Depth through thought

OUCC News 4th June 2008

Volume 18, Number 11

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Editor: Peter Devlin:

Note from the editor

Weekends for the remainder of term:

Of the Gower, Gours and GooseStock

Fleur Loveridge

It was a week of weather watching and disorganisation, but in the end I decided that I couldn't face the M6 to get to the rescue practice or the Lake District, the only place in the country forecast good weather for the weekend. Instead we took in more familiar haunts in a bid to celebrate my birthday with climbing, caving and beer in decent measures.

Ben, Pete and I met Martin Hicks on the Gower on Saturday and had a very pleasant day at Boiler Slabs climbing in the glorious sunshine. Everyone led something, culminating in Ben's rapid run up the strenuous VS in the evening light. This was following by syrup pudding and Worm's Head ale all round in Rhossili, before retiring to one of our favourite camp spots to enjoy my birthday bubbly with the sound of the waves below.

Finally the rains came in the early hours on Sunday morning and we got a soaking packing up camp before indulging in a fine all day Gower breakfast. After more procrastination we finally had a plan - to have a go at getting to the end of Northern Lights in OFD - so it seemed fitting to see the SWCC t-shirt on display at Penwyllt sporting the slogan 'faff now, cave later' written round a steaming kettle.

Without any further delay at least, we headed for the cave. Ben was on his fourth attempt to get to Northern Lights and Pete, Martin and I on our second. Much of the way in was spent discussing the scary rope climb and traverse to be passed on the way there. Ben couldn't believe that myself in particularly could not remember it, despite have been as far as the sumpable section before. And this was despite the fact that I could describe the subsequent second rope climb perfectly. Well, we were both right. The traverse was scary and I hadn't been there before, leading me to believe that I must have been somewhere else last time, only to pop out at the second climb with perfect memory. There had to be another way to get there!

Swift progress was then made on to the duck and into Northern Lights proper. We spent a while going up every little passageway, before coming to the main way on last. Here, finally, were the pretties we had been searching for, so much better preserved than elsewhere in OFD due to there more recent discovery and hence conservation taping. A couple of stalagmites and stalactites converging together and some crystal pools were particularly fine. Then it was a rush out to make the pub in good time and enjoy some birthday cake. Back at the SWCC Jules confirmed that there at least two ways to Northern Lights and there is the choice between scary and squalid, so you can't have it both ways. It's a fine sporting little trip to get there though, with rewards at the end, so well worth the visit.

Finally we made it back to Blaenavon in time to grab a take out, and head over to GooseStock, the annual ale fest at the Goose and Cuckoo. The place was heaving as we arrived shortly after 9pm and started tucking into the fine selection of Welsh beer. There was a live band playing, who were excellent and went on well into the small hours. Suddenly it was really late and there was only us, the band and a small group of regulars left. Singing was being encouraged, and Welsh and Irish folk songs were enjoyed, before in the end we were bullied into contributing. And so I found myself, as the marginally least tuneless member of the cavers party, giving a solo rendition of Dallimores to the bemused locals. They had the good nature to applaud; I am sure that they had had enough to drink to survive my poor musical skills. Finally at 3am we managed to extract ourselves from the merriment and put up our tents on the terrace in the beer garden. Happy sleep followed, with Mike the landlord bringing us out a cup of tea in the morning. What a fantastic pub. I think I know where I'll be going for my birthday again next year.

Another failed attempt to get into Gaping Gill

Peter Devlin [24 May 08]

Having failed to do Gaping Gill on a club weekend some years ago Pete Eastoe and I headed up the fell on Saturday to make good the omission. After bumping into Nick, Fumie and Yifan we had a look at the Bradford winch before making a start on Flood entrance (Wade's to be precise). Pete went in first, but I found I was unable, or insufficiently committed to get into the tight bit at the top of the first pitch. Abandoning that entrance I thought we were going to try Stream, but in fact we went into Bar, where I likewise failed to get in. Bill Sherington who is at least as big as I am later told me I tried the wrong way, but by then I was off the hill. To rescue something of the day Pete and I went into Bull Pot of the Witches where Pete did some rigging practice.

Sunday was more successful, the objective being to reline the Lancs to Bull Pot Witches sump. Hilary's suggestion to measure my dive line had indicated that my line tagging was accurate to about 1%. Following the relining the discrepancy between my measurement vs Ray Duffy's Easegill survey was down to about 10m. The good news is that Steve Robinson who dived to explore the right hand wall (from the Lancs end) found a side passage that looks promising. Sadly his search reel was only 6m long which did not allow a proper investigation.

Having spent Thursday/Friday climbing in Snowdonia I was glad of an easy day on Monday. A 20 minute dive in Joint Hole with Gary Taylor, a Red Rose member and open water diver who wants to join the CDG was just the ticket.

A new pair of rock shoes

Peter Devlin [22-23 May]

A mate of mine wants to do his MIA instructor's qualification. A pre-requisite for that is to do a lead a number of multi-pitch mountain VS/4C routes. Thursday midday saw us approaching Dinas Cromlech in Llanberis path, me with a new pair of rock shoes, having worn my first pair out the previous week when I did 2 days of training on lead climbing. I was somewhat nervous of my ability to get up a route of this grade, even on a top rope, but nothing ventured nothing gained.

We started out with Sabre Cut, which started out OK, but ended in a strenous final crack. The crag is well elevated above the road, so 50m up the route the exposure is quite something. Fortunately my new rock boots were orders of magnitude better than my previous ones. Having made it to the top it started to drizzle and by the time we were at the bottom is was well wet, so we decided to Parchment Passage (VD) in the wet. In the wet this was at least as scary as the previous climb.

That night we stayed near Blaenau, so we did a few climbs on Clogwyn yr Oen. We started out with Pinky (VS4c) which I found equally hard as Sabre Cut. The stone was much less polished than on Dinas Cromlech, but there were quite a few balancy moves with sparse handholds. After this we did Kirkus Climb Direct (S), by which time I was shattered. Still I enjoyed the view of the Moelwyns all the more having been traumatised half a dozen times on the way up.