Depth through thought

OUCC News 10th May 1995

Volume 5, Number 11

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Congratulations to everyone involved in the massive club finds in Draenen this weekend, from passion fruit chamber to the last sandwich. Chris D, Steve R, and Martin Laverty found 500metres beyond the nasty duck in Gilwern passage (surveying it to Grade 5), whilst Olly, Urs, Pauline and me, together with Nig Rogers and Mark Wothers, pushed last week's finds beyond Snowball passage for a further 600 or 700 metres, much of it heading South West. Survey data (we are only just managing to stay in front of the Grade 5 team) is already with Tim Long, and it looks as if we have kept our noses clean enough to get our own key - maybe...

Gear Order

The final deadline for gear orders is this Sunday (14th May). Please let James ( know what you want by then. There'll be a trip to Cotswold Camping later this term for tents, backpacks etc. A kilometre of rope has already been ordered...... A new era has dawned.
The Yellow Flag Caver

OFD (was ecstasy)

The whole weekend, excluding the chocolate milkshakes, had an expedition feel to it. The weather was fantastic. On Saturday, while teams explored and surveyed the frontiers of Draenen and Dave and Alex sped to the Blue-Greenies in Daren, another group played at lounging and lofing around the Top Camp tent that had been pitched at Penwyllt. Eventually Sharon, Wendy and I sweated up in the heat to OFD 2 and changed at the entrance. We made our way in a relaxed manner to the Judge and Trident and back with much fine (and less fine) singing. Wendy and I then returned to follow the streamway downstream. This was Wendy's first experience of Welsh caving and she visibly loved it. Meanwhile Mike and Will took Sarah (with an h) on her caving first trip, turning left (or was it right) at Shattered Pillar. Well Sarah loved it too and Will and I are no longer "sad mathmo and engineering cavers," but, "damned fine chaps." We got out to a glorious sunset and the joys of cooking on Camping Gaz stoves.

It really was like expedition. Drinking Vino Tinto in the tent, singing by candle light, tripping over tent poles. Then Chris D. came back with news that Gilwern passage in Draenen goes. Another 500 metres had been found by Martin L, SGR and Chris beyond a previously terminal choke. More Vino Tinto.... I eventually crawled into the Phreak. A few hours later, I was wakened by Oli (OJ) and Ukey to discover yet another 700 metres had been explored and surveyed in a mammoth 14 hour trip. I turned over contentedly, muttered, "There's Chile in the pan and room in my tent," and fell back to my happy dreams.

The next morning OJ grabbed a bottle of wine as soon as he got up and led a full scale lolling and lazing session. Will and I, however, got changed straight away (funny really, I seemed to be wearing my furry already) and set off back to OFD. Will had had several trips to OFD 3, never quite making it to Smith's Armoury. Well we made it this time. In term's of total pleasure caving this was one of the finest trips I've had in a long time. Freeclimbing almost everything, awesome traverses 70 foot above the ground, big passages, stormin' streamway.... Thanks a lot "Short Legs," it was truly fine. We got out in good time to see the others off to Little Neath River Cave. And me???? I opted for the lying in the sun approach, being joined later by Martin H. and Gareth to hear of more progress down Roaring. Big Potential. Breakthrough immanent. Oh happy days.....
James Hooper.

Aussie Clusterfuck

We've been busy down under in Aus. Novice season has more or less come to a close with various members of NUCC having taken something in the region of 80 people caving and canyoning during Feb and March. We had fun fun fun taking new folks down the (slightly) vertical caves of Bungonia, followed by a trip down good old Argylle hole for a bit of SRT practice.

The last big novice trip was to Punchbowl cave which we somewhat unwisely took a party of 25 down. There is a pitch at the entrance which we laddered people down reasonable efficiently but from then on it was all downhill.

We were planning on doing the round trip. After the initial pitch this involves heading to the back of the cave and then doubling back through a higher level series, finally doing an aid-climb up 4 old bolts. The climb brings you to a pitch dropping down into the entrance chamber. From here you climb the entrance pitch to get back out.

With a party of 25 things did not go swiftly, and it was by a sort of Brownian motion that we finally arrived at the base of the Loxin Wall aid climb. Mark noted with consternation that the second of the bolts had sheared making reaching the third bolt impossible. We ummed and aahed, all the novices watching us as they munched through the packed lunches they'd all brought down the cave. I clambered up the ladder attached to the first bolt to check it out. The bolt sheared and send me crashing down onto Toryn. The pair of us ended up sliding head first down the ramp at the base of the climb. The novices solemnly munched away, undoubtedly thinking that this sort of thing happened all the time. Mark raced back through the cave to retrieve his bolting kit from the car and about half and hour later was putting 3 new bolts in (using Lyle's fab home-made hangers). He reached the top and we started going up. I rigged the pitch down into the entrance chamber and we had a "sausage machine" lining people up Loxin Wall and setting them up for the abseil back into the entrance chamber. Finally everyone was down which left the perfect opportunity for a massive clusterfuck in getting out of the cave. This was exacerbated by another group self-lining out with only one jammer between them. I won't go into the sordid details but suffice it to say I was getting a little frayed at the edges by the time we got out. Well it only took 6-7 hours to do the cave, far short of last years record of 12 hours so I 'spose I shouldn't complain!

End note: We've started a NUCC newsletter, pretty similar to DTT really although it only comes out monthly. I edit it, and I now appreciate Tim's efforts with DTT all the more. The only problem is that I'm under pressure to censor it before putting it on the World Wide Web to remove all non speleo-politically-correct references, i.e. draining trips, mud-fights, digging etc etc as apparently these kind of things could lead to The-End-Of-Caving-Civilisation-In-Australia-As-We-Know-It if the speleo politicians read them!

The other current thrill of Aussie caving is the upcoming accreditation scheme: If we are extra extra good, Santa will give us a shiny gold-edged caving certificate and Silver epaulettes for our oversuits and gold stars for our helmets and we will be *accredited* and we might be allowed to go caving. Mummy, I wanna be a 5 star caver! :-)

Can you tell that Aussie speleo-politics is getting me down right now?
Sherry Mayo


(sung to the tune of "Oom-pah-pah", from Lionel Bart's "Oliver!")

There's a rowdy pub song
They're singing in the club, long
Past clo--sing time at the St.-- Cross bar.
If you want to know--
Why down the caves we go--
Then listen very caref'lly to hear who we are:

CHORUS: Speleos! Speleos! That's who we are,
Crawling and thrutching right up to the bar!
Vino de tinto will make us cave far;
We are the speleos!

Little Ja--mes Hoopy
Is bound to drive you loopy
He whistles and-- sings in the cave all day long.
If you're in a squeezy
That's not remotely easy
To help you get-- through it he'll sing you this song:


Mr. Tony Seddon
Will often strap his lead on
To dive-- through-- many of Yo--rkshire's sumps.
Pity his poor sherpas
Who sit-- there and shiver as
Even their-- furries develop goosebumps.


Then there's Gavin Lowe--,
Whose fav'rite cave is Carno
He tries to get-- diggers whenever he goes.
Now he's having trouble,
For it's no ord'n'ry rubble,
It's liquid mud which gets in your eyes and your nose.


[Note - the chorus can be sung at the same time as the verse, and so the repeat of the last chorus can be used also to sing the first verse again (if there are competent singers about :-) ]
Sharon Curtis (written after a trip down OFD, 6/5/95)