Depth through thought

OUCC News 3rd October 2007

Volume 17, Number 20

DTT volume 17 Index

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Editor: Peter Devlin:

Note from the editor

Here are the weekends for next term

Picos 2011

[John Wilcock writing to Steve Roberts] Although we are not exactly of Olympic Games dimensions, now is not too soon to begin circulating the idea around the membership, especially the old lags, to get them used to the idea that they might have to stagger up to Ario in 2011 and to get them to put mid-July to mid-August 2011 in their diaries.

The idea is to get all Los Jefes there, or failing that a representative from each OUCC Picos year. I suppose a global email to all members would be a start, and perhaps you can arrange this. If you like I will take on the task of approaching each of the Los Jefes, if you will give me their email addresses (preferably) or failing that other contact details. There is a list of them on the website. Thanks, John

Equipment Failure

[Ben Lovett writes] Earlier this year American climber Todd Skinner was killed in Yosemite when the belay loop of his harness tore through while he was abseiling. His climbing partner reports noticing that it was very worn and that Todd agreed it needed replacing. Full story here. Just thought I'd pass this on as prior to this summer's Picos trip I noticed that the waist belt of my Petzl harness was 2/3 worn through at the buckle and I could tear it in half with my hands! Before you ask, Yes I did replace it for the trip.

Kingsdale Master Cave

Catherine Devlin, 15 Sep

On Saturday at President's Invite I went down Kingsdale Master Cave. I went with Katie, Steve, my Daddy and Moi. We met Rona, Rory, Catherine, Sam, Penny, Ditta and Phil. I got quite wet, but I enjoyed it. I found when you had to go down the ladder beside the sump challenging. I also found the bit where you had to crawl in water, where the ceiling was low, challenging. But I still enjoyed it.

President's Invite was really fun and enjoyable. I loved camping although it was really cold! The cake at the end was really delicious.

I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as me. But I think they will have enjoyed it as much as me. I missed Alex and Sandra so much, but it was still great having Steve and Katie. Thank you Joan for looking after Katie and I.

The cave we went into was called Kingsdale Master Cave. The entrance of the cave looked like a bin. I can't wait till next year's President's Invite.

Cavers in Clean Gear

Margot Sargent, 15 Sep

Team Might Morphin Power Cavers (see photos) bottomed Ireby Fell Cavern on Saturday as the rigging in team, a great time was had by all, though a bit of trouble was had by pink and yellow cavers getting up the the nasty climb (pussy?) fortunately green caver made a good stepping stool. Red caver of course is supremely fit and showed us all up, but she is a keen climber.

Sunday saw the Florences and Sargents do the waterfalls walk 'widdershins', which is in my opinion better and you usually escape paying.

Fear and Trepidation

Peter Devlin Sep 23

I had managed to get on an over the tides trip into Otter Hole with SWCC for the Sunday with a 1pm meet up. I knew it would be a long trip but at Hidden Earth Nicki Bayley had warned me that I wouldn't be out till midnight. The thoughts of getting back to Oxford for 2am and then getting up at 6am to go to work didn't thrill me. Chatting to Mandy and Rhys, they warned me that there were some tight spots and that it was a hard trip. On the way to Otter I was considering whether to fabricate an excuse for bowing out. I remembered that fellow Welsh Section member Laura Trowbridge had broken a pelvis and had a lengthy rescue. Everybody mentioned the walk back up the hill after the trip.

I met up with Hades member Pete Mason who was our leader and Mick Davies at the carpark. Pete told me he had taken bigger people than I through, so we kitted up and were off. Pete pointed out that the cave made you work for the delights enjoyed. Pete told me that the tightest bit is right at the entrance. While I managed the tight bedding at the entrance fine, there is a second one a little further which is marginally tighter, possibly just a fraction of a centimetre tighter, but with a bit of rib cage compression I made it through. After the sump and the streamway the delights of the Mendipian Way (named for it's likeness to grotty Mendip boulder chokes) is the last obstacle before the nice stuff. The exit to that was for me abit of a sod which I found as awkward as the exit to the Last Sandwich in Draenen (which I had failed to negotiate). Taking off my helmet and thrashing violently for some time had the desired effect, but getting through to the big stuff had fairly knocked me out. A summer of less caving than the norm due to work commitments and no visits to the gym have left me with even less cave fitness than usual and I was feeling the pinch.

We soon got the the Hall of Thirty, which is magnificent. Unfortunately my camera with the single flash did not really work very well. We continued on to Camp 1 for a break and a bite to eat, three hours into the trip, passing the chambers where diesel has leaked into the cave, making the stal an evil black. Many between tide trips just go to the Hall of Thirty and head back out, but with the sump closed for 6 hours we were going to see more of the cave. The pretties after Camp 1 are spectacular. Any one of the curtains and stals would have been noteworthy in another cave, but here there are dozens and dozens quickly followed by dozens and more dozens. Particularly notable after Camp 1 are Gour Chamber and Long Straw Chamber. These are aptly named and would be worth the trip if they were the only attraction. In Long Straw Chamber there were straws approximately 5m long. At a certain point about 3/4 of the way to the end there is a climb at which we decided to turn around about 4 hours into the cave. At this point there is a side passage with amazing curtains, straws and stal. Pete pointed out that in the smaller space my digital camera would take better photos, so we got a couple of snaps that I was relatively pleased with.

We caved out slowly, as the sump was still closed, stopping from time to time to reduce the wait at the sump. Pete had assured me that the entrance to Mendipian Way was easier going out than on the way in which I found to be true, just. With a bit of bone crunching and much violence I managed to get through the awkward bit. Pete and Mick made some comments about the effort it took me, but I was through the bad bit and didn't care. We arrived at the sump a little after 8pm, with the sump due to reopen at 9.10. We decided to wait abit to let water levels go down. A little after 9.30 we went though and the sump was fine (chest high). Soon we were back in the bedding planes with its gloopy mud: I've seen some mud in caves before, but Otter wins hands down. Fortunately being covered in mud helped with the tight bedding plane that had given me bother on the way in. We made it out by about 10.30 having got underground a little after 1. Nikki, Mandy and Rhys had been right: the hill back to the carpark was a sod.

A couple of tins of Red Bull kept me awake for the drive home and I was in bed for 2am. 6am came way too quick and my legs were particularly unwilling partners having effectively seized up during the night. It's a spectacular trip and I highly recommend that my successor as meet sec organise a club trip.

Some photos can be found here.

A Return to Swinsto

Peter Devlin, President's Invite Sep 15

After a children's that had not been the most successful we had ever done, Steve, Gareth, Paul, Phil and I made our way up the hill to Swinsto. Following a brief demonstration to Paul on the use of a Stop we were off. I had done the trip three times before, but had never been in front before. I thus managed to crawl past the first bolt on the first pitch, but prudence stopped me crawling head first down the first pitch: it may not be a long pitch, but all things considered I would probably choose not to fall down it head first.

Soon we were all down, Paul having successfully mastered his first abseil. The long crawl is never so bad after the first time: on the first time it feels interminable, whereas after that you at least know it comes to an end. Soon we were knocking off one pitch after another.

Somewhere about 3/4s of the way through the trip there is a little bit that I find quite awkward (being oversized). Having twisted my knee the last time I got through, I had decided that I would follow a higher level route I had seen Tony Seddon do in the past. A climb up about 3m leads to a thrutching rift which allows a down climb past the smallish bit. Soon we rejoined the others and continued on.

At the bottom of the last pitch Steve thought there was another way on, but after a bit of rooting about it was decided that we would go back the conventional way. Soon we were back in the Master Cave and we made it out 2 1/2 hours after getting underground. A unanimous vote determined that it would be rude to go past the Marton Arms without stopping off to finish an excellent days caving. Many thanks to Steve for President's Invite and a huge thanks to Simon and helpers for the food.

Massage your Ego

Starting Thursday of 0th week, 1-3pm, Ellie Davies of Peak Sport will be running drop-in injury assessment and massage clinics for all members of University sports clubs - if anyone picks up a niggle in the week or has long standing problems that they want assessing then this is your no-appointment-necessary chance! Sessions will be held in the Athletics Stand at Iffley.

For more details, email - she's a qualified sports masseuse who's available for private appointments at your leisure as well. The "Sports Fed Tenner Drop-In Clinic" will consist of 10/15 minute appointments on demand between the hours of 1 and 3 every Thursday - for the bargain price of £10 you can get a 10/15 minute appointment with our endorsed professional who'll be able to advise on or treat the full gamut of sports injuries. Alternatively, get in touch privately on 07786254418 and she can arrange group sessions with team members, private injury consultations or sports/remedial massage. She's offering awesome student rates for Sports Fed clubs and their members so take advantage!