Depth through thought
OUCC News 24th November 1993
Volume 4 Number 7
|DTT Volume 4 index|
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 f...ing 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.
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
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.
Acquisitions since 1991 are as yet uncatalogued (for excuses, see above). The following books are in the library, and can be borrowed.