Depth through thought

OUCC News 12th May 1999

Volume 9, Number 10

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Discount Evening

Don't forgt we have a discount evening organised for tomorrow (thursday) at the camping and outdoor centre on Turl St. Come along at 5.30 or tell me at the bar tonight what you want me to get for you.
Lev Bishop

Extremero 99

It's not that long until expedition now, and you may wish to start thinking about transport. If anyone is planning to go out by car and is looking for people to share petrol costs, let me know and I'll put a transport matchmaking bit on the web site.

Just a quick reminder that anyone going on expedition should make sure they're up to date with their vaccinations, particularly tetanus. Please could you let Richard Doyle know when your last tetanus jab was (check with your GP).
Jo "shouldn't drink after two pints" Whistler

The New Van

The Van Blanc will be available for use as of the coming weekend. It's pretty shiny and clean. The seats are nice. Keep it that way. We will take out the back row of seats, so that gear, bikes, etc. can be put there and nowhere else.

Unlike the super nimble sporty Van Rouge, the steering is a bit of a wrestling match (long wheelbase, twin wheels at back), so take it very steady until you get the hang of it.

I have spoken to John Roycroft at the Sports Centre, Iffley Road, and he is happy to have the Van kept there. It would only be accessible in opening hours (7-10 weekdays, 8-9 weekends), but would have a secure reserved parking spot and be kept an eye on by the University security services. What do people think about this ? I would favour it myself, as long as people are good about returning it, reporting faults to me, and if we can sort out some sensible arrangement with the keys.
Steve "Stand by your Van" Roberts


Thanks to everyone who helped out last weekend, we all agreed that in general the rescue went smoothly. Lynn "quite enjoyed" her time in the stretcher, which shows what an improvement the new back-splint is.

The next club trip is the long awaited varsity match, in two weekends time. If anyone has any novel ideas on how to challenge the Tabs, let me know...
Rich Doyle

Rescue Practice

I seemed the logical choice for casualty in this years Rescue Practice. With a shoulder injury which is limiting my caving and climbing this term, how could I do other than to volunteer to be tied to the stretcher. As we drove to Wales I learnt more of Jo's uncomfortable time last year and began to think that maybe I should have cried off completely and stayed at home. But it was decided and on Saturday morning Gavin and I headed off to the chosen cave while the others were still at Dudley's. You are probably thinking 'keen fools, they should have had a cup of tea while they waited in the warmth of the cottage!', and in retrospect I would heartily agree. But at the time it seemed like a good idea to set off ahead of the rescue team and set up the accident. Having rigged a ladder a short distance the wrong side of a squeeze we sat and waited. And waited some more and then some more. After two hours of sitting in this cold cavern I finally heard approaching rumbles and positioned myself in a pained position under the ladder.

Role playing is not on my top-ten list of favourite activities, however I did my best to fake the necessary injuries. Once I was tied into the stretcher it was harder to tell a difference between the role and reality. Despite the fact that I was not injured I was totally dependent upon everyone. I could not move to keep myself warm, scratch my nose or take my inhaler. Everybody was very professional the entire time. I was kept warm and consoled, with at least one person allocated purely to talk to me. The team work and individual initiative was impressive. The goggles that were put on me were definitely appreciated. On the two brief occasions that I wasn't wearing them I got grit and water in my eyes. Jo was quick to pick up on the fact that I was being continually blinded by full beam lights in my face and issued instructions accordingly. Also, Lev provided me with a torch, remembering from his own experience what it was like, to enable me to see something of what was happening.

Everyone was particularly supportive as I was pushed, pulled and dragged through the squeeze. Going through squeezes can be intimidating enough when you are fully mobile and in control, but when you are paralysed and totally inflexible on a stretcher it is very different and so much worse. I can think of no situation where you are even get close to that level of dependence and need for the support of your friends. Being rescued was a very enlightening experience for me. It made me aware of the realities of a caving accident, an issue that I have tried to avoid thinking about. But it also inspired me with confidence in the competence and commitment of my fellow cavers. Although I would gladly volunteer to be cuddled and fussed over again next year, I do genuinely feel that it is an experience that everyone should have. It gives a deep insight into the needs of the injured party and this experience would help to make a real rescue that little bit less horrendous.
Lynn Mulelly

Draenen politics

The views of the club were well represented at this weekend's PDCMG meeting, thanks to Tim, Jo, Lou and Lynn for making valuable contributions. First item of news: the combination lock number is due to change at the end of August, so remember to ask someone in the know if you want to go down Draenen from September onwards. Also, the entrance log book is due to be housed at some time in the near future in a new box on the wall of the Lamb & Fox. Believe it or not, a Code of Conduct exists (don't disturb bats, survey and conservation tape new discoveries etc.) which has to be signed by a club officer. A copy will be floating around in the bar which all Draenen cavers should read. A policy on the use of explosives during the bat roosting season is being prepared.

The most controversial topic was the old chestnut of the second entrance. The new owners would like to see this entrance closed, however they are prepared to tolerate the existing gate provided it is not used. The Group decided to cement over the gate to ensure that it is not abused, whilst still allowing emergency access in a reasonable amount of time. The surface will also be re-landscaped, as the present unsightly mess is clearly visible from the road and has been attracting the attention of passing bikers. I believe this is a reasonable compromise, but we will have to see how things work out. This work will take place on 12/13 June, and as many volunteers as possible will be welcome.

For a less anodyne account of the meeting, ask any of us who were there
Chris Densham

Broken Ginger

I arrived at the Fountains cafe on Saturday morning in time for my second breakfast of the day. The plan was to do Crescent Pot but a dodgy weather forecast (we have since concluded that all weather forecasts are distinctly dodgy) prompted us to go down the newly extended much hyped Broken Finger Pot. I spent most of the trip trying to think up a suitable pun to use as a heading in DTT but as you can see I failed. However, if I had had any ginger biscuits with me they would certainly have been broken by the end of the trip whereas my fingers had only minor lacerations and abrasions.

The cave is in many ways reminiscent of Marble Sink only a bit shorter and a bit harder. A straightforward entrance crawl leads to the gymnastic first pitch head. Form the bottom of the first pitch an awkward rift leads off to end in a scene of impressive destruction where the NCC had clearly made several attempts to force a way on before they finally found one in the second pitch. Just before this is an unimposing corner which, I was told, is best passed on your right hand side. While this is undoubtedly an accurate piece of advice it does deserve the additional caveat feet first.

The way on now leads through the Fatometer. In the tradition of all great squeezes it's not actually that tight, just a bit technical and very committing - to approach it you drop down a two meter tube from which you have to proceed at floor level inclining slowly upwards to a corner. Small people can get into the right position by just crouching down and leaning forwards. However, I found that a gravity assisted pike with half twist worked just as well. The fourth pitch head is another gymnastic special and if, like us, you are relying on the NCC rigging you might want to bring your own ladder and lifeline for this one.

Up until this point the cave is rigged on ladder. However, another short awkward rift with only one nasty section (which apparently has a bypass) leads to the start of the pitch series and about 80m or so of SRT. This is comparatively straightforward but if you have an aversion to abseiling on 8mm rope you'd best bring your own for the final 20m hang.

From the bottom of this last pitch the passage does continue through a couple of low airspace ducks to a sump. However, to get to them involves squeezing under an area of imminent collapse which appears to be supported by a rock the size of a ping pong ball which is held between what, for want of any better term, I will call the wall and some sort of crumbly conglomerate. With the sun shining outside and beers cooling in the entrance I decided today was too good to carry on. I was going to include a pun about trips to the bitter end at this point but then I thought better of it...
Rob Garrett (Story continued next week)