Depth through thought

OUCC News 31st January 2007

Volume 17, Number 5

DTT volume 17 Index

DTT Main Index

OUCC Home Page

Editor: Peter Devlin:

Note from the editor

Still doing well with write-ups: it's still January and we're up to DTT 17.5, so please keep the reports coming in ... no snippet too small, no write-up too big!

Here are the trips planned for Hilary Term (2007)

Kendal's Dark Secret: [John Pybus]: Following on from Slough Caverns we have film of this surprising new discovery in Cumbria: 

Annual Dinner: [Jill Drury]: This year's annual dinner will be held at Holywell's Bar and Brasserie in Oxford on Saturday 17th February at 7.30pm. The menu can be viewed at The cost will be £27 including wine, or £20.85 without. Pre-dinner drinks, etc, will be arranged closer to the time. If you wish to attend, please email me with your menu choices and any special dietary requirements, along with whether or not you would like wine, by Saturday 10th February.

News from Dirge:

"We've finally sorted out broadband and with it a new email address. The old one was attracting spam by the ton anyway so we're quite glad to shed it. please knock out the old 'freeserve' address.Anyone using the old address will get a sniffy reply, although it will be checked for a while.

New Zealand is keeping us amused, we now have a house, a car, a stereo, a DVD player but haven't got round to organizing any friends yet; equally our container of possessions is still somewhere on the high seas and the Wells house is still for sale. (It's very nice...). No regrets about Napier as a destination though.

Love and kisses, David and Sally."

[their new email address is: dirgeandsal[pants]orcon[socks]net[socks]nz; remove pants and socks and insert the obvious to use. S]

Of Old Rope, Tatty Wife and Slippy Wellies

John "all wellies accounted for" Pybus [club weekend 27/28 Jan 07]

We arrived at Bull Pot Farm just as the cave rescue had been called out..

Soon the kitchen was filled with police from Cumbria, police from Lancashire, a CRO controller or two, and, before search teams could be dispatched into the Lancs and Wretched Rabbit entrances, one bedraggled solo caver back from 13 hours of through trip. As quickly as they came they went. We fed the rescued caver mars bars and coffee then he too left to change into dry clothes and disappeared into the night. The farm was back to its quiet self.

Come the morning team experienced packed their ropes for Washfold while team not-quite-so-experienced surveyed the scene. Team member one had one pitch to his name -- the one in KMC -- sounds like a good seconder then. Team member two had never even seen an SRT kit before -- hmm perhaps we could do a *bit* more training. Geoff had turned up with an idea to do Tatham Wife Hole before diverting to the Washfold trip. It sounded like a good idea anyway; I packed some ropes myself.

Meanwhile a stream of cavers passed by on their way into the Easegill system as our impromptu demonstration session on the piece of rope left hanging in the farm tree got under way. A familiar face stopped to say hi: Urs raising an eyebrow and commenting (surely ironically?) on how efficient things looks before heading off to catch up an NPC party. After a while it was clear that SRT training was all well and good but we were in danger of not caving at all. We headed for Chapel-le-Dale.

As we made our way up through the limestone scars, I wondered how long it'd take to find the entrance. My last trip had been a decade ago and then I'd walked up from Southerscales -- approaching from the other side. As we reached the limestone paving on the top, I wondered if we'd find it at all. The views of the Ingleborough peak we'd seen 10 minutes before were replaced by cloud, then we were in fog.

If we hadn't brought the compass and map I don't think we'd have found the cave. As it was we arrived at a suitable sized shakehole. It looked right; I popped into the cave at one end: it was right. Hooray, it was almost 4 o'clock but at last we were about to go caving.

The way down was fairly uneventful. Pitches were dropped, deviations were passed, more deviations were passed. The new recruits were beginning to get the hang of it. The Tatham Wife streamway was as pleasant as ever: clean washed walls, curved meanders with easy climbs and cascades. At the top of the third pitch (our 4th as we'd rigged the climb near the entrance for practice) we check watches, thought about our callout, and decided to turn round.

On our way up the third pitch, team member two (we'll call him Yifan) started up his first rope assent with two wellies -- and only a couple of sizes larger than his feet too. Clearly, two legged prussiking was proving too easy so he jettisoned one. Team member one (who we'll call Chris) saw his opportunity and collected it on his helmet. By the time he got to the deviation it appeared that Yifan had realised the unbalancing effect of having just one welly, so in the process of passing the deviation managed to tip that one down the pitch too. The novel technique of prussiking in wetsocks was tried for the final few feet of rope, but after that pitch discarded in favour of a more conventional approach.

By the time we got back to the car, our callout was really approaching.

The Farm phone was down so we opted for the drive back in caving kit approach. Just as well really, the Nottingham Uni group had enjoyed the callout fun of the night before so much they were looking for a repeat performance. At 21:53 they were counting down to a ten o'clock phone call when we came through the door.

I'm really not sure what Tatham Wife Hole has against wellies. Ten years ago there an incident involving Andy King, a ladder trip and a return to Southerscales cottage with bleeding feet. This time we'd got away lightly; returning with all our footwear, most of the rest of us, and a good deal more SRT experience to boot.

Sunday saw the team reunited, joined by Dave for a bimble down County. We got as far as Molluscan Hall; not finding the Dismal Junction bypass we opted for the classic way through, and our kit was all the cleaner for it.

An Efficient Sunday Trip

Peter Devlin [28 Jan 07]

Having a Welsh Section meeting on the Friday I was in Wales for the weekend, so when offered the oppotunity to carry Gareth Davies and Chris Paynes dive gear up the hill to Pwll Dwfn it sounded like an excellent excuse to get unerground. Gareth and Chris have been digging the sump at the bottom of Pwll Dwfn and needed gear brought up. They are using Joel Corrigan's carbon fibre bottles which are fabulously light to carry, but unfotunately require significant amount of lead to make them neutral buoyant. The 1/2 hour slog slog up the hill was definitely worse with 20kg worth of sash weights and assorted rigging and diving gear. Getting into the cave I had two sash weights clipped to my harness and a tackle sack.. Caving with sash weights is a strange experience as they are both heavy and noisy. Fortunately the cave is almost entirely vertical so it wasn't that difficult, although the noise seemed somewhat akin to a leper's bell.

We got to the bottom an hour after getting into the cave which was fairly efficient. At that point I paused for long enough to catch my breath before heading out. As all the heavy stuff was staying in the cave I didn't feel guilty. Even the bottle, being a 9 ltr was unlikely to be coming out as the shallow dive would not empty it. It took me just over an hour to get back out, so I still had daylight to get me off the mountain. Given that I was keen to get home as early as possible I found going down the hill with no gear was done in half the time as going up with gear.

If you don't mind the walk up the hill, it's a very pleasant little trip, excellent for a Sunday.