Depth through thought

OUCC News 10th November 1999

Volume 9, Number 21

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It's the Termly General Meeting next week, your chance to indulge in democracy, so any motions etc to Hilary Greaves please.

It seems to be a hot week for discussions, so make sure you have your say. Steve has raised the issue of Club Transport, Lev and others have been talking about making the expedition lightweight, and this weekend is the PDCMG meeting. For those of you don't know what the last means, Chris Densham is our Club Representative on the Draenen Management Committee. If you have anything you'd like him to say, or have an opinion on should it be raised at the meeting, please talk to him tonight or e-mail him soon. At the last meeting (anyone is entitled to attend, but not to vote) a major change of policy on the second entrance was accepted at the meeting, overturning in minutes the former consensus view (OUCC's input to that consensus was based on a thorough canvassing of members' views), because, largely, the majority were somewhat outwitted by a well prepared vocal minority. So if you feel strongly about any issue to do with Draenen, please let Chris know so he can be prepared to say something if need be.

Draenen Stuff

If you plan to do a trip in Ogof Draenen, then the combination lock number has changed. Please ask me if you want to know what the number is. Also, has anyone been to the Dollimore Series recently? Next PDCMG meeting is this weekend, and we have an action on us to clear up some of the debris that has accumulated at the brew site at the Out of the Blue junction. From your dabbler in Welsh cave politics,
Chris Densham

Wheels on Fire

The bad news is that the white van has blown up its engine in a fairly terminal fashion. The slightly less bad news is that we have not sold the red van yet, and can probably use its engine as a replacement.

I think that time has come that we must seriously consider the future of transport within the club. It is getting increasingly difficult to keep vehicles of the sort that we can afford on the road. The MOT requirements become more and more stringent each year. Insurance costs are now approaching £700 a year; petrol costs for older and therefore less economic vehicles are also continually increasing. Getting a large vehicle on the ferry to Spain is not cheap either. We have had a run of bad luck recently, which has cost the club quite a lot of money, and me and various others quite a lot of time.

It is certainly not worthwhile for the club to run its own vehicle in isolation. The only thing that makes owning a vehicle in any way economic is the fact that the expedition requires, or seems to require, the vehicle for taking large amounts of equipment to Spain and back. Were it not for this, it would certainly be less expensive, even if slightly less convenient, to hire vehicles as and when we needed them for club trips.

It is not really certain whether the expedition genuinely needs a vehicle or not. When the van blew up on the way to Spain in 1986, we managed perfectly well by hiring vehicles to take equipment out to Spain and separately hiring vehicles to bring the equipment back again, using public transport and members' cars for shopping, etc. in Spain. This arrangement was made "on the fly" on the day that the ferry sailed. It seems to me that with a few months to organise it, it should be possible to do this in a more controlled fashion.

The other factor to be taken into account is that I have been looking after club vehicles more or less full-time since 1983. (With a few holidays when Ian Barker and Joan Arthur did the job for a while). I don't want to keep on doing this until I retire or drop dead. It has taken up an enormous amount of time and effort over the years, and I think I've done it for long enough. So I intend to resign as van man at the next club AGM in Hilary term. If absolutely necessary, and if the expedition wants to use the van in 2000, I will help make sure it is in a fit state to use. Beyond that, either somebody else will have to look after the club vehicle, or we decide to approach our transport problems in a different way.

I think we should go over these matters at the termly general meeting. By then, I will have available rough figures of what it will cost to keep on using our own vehicle, and what it will cost to hire vehicles. We need not necessarily make a decision that this meeting, but it is something that needs to be discussed seriously.
Steve "stand by your van" Roberts


What a weekend! After an early night on Friday (only 2.30am), Hilary insisted on waking us all up at nine, having been up herself since seven. We split into two teams for Lost Johns, the one I was in dropped down Cathedral, whilst the others traversed over to Centipede. Downstream in Leck Fell master cave I gave up when I had to get my ear wet. But Gerrish, Hils and Keith continued to the conclusion. Mad people. The groups switched routes for the return journey. Back on the surface we could see the fireworks coming from Bull Pot Farm. An excellent trip. Such a shame that on Sunday we tried to go down Death's Head thinking it was Rumbling...

On the M6 the van blew up, and we had to use one of those emergency telephones, which was fun. I believe Steve has some serious words to say about this, and I don't blame him.

In two weekends time we return to Yorkshire. And we have a shiny new log book to write in, so make sure you're there. Anyone fancy a through trip from Gavel to Short Drop?
Rich "the music man" Doyle

That Sunday feeling.

After a particularly good trip on Saturday (see above), We (Riches Doyle and Gerrish, Keith, Kirsty and I) were determined to be all efficient and have a particularly good trip on Sunday as well. So, spurning the quitters' option of climbing at Inglethief, we headed for Rumbling Hole. I was especially turned on by the guidebook's description of the connection to Leck Fell Master Cave, which spake boldly of "wet crawl... tortuous progress... series of ducks...fifteen awkward corners...." - aaaah. Competence, unfortunately, was not on our side: we couldn't find the cave. So we went down Short Drop instead. Which was nice. Nice bit of streamway rift and a particularly cute little waterfall pitch. And which left us plenty of time to fit in a good couple of hours drinking tea in Bernie's, before blowing a hole in the van engine on the M6 on the way home.
Hilary "what minibus" Greaves

Bill's New Fave Cave

Right, the kunnin plan: we four (Olly Keith Dave and Bill) bound down Centipede route and meet other party somewhere around Battleaxe. What actually happened: we got lost. Temporary confusion, with much retracing of steps until eventually the correct way on was found. Hurrah, much rejoicing!

Okay, back on track. Managed to avoid falling down various holes in floor (including number one hole). Various yummy pitches followed, I even got to rig one myself; shame I got the maillons the wrong way up (Doh!). I do like this cave. Centipede pitch is lush: heartily recommended to the discerning life-form.

Eventually found Battleaxe traverse; much respect to Aunty Hilary who 'led' it (dunno what the proper caver expression is) - it's scary enough with all manner of ropey bits to cling onto whilst requesting the presence of Mummy! Mind you, it's worth doing 'cos the pitch at the end is nice.

Eventually we found ourselves in the main streamway, where the tone was instantly countered by the arrival of the other party from upstream. Much splashing around downstream then ensued. Discovery: ice-cold water above groin height is distressing for a sensitive chap. Eventually lost interest when it became clear that neck-deep water was looming.

The trip out was slightly less fun due to the need to prussik lots. Out of condition fatties (like myself) should not be required to do such unreasonable things. Lots of pretty cave though, going out on the other lot's ropes.

Loads of stars out and fireworks when we got out; the world is a wonderful place sometimes. This may well be my favouritest cave ever ever.
Bill Ford-Smith

Caving the DMUCC Way

Last Friday night I finally linked up with my university's cave club. In a car park. By the student union. We got in a van and we went to the Mendips. We stayed at the Cerberus hut. Cerberus is the three-headed dog that guarded the gate to hell, so would be quite a cool dog really.

On Saturday we went down GB after a GB key fiasco. Apparently it's best to slide it in all the way, pull it out a little but then give it a sharp twist. Opening the lock was tricky too. GB was fine. We found our way to Bat Passage and after a futile attempt to pump the sump and squeeze through unfeasibly tight by-passes, we retreated to the pub in Oakhill for fine ales courtesy of Oakhill Brewery.

Sunday's hair of the dog was Swildon's. I'd been assigned to the round trip party, but we were thwarted by a severely flooded Mud Duck, so it was down to Sump One for the first free dive for a couple of our party. And what a beauty it was. It was pretty shingled up and I took the non-sensical approach of attempting to dig my way through after commencing the dive rather than cleaning it out first. Once through a fun time was had by all on the way down to Sump Two, and it was a swift and uneventful journey out.

All this despite the interesting beaurocracy that the club needs to negotiate in order to get underground. I may have misunderstood exactly how much paperwork must be dug through before leaving daylight but the Union's safety officer appears to require trip details (surveys, route descriptions) and details of who's on the trip some time before setting off. I guess this focuses the mind when it comes to organising trips, but may make it difficult to deal with random elements like myself who turn up on a Friday night hoping there is room on the bus. Nice of them to let me come along. Hopefully they'll let me come again.

Technospeleobard Competition

Here are some lines from popular songs, which could be construed as having something to do with caving. First person to identify them all gets a pint. Doing a web search is cheating.

  1. Gonna make you wiggle like a wiggley worm cause you deserve to wiggle and squirm; life's too short to be in a hole
  2. Save me, save me, save me from this squeeze
  3. Feel sick and dirty, more dead than alive
  4. You're standing in a deep dark hole beneath a sky as black as coal
  5. So close to drowning but I DON'T MIND I've lived in this mental cave
  6. I was lying in a cave in the solid rock I was feeling pretty brave 'til the lights went off

Lev Bishop