Depth through thought

OUCC News 24th November 1993

Volume 4 Number 7

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Well, Southerscales cottage was a riot. After an epic drive up (they shut the motorway), and the usual organisational mayhem, just about everyone (and there were 25 of us) had good trips from Ireby to Quaking, Great Duke to Spectacle. The Hill Inn performed, then so did the weather giving a beautiful covering of snow for the morning. First dives, first SRT trips, getting cold, getting lost, getting pissed. It all happened. Thanks to the stars for organising it, and for all those "cavers of restricted experience" who trusted OUCC to deliver.

Laser Re-Quest

Nick Jones (he's got big bones) the Metallurgy Laserquest supremo, has booked a session next Wednesday (1st Dec) (8th week) ..... we need a strong team - all hands to the pumps for a victory.
Steve Roberts

This week in the Dales

Three have fun down Quaking
The Dales weekend last weekend was brilliant - lots of people, lots of caving, lots of drinking and singing and lots of fun. Just as caving weekends ought to be. The high point of the weekend for me was arriving back at Southerscales cottage after a gruelling 10.5 hours down Quaking, to be greeted with a glass of whisky, raucous singing and a plate full of Jim's famous chickpea curry.

Quaking was a barrel of laughs from start to finish, especially for Gavin who was (heroically) carrying three-quarters of the tackle single-handedly, (efficiently) rigging all the pitches, and (competently) guiding Dave L. and me from one bit of difficult cave to the next. Oh Quaking...who could possibly resist a visit to your bottom - your entrance so near to the road, your glorious straight-forward pitch heads, your large chambers and spacious rift passages, your beautiful formations, and your delightful squeezes make you an irresistible temptation to any caver. Joking aside, it was a bloody hard trip. There were no hassles at all on the way in, except for occasional route finding problems, and I was amazed how well we were coping. By the time we reached the last section of cave, the bits beyond the Wet W's (where I had given up in despair on my previous trip down Quaking), the cave itself became much more scrofulous and horrid, and I sensed morale and energy levels dropping slightly.

On the way out everything was fine until we reached the Crux. Gavin ended up forcing himself higher and higher into this squeeze, and then began to doubt whether it was in fact the Crux. Luckily it was. I was wedged somewhere in the middle of the Crux, passing tackle through to Gavin. Once it was my turn to go through, Gavin said "Follow the blood", because he had cut his hand quite badly and left a trail of blood marking the way through the Crux. I sported splatters of blood low down in the squeeze and went head-first into something that got me very, very stuck and took me a very, very long time to reverse out of. My second attempt was no better. I tried to go up (which is how the Crux has to be done: high up rather than squeezing through the bottom), but I went up in the wrong place and got well and truly wedged tight. Gavin had to come back to calm me down. Finally, on the third attempt, I got it. It's easy enough when you do it right.

After my panics in the Crux, the remainder of the exit was ok, except that we were exhausted, shagged, knackered, dead-beat, i.e. very tired. Dave did most of the derigging and Gavin battled his way out with a monstrous tackle bag. Outside it was freezing and snowing and the three-quarters of an hour walk back to the car was none too pleasant. The best bit was getting back to warmth of food and friends at Southerscales cottage. 
Jenny Vernon

Novice (?) SRT trip down Brown Hill
On Sunday, Urs and I did a spectacularly bad job of leading an SRT novice trip down Brown Hill. We got lost in the rifts and completely failed to take the new people to the 'big pitch'. Considering abseiling down the 'big pitch' was the main objective of the trip, we were not impressed with ourselves. In contrast, the novices (Will, James and John) did extremely well. Brown Hill does not have the easiest of entrance crawls, nor the most straight-forward of pitch heads, nor the most convenient of places to put SRT kit on, and the (relative) novices did brilliantly.

I think everyone had fun, despite the cockups. James had a taste of wriggling through the rifts in the wrong places, and of hearing me moan and swear because I was too tired (post Quaking tired) to cope with going the wrong way all the time. Will experienced his first proper underground SRT kit-up in the most awkward place imaginable. How he managed to get his second leg through the leg loops of his harness remains a mystery to me. John just took everything in his stride, and was back at the van and changed before the rest of us even got out of the cave.

Definitely a good trip, but one that could have been better. Good luck Will, James and John, because next time you go down Brown Hill you'll be carrying bottles! 
Jenny Vernon

Canyoning the Jerarra Gorge

Last weekend Mark and me (OUCC Australian branch) joined three members of the National University Caving Club, Lyle, Andy and Mike for a canyoning trip to Jerarra Gorge, Bungonia. They are a nice bunch, Andy looks strangely like Steve. even 'down to the weird facial expressions. Lyle has a wicked sense of humour and hides dead spiders where his very arachnophobic friend Greg is sure to find them. Mike is soon to be a father, and persuaded his 6 months pregnant wife not to come too as he was worried about the effect of a harness on their rapidly growing bundle of joy (it's alright we assured them, 20 years after the birth you'll both be able, to go caving again!).

We set off in Andy's Toyota Landcruiser (the Australian caving vehicle of choice) for Bungonia. Jerarra Gorge is a tributary to Bungonia gorge with waterfall pitches up to 30m. We headed off for the top of the gorge through the bush with two 50m bluewater poles. The Aussie cavers produced strange descending devices weighing several kilos. Fortunately we'd been issued with racks. We set off down the pitches, mostly rigged out of the water, but that didn't mean we stayed dry - there were quite a few swims between pitches; trying to de-rig your descender whilst treading water with a tacklebag on your back is quite entertaining! The weather got a bit grotty and it was soon warmer in the water than out of it. When we reached the bottom, Lyle made a small fire to warm us up. We had lunch while the sky darkened and then the heavens opened. We decided not to hang about and started scrambling up a narrow rocky ridge that was the way back to the top. The climb out of the gorge was far more than the canyon, especially since the rain had turned the unstable exposed rocky ridge into a slippery unstable exposed rocky ridge. After no small amount of grumbling on my part we got to the top, and shortly afterwards back to the car. On the way back we visited the oldest brewery in Australia (my second visit!) and I still didn't manage to persuade Mark that we should buy the twin pack of Witchety Grub Soup and Crocodile Chowder, which were specialities of the house.
Sherry Mayo

OUCC Library

This exists! It is in Steve & Michelle's loft at 143 Godstow Road. Wolvercote. Some bits are out on shelves, but because of the continuing construction work, lack of floors etc, access to the library is a bit patchy. Ask and SGR will do what he can.

Acquisitions since 1991 are as yet uncatalogued (for excuses, see above). The following books are in the library, and can be borrowed.

More thrilling library contents soon !