Depth through thought

OUCC News 24th October 2007

Volume 17, Number 22

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Editor: Peter Devlin:

Note from the editor

To all you new cavers, please send me a write-up, however brief, of your trips. This allows sad old lags such as myself to recapture the magic of our first caving trips. I usually publish DTT when I have received 2 or 3 trip write-ups, but this time I'm sending it out with a single one, hoping it will encourage a flood of submissions ... Murphy was an optimist ;-)

A colleague pointed the following out to me and

Any thoughts on authenticity?

Here are the weekends for this term

Streamway stomping

Steve Roberts, OFD 1 to top, 21/10/07

One of the pleasures of becoming a slightly superannuated caver is that more, and easier, trips give you that "I'm not sure if I'm up to this" feeling. Back in the 80s, the kinds of trip that did that were frankly horrid: Crescent pot with its cheesegrater lurching not-quite-crawl, Quaking with its testicle-wrecking pitch-heads and the unfeasible looking crux, and similar places of horror and foreboding. This Sunday it was the OFD through-trip - and though I looked at the survey and thought "bloody hell, that's quite a long way", I knew that the trip itself was going to be scenic, spectacular and, well, nice. Which it was.

On the trip: Brendan (SWCC), who knew the way, me, and Richard and Rachel from WMCEG. The OFD1 streamway was its usual lovely self (I'd been in there the day before, doing my leader test with Lou) - and then on beyond Lowe's chain to the boulder chamber and the connection. Actually nobody would describe this bit as nice. Interesting, yes; challenging, in places; navigationally puzzling, from time to time; but nice, no. On the other hand, it never gets even approaching nasty, and some bits, like the letterbox, are a complete hoot. I had a minor moment of doubt and fear at the divers' pitch, my head for heights and exposed climbs never being very good, but managed to coax myself down OK.

From then on it's a true blast up what is without any doubt the finest stream passage, and probably just the finest cave passage, in the UK. Black rock, veined with marble, foaming waterfalls, beautifully sculpted passages - well, if you've been there, you'll know; if you haven't, go there and wonder (picture:or virtual OFD). And the pools. No scaffold bars, just the gentle art of traversing or the less gentle arts of run, jump, splash and scream. Richard fell hook, line and sinker for the "everyone else stands on the far side of the second of two pots" game, traversing carefully pot number 1 and then vanishing up to his neck in pot number 2 to the sound of helpless laughter.

Maypole inlet was reached at just the right sort of time - enough streamway to make us all very happy cavers: and now was the moment of truth - could I climb it without rope, chain or ladder, and without standing on a teetering pyramid of WMCEG and SWCC? Bridge, swing, edge out to the fixed-aid plate, pull up and "well done me!". Now it feels like home territory; a comfortable stroll up to top entrance and a lovely sunny afternoon. What a great trip.

Rechargeable batteries

Rich Padfield

The club has invested heavily in a set of rechargeable batteries (40 AAs) and rechargers (five chargers, capable of charging eight batteries each). The chargers come with both car and three-pin plugs. With due care, they should help save the club and members a lot of money over the long run, and reduce the number of batteries we throw into the landfill. However, we need your help in looking after them. Both batteries and chargers are expensive and relatively fragile - if you wish to use them, please abide by the following rules:

  1. As with all club equipment, fill in the form provided, detailing exactly what you've taken - take the white sheet with you as a reminder, leave the yellow carbon copy as receipt, items to be ticked off on return.
  2. Do not take rechargables caving as spares - batteries in a pocket / tacklesack take a heavy beating. Use standard AAs as spares - it would be a long trip to exhaust freshly recharged batteries, so you shouldn't need to use them.
  3. If you take a recharger with you, take it in the bubblewrap and box provided, and treat it gently. Keep them out of the way of drunken feet, squeeze machines, spilt beer, fireworks, and other likely caving hazards.
  4. When you return to the hut, always plug used batteries in. The chargers have a trickle-charge function, so it's no problem to leave them. It's not fair on the next person to find them discharged because you couldn't be bothered to do so.
  5. If you break / lose / delay returning anything, please let me know pronto - it's a lot of hassle chasing up missing equipment.

I know there's a lot of people in the club who are sceptical about the suitability of using rechargeables for caving - please, people, help me prove them (you?) wrong. Let's make this work! Yours to the final amp, Rich