Depth through thought

OUCC News 25th October 2000

Volume 10, Number 11

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Around 20 newcomers ventured down Swildon's with the club last weekend under the stalwart organisation of Simon Goddard (with, I might note, rather slim support from the club's young tigers?), so many thanks to him, and congratulations to you all who survived (did anybody count?). Swildon's was in fine fettle, well sporting (novices be warned if someone uses the phrase "sporting": now you know what it really means). Cunning tactics and excess luck saw all of us up and down the ladder on a crowded silly-season Saturday without having to queue. The sump looked particularly unpleasant, and I had no desire to go in it whatsoever. Unfortunately, nutters like Ed, Karen and Bruce shamed us doing it anyway. It was indeed particularly unpleasant.

Sunday, a mixed team of Oxford, Bristol and Cardiff cavers dragged Jackie and Paul down a very "sporting" Longwood. August was full of water. I mean full. But we did much of the system and our newcomers did brilliantly. I wonder if we'll see any of them again?.

Don't forget: if anyone (freshers too) feels like writing up a trip and how they felt about it, please just send me an e-mail.

Free Beer

I'm due to depart for China in early November before heading on to Australia in about a year's time. So, to celebrate my final weekend at Bull Pot farm there should be a couple of barrels of beer (one of which might even be free!) for anyone who makes the journey up there. Rob Garrett

Yorkshire weekend

We'll be at Bull Pot Farm this weekend for a cambridge-and-fresher-tastic mass weekend, so come join the party - email Chris to let him know if you're coming. It promises to be a big one... Hilary "big one" Greaves

Hammer Pot 24th June

"You can tell its too tight when you have to take your whistle off"

The trip to Hammer Pot during the 8th week of term was an exercise in madness, to be sure. The nice and taxing rift and the oh-so-aptly named Sludge Crawl proved that the old guys at OUCC meetings don't call it a Grade V for nothing.

We -- Chris, Hilary, Geoff, Gavin and I -- started down Hammer around noontime (after getting on the road before 10am for the first verifiable occasion all year and leaving Martin flabbergasted), and after the entrance series we hit the rift. We had to climb quite high at times to find the wider bits, and all the jamming I had to do with my elbows and knees left me wishing for some pads. I think it took us over an hour to get through there, which is a pretty long time to go without being able to turn one's head around.

After the rift we strung up two pitches I think, and realised that the second pitch we had rigged was actually the fourth in the cave according to our guidebook. Apparently we'd gone down two pitches without rigging them, which could have presented us with a rather more exciting return tripper than we'd bargained for (or an extremely boring one if it came to waiting for portly cave rescuers to get through that rift and save us).

The last part of our trip which I remember with any clarity is Sludge Crawl, which is actually rather hard to forget once you've done it. It must have taken close to an hour for that one, of course I had no concept of time down there so who knows. It was cold, wet, and small, and the strangled cries and curses of other members of the group ahead of me were less than encouraging. I can remember someone asking me:

"a bit cold in this crawl isn't it?" Me: "gggg--ggghhhuuuuhh?.." "water's getting deeper." Me: "Aaggghhh!" (I realised about this time that I no longer had an inner monologue).

At the top of the last pitch I got a lovely look at the white formations on the back wall, but had no desire to do the last pitch. I think I was feeling a bit hypothermic at that stage, and an immediate, extremely demoralising second trip through Sludge Crawl probably wasn't the best treatment. Prussiking up a few pitches had me feeling a bit better: however, we soon found one of the pitches that we hadn't rigged, and Gavin had to string up a ladder by standing on my back.

In the second trip through the rift I warmed up but had to deal with a bit of muscle fatigue. As I started slipping down every time I tried to ascend in the rift, a sense of wonderment at how cave rescuers would possibly extract me from that dodgy rift if I was to become stuck, spurred me ever-so-slowly onward.

Hammer Pot was a real %$"& cave, but it was character-building in the same way that hurling yourself off a weather tower with a quick-opening parachute is. I also learned some really neat new swear words there, such as "oh golly gosh gee". Afterwards Chris actually asked me if I enjoyed it?


Anyway, Chris missed his Cambridge dinner and we were too wasted to do any more caving on Sunday, but there's no doubt that we were hardcore.

Forrest Lehman


 It's six o'clock in the tower blocks,
Stalagmites of culture shock,
And the trippers of the light fantastic,
Bow down, hoe down,
Spray their pheromones on, this perfumed uniform.

Who and what? There's a can of Tennants Extra Strong for the winner. Geoff O'Dell