Depth through thought

OUCC News 20th November 1991

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Sometimes it's big, sometimes it's small. This week it's small, so I can use the space to tell you that I've just moved to 62 Hugh Alien Crescent, Marston (Oxford 247994). If anyone wants to try duck/squeeze training, I've noticed some excellent looking drain pipes under the new cycle path over the parks...

As usual, the weekend in Wales started with an administrative nightmare trying to deal with the SWCC's mountainous bureaucracy. Actually, they were quite nice to us in the end, but its worth noting that it costs £2.50 per day, not per night; that even if you sleep, at the STUMP, or camp, it still costs the same just to set foot in the place (which is inevitable, since SWCC control OFD permits).   A clever little financial wheeze. However, if you're foreign you don't have to pay at all, even if you insist on handing out semi-lethal doses of Russian Vodka and pickled cucumbers to all passers (thanks Sasha!). Mind you, it was fun stomping up to top waterfall, and Vernon's Round Trip can also be done in reverse (climbing up Pendulum Passage). Some of us went to Daren on Sunday to take pictures of the formations in Antler Passage, and to try to put Sam off caving for good (I think we failed).

Does anyone have any desire to help set up the Mendip Madness weekend? Any ideas about what treasure to hunt this time?


The expedition dinner will be on Saturday 23rd November at 7ish. If you went on expedition and want to come, please tell a member of the committee. If you have any suggestions for a venue, please let us know. At 4om'till 6om there will be a slide ordering session in the Prestwich Room, SJC -- all welcome.

Noel Crane, Simon Yates, Shaun Smith and Paul Pritchard give a mammoth climbing slide show on Tibet/ Nepal Russia/ USA/ GB, November 26th Lecture Room 6, New College. evening. £2 entry supports their forthcoming expedition to The Towers of Paine in Chile.


"There is no wilder region in England than the Pennine range. On the upper heights one may still walk all day without sight of man. Even above ground dangers lurk, for thick mist may drop in a few minutes, or blinding rain may hide everything beyond a few yards, so that the traveller is hopelessly lost. Every valley has its beck, and as you follow the course of one of these foaming little rivers, suddenly it drops out of sight into a black hole or swallet, to be lost forever in darksome caverns far beneath, or to re-appear miles away on lower ground. Potholes they call these chasms, and some are of immense size and depth.

"The cave-hunter in Yorkshire never goes alone. The best number for a party is three, four or five. They must carry plenty of strong rope. Real Alpine rope is best, and they must also have a good supply of candles and matches. Some use flashlamps which, while they give a stronger light than candles, are not to be trusted, for the batteries are short-lived, and there is always the ugly risk of being caught by storm and a rising flood. It is also very necessary to take food.

"Clothes should be of canvas or other very stiff material, for the narrow passages bristle with sharp stalactites which will tear any ordinary cloth to shreds. Also one's garments become covered with candle-grease and white mud. Above all things it is necessary to have the head covered, for there is always the risk of rock falls. The best form of hat is that worn by the Cornish tin miners, a sort of Billycock made of very thick felt and provided with a candleholder in the front of the brim. Some men wear waders, but these are heavy and tiring, and it is really easier to wear the ordinary nailed boots used for mountain climbing and to get wet.

"A crowbar is an essential part of the equipment to be used for securing the rope. If the depth is great it is as well to have planks or spars to lay across the mouth of the hole and to hold the rope or rope ladder. A telephone is useful, and should always be carried when an unknown cave is to be explored. If photographs are to taken magnesium wire is, of course, needed.

"Since all this makes a very heavy load, explorers generally hire a cart and horse from one of the dalesmen. In places where a wheeled vehicle cannot travel, a sledge is used. The ponies in these parts seem to be able to climb any hill, however steep."

"Adventures Under Ground" by T.C. Bridges,
(author of "Great Canals", "Romance of Hidden Treasure", etc.) 1937.

This week's silly

Which is the add one out? The Judge, The Gnomes, The Trident, The King, The Queen, The Wedding Cake.