Depth through thought

OUCC News 21st April 1999

Volume 9, Number 7

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Welcome back to DTT, the start of a summer's caving, and here's hoping everyone had a fullfillingly dirty Easter one way or another. It would be nice to get reports of who's been doing what over the break, so lets see a few reports for future DTTs. To start, here's a couple about Dordogne and Yorks. I'll write up my short trip digging and prospecting around the Sierra Lujar in Southern Spain for a forthcoming issue soon.

Cavers will be sorry to hear that Arthur Millet is reported to have had an accident in the Draenen streamway recently in which he ruptured his spleen. The last I heard he was recovering in hospital. We wish him well. [note 29/4/99: Arthur's spleen turns out to have been heavily bruised rather than ruptured - just as well, as a rupture would almost certainly have been fatal...]

Jultayu 1998

At last I have produced the expedition report. It's got 40 pages of high quality A4 paper It's got surveys! It's got cave descriptions!! It's got photos (sort of)!!! It's got trip reports!!!! And that's all.

I'm producing enough copies for each expedition member and all our backers. If you'd like a spare copy (e.g. for your mum) or if you did not come on expedition but want a copy then for a nominal charge (£2) payable to the publications account, I can do some extra copies.
JC; <>

Into the virgin's leap

Spontaneity was the theme for the club trip to the Dordogne this Easter, and of course everything worked out for a superb caving holiday. The advance party of me, Steve, Hilary and her friend Rich, drove over Friday night (well done Steve), put up our tents, took them down again, and soon found ourselves installed in a gorgeous 18th-century cottage in the heart of rural France. .By the evening, it was time to caving. Needless to say, this was one of the earliest times we managed to get underground.

Dum-de Gouffre au Saut de Pucelle, or Gaping Slot of the Virgin's Leap as Steve optimistically translated it, is a tremendous river disappearing into the bottom of a cliff. This time we only got to the head of the first pitch, being ladderly challenged. A froth sump near the entrance indicated the weather of the previous week. Later in the week, and fully equipped, the same team managed five of six pitches. Never mind sex, this is indeed 'better than Swildon's'. Lots of cascades, swimming (sinking in fact, when weighted down with clobber), and stal. The defining moment of the trip saw me and Rich up to our noses in a cauldron of froth with an errant ladder somewhere on the bottom, grabbing hold of each other's wellies... and the rest is on the front of the termcard.

Paul and Jo came with the gear, then Steve, Sandra and Katie, and our life as village peasants continued. Talking of which, the BEC turned up later in the week, together with thousands of other English cavers. Good job there weren't many French people around.

Gouffre de Reveillon was also full of water, plus shagging toads and salamanders. Nevertheless, we found diversion by abseiling down the fine entrance waterfall, and Rich put a fine cartoon in the logbook in Livre Chambre.

Igue de San Sol, when cave, cavers, gear and competence eventually lined up in the same constellation, was a fine shaft followed by miles of once stunning stal. Even better were the vulgar mud sculptures at the end (Hilary and me had to leave our contribution for the club), next door to the BEC and Wessex efforts.

Eventually it was time to leave the welcoming log fires of our cottage and come home. Some of us even managed a day climbing in Fontainebleu on the way! Another fine club Easter holiday. You should have been there.
Chris 'garden chair' Densham

Lev, Rob and Rich do the Dales

Tuesday: Met Rob and Dave at Frogatt Edge. Did a bit of climbing. Stayed at Dave's house in Keighley.

Wednesday: Did Dow-Prov because Dave wanted to get to know every nook and cranny of Dow Cave before taking schoolkids there. Slightly concerned all the way through that the Prov entrance might possibly be blocked, as this apparently happens, on occasion when "they" pile rocks on the manhole cover. No problem in the end. General consensus (not shared by all of us :-) Dow==boring, Dowbergill==tedious, Prov==shithole. Slight cock-up with car keys meant that Dave got to run up the hill from Kettlewell to the Dow entrance while Rob, Rich and I had something expensive to eat in a rather posh pub. We got some pretty dirty looks (the fact that I wasn't wearing shoes probably didn't help...) Camped at Ribblehead. (Dave went home).

Thursday: Did Marble Steps because there was a hole near the last pitch that Rob wanted to put me in to see if continued capping was worthwhile. I think that it is. This being OUCC's adopted cave (how many people knew that?) we carried out some of the litter that was in there (including a very heavy glass bottle!). That didn't take long so we tried to find our way into Low Douk but couldn't work out how to get in (the original entrance is blocked). After some furtling we thought we'd found the way in, but as it involved crawling through a dead sheep we elected not to bother - in fact the real way in is even more obscure and involves traversing over a drop and then thrutching up into a hole. Weather looked a bit grim so we went to Bull Pot Farm instead of camping and were pleasantly surprised to find Frog was there and had the fire going nicely.

Friday: Rich wanted to do a harder trip so we took him down Marble Sink. I expect he's written that up, but I'll say that I wasn't entirely happy until we were back at the bottom of the second pitch. Conditions were fairly wet this time, but even so we reckoned there was about 1/10 the water of last time (which was about half as much as before we waited). It was very difficult to imagine what it had been like and even harder to imagine how we got out (many of the places I put my head this time would have been under water :-)

Saturday: Wanted a wetsuit trip (I wanted to try out Fenella's wetsuit and Rob had run out of dry furries). We were going to do Penyghent as it was rigged, but the weather wasn't good enough. Instead Rob revealed he had the ideal trip in Easegill for two people in wetsuits and one in dry gear. He refused to tell us where he was taking us, though... Turns out it was Hemingway Hall, where there was another hole to put Lev into, this one quite aqueous and needing a wetsuit. It filled to the roof round the next corner. Plenty of scary high tide marks on the way back to Lancs. Rob and I had fun body-surfing down some of the rapids in the main drain. For some reason Rich did not feel inclined to join us. Discovered the joys of prussiking up 35m pitches in a too-small wetsuit.

Sunday: Went digging near Gour Hall in Mistral in the finest quality porridge. It was just solid enough that it would pile up in front of you if you tried to swim through it, but still liquid enough that you sank right into it and it would flow in from the sides to fill any trench you'd try to dig through it. One of my digging techniques was to bury my right side in some of the more solid stuff and then swim breast-stroke with my left arm and leg to move the mud back. Great fun!
Lev Bishop