Depth through thought

OUCC News 27th October 1993

Volume 4, number 5

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The club seems to be going pull pelt at the moment: sporting trips, exploration trips, expedition organisation in full swing, and Mendip Madness just around the corner. So, to remind you. This week end is the OFD bonanza, staying at the Westminster hut in Penderyn (yikes!). Next Wednesday Jim is holding a gathering of expedition enthusiasts in St Hugh's before the meeting. He will then be giving a talk on expeditiony things. The following weekend is Madness, and we'll be looking for a few volunteers to help with setting up the treasure hunt, organise food, beer and other logistics for the underground party, and help with transport.

Sorry to say there won't be a DTT next week 'cos the editor is legging it to Germany. But send in any stuff you want for the following week.

Expedition Corner

Treasure maps
Old Jim, The rough tough expedition captain is a jolly old cave dog, unfortunately he needs some old treasure maps if he is going to find the deepest cave in the world. So if anyone can lend or sell him copies of Proceedings 9, 10 and 11 he would be very grateful. The only other chance he has is to see if any of the treasure map shops, Bat Prods or Ingleswindle (where the men dress as ladies) have any left. He would also like to get his sweaty hands on copies of Expo reports for 90, 91 and 92. On a more serious note I spent the weekend tucked up with copies of reports and procs and maps. I have now got cave fever (Warning: Very Contagious).

Expedition Meeting
Just a brief reminder that before next Wed official club meeting in St Hug's there will be a (hopefully) short expedition meeting to sort out and organise all sorts of tasty little factoids. Come on over if your keen!

Caving this week

Swildon's Novice Trips: An ol' Lag's Perspective
Sean H, James H, David M and I (Jenny V) took a whole crowd of novices down Swildon's on Saturday. Everyone got very wet and had loads of fun. The trip was fully booked up - we had the poor novices squashed in the minibus in amongst the bags of kit. Nobody was complaining though.

After a yummy lunch at the Hunter's (£1.50 for a hearty veggie/cheesy pasta dish - strikes me as being very good value for money) we kitted up and headed on down. Swillies wasn't too busy, although it did take us perhaps 20-30 minutes to get our group of four novices plus David and me down the ladder, 'cos we were alternating 'one up, one down' with a party from Swansea who were coming out.

Most people braved the sump and carried on to sump 2. There's a new sign providing light entertainment at sump 2. (Why are cavers obsessed with collecting signs and placing them in obscure sites underground?). I had a considerable effort convincing one of my novices that actually he didn't want to go through sump 2. And weren't they keen! Our group got to sump 1 and found no-one else there. That meant that everyone in Sean and James's group had gone on to sump 2. We met them coming back from sump 2 just as we arrived. Everyone was so wet and happy. James was in his element - grinning from ear to ear and whooping along back up the streamway.

My overall impression of the trip was that we had a great bunch of novices, everyone was friendly and fun, there was a good, positive atmosphere, and (dare I hope?) some novices will have been bitten by the bug and will want to come back for more. Sitting in the back of the minibus on the way home, with the heating on full blast, pizzas working their ways down into everyone's tummies, and the windows all steamed up, I was chatting to the new people and thinking "Life is good. OUCC is a fun, friendly club. Caving is great."
Jenny Vernon

Carno goes, a bit

Exploration in Carno Adit
Gavin's face was lined with concentration as he steeled himself for the big move.  Tensely he grasped the Karabiner in his right hand, and pulled on the tape loop. There was a load noise from somewhere in front, and then he'd done it and we were off round the corner. Tony fastened his seatbelt, and stared nervously through the windscreen of the car.  Eventually we jerked unceremoniously into a garage, and Tony got out holding the broken accelerator pedal in his hand and attempted to explain that we needed a welder. In moments, friendly 'phone calls had been made all over Tredegar, and strong Welsh accents were explained how to get to another petrol station "near the Nye Bevan stones, and selling a non-existent kind of petrol" where Linden's brother Gareth was to help us poor lads out. Which he did, promptly, efficiently, cheerfully, and, if we hadn't insisted, free. Wales is the place to break down.

Only one hour behind schedule, Tony Gavin and I stomped off up Carno adit laden with diving bottles, fins, lead weights, wetsuits, and assorted wine-gums. Three and a half hours later we were at Saturday 13th Camp, sucking a hot brew and admiring the spectacular fungus formations on the wooden spoons. So, finally, the long awaited dive in the came sumps. Tony had decided to dive the upstream sump first because it seemed to promise the most likely breakthrough into dry passage. After first swimming into the downstream sump at Tumbling Bay, and extending the cave by about 20 metres, Tony collected the ladder of river climb and trundled over to the upstream sumps to meet Gavin and I. Three extra bits of tat enabled us to rig a far too short ladder to with dropping distance of the stream. Tony kitted up, and lolloped into the clear blue sump, trailing his line behind him. Silence. Then, twenty minutes later he was back, two beams of light eerily appearing out of the submerged gloom. A quick update, and check of the outward line, then he was back in again, this time with a depth gauge. Oh dear. Another twenty minutes, and the lights again. Tony had explored the sump pretty fully, and unfortunately it had started to go deep to a constriction at 5.4 metres down, and 20metres from the sump, beyond which a possible T-junction.   Above, the passage narrowed into an impassable rift.  Despite the collapse of one his mouthpieces, and consequent reliance on a single bottle, Tony did an excellent exploration job on the sump.  The gear failure allowed us fortuitously to leave an almost full bottle at camp, and head out with a lightened load to reach the adit in just 2 hours 10 minutes.

Perhaps 40 metres of new passage had been discovered (congratulations Tony), and we had established that a diving trip at the end of Carno with just two porters is feasible in a day. Tony plans to push the constriction at the earliest opportunity (probably this week end).  As we emerged in the adit to sign out of the log book, we noticed that the Brynmawr had exited just before us, having discovered 4-500metres of "variable" passage north of Car Crusher. Congratulations to them too (bastards).
Tim Guilford

Are you out there?

Earth calling Richard Barnes, come in Richard Barnes. Does anyone have a workable e-mail for Richard? keeps being bounced by the Leeds Daemon. 
(Failed CyberPunk)

Book Review Mendip Underground: 3rd Edition

"Flower Pot: 'a rather bland cave with few features of interest"'. Some might say that the new edition of "Mendip Underground", has many features in common with this, one of the few new entries in the otherwise essential guide to caving in Mendip. So what exactly has been added in the six years since the 1987 edition? Unfortunately there are not many new caves, but that's hardly surprising in so well explored an area as the Mendip. Welsh's Green Swallet (see recent issue of DTT), White Pit, Wigmore, Flower Pot, Pen Park Hole (reopened), Atteborough Swallet, Shute Shelve Cavern, are the few I noticed. The addition of Wigmore is useful, for this is an excellent sporting cave with a few entertaining difficulties, entering an important master streamway. Other caves have been added to of course, and most notable of these is Dallimore's.

So how does the Dallimore's' entry fare? Although perhaps undergraded at MC-SC, there is a pretty fierce warning in the introduction: "[Dallimore's] offers both a sporting small-scale trip and an extremely severe excursion for thin and determined cavers in the Oxford Extensions. The Oxford Extensions are an extremely serious undertaking from which rescue of an injured person would be impossible". The description itself is relatively accurate, though it rather peters out beyond the entrance nasties, and completely ignores TTT, which is one of the tightest squeezes in the cave. The survey is also left out, but otherwise its probably as useful as any written guide can be.

The extra length of the book may be partly caused by an increased number of photos, and these really are of much improved quality on the last edition. Even the Eastwater survey has been put the right way up (the Lower and Upper series were quaintly reversed in the older edition), and the Jubilee Line goes South East instead of South West. So, does a book whose author's name is spelled wrongly on the cover inspire confidence? Well, its still an excellent and essential guide to mainstream caving in the Mendips, and at £10 its not too bad value. Certainly worth having if you don't have an old edition, hardly if you do.
Tim Guilford

Novice Quiz

  1. Where is Oxford Chamber?
  2. What do you need to rig The 20 in Swildon's?
  3. Why is that silly little climb called the 40?
  4. Why is Swildon's Sump One historic?
(free drink for the first "correct" set of answers)