Depth through thought
OUCC News 21st February 1996
Volume 6, Number 5
|DTT Volume 6 index|
We actually elected a new committee last week. Fantastic. Good luck to them all, and many thanks to the outgoing has-beens:
Of late Weight training at 7pm. on Wednesdays at Univ. College
Gym has been reduced to a hardcore group of dangerous fanatics....
I've been missing it too but aim to go more often. The more the
James "Heaving" Hooper.
There will probably be another SRT Practice at 7pm. at New College
School Gym on Friday of Seventh Week. If you can't make it and
have SRT kit, could you lend it to James? I plan on finding some
live music afterwards (unless I sneak off down Ore's Close).
James "Is that a Chainsaw" Hooper.
A quick notice to all those new members of the commitee, and anyone
else who uses the hut regularly (not including those intending
to live in it). I'm going to get some new hut keys cut, so if
anyone doesn't have one see me so that I know how many to get.
John "He's lost the Chair's Hat already" Pybus
Does anyone have any idea of going caving (perish the thought)
over the Easter week? At the moment Mongo Gill is all we have
booked and we have no accommodation. This can easily change if
people let James know their thoughts. Yes, this is the same "short"
as two weeks ago, but only Gerhard has replied. The trip to Transylvania
is still going ahead. Contact Chris or Chris soon if you're interested.
I'm trying to track down an altitude for the entrance of F64,
This is quite significant as the cave has been dye traced to Culiembro
(alt 340m) and represents the highest proven entrance to the Culiembro
system. The Snow Pole is at 1855 m, Top Camp at 1913 m, La Verdelluenga
2129 m, C3 1943 m. Estimates so far: James 1990 m (educated guess);
Steve 1973 m (i.e. 60 m above Top Camp). As the inlet on Whistle
Stop Cafe in F64 has been surveyed to +18m above the entrance
this gives a depth potential of 1668-1651 based on these estimates.
Last Saturday, Rich Blake of the S.C.C. made a breakthrough, digging
in Priddy Green sink. He believes he's got to a short pitch, dropping
into something big (above Cowsh Avens in Swildon's Four). The
first Swildon's through trip should soon be on the cards. Or at
least that's the gossip from the Hunter's.
James "Just Another One" Hooper.
Horizontal sleet swept across the Draenen car park, as JC and me
set out for yet another attempt at Pick-a-Styx aven. Fast work
and we were there in 2 hours, to find the hole open. But there
was much to fall still, so we played a little game of me blocking
up the exit from above like a deranged gull, then JC pulling it
all out from below like a deranged mole. Over a boulder pile,
then we were in to a rift, A small chamber was soon followed by
a nasty little squeeze round a corner. But an hour and a half
of attack with rocks saw me round it, and into... a small chamber
with no way on. 20 metres were surveyed, and at least, I suppose,
we have tied the lead off and no one ever needs go there again.
Ever. Too shagged to do anything else useful, we pottled out.
Pick-a-Styx had died, but horizontal sleet still swept across
the car park. At least some things are reliable.
Inching my way carefully past loose walls, liquid mud oozing its way down my ear canals, brown squalor everywhere, I ask myself, "Why?" The unknown, the great potential for the Mendips, the rediscovery of a mine perhaps 300 years old? I think its just that I like the place. The enjoyment starts before you even think about getting changed. "Where do you think the entrance is?" Chris Densham asked. I scanned the environs looking for a wooden pallet or a manhole cover. One foot away, a small corner of a metal lid lay bare. A minute of scrapping revealed the entrance, little more than 12 inches by 6. I can easily envisage a short video in the making. Bemused locals wandering round with chainsaws, an inquisitive farm dog, scared of the black hole and confused at the scent of cave mud, cavers struggling through the top of an 80 foot shaft. Voice contact is quickly lost as you ladder down the winding pitch. At the bottom, an incline past once loose boulders leads to a second 50 foot shaft. I confess to having a different approach to Chris's "Easy, easy." That is, The Wlodek-Academy Controlled Demolition Tactic. (The WAC. D. TAC) Much more fun and I think safer.
On my first trip down (ten days ago) we forgot to bring enough ladders for the second pitch. Anette spotted an alcove, however, level with the end of the first ladder. Climbing down, armed with a "just in case" crowbar, I decided it was worth a dig. Dig, dig, dig, Arghhh. My spoil and I slipped down the shaft. I lunged for the bottom rung of the ladder, Chris catching me on a line. More startled than anything, I returned to my dig. Ten feet of grunting to a sump. Fascinating. A sump half way down a shaft. Chris and I resolved to return as soon as possible. After almost 5 years, surveying still needed to be done. Back at the Nutters and Ravers, we spent one hour washing our oversuits and three hours cleaning the changing room.
Last Saturday, my Trojan-Horse plan worked once again when Chris
and Paul woke me in the hut at 8am. Before long we were back on
Mendip and at the base of the second shaft. At least, at the current
base. Old rope abrasion marks prove that the shaft once went deeper.
It's a dream. A dig you KNOW must go. Our mission was to survey,
however, which is what we did for 6.5 hours. (45 legs). Nightmare
Scenario on a normal day but we were an efficient team and at every
turn more puzzles presented themselves. Is this hole backfilled
(and hence digworthy)? Why is there burned wood? [I think it's rotted,
not burnt - Ed] How old is an old clay pipe that Paul found? How
many people worked/died down here? When? Will that wooden prop
hold for another 4 hours? Even my pen has caught my enthusiasm,
words write themselves. I just don't really see why people have
ignored the place. In what seemed like no time at all, Chris had
total light failure. So we finished off a few more survey legs,
as you do, before Paul left to cancel our callout. Surprisingly
we moved quite fast on one working light, last orders remaining
a viable objective. Tandeming up the entrance pitch, heavy mud-caked
gear weighing us down, I struggled for the last quarter of an
inch. A quick detackle got us to the Hunter's minutes before eleven.
"The can't have stopped serving?" Only a powercut. Ah....
A Hamlet cigar. As for Ore's Close, there's still more to be surveyed
and pushed. After all, there were once over 100 shafts in the proximity,
Ore's Close, according to records, being one of the largest mines
on Mendip. Predictably, I can't wait to return. Dealing with the
most hideous oversuit I've ever seen, is another matter.
Martin Farr has recently dived the Littoral Zone sump in Carno.
He passed three short sumps (~30m, 50m, and forgotten), finding
200-300m of passage in total. He ran out of line just as he surfaced
from the third sump. Unable to tie the line off to anything, he
turned back at that point. He is planning to return soon. I predict
now that it'll go big time. Time and line will tell.
James "I Love the Place" Hooper.
The following is an amalgam of recent correspondence from "Our
Man in the SIE":- Hello again James, This evening (Tuesday
20/feb) I have been talking by phone with Javier Blanco from Leon,
(we met him in Oviedo) and he has said me that there is no problem
in sending you the report from Torca Cabeza Llambreda 1995. [The
800m cave in El Joon]. He is very interested to contact with OUCC/SIE.
I have also detailed news about Canalizos [the 200m cave between
Gustuteru and Xitu]. I've been talking with Manel Boronat] (an
old SIE member) and he has told me that at least there are two
open wide leads in Canalizos #1!?!! in the lateral series. And
in the meander that follows the main shaft, with very easy hammering
it's also possible to force the final squeeze, (with gently draught
coming from the unknown). I will send you again the survey, with
the location of the open leads. (one of the to leads was a short
drop with sound of water below and difficult to descend without
rigging because Manel was alone, the other open lead is a meander
that Manel Boronat] explored also alone till he get back and it
was still going... !?!!) Manel said me that he every time was
saying that Canalizos was going, but SIE did never get back to
that cave. So now is the chance for you to join La Verdelluenga
streamway through Canalizos! Here in Spain we have a hard winter
with lots of snow in the mountains (like 20 years ago!) Next summer
the caves in Picos will be wet, I think. , Best wishes,
"Look at them looking for caves, and look at them when they
find water in a cave. What they are really looking for, is alcohol."
Groucho Marx (sorry if the translation is not very accurate)
Lost & Found
Found - in my car after abortive last trip to Yorkshire. One Inglesport red plastic sack full of caving gear. Owner please describe to reclaim. "Smelly, dirty and full of holes" is not sufficient, unless it describes the owner.
Lost - one temper. Apologies to those still present at
the end of the AGM.