Depth through thought

OUCC News 5th November 2003

Volume 13, Number 18

DTT Main Index

OUCC Home Page

Editor: Anette Becher,

Editor's bit

Apologies for the lack of DTT last week. Having been to New Zealand and the US within the last 2 weeks and only got back on Wednesday morning, I wimped out at the last minute with jet lag as my excuse.

Digging news are that I may have more news after next weekend (it is all terribly confidential). I might actually get underground.

The Red Rose say that the entrance to Sylvester Pot has fallen in, so if you were planning to go there, you may well need to rethink.

If you are going to Derbyshire, the new owner of Giant's Hole has asked that whenever possible, when leaving payment at the farm, a cheque is preferred to cash. Cheques should be made out to "Peakshill Farm". The fee remains at £2.00 per head.

The University Caving Club Seminar

Chris Jewell, CHECC

Run by students for students 28-30Nov. £15 a head including accommodation AND food - no hidden extras!

If you didn't come last year then you probably heard what a great weekend you missed and if you've never heard of it before - then you must have been living in a cave.

Don't miss the weekend extravaganza of caving and partying and put 28-30Nov in your diary now. We will be returning to Rhongyr Isaf in South Wales, right on top of the massive OFD system, and just down the road from the magnificent Dan yr Ogof to mention just two of the hundreds of caves in the area.

Our accomodation is a farm house/activity centre with 42 bunks and plenty camping space right outside. Food will be included in the cost, something along the lines of cereal and toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and a BBQ in the evening.

There will be caving trips organised to various popular caves (many of which you require a leader in anyway) but groups are also free to go caving themselves. There will be SRT/ rescue and hauling workshops in the local leisure centre and we'll have a CIC instructor (last year we had Dave Elliot). Plus there will be SRT competitions, assault courses, photography trips, etc..

Plus this event is run by students for students so if you want to get involved and organise a rescue practice, a digging trip, a conservation trip, a tour of the local brewery... what ever you want, then please do!

On Saturday night there will be a stomp and BBQ in a marquee, with competitions and caving games. Last year we had stretcher spinning, fastest into caving gear and body traversing to mention just a few. This year I've been hard at work dreaming up even more hilarious games to play. Plus we'll have another massive pile of caving gear to give away courtesy of our sponsors.

If you are interested in helping out in anyway then let me know because I'm looking for volunteers to help in the kitchen, volunteers for training or teaching, people to lead caving trips or do sessions on cave photography, surveying or anything else. All volunteers will get reduced rates and or free T-shirts and the weekend won't be possible without a bit of help from everyone.

From Darkest Peru - Part2

Rob Garrett

Ready to build upon the promise of the initial recce, a BEC team of 2 Peruvians, 7 Brits and 1 Aussie returned to the area equipped for almost all eventualities. Things got off to a good start with fine, cheap accommodation and a team going back down Cueva Palestina, our 1.5km going lead. After a slight hiccup, when we thought the cave was going to sump just around the corner of last year's limit, the passage was found not to sump, courtesy of a draughting 2.5cm air gap. Fortunately, the duck was in deep water and very short, being due to a stal curtain and, better yet, there was a well-decorated high-level bypass. 600m and one decent sized chamber later the team returned, free diving the duck.

Other teams were less successful and began to set a pattern for the full two weeks. Three distinct types of caves were explored, mostly found by following machete wielding locals through jungle of varying density, high heat and humidity. There were the vertical shafts which ended immediately in sometimes prodigious quantities of bird poo. These varied from an 85m damp free hang in a 5m diameter shaft to a 65m free hang in a shaft up to 50m wide.

Other caves sloped down at a steady 30 degrees before ending abruptly. However, most success was had with local "tourist" caves garnered from the local tourist map. Palestina was one such of these and finally "ended" after 2.4km (Peru's longest cave) at a choice of a strongly draughting squeeze through boulders, or a strongly draughting sump (as they do). Some debate as to what actually constitutes a sump, as the passage in question consists of a too-tight rift which bells out below the water in such a way as it would have to be dived. Oh for a mask and (long) snorkel...

The other cave to go over 1km was a similar resurgence cave with amazing decoration. This was entertaining to explore. The first sump had an easy bypass right next to it. The second sump was more problematic. While I was looking for a bypass in some breakdown to one side, some of the more experienced BEC members set about the sump as, apparently, is their wont. Once again without benefit of a mask or snorkel, they were able to identify a sump elbow and, ducking under and sticking an arm up the other side, they were able to identify air space beyond, but were concerned that it might be a bit narrow. Inspired by tales of how they used to annoy fellow explorers in Mexican caves by passing freediveable sumps, I had a little duck under myself. It was further than I expected and by the time my hand felt air I was tempted to rush up towards it but managed to retain control and follow the handline back to the others. By now I was convinced that the airspace on the other side was reasonably spacious and was prepared to try again now that I knew what to expect. This time I went quickly through surfacing into a spacious airbell, alert for signs of bad air. It was surprisingly dark, which I soon realised was due to mid sump light failure (oops). Standing neck deep in water and keeping hold of the lifeline, I managed to get my light to reveal an ongoing passage with deep water. It was time to head out.

A subsequent trip revealed that there was a third, much deeper sump almost immediately, and a high-level possible sump bypass proved to be a very confusing dry oxbow which rejoined the main cave some distance downstream. The final length was 1.4km.

In total, just over 5km was surveyed (a little disappointing given the prevalence of huge resurgences in the area which we were unable to enter), numerous blind shafts were dropped, much wild jungle was hacked through, numerous mossies were splatted, a number of giant cave spiders were duly feared, and a generally good time was had by all.

Novices cruel to elderly caver

- by our roving reporter Rick Rowpit 

An elderly gentleman was forced to undergo total immersion - twice - by unfeeling novice cavers, it was revealed today. "They just went though - there was nothing I could do about it", the un-named "old fart" said. "I tried to put them off by telling them long stories about caving in the 1920s and 30s, but they just said 'stuff all that, we want to dive the sump' ". He shuddered. "There was nothing I could do but put a brave face on it and go after them, but now my rheumatics are playing up something rotten and my truss is all rusty. Action must be taken to bring these impetuous youths to heel before real damage is done".

Your reporter made an excuse and left.