Depth through thought

OUCC News 15th May 1996

Volume 6, Number 13

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Last weekend saw the First Aid course and practice rescue on Mendip. I've had lots of responses from people about this, so I'll run one article today, and two more covering suggestions for improvements etc next week. Keep the comments coming.

Dales Delirium

Finally, Bradford have at last got their act together and organised the much talked-about Dales Delirium. For those of you who haven't dabbled in this kind of thing before, this is intended to be the return fixture for our Mendip Madness - subterranean japes of all kinds accompanied by the mingling of bodies from different clubs and the flowing of heinous amounts of alcohol. In addition, they've also planned a treasure hunt of some sort, and the whole shebang will take place in a mystery location somewhere between Settle and Horton.

The projected date for this, however, is the Saturday of next weekend, which would mean that, having paid for Southerscales, those who went to the party wouldn't be using it on Saturday. Moreover, they want £12 from each of us. It sounds as though it would be good, since this pays for treasure hunt, food and large amounts of punch, but this would make it into an expensive weekend.

They want to know whether we're going ahead by tomorrow, and they want numbers by next Wednesday. If we're going to do it, we should make sure most of us turn up, so come and talk to me. The alternative is to put it off until next Michaelmas.

First Aid Course

After a second cup of coffee for our lecturer and breakfast for everyone else, Saturdays first aid course got going only half hour after the scheduled time of 10am. Richard Ward, who comes from University Occupational Health, has been giving this course to OUCC for 4 years now and so knows what topics of first aid are relevant to us in caves. He began with instructions on how to tell the casualty's head from his feet: one end's got the helmet on. Somebody tell John which end.

The day was split into 3 sessions. The first covered resuscitation, the second bleeding and the final one broken bones plus anything else we had questions about such as when to give painkillers. The casualty was in a bad way. She wasn't breathing and one of her arms had fallen off. Blood (foam) went everywhere when Jo threw her arm to her. Each of us went through the routine: first check to see that there is no more danger. (Those who forgot to do this got a book thrown at their head by Kitti). If there is no response from the casualty then shout for help and check for injuries, before launching into the ABC of resuscitation: airway, breathing, circulation.

One reason for taking a first aid course on a regular basis, other than as a refresher, is that the recommended procedures sometimes change and it is best to be up to date. For example, to open the airway it is now recommended that you pull the chin forward, rather than pushing at the back of the neck, which can damage delicate spinal bones. And tourniquets have been out for some time now because the occluded limb will have a build up of toxin which can be fatal when released back into the rest of the body.

Ward's course is particularly good because he understands the reasons behind the first aid procedures and explains them clearly. And rather than overloading our memories with information of limited use - after all who is going to get an electric shock 500m underground - he concentrated on the basic stuff and most likely injuries. First Aid is basically a holding situation, and although it may be a long time til help arrives if you are in a deep cave, it gives me confidence that I know and the people around me know, how to maximise a person's chances of survival if the unthinkable happens.
Pauline Rigby

Sponsorship News

Underground sunlight

Micropore tape, sterilising tablets, rehydrat, SUNCREAM. Just some of medical items Jo has been trying to get through sponsorship. Whoops, she almost sent the standard letter which includes the phrase: 'products such as yours have traditionally kept spirits high in situations ... such as 4 day underground camps.' And I thought, good advertising gimmik, perhaps. Factor 20 SUNCREAM, almost as good as factor infinity. Provided by 300m of solid rock. If you really hate the sun. Does anybody, particularly geologists, know where I can get a bright, battery powered u.v. lamp? A serious question, actually. It's not for my vitamin D supply, but because I want to see if I can get formations to fluoresce? I wonder if I would be able to see enough to find my way through the cave?
Pauline Rigby

SING (to tune of "we all follow man. united")

TUNEFULLY We all follow Thomas Tunnock,
we don't think he is a PAIN
NO! he is a complete star,
'cos he gave us lots of bars
And he's going to let us take them all to SPAIN...

Mania in Romania ..

continued from DTT 2 weeks ago...

And so, onto Hell Valley. We had settled on a relaxed plan for the day, visiting villages around the speleo castle. Then Matyas appeared in the morning, having managed to put off doing an exam until some nebulous future date. He had a friend Gabor and a car and a plan. In we were soon bundled into the cars and driven right round to the other side of the mountains, to Iad (Hell) Valley. Gabor took Martins H & L & Lenik on a slog up a steep leaf slope, to eventually discover a cave with a bear jawbone in it. Matyas took Chris & Chris up another steep leaf slope for a bolting bonanza in Pestera Pobras(?), a vertical cave where Matyas and a friend had made some 800m extensions last year. As we abseiled in with the stream, we met lots of sleeping bats and lots of ex bats, and one or two bats who were valiantly flapping their way through the spray to reach the spring warmth.

Matyas's extension impressed us - loads of absolutely pristine stal showing the evidence of very few visits since it had been discovered. It was also quite near the entrance, reached by just looking around over the top of a rift. The cave had been first explored in the 50s and apparently no-one had returned since. If they had, they had managed it on no bolts. That was partly the reason for our trip - Matyas had 'pushing rigged' it, and left it rigged over the winter. The ropes were in surprisingly good condition though. Four bolts later we reached the head of the final pitch - an extremely wet 40m pitch with a tight take-off, rigged with a Romanian climbing rope slung over the lip from a bolt a few metres back. A traditional and sporting Yorkshire ladder descent. Fortunately Matyas didn't like it any more than we did, so we put in a token effort to put in another bolt and headed out.

That night we drove on Eastwards to Cluj, a grey city with one selling point: the worlds only(?) Institute of Speleology, set up nearly 100 years ago. We were treated the next day to a guided tour. Martin H & Chris V departed on their various travel itineraries, leaving Katinka to drive me, Martin L & Lenik onto Girda, our final caving destination. On the heavily potholed road heading out there, there was a further decline in the wealth of the population. Wooden cart wheels were the norm, and horses were replaced by bullocks. Girda was rustic yet in a way depressing. There had been severe flooding over the winter, washing some people out of their houses. We stayed with a charming friend of Katinka's, Dr Christian Tubor. In the local hospital! Since the place had few resources other than a fridge full of pig fat & a few old vaccines, and a four-at-a-go-trap for very determined mice, there was no competition with us to stay at the hospital.

In the morning, Katinka's poor Wartburg took us 15km up a track to reach a couple of caves. Floundered down a snow gully to reach a 15-20m high cave entrance. After a brief flat out crawl over melting ice, the passage opened out again. Large logs were wedged 10m up, from the winter floods. And there, round a corner, were some plants, a few of which were flowering! Peered over a torrent that poured down a pitch to a long wet canal, and headed out before we froze in the icy draught. In the evening Levi and another friend of Christian's turned up, and the next day they dragged me up a hillside to visit Szgorazda (?sp), a cave with the biggest underground lake in Romania. No need to take Katinka's boat, there should be plenty there already apparently. You could see the green shimmer of deep water from the top of the 50m high collapsed chamber that forms the entrance. Down the snow slope, reached the lake which was lovely. Shame it wasn't meant to be there - the real lake is further in! So, back we went to the hospital, where Christian told us that a lake at the entrance means that the passage on the way to the real lake is sumped. So, back we went to collect our gear, & Katinka arrived to take us over to another cave. This one was a bit Mendippy, with a gate and a couple of ducks on the way in to some very impressive flowstone.

That was it - the next day we said goodbye to Katinka, returned to Moha's flat in Budapest, and flew home. An ace holiday was had by all - well recommended if you get the chance. All you need are some friendly Romanians and Hungarians to sort out the caving access details, and after that everything is pure adventure!
Chris Densham