Depth through thought

OUCC News 21st October 1998

Volume 8, Number 17

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Welcome to the first issue of DTT for the new academic year after the customary long silence of the summer. For those new to the club, DTT is a roughly weekly newsletter with trip reports, news, opinion and gossip serving the club's community.... (Blearrgggh!). Still, anyone can write in (trip reports from novices are particularly welcome), preferably by e-mail but crayon will do. I hope to have some reports of trips done over the summer over the following weeks. And next week, find out what happened to William Stead's tacklebag....

Next Wednesday, Paul Mann will be talking about this summer's caving expedition. The thrills and delights of exploration and discovery in some of the deepest cave systems in the world. This should whet your appetite for what you could be doing next summer.

Hidden Earth Conference

Once again, OUCC turned out in force at this annual weekend feast of caving. JC's talk on the expedition was well received, with an almost full lecture theatre. Some of the best talks otherwise came from various diving projects, with a stunning video of diving in the Emergence du Ressel, and a thoroughly entertaining talk on the diving of the Doux De Coly, (look out for the article in Descent). A full range of other talks catered for all tastes, with plenty of expedition caving, round ups of new UK discoveries, and lots of more specialist talks. Graham Naylor presented results from the Nicola Cave Radio Project (which has OUCC roots), with communication down to 500m easily achievable, and 1000m possible with careful set up. Other memorable technical talks included cave spiders, with plenty of practical demonstrations; and dealing with bad air in caves, demonstrating the CRO's portable ventilation system, which successfully blocked one of the lecture theatre doorways with an enormous balloon.

A forum for university clubs was well attended, it was excellent to find out how other university clubs are getting on. Discussion focussed on the problems faced by university clubs, the themes seemed to be common to all of us; although my suspicions that Oxford has one of the strongest university clubs was confirmed. New enthusiasm for clubs to work together was generated, I hope OUCC will be able to play its part in this. The traditional late night bars gave us a more informal opportunity to meet, and share some of the joys of caving, catch up on old acquaintances etc. The SRT race unfortunately didn't run well this year, it had to be stopped after causing damage to a ceiling! The art and photo competitions were well subscribed, but for once OUCC failed to make much impression, mainly as none of us had time to put together a good entry. Although supposedly not as well attended, the conference felt busy, and I think most of us enjoyed our weekend immensely. Let's look forward to next years conference, probably to be held in Sheffield, Leeds or Bradford.
Paul Mann

Meets Secretary's Corner

Some people have managed to go caving since the President's Invite and trips have included Thrupe Lane and Eastwater. To continue this Mendip theme, there will be introductory day trips this weekend, with an introductory weekend the following weekend. The MNRC is booked for the Saturday night. For all these trips I will need leaders and offers of gear to be lent to the novices.

As you know, I am also expedition leader for 1999 (see later). I don't want to spread myself too thinly, so Andy has kindly agreed to help me with some of my Meets Sec's duties. He will sorting out food buying and van collecting for the weekends.
Jo Whistler

Extremero '99

I've now got most of a committee together and last night held the first committee meeting, complete with the full quota of bullshit and vodka drinking. The posts filled are:

It's not long before we have to hand in a prospectus to the OU Exploration Club, so if anyone has any opinions they'd like to air about expedition objectives, then I'd love to hear them. The other thing coming up soon is the RGS Expedition Planning Seminar. It involves a weekend in London making contacts and getting ideas about how we can run expedition better. The cost is £50 for students and £75 for anyone else, but the expedition will pay half of this. We need to book soon, so do tell me if you're interested.
Jo "not loose, just enthusiastic" Whistler

The Eastwater monster

How do you warm up for a party on Mendip attended by half the BEC? Well, since it had been raining copiously on Mendip all Friday night, and much of the previous week, Steve, Lou, Simon, Chris and I decided that Twyings Teabag Cave was too boring and that the floodprone Eastwater entrance series would be a right laugh instead. We changed in the barn at Eastwater farm, and were warned by a group who had just exited the cave that the water levels were unusually high. Steve "water-rat" Roberts acted as cave canary, and satisfied himself that he would not relive his hideous Mexico experience today: the water looked fine.

Tasted great too. Down the entrance shaft, then under the waterfall and clamber through a dingy, dripping boulder choke. Things went fine until we reached the cross-roads, where Steve confidently announced that we should go straight on. Soon we were at the head of Twin Verticals pitch, and Steve announced that he was confident that we were at the Dolphin Chimney climb. Hand-line rigged, Steve abseiled off into the dark.

"Er, doesn't look free-climbable to me, a puzzled and slightly worried voice came back up the pitch." Twin Verts is definitely not free-climbable.... But we sorted it all out and soon we had found the right pitch (left at the cross roads), and Chris set off down the crawl to the 13 pots. For reasons I can;'t recall, he had decided to give me a piggy-back at the same time. What was normally a perfectly sensible crawl turned into a squeeze for two. That is, until Steve joined in and now a thrashing six-legged monster had stuck itself squealing and grunting into the passage. By comparison, the rest of the trip was uneventful, except for Lou's attempt to squeeze directly up the entrance waterfall instead of taking the easy. "Too much water to see where I was going..." Time to party. Excellent trip. Best cave on Mendip.
Tim Guilford


There are a few of this year's expedition T-Shirt remaining, red, white, blue or green, only £10. See Paul Mann.

Hut Improvements

The hut has been refurbished, with a racking system taking plastic storage boxes. I hope this means we can keep the hut tidier and our equipment in better order. If this system works properly, then sorting gear after a weekend away could be reduced to sliding boxes back into their slots, and hanging ropes back up. This could be done easily on Sunday evening, saving hard worked tacklemasters a Monday morning headache. Besides the racking, there is rope hanging right at the back, (use this for long ropes that don't all need to go on every Yorkshire weekend), then hanging space for club over-suits etc, (don't hang rope here as the meat-hooks are at eye level for anyone needing to get to the longer ropes. Helmets can be hung on the short pegs, ladders on the longer pegs (when put up). The filing cabinet remains home for foods, as it is more rodent proof. Please look in here before doing the shopping for the weekend, we have enough pasta, rice, tomatoes and kidney beans for the whole term, an expedition's worth of spices, sauces and other flavourants, and a WI's worth of sponsorship tea from Twining, with a corresponding mountain of sugar. We have flour, we have Mornflake oats, enough to fill Gaping Gill; and we have enough toilet rolls to allow us to safely eat that much porridge. We have no bananas...

There is still a little more work to do, so be patient about the remaining pile in the middle of the floor. Any volunteers to patch some of the over-suits? The near half of the hut would also benefit from painting. So, please look after the hut and the gear, the wood will take some abuse, but don't use it as a climbing frame! Otherwise, I know Jo will be asking to borrow furry and over-suits for the coming two weekends of introductory trips. Lev has been busy with the lamps, and they seem to be working well now that they've been charged and had good bulbs put in them.
Paul Mann


Paul and Jo are having a flat warming party on Saturday, 8.00pm, pbab, at their new abode, 83a Lonsdale Road, Summertown, Oxford. Lonsdale is first on the right past the Summertown shops. All of OUCC invited, but if you live in Oxford you have last call floor floors pace to sleep on. Those on the Saturday trip, join us when you return, and let us have damp furry suits so that they can be dried for Sunday's trip. (That doesn't mean everyone has to bring their unwashed caving gear to the party!) Do the clocks change this weekend... does that give us an extra hour of partying?


Bill Ford-Smith.... Flat 3 1 College Ave Mutley Plymouth PL4 7AL (01752) 252071

Fenella Brown.....

Fleur Loveridge.... <ear8fal@WEST-01.NOVELL.LEEDS.AC.UK>