Depth through thought

OUCC News 8th December 1999

Volume 9, Number 24

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Membership cards!

A reminder seems in order - despite alleged popular demand, I've only had one enthusiastic taker for a shiny new OUCC membership card so far (and that was me). Come on, you know you want it!! If I'm right, send me a passport photo ASAP
Hilary Greaves

Wales weekend

The Wales meet last weekend went well, with a thorough OUCC attack on Draenen on Saturday. We all met up at the Lamb & Fox and by midday all 15 of us had piled into the cave, dispersing variously to digs in Out of the Blue and Big Country, Gilwern Passage, and the round trip. Good to see a healthy newcomer contingent too!

Sunday was unusual as caving Sundays go - some fools (yes, alright, it was us...) neglected to pack the charger, so the majority of us were lightless. An OFD trip and a Roaring dig happened for the lucky few, and several others went walking. Not to be deterred, Keith, Andy Shann & I joined a Westminster surface dig on Pant Mawr Moor. We turned a 2 foot deep hole in the ground into a 4 foot deep one - it is now possible to crouch down and get your whole body below the original surface level, so we are definitely claiming we went caving.

Out of the Blue and into... ??? Tim, Lou, Northampton caver Geoff, and I headed to the top end of Out of the Blue, to a dig at "Farting Welly" (? - something to do with the forlorn state of Andy's footwear, apparently, dating back to the times when Andy used to go caving). Tim & Lou were very excited about their dye trace results which had got a positive trace from Prisoners of War to Out of the Blue, and the dig which we hoped would bypass the choke currently blocking OotB. (for full speleobullshit, you know who to ask :-) )

I haven't seen so much scummy muddy dry breakdown passage since, well, since last time I was in Draenen actually :-). Out of the Blue itself however is a completely different story - a really nice bit of stream passage, even some Very Pretty Bits, with an entertaining ankle-grabbing stream bed.

Once there we set to work on the dig, which involved lying at an angle of roughly 45 degrees with your head down in a small chamber, next to a largish dodgy-looking boulder hanging out of the roof - trying to dislodge the boulder so we could climb over it into the space created. Unfortunately, this involved lying with your head down in a small chamber, right next to a largish dodgy-looking boulder.

Tim & Lou came up with an ingenious solution to this situation, involving a "mobile handhold" i.e. a sling further back in the rift, held in the required place by digging partner, to allow balance and quick retreat. Geoff and I went for the more straightforward old fashioned approach: wriggle forwards in rift till you can reach dig, dig, wriggle backwards when retreat required. Seemed equally effective, but certainly didn't look as cool.

After a couple of hours of this we headed out, just in time for the pub. An excellent trip - not least, for me, because I got to turn another (almost??) perfectly good oversuit into a comical flag flying from my right leg. (Yellow this time. Orders for non standard coloured flags may be accepted, on supply of an appropriate coloured oversuit).
Hilary Greaves

From a flyer's point of view

I was initially hoping to do some flying in the UK, and in a typical British gale; I actually managed to inflate my glider and ridgesoar the car-park at the base of the Blaenavon flying site for a few minutes. It gave me a small insight into the frustrations of being a Paraglider pilot in the UK.

Seeing as things weren't so good above ground, Tim and Lou decided to take us below. We went exploring Ogaf Draenan under the Blorenge for 6 & a 1/2 hours on Sunday night. The most amazing experience of my life!! I just don't know how to put it into words when I tell my friends about it. It was also the first time I was able to really confront and come to terms with my fear of claustrophobia. I just couldn't get enough of the different world that exists below us. I guess I was a bit of a pain-in-the-arse as I couldn't stop taking photos of everything and everyone.

We also went climbing every day till my fingers and arms were useless, and just had tons of fun. I was actually quite nackered when it was time to get back on the plane. My deepest gratitude to Tim and Lou for making my first visit to the UK so special, and thanks to Ben Lovett for lending me your Wellies.
Tristam Burrell, South Africa

Some stuff for Christmas

From Martin Laverty:

  1. Here's a challenge for the TechnoSpeleoBard: which (non techno) song includes the lines?
    "You won't go to the barber, you won't even shave, You know a clean faced man don't go in no cave"
  2. A useful Spanish phrase:
    "el mastil multicolor emplazado para medir la altura de la nieve" = Snowpole
    (from 3rd edition of Grandes Cuevas y Simas de Espana by Carlos Puch)
  3. For what animal do the Asturians have 52 different words?