Depth through thought

OUCC News 4th June 1997

Volume 7, Number 9

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SRT Practice

As you should know there is going to be an SRT practice this Thursday evening, covering basic SRT, SRT rescue and pulley systems and other rescue techniques. It is important that as many people as possible attend especially if you are going to the Picos this summer. Providing the weather is fine the practice will be underneath one of the ring road bridges. On a bike head down the river along the tow path, heading out of town. Pass under Donnington bridge and past Iffley lock until the ring road goes over the river. We will aim to start at 7pm. If it rains we will be in New College School Gym as usual. See you there,

Digging Deep

No digging news here I'm afraid. This is just a request to dig deep into your pockets and try to come up with large sums of money to help buy an obscure piece of land in South Wales. As many of you know, the Coal Authority which currently owns the land containing Ogof Draenen has put the land up for sale. Some locals including the Lamb and Fox owners Brian and Carol are interested in buying some of the land, which of course is a good thing since cavers and locals have got along with each other very well so far. However it looks as though the only way to be sure of maintaining access to Ogof Draenen is for all cavers to club together and buy the majority of the lot containing Draenen. This lot lies on the L & F side of the road, contains half of Gilwern hill and extends as far Eastwards as the road along the side of the Blorenge. I haven't heard of a realistic valuation of the land, but it looks as though it could run into tens of thousands of pounds. Pauline amongst others are looking into getting grants to help buy the land, but the timescale is very short so it may well just come down to individual cavers to pledge money. This is all being co-ordinated by the PDCMG on behalf of all cavers.

If you feel you would like to contribute, then please get in touch with me to offer a pledge. Hopefully as a club we can make a significant contribution to this effort.
Chris 'gis yer money' Densham

Caving in Yorkshire

The bank holiday week seemed like a perfect time for a week's caving in Yorkshire and so it proved. Having travelled up on the Friday evening and familiarised ourselves with the Red Rose beer store we spent Saturday at Malham Cove where Dave helped Tony take a group abseiling while I went for a walk to visit the faeries at Jennet's Foss. I also saw several Morris Dancers and some old friends from the OU Hillwalking Club who kindly bought me a drink.

On Sunday Dave and I opened our caving account with a leisurely trip down Black Shiver. This was followed by our longest trip of the week from Flood Entrance to Gaping Ghyll's Far Water's. Despite the ambiguous description in the guide book (Clay Chamber appears to be a boulder choke with no clay in sight) an afternoon start was sufficient to get us back in time for the pub. The terminal sump was foul but Rivendell was quite pretty.

The next day we went our separate ways with Dave pushing new passage beyond BHR in Ease Gill while I explored the avens leading off Ratbag Inlet. Dave found another 100' or so and two going leads. It now takes 45 minutes to reach the limit from known cave! As for Ratbag, the guide book says something about well decorated stooping passage which is true as far as it goes but rather misleading. Golden Wonder Aven does have the impressive 25 years old rusted ladder formation which I decided not to climb lest I break it. The other avens need hammering.

Following the success of our exploration we went pushing down Marble Sink. Climbing up an aven opposite the second pitch leads to an improbably tight vertical slot. Dave went through but it was obviously too small for me. A few moments later I joined Dave on top of the squeeze - I don't know how; must have been magic or something... Anyway, the new passage was big easy walking stuff for 50' to another aven. The way on here appears to be a small rift a few metres above the floor. Dave failed to fit in and it appears to require hammering... from the other side. On the way out I proved conclusively that the squeeze was too small - by failing to fit through it. Dave's list of helpful things to say in a crisis proved invaluable once again with this week's offering being something to do with Dirk Vertigan that is best omitted from a family publication. Still, at least plan B was a success. Once back on the surface it was clearly too hot to walk back to the car so we decided to spend more time on the allotment with a little jaunt down Juniper, the spare 65m rope we'd packed coming in useful for the last pitch.

Our next classic trip was Nick Pot. A short irritating entrance crawl leads to an uninspiring chamber closely followed by an amazing 100m shaft complete with 80m free hang. The bottom two thirds of the pitch were surprisingly wet and there is not much to do at the bottom but it's still an excellent trip. We concluded our week's caving with an ill-advised trip down the aptly named Hangman's Hole. My first mistake came at the bottom of the entrance climb and squeeze where I found the way on silted up... I accidentally dug it open! My reward for this was a wave of cold dark water that had hitherto been happily dammed. The way on is called Unprintable Passage and consists of a flat out, tight, wet crawl. Rather perversely this is the most pleasant part of the cave. Dave eventually joined me at the head of the first pitch but only after he had put his foot (and several large boulders) through where the floor was supposed to be. The rigging in this cave is entirely off naturals, presumably because none of the walls are strong enough to take a bolt! Nevertheless, we got to the bottom safely. We had been warned that the third pitch, in particular, had no belays. It now has two less. Apparently you are supposed to rig off some loose boulders and rely on the friction from as many rub points as you can make to reduce the load on your belay! Now why didn't we think of that? Still, out in plenty of daylight once again. Finally, on Friday morning, we set off back to Oxford to return the car we had borrowed (thanks).
Rob Garrett

Draenen bits

Just to let you know what we (JC et al) found this weekend. Went up out of the Blue on Saturday and bolted up the hole on the last sharp right hand bend before the end. This led to a low diggable passage which was less breezy than Farting Welly rift near the terminal choke. May be worth having a go at, but will need rebolting as we needed to chisel out the bolt to extract the driver. (Work that one out for yourselves).

On Sunday we had a look at another alcove off Hall of the One which started as a nobbly crawl in a bedding plane, then dropped down into a pleasantly sized chamber with the bedding continuing along one side. A dig along in the corner led to a short section of rift that ended in a choke/dig. The chockstone was eventually levered out of the way to give a technical squeeze up back up into the bedding. It was all pretty exciting as the whole area was really drafty, and another 10-20m on Nathaniel hit a pleasant walking size passage with LOE written in the mud (???). Bugger. We'd dug into Pisspot Passage that Pete, Ali, Ian and Ben had pushed not long after Dollimore's was first found.
Jonathon Cooper


The Horribly Grubby Volvo, that is. On the last gasp of petrol in the tank, leaving a final oil-slick on the tarmac, HGV 285V was laid to rest on Sunday. No flowers please: the sentimental may collect souvenirs from L.C. Hughes scrapyard, Bicester.

For Sale (still) Proc 11 - about 8 copies remain .

Steve Roberts