Depth through thought

OUCC News 28th October 1998

Volume 8, Number 18

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A review of University Sports is underway which, if early trends continue, looks like yet again leaving the real sports (outdoor "risk" sports) unrecognised. Yes, you guessed it, Mountaineering, Diving, and Caving. Steve Roberts is doing everything he can as our noble president to do something about it, but if you feel strongly that croquet and tiddlywinks are the sports for you then smile and let this glorious establishment bimble on in its good old fashioned way.

Caving is Safe

Compared to caving party games that is. I spent the weekend visiting resurgences in South Wales on Saturday, followed by a party at the SWCC in which a ladder squeeze game ended up with one person breaking her own leg merely using the force of her own muscles. Two caving doctors and 10ml of intravenous morphine later the victim was comfortable, splinted and in the back of the rescue landy and on her way to hospital. We wish Rhianan a speedy recovery, as we would any injured caver.

By contrast, Sunday's trip down OFD was a doddle, despite the fact that it consisted of 6 paraglider pilots and one caver (ok, Lou and Jenny are pretty hard cavers too). There are no fixed aids on the Chasm Passage route to OFD 3 any more, so a measure of gear and free-climbing are now required, but its a good, challenging trip, and to be well recommended when the streamway is suffering from the highest flood levels in nearly fifty years. Special thanks to Huw for helping out. Anyone else go caving, or am I the only one?
Tim Guilford

Letter to the Editor

Dear DTT, I see I was referred to in the last issue as a "water rat". Well, this may have been true 20 years ago, but sadly I can now claim only to be a Water Buffalo, or possibly a Water Horse (one for the classically-inclined, there).
yours to the final sump,
Steve "Family Man" Roberts.

Wetsuit For Sale

2-piece WARMBAC, size 36ish. Not suitable for tall, lanky people. Extra ventilation around elbows. No ventilation at all around knees. Any offer likely to be accepted! Call 0121 694 9584 if you want it and I'll find some way of getting it to Oxford.
Fenella Brown

From our French Correspondent

Here's a bit of a funny story that happened on Monday: As you may know we have been for some time operational with the cave rescue team with the system Nicola (having tested successfully from the bottom of the Berger this summer). Well this Monday morning at 8am I received a phone call giving a call out for the Berger to look for a team of 10 people that were due out of the Berger on the Sunday after having been diving in the river Ecumante at the bottom. There was some concern as there had been heavy rain on the Saturday night! So Paul Mackrill and I + 4 others from the local CRO stumbled down (accompanied by about 12 Gendarmes). Fortunately we met them at Aldo's a short way down from the surface (-250) and so were duly able to use the radio to pass the message to the surface saying everything was OK - they had just been delayed (twice ) having to sit out high water at the bottom. Anyway the funny thing was that one of the team that had been down there had a yellow tacklebag with "William Stead" written on it in large letters! "Is that your tacklebag?" I asked him. He replied "err no it's err a friend of mine's". Yeh I thought, strange that! Still I guess Bill claimed it back on the insurance!

On another story, a few weeks before we helped provide communications for a rescue exercise of the French National rescue organisation near Dijon. They were testing their new sump stretcher. The thing takes 30 people to carry it down and has about 8 small bottles under it. The thing is naturally negatively buoyant. You should have seen the guys face as the lowered the practice "victime" into the sump - glugg, glugg..... Reminded me of the story of the fireservice who were doing a practice tyrolean stretcher rescue across a lake. Due to a bit of rope mis-handling the stretcher got dropped in the water, being made mostly of iron it sank to the bottom. The guy was then duly dragged out again after having passed out, was resuscitated only for the rescuers to do exactly the same thing a short while later! (poor sod) - but he did survive luckily! Graham Naylor

The Nicola System

The Nicola system is a cave radio being developed in Grenoble funded by a foundation set up by Nick Perrin, Nicola Dollimore's husband following her tragic death in the Gouffre Berger in 1996. The aim is to provide communication with people engaged in deep caves such as the Berger who may be unaware of the changing weather conditions. It is currently operational for rescue purposes but in the long run should be made permanently available for teams going down in particular the Berger. In fact it should help to prevent what happened this week-end which was a copy of what happened in 1996 (team went down on Saturday with a weather forecast that was iffy for Sunday night - the wet weather arrived early..... fortunately the team was able to take refuge and nobody was hurt this time - they were from the area and knew the places to shelter!). Ironically I had taken Monday off work to work on the next generation Nicola system to get it to a stage where the circuit diagrams can be freely provided (already the gendarmes and the SSF want to make lots) the original system we constructed is unfortunately not yet in a state for series production.
Graham Naylor

Cheap Gear

The YHA shop is having a discount day for members of outdoors clubs this Thursday (29th Oct). The opening time is 9am to 8pm and the discounts as follows:

So a few people can get together and make a single transaction over 100 quid - it saves quite a bit of money. You should mention the cave club (we get this promotional letter twice a year). Happy shopping!


After giving them quite a lot of TLC and buying them new bulbs the club has quite a few working lights. We have 10 of the modified Oldhams which all give at least 13.5 hours of good light, and 1 home-made FX2 which lasts at least 7 hours. There are 3 more Oldhams which have problems with their cables but otherwise seem OK. All the lights should be equally bright now, and if any of them is much dimmer than the others it probably indicates that one of the cells is failing.

Bulbs Because of all the bulb replacements we now have a large number of the old, unsuitable bulbs, which we no longer need. We have many Oldham 4v bulbs with both PF and MES fittings, especially the pilot bulbs. We even have a couple of FX5/Kirby 6.5v bulbs, and a few (Petzl?) 3.8v bulbs. If anyone's interested in buying any of these bulbs from the club then let me know (all reasonable offers accepted).
Lev Bishop