Depth through thought

OUCC News 5th September 2007

Volume 17, Number 19

DTT volume 17 Index

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Editor: Peter Devlin:

Note from the editor

Upcoming dates are:

Here are the weekends for next term

Steve Roberts forwarded an email from Hugh Penney who wrote:

This has appeared on they want pics of Asturias - do you fancy forwarding this to OUCC people as there must be people with good pics to sell. All regulations on the site. Hugh

Also from Steve: Paul Mackrill has done his epic trip; Gouffre Berger, cycle to Bionassy, ascend Mont Blanc, in the absurd total time of 29 hours 29 minutes, including in&out of the Berger in 9hrs 20 mins. He even appeared to find some time to sleep!

See the pictures at:

A quick stroll in OFD1

Steve Roberts

I was a complete Zombie in the car as Sandra drove us all to Wales, to drop Katie and Alex off for a week on the Gower, but I'd put my caving gear in "just in case".

By the time we'd got to Merthyr I'd woken up enough to initiate a diversion to SWCC. Not many there, But Hywel was up for a short trip, so I was left to be picked dup later.

My goodness, tea by the SWCC common room fire was comfortable ... but eventually we levered ourselves up and were at OFD1 by about 4.00. The plan was for me to be shown as much as possible of the upper reaches of the escape route / round trip. The foaming Guinness-like rush in the river implied that the stream was way off limits - as indeed it proved, being over knee-deep at the step.

I was shown a bit of OFD1 I thought I'd lost for ever. On my first trip here, back in 1979, we were taken round by a distinctly eccentric bloke called Pete whose idea of a good laugh was to inject each of us onto a meandering traverse above the stream. No ordinary traverse, this - no hand holds and only wall-of-death centrifugal force footholds in the meanders. Run, jump, run like hell, jump, run, jump... phew! Real Sonic the Hedgehog stuff. Id was OK back then, thanks to Pete's yells of what to do next as I blurred round, but this time I lost faith and balance half way round and tumbled ignominiously into the water below. No harm done except a minor dent to pride and a small ding on my bum.

We then had a look at all the wire-traverses - entertaining with the main stream roaring caver-hungrily below, and turned the trip at Pi chamber. All good fun, and I'm now feeling my mental map of the place is consolidating. A few more trips and I'll go for a leader test, which should be useful.

Crystal Cave

Vrinda Manglik

26th August: Just back from an awesome caving trip with the SoCal (Southern California) Grotto. I went with Kathleen Johnson---a very cool caver/cave researcher recently transplanted from Oxford. We went to Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park, which is the second oldest national park in the US. It's in California, up in the Sierra Nevada---the same mountain range that is home to Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, and Mount Whitney (the highest point in the continental US).

The trip was led by "Big Bill", a cave trustee of Crystal Cave and a very active volunteer in the 200+ caves of Sequoia National Park. "Big Bill" came up on his Harley with a band of his cave trolls. There are apparently 52 of them worldwide...and they all have to meet certain standards to qualify. Cavers who "gotta lot of heart" and who can be trusted on either end of a rope. They were pretty awesome.

We walked down to the cave through a beautiful wooded canyon, with a creek running through it. We were at about 5000 feet (1524 meters). The cave itself was completely gorgeous. Tons of formations of all shapes and sizes. Many stalagmites, stalactites, straws, curtains, flowstone, gypsum flowers, cave pearls, shields, moon milk, and a lake that is ~200 feet (61 meters) deep. The cave was unusually dry, because the Sierras got very little snow this year. Anyway, they were all really knowledgeable about the cave, and it was great fun to explore. It was also really cool having Kathleen to explain mineral/speleothem stuff. We were in there for about four hours. Here's a link to some pictures:

Afterwards, we camped out amidst the sweet Bay trees and Sequoias. The following day, Kathleen and I walked around on some of the Sequoia trails, and saw the world's largest tree (by volume...other trees are larger in height and/or circumference). Big thanks to Bill, Dillon, and Kathleen for such a great trip.

Another Use for Bull Pot of the Witches

Peter Devlin

Taking a mother and son pair of potential Red Rose members caving I chose Bull Pot of the Witches as it's easy enough and sufficiently varied to give people a sense of what caving is like. Linda is a Open Univiersity Geology student who was motivated to go caving out of geological interest. It wasn't clear what her son, Mike's motivation was. At the entrance to the cave he made some comment about the entrance being tight (given that you have to stoop ;-) ). I put a rope on the rifty climb and sent Steve Robinson, another Red Rose diver, down first to help them with the footholds. Linda went down the climb just fine. Mike struggled to get onto the climb so I decided to put a ladder onto the climb. At a certain point he gasped with pain rather dramatically and slapped his hip. When I asked him about this he said his hip dislocates from time to time, at which point I started to regret offering to take him caving. Fortunately his desire not to go caving was even more keen than my desire not to take him caving and we quickly decided that he should abandon the trip.

Linda, Steve and I proceeded on down to the bottom of the second pitch at which point our gear ran out (having left the ladder on the entrance climb). Linda had done very well for a novice and had clearly enjoyed being underground so hopefully Red Rose will soon have another member.

I was impressed at the efficiency with which the cave had discouraged Mike to go caving and will continue to use it for Red Rose novice trips.