Depth through thought

OUCC News 10th November 2010

Volume 20, Number 8

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Editor: Andrew Morgan

Trips this term:

Christmas/New Year's Caving

Gavin Lowe is organising the traditional Christmas/New Year's Caving in Yorkshire. Here is a message from Gavin about it:

It will run from about 23rd December to 2nd January -- although most people come for just part of the time. We'll be based at Bullpot Farm on Casterton Fell (see here). The Lancaster-Easegill system --the longest cave system in England-- is right on our doorstep. We also have permits for the following classic caves.

And of course we'll have all the excitements of Bullpot Farm. Apparently the boiler even works now.

To help organise things, I've set up a spreadsheet here. Please fill in the relevant details, even if you're unsure of some of the details. I'll try to coordinate transport.

Novices: to get the most out of the time, it's best if you have gone to at least one SRT practice beforehand -- but more is better.

Old lags: if you're planning on going down Xitu this summer, and haven't done much in recent years, this is a good opportunity to get back into the rhythm of caving.

OFD II ? So good we did it twice

(Freshers' Weekend 22nd-24th October)

Fleur Loveridge

Cracking weekend Gromit. Don't you just love it when you are on route to work (or lectures or whatever) on a Monday morning and your limbs can feel the echo of places you've been and you are grinning from ear to ear with memories of the fun you've had.

For a while I thought a transport fiasco would mean I couldn't make it, but thanks to Pete and Tim I was waiting near the Oxford ring road, like some kind of vagrant with a large rucksack, a sleeping bag and a case of beer. Soon a battered old blue van pulled up and we were heading to Wales. Within two and half hours Tim and I were sitting by a roaring fire, drinking Hobgoblin in the Red Lion in Penderyn. We were ahead of the rest of the troops and managed a sneaky couple before joining the party at the WSG down the road.

I went to bed before the squeezing started which was probably a good thing as I felt terrible all day Saturday. Still, despite collective and individual hangovers everyone was organised into trips and vehicles departed to South Wales Caving Club. Tim, Paul and I had been hoping to run a through trip, but it had rained all day and wasn't showing any signs of stopping, so in the end we settled on taking

Emily1 and Alex to Northern Lights in OFD II. We went a somewhat convoluted way in, leaving the Big Chamber in search of a route to ArÍte Chamber. We kept popping out somewhere where Tim would insist it was ArÍte, until I would point out that it wasn't. Eventually we managed to pop out the Wedding Cake formation instead and went on over the Corkscrew to get to ArÍte. Then down Salubrious to the beautiful Selenite Tunnel.

As no one was having any trouble with the climbs or traverses we headed on to Northern Lights. Well that was what we hoped anyway.

Neither Tim nor I were entirely sure of the route, just hoping that we would recognise enough on the way to make it. And so we did. Tim showed me the underneath route to bypass the horrible traverse which was a good thing to know. This scrofulous alternative was a right grovel and a good test for our new cavers who passed admirably. There was also a wee squeeze where Tim struggled, but Emily just walked through. Then up the rope climb to pop back into the big stuff with the amazing moonmilk and cave pearls. Fantastic.

Then my memory kicked in and I realised this wasn't Northern Lights proper. We had to do ?the duck?. It's not really a duck, but you do have to lie in the water and get rather wet (unless you are Emily, who was small enough to stay quite dry). At first I missed the hole up on the other side, but finally we found the way to the untouched formations on which we could marvel. Everyone was getting tired so we didn't hang about too much and starting the long journey back. But still, we just couldn't help ourselves and diverted to see Moonlight Chamber with its amazing stalactite on the way, before finally heading out over Edwards Shortcut.

A hot shower and back to the WSG for a fantastic feast (thanks a lot to all the chefs). The squeezing then continued where it left off on Friday with Andrew desperately trying to keep up with the thin team of Vicky, Emily1 and Emily2. In the end the Emilys called it an honourable draw and we all went on to other gymnastic efforts finishing with an amazing four on the pan display by Tim and the thin team.

Sunday morning was a headache to arrange trips ? but a nice headache caused by everyone wanting to go caving again. Eventually Paul and I found ourselves in Top Entrance once more, this time with Emily2, Vicky and Tom. They'd gone for a ?moderate? trip so we took them in through Edwards to Selenite and then on to Maypole. Although Sunday was dry and bright it had rained all Saturday and there was more water going down Maypole Inlet than I'd seen before. Getting down the ladder and climbs was quite a wet experience and the main streamway looked pretty fast flowing. Paul went down for a piss and confirmed this, concurring that it was time to head out. If we weren't soaked already, we were by the time we got up the ladder, Emily especially so as she took a nice bath in the pool just up from the ladder. Then out via the tourist trail and back out to fantastic sunshine and views of the Black Mountain. For the second day running we were last out of the cave, but everyone had had a cracking time and there were big smiles all round. Thanks to Paul for organising everything and for driving back, to Si for clearing up the hut, to all the cooks and washers uppers and everyone for coming along and contributing to a great time