Depth through thought

OUCC News 17th May 2006

Volume 16, Number 6

DTT Volume 16 Index

DTT Main Index

OUCC Home Page

Editor: Peter Devlin:

A note from the editor

We are never short of space to squeeze in a little write-up of a caving trip, so please contribute to DTT.

Here are the trips planned for the remainder of Trinity Term:
Week 4, 19-21 May, Wales staying at WSG, permit: Craig a Ffynnon, coordinator: Tom Evans
Week 6, 2-4 June, Dales staying at BPF, permits: Hammer Pot and Mongo Gill, coordinator: TBD
Week 8, 16-18 June, Wales staying at WSG, no permit, coordinator: TBD


John "Techno" Pybus

Q: What on earth is a wiki?
A Wiki is a website where any visitor can add or edit pages as well as view them (see There are many Wikis on the internet, perhaps the most famous being Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia created by thousands of volunteers across the internet.

Q: And the club has a Wiki?
It does now. Our Wiki is accessible only to members of the club who need to know an access code, or have registered a username and password.

Q: But the club already has a website?
This doesn't replace the club website. That is public, viewable by anyone, and carefully maintained by Steve. The wiki is a place to keep things for internal use by the club, and which might get lost if just kept on individual computers. Probably, if there is good stuff on the Wiki then Steve will take it and show it to the world on the main club website. Any member, or friends/collaborators of the club will be given accounts. No super-secret material, but things we don't want/need to make available to the whole world.

Q: So what will be on it?
Whatever people choose. Some suggestions: * Club hut inventory * Expedition paperwork that might prove useful in future years * Club Logos/headed notepaper * Lists of useful info for club post holders to pass to successors * Draenen exploration details * pre production Proc material * Some material regarding meets and huts commonly used by the club * .....

Q: So, where can I find this marvel of modern technology? How do I get an account?
Check out:

You need to know the access code to get in. Then visit the UserPreferences page, accessible via the Login link at the top of each page. Here you fill in the boxes (use a username of the form JoeCaver) and then select "Create Profile". This will create you account and sign you in. Hey presto, you're now able to edit pages! There is an option to remember you so that you won't need to log in again, which you can use on your own personal system.

We'll give out the access code at Wednesday meetings, or ask me, or other committee members. There is help, and some instructions on the site; let me know if you have any questions about how to get stuff done.

Rainbow Canyon Update

Fleur Loveridge

We have now made a further three trips to the boulder spewing choke at the end of Rainbow Canyon in Dollimore Series of Ogof Draenen. Rich Bayfield's breakthrough at the end of the trip in February (see DTT 16.3) has been providing us the impetus to keep going, when otherwise I am sure enthusiasm would have waned.

March saw Pete T, Paul Windle, Rich and I return with a brief visit to carry out stabilisation works to allow safe passage. Martin Hicks couldn't make it, but waved us on our way with the donation of some chimney rods for proddling with. However, when Pete squeezed through to the last safe haven before the choke, we heard laughter peel out. The way on was totally blocked: the choke had collapsed completely.

The choke is really an upward slope of boulders and gravel. Every time someone moves on the slope, the gravel ravels and it works to undermine some more boulders. At the top of the slope is the way on into the chamber from which Rich broke through. At the base of the slope is the way into the way on, or the way out to safety. Hence you crawl out from under the safety of a particularly large boulder to find yourself at the base of the skittle alley.

That day we took turns lying under the 'safe' boulder, whilst proddling upwards. Paul showed wisdom by placing blocking stones first so that when the rumbling noise followed the proddling, the rocks didn't roll into your face. Those not dicing with death got to practice their dry stone walling technique. The end of the trip saw good progress. The choke was open again, although one particular Damocles needed lassoing to bring it down.

So three weeks later Rich, Martin and I returned with a rope. We sent Martin in to have a look. "Where's the way on?" Martin asked. The choked had collapsed again. So again we proddled, the rocks rumbled and the dry stone wall grew. The monotony was briefly relieved when a section of the wall peeled off and trapped Rich in the 'safe haven'. Thankfully it was thin enough to yield to the lump hammer.

Finally, the way on was open, yet again. But yet again, just a few particularly dodgy rocks remained. A rope was attached to them all in turn and the three off us pulled from back in the canyon passage, but they would not budge. So we decided to leave the choke to settle for a few more weeks, hoping the offending boulders would fall in to allow us to clear them.

And so last weekend Rich, Martin and I returned once more, this time with the addition of Maciek. Whilst Martin showed Maciek the formations around Circus Maximus, Rich and I went eagerly ahead to check out the choke. Whilst I started to unpack the rope, Rich went to inspect the slope. "It's open" he said. Followed by "F**k it, I'm going up." I stopped sorting the gear and went to follow, but what I hear next was "Oh f**k, oh f**k, oh f**k". Rich had not only caused a mini avalanche, but was now stuck part way up the slope, holding up a large rock, which in turn was holding up more rocks. He later said that he had just moved one small rock from on top of a larger one and that this had been enough to de-stabilise the whole pile.

"Its ok", I said, trying to sound calm, and wondering whether it really was. "Just don't move". As quickly as possible I dug out the bottom of the slope, before poking my head out into the firing line to make visual contact. Rich was perched up above me. He moved, and so did some rocks. I bolted back down the hole.

With his exit cleared, Rich now somehow managed to get the rock he was stuck with to stick for just long enough for him to scramble back down into the canyon passage. It was a truly rapid exit. Then we just sat there and ate jelly babies to try and relieve the tension. After two minutes the silence was broken by a now familiar rumbling noise. The choke had collapsed. Rich had been lucky, very lucky. But our nerves were shot.

When I went to inspect the choke, the way on was totally blocked again. I cleared away all the easy stuff, then, when Martin and Maciek arrived I retreated. The whole place was giving me an elevated heart rate. Martin and Rich now took turns to try and clear the boulders, but they were just too well wedged. We were all frustrated. But at least Rich wasn't stuck on the wrong side of it.

So we let loose our international expertise onto the choke. Maciek, having not had a run of bad experiences with the boulder here was soon tearing fearlessly at them with the hammer. Suddenly he was through and the gloom was lifted. Rich, recovered by the new momentum, excitedly went through, shouting back that this was it, that the push was now really on. Nervously I packed a prussik bag with a survival bag, some food and my first aid tub. Martin didn't trust it either and volunteered to stay on the pub-side of the choke.

Maciek had removed some, but not all of the wedged boulders, leaving an awkward wiggle to get out onto the slope. The slope itself was looking much better, at a gentler gradient, with all of the big boulders gone. Well, all but one that is. I heard Maciek say from above "Its moving" and didn't wait to find out what, rapidly returning to the safety of the canyon. Maciek and Rich immediately followed. The one remaining big boulder, a spear about 3m long, had been visibly moving. Perched at the top of the slope, like a stone surf board on a breaking wave, it was poised to run down the slope and block the way.

So near and yet so far. And yet again we leave the boulder pile to settle. The hope is that the surfing rock with gently come down at an angle and wedge, leaving space to get through, rather than blocking the hole end on. But that could still be preferable to the beast remaining where it is, delicately poised, and waiting to be undermined.

Survey Amnesty. We think that the survey of Rainbow Canyon was carried out by Tim et al upon its discovery. But where is the data? The full length of the canyon does not appear to be with the dataset on the website. Any info anyone??

Other Draenen News. Meanwhile Claire McE's farewell bolting trip saw Ben and Claire enter a high level passage off Yellow van. However, all leads closed down and the postulated bypassing of Rainbow Canyon was not to be.