Depth through thought

OUCC News 29th January 1997

Volume 7, Number 1

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Welcome to the new Volume 7 of Depth Through Thought. No new editor I'm afraid, not even a new style. Just the same old sort-of-weekly newsletter that keeps you in touch with OUCC events and news, blows the gossip, and tells everyone about the best going leads in the country in time for next weekend.

Volume 7, eh? Has DTT really been going for 6 years? No of course not (though it has been going for three or more). The numbering system is something akin to the way we number cave areas in the Picos (you know: 1,2,3,5,F,6,10, D.....): an historical accident - or series of them. But the bottom line is that the volume number now coincides with the last digit of the year, so I at least can remember...

Meets sec corner

Plenty of exciting things on the meets front this term. New Year at BPF was a cracker and enjoyed by everyone, even those of us who spent the night itself sitting in hedges/snowdrifts/at the bottom of Bull Pot drunkenly snivelling about our lives. There were loads of good trips despite the snow and illness, and if you weren't there you missed out, (though if the phrase 'snog a dog' means nothing to you, you probably wouldn't have understood anyway).

This term there are two S/scales weekends, the first this weekend, including permits for Notts, Big Meanie and Penyghent Pot, and a long Mendip weekend at the end of term the end of term. Also, if you only go on one club trip this term, (surely Nott!) you should make it (Derbyshire) Dales Delirium at the end of 5th week. This is because a) we never go there, b) it has taken Bradford 2 years to arrange a rematch for Mendip Madness and it would be a shame not to have a good turnout and c) it will be a glorious orgy of underground frolics, fumblings and other alcohol-induced silliness, and who better to take advantage of this than OUCC?

Otherwise, a trip to County Clare at Easter has been mooted (speak to Anette or Chris D I think) and Draenen frenzy continues most weekends - speak to anyone with a pale complexion, manic grin and sore knees. If you're not currently receiving DTT electronically and would like to, speak to Tim. And, has anyone picked up my Petzl Zoom, last seen on the last night in Bull Pot Farm (blue strap)?
nobby ( top of the pots)

El Regalon '97

Preparations for El Regalon 97 continue apace, despite the drunken incompetence of most of the committee, and plans are starting to take shape. Will is now accepting deposits of £130, to be made payable to OUCC El Regalon 97, and I've paid mine already. However, if you're a newcomer to caving, and you're going to have to spend that little bit extra on gear, your deposit comes at the bargain price of only £100, for a limited period only, so hurry...

One or two changes on the committee front: Terence has come along as prospective dogsbody, whilst Andy has come in as 2nd gear officer. This is because he now has a job in Oxford for the next three years (hurray) whilst JimSaraandLuke have been magicked away to Huddersfield (boo). Thanks to Jim for lots of time and effort spent on ground work for the gear order, which will be out at the end of term - collect your checklist from Olly.

At the moment the plan is to stay at Top Camp, because its a fabulous place with spectacular views, and to at least have a thorough look around the bottom of Underground overdrive, which shouldn't take more than a week, especially if a lot of people come along. In addition we hope to push the Canalizos caves, which may bypass the 'lake', and we're also inquiring into the possibility of pushing F80 (deepest cave in the world). There will be slides and a discussion of aims in 7th week, and in the meantime talk to any of the committee about any aspect of deep shafts, vino tinto or mornflakes. Its all happening...

OUCC has a Library...

Sitting in the bath at Bull Pot farm gave me an idea about filming caves. So I decided to find out more about the filming of the video 'first light'. (For those of you who don't know, the Bull Pot farm bath was where the soundtrack was recorded). My search for information about the 1967 expedition, when the video was made, led me to the club library. A phone call to Steve, who said 'Yes come round'. Since the flood, some of the books are still stored away but fortunately the bits I needed were out. The old procs were on a table, by a sofa, in front of roaring fire, with a gin and tonic. I wish the RSL was this cosy, I'd get so much work done ...
Pauline Rigby PS does anyone have a copy of 'first light' they can lend me?

Hungarian New Year

Martin H, Chris V and Yours Truly braved the East European chill and made it out to Hungary for New Year. Moha, Andi and Yorki picked us up from Budapest airport and put us on a train to a bitter Miskolc. Katinka arrived in her (t)rusty Wartburg and soon we were safely installed in a caver's hut in Josvafo, which is a village in Also Hegy in the far North of Hungary boasting one of the entrances to the well known Baradla Cave. A steaming little stream flows through Josvafo village, which resurges from the mouth of Kossuth Cave at a hydrothermally toasty 16C, quite impressive since outside it was -16 deg. at best. The 3 Angols got taken down Kossuth the next day. In the past, the standard technique had been to swim the hundred metre or so canal near the entrance. We were honoured - a couple of weeks before we turned up a traverse line had been bolted in, to assist with re-surveying the cave we hoped, rather than to prevent us softy English cavers from getting our toes wet. No, we just sweltered our way along the most aerial traverse line I've ever, er, sweltered along. Martin was SO glad he'd remembered to put on 2 sets of thermals under his furry suit. After pottering around in some decorated muddy grovels beyond, we headed back. But first we had to watch how surveying is done Hungarian Style. No less than 3 teams are necessary: one to bolt in pegs, one to take readings from instruments slung onto string between the pegs, and one to do the drawings onto the centreline drawn up from the previous week's data. Have no doubts about the accuracy of Hungarian cave surveys!

We moved down the road to Bodsvaszilas the next day, to a house lived in by Istvan, the Hungarian equivalent of Martin Farr'. A man with a lifetime's caving in the area, Istvan apparently spent all his money on the local caves. As he led a large MAFCS party and us up the hill the next day to see his favourite current digging project, Moha explained that Istvan was a fan of free access & disapproved of gates. So, we got to the entrance & found ... a bluddy great concrete bunker with an impressive gate made from 3" steel bars, all made out of Istvan's pocket money. The gate was completely iced up of course, so a bonfire was lit up against it. After only an hour of baking the gate and another hour of hard core fettling around with the lock, we were in to the cave. Trogged down the boulder choke & a couple of iron ladders, following the distinctive power cable and 4 inch diameter ventilation hose, until Moha stopped at the head of the penultimate ladder. 'We'll wait here. You can have a look at the dig if you want' said Moha. So, a few of us went down to inspect the sump at the end. As we puffed & panted our way back, the reason for the ventilation hose (which didn't quite reach the bottom yet) became obvious. The cable was to provide power for machine tools and a pump to drain the sump, and the ventilation hose to allow air to be pumped down for Istvan to breathe while he drilled, blasted & dug his way towards the phreatic tubes alleged to roller coaster away somewhere down there. Those Hungarians are pretty keen! After this trip of a couple of hours, I opened my mouth with the result that Martin & I got dragged further up the hill to do a vertical cave. It was OK - once you got down far enough for your gear to defrost. When we resurfaced, changing was a bit of a laff - you had to roll your wellies/oversuit/cowstails up pretty quickly before they froze solid into unwieldy cardboard. Dropped to minus 29 that night apparently.

Fortunately, all the other caves we did had the luxury of a fire at the entrance. You get to the cave entrance, light the fire to warm your wetsocks etc up, do the trip, and stoke up the fire when you get out. That was pretty much the scene for the next couple of days. Except for Chris 'Losta' Vernon, who stayed in bed, and Katinka, who was required to stay behind for culinary duties, and later to get her car fixed. Hmm, not much liberation here. Kutya took us down a vertical cave where the walls consist entirely of soft crumbly earth - revenge for Dallimore's apparently. On New Year's Day we bounced down the deepest cave in Hungary - about 200 m, right next to the Slovakian border. Katinka did get her car fixed, by a fat mechanic in a rather unlikely looking shed that was sandwiched between a chicken coop and a pig sty. So that meant we could all travel back to Budapest in grand style. Our residence for a couple of days was in Menyus' (sp?) flat, which she had managed to buy cheap, because one of her ex-neighbours had tried mixing up some explosives in his washing machine, killing himself and eight of his neighbours in the process...

Many thanks to all our Hungarian friends for taking us caving, particularly Kutya, Menyus, Moha, Andi, Chabba(sp!), and it was good to see Pivo again. They all send their love to friends in Oxford. Special thanks go to Katinka for inviting us and looking after us, and who hopefully we will see in Ireland at Easter.
Chris Densham

Three Pitches in Draenen?

Last Sunday Steve, Nobby and I met Ian in the Draenen car park. It was my second visit to the Dollimore Series and after coming through the Last Sandwich I had to just stop in awe. MS&D is truly huge. Seeing the Hall of the One for the first time I was amazed.

We went down Into The Black to do some surveying in the Dogleg Complex and to put a ladder down an undescended pitch. The area proved indeed to be complex, but it wasn't long until Ian and Nobby had found its connection to Luck of the Draw.

Then we came to descend the pitch. Unfortunately it did not give way to much, although Ian was tempted by a dodgy climb up on the other side. So we explored further and Nobby spotted a hole in the floor and started pulling aside boulders. But one huge block stood in the way. Recalling Ali Garman's article for Descent I asked which politician this was. "Who's that big fat Liberal?" said Steve. So when Cyril Smith finally yielded only a depression full of more boulders it was christened Cyril's Revenge.

Nobby had spotted another lead further back and this proved to be far more fruitful. I scrambled through and found pitch number 2! This was choked at the bottom, but traversing across, the passage went on, before a hole in the right wall lead to a lovely big chamber. This was more like it. Two leads from here, but the obvious way on lead to more interesting things. On the left was pitch number 3. It went down into a rift, that then went on round a corner: Top Banana. Not having another ladder this was left as a promising lead for another time.

Meanwhile I had gone up to the right and come out in a wonderfully decorated chamber: Top Spots. The beginnings of calcite stals were everywhere, very, very pretty. There were leads here too, but it was time to go. 250m in the book and a great end to the trip.

Festering in My Kitchen

Found: the substantial parts of one SRT kit, festering in a plastic bag in a corner of my kitchen. Distinguishing marks: rust and mildew. Sit harness - red Brock, Chest harness - Bat Prods. And lots of mice, but I don't suppose anyone wants those.