Depth through thought

OUCC News 7th February 1996

Volume 6, Number 4

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Greg is a caver from Hungary, spending three weeks in Swindon (gulp!). He wants to go caving, and has most of the gear. Contact him if you can help on ""

Luke Peter Ramsden

Sara Varty and Jim Ramsden are very pleased to announce the newest recruit to OUCC. After an epic 28h struggle Luke Peter Ramsden emerged at 9.12 pm on Wed 31/1/96. Weighing in at 7 lb 5 oz Luke has a fine head of hair, both Sara and Luke are doing well apart from a sleep shortage on Sara's part.


February 14th is...... the AGM. The annual chance to air your views, vote for posts, choose the Lemming (tough one there) and pat ourselves on the back. We need to be quorate (or something that looks like this word) so don't linger with loved ones for too long....Actually I'm just bitter and twisted. Oh well.
James "Cointeau Freak" Hooper.

Easter in Yorkshire

Does anyone have any idea of going caving (perish the thought) over the Easter week? At the moment Mongo Gill is all we have booked and we have no accommodation. This can easily change if people let James know their thoughts.

The girls go down Draenen

After last minute arrangements Jenny, Alison and I arrived in Wales to tackle the fabled Draenen. As we rolled into the car park we spotted some tents pitched in the snow. Just as I was thinking "What bloody fools are camping in this weather", James emerged from one of the tents, prancing about in his furry. The entrance certainly lived up to all I had been told about it, although it was much drier due to the cold. After much grunting and a short ladder I was amazed at the size of the chamber we arrived in. We even managed to find a lost caver and showed him the way on to T-Junction. We went up to the Oxford Extensions, and managed to meet James and half of Imperial college in a passage barely wide enough for ourselves! We didn't go far, but returned for a look down the streamway. The way out was tiring and when we finally made it back to the surface the Lamb and Fox was shut! It was worth waiting for it to open though as it made a fitting end to a great day.
Fleur Loveridge

Draenen is brilliant shock!

Memories fade, but I was sure that Draenen was near some god-forsaken desolate car park, shrouded in mist, pelted by rain and snow, and generally not a good place to be. Last Saturday was glorious and half the cavers in the world had turned up to see what the place actually looks like. Most of them went down the cave as well. Me and Gavin had driven up with a plan. The plan was to find a decent mid-term dig for Gavin. I didn't know what was wrong with a decent short term dig, but decided not to rock the boat. Our aim was to get to The Last Sandwich as soon as possible (or at least as soon as having a cup of tea at the underground camp, stealing some of Tim's whisky, and pirating Tim's digs would allow) and poke around until the cave yielded to our probing and prodding.

Having negotiated the treacherous snow slope on the way to the entrance and the novice choke that had built up around the first rope climb. (Mental note:- Put a ladder on it), we made good time to the end of the cave. I was psychologically scarred from an encounter with a step ladder so my role was to point out to Gavin any awkward looking bits that I didn't think had been pushed, and offer encouraging advice whilst he scrabbled about. We first pulled some more boulders out of Pick a Stick Aven to help stabilise it. Its considerably less scary, just as windy and the best prospect in the area. Then we ambled up a spur that passes the original end of the passage, but remains as of yet unsurveyed. We crawled, dug and squeezed our way through a series of increasingly interesting tight bits for about 40m to a choke, which will take a lot of work. As an encore, a side passage was dug out for about ten metres without breaking into decent passage. Not much to write home about maybe (or even to recount over the email) but we were happy. Gavin set a relentless pace on our return, and I felt good if tired due to wearing appropriate gear. A breathable oversuit, so not so sweaty and steel shanked wellies so no more Slip! Wahey! Ouch! amongst the boulder 'mare. The place is growing on me. Who's for a trip this weekend.
Jonathon Cooper

Braking Krabs...

On Saturday Maarten, Snablet & I were just one of FIVE separate trips into Draenen with OUCC participants. There were loads of other bods wandering around in there too - it's still the place to be, obviously. This was an aven climbing trip, & we had a co-team of Richard Blake & Alex Gee. They went to bolt up Canyonlands, at the end of Big Country, while we went to bolt up a waterfall nearby. After grovelling through a muddy tight rift (not mentioned in the glossy brochure), we were at the waterfall. Not much water cos it is all frozen up on top. Still, we could see passage up there, & a fine cooling draught to boot. Maarten set the ball rolling, with his half-a-yard advantage on the bolting reach. Then me, then Snablet. A couple of pegs & a bolt, & he was reaching across towards the inviting passage, about 20ft up.

"I've got a bit of a problem" said Snablet. In fact, he had BROKEN a karabiner. Hmm, that's not in the rulebook. Never mind, he regained his composure, re-hung the ladder, & made his way into the passage. It went for all of 10ft before it choked: you can't win them all. By the time we had finished, the firm & sandy floor had transformed into a deep, gooey mud that sucked in the unwary. Slurped back to the meeting place with the others, to find a note - they had had even less success than us: "Gone out before I fill this cave with sick". We went out too, just in time for some nice nosh in the Lamb & Fox, ordered with great foresight the night before. There is a moral to this tale: don't use a snaplink crab as a spreader (OK, you knew that anyway...)
Chris Densham

The ruin of many a man

I had "one of those weekends." With a swig of vodka I headed off to Draenen on Friday night via London. I finally arrived at the Lamb and Fox with the Imperial College Crew at twenty past midnight. The latest Draenen survey was passed around showing the new stuff found to be running roughly parallel with Gilwern extensions, getting close to Lamb and Flag passages. Bullshit needs beer so getting down on my knees in front of Brian and Carol (the publicans) I managed to down a few pints before pitching my tent on three inches of snow. (Phreak by name, freak by nature.) Apart from that it was a fantastic night, stars, not too cold, a bottle of vodka...

Saturday morning showed 3 different ways to cook breakfast. SCC ten minutes. OUCC (CD, MK) thirty minutes. ICCC two hours. I had a mouth in each so did OK. Give me petrol any day. In fact everyone seemed to be there. JC and Gavin. Jenny, Fleur and Alison. Snablet, Chris D., Maarten. Fenella turned up with WMSC. It was left to me to be the last underground. I led a tourist trip for the ICCC. This suited me fine as three trips to Snowball in four weeks made me welcome a change. I'm also planning on spending six weeks with ICCC in Slovenia this summer so it was nice to get to know them. Just inside the entrance a guy called Paul lost the cap to the water chamber of his carbide generator. "I'll just look in my first aid kit" I said to disbelief from everyone. Ten minutes with a penknife shaped a piece of candle into a homemade cap that lasted the whole trip. It's funny how useful things can be. We made our way up to Brownout on Breadfruit Boulevard Chapter One. Everyone was very impressed with Gilwern passage and to my amazement, the duck to longer exists. It's now just a bedding plan crawl that would be fine without a wetsuit. Due to being a party of eight, however, we turned round and went to the Megadrive. Getting out was no problem except for the fact that the slope down to entrance was completely frozen over and one-caver avalanches kept tobogganing down a few metres. It was like a live game of Snakes and Ladders without the ladders. Back in the car park I managed to injure myself by headbutting a can of Spaghetti that I'd hacked open. "One of those weekends".

All the trips got out without problems but unfortunately little was found. I decided against repitching my tent after six pints so slept under Chris D. in the Caravan. Sunday saw a hangover cure trip down the streamway and then back to Oxford to introduce ICCC to their first extra large chilli kebab!
James Hooper.

Easter in Romania

As hopefully most people already know, there will be a caving trip to Romania this Easter. This will be in a similar vein to the popular series of Easter trips over the last few years, ie, it is a HOLIDAY, NOT AN EXPEDITION. In case you're toying with the idea of going, here is a little taster from the net: "Romania is one of the least visited of the 'eastern bloc' countries, especially by cavers from the west. This is a shame since Romania contains some of eastern Europe's most spectacular karst scenery along with some spectacular caves. Topographically, Romania resembles a huge amphitheatre. The lofty peaks of the Carpathian Mountains rise to more than 8,240 feet, composed of broken massifs often covered with thick forests, surrounding the Transylvania plateau, which averages 2,640 feet above sea level. The valleys contain several small villages, each a cluster of a dozen or do wooden frame buildings along an unpaved road. Romania is only about half the size of France, however over 11, 000 caves have been documented. "

Katinka (who came to Fermanagh last Easter, and some met in Hungary last New Year) will look after us in friends' houses, and there will be room for 5-10 "no problem". I'm hoping to fly out to Budapest, and get put on a train to Romania. A visa is required, and I'm applying for a wadge of application forms from the Romanian Embassy, so see me if you want one. Some organisation, such as booking a flight, is probably best done on a DIY basis. If you want to go, tell me or Chris V, and then we can attempt to co-ordinate flights.
Chris Densham