Depth through thought
OUCC News 10th June 1992
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The MNRC Newsletter Editor seems keen for informative contributions on Caving or Scientific news about Mendip. Anyone feeling creative', Most of you know of Andy Riley's sad death. Some of Andy's caving and climbing gear is being sold off, with the proceeds going to a trust. Graham is in charge of things at this end, so please see him if you want to buy anything (I bought a hammer in preparation for the huge leads on expedition this year), or if you have constructive suggestions about what the fund might be used to help.
Does anyone want to buy a new pair of Dunlop Steel toed caving wellies (for size 7 feet)? Remember, it's just a fortnight to go to expedition, and you may need 'em. See Tim.
Remember the AC Irvine Fund, which meets this Saturday. See Sean for details.
As it turned out, we did get food (and more drink). On Saturday morning, after a traditional OUCC mega-breakfast and the inevitable excursion to JRat's we met Hutch and Andy (Cave) at the Belfry. They obviously thought that as Oxford people we would be punctual and in control of the situation, and consequently had both turned up at the arranged time of 10.30am. We, of course, were late and not remotely in control of any situation. Half our kit had been left at the MNRC and some more of it had been left in Oxford. Some of us changed and pacified Andy, whilst others scrabbled around madly.
St. Cuthbert's was great. Even though it was my third trip I was still amazed at how impressive and clean the formations are and at how interesting and complex the cave is in general. There is an endless amount to see, and its all pretty stunning. Andy gave us a good trip. He started off taking things steady, showing us the 'classics'. Later on we were furtling around in all sorts of tiny, insignificant passages and boulder ruckles, and ended up getting temporarily lost somewhere in the bowels of the Rocky Boulder Series. In the way of pretties we saw the famous Gower Hall, the beauties in Long Chamber(?), the many curtains in Curtain Chamber and the lone bacon striped curtain somewhere else.
A great day caving was finished off with a curry and some vodka. Let me point out that this was no ordinary curry. It was a curry monster vegetably, spicy, green, slimy and huge (half of it is still sitting in Tim's fridge, even though we ate our fill, everyone else at the MNRC ate their full and we had it again for breakfast!). The vodka consumption was equally spectacular. Everything was done in true Russian style. Fill glasses with neat vodka, make a speech, propose a toast, down the vodka in one, immediately follow it with a gherkin, then eat some more dinner. Ten minutes later, fill the glasses and commence the process again. By 9.30pm I was literally dead to the world - had to be given an alkaselza and put to bed.
Next day, hangovers? No. Swildon's. Tim, Jim, Sasha and I did the short
round trip, plus some of black hole series, until I became too stroppy
and we all turned back before reaching the black hole itself. Swildon's
was very dry, despite all the rain we've been having lately, and the ducks
were particularly low. Tim says this is because of a new siphoning system,
enabling them to be drained more effectively. Anyone who has done the black
hole via the bold step over the stream will know it is terribly muddy round
those parts. That hasn't changed...typical Mendip.
SWCC have recently tried to compare some of these methods as reported
by Stuart France, but with little success. Even the dowsing results were
wrong, although self-consistent between different dowsers. One interesting
method mentioned for identifying possible dig sites is to walk round when
there is snow on the ground. The warmer air in the cave can cause a patch
of melted snow. There are also certain ferns which like warm damp air and
may indicate a draughting shakehole. Stuart has started to try and define
a standard for survey data held on computer. There are now several survey
drawing programs, now able to draw passage outlines as well as centre lines.
(soon to make arm-chair caving a real possibility) It appears that the
problem is in standardising the way in which people survey caves, e.g.
which way is left and right for the x-section, do back-bearings have negative
distances, the numbering of survey stations, etc. There is also a plan
to create a central store of survey data (in electronic form) which could
be accessible to anyone wishing to extend a survey in the future. Some
clubs have apparently expressed doubts as they consider survey data to
be personal, rather than public domain. Any comments? Dave Gibson, the
cave radio theoretician, suggested that for a development cost of around
£25,000 it would be possible to build a dead-reckoning position indicator
to use underground, using accelerometers and solid-state gyroscopes. Also
on show were various electronic gadgets, like the PWM dimmed lamp, for
continuously variable power output, and a motorised video camera for lowering
We ate our chocolate bars and set off back the wet way the ladder was much more easier on the way back. It was very muddy and my bum was soaked. We came to a small gap with a long drop. We walked along it (very dodgey) then we were enclosed with rock on both sides going a long way and we were blocked (oh dear). We climbed straight up and I scrambled around trying not to think about what might happen if I fell. I got to the top and scrambled and slithered and popped out to a bright sunshine and sky again!!"
Emily was so taken with her first caving trip that she spent much of the following week hand writing a booklet on caving, of which the above is an extract. She also wrote a quiz designed to test your aptitude for caving...
Emily's Caving Quiz...