Depth through thought

OUCC News 9th February 1994

Volume 4, Number 13

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Pauline has lost her rather new SuperAvanti harness and Kroll, last seen at an SRT training session recently. Do you have it, or know where it is? Perhaps some Tory MP borrowed it for the evening, and never recovered. Next week is the AGM, so get thinking, and please be on time. Lots of caving reports in, so a selected few today, and the rest next week. All evidence of a very active week end at the nutters and ravers, with vodka (ask Chris D), table traverses (see my bruises), and loads of caving. OUCC (Urs) even found some new passage this week - in Cuckoo Cleeves.


Berger Booked in Ancients' Caving Frenzy

Graham Naylor and Richard Gregson, those awesome demi-gods of OUCC's heroic age, have booked the Gouffre Berger on OUCC's behalf for ten days starting on July 1st. Before you start re- arranging your holidays, this is July 1st 1996, the earliest available date! By then Richard and I will be forty; since I'd always said I only go down the Berger when I was too old and tired for anything else, starting the pro-plus decade with a haul down the world's first 1000m seems an appropriate sort of thing to do.
Steve Roberts


There is a plan afoot for a joint OUCC/OUMC Ceidleh (country dancing thingy) to take place on Tuesday evening, the 1st of March. Probably in Somerville college. Probably from 8-8.30pm 'til 11pm. Probably costing 2-3 pounds. What I want to know is who's genuinely keen and who would go. If there's not massive enthusiasm it can be cancelled or postponed. Perhaps sometime in the summer would be better. This gives us more time to plan, and more advanced warning for those of us with full-up diaries. Give me your opinions please.
Jenny Jaberwocky-Jones

Club Dinner

This is now planned for March 12th, and will be at St. Cross College. Last time it was excellent. Places will be limited, so please let the Secretary know if you want to go.
Steve Roberts


Return to the Forbidden Planet

Mon 7 Feb 08.00 ship time. As the intergalactic SpeleoShip Oucch slipped gently through the heavens pootling along on auxillary power Cpt Jim tucked into his SpaceFlakes, sat down on the comfy command sofa and enjoyed his breakfast.

Alert Alert Alert

It was Howard Jones the intergalactic wanderer on the deep space communicator. Vital documents were missing from Space Station Ghar Parau. Former Space Admiral Mann had set out to deliver them but he had been kidnapped, tortured and dropped into a black hole... Could Space Cadet Gavin retrieve them? or reassemble them from the garbled last transmission of S.A.Mann?....

It is not that an uncommon phenomenon in intergalactic pootling, a reality distortion, you think you're gently floating through the nebula and dust clouds, just taking it easy, getting on with the mission when in fact you are...

Captain Jim

Fred and his microporters

I had a letter from Fred today, He won't be coming on the expedition, but he will be turning up a Los Lagos on the 13th july for a few days with a party of school kids. Micro porters.
Captain Jim

St. Cuthberts'

St Cuthberts, ah yes. Definitely worth the trip. I wasn't so sure when the luxury of getting changed out of the rain for the second time in one weekend was overshadowed by the particularly vicious mood of the cold water residing in my furry suit.

We went down in two groups of five, each with a guide. A natty little dam at the entrance reduced the precipitation inside the cave entrance to the same level as outside. Ladders were all of the solid variety and only swayed about a little bit....

But yes, the pretties really are pretty (and our group wasn't allowed to move on until we had each sworn that we were impressed). On the whole people have done a good job of keeping them clean and un-headbutted. A large cascade of flow stone particularly spectacular. Also cave pearls. A first time see for me. Through a crawl, and just in front of my nose, under the left wellie of the chap in front of me - there they were. I can thus report that they're not as delicate as their beauty suggests.

Quite a reasonable level of caving entertainment too. Some nice little tricky bits to keep you on your toes, elbows, somebody else's head etc. I think the most memorable sight was that of a glowing red buttock bulging out of a rather well ventilated club furry suit (rather tastefully decorated with some scraps of yellow PVC). Perhaps to avoid rosy cheeks one should wear a bushy beard on all of them.
Harvey Smith

Cuckoo Cleeves

A bit of exploration....
Midday malaise left Urs, Tony, and Tim playing dithering flapheads at the nutters and ravers wishing they had gone down St. Cuthberts with the others. Boohoo. No, we really couldn't just go caving once on a weekend (the avalanche poodle not withstanding). A key was obtained for CC, and after driving up and down the road to the Hunters three or four times, Tony finally decided on a gateway. Across two muddy fields (not for the last time it turned out...), and we were in the entrance to Cuckoo. Mendip-typical dipping rifts and chambers gave an interesting and sculptured descent into the old streamway and, eventually, to the radon-famous depths. Here was a party of WUPS, who had kindly gone ahead to breath in all the radon for us. Our target was the lake, with its infamous lake passage access. But for a moment it all looked hellish as crowds of cavers jammed themselves into Puke Rift ahead of us. But no, it was not to be, and they retreated at the sight of Lake Passage, leaving us no obstacle but common sense. Lake passage was tight and awkward, but not perhaps the "extraordinarily arduous" of guide book fame. And the lake itself provided ample reward for the grunting: a deep, green, quite place, with a bold traverse over the top to a high level dig, apparently inactive.

We soaked in the atmosphere, reminiscing of discovery days, and breathing in yet more radon. Then out for the big thrutch. When I emerged, Tony and Urs were haggling over an empty Snickers wrapper, and Tony had overheated (well, what do you expect in a wet suit and unexpectedly carrying diving weights and line out from the lake). But we started bimbling nonetheless, as you do. Thus, bimbling took us inevitably up into the higher boulder choke reaches of the cave, past some nice formations, and, even more inevitably, into the "promising" tighter, looser, sillier bits. And indeed, a couple of small boulder passes looked unpushed, so Urs and I chose one each and wriggled. Rocks moved precariously, as they do. I passed a couple of short squeezes into not very much except more boulders. But Urs had more luck, and soon it became clear that she was making reasonable progress up into the choke. We had to follow.

There were little, distant squeals of delight. Urs had entered a small chamber. From there, the route went on, up through choked boulders. A "gentle" footshove from me and then Urs had pushed on up into quite a sizeable new chamber (5metres by 2metres, and climbs up into the roof). I checked out another side lead to find another small chamberette, while Urs attempted to push a squeeze at the top of the climb. Despite leaving quantities of hair on the roof, it wouldn't go. I tried it, and it certainly wouldn't go, but we'll be back.

Elated by the finds, so unexpected for a Sunday afternoon's bimbling in so known a cave, we started heading out. But where was Tony? He had shouted to me earlier, but I had misunderstood amongst all the excitement. We assumed he had gone out, but then he wasn't there at the entrance. Urs went back to the van (across those muddy fields), and returned (fields again...) to announce that he wasn't there and that she had found no evidence of his presence (you know, plastic bags, oranges, stockings, that sort of thing). Oh. I put the ladder back on the pitch, and we headed off in search of....don't know really. But it was call-out time (another cock-up). Back across the muddy fields, as you do.

But we found Tony, back at the hut, busy taking off his rubber gear, having walked all the way home from Cuckoo (as you do). "But I left my wet suit top and lamp in the van". And he had too. Cock up. Still, it is on just such days that discoveries are made...
Tim Guilford

Next Week....
Canyoning in Australia with Harry...
Beneath the City with the Flowerpot men...