Depth through thought

OUCC News 14th June 2000

Volume 10, Number 9

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Sorry for the intermittent supply of DTT recently. Even I have to work sometimes. Anyway, keep the copy coming. A couple of thankyous anyway:

With photographic input from Chris Howes and stories and even facts from Ben Lovett, I put together a presentation on "Ogof Draenen: a case history in cave conservation" for the Speleological Union of Ireland workshop on access and conservation in Fermanagh a few weeks ago. These guys are seriously getting their acts together early on the conservation issues given the currently still very moderate level of use and abuse Irish caves receive. There also seemed to be considerable enthusiasm for the issue of wilderness conservation that I raised in the presentation, and much support for the work that Draenen cavers have done to help conserve the cave. There was also much beer (funny black stuff), and a couple of excellent trips, so thanks to all who helped make the visit such fun. I'll be back.

Also a huge thanks to the West Brecon Cave Rescue Team who swung into action to help Clare out of OFD two weeks ago after she suffered a temporary, but very painful, knee dislocation. Maybe none of you read DTT, but those cavers who do will be pleased to learn that this team is really extremely professionally organised and superbly balanced in its rescue approach. What ever you do, make sure you get injured in their patch

Draenen News 

Rather than risk death or serious injury by going caving or climbing, this weekend your Chair played it safe and represented the club at the latest Pwll Du Cave Management Group meeting in Brynmawr.

It was reported that the fixed ladder on Balcony Pitch is falling apart already and is now deemed unsafe. It will be dismantled and removed (and hopefully replaced) as soon as someone gets around to it -if you see any pieces of it in Perseverance, then please try to take a section of it out of the cave with you. If you do the round trip then you are recommended to take your own ladder, or be prepared to do an abseil pull through. If you decide to use the ladder before it is removed, don't be surprised if a rung falls off! Don't take this to mean the PDCMG takes responsibility for any equipment in the cave -it was decided not to go down the route of certifying fixed aids due to the various negative aspects that would result.

The taping in Mid-Winter Chambers is getting worn out, could anyone passing that way renew it from the stock pile at Cairn Junction?

The signing in book is not happy in its present position, wedged into the roof inside the entrance. An ammo box or similar device to contain the book will soon be bolted to the wall of the lamb and Fox.

Rhian Hicks has set up a Draenen admin web site which you are welcome to check out, temporarily <dead link> until it finds a permanent home.

One irritating piece of news was that on two recent occasions the turf placed over the second entrance has been removed. On the second occasion Brian spotted the person doing this - it was somebody with a ginger beard. Surprised?! 
Chris Densham

Don't give up the day job (oops) 

As victim after victim wimped out from being tied up, I was starting to see the role as similar to getting extremely drunk. That morning after "never, ever again" resolution doesn't seem that binding the next time around. So I found myself ham acting my way through unconsciousness, a broken leg and an impromptu vomit.

We decided not to tackle a pitch due to lack of numbers. Getting me onto a stretcher, moving me through bouldery walking sized passage and then through a tight section of Eglws Faen was still a challenge. The general first aid/looking after everyone aspect was excellent, and everyone cooperated well. Lynn as underground controller was reassuring and very competent.

The practice went well, but we have to bear in mind that the cave was pretty piss easy, horizontal and short. Don't underestimate how difficult a deep rescue would be! 
Jo "gave up the day job" Whistler

Marble California 

Last weekend while on a work visit to the States I managed to squeeze in a long weekend caving in Lilburn, a cave system in King's canyon, right next-door to Sequoia National Park. This was thanks to Erin Lynch, who many of you will remember from New Year at Bull Pot Farm or before, who has now moved back to Caltech. Lilburn cave is the longest in California, about 20 km (?) long, and it is carved entirely out of marble - the only marble cave I have ever been to, and it was really pretty as you would probably expect. The group of 20 or so cavers were from different Californian grottoes, which is what they call cave clubs in America. For beaurocracy reasons I had to become a volunteer employee of the National Park Service for the weekend -apparently it is more difficult to sue something you are a member of! We stayed in a log cabin a couple of hours walk into the forest, which is populated with brown bears (apparently I walked right past one but didn't see it!). The trees are huge -even the ones that have fallen over are 20 foot high! On the second day Mark Scott turned up, an Ex-Cambridge Speleologist who I last met about nine years ago. Another Ex-Cambridge Speleologist, Olly Betts, was going to come until he got an offer to cave somewhere else. Small world!

Erin and I were selected as willing scrawny victims to be thrown at various tight leads at the ends of the cave, which generally took 1-2 hours to reach. It was good fun, and we found a few tens of metres which we surveyed in feet and tenths of feet, another novelty for me. The walls of one new rift I squeezed into were made of pure white marble, it was just like packed snow, but like the rest it did not go. At the end of the second day Erin was not satisfied by our eight hour trip which had consisted almost entirely of squeezing into ridiculously tight rifts which did not go anywhere, so she dragged me off to go digging. In the twilight we failed to find the potential dig we were headed for, and instead found a much better one, a hole in a river bank much like Easgill Beck. We returned with a bigger team the next day, and left a 15 foot deep hole with a draughting 15 foot long rift continuation. Is anyone else going to California looking for a project?
Chris Densham

Huge Geode Discovered

Huge geode discovered in Spain, in an old silver is big enough to fit a man within!

Zac Appleton