Depth through thought

OUCC News 13th February 2008

Volume 18, Number 4

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Editor: Peter Devlin:

Note from the editor

Please keep the write-ups coming in. This week Hilary's reports look lonely. Surely somebody on the recent Wales weekend has some thoughts to share!
Here are the weekends for the rest of  term:

Wigmore Swallet

Hilary Greaves, Saturday 2nd Feb

The factor dominating this trip for me was that I was, idiotically, wearing a double 7mm wetsuit.* At least that's my excuse. As we walked across the field to the excavated entrance shaft, neoprene resisted my every move; I felt as at the end of a hard 12 hour trip. 12 hours later, at the end of a hard 12 hour trip, I felt... well, there's no need to go there, is there.

Wigmore is a good crack. This trip was on because Chris Jewell and his young cronies have been pushing extensions off sump 7 (see some recent issue of Descent), found when Chris got curious about what was 'up there' halfway through the sump on a trip to the end. Chris wanted to carry on bolt-climbing an aven.

The trip down was uneventful enough. The carry down was fine, thanks to the kind assistance of "Mad Fi" (Wessex, BEC, etc) and Katie (Manchester USC) and to the fact that we weren't yet completely shagged. After 2 and a half hours we got to the dive base; Fi and Katie disappeared off out of the cave while Chris, John (Maneely) and I kitted up. Chris briefed me on each sump in turn. They were all straightforward with the marginal exception of Rubick's (?), which has a tightish rift at the start and has to be approached correctly. This was the first bit of remotely tight diving I have ever done, and I was reassured to find that it didn't bother me.

We got through into Chris's extensions at 4pm. Chris set about bolting his aven, while I belayed and John sat shivering under one of those crap silver space blankets that turn into muddy tinsel shavings on first usage underground. (John was cold because he was, sensibly, wearing only a single 5mm suit.) The aven promptly died, and after the odd bit of surveying and kit cleaning we headed out. Slowly. (The less said about how long it took us to get the gear through the first 50m, including the tight rift just downcave of Butch's Arse, the better.)

Out at 00:15 to a windy night, a big plate of leftover lasagne at the BEC (cheers Manchester!), a quick session spectating squeeze games at the Wessex with a thousand yard stare and a welcome, warm, fluffy, pit. Good trip, thanks again to Fi and Katie for the carry!

*"This is a demanding cave and in wet conditions, or when wearing ridiculous clothing and carrying diving kit, can be an extremely arduous undertaking."

Mendip Underground (annotated)

Swildon's to Sump 6

Hilary Greaves, Sunday 3rd Feb

I almost couldn't be arsed going caving today, but having promised Fi over 3 weeks ago that we would do this trip this weekend just gave me enough motivation to get my bruised aching limbs into my wet smelly kit again.

A jolly trip. Bimbled down to Sump 2, then Fi and I kitted up while John, braver than I and madder than Fi, free-dived off through Sumps 2 and 3. (After yesterday's exploits John couldn't be arsed carrying diving kit, a sentiment that I was not entirely unsympathetic with.) Sump 5 was easily passable without kit as a series of ducks. At this point I couldn't be arsed with the original plan to de-kit and carry on via sump bypasses to the start of Sump 9, and John wasn't averse to the "let's get out of here and find some warmth, tea and food" idea either, and Fi was easygoing about whatever, so we zipped (John) or plodded (Hil and Fi) out. Nice trip, good to see more of that gorgeous streamway!