Depth through thought

OUCC News 24th May 2000

Volume 10, Number 8

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Tying Somebody Up

Come to Wales this weekend! Experience the splendour of "Tim's Hut" (or bring a tent)! You'll also need to bring cutlery and plate/bowl/mug etc. We have some permits for Saturday - ask Hils for details - so we can do some good trips on Saturday. This will be followed by pints in the pub and then on Sunday we'll be having a rescue practice. This will be a simulated callout/rescue from a cave, which may (or may not) involve stretchering someone out. Tariq Qureshi, who will be teaching us first aid on Wednesdays of 6th & 7th week will also be there to observe and advise, although there will be no formal first aid training this weekend. Meet at 7pm at the hut on Friday.

Make sure you let Hilary know if you're coming along this weekend.

And if callouts leave you clueless and your rescues are ridiculous, make sure you listen to Gavin's talk tonight at St Cross.
Jo "more bondage please" Whistler

Lost and Found

I have a fleece jacket that has been hanging around at Chris Densham's place for a while. I would put it in the hut, but it is clean and in good condition and might deteriorate quickly.

I have also acquired a krab and pulley from the last meet. I am a screwgate missing from the srt kit I lent to a novice. Does anyone know who might have it?
Lynn Mulelly

Discount Evening

Don't forget that we are getting a 20% discount at the Scout shop tomorrow (thursday). Please turn up at around 5.30, they will be open 'till 7pm. If you can't make it, let me know what you would like and I will try to get it for you.
Lynn Mulelly

Maillon Oiling

After the discount session we are going to go back to Hilary's place to have a Maillon Oiling party. Please come and bring alcohol. Hils will cook us some pasta if we're nice to her. Think of it as a social, the more the merrier. Hilary lives at 22 Crown Street, which is opposite Tesco on Cowley Road.
Lynn Mulelly

Cueva Charco

A trip marginally connected with OUCC, this. I'm still to be glimpsed by Oxonians who venture to the seedier parts of Yorkshire, while the other Brit on this holiday, Pete Hartley, will be remembered by those out in '98. Most of the rest of the team were Americans, Tenessee Alabama Georgia ypes; very hospitable and they really do say "y'all". Most of these guys have been heading South of the Border for ten years or so, pushing a big 'ole by the name of Cheve.

This particular cave goes to about 1400 in passage like the London Underground, but rather bigger (it's like that over there ). It also chokes pretty solidly about 5km from the entrance with a big distance horizontally to the resurgence, plus another kilometer-and-a-bit of depth potential thrown in (it really is like that over there).

Having got bored with banging their heads against this particular limestone wall, the Proyecto Cueva Cheve played cunning and looked round for an entrance which would take them down beyond the terminus. Cueva Charco, a minor discovery of a few years back, looked just the job; a small stream in the right place, and about 1500m above the resurgance. Onl one small problem.

I'd heard a lot about Charco. Never having been properly abroad before I quizzed Pete as to what was required. "Kneepads" he'd replied, with one of those rare and worrying Pete Hartley grins, "you don't stand up for the first kilometer."

It's a question of custom, you see. If what you're used to is Big Pits like Golondrinas, or dry boreholes you could fly a biplane down, then Charco is a little out of the ordinary. The reason the guys couldn't really describe the place, could only say "come and see it - but it's not much fun"; is that they'd never been down Eastwater.

It's all you need to know. The entrance series is three-or-so Eastwaters, one on top of the other, with about a dozen pits - biggest 33m - and with a camping sack to carry. Nothing unfair about it really, once you accept that getting immersed on the way to underground camp is fine because it's over 13C, so you sit around at day's end in shorts and T-shirt.

The camp at -600 is not the best, but beggars can't be choosers. Below the entrance, the next horizontal km is a bit like the big bits of G.B. but not so nice, and level bits not actually in the water are hard to find.

Below camp the fun began. The limit was just beyond, an undescended pitch. What next? A shaft series, or a sudden change of direction as our small stream was captured by the massive Cheve drainage system? Caverns measurable? Actually, Swildon's streamway.

Sounds fun, was fun. Not quite so safe, as much of the climbing is on holds more transitory than those remaining to Swillies after a century of traffic, but most of the drops are small and most of the landings wet rather than crunchy. Frustrating though. Teams would come up to camp after a fourteen hour trip having surveyed another couple of hundred meters of the same (the Americans survey forward, a little frustratingbut they do know where they are all the time, I suppose) with the avarage inclination and bearing unchanged from the previous day.

It's tiring, too. Progressive overload is the trainers' jargon; increase the workload steadily day by day. Gain 100m depth every day, and over a week's camping trip you've clocked up a total of roughly 1200m descent and ascent, with no drop bigger than 10m. And you're still at -600m at that point, thinking about getting yourself and your bag out.

But at the end of all this we had a 1000m deep cave, still going, and still resolutely small. And still, astonishingly, cutting straight owards the resurgance with no sign of heading towards its big sibling.

Best of all thogh we still had the team, battered, knackered, with no kit that worked, and all enjoying vile gastro - intestinal conditions (it's like that over there). They're polite - American style, extemporise songs about the cave, and they take strange potions down to camp prior to 25 hour pushing trips.

If Mendip is no longer enough, try this trip. Y'all know you should.
Tony Seddon