Depth through thought

OUCC News 18th February 1998

Volume 8, Number 6

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Ah at last. Lots of caving tales this week. Mixed in with news and advice. What more could you want. Oh yes, the entire evening spent in the Club AGM. Can't wait...

Dinner & Gear Mending

This Saturday
 10am Gear mending starts at Peel Place (Chris D's house).
1:30ish Lunch (probably go to chippy). Afterwards more gear mending.
5:30pm Van Rouge leaves from Peel Place to take people to Jo's for pre-dinner drinks (20 Stevens Close, Woodstock Rd)
6pm Drinks at Jo's 
7:30pm Van Rouge leaves Jo's for restaurant (Blue Palms, South Parade, Summertown)
8pm Dinner
10:30ish Van Rouge leaves for Peel Place - Bring BOOZE.
For anyone who doesn't know, to get to Peel Place, head down the Abingdon Rd for 1 mile from Carfax, turn left at the Lights (Fox & Hounds pub) then take first right.

In case it needs saying, last years' expeditioners should feel particularly keen on coming to the pre-dinner party. Of course, next years expedition fodder should feel even more enthusiastic about making sure that all ropes and tents are reliable.
Love Jo Whistler

CJD Expedition latest.

Forgot the Sponsorship news last week. We have 24 (count them) tins of Princes Tuna in Spicy Sauces almost complete meals. Excellent underground cuisine.

Giants Hole (eventually)

After the mild shock of waking up in the building site which is the TSG hut (my last point of reference being in the van halfway to Derbyshire) I had the rest of the day to watch a clusterfuck of epic proportions as us lads attempted to get underground without the aid of any of OUCC's womenfolk. After a lightning quick run in to Buxton to get lights and laugh at Bill for buying a duo, a snap decision on which cave to do, and a direct drive to the entrance we were underground for, well , it can only have been 5 o'clock .

Or at least 6 of us were Olly, Lev and Rob having engaged in a frantic effort to donate as much gear as possible so they could run off to the pub . This left me, Keith, Matt, Harry, Bill and Richard to head on down into what is a rather nice cave once you get past the concrete floor and major blasting. Steve's instructions proved remarkably accurate and after shimmying through the crabwalk (10 minutes, yes; 3/4 hour, it begins to pale) we ignored Matt's siren calls from the top of a roped climb to pop out into a rather fun traverse. Which after much passing to and fro of cowstails led to a fine 12m pitch into a large chamber. By this stage some of the less experienced amongst us, i.e. those with more holes than oversuit material, were a little chilly so on reaching the canals we ran away just in time for a pint. A good trip snatched from the jaws of incompetence .
p.s. some names have been changed to protect the amnesiac

Lev on Derbyshire

It was certainly a club weekend with a difference. For a start it was the first trip to Derbyshire in, literally, years. It was also the only occasion I can think of with absolutely no representation from the females of the club, which was especially ironic given that Saturday was St. Valentines day - inevitably lending a rather laddish atmosphere to proceedings.

The memorable aspects of the trip up were Andy's consumption of a litre of whisky and consequent triggering of car alarms and appointments with the gutter. The TSG is nice hut and it looks set to improve as there were architect's drawings and improvements all over the place - although pretty much the only TSG members we saw were there doing DIY on Sunday, and parking is a bit of a pain.

On Saturday the problem with not bringing Fleur, or in fact anyone remotely interested in taking any responsibility, became apparent and the amount of faffing was truly incredible, even by OUCC standards. Even the fact that there are apparently only 3 caves in the area didn't help us make up our minds and it was well after 4pm that anyone got underground - a very large party down Giant's Hole, who seemed to have fun but get a little cold, and a small band of rebels (me, Rob, Olly) who didn't go because of lack of lights (the fact that I didn't want to dive St. Valentine's sump had nothing to do with it). In the end we got bored with wondering about the countryside and decided to go down Giant's anyway (one zoom between 3), leaving a cairn to help guide the others out before we buggered off for a pub crawl around Castleton.

Surprisingly (given Saturday's efforts), a group of 4 was fed and ready by the 9am deadline for Peak Cavern - which was apparently a very nice cave but lacking in sporting obstacles. Of the less keen of us, Rob and I went searching for squalor in Gautries Hole, which had some lovely mud, a pleasant muddy duck (which Rob had me trying to siphon uphill), and some wishful digs. After that we caught up Matt, Harry and Bill in the remaining cave in the area, P8, which was short and wet and good fun, but quite crowded.
Lev Bishop

Shell Travel Bursaries

If you are an undergraduate, but not in your final year, and you fancy some cash to go to Spain this summer then I recommend you apply for a Shell Travel Bursary. The deadline for applications is 31st March with interviews (in Oxford) sometime in April. I have a few spare application forms, but you should be able to pick them up off someone on your JCR committee. If all else fails call 0171 934 3630 and they'll send you one. I relieved Shell of 300 quid last year so it's well worth it.
Fleur 'no morals' Loveridge

Caving with the Captain

Over the years, I've done quite a few trips with "Captain Clive" Westlake. He never seems to get any older (though he did the Berger on ladders before he went up to Cambridge in, I think, 1962). A few trips stand out clearly in the memory. Pool sink with Bill Stead and Nicola Dollimore, with a distinct feeling of rising water levels as we came out, where we found the previously bone-dry beck roaring past the cave and lapping at the base of the entrance crawl. Clive remarked "well, you did say you wanted to learn cave diving, you know". Darren Cilau, photographing down at what was then "the end" - the newly discovered Bonsai streamway and St David's sump; that trip, like many with Clive, punctuated by a running conversation on matters caving, historical, alpinistic and so on. Then there was the trip to photograph Maytime, in Aggy, with the poignant sight of Roger Solari's boots still standing at sump 4. We decided that we couldn't stand the horror of "southern stream passage" twice, so came out via the Grand Circle; Clive regaled us with tales of how the digs that connected it were done, by him and others back in the Seventies: "when I turned 20, I didn't worry, when I turned 30, I thought I was getting old, when I turned 40 I looked forward to all the things I might still do, when I turned 50, I just carried on and got on with it." It also turned out he is the person almost invisible beneath a deluge on Diccan Pot last pitch in that hideously impressive picture in Paul Deakin's book of "lots of black & white photos of very wet caves" - apparently he was just attached to the lifeline, a whistle was blown, and the next thing he knew all was thunderous, wet and bloody cold...

This time it was to photograph in Dollimore's, so it was my turn to entertain the team with tales of digging, falling rocks, "and here is Nobby Mumford's dry stone wall", etc. Then the mind-boggling step forward from the breakthrough point to M S & D passage.

On to Cantankerous Surveyors. God it's a long way down Luck of the Draw. And you know is still a bloody long way to the end when you get to the breakdown area. Clive: "even Arthur Millet said he was getting a bit bored with the survey down there by the end".

The Needles, though definitely special, have to be looked for quite carefully - they're so transparent they would be easy to miss. Geryon's lair is amazing. It must count as one of the top two or three sets of formations I've ever seen. It looks like it was designed by someone who's seen lots of wacky "calcite pendules with helictites" stuff, then decided to go several better after taking some very strong recreational pharmaceuticals. [photos]. The whole area had a definite "more people have been to the Moon" aura to it - I think we may have been the first there since the surveyors found it.

A few more pictures, in Nicola's Grotto, etc, then a steady trip out . Clive told us the tale of someone he'd taken caving back in the days of big ladders. This chap's first trip had been down Eldon Hole, and he had to rest a few times on the way up, and complained that his arms felt a bit tired. Clive recommended him to try an exercise to build up his arm and wrist strength involving holding at arm's length a broom handle with a brick tied to it by a length of string, and winding the brick up and down with deft motions of the hand. This chap couldn't find these materials at work, but as he worked in a steel mill, was able to find a great lump of iron and a bit of scaffolding pole instead, and did the exercise full time for a week. The next weekend they did a three hundred odd foot free hanging ladder - and he got up it without any rests, no problem! So don't bother spending any money on expensive weights kit - just lift a few bits and pieces from your local building site.

Good steady enjoyable trip - thanks Clive, Pete and Tish.
Steve Roberts