Depth through thought
OUCC News 19th May 1999
Volume 9, Number 11
|DTT Volume 9 index|
Next week is the OUCC Termly General Meeting (which, incidentally, is an anagram of
"come, tune rectally emerging"), so if you have any
proposals/suggestions/comments, my secretarial e-mail inbox is agog with expectation. (Be
Rich Gerrish (who came to France with OUCC at Easter) will probably be doing the art work for this year's expedition T-shirt. He should be coming along to the Yorkshire weekend and it would be useful if you could bring along any old expedition T-shirts you've got as examples so we can discuss what works well/what doesn't. Thanks!
The first session of the University First Aid for Expeditions course took place last
night. We had a good turnout, so thanks to everyone who turned up. The first instalment
was excellent and I'm looking forward to the final session next week.
Jo "Anyone for cricket?" Whistler
The Cambridge are coming to Southerscales this weekend. They are bringing a squeeze
machine, and want to do Black Shiver or Pen-y-ghent. Let me know asap if you want to come.
Rich, Steve P, Pippa, Simon. This was a slightly unusual trip, as non of us really knew where we were going, inside or outside of the cave. After missing a few road junctions and doing some u-turns, we eventually found the SWCC hut, where a bearded Rhys gave us the top entrance key. Then we toddled around on the hillside for a while, looking for the cave. Once inside, it soon became a game of "I wonder what's down here, fancy having a look?" and "haven't we been here before?" These sort of trips make a nice change from those where you simply rush after someone.
Several hours later we eventually found Gnome passage (yes, several hours.) Then I
began to recognise the route I'd been shown on my previous trip here, which took us across
a scary traverse. Unfortunately we didn't have much time left, and we turned back soon
after Pippa and myself found some beautiful red crystals. On the way out, we attempted to
find the mini pillar formations but failed again! All in all, a fun gentle-paced trip with
lots of singing.
Amongst other trips over Easter, I managed to persuade Rob and Lev to return to Marble
Sink. A long walk in took us past a concerned-looking CRO member, who asked where we were
going and muttered something about rain. Once in the enterance crawl, I was mildly
surprised at how awkward it was, and how the other two seemed to fly through with no
effort. Down the first pitch (dodgy belay, no back up), some tight rift, then down bastard
hole (reminds me of Paradise in 2/7). Lev was getting mildly paranoid. "We could
jack, I really wouldn't mind..." he suggested, but who could blame him after their
previous ordeal? More tight rift and more pitches later, we were soon near the bottom.
There was some awkward t-shaped passage which they waltzed across, and I struggled not to
get stuck in. "Ok, I'm scared" said Lev in a tone of voice I hadn't heard him
use before. "Can we go out now please?" But I was even slower on the return. Lev
described how to manouver the sky-dive squeeze backwards, then Rob found me five minutes
later trying to force myself through the smallest bit! Back at Bastard hole I had Rob
pushing beneath me and Lev pulling above me and I still wasn't moving. "I think the
problem is my jammer" I said, at which point they stopped helping me and called me a
"silly tool" for not removing my harness! One thing the trip taught me: think
(Continued from last week)
Sunday saw half of the previous day's team run off to the Lakes to go climbing which left just two of us pondering what trip to do. Not wanting a long walk we opted for the Maracaibo inlet where neither of us had been before. A swift entry via Wretched Rabbit soon saw us to the start of the inlet. In a curious piece of geology the roof of the main drain lowers at this point allowing the inlet to exit the stream on one side before looping back between the active passage and the higher level (which is not far above) before proceeding in an initially straight line back towards the gill. Some awkward traversing reminiscent of the Dow-Prov connection eventually gains some very well decorated passage. Due to the obscure nature of the inlet and the fact that it is not often visited the formations are still very well preserved. The straws, curtains and flowstones extend for a long way and the confined nature of the passage means that you are necessarily in close proximity to them. Extreme care is required and even them some damage is almost inevitable.
The principle obstacle to progress along the passage is the aptly named Keel Hauler. It lies just beyond some constrictions in a flat out bedding and when I got there the stream was flowing from a 4" gap. I asked hopefully if this was the end but was told it wasn't. Perhaps we'd gone the wrong way was my next suggestion but apparently we hadn't. Pulling cobbles out of the streambed revealed a little lake and after a while I tried forcing my way through but was eventually halted by a bow wave of cobbles. I cleared some more away before retreating. After a second attempt we were through to more passage. Clearly very few of the very few people who find the inlet ever come this far. Progress is consistently awkward and hard going. However, the formations are even better preserved and more than ample reward for the effort needed to reach them. The inlet finally ends in a chamber not far from the gill. This is the most remote spot in the whole of Ease Gill and the effort needed to get there was comparable to that used down Broken Finger.
The journey out was punctuated by the forlorn cries of a lost caver who was wondering
around on her own. The explanation was somewhat confusing involving amongst other things a
boulder choke, an Australian and an explanation of why my companion's mother was suspected
of suspecting that the person we'd just met was after her son. (Apparently they knew each
other). Well, I said it was confusing. In the end we gave her directions to Cow Pot while
we made our way out of County.
Last Easter, Lou Maurice, myself, and two other paraglider pilots spent a week in Andalucia, flying, climbing in El Chorro (awesome), and caving. We did several surface digs around Gualchos, two hours East of Malaga, but none came to much unfortunately. We also broke through a constriction in "Cave of the Little Red Nun", to follow a good draught into a chamber and then a hideous boulder choke. This, and its neighbour "Cave of the Little Blue Nun", probably connect lower down and still offer the prospect of another significant OUCC find in the area (see Proc 13 for previous finds).
More interesting, p[erhaps, were the two days we spent prospecting on Sierra Lujar, a
1900m limestone massif inland from Gualchos towards the Sierra Nevada. It's a strange and
shattered place, with impressive and difficult limestone gorges, and we failed to find any
significant caves near the top (though we found some lower down). We did, however, find a
shaft marked by the GAEM in 1995, suggesting both that there has been a little recent
exploration on the mountain, and that there may indeed be some significant development.
I've written to the GAEM in the hope of receiving a report of their work.
If you cannot bear the silence and the darkness, do not go there; if you dislike black night and yawning chasms, never make them your profession. If you fear the sound of water hurrying through crevices toward unknown and mysterious destinations, do not consider it. Seek out the sunshine. It is a simple prescription. Avoid the darkness.
It is a simple prescription, but you will not follow it. You will turn immediately to the darkness. You will be drawn to it by cords of fear and longing. You will imagine that you are tired of sunlight; the waters that unnerve you will tug in the ancient recesses of your mind; the midnight will seem restful - you will end by going down.
"The Places Below", The Night Country, Loren Eiseley (from "The Almost Complete Eclectic Caver", Thom Engel)
Fleur Loveridge, who is currently studying a leaky Victorian reservoir near Whitby, moves house today to: 23 The Village Street, Burley Park, LS4 2PR, 0113 2305030