Depth through thought

OUCC News 10th June 1998

Volume 8, Number 14

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Thanks to all those who helped take part in the rescue practice last Saturday, including Ian W-J and Lou Maurice who needn't have been there at all, and especially Jo Whistler who volunteered to be casualty and felt like one by the time we had hauled her up the wet pitch in Llanelli Quarry Pot. I plan to put a report together soon on the exercise, so any comments you have please send them soon.

Fleur's corner

Firstly, will anybody be interested in a hangover trip to the mendips on Sunday. I've promised to take a friend to Swildon's, and if enough people are interested we could take the van. Secondly, can people have a check as to what gear they brought back from the rescue weekend. My chest harness was last seen holding Jo in the stretcher and I'd quite like it back before yorkshire. Finally, don't forget I am having a party on tuesday night, 10pm-2am at Club Latinos. Its going to be huge, so be there.
Fleur Loveridge

BCRA Conference

The British Cave Research Association conference is happening over the weekend of 18-20 September, at Southport. For those who don't know, this is the big annual cavers' get together, lots of talks on expeditions, UK caving, technical things and more. Also all your favourite equipment suppliers have stalls, there are plenty of silly (and serious) competitions, and the famous Saturday night stomp. OUCC typically take the event in large numbers, and this is an ideal opportunity to relive those expedition memories.

The van shall run up no doubt, via resonable stops close to M6. If you are interested, then let me know asap, as there are discounts. Pre-booked student groups of 6 or more will get in for the weekend for £10/head. Discounts are also available for non-student pre-booked groups. Better still, if I can tempt you, is the free entry for one day if you can either give a talk or chair one of the sessions, (better volunteers than pressed men).
Paul Mann

Expedition Money

Just a quick reminder, could you please pay your deposits and gear order moneys now, we have a lot of large bills to pay very soon. Cheques payable to "OUCC Jultayu 1998". Ta,
Jo Whistler

Expedition gear sorting

There's loads to do - putting up and sorting out tents; mending tackle bags; sorting out the trailer; some rope washing; sorting out bolt kits, krabs, and a million other things that we need to do for expedition to be successful. We need lots of people to get it done, and especially those people going on expedition should show up. Meet at 10am on Saturday at the hut and disperse to more suitable locations for other jobs, merging into the BBQ later in the day... Lev Bishop

Gear officer/Lamp-post's whinge

I have to say I was somewhat unimpressed at the state of things in the hut on monday morning. Here's a quick list of how I'd like things to be...

  1. No huge lumps of carbide laying on tables so you get knocked out by a wave of acetylene upon opening the door!
  2. The water emptied out of ammo cans full of wires and maillons and the lid left open so they can dry out as opposed to turning into a pile of rust (especially annoying as I just spent a couple of days lubricating and sorting out the maillons)
  3. Lamps put back in the relevant slot and the trip they've been on (eg "Wales") or the initials of who used them (eg. "LSB") chalked up (do this before you take them so I can hassle you to get them back). When returning them add how many hours used for (best pessimistic guess or a question mark if you really don't know). Write "N/S" (not servicable) if it's broken (and a note in the lamps book to say what's wrong would be nice). At the very least you could tie the correct knot in the cell cable after using them (overhand knot - needs charging; figure of 8 - needs servicing; none - ready to go (look on the hut door if you can't remember which knot is which)).
  4. Ropes chained and on hooks; ladders coiled and on pegs; krabs on the wire above the table; maillons, hangers and spreaders in ammo cans; wires coiled and on hooks; tapes, belts and helmets in the obvious places; everything else on shelves or whatever.

Point 4 was not a problem last weekend but I've put it in for completeness.

Thank for bearing with this whinge (the fact I'd just done a 15 hour trip and walked down the hill and had a train ride and had no breakfast and an all day lab session ahead when I walked into the hut on monday morning may be clouding my judgement here...)
Lev Bishop

Rescue aftermath

Did anyone pick up one of my ascenders after the rescue practice (non-handled, shiny and new, stripe of red insulation tape on the back of it)? If so I'll swap it back for the one I've managed to pick up (which I don't think is mine).
Lev Bishop

Prisoner of War update

Tim, Chris, Lev and Lou had a 15 hour trip down OD on Sunday to continue exploring, taping and surveying the open leads in POW series. As reported in DTT 8.13 we planned to identify obviously interconnecting passages that we could tape off without there ever being a footprint in them, and we succeeded in identifying and closing three so far. We also laid some experimental conservation tape and line. Initial impressions of the half-zebra tape were very positive indeed: easy to carry, easy to lay, less obtrusive than the full tape. The brick-layers line was more successful than expected, but may have a use limited to places where visibility is not a problem.

Thanks to cavers for staying away from the area for the while - it is helping immensly with the job, and making those of us who put the work into finding breakthroughs like this in the first place feel much less hassled into rushing down open passages in case others get there first. The consequence can only mean better conservation. We reckon we are about half way to finishing the conservation job at the moment. Total surveyed length now about 880 metres.

Brown Hill

In days of yore, before our current undergrads had ever heard of matriculation and Proc. 13 was hot off the press the Oxford used to take great pleasure from carrying ludicrous loads of gear down ridiculous rifts... Well, it seems such times are to be upon us once again. An expedition to 2/7 is deep in the planning stages; Proc. 14 is just around the corner; and Tony has redeclared open season on Brown Hill.

Thus it was that I found myself celebrating the Queen's birthday by carrying what Tony described as "a number 7" down Brown Hill in preparation for a dive the following day. We were accompanied by Ben from ULSA and had to carry one diving bottle each. For those of you too young to remember what it is like to carry diving gear down Brown Hill, Tony has just asked me to say that it is perfect practice for carrying gear underground on Expedition and you are all invited to volunteer for for future portering trips. There's even a free pint on offer for every bottle you carry.

Anyway, being unfamiliar with carrying diving bottles myself I was somewhat paranoid about it suddenly exploding when I drop it down a pitch or something. This was not helped when, on the first rebelay of the first pitch I was greeted by a large bang. I tried to run away but, being halfway through a rebelay I soon realised the futility of such an action. Ben laughed. Recovering my composure I reached behind me and turned off the valve which must have been knocked open. The rest of the trip was without incident and having left the bottles by the sump pool we were all out in comfortably less than 4 hours.

The next day, Tony returned to dive with 2 porters from Swaledale. In a successful dive he found 25m of passage rising to a large aven with vertical walls and possible dry passage 10m above the water. Another trip the following day proved necessary in order to carry the bottles out again.

Keen to get in another dive before the end of the week Tony spent Saturday night touring Yorkshire in search of its finest potholers for an ambitious carry in - dive - carry out trip. One by one they made their excuses (except for the Red Rose who decided en masse to go climbing in the lake district). So, on Sunday morning it was just me, Tony and Harvey who assembled in the Fountains for breakfast (plus a few well wishers who wanted to do a novice trip). This time Tony had opted for 2 number 9s which I think is about the same as 3 number 7s. He also advised us that there was a stove by the sump but it needed some fuel. Easily solved... 3 hours later, deep in the heart of East Kingsdale: "So, the stove doesn't have any matches either... bugger!"

In the end the dive was shorter than expected because Tony managed to use up all his sump line without incident adding another 75m to the total sump length which continues in large passage. An efficient carry out and lightning change whilst being eaten all over by midges meant that we were only 2 hours later than we had told our waiting transport (sorry) but it was worth it for a good fun trip.
Rob Garrett