Depth through thought

OUCC News 27th February 2002

Volume 12, Number 3

DTT Main Index

OUCC Home Page



I guess some pretty silly caving stuff must have gone on the last couple of weeks, even if only barely underground, so lets have your reports please!

Systema Cueto-Coventosa Systema 

Cueto Coventosa is one of the classic through trips in the world. It is located in the Cantabrian mountains, in northern Spain. The system contains the fifth deepest traverse in the world, at 805m. The cave itself is 815m deep, with over 27 km of passage. We have booked the cave between 23rd and 30th of March 2002.

The plan is to rig the top and bottom entrances, then to do the through trip with Snab, to celebrate his birthday, then to de-rig the cave a couple of days later.

Anyone interested in coming along must be competent in SRT (...), as the shaft series down to the river is 600m deep and contains a 370m pitch. Thick wetsuits and lifejackets are essential, as there are a few lakes to swim across. It is possible to do the trip as a pull through - the cave is bolted for both methods of descent. Anyone interested contact Snablet or Anette a.s.a.p.

(NB: due to relocation nightmares, Snablet can be reached under 01334-473241 until the first week of March only, or via me, Anette) Anette's mobile: 0776-4368975

Overheard... the café a few hours after screening of "the dig" at the Llanberis Mountain Film Festival this weekend in Snowdonia, a group of climbers chatting. "What did you go and see this afternoon?" "Oh, I saw that dig film. I'd always thought I'd quite fancy a go at some caving, but now I'm not at all sure"

Dick's Caving Exploits 

Hi all. For those of you that I have already met or spoken to since I got back this may seem a little a bit odd but bear with it. Er, I'm back in Britain, this you may have guessed. Before you ask, yes, I am very glad to be back in Britain and more importantly back underground again. If you want to know just how good the great times were and just how grim the hard times were during my stay in Zambia then make sure you have a fat wallet when you see me coz nothing gives me better verbal diarrohea than several pints of Ale.

Before I came home I did some caving in South Africa with the Cave Rescue and Exploration Organisation SA in Mpumalanga province. They were generally speaking a great bunch of people, very keen but lacking in a large enough caving scene to really push the boat out. Loads to go at in South Africa and Swaziland as far as new stuff is concerned and I guarantee a fantastic après caving braii and beer fest. We did a couple of caves, one called Magnet Cave which is a quartzite cave. This was very grim being mostly flat out in water with tiny quartzite crystals getting in all the wrong places and chaffing you silly. The day after we did Sudwala cave. This is a dolomite cave of splendid proportions with awesome formations. It has been turned into a show cave but a wild trip beyond that was organised. It was a shame we were short on time because there was a howling draught and CREOSA have a dig at the far end. There is also a big aven at the back which hasn't been climbed and plenty more hillside for a substantial continuation.

Back in Blighty and back underground asap. New Year was truly f*****g awesome. Sorry if you missed it. The Farm was not as full as usual and the partying wasn't that great but bugger me backwards with a bolting kit the caving was superb. Highlights included: A storming Large Pot - Rift Pot exchange with a brilliant team, A kit intensive Notts Pot trip on ladders with much singing and coiling going on, a tightastic P5 trip for the hard Northern classic tick book and a very fortuitous Gritstone Sink trip that saw me outskinny Pete O'Neill and bend my pelvis out of shape before being the first to descend a brand new pitch in Yorkshire. A lifelong dream come true and no mistaking!

Since then, amongst other stuff, I have been buggering about down Notts two with an ultralightweight maypole and getting myself into all sorts of silly situations that are best kept from my mum... No joy as of yet but the crazy antics may pay off one day, watch this space.

Last week saw me in Co Clare dodging the rain and doing some seriously 'Craic'ing caving trips. Despite suffering from chronic alcohol poisoning for the entire week on top of the Flu and a recurring bout of Giardia (How I wish that was a joke!) I managed to get underground three times. The highlight of the visit has to be Doolin River Cave, the guide book does not lie when it says the way on is big enough for a 'motor coach'. A ridiculous amount of crashing streamway to romp down and fantastic acoustics gave two of us the power to sing Ilkley Moor like a choir of fifty. My only concern is these cheeky Irish cavers who go around sticking flood debris to the ceiling in the most impossibly unlikely places, in one place they must have made a pyramid of cavers 8 men high just to try and scare you into thinking that the whole cave floods to the roof.....

Likely to be doing lots of caving and little else in the near future (apart from working to pay for all the trips and trashed gear), so, if you are up for it in Yorkshire and don't mind sulphurous flatulence or wank stained maps of China, drop us a line at, chances are, I am as well!!! YTTBOTDCITW!
Rich Gerrish

Blaenau Ffestiniog

Blaenau Ffestiniog (or however you spell it) really is a Godforsaken place, when the slag heaps are at cloudbase and the drizzle slicks the slate landscape a cold shiny grey. But for cripples on the tramroad to recovery the slate mining museum is worth a visit. At least you can get underground, and, as Lou and I discovered this weekend, they don't make you fill out a safety form (though they probably should have done).

A 45 degree inclined railway takes you to the start of the "Deep mine tour", though its not so deep really. What's nice is that they leave you to wander round yourself, at least in the winter. As you reach each of the ten chambers, the last quite scenic, sensors pick up your presence and you are greeted by a softly spoken voice telling stories about the history of the mine and its community, fake explosions, creative lighting, and the stirring sounds of a Welsh male voice choir. Great stuff. Unfortunately it costs £7.50, and I couldn't see an easy way to break in....
Tim Guilford

Caving Gear

I got an ad from a Spanish outdoor gear shop, who sell a range of caving goods. They look reasonably priced (especially for bulk buys of rope, etc.) but the postage costs may be a downer. Have a look if you like at:
Steve Roberts