Depth through thought

OUCC News 13th February 2002

Volume 12, Number 2

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A good weekend was had by a rather small group from Oxford at the SWCC (well, its in Wales I suppose), with a most noteable demonstration that competence to lead is completely unrelated to caving on.

News from old members 

There are some pretty dramatic changes to my contact details as I've been working in Berlin for the last year and have a contract for another 6. I haven't been caving for years, but still hanker after the idea of having another go sometime, or at least joining you in Spain one summer. Still it's nice to get the emails and DTT. 
John Hutchinson

Hope everything is going well for you and club. I'd would be nice to meet up at a presidents invite or something. As for me, I'm trading FTSE for JPMorgan now. Living with a great girl called Kate and generally enjoying life in the city. Got back from a week skiing yesterday and had a ball. I'm also in contact with Rob Garrett. He's been travelling/trekking in the Far East (thailand, nepal and the like), cave exploration in China and is currently working as a mountain guide in Australia... Best wishes, 
Iain Clamp

Ogof Draenen Photo Trip 

Ben L, Geoff O, Pippa C, Simon G,

This was to be my last caving trip in Wales and my last underground trip until at least 2003. Ben wanted to do some cave photography and needed a willing group of models to pose for him. After gathering an eager team together we set of from SWCC at 10am to Draenen. I hadn't been in Draenen for a few years and was looking forward to a good trip. I was not disappointed. Ben's aims were to take photos of some interesting shaped passages and formations, in the little visited area on the original route into Snowball Passage. The inward journey was at a leisurely pace, which gave plenty of time to look at the wonderful formation of this cave. This was also the first time I have seen more than one bat in a cave. At Cairn junction we turned right along Wonderbra Bypass to Tea Junction. Following White Arch Passage to a crawl and into Lamb and Fox Chamber. We continued into Indiana Highway, Mega Drive and The Nunnery. Elliptic Passage came next and on to the Lucky Thirteen extensions.

After this I do not have a clue as to where we actually went, I was just following the leader (I think it was Gone In The Years). We entered a section with a very neat note (Surveyed by Tim Guilford 1995) The photo shoots were rather interesting at times with trying to get flash bulbs to work and trying to take photos with lots of people in. The decorated passages are stunning and the gypsum is amazing. It's such a pity that the next time I will be able to visit Draenen again will not be for a long time.

Thanks to Ben for a brilliant trip and can't wait to start caving again next year. 
Simon Goddard

Tunnel Cave 

...or eighty years' of incompetence....

Ask Martin Laverty what to do on a rainy rainy day if not OFD. "Have you done Tunnel Cave?" "No, what's it like" "Oh, you'll enjoy it". And I did. This is a nice (not so) little trip, well worth an outing from the SWCC. Let's add it to the OUCC repertoire.

However... 6 cavers with, I estimate, between 80 and 90 years of experience between them managed a quite amazing series of minor cock-ups. Of course, it's all that experience that means we can do that in perfect safety, OK? I can only off that it was because we were in Welsh Caving Mode that meant that despite taking three ladders and three lifelines, we managed I think one descender, two sit harnesses and two jammers between us. It's enough. Geoff threw a ladder on my head.

After the two immediately successive entrance pitches (top one is a mined shaft, apparently the result of some 1960's vendetta between SWCC and the DYO owners), there is a super "via ferrata" traverse, then a handline climb down a lovely calcite slope, then one is away into a series of climbs and traverses down to the end, where sadly the DYO management have the last laugh with a well-sealed gate into Cathedral Cave and the easy way out. One climb (up out of the 15 foot pot) is awkward enough that a 10-15m line is handy, though not absolutely vital. In the traverses, you must keep high, apart from where you have to climb down (or up).

On the return, team A decided to have a look at the "very Spanish" loop passage, leaving somewhat impressionistic arrangements for meeting up again with team B. Team A then arrived back in the main passage after a jolly round trip (the linking cross-passage has some short but not unpleasant flat out crawls in sand and water), and waited for team B to come up. And waited. And waited. Team A1 went back down to where team B had been left, to find them, like Michael Flanders' Horn, gorn. Returning to team A2, Tim (for it was he) reported their absence, leading team A to assume that team B had already gone past and out... so Steve and Tim (for it was they) then beetled off surface-wards in hot pursuit.

Entrance pitches. No-one there. "Well where the **** are they then". Sit. wait. Team A (for absent-minded) now proceed back down the cave, deciding at the awkward climb to wait a bit. Well, it is an awkward climb. Thumps? Voices? With the proverbial voice with the power of curried beans, your President addresses the lower reaches of the cave "HHEELLLLLOOO !!!!?". Teams A and B are re-united, Team B having gone up the loop, off a side passage, round and all about while Team A alternately waited for them and ran up and down the cave.

Up and out, Steve and Tim electing for the "quick exit to get the food on" (i.e. beer real soon) while Geoff, Alison, Pip and JC de-tackle. Weather even more foul on exit than on entry, which barely seems possible.

BTW, the cave is on top of the hill, not just a bit above a quarry as the guidebook implies.

On Sunday, we failed to find Pant Mawr - "Weren't all these tree when I was here before" said Martin....."....urm about 20 years ago". But we enjoyed the walk anyway. 
Steve Roberts

Digging in Spain? 

Michael Walker (OUCC 1961) is looking for field assistants for his long-term archeological dig in Murcia (middle paleolithic). July 1st to Aug 13th. Might be possible tack onto expedition stint? I have more details, or contact him direct at
Steve Roberts

Address details 

If I haven't contacted you by email recently to check on the address details OUCC holds about you, it's because I don't even have a valid email address (about 40% of the ones I used bounced!). We do need up-to-date info, for legalistic safety reasons as well as our own prurient interests. Please send info to

What do we need?

Not that much, really! (* items really important for obvious reasons). Steve Roberts