Depth through thought

OUCC News 24th November 1999

Volume 9, Number 23

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As most of you will probably already know, France's largest ever cave rescue operation finished successfully yesterday with surfacing of the entire team trapped by flood waters for about a week. Congratulations to all involved. Graham Naylor, a veteran OUCC member for those of you who don't know him, has been heavily involved in the development of an underground radio communications system, known as System Nicola after Nicola Dollimore an OUCC caver who died in floods in the Berger, and he writes below about the system's successful contribution to the rescue.

For the first time since caving activity started at Pwll Du (that's Ogof Draenen to you and me) the security of cavers' belongings has been threatened. Last weekend, sometime on Friday night, Ben's rather expensive tent was vandalised, probably by children, whilst we were still in the the pub. It is a sorry change, and it is not clear who was responsible. However, cavers should be warned that the film set erected on the old car park has started to attract considerable attention from quite wide afield, with the number of cars coming to see what's up quite appreciable, so the relative obscurity of the place can no longer be taken for granted as a guarantee against security problems.

A big thanks to Dave Barrett, of the Shepton club, who not only carried dye detectors into Draenen for us last weekend, but also brought out a daren drum of waste from the brew site at Out of the Blue. Those of you who have contributed to the apparently pitiful state of this food and gear dump might just feel guilted into tidying it up properly when you are next in there

Rescuers use System Nicola

I would just like to add that we used the System Nicola to provide communications to the teams taking turns to attempt the nearly 2km bolt traverse at roof level to avoid the floods - fortunately this was by passed by drilling a 40m shaft, though 800m progress had been made in about 48hours involving the placement of about 300 bolts - all in all quite a technical rescue). The telephone was not working properly and the radio was the only means of ensuring the rigging teams would not be caught by further flooding (2 rescuers narrowly escaped being washed away early in the rescue). The reaction time to rain had dropped to 3 hours and the weather was quite unpredictable. Quite an epic story really - I must try and write it up some time for Descent.
Graham Naylor

Great Escape to where?

Last weekend was Ben Lovett's 30th Birthday, and it kicked off with a night of revelry at the Lamb and Fox, followed by fireworks and a hopelessly late start on Saturday morning. Ben's idea of a cracking night out on his birthday consisted of camping underground with Me and Lou, so armed with cake, fine whiskey and a container of Fluorosceine, that's what we did. We didn't fo much digging, but spent most of our time furtling and thinking about leads in Prisoners of War. But we did manage to place dye in the Great Escape streamway, the most Easterly in the cave, with the aim of looking for a visual connection to other exit streams of Peac in our Time, and War of the Worlds. We found no evidence of a connection.

So where does the water go? Well the hypothesis was that it may go over a wtershed and into somewhere like Out of the Blue directly rather than via WOW (with all of the implications this has). So with the heroic help of Ian Wilton-Jones, Ray Martin and especially Dave Barrett, dye detectors were placed at sensible points in the Dollimore Series. We also placed detectors in the main resurgence, so with any luck we'll know in a week whether we're onto something.

Whiskey and Cake later we slumped into cosy pits talking and dreaming of caverns measureless. Next morning, or was it afternoon, we did a bit more leisurely furtling (including working out from scallop marks that Lost In Space probably once flowed South) and then started a new dig at the North East end of Lost In Space. Out in time for pint.
Tim Guilford

Song Competition Results

A very poor showing of entrants for the song competition. Perhaps it was harder than I'd guessed (Bill was annoyed that he got none of the answers even though he owns 3 of the songs). Anyway, the joint winners, with one correct answer each, are Fenella and Rob. Congratulations, or something.

The answers were:

  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
    Subway to Venus - Red Hot Chilli Peppers
  2. Save me, save me, save me from this squeeze
    Sunny Afternoon - The Kinks (Not the Manic Street Preachers - sorry Andy :-)
  3. Feel sick and dirty, more dead than alive
    Waiting for the Man - Velvet Underground
  4. You're standing in a deep dark hole beneath a sky as black as coal
    In My Command - Crowded House
  5. So close to drowning but I DON'T MIND I've lived in this mental cave
    Burnout - Green Day
  6. I was lying in a cave in the solid rock I was feeling pretty brave 'til the lights went off
    Together Alone - Crowded House

Lev Bishop