Depth through thought

OUCC News, 27th November 2002

Volume 12, Number 14

DTT Main Index

OUCC Home Page

Editor: Anette Becher,


I am back from sunny China and pleased to send out this new, packed issue of DTT. Thanks to Geoff and Rich for their excellent write-ups - the next installment of the Showerbath Dig Saga is planned for next week.

Best and Glueck Tief, Anette


The bad news from Mendip...

There was a major rescue a couple of weeks ago in St Cuthberts Swallet. The call out happened about 10.30am with the news that the leader had fallen about 30ft in Maypole series and had sustained back and leg injuries. MRO attended and the fire service were called to pump the entrance stream.

In all several fire appliances, an ambulance, several police vehicles with generators and floodlights and an excellent police mobile canteen attendes the scene plus a large cast of cavers. The casualty was brought out of the cave at 6.15pm and the news crews from HTV and the BBC arrived soon after (somebody seemed to forget to tell them it was happening). Casualty was taken to hospital. Les Williams

The good news from Mendip...

I have been reliably informed that Verne Rosey is in stable condition in hospital. He is awaiting a bone graft to sort out a knackered vertebra and has been told he will likely be able to walk again. Anette

"Spot the Cave"

Lev Bishop wins "Spot the Cave" (OUCC website) with: "Daren, R Gregson, 1984". I'll email a virtual pint to the US. Steve Roberts

Showerbath Inlet (Committee Pot / Notts 2)

Rich Gerrish

A month or so ago, after an abortive attempt at climbing an aven in Notts 2, Pete Hall insisted we take a look at inlet 12 on our way out. I opted to wait for him in the streamway, being pretty bored with our lack of success with our various digs and climbs in the cave.

A few weeks later, I was carrying scaff bars down the entrance shaft on a Wednesday night and dragging them upto Pete's "Great lead". Showerbath inlet, as it is known, is a reasonably large inlet that gradually rises up and away from the streamway. The walking-sized passage begins to slope upwards and turns into a mass of boulders that gradually meet the ceiling in a fine display of hanging death. We could actually see where some brave (crazy more like) individuals had been removing some of the rocks, but given the nature of the sloping passage below and distant christmas TV memories of watching Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom put us right off that idea. Pete's plan therefore was to build a scaffold cage across the passage in front of Damocles' little weaponry collection and then prod the boulders until they fall down.

Another Thursday night saw the cage completed. The section in the middle has three removable scaffold bars which allow us to remove the blocks when we want to rather than leave it upto complex geometry and gravity to dictate when they plop out of the roof and onto our heads. Saturday saw us both back at the cage armed with Hilti caps to make some of the bigger stuff into smaller stuff. I was still spinning out after a bit of a bender on the Friday night and was little use to start off with but, fortified with coffee and chocolate, we stayed for seven hours in our uncomfortably slopey chamber.

First, I began building a wall below the cage and behind us to try and stabilise the stuff we were standing on. Pete in the meantime began capping some of the big rocks. The day's events were fairly repetitive and consisted mainly of blowing up big boulders, prodding little boulders until they fell against the cage, undoing the scaff bars to take out the fallen rocks, putting the scaff bars back on again and repeating the whole performance again and again and again. This generally dull procedure, however, was spiced up by several exciting incidents involving large boulders moving far quicker than you might imagine, and our caution about how we went about doing it all was well justified.

Towards the end of the session we started to see black space beyond our boulders and had built a fantastic little rockery with a cute two level effect behind us. This space became very tempting and we probably could have been through that evening had I not put my foot down and insisted that we retire to the boozer. Unfortunately, the space beyond the dig ends at something that has all the charm of a nuclear weapons test facility. More hanging death, only this time they look larger and less well balanced. Once all the stuff in front of our cage is cleared we have the dilemma of how to get across no-mans-land and inspect the stability of the boulders above without doing the obvious. One plan is to get a very long aluminium screw together prodding stick which we can use behind the safety of our already well tested barricade, the other is to get a "tool" stoopid enough to wander up there for a closer look. All applications should be made on the back of a postcard addressed to "Those two muddy freaks who usually end up in here on a Thursday night just before closing time!" and dropped off at the Snotty Dog in Kirby.

Watch this (black) space!!!

Cuts & Bruises

Geoff O'Dell

Friday night seemed to be a heavy night wherever you were.

At `Blackwalls` it was Vodka snorting well into the early hours, followed by a night of cold & discomfort as there was `no room in the inn`. Added to which some grey haired old dog woke me up at the crack of dawn by walking all over me.

In Oxford, the new `Architecturally Challenged` Matt was out celebrating, and by the time he reached the Lamb & Fox was looking decidedly worse for wear. He was having one of those days where he kept discovering odd cuts and bruises, you know, the sort that miraculously appear after a night on the town, and with no memorable explanation.

Rebecca & Anne-Katherine did their best to fill in the blanks, but as we set off to explore the delights of Ogof Pen Eryr, he was still whingeing like an old woman.

This actually turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable trip, and a better prospect than a mind-bogglingly wet trip into Craig a Ffynnon (which will have to be repeated another time). It was made all the better by the fact that we actually got all the way to the end. Ok it is only 400m long, but it has it's fair share of challenging climbs & squeezes, especially so for the inexperienced.

To be perfectly honest, I didn't actually think we would get beyond the awkward calcite squeeze near the entrance. It's respectably tight, a little bit committing, and corkscrews its way up in a manner that needs a bit of scrambling leg-work to push ones torso through. However, apart from some muted moans, and a few faster heartbeats, everyone to their great credit got through.

After that psychological barrier was passed, the remaining scrambles and squeezes were negotiated with relative ease, and any mutinous murmurs were thankfully subdued.

By the time we had passed Pip, Chris & the Gloucester contingent on their way out, and tippy-toed past the four sleepy Lesser Horseshoe bats, we were well into the cave. I was delighted to find that when we needed to stop for a breather and chocy bar, we were a mere 20m from the end of the cave.

Thus we were able to retrace our steps to the entrance in what seemed to be a significantly quicker time than our inward journey, each obstacle less so for the fact it had been passed before.

I hope, and think, that we all enjoyed the trip, and that it was a confidence boost for the next one. Matt obviously isn't as big as he thinks, Anne-Katherine must have pure French speleo-blood coursing through her veins, and Rebecca obviously had far more in reserve than she let on, especially given the way she whooped and hollered her way back through the darkness to the car which brings me neatly to my own laceration, discovered in traditional style next day. I do remember how I came by the 5" cut in my bum, it was courtesy of a nice sharp welsh rock during that ridiculous bum sliding competition - thanks!

University Caving Seminar:  29th Nov - 1st Dec

University Caving Seminar at Rhongyr Isaf Activity Centre, Pen y Cae, Swansea Valley, SA9 1GB

The centre has it's own drying room, kitchen, 12 bunkrooms, main dining room, committee rooms and separate male and female showers/toilets and wash rooms. There should also be enough space for about 15 cars or 10 minibuses and more space down the road. Cost = £12 per person for the whole weekend includes Breakfast x 2(cereals, toast), lunch (sandwiches), Dinner (BBQ) and entry to the stomp. Any profit will go towards the next event assuming this becomes an annual affair. 42 indoor bunks available to those people who send me cheques first. After that camping for pretty well unlimited numbers.

Outline Programme:

Arrive anytime from about 8pm onwards. Friday night: marquee open with barrel(s) but please bring other drink to supplement.

Breakfast: 9.30-11.00
Caving: OFD and Cwmdwr are only a short walk away plus there is Dan yr ogof and many other excellent caves just a short drive away. I will arrange set trips by experienced people into the popular local caves, many of which you need to be leader for. We will probably have trips into Dan yr ogof, OFD 1, OFD 2 and CwmDwr plus any other caves people fancy. Anyone can sign up for these trips and it would be nice to have a mixture of cavers from different clubs. In addition to that everyone is of course free to do their own caving where ever they want.
Training: (still being arranged) Likely to be SRT rescue and one other such as ladder and life line.
Uni clubs council: Two representatives from each club to attend a meeting in which to discuss the future of university caving. Ideally the club president should be present.

Saturday Evening: 18.00 - presentation on Expeditions by David Judson

Sat night: BBQ: 19.00-21.00
Stomp in the Marquee till late (whenever you want to go to bed.) There will be several barrels of real ale available but if this isn't your thing then please bring other alcohol.

Breakfast 10.00 -11.30
More Caving.
More Training

Due to the limited space inside the centre and the likely hood of high demand we will be allocating inside bunks on a first payed first served basis. Don't worry though there is plenty of camping space right next to the centre and everyone will be using the centres facilities.

So if you want to get a space inside the centre then fill in the attached form and put a cheque in the post to 37 Avenue Rd, Portswood, Southampton, So14 6TW and make it payable to SUCC. If you aren't sure about total numbers you can still send us a booking for those you are certain about. If you don't want to commit yourself now then you can just turn up on the day but be prepared to camp. Also if you don't give us any prior warning about dietary requirements we can't be sure we will have enough vegetarian (or whatever) meals for everyone.

Yours Sincerely, Chris Jewell, (SUCC)