Depth through thought

OUCC News 2nd May 2007

Volume 17, Number 12

DTT volume 17 Index

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Editor: Peter Devlin:

Note from the editor

Please keep the reports coming in. This edition is positively anorexic.

Paul Mann and Jo Whistler have recently tied the knot ... congratulations.

Here are the trips planned for Trinity Term (2007):

A mixed weekend in Yorkshire

Peter Devlin [21/22 April 07]

I met up with Dave Ryall as planned in Bernie's to do the practical side of my CDG exam. Over a tea we talked thru some scenarios Dave had taken from the recently created CDG incident database. Amusingly the first incident was one I was involved in (see DTT 15.9). We proceeded to Hurtle where we dived through to Frog Hall Pot (?). After the junction from the SRT rope that has been laid had been trashed so I re-laid the line, making a less than perfect job of it. At the airbell we discussed the dive and Dave asked me if I was happy reeling the line back in. He offered to take over given that I was right at thirds at this point. On the way back I retrieved line dealing with 2 or 3 of the belays. One particular belay that I had made a particularly ham fisted job of was giving me trouble so I just handed the reel to Dave and headed out. He later told me that this decision had counted as a positive rather than a negative as it showed prudent assessment of the situation.

In the entrance pool (i.e. in open water) with our deco over the fun started.

This is the bit of the test where the examiner interferes with the diver to see whether he can keep his cool, prioritise and sort out problems. Mask being dislodged, air turned off is par for the course. At a certain point retrieving line I had allowed some slack, so Dave tangled me up. This took me a good few minutes to sort out. I then proceeded to find that Dave had cut the line, removing a meter or two. As I set about attaching my safety line my mask was flooded just at the moment that I realised both tanks had been turned off. Still after all that, with a few pointers on things I could have done better, Dave decided to pass me on the practical part of the exam. I still have to do the written test and be ratified by the Section.

On Saturday night there was a gathering of Red Rose folk at the auction BPC held in support of Red Rose. Dave Ryall did a stunning job as auctioneer, keeping the gathering in stitches for 4 hours. Over £1300 was raised, so it was a very successful night.

The next morning I was up early to tackle a solo thru trip, in Lancs, out Bull Pot of the Witches. I had put a 6 hour callout on the board. I was a little nervous of the solo aspect of this trip. Rigging Lancs I chucked the rope down the pot, but it didn't feel quite right. Halfway down I discovered why: the end of the rope had got caught on a ledge 10m above me and would not free up. Doing a change over to prusik up I found that having adjusted my footloops the lengths weren't spot on (as if prussiking with dive gear attached wasn't hard enough. Changing back over to my stop, I found I was only just able to get my footloop jammer off the rope. Maybe I should test gear reconfiguration changes on the apple tree in the back garden rather than halfway down Lancs on a solo trip with dive gear attached?

Once down I had a rest and caught my breath. I had decided that caving at this part of the cave would be easier with bottles in a tacklesack rather than on my harness. The awkward little ladder climb was as much fun with two tacklesacks as I expected. Once through the tight little bit right after that I moved my bottles to my harness and cracked on. Just in case anyone thinks cracking on means caving at Gavin's speed, it means crawl for 20 or 30m dragging tacklesacks, then collapse in a heap for a few minutes till the sorted of my pulse stops reverberating in my head. Still, I can't have been doing that badly as I made it to the sump in an hour from the bottom of Lancs.

Here I kitted up and found that the leak in my left reg that had been gentle the previous day was no longer quite as gentle. I dived, intending to do a better survey than my previous one, but found that I was too buoyant (diving in a new 4mm wetsuit). Trying to do the survey and manage my buoyancy I got tangled in the line. At this point I decided to return to the dive base and take one of the 1 kilo weights I had stashed at the sump.

I considered aborting the thru trip, but decided I would continue without doing the survey. Better weighted, the dive through went fine. The restriction is still a little snug and would benefit from a little more digging, but I knew I had already been through twice with bigger bottles, so the psychological anxiety was lessened.

At the BPW end I caught my breath and then started out. I was caving with my bottles on my harness, but still had two bags, one heavier than the other. Unfortunately while at the Lancs end you can just drag bags along behind, on this side the cave is much rockier and jagged, so the bags which seemed to be getting heavier had to be carried more than dragged. Having done 3 or 4 trips into BPW I know the cave quite well, so I kept just focusing on the next hurdle. I climbed the pitches with a line attached to the bags at the bottom. I was aware that the Thursday evenings at the climbing wall have improved my climbing skills. Getting off the pitch on the second pitch was, however, a bit scary. This is over a 3 or 4m drop and on my first attempt I made an unsuccessful lunge and had to back off and try it again. I often struggle with this particular climb, as it's a bit awkward. This wasn't made any easier for having 2 3ltr bottles (20s in old money I think) on my harness. There's one particular piece of the last pitch I also usually struggle with, and being fairly exhausted by this stage this took a couple of attempts. Coming up the rifty climb to get out, I found that with my bottles attached I just wouldn't fit thru the aperture. My head was at the level of the exit to the climb so I took my bottles off and pushed them through. I made it into daylight just after 3pm, 5 hours after going underground.

By the time I had gone back, de-rigged Lancs and changed it was 5 o'clock.

Just as I was pulling out of Bull Pot Farm I clipped one of the stones at the gate and got a puncture. What a way to end what had felt like a fairly shite day! On the plus side, traffic all the way was light and I made it home in under 4 hours.