Depth through thought

OUCC News 10th November 1993

Volume 4, number 6

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Thanks to all who helped with, or just enjoyed another successful Mendip Madness.  Lots of reports below, so I'll let you get on and read.

Mendip Madness

Well it happened. If you weren't there, you should have been. Most of you were, so its hardly worth describing. But for those who weren't, here's a few nuggets. Reverend Jim gives an open air sermon, helped by his church wardens. Teams head off into the night in search of treasure. Well, Spaghetti, plastic glasses of strange blue fluid, French sticks, mainly.  All those items you'd normally regard as essential caving gear for trundling around Burrington's Top Three. Meanwhile, The Evil One forces innocent cavers to bob for vegetable in the Adit spring, blindfolded.

Later, in Read's Cavern, after huge quantities of beer and burgers, fireworks and frolicking, OUCC songbooks appear mysteriously (thanks Harvey) and The Evil One squeeze by squeeze through cavers' old favourites, and new songs alike. The Bradford seemed very much at home in this squalor, and as I tottered off out into the night about 3.30, and others still danced themselves into the ground, I looked back over heaped bodies and pall of rocket fallout and thought... my head will hurt. Good party.

Carno, OFD, DYO

Exploration in Carno Adit
The weekend before last, Rob and Gavin helped Tony carry gear for another day-trip attempt on the Littoral Zone sumps in Carno. The first I saw of them was muddy faces in the Red Lion at Penderyn on the Saturday. Still it was clear from Tony's smile that things had gone quite well.  In the upstream sump, Tony had passed the deep squeeze, and pushed on up to an airbell (a name yet, Tony?).  Unfortunately, the space above seemed choked with boulders, and no way on. Progress in the Tumbling Bay downstream sump, on the other hand, stayed wet for some 40 metres or so, until the line ran out, so the prospects here are still good. Well done Tony and Team.

Meanwhile, The rest of us, some excellent newcomers included, were romping down one of Tim's obscure tackle-hungry routes into the OFD streamway. Will, John, and Rob did particularly well I thought, and a thoroughly invigorating trip was had: much better than carrying bottles for Tony.... Back at the Westminster Hut, Sasha had carried too many bottles of quite another sort. A stonking pre-prandial cold vodka, pickles and fish all the way from Russia, led inevitably downslope into deep slump. Though not before one WSG member had been forced to sleep in his car, Urs had been kicked in the face during an unprotected table traverse, and tens of hangover seeds had been sewn in heads around the room. Too short a night's sleep saw morning, and a series of burnt breakfasts, flourish into a blossom of headaches and dry horrors. Even Sasha was punished.
All was cured, however, by a brilliant splashy (well, swimmy) trip down DYO (thanks to Martin Laverty), once we finally managed to get going, and once Urs owned up to stealing Jim's car keys. Others by report had fun a second day in OFD, but Sasha, Urs, Tony, Martin, Jim and me marched off through the dinosaur park and show cave to greet the cold water of river carrying far too many scaffolding poles and wooden planks for Nig Rogers, heading for a dig site in the depths of DYO ("Suicide Alley").

Tony, in dry suit, stopped and helped Nig on a climb, but the rest of us bimbled on through the long crawl and down into the lower system. Past the washing machine, and into the huge phreatic boreholes, scallops glistening, punctuated by deep pools and showerbaths from the high roof: the area that makes up Bakerloo and other bits. This really is an incredible piece of cave. People were volunteering left, right and centre to come on a photographic trip here sometime. Actually we got to know it rather well, as Martin, true to his name, took us on a variety of loops up and down the same passages until eventually we found the route through to the Abyss. Here we dumped the gear, and splapped our way up the hideous little roped climb up to the grand ledge overlooking the Abyss itself. Hideous little climb. Then time to put on rubber rings, and hug empty drums, to swim the bitingly cold Green Canals: what a hoot! Thanks for the lift, Jim. Ever seen a Russian swim?

As if this wasn't enough, we then entered Cloud Chamber, and Flabbergasm Passage, where the straws plunging in long thickets from the high ceiling would have had Stal-Smasher Gavin apoplectic. Incredible. Then out. Well, not before a quick detour to push a small inlet passage 15ft or so to a rather easy looking dig... What more could you want of a day? Oh yes, having to get up at 5am next morning to get to Heathrow.
Tim Guilford

Under Down Under

From our Australian Correspondents
Well I haven't got anything to write about actual caving yet, all our caving gear is in a boat somewhere in the middle of the ocean which is restricting us a bit in the speleological department. We have however found out a bit about the Aussie caving scene and done some non-caving. We have managed to meet up with the two cave clubs in Canberra, the University and city clubs. Unfortunately Aussie cavers (or at least the ones in Canberra) don't seem to go in for the weekly beer'n'bullshit sessions of British cavers (which we're missing) but both clubs are friendly and moderately active, both doing some original exploration in the Nullabor plain, Northern Australia, and Thailand.

Non-caving in Bungonia Gorge
Canberra Caving Club as well as caving also do quite a lot of non-caving for the "more mature caver". We joined two members of CCS, Carol and Neil, last weekend on one such trip to Bungonia Gorge. Bungonia Gorge is a popular caving and climbing area about two thirds of the way from Sydney to Canberra. The caves tend to be dry and below a certain level they are full of carbon dioxide. Cavers light matches at regular intervals in the caves and stop when the matches don't burn any more (or alternatively they stop when members of the party who have lung diseases start acting completely bonkers). Sydney cavers have been exploring the lower reaches of these caves using oxygen bottles (just like cave diving without the crap vis!). There's reasonable depth potential (600+m) but so far caves have just ended in mud and rubble far short of this depth. Anyway we didn't go to Bungonia to see caves (not this Lime anyway), but to see the gorge. One of the first things I saw just after we arrived was a dinosaur!!! Aiee! It's a small alligator! I screamed.  It  turned  out,  much  to  my embarrassment, to be a goanna, a 3 ft lizard that lives in trees. After staring in the face of the scaly monster we set off down the gorge. The walk consisted of walk down the very steep side of gorge, walk along gorge, walk up the very steep side of gorge. The views were spectacular and there were loads of Jurassic park type trees which should have died out aeons ago. The walls of the gorge have lots of desperate looking climbs. Carol and Neil did a lot of remote climbing, following the bits of tat and bolts up the routes with their binoculars as far up as they could. The routes look amazing, several pitches up huge walls that seem blank to me. After our long slog out of the gorge in the heat (probably pleasantly cool by Aussie standards) we drove to the OLDEST BREWERY IN AUSTRALIA, built in 1832 (told you isn't quite the same over here). However they did brew something approximating to British bitter, although they serve it too cold, it was still the best Aussie beer I've had. Australia is a wonderful country but on the whole the beer is shite. Just as well you can buy Brown Dog really.

Aussie caving politics
You know those folks who emerge every year at the BCRA with two flow charts, identical to the uninitiated, entitled "Current Structure of British caving" and "Proposed structure of British caving". The same folk who never knowingly go down caves and keep trying to get us to vote on things. Well imagine they had BRED and EVOLVED.... The Australian Caving Federation seems to be run by such people. Australian caving is already considerably more restricted than British caving due to conservation concerns, but following some caving deaths, the "something must be done" lobby are bringing in a caver accreditation scheme. This means that every club caving trip must have at least one member with some kind of recognised cave leader certificate awarded by an ASF approved body. The odd thing is that while this applies to caving club cavers, it does not apply to teachers taking school kids, or scouts, or training courses all of which have managed to kill people by the dozen in caves. You have been warned... Don't let the BCRA get this bad!
Sherry Mayo

From the librarian

New stuff in OUCC library
Cambrian Caving Council Handbook.
Typed in Frank Baguley's inimitable style. A cornucopia of delights about caves in Wales and how to get access to them. Except it doesn't actually have any addresses or phone numbers for the permit issuers. The front cover, in glorious pea green, shows Richard Gregson in Daren Cilau. Bang up to date, eh?

New Bolt strengths
This came with the CCC H'book. The CNCC tested some of these nasty new stainless steel in epoxy hangers. They all failed at about 4 tons load, even ones put into badly drilled and wet holes. So I guess that means they're safe. I still don't like the look of them but then I was ever an atavistic old sod. Suit yersens.

Access to the library
If you want something specific out of the library, ask Steve and he will fish it out for you. If you're not sure what you want, ask. Next week: a list of books in the library! Coming real soon now, a library on open shelves. When the plumber fixes the heating, we can put the floor down in the back room, move the desks out of the front room, and put the library in it! Oh joy. Oh bliss. We can also stop tripping over the great pile of planks in the living room and kitchen. 
Steve Roberts

10946th morning after

Well I looked in the mirror this morning. No noticeable change. Had a couple of Alka-Seltzers. "The Breakfast of Champions". Everything hurts and I'm Thirty. Happy birthday