Depth through thought

OUCC News 27th April 2005

Volume 15, Number 8

DTT volume 15 Index

DTT Main Index

OUCC Home Page

Editor: Pod:

Gear review

Chris Densham

Not sure why I should plug a Petzl lighting product, but I have heard good things said about the new Petzl Myo, the lumiled (sp??) head torch, after extensive testing in Vietnam jungle caves. A bit of a fiddly switch, and not fully waterproof - it can tend to stay on after full immersion (I don't know why Petzl can't make their lights waterproof!) but otherwise the very bright setting is very bright, and the long life setting is very long life...

Descent 183

The latest issue of Descent has quite a few items of interest:

And more...

Beer O'Clock

John 'What drink problem?' Pybus

It's now exactly 10 years since the club started holding its Wednesday evening meetings in St Cross college [DTT 5.8 ] which seems to be a record for any college putting up with the Oxford cavers. So congratulations to the college for their hospitality and for in sharing their bar for so long, and to OUCC for failing to do anything outrageous enough to get banned. Actually that wasn't without trying, but fortunately they even let us back after someone set fire to the ceiling at a club dinner.

Despite the rather complex access arrangements the benefits of relaxed atmosphere, space we get to ourselves and convivial opening times would be hard to replace. There have been recent rumours that the bar isn't taking enough on a Wednesday evening and may be forced to close. Hopefully they'll still be there to welcome us this term. If so, remember to do your duty: come and drink plenty of beer before the club loses its term time home.

Non-plummeting Pete and more tales of Wales

Peter "Still defying gravity" Devlin

In a vain attempt to clear my name from my recent mishap in OFD [DTT 15.6], I decided to go underground without a) getting stuck and b) falling down. On both counts Silica Mine answered perfectly: with the shafts measuring approximately 2m by 4m even I would manage to get through, and being neutrally buoyant there was no chance of hitting the bottom at speed. While the knee I injured in OFD is not quite up to a caving trip, lugging diving gear up the hill to Silica Mine is relatively straightforward (a fair amount of lifting, but no twisting).

The plan was to do a check dive with Jeremy Petterson, my diving buddy from an earlier course with Martyn (and soon hopefully an OUCC caver), so that when we go back to do the Full Cave Diving course with Martyn over the summer we will be happy with our kit configuration and comfortable with each other in the water.

My most recent cave diving had been in Florida where the diving configuration is back mounted rather than side mounted, so on the Saturday I felt ill at ease with the UK style sidemounts, but we still managed to do a 30 minute dive to the farthest limit I had been in the first proper overhead shaft. Although I had expected air to turn the dive, I was pleasantly surprised that it was running out of line that turned us back. Once we got back to base we relaid some line which we left in for the next day and did an air sharing exercise each.

On Sunday we felt much more comfortable with each other as a buddy pair. We had brought an extra reel and we now knew what permanent line was in place, so we had a strategy for better using the 4 reels we had to penetrate further into the mine. I was kitted up and in the water first and foolishly waited for Jeremy in the water with both my dive lights on. Just before Jeremy got in the water both lights died, so I was down from 4 lights to 2. At this point I wasn't sure whether it would be air, lights or line that turned the dive.

Remarkably, the dive went perfectly and we made it farther into the mine than we had done before (somewhere between 150m and 200m) in. When we got back to base after a good 30 minute dive, we had enough air to go back in for another 15 minute dive exploring the other end of the shaft.

Thanks to Jeremy for an excellent weekend's cave diving.

News from the Wessex

Steve Roberts

The latest issue of the Wessex Journal has a report on the first through trip between the West End series and Morton's Pot in Eastwater. The connection was made by MadPhil last Autumn, via a series called Technical Masterpiece. It sounds like a real collector's piece of a trip, for thin water-rats only.

The Journal also reports on a very welcome development in legislation - there was a threat that HSE rules might make SRT illegal! This is now quite explicitly no longer the case:

"The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) sought to apply the Working At Heights Directive regulations to caving and climbing. The regulations were designed for workmen and completely inappropriate to adventure activities. For example two ropes were to be used on every pitch, a method dubbed DRT (double rope technique), a method that undermines the proven technique of SRT. The BCA along with other adventure activity bodies has lobbied the Government hard. That effort has finally paid off and the National Governing Bodies will continue to set the safety standards rather than the HSE. This is confirmed in a press release issued by the Health and Safety Commission on the 17th March. To quote 'The Regulations will apply to all work at height where there is a risk of a fall liable to cause personal injury. They place duties on employers, the self-employed, and any person that controls the work of others to the extent of their control (for example facilities managers or building owners who may contract others to work at height). The Regulations will not apply to the provision of instruction or leadership in caving or climbing by way of sport, recreation, team building or similar activities'. Particular thanks should go to Tom Redfern who has represented the BCA in these tortuous negotiations."

Lifetime Achievement Award?

Chris Densham

After Steve's description last week of Urs's latest bid for lemminghood, I wondered if there was a candidate for a lifetime achievement award here? Extra points for being partner to the only other person to have received such an illustrious award!

To illustrate my point I have pulled from my archive a tale that popped into my Inbox sometime in 1998...

Trouble-free Kingsdale pull-throughs

Follow these handy tips for a trouble-free descent of Simpson's:

  1. Do not spend twenty minutes conducting a thorough investigation of a random pothole entrance in West Kingsdale (not Simpson's)
  2. Traverse over "The Pit", do not rig it and abseil down.
  3. If you do rig it and abseil down, do discover that there is no way out at the bottom before pulling your rope down.
  4. If you do pull the rope down, do make sure your trip is early in the day and at a weekend, so there will shortly be another party to come along and shout "there's no way out at the bottom of there" and then drop you a rope.
  5. For added value, do ensure that you don't take a completely inexperienced person who has no ascending gear. (And if you inadvertently do so, remember to teach him how to get off the top of the pitch before sending him up).
  6. Avoid very wet conditions ...

And which luminaries are guilty of ignoring these particularly handy guidelines ?

Ask Ms. Ursula "It's OK, I've done this trip before" Collie, Mrs. Mary "So have I, it's easy" Waddington, Steve "innocent victim" (a runner from Swaledale Outdoor Club). When asked (by the charitable rescuers) what club they were from, Ukey replied "Wessex And Norwich Karst Exploration and Research Society". Well, quite !

[author omitted for his own safety]