Depth through thought

OUCC News 3rd November 2004

Volume 14, Number 10

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Editor: Pod:

US Election Special Edition

The UBSS bonfire night

Paul Savage

[This will be held on the evening of Sat 2004-10-06 - pod]

The OUCC is cordially invited to that annual UBSS tradition.... BONFIRE NIGHT. As always, featuring.....

- A towering flaming burning Witch-fuelled inferno - the biggest bonfire you've EVER SEEN (claim may not be true). - BARRELS of local Beer and buckets of local Cider. - A WHOLE SHEEP, to be burned and eated. - LOTS MORE FOOD made for you. - DANGEROUS FIREWORKS EVERYWHERE!!!!

And probably a cave or two.

Hopefully see you there. The hut will probably be full of Freshers - so a tent is advisable.

CHECC Seminar Update

Chris Jewell

See also: <>

The seminar is approaching fast - 26-28th Nov. So I'm going to start accepting bookings. Those that book early will get the beds in the YSS (there are 50) whilst the remainder will have to camp (right next to the pub).

It is GBP 15 per person which includes food and accommodation. Can you please post cheques, payable to Chris Jewell, to me at:

28 Hatherleigh Gdns, Potters Bar, HERTS, EN65HZ.

This is because we still haven't sorted a bank account out, as the bank requires us to have a committee meeting and minute the decision to get an account.

Looking forward to it - hope to see you all there.

Spain 2005 Expedition

Gavin Lowe <>

Preparations are now underway for the 2005 expedition, to the Picos de Europa in Northern Spain.

The main aim of the expedition is to continue exploration of the cave Asopladeru le Texa. This cave was explored to a depth of 837m by the SIE, encountering a large streamway at -800m. They have said that we are welcome to explore it. It looks like a superb cave!  The cave is very well positioned to connect to the resurgence cave at Culiembro.

We will set up a camp at about -750m, in a large sandy high-level passage; I guess most people will be able to get down to camp in 4 hours, and out in about 6. The bottom of the cave is a deep pool, which might only require wading. The final shaft leading to this pool drops down from the high-level passage; there are lots of passages marked on the survey, going off from this shaft; there might be a continuation of the high level itself; there are a couple of undescended shafts in the high level.

There are also other caves to go at, principally Pozu Chicago, a 200m deep cave, containing a number of leads. Plus there's always lots of prospecting to do, and plenty of scope for people's pet projects (Valley of Dry Bones, E9, 15/5, ...).

The Expedition Committee is:

Leader Gavin Lowe
Secretary John Pybus
Sponsorship Officer Rosa Clements
Treasurer: Gareth Phillips
Gear Officer Simon Goddard
Assistant Gear Officer Al Wilson
Medical Officer Mike Hopley

In order to help us plan the expedition, it would be useful to have some indication of whether you might come. Plus it's useful to include names of likely members in the prospectus. So please fill in the form below, and send it back to me <>. This doesn't commit you to anything (except receiving more bullshit from me). We are considering shortening the expedition to five weeks, to allow more intensive exploration; but if several people want to stay for longer, we'll reconsider this.

So come to Spain! In addition to superb caving, it offers the normal expedition delights: good food, cheap wine, a great crack, and the most beautiful mountains in the world.

Yours to Culiembro

---------------------------------------------------------------------- Name: .......................

I will not/possibly/probably/definitely be coming on expedition.

I would like to go for .... weeks.

Information for the prospectus:

Course/year/college (students): ....................... Job description (workers): .........................

I have been on .... previous expeditions to (list countries) ..................

Any special skills/awards (e.g. award winning cave photographer, advanced first aid certificate holder): .....................


Some Very Aqueous Caves: Part 1

Tim Guilford

Many of you may think I have giving up caving in favour of more lofty pursuits, but in fact I had cause to visit some very aqueous caves this summer. A beer for whoever guesses first where they are (those with the knowledge are of course exempt).

A very careful traverse. Not on fragile rock or dangerously perched ledges, but weaving atop the fragile burrows of a thousand curious diggers whose nocturnal visits I had come to study. But today as every day, the grotesque cacophony that delights the night visitor to this place is gone. Down a steep scramble we go, and then along a sea level traverse into the yawning entrance of the cave. The boulders are slippery, and we move slowly into the darkness making little sound.

There is a strong smell in the sea air, a beastly smell but unfamiliar. As we round a corner and clamber up onto a boulder pile we here the first sounds of the monster. She is snoring, surely? We peep over the boulders and sure enough there she is, peacefully laying on the gravel in almost total darkness, fast asleep. Huge and smelly. And there are others. One of them catches our scent and lets out a howl or a growl or something in between. The monster below us wakes, and looks up myopically at us, turns, sniffs something beside her, then lumbers gracelessly down the slope away from us. Three others follow from various corners of the chamber and soon they have all crunched their way down a small passage towards another entrance.

The smell is intoxicating, almost pleasant in its heady intensity. The cave is filled with the warmth of their breath. We wait a while, then venture forwards to the big girl's laying place, and there a tiny white figure lifts its head to face us. Its big flat eyes straining towards our lights, its whiskers twitching, it utters a snort and turns away. In fact its not so tiny after all, about the size of a labrador, only compared to huge proportions of its mother. Its furry white skin is all wrinkly, ready to allow for the rapid expansion of body size that guzzling pints of fishy milk will bring over the next couple of weeks. It will wait patiently for its mother's visits in these first few days of life, with few defences except the safety of the cave. Helpless, wholesome, cute: the stuff of animal rescue fundraising pamphlets, and I can see why. We pull out a can of spray paint from a pack, and graffiti a big orange blob on its bum. "Orange blob" is one of the first grey seals to be born in Britain this season.

Sewer I in Agent Blorenge Sumps

Ben Cooper

[This item already been sent round the oucc-all-member list but I though it was worth posting here so that it is archived - pod]

If you didn't know, I can now vouch for the fact that Sewer I in Agent Blorenge sumps. Water levels were high on the way in: chilling, but not alarming. I was digging with the MCG in Pontypool or Bust at the end of the Crystal Maze. When we returned to Agent Blorenge, we were met by a jet-engine roar of water. The level at the foot of the waterfall (usually a sandy bank) was about 2', and the Sewer was closed. If only we knew the round trip! Instead we had to sit it out - it only took 7 hours for the levels to drop enough for our exit - about 6" of airspace at the lowest point. The remainder of the climbs in Agent Blorenge were tough - any more water and they would have been extremely dangerous. The Beyond a Choke streamway was 2-3' deeper than usual. The wades were chest deep. In the upstream section, where usually you can hop from rim to rim, all the rocks were submerged, making the going very hard. And all the time we had a constant pressure against us from the moderately fast flowing water. We were absolutely trashed by the time we got out, some 8 hours later than expected.

We're not too sure of what the weather had been doing. It was dry when we entered the cave at 11am. The previous week had seen some very heavy rainfall, and we understand that quite a gale blew all that day. Water levels in Agent Blorenge peaked at about 11pm, and start to fall at about 1am. It took two more hours for the levels to drop enough for us to exit. If we could have been sure of the weather, we would have held on for another hour for levels to drop lower - but you don't know such things underground. When we emerged at 06:30, it was a clear starry sky, so I've no idea when the rain actually stopped.

If anyone was around on the hill or even in South Wales on Saturday 2004-10-23, do let me know what the weather was doing, so we can correlate the water levels in Agent Blorenge with the rain.

And Finally - A Massage from the Swedish Prime Minister

Steve Roberts

The OUCC website statistics make interesting reading (interesting, that is, if you're half-pissed and it's late at night). Especially fascinating is the section on the search terms by which people have found the website.

Top terms are of course the obvious: "oxford university caving club" and "pictures of oxford university" (users of which will doubtless be just a little surprised) and variants.

Amongst the odder ones are "paul s tubing" (a perennial favourite), "nodular iron", "piss", "children and their spare time", "arm sean houlihane" (what? why?), "holy shite caver", "jackulation", "wet thigh waders", "paul mann potholing" (rare), "second hand sump for land rover discovery", "disappearing testicles", "colostomy trigonometrically" (a googlewhack?), "cow ark cow ark" (eh?), "top of our wellies", "porno picture", "bar recess drip pan" (they just get weirder, don't they?), "matthew balaam" (one search - somebody loves you, Matt), "liver fungus", "clusterfer" (close but no banana), "sensible" (who, us?), and, last but not at all least, "tim guilford allergy".

I sincerely hope they all got what they were looking for, especially the desperate searcher for "penderyn sheep".