Depth through thought

OUCC News 24th June 1998

Volume 8, Number 16

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Hugh Penny is receiving all sorts of boring OUCC related e-mails that he doesn't really want.  I guess this is because some of you out there have copied my DTT distribution list, without editing it, for your own trivial rantings.  Please, if you think someone living in France won't really be interested in venue for tonight's beer, or the whereabouts of the club Karabiner, then remove <> from your list.

Flu stopped last weekend's attempt to push Prisoners of War beyond the kilometre mark, so another attempt will be made this weekend.  However, I did manage to spend two hours underground cementing the 15ft shaft of imminent death at the entrance dig to Pwll Derw, which is a very promising draughting choke in a large sink hole taking a stream copiously and without backing up, that eventually feeds the Hepste.  My premonition that this was not a nice choke, though, was reinforced when it collapsed on assorted MCC diggers last Monday evening.  Of course that didn't stop them going in to shore it up again....

Letter from Kitti

Hi Tim and all other OUCC members, Finally I  found all the email addresse, and can make contact.  Will Jeremy gave them all, so no reason not to make contact.

How is the caving going?  Preparing for the expedition?  I wonder how it will go. We are here pretty happy in Ozzie land, not enough barbeques though.  Ans it's winter at the moment and pretty missarable weather.  But the summers are great and I'm looking foreward to warmer weater.

Maarten and I and Susan keep ourself busy with the beautiful nature around here.  Victoria and suuroundings has lots to offer.  Lots of walking to do, nice camping, supurb climbing (in nicer weather) but not a lot of caving.  Instead we started to dive, and that's great, beautifull fishes to see, and amazing sea dragons to discover.  And it's almost as cold and tyring as caving!!!!

Good luck for everybody, Hope all exams went fine, did Joanne pass all?  Is she still planning a trip down under?  and has Chris D done his Phd already?

All kind of questions, happy caving there at the other end of the globe!!!
xx kitti, maarten and Little Susan!

Kitti van Ramshorst
96 Bogong Avenue
Glen Waverley,
Vic 3150 Australia
Tel: +61 3 9560 0854

Gossip mongery

OK. It has been brought to your correspondent's notice that further developments have taken place in the field of the controversial phenomenon known as 'doing the Waterfalls Walk'. Some years ago extensive research into the significance of the Walk by members of the club, which has in more recent times been supported by evidence from the likes of Hooper 'I did the Walk with Iain Clamp' and of course Alison and Alex's dawn excursion in 96. This weekend provided the strongest evidence available to date, when it emerged that Lev and Rob did the Walk together not once but TWICE, and, moreover, took a third party (Bill) along with them on the second night to enhance the enjoyment of the Walk. Fortunately their attempts to lure Alison along to witness their al fresco splashings were less successful.

Those present at BPF over New Year might reflect that this sheds yet more damning light on the peculiar circumstances which saw Lev and Rob flooded into Marble Sink with only one survival bag between them, and the somewhat suspicious claim that they 'sang Beatles songs' to keep warm. 'Please please me' would be an obvious choice or perhaps 'Polythene Pam' who was good looking but looked like a man... 'Well you should see her in drag, dressed in her POLYTHENE BAG, well you should see Polythene Pam...' I feel another club euphemism might be in the making...

Draenen Conservation News.

Pwll Du Cave Management Group (PDCMG) Press Release - 23/6/98

The group's attention has been drawn to the rapidly deteriorating condition of Giles' Shirt (the first major formation up Gilwern Passage). The path, which is the only means of passing the formation and continuing up Gilwern Passage, is starting to collapse into the crystal pools at the base of the formation. The PDCMG has concluded that due to the potential damage that each passing caver could do, Gilwern Passage has been taped off at that point until the needed conservation work has been completed. Needless to say, we need willing volunteers as the solution involves at least rebuilding the path, build a low retaining wall and then attempting to get as much mud out of the pools as possible. Anyone who is willing to help in this project please contact me on (01222) 454006.

As many cavers will know, back in September '97 person or persons unknown dug, for reasons unknown, a trench from the entrance gate out to the hillside. This was an extensive excavation which involved chucking cubic metres of spoil down the hillside. The path down the hill and the sides of the trench started to collapse and despite appeals for information about this bizarre act, no one came forward with any justification. It was decided at the November meeting of the PDCMG that the trench would be filled back in to return the site to its former condition and to halt deterioration. A willing band of volunteers turned out in the rain for 8 hours. They hauled rock from the spoil heap back up the slope and dry stone walled the entire trench. The section at the base of the path were cemented for additional stability and top soil was placed over the rock filled trench to encourage revegetation. We assumed this was the end of this unfortunate, time wasting matter.

Within weeks half of the trench had been chucked back down the hill, again by persons unknown. Repairs were attempted on several occasions by cavers who gave up their day's trip to lend a hand. Eventually the decision was made not to play their game and since that date the rest of the trench has been systematically destroyed, one rock every week or two! This state of affairs was reported to the June meeting of the group which unanimously condemned the actions of these individuals. The group was original set up as an open forum for issues relating to the caves in the area, and therefore again invites those involved to get in touch (anonymously) so that this matter can be resolved amicably. The group also decided that the trench will again be repaired, but this time it will be engineered to resist vandalism. The Group would like it widely known that any further vandalism, will be treated as a criminal matter and the Police will be involved. Unfortunately I have to ask if anyone is again prepared to give up a day of their time to help repair the site, I promise it'll be a laugh, BBQs and beer ready, (01222 454006, email:
Ali Garman, PDCMG

OUCC Antenatal section

Junior Roberts/Bailey made a good start with the club by doing Upper Long Churn on Sunday. Dr Bannister's Handbasin went down particularly well, judging by the amount of kicking. Now in training for that tough squeeze.....

Brown Hill

How many times have I done this trip? Perhaps too many. Every time, the bottles get bigger and bigger and the dive or the wait gets longer and colder (1hr 50mins, this time). Jolly good fun, though, introducing Lev and Jo to the noble and selfless arts of bottle carrying, not to mention bottle headbutting, bottle wrestling, bottle prussiking, bottle wedging, bottle tangling, bottle emptying, bottle dropping and bottle cursing. The last two items were demonstrated to the full when I lost my grip in the awful bloody rift above the first pitch on the way out. Okay, so I've been losing my grip for years. Tony said the vis was exceptionally crap; much line was laid out and then reeled in up false leads. The end so far is apparently a loose boulder slope, still at about -8-10m. This may presage a rise up to air, or then again, it may not.
Steve Roberts

Gavin Does it the Hard Way

The only good thing about bottle retrieval from Brownhill is that it is good training for the rifts of 2/7. A few short pitches, bit tight in places, awkward for bag carrying. With this in mind Saturday's team had kindly left four tacklebags worth of gear for anyone who cared to have a go. Gavin was keen and claimed he knew the way (misleading), Alec had never carried bottles and wanted to try (misguided), I needed the practise (mistaken) and Tony needed his gear (misty-eyed). He also needed to socialise in Ingleton, so we set off with only a faint memory of the way through the cave.

Things started well. We walked straight up to the entrance. Then they begin to deteriorate. I knew that the awkward right-left bend is best negotiated by standing up, otherwise you are committed to a series of leg-breaking moves, made all the more nasty by accumulation of rocks along the floor. Gavin, who had only known the golden age of Brownhill exploration, insisted on using the traditional (bit hard for a grade 4) floor route. I was not convinced, gave it a go, got into trouble, got out of it, got into more trouble then got through. Apart from the odd route-finding error, including Alec's direct and very exposed approach to the second pitch, the rest of the trip down went smoothly, with Tony catching us up just after we got to the bottom. The way out was hard enough with three pitches to suss out the best way to prussik with tackle without catching your nads. Nice bit of team-work in the tight entrance rift resulted in Gavin retrieving three of the bags through the bends as no-one thought to tell him there was an easier route. Nice trip as it turned out.

Sensory Deprivation

A couple of weeks ago, Tim, Lou and I went for another trip into the Prisoners of war extentions. I wasn't feeling my best on the way in and was caving quite slowly. I considered jacking, but after a bit of light rearrangement I picked up some speed and carried on. However, when we reached the old campsite at Destiny Inlet I still wasn't feeling right and with the thought of how far it was back to the surface weighing heavily I decided that a long pushing trip at that point wasn't sensible and I didn't fancy making my own way out either. Thankfully, we'd just replenished the campsite with chocolate, gas and cup-a-soups, so having been shown the correct way to warm oneself in a bivvy bag with a candle I decided to wait. I didn't really know what to expect, so I thought I'd let people know what I learned from the experience:

  1. There are very few songs I can sing all the way through without having to hum verses;
  2. Lying on your wellies is comfortable and keeps you warm (except for your toes);
  3. It's far too cold to go to sleep, or even to stay in the same place for more than about half an hour without doing anything;
  4. After about 45 minutes with your light off you really do think you can see the walls and your hand in front of your face, etc;
  5. Cup-a-soups are great for staying warm and happy;
  6. 6 hours spent like this passes much more quickly than you would expect.

Lev Bishop