Depth through thought

OUCC News 26th February 1997

Volume 7, Number 4

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Most of you will know that the future of Ogof Draenen, described variously as "the most spectacular" (me) and "the most boring" (Dave Lacey) cave in Britain, has started to take on a worrying precariousness, with the recent opening of a second entrance and the imminent sale of the land. Cave politics is tedious, but this time it really might matter. So please think about the issues, and pass on your thoughts to Chris Densham.

On a more positive note, the Dollimore series is now over 7km long. The latest data is (or "are" if you're Steve) again on Gavin's web page:

Gavin has added a grade 0 link between Pomegranate and Dogleg. The loop closure means that Gobbler and Circus Maximus no longer overlap.

Shell Travel Bursaries

If you are an undergraduate and want to go on Expedition, but think money may be a problem, then I have good news for you. I have a huge pile of application forms for Shell Summer Travel Bursaries. You don't have to be a geologist or anything like that (although that is how I found out about them), you just have to tell them how wonderful you are and what you plan to do with the money if the give it to you. The closing date is the 29th March.
Fleur Loveridge.

Annual Dinner

The Annual Dinner is (finally) booked. It will be upstairs in the function room at the Mitre on Saturday of 2nd week next term (10th May). Details of menus and stuff will follow soon.
Fleur Loveridge

What do YOU think?

So, there's a new entrance to Ogof Draenen. It was dug by members of the Chelsea SS, without any consultation of other clubs, the landowner, or the Pwl Du Cave Management Group which was set up to discuss such issues, and which includes OUCC as well as the CSS. The new entrance was presumably dug to help the Chelsea with their surveying work, which I'm sure everyone appreciates is a very impressive piece of work in itself. But does this justify another entrance?

If you have an opinion on this matter, then please tell me about it tonight. The PWCMG meets on Saturday to discuss this as well as the land sale matter (for further thoughts on the land sale talk to Pauline). As the club representative on the PWCMG I need to represent the views of the club. So, do please tell me what you think.
Chris Densham

2nd entrance: probable events

New Year 1997. Surface dig started by Stuart France

1 Feb. After setting up radio-location equipment in the cave, Stuart France joined Arthur Millett on the surface to continue the dig. They were joined by John Cooper, who bumped into them while out for a walk.

Henry Bennett was with a group inside the cave (perhaps retrieving the radio gear?) when they investigated a rumbling sound. The entrance was open at this stage but was too dangerous to pass through.

2 Feb. Dig continued by Stuart France and Arthur Millett.

3 Feb. Stuart France returned alone to complete a through-trip.

8 Feb. Scaffolding was installed in the dig by Arthur Millett, Tony Donovan and his brother. John Stevens also helped during this weekend.

15 Feb. Arthur Millett and John Stevens exited through the pirate entrance after a surveying trip.

Extracted from a letter circulated by Tim Long:
Tim Long wishes to make it clear that he was acting in a purely personal capacity as the author of the letter.

Great Abergavenny Castle Trip

Draenen was a busplace last weekend, the car park was bulging and as we arrived Tim, Pauline and Andy were just emerging from the caravan. A cup of tea and two of their tackle bags later we were ready (apart from forgetting the survey book and pencil).

On the way in w had a quick look at the Chapel to see if we could see the second entrance. There has obviously been something going on down there as there was lots of spoil, soil and a fencepost, although no connection to the surface that we could see.

On to Dogleg then, with much cursing of tackle bags in the Last Sandwich. We caught up with a party at the breakthrough who were on a Dollimore Series tourist trip. Its nice to see people coming to visit all the new stuff.

Our aims were to tie up a bit of passage of Top Banana that was heading back towards Into the Black and then have a look down Rainbow Canyon. The area yielded 100m of new passage in a similar character to the rest of the area. Lots of little bits and silted up leads, including an ongoing passage that was getting too tight and a corkscrew squeeze. This all took us quite a long time as Nobby was doing the book for the first time and I was trying my hand at instruments. I only once tried to take a bearing with the clino, so it was probably a success. Nobby was hoping to find a nice window overlooking Into the Black but this never happened. Although the reason for this has turned out to be that we going over the top it. But then that could just be my dodgey surveying....

At this point we went in search of Tim, Pauline and Andy as none of us had a watch. This some how lead to a sudden burst of enthusiasm for pushing small leads off Into the Black. Nothing came to much, despite Tim's best efforts with the bolt kit. We surfaced well after 3am and retired to the caravan for the night. Given all the things I had heard about it, it wasn't half as squalid as I has been expecting. Although it certainly didn't seem very stable in the high winds.

The cultural part of the trip came on Sunday morning as we visited Abergavenny Castle in the pouring rain whilst waiting for the cafe to open for our breakfast. The only trouble was the cafe still wasn't open when we got back to it, so the Little Chef had to do instead.

Camp Piton - First Poo

Andy King, on his first camping trip underground, rustled past my pit comfily placed on flat mud at OUCC's newly installed Camp Three. I opened an eye. "Um, any tips Tim?" Andy was holding a plastic bag in one hand and a roll of loo paper in the other. So, rather than let him learn the hard way, I talked him through the procedure from a (relatively) safe distance. Ah the joys of caving....

Camp Piton, so named because we finally found a use for Hooper's expedition purchase last year, as a chandelier, is a great spot off Luck, if a little far from water. However, last Sunday morning, far away from water was where we were happy to be. Our original intention, having spent most of Saturday lugging huge tacklebags all the way from War of the Worlds to Dollimore, was to set up the new camp in Yellow Van Passage. But after stumbling down a bloated and completely opaque streamway for 40 minutes, and finally discovering that Yellow Van is not just a flood overflow, it's an active flood overflow, we turned round and carried our bags back to the safety of MS&D again. There's little doubt that with Sunday's rains, we'd have been floating away on our carrymats. Says something about the impenetrability of Rock and Roll choke that it backs up so severely.

Exploration? Yes, we managed a little on Saturday. JC and Pauline pushed a tight rift off Into The Black, and Fleur and I bolted up to an even tighter rift close by, whilst Andy and Nobby had probably better luck on the other side of the passage. On Sunday, we headed off to the Gobbler intent on checking out the Southwards potential digs as a way to get past Circus Maximus. Lots of Gypsum down the back of the neck, and about 40m of passage was found (via another typical Rigby head-down boulder choke dig), but the leads look very second rate. On the other side of the Gobbler, however, we found 75m or so of difficult and tortuous passage - Pomegranate Passage. Increasingly it became Dogleg-like. And then, at an 8m climb down, it finally became Dogleg itself. We'd made the connection with Kev's pitch.

Best decision: getting Nobby, Fleur and JC to porter our tacklebags.

3rd worst decision: taking too little light.
2nd decision: taking too little salmon moose.
Worst decision: leaving other people's poo in my dustbin.

Tim Guilford

Lost and Found

Found in my kitchen this morning:

  1. Lots of empty bottles
  2. blue Dragon balaclava (muddy)
  3. The list of what is in Chris D's loft
  4. Boris

I found that my blue denim jacket had been 'lost'..........but subsequently found by Andy in his kitchen.

Not found: Andy's keys.
Seeya, fleur