Depth through thought

OUCC News 19th October 1994

Volume 4, Number 30

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Steve Phipps informs me that this is the 3rd anniversary of Depth Through Thought, OUCC's Weekly (and not-so-weekly) Newsletter. Round about now anyway. When I started it three years ago, I recall a club sage saying it would never last This week I have had far too much material to print in one issue, so I have printed it all in one issue. All except Phipsy's bit on Tynings (seems Like they are still making progress, of sons), and that because it needed typing. Sorry Steve. Anyway, keep the stuff coming.

Stuff Weights

Our immensely enjoyable and hugely popular weight training session has started again at University College at 7pm on Wednesdays (before the meeting). Don't forget to bring your favourite music tapes. Once there, what you do (if anything) is up to you but its a good way to keep fit. Showers are available afterwards so bring a towel. Everyone's welcome (the room should just about be big enough) so I'll see you there at 7.
Bill (I CAN manage 10 pushups)

Gear for Novices

Thanks to everyone who lend out their furry, oversuit etc. for the first great novice trip. More help will be needed over the next few weeks. I11 do my best to keep an eye on them. Thanks a lot.
Your inedible equipment officer.

A. C. Irvine

Receivers of A.C. Irvine grants need to send in a report on our glorious expedition to the truly noble Dr. G.C. Sills, Dept. of Engineering Science, Parks Rd., OX1 3PJ, by the not-so-far-off 1st November. Jmaes (who can't spell his own name) and Alex (who gets lost in the clag) should be giving a well-thought-out graffic presentation at the Slide Evening in St. Cats, on 17th November.

Expedition Report

The 1994 expedition report is getting pretty close to being finished and should be available soon. Full details of this years discoveries, as well as the usual surveys of new finds, there will also be the new composite survey of the major caves of Ario and Top Camp. If you wish to contribute anything to the report, let me know as soon as possible. I would like to close the expedition accounts as soon as possible, I can only do this once everyone has paid all they owe, and more importantly, once everybody who is owed money by the expedition has let me know how much they are owed.

T Shirts and Sweatshirts

There is still the chance to order the oh so witty and stylish expedition T shirt (7.00) long sleeve T shirt (8.00) or sweatshirt (11.00) from me (Jim) you will need to know what style and colour you want.

Changes of Address

Jim Ramsden is now domiciled at; 2 Judges Close, Kidlington, OXS1AX: (0865) 841823

Sara Varty (who until now has not been on the OUCC address list as she was of no fixed abode) is now living at 2 Judges Close, Kidlington, OX5 1AX: (0865) 841823

OUCC Proceedings 14

The OUCC Proceedings (The Proc.) is an occasional publication of OUCC, and contains details of all our exploration activities of the preceding few years. The Proc. is sold publicly (mainly through caving shops). As such it is a fairly high profile indicator of the state of the club within the caving world. Quite a few members of the club feel it is now time for the publication of the next in the series, Proc 14. To do this we need to find or select an editor or editors. I know that a couple of people in the club have voiced an interest in the job. What I propose to do is table a motion at the termly general meeting (TGM on your term card). The questions that I feel should be discussed and answered are; Does the club think it is time to publish Proc. 14? Do we have sufficient material. of sufficiently general interest to ensure reasonably good sales? Does any individual or group want to edit the Proc.? I think it is important to consider this question now, before the club becomes more focused on next year's expedition. And if people think the answer to the first question above is yes, then we should be thinking about what we want to achieve with Proc. 14. More importantly, if you dear reader want to edit the Proc, then you had best start thinking about presenting your ideas to the club.
Jim Ramsden

Car Pot (President's invite)

It was Sunday morning, and there were groups of people in various stages of recovery. The lick-the-sweet-off-the-ceiling competition was just a memory, and I needed to go caving. Dave (Lacey) also needed to go caving. He'd just soloed Marble Sink, but he still wanted more. The solution to this on a fairly wet Yorkshire day turned out to be: taking the van, a few ropes and as much rigging gear as you stuff in a prussic bag, and doing Car Pot. The walk up from Clapham soon passed, and the entrance is easily found from the guide book's description, a shakehole with a small tree growing in it. After a super-quick change, I was ready to go, ... and Dave had rigged the first pitch, and was waiting at the bottom. The next pitch is Baptistry pitch, which we did on a ladder. We resisted the temptation to rig oft the wire Tony had been unable to remove 2 years ago, and put in our own tape.

At the bottom of the pitch is a easy slide down 8ft through a tight rift and you're at the start of Baptistry crawls. This is probably the hardest section of the cave. with a tight crawl which for most of the way is more of a wriggle, with 3-4 inches of water in the bottom, and three platted ropes for company, making it seem like it goes on for miles. Beyond this Dave discovered that the rigging gear we had brought, was fairly minimal (more than 4 bolts would have been useful), so we adopted exploration rigging for the next 3 pitches. The rope just reaching a large ledge 6 ft above the floor. on the final pitch. At the bottom there were two options, Craven passage North, or Craven passage South. First we did South. This involves a climb up a hideous, unstable mud bank, but leads through walking and then crawling passage, which is well decorated for much of the way, to another streamway.

North there isn't quite so much to see, but some good pretties, in good condition due to the relatively infrequency of visitors. It is from here that there is a light connection with Far East passage in G.G. We then had to reattire ourselves in muddy SRT gear, and head up the refreshing little waterfall that is the last pitch. The Baptistry crawls were just as much fun on the way out and the little climb you slip down on the way in even more so, but we were soon back on the surface, and heading down the Ingleton trail, in the fading light. Considering how wet most of the rest of the caves people did that day were, Car Pot looks like a good choice. However if there was much more water in the Baptistry crawls, then they would almost certainly be impassable. None-the-less, an excellent Sunday trip for anyone with a bit of energy left after a Saturday at Southerscales, well recommended.

Finally, thanks a lot everyone who organised the excellent weekend, and Wonderful food, especially Urs and Sara.
Ben (aka. John the Quick-Changer)

Lost John's Through Trip

The NCC have opened up a new entrance to Lost Johns, right at the top end of the master cave streamway. It's basically one big pitch, ending in a sixty meter free hang (I was told), and was previously bolted up, but collapsed. Most of the pitch is fairly stable, but apparently the entrance shakehole is still pretty dubious and in need of a bit of pipework. The new entrance is called Box Pot. if anyone does decide to go and have a look at it, can I just remind you to be extremely careful in the vicinity of the Lyle Caverns boulder collapse, or better still, not to go there at all until it's been stabilised. Could this be the best through trip in Britain?
Steve Roberts

My First Swildon's Trip

Yippee, novice season! A chance to go on all the trips I missed out on last year. After a short Ladder practice, which nearly left Chris Vernon stranded on a telegraph pole without his WD40, we set off for the Mendips. New people were: Frog (real name James), Ben, Mike, Nobby and Kitty.

After a pub lunch, we got changed, and set off one group at a time. People new to all this wandered around in mud-encrusted oversuits wondering how on earth you manage to move in these things. Pauline, meanwhile, sported a new caving fashion - the "car-keys" ear-rings! The rest of us wondered how long we could put up with Pauline in a cave before the jangling drove us round the bend and out of sight

Our group (Urs, Tony, Rob, Kitty and me) headed off to the cave last, catching up with the others at the large queue of people at the cave entrance. One emerging caver staggered out in disbelief wondering who had turned the stream off. A real live stream with a tap. What a novel idea! After experiencing some of the Swildon's water, Kitty wanted to know where the hot tap was.

Down into the cave, and Urs and I went down the wet way (which was dry). and the others went down the dry way (which was wet). Already in the cave I was noticing some pretty formations. Some of the passageway was worn (not surprising with the volume of traffic it gets) but I (oo, cynic that I am) was surprised that it wasn't more worn. Our group met up again at the water chamber, and pottered on down to the 8 foot climb at the bottom of the Forty Foot Drop. I recognised the water chute that Joan had described to me. She advised me to sit at the top, damning the water, and when a novice was at the bottom of the climb, stand up and let the water pour on them. No novice in sight, only Urs. The water missed. Never mind.

After a few more minutes and more fun damming the stream, we arrived at the queue for the Twenty Foot Drop. Got involved in a stupid argument with Rob, who claims he can see in a cave when he's not near the entrance and when there's no lights on. Going on, we passed through more passage, until we came to the double pots. I was very proud of myself managing to climb down and traversing round the edge of the second pot all by myself, without falling in.

Later we came to the inclined rift, and after some strange contortions (during which Urs pointed out that Tony had his head in between my Legs), managed to get down to being firmly bridged in the rift. Bridging feels weird after a while you're not exerting any effort to keep yourself in place, but your legs are certainly using their muscles alright!

On the way to the sump, we met the others, with James grinning as usual. Acquired a Phipps on the way to the sump. At the sump, Steve did the sump first so that we could see how easy it was. I shook hands with Steve's wellie when Steve was sitting the other side of the sump, and watched the reflection of his light on the water in the sump. Ok, so the sump was technically a duck, but I still didn't like the idea of going through crawling. Water, fine. Tight passage, yuck. Tight passage *and* Lack of airspace, no WAY. But I wanted to do the sump. So I took off my helmet and did it on my back, which meant I didn't have to hold my breath for as long. Gavin now thinks I'm perverted for doing it on my back.

Rob, who by this point was still claiming his feet were still dry, took off his clothes and did the sump in his underpants, just so he could keep his feet dry. We thought this was cheating. After retrieving one of Urs' glasses, Urs and I set off back, as I was feeling tired (the others having gone to sump 2). After a while they caught up, and Steve and Kitty went on ahead via Tratman's Temple, and went out early. Meanwhile, we went out via Barnes' Loop (being rather tired, I did not want to go up the Inclined Rift). There an some pretty formations up there!

Tony whizzed off to check that Kitty and Steve were out ok, whilst we went onwards. Made a complete fool of myself at the climb up from the first double pot. Nearly fell off, so Urs got behind me, and then Urs nearly fell off, so splash went Rob, into the pot behind (losing all claim to dry feet) to prop Urs up. Quite an impressive human pyramid! Owing to a tendency to flop onto the nearest surface when you're tired, I managed to get myself wedged in the tightest bit. After a lot of pushing from Urs, I got through. Immediately after this, Tony arrived swearing profusely. Apparently Steve hadn't found the way out, and had taken Kitty within a few yards of the entrance only to go the wrong way.

Onto the ladder pitch, and Urs force-fed me chocolate beforehand. Summoning up all the strength I could find, and accepting Rob's kind offer to put a foot on the bottom rung of the ladder, thus keeping the ladder from flailing around, I set off up. Unfortunately at the top of the pitch I wanted to step off into the stream, but was unable to find another foothold, as the ladder was flat against the rock. I ended up yelling at Urs and Tony, who were Lifelining me, and the only place my left foot could find was on top of my right foot. Unfortunately when I moved my right foot, my wellie came off. Urs and Tony thought this was hilarious, but I screamed at them "IT'S NOT FUNNY". Meanwhile the wellie had dropped on Rob's head.

After apologising profusely to Urs and Tony for yelling at them, we progressed onwards. Owing to the aforementioned tendency to flop onto the nearest stable object, I ended up in the Woman-on-Top position on top of this rock. Combined with the "oo" and "argh" noises I was making to lift myself, this made for a lot of innuendo. Tony said he wanted a tape of me caving...!

After a climb from me and some levitation from Rob, we went through a grotto. Urs' light had gone out, and mine didn't show me much, so Rob got used as a torch. Pretty grotto. Up Jacob's Ladder and along a crawl (this time there were orgasmic noises from Tony), we eventually emerged back into day (oops, *night*) light when someone had turned the stream back on again. Singing a new version of a caving song "Caving with Tony (sung to Caving Matilda, and mentioning wardens and ambulances), we trekked back to the farm, for pints and pizzas.
Sharon Curtis

Swildon's was the place

A large crowd of people turned up at the hut on Sunday morning for our first novice trip of the year. After the usually faffing about and joking, "red leader to blue leader, red leader to blue leader." and of course the climbing the telegraph pole routine, about twelve enthusiastic cavers (including five new members) bundled into the Red Van. A quick rescue operation was quickly performed to get Chris V. and the ladder down from the pole and then we set off Down. Down to the Mendips. The Hunter's was packed with people but we got a good meal, meeting Anette, Paul, Pauline and her aster (She got a sister? Ed.), before going on to an even more crowded Priddy Green. While getting changed in the barn we got sorted out into five different groups. I was going with Mike (the American philosopher) and Will on the short round trip, one of favourites. Good come on, lets go. It took a while for Mike to get used to the English style of cave, he'd never done caving like this before. Unfortunately someone (or some techno thing) had turned the water off so conditions weren't as fun as they normally are. A half an hour wait at the ladder pitch, and then on to the double pots, Barnes' Loop and Tratman's Temple. "We're going underground, we're going underground. Fortunately the ducks on the round trip all had air gaps so we were able to get by without bailing (sorry Mike!) Sliding down the Landing we bumped into Frog and Knobby-with-a-k (their real nicknames) who had just dived Sump One for the first time. On the other side of the sump were Sharon C., Real Ben and Kitti. But something was wrong. Everyone was actually having FUN. Will, Mike and I motored on out with my light dead but voice box working overtime. Vine Tinto. I had found two lives left over from Spain. While waiting for the other trips, I got stuck in the entrance pipe for twenty minutes, and then the Queen Vie. and New Inn were visited. We stopped off for Pizzas in Biniger (a must for those Mendip munchies) before travelling back to Oxford. As far as I can tell everyone had a really good day. And more are definitely yet to come.
James (I never know where I'm going)

Hillgrove Explosion

On Monday last week, after a cold night in the Hunter's car park and following Team Intrepid's Sunday outing down the Teabag (Last DTT). Tony Jarratt of BEC and BAT Products fame took me for some serious fun in Hillgrove Swallet.

We set off towards Dallimore's. Just before me dip in the road a small dirt track heads through two gates to a farm. From there a 10 min. walk across several fields leads to an engine driven winch (BEG Old Boys dig in style) under a group of trees. We picked up a bundle of empty bags and slid down the winch rails straight into the bowels of Hillgrove.

According to J-Rat, digging in Hillgrove Swallet first started in 1903 which must make this dig (and its diggers) one of the oldest in the country. The cave is only about a hundred foot deep, and most of the passage has been dug or blasted out over the last sixty years. It takes all of ten minutes to hit the bottom, with a squeezy laddered drop of no more than 15 feet being the most exciting bit. The presumed way on is. or should I say was, blocked by a large boulder. J-Rat crammed himself into the end of the passage and proceeded to prod said boulder with a crowbar, while I was busy filling my gloves up with mud and gravel a couple of metres further up, where someone had prepared a dig earlier. Much to J-Rat's delight (and with some help). I managed to enlarge a twenty centimetre dent in the passage to about a metre something deep and going... J-Rat detected a definite draught, although he did have to ask an unbiased second opinion (mine), and there are hollow echoes behind a small rock at the end of the dig. One day this is may be the find of the century, at least a fifty foot chamber, perhaps even four kilometres plus of passage. The Old Boys are still kidding themselves that Hillgrove will link up with Dallimore's one day.

However, my digging was meant to be the minor activity of the day: "This is the boring bit.." J-Rat announced wittily after some more prodding of the boulder, got out his drill (the one he bought off OUCC) and proceeded to perforate the boulder with great gusto. Several bags of cave mud from my side of the dig, and three deep holes in the boulder later the "boring bit" was finished and the exciting bit stunned. As chief assistant, I was put in charge of dredging a fairly innocuous looking Boots carrier bag from the depths of a muddy tackle bag, which contained what appeared to be a roll of white washing line. However, this one wants to be handled with considerably more respect, and you most certainly wouldn't want to hang your freshly-washed underwear off it: The line ignites at about 3,000 feet per second, and is typically used in combination with fun things like Semtex to remove obstacles such as cars, airports or banks that are in someone's way. J-Rat cut the washing line into bits of an appropriate length to fit into the holes previously drilled. Special pliers with a sharp metal blade and a blunt plastic blade are required for this, as the action of two metal blades might inadvertently set off the explosive (which would definitely son out your underwear for you). The line is stuffed into the bore holes, these are then plastered over with fresh cave mud to give maximum impact into the rock, and the lines sticking out from the bore holes are connected. Finally, the detonator is attached to the line with plastic strips.

As ever, timing is absolutely crucial, and since the Hunter's didn't open for another hour or so, we proceeded to use crowbars, pickaxes and a pulley system to remove more mud from the site I had been investigating. I was secretly chuffed, because the old way on suddenly seemed much less promising, although we went ahead with the detonation anyway - not that J-Rat was showing off at all.

At last it was 12:00 and time to go BANG. We hauled the mud up the pitch and rolled the ladder up after us. J-Rat dragged an ammo-can from somewhere in the cave and told me to "Just stick these two wires into there". Half a second later my helmet nearly flew off and my ears rang loudly. Then silence. Quarter of an hour later we were sipping our pints in the Hunters in the pleasant company of the illustrious Monday Club. What a way to spend a Monday morning . Monday evening was even better - but that is another story). By the way, J-Rat gets pretty bored out there every Monday morning. Helpers are most welcome, so why not stop by and have a laugh?
Anette Becher