusion about the purpose of it all, and his feeling was that whilst he hoped lots of people from Blaenavon would turn up, the more cavers the merrier! So - on Saturday as many people as want to can go there, and anyone who doesn't can go caving. On Sunday there's a Columns trip and whatever else booked in OFD, so come and sign up cos it will be groovy. It will also, however, be 1) CAMPING, so bring your tent if you have one, and 2) SELF-CATERING, so bring a hamper. We'll probably be camping at DYO so that we can be on time for the Columns at 10am.

Berger Trip

Richard Gregson and I want to sort out final group of who is coming soon. If anyone either wants to come, or wants to invite anyone else, they should speak to one of the two of us soon.
Paul Cooper

Expedition matters

Pauline now has the application forms for the AC Irvine Fund, so collect one from her, along with guidelines for making the application, if you need them. If you are within 4 years of matriculation you are eligible to apply. The closing date for forms is Friday 24th May and interviews are on the morning of Sat 8th June. The AC Irvine Fund are usually very generous to OUCC, but have stated clearly that if you don't go to the interview you won't get any dosh.

Rescue training

Tony is taking part on a vertical rescue practise course, run by Andy Farrant and wonders if anybody would like to join him. The last time anybody from OUCC went on such a course was before my time, so we need to restock our knowledge. This course would be a useful supplement to our own rescue/first aid weekend, probably concentrating more on the technicalities of efficient hauling than we do and might be of most use to anyone who plans to do a lot of expeditioning. The cost would be £30 for the day, but the date hasn't yet been fixed. It might be around the end of June. Let Pauline or Tony know if you are interested.

Tales from Transylvania

First it was the Vercors. Then it was Fermanagh. This was followed by Spain. And now, Transylvania. Once again, we found ourselves on the edge of a deep subterranean lake armed with lots of rope but without that other vital piece of caving gear, a BOAT. But lots of other things happened first. Katinka, who came to Fermanagh last Easter, volunteered to return the hospitality and invited us to Romania. The Martins Hicks and Laverty, Lenik, Chris Vernon, his sister Jacqui, her friends from BUSS Steve, Malcolm and Gavin, and I set off with hazy ideas of bats, forests, castles and caves. Swept from Budapest airport to Moha's flat courtesy of Yorki's van, we were bundled onto a train before dawn on Sunday.

We were met at a little Romanian village by Matyas and Paul, Romanian caver friends of Katinka's who soon became friends of ours. As the sun set we were marched out of the village and up a hill to our residence: a castle on top of a great cliff. 'This is not a hotel!' was the approximate cry from the administrator, Cornil. But it was a fine base, we had it almost all to ourselves, and we stayed there for a full week. The first task of the evening was to negotiate some carbide. Next to the castle was a small miner's cottage. Inside, the occupant and his gypsy friend had had a good session with some of the local spirit, Palinka. The miner was barely capable of speech, and after two hours intense negotiation the only thing that Matyas and Paul had established was that the miner liked Chris's sister. Eventually, we marched him down to a house at the bottom of the hill, bought a bottle of Palinka from a woman there, and an hour later we had a 15kg drum of carbide. Organisation Romanian style.

We set off the next morning and walked to Pestera Izbindis, an entrance 15m above a big resurgence. Short and with a good streamway; the feeders are several kilometres away and so the cave has been dug extensively over many years as well as dived (recently fatally). Everyone got wet on the way to the upstream sump, and there was some poking around in the odd muddy, wet or calcited crawl. Having metaphorically cocked our leg on the caving scene, we returned to the castle and decided to visit the local bar, which was separated from us by the cliff and a wide river. You know those bridges in Nepal that you hear about, vines stretched across a canyon with a few planks strung beneath it to walk on? Well, the bridge to the local was a bit like that, except someone had taken half of the planks for firewood and in many places there were only twigs to walk on. A brave few made it, the dog from the castle swam across, but the rest of us followed our guides into the forest to find another route. Traversing along the top of another cliff, down a steep slope covered in thornbushes to another river valley, and eventually to another bridge. It was midnight, it was full moon - it was magical. We were the clientele of the bar, except for a few locals one of whom happened to be a caver. We rebuilt the bridge on the way home to avoid having to brave the forest again.

The next morning we went to Pestera de la Vadal-Crisului. For me, the most memorable thing about this cave was the access procedure. While everyone else walked to the cave (having missed the train), Paul, Katinka and I spent half the day securing permission for the trip. The woman responsible for access worked in a local village. She wasnít there, so we found her home village. Her neighbours said she was working in the fields somewhere. After walking all over the hillside asking farmers, limekiln workers and men ploughing fields with horses we eventually tracked the lady down helping to re-build a farmhouse. After all this the trip itself was a bit short, but the passage was big and it did have a good streamway. Paul and Matyas departed for exams, by catching a train to Cluj from the station outside the entrance.

Next morning Laszlo and Laszlo arrived from the Cluj Speological Assoc to lead us on a trip to Pestera Vintului (Wind Cave), the longest in the area at 40km. The only way to get into Wind Cave is by the permission and with the key of the Cluj SA. If you ever thought some gates in Welsh caves were a bit OTT, then think again: after two of you have lifted up the 13mm thick steel entrance gate, you descend some steps to get to the real barrier: an immense steel portcullis. The cave itself is formed on 4 levels, with some lovely meanders and gypsum crystals. A couple of hours inside there is a camp - complete with a plaque with Pivo & Juditís name on! We generally went in as one big crowd, then split up at the end to take different levels back. A fine cave.

The next day we spent in the sunshine pottering along the lovely cross valley near the castle that marks out the edge of the limestone block occupied by Pestera Vintului. After returning home, Cornil took us out to a slap up meal consisting of stomach soup and sausages. Jacqui and the BUSS contingent left the next day, and Cornil took some of the rest of us for a walk about 2 hours up the cross valley to show us Pestera Monei - a big entrance with a river flowing out of it. The day after that, Katinka, the Martins and I went into the cave, with Chris & Lenik doing a sun watch. It was a fun few kilometres, with various ducks, bypass climbs & grovelly bits as well as some fine streamway and flowstone. Our friend from the castle, 'Speleodog', followed us all the way to the entrance and gamely continued in with us to the first grovel before thinking better of it and looked around for a carbide assist out.

That turned out to be our last cave trip near Suncuius  / Sonkolyos (Hu). Watch this space for the trip without a boat and other tales.

Chris "there's no such thing as too much garlic" Densham

Rob's Address

Rob Garrett has moved to a new address:

17 Arosa Drive,
WR14 3JP.
'phone: (01684) 564895