Depth through thought

OUCC News 30th October 1996

Volume 6, Number 22

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More action in Draenen, more novice season fun in Sump 1. What more does a club need?

Haggisbasher cracked

On Sunday, a team of four cavers, Peter Bolt, Peter Snablet MacNab, Phil Thomas (a friend of Boltie's) and I, went into Ogof Draenen with the aim to re-survey a passage in the roof of Squirrel Rifts that Boltie had surveyed a long time ago but managed to lose the notes (I remember the trip well - Ed). When we got there, we had a look at it from the passage below. As a result (?) Snablet suggested we go digging first and leave the surveying for the way out. Nobody seemed keen to re-survey 250 m of grovelly passage at the top of an unfeasible-looking climb (described by Boltie as 'a bit tricky' I remember it well - ed), and so we carried on to a hole at the end of the Rifts. This did not yield anything exciting and we went on to Choke 'Haggisbasher'. J-Rat and Jake from the BEC had blasted this promising lead repeatedly in an attempt to go upwards and over the choke. They finally left it, believing it had become too dangerous.

We had picked a brilliant day for digging chokes, as Hurricane Lilly was sweeping past the British Isles causing the barometer to drop dramatically. The entire cave was draughting like crazy. The strips of tape attached to the roof of the Nunnery, for example, were horizontal in the breeze!

Haggisbasher did not look like much to me. Initially there was no draught and all I could smell was Bolties oversuit. The last attempt at chemical persuasion had obviously resulted in a complete blockage of what was once a finely draughting choke. Boltie tentatively removed a couple of football sized boulders. The draught re-appeared and it seemed to come from the left hand side, roughly at floor level. No need to go up, then. A lot of smaller rocks came down, followed by several larger ones. The draught had definitely increased, or were we imagining things? Snablet had a go with the crowbar. ' Here comes a large one. Oh (edited). I seem to have blocked meself in!' came a muffled voice behind a particularly large boulder which had lodged itself between Snablet in the choke and us at the bottom of the rubble heap in the passage. No problem, though. Removal of a bit of muddy floor soon enabled us to get the boulder out. A few more rocks and a hole appeared in the floor. We could now hear rocks fall some distance the other side of the hole! Efforts were doubled and finally the hole was big enough. Boltie was knackered. Who was to go first? In the end Phil went ahead. Muffled calls of 'not exactly wide open' were soon followed by 'wide open passage'. We excitedly climbed through the hole, carefully as things were on the loose side. Wide open passage indeed!

We proceeded along the bottom of a mud bank taking care to leave as few traces as possible. Pretty straws, stalactites, helictites and Gypsum crystals everywhere. I was first to go round a corner. Boulders. A heap of boulders blocking the way on. I stormed up it. Walls, roof, and more walls. No way on. Our next mission was to try and get through this new choke, Haggisbasher II. The new choke appears to be easier to dig than the previous. Snablet found a promising draughting lead at the top. Boltie found a second lead at floor level, and I was inserted into a tightish space half way up the choke, where I moved some rocks to find a hole with view of a rubble heap about 1.5m below. Snablet got into the same squeeze afterwards and moved some larger rocks, but still could not angle his body the right way to fit through the hole leading down. No doubt Boltie will be going back there soon (and so might we).

On the way back we had a quick look at a lead in Far Agent Blorenge II (lovely passage) and completely forgot to re-survey the 250 m of grovelly passage, at the top of the unfeasible-looking climb in squirrel rifts to which Boltie had lost his notes...
Anette Becher


I left my flash in France at Graham's. He told me that he hadn't got it and to ask you. So: Do you know anything about my flash? It's not a big one, needs four batteries and made in Japan. Maybe still doesn't work. Cheers:


1. A towel, after Mendip trip on Sunday, found in my car (Huge Grubby Volvo). So; who doesn't know where his towel is?

2. Unexpected enthusiasm. After grouching around outside the hut, and having to be persuaded to play by Tim, I had a thoroughly enjoyable day, and I think everyone else did too. Mind you, the "King William" in Bath has changed a bit, distinctly for the worse. Since the landlord at the once-boycotted "Curfew" seems to have been replaced by someone more mellow, perhaps we should now go back there if stopping at the Bath takeaway corner.
Steve Roberts