Depth through thought

OUCC News 15th October 1997

Volume 7, Number 12

DTT Volume 7  index

DTT Main Index

OUCC Home Page



A cold, wet welcome to all you newcomers to OUCC (yes, its the first week of term for those outside). For those who don't know, this is the club's newsletter, which comes out roughly every week during term, and which is choked with news, gossip, and tales of recent caving trips. Anyone is welcome to write for it: just send me an e-mail by 4.30pm on Wednesday.

Meets Sec Bit

It was great to see so many people at the President's Invite weekend. Thanks to all those who helped to make it a success, especially Jo, Paul and Chris Vernon. I was going to include Steve on this list, but instead I'll add all those who had to drive at the last minute.......

Its now the start of the new academic year, so time to get enthusiastic about....SWILDON'S!! Yes, I know that you are all ready and raring to go, but for those who will (god forbid) be sadly unable to make it, don't forget that you can always loan you gear instead.

Meets wise there is a Wales weekend lined up for 4th week (8-9th Nov), a Yorkshire weekend at the end of 6th week (21st-23rd Nov) and a trip to the Mendips at the end of term (6-10th Dec).

Socially don't forget Harvey's Birthday Bash on Saturday 15th Nov (5th week) and also Dave's housewarming party. This will be combined with the next Yorkshire weekend, so we will stay at Dave's house on Friday and at Southerscales on Saturday.
Fleur Loveridge

Back in Ogof Draenen

Raining Stones

Yellow Van was revisited by Steve, Gavin and me after a period of some neglect to suss out the best place to punch our way round Rock and Roll choke. Since Pauline had dug through to about 30m of new passage last winter, only a couple of trips had been back, Chris D., Becca and me to dig out a large unstable space in the terminal boulder choke, then Pete Bolt and pals who estimated the chance of success low compared with the risk of being squashed. This was our primary goal last Saturday, as well as having a good look in the rest of the passage.

Spitting Pebbles

We were soon at the dig site after an amiable stroll in with Charles Bailey and Gonzo. Gavin scuttled up a body sized muddy tube whilst me and Steve attacked the boulder choke. This consisted of a rather unattractive arch, which appeared to hold the entire roof up. Beyond was a nice solid wall, and progress could only be made by hoiking out the rocks that appeared to be the foundation of the arch. (The one you are on the far side of). Things went smoothly until the roof spontaneously started to spit pebbles at us, so we beat a retreat to fetch the pokey stick. This was used to remove the archway to good effect and the dig was left to stabilise, though not without a little dragon chasing in the form of standing under the unsupported roof working out which boulders are most likely to come down next.

Dribbling Shit

Meanwhile Gavin's tube had two leads, a flat out dig ahead and a black hole upwards. This looked promising, but was blocked by a single torso-sized boulder. A plan was hatched, pulling the boulder out of the tube would be difficult, whereas pushing it would be very much easier. As I was on the wrong side at the time of hatching, I got the adrenalin rush of rock pusher with a massive incentive to push like buggery. The black-hole turned out to be a blind aven (Bah!), whilst the dig ahead remains promising.

Shooting Blind Fish in a Barrel

The final dig was back above Pauline's break through. A rock filled aven heads backwards, which was dug through to give an alternative, quicker on the way back but not on the way through, looser route back out into a nice sized chamber. We spent a bit of time pulling the wall out, until the roof was keen to follow so we headed out. Swiftly. An exciting if not wholly successful days digging and still lots of potential.
Jonathon Cooper

Sodom & Gomorra

After a key fiasco in and around the Draenen carpark, Ben Lovett, Lou Maurice and I finally made it to the North end of The Black Run (between Snowball and Lost In Space) to look again at a number of small leads heading roughly north towards the Blorenge. Sodom left Ben squealing beyond a couple of tight bits, whilst Gomorra refuse to let my shoulders into the terminal squeeze. I should have known since I helped survey them. Further back into the Sleepcrawler series, however, a narrow rift previously ending in a constriction yielded to crowbar and trowel (well, a flat metal thing that once looked like a trowel). 20 metres or so of difficult, no, sporting rift squeezes led via a cross rift junction to another easily digabble constriction with bigger rift beyond (but I was feeling lonely). No draught mind, but who knows. Tim Guilford

Kevin's report of El Regallon 97

At the beginning of August I left England in search of the Oxford University Caving Clubs expedition (El REGALLON 97). After 40 hours of travelling I arrived at Lago de la Ercina, a campsite and road head in the Picos region of northern Spain. This was the base camp for the expedition. The following morning I set off on foot in the direction I believed to be correct from the small amount of information I had been given. One hour into the journey I met up with 5 members of the expedition that were heading back to England to return to work or university courses. They pointed me in the direction of the top camp which was situated just north of Verdelluenga at a height of 1800m. I was greeted at the camp with great enthusiasm, a hot meal and stories of small, scrofulous explorations. I had come all this way to explore large passages.

The next day a team of us set off in search of new cave at the bottom of parallel shaft in Canalizos 1. This had been rigged earlier in the expedition so getting to the limit of exploration was quick. After taking a look at the sump, Ben Lovett and I took it in turn placing bolts around the top of the last pitch to reach a passage on the far side. This added 20m to the cave with an open passage in front of us. Unfortunately we had to leave to make our call out time. Stories were again swapped over dinner; one of the other teams ran into trouble and had to cut a rope they were lucky to get out alive, only their experience saved them. The following day Ben and another team member went back to look at the previous days cave. Nathaniel Munford, the expedition leader, had a more important job for me. Thanks to Ben bragging about my bolting ability. D7 was the cave, the only problem being that at the bottom of the first pitch there was a very small hole through which only three others had ever been. I tried several time to get through but each time my rib cage got stuck. Nathaniel could not let this happen as it would ruin our speed of exploration so with after some work with the hammer the cave was shaped to fit me. This is where the exploration began. A deep dark void, 90m of rope and a bolting kit. This was the first time I had led vertical exploration. There is so much more to think about than caving in Yorkshire. Every thing I seemed to touch fell off! The ledges were covered in loose rocks that had to be cleared on the way down. They seemed to fall forever before landing in water. 5 bolts and 80m of rope later I reached a small stream that disappeared down a small rift that might have been Nathaniel size but was far too small for my chest.

Our time was up and so back to the surface for dinner. Ben had found one more pitch and 60m of passage and stopped at the top of another pitch. More bolts, needed so they thought they would leave it for me. The next few days were spent de-rigging the caves with low potential, the largest being the main shaft in Canalizos 1. (Which is 170m deep and wide enough to lower a bus down.) This was the type of cave I was looking for. The bottom had been explored beyond the previous limit to a sump and small dig a couple of days before I turned up. This was to be left for another year. Rob and I removed 400m of rope from this route not knowing a day later we would be removing the same amount from the parallel shaft. Before we did this we still had some exploration work to carry out where Ben had left off. I bashed in two bolts and abseiled into the ibis 40m below. I was at the base of a large shaft thinking I was the first to have ever been here but after further investigation Rob told me this was the bottom of Canalizos 3! A remarkable connection in itself.

By now only 4 of use remained as everybody else had fled back to England. The following 4 days were spent carrying equipment down the hill back to base camp. A few hours after setting off from base camp we collected the dye tracers that had been put in earlier in the week, at Hoyo la Madre. We took it in turn to drive the minibus Back through Spain and France. Arriving back in Oxford at 01:00 on the 20th August.
Kevin Welch