Depth through thought

OUCC News 3rd June 1998

Volume 8, Number 13

DTT Volume 8 index

DTT Main Index

OUCC Home Page


Rescue Practice

The rescue practice will be in WALES this Saturday. The reason for this change from the usual venue (i.e. Mendip) is to tempt those unable to resist the lure of Draenen into coming on the rescue practice.

The plan is to depart early on Saturday from Oxford (8am at the hut) and do the rescue practice that afternoon. Please bring full SRT kit and any pulleys, spare krabs etc. that you might have. We will stay at the WSG on Saturday night and on Sunday people are free to do whatever caving trips take their fancy. If you are planning a Draenen trip which will finish late, make sure you have sorted out transport. There will be no first aid course that weekend, but I believe Tim is sorting something out for another day in Oxford.

On a related topic, there will be SRT practices both this Friday and next, from 6pm under the south ring road bridge (first big bridge south of Donnington bridge). If the weather is bad then we will go to the New College School Gym.

Both the rescue practice and the SRT sessions are very useful, so please make the effort to come along and learn. They can also be quite fun!
Jo "alcohol induced haze" Whistler

Discount evening

There's a discount evening tomorrow at the Scout shop (Turl St.) at 5.30pm (don't be late). We'll be getting 15-20% discount off boots, rucksacks, sleeping bags, tents, fleeces, waterproofs, etc, etc. I'll have catalogues this evening.
Lev Bishop

Expedition Gear Sorting

Next weekend (end of 7th week, 13th-14th June) is AC Irvine interviews and no club trips. There's quite a lot of expedition gear that needs to be looked at and fixed if necessary. In particular tents need to be put up and tackle bags patched, as well as several other jobs. The more people helping out, the easier (and more fun) it will be. Anyone is welcome to come and help and anyone going on expedition should feel duty-bound to show up.
Lev Bishop

Puzzle corner

Identify the following lovely period piece, from a caving book of the 19**'s. Author, title, date ?

"Sailing, skiing and even climbing have obvious attractions for women: they can, if they wish, confine their public appearances to days which are really sunny, and even then not feel committed to do more than a token ten minutes of actual activity. The rest of the day can be spent sunbathing on deck, on the hotel balcony, or at the foot of the rocks, and the evening offers plenty of scope for sporting their latest après-whatever dresses.

"It seems strange, then, to find any women at all interested in caving, or actually down a cave. Yet there are precious few clubs without a reasonably large contingent of women, and some of the fairer sex - with smallness and a remarkable resistance to cold on their side - are nothing short of outstanding in modern caving. It is difficult enough to analyse the motives behind a man's decision to take up the sport, but even more so in the case of a woman. Perhaps many see a mainly male caving club as rich manhunting ground, but they would find it progressively more and more difficult to avoid committing themselves to actual caving trips. The enthusiasm of the caver to get any available non-caver underground can be quite astonishing, and psychologists would no doubt attribute this - in the case of the caving male and noncaving female - to some basic caveman motivation for the preservation of the species! It must be confessed here and now, though, that the irregular rumours of wild and passionate 'potholing orgies' (for some reason usually centred on Derbyshire) are without foundation. Underground amour, with its attendant difficulties of your being clad in a wetsuit, boiler suit and boots, is far too daunting a prospect."
Steve Roberts

Prisoners of War

After Chris Densham's Success in Pixie Meadows, OUCC has again been active at the other end of Draenen.  Lev and Tim broke through a short bouldered squeeze in a miserable part of Blood River to find 100 metres or so of inlet passage several weeks ago.  On May 24th they returned with Lou Maurice, Peter Bolt and Keith Hyams to survey the finds and to discover Lose Aven and several open leads.  On May 31st Tim, Lev and Lou did a 14 hour trip to extend the complex series of inlet passages to a total of over 500 metres.  Most significant is the discovery of a small stream passage (Blue Blood Streamway) which may prove to be the source of Out of the Blue.

Currently we plan to survey and tape the remaining open passages carefully before encouraging others to enter the Prisoners of War series. Many of the interconnecting passages contain delicate sediments, and it may prove possible to tape some off completely once we are convinced we know that they lead nowhere.  We'd be grateful if fellow cavers would allow us a period of grace to complete this work before rushing in to investigate, or indeed grade 5 survey.  Anyway, its a bloody long way to go to visit mudbanks. More details soon.
Tim Guilford

Afton Red Rift.

"Hmm, Afton Red Rift", said Paul.  "Fun", "easy", "two hour", "bimble" said Paul, the only one of the four to have been down it before.

Well it immediately became apparent that the words "Red" and "Rift" were appropriate, my helmet was soon covered in the cave's distinctive mud, making me look like I had committed a particularly gruesome murder.

"Hmm, it is a bit more greasy than when I last came down here."  We quickly found ourselves traversing in a very greasy rift.  It was quite easy at first but quickly came to a slope down.  Sliding down on the way in was fine, if the drop below was a bit intimidating.  "I hope we don't have to go back up there," was the general consensus, but it was okay because we were doing the round trip.  This was followed by a wider corner over a large drop, although it looks worse than it actually was.

Fortunately the worst of the rifts was then over.  It was true some enjoyable furtling around that the fuck-ups started.  See if you can guess who was involved in each one.

A).  Person A. finds a promising lead through a duck.  It goes absolutely nowhere and after a fruitless attempt at a squeeze that would have avoided the need to re do the duck, person A re-does the duck.
B).  Person B goes through a descending squeeze headfirst on their back, getting their belt caught.  Someone (who?) has to drag person B out of the squeeze by their feet, to cries of "pull harder, ooh, ugh!"
C).  Person C gets to the top of a not-very difficult climb and suddenly develops a fear of heights.  Totally pooing themselves, this person is eventually talked down.
D).  Person D splits from the rest of the party to do the round trip, the others having been scared off by an unpleasant climb.  Person D tries all four possible passages, each time reaching inpenetrable squeezes.  Pausing for a breath, it is only by chance that this person spots a suspiciously worn stone on the floor, and bending down to inspect it finds a fifth crawl, and is so able to complete the trip, onwards and upwards to their next cock up.
E).  Person E disagrees with a comment about a particular vertical tube "that must have been an interesting push".  To prove their point, person E inserts him/herself into the hole in the floor.  Soon realising that this was not such a good idea, person E completely fails to get out, and is only eventually released by much pulling up by their arms.
F) & G).  To get up a somewhat tricky rift climb, everyone in turn stands on person F's knee.  Person F, not finding standing on their own knee particularly effective, tries and fails to get up the climb unaided.  Person G goes down to aid this person, who safely gets up the climb. Person G soon realises a flaw in this plan, not finding any spare knees to stand on, and fails to make the climb unaided.  The problem is eventually solved with the construction of a large cairn.
H) & I).  Back in the greasy rift, person H declares a particular section to be "possibly impossible".  After being persuaded by logical argument that this was false, he/she doesn't find it to bad.  Person I on the other hand requires the Elizabeth I approach.  For a puddle substitute a rift, and a cloak a cavers body.  Who needs traversing techniques when you have your own portable human chockstone?
J).  After exiting the cave in one piece, person J sees no obvious route down a 10ft rock slab, so sitting on their bum, whoosh... into a tree.

Add to this many other panics and hiccups, and you have some idea of the incompetence of the team members.  But as Keith said: "Excellent trip once it all started to go wrong".
Jo Whistler

I think this rather an unfair write up.  We seem to forget that things went wrong before and after the trip:
K).  Person K forgets to put the travelling line in the van.
L).  Person L manages to navigate to completely the wrong hill side trying to find the cave.
M).  Person M arranges to meet in the evening after the trip in a local pub, only to find it had burnt down a year ago.
Paul Mann

"I can hear the sky!", Keith at the far end of the cave.  In fact the noise was probably from a "tractor".

And from Alison 'We're here for pleasure' Waterfall to Keith 'It's four years since I last filled something' Hyams:
"Keith, do you need pulling?"

Moving Members

Dave Horsely
4 Denend Cottages
AB41 6RU

Next Week:  Diving in Brown Hill.....