Depth through thought

OUCC News 8th October 2008

Volume 18, Number 15

DTT Main Index

OUCC Home Page

Editor: Andrew Morgan

Trips this term:

Editor's bit

I hope everyone had a good summer, and managed to catch the sun for the five minutes it was out! I have received the baton of the DTT editorship from Peter Devlin. I’m sure you will all agree Peter has done a great job over the past few years as the DTT editor, and we wish him many thanks. Incidentally, my first trip with OUCC was with Peter (and one of Peter’s first OUCC trips) to G.B., back in 2004. I don’t think anybody wrote the trip up, but I remember the trip fairly well still, so I will reminisce now! Tim was leading and there were 3 others (I can’t really remember who, but I’m sure pod was on the trip). The cave was very wet that day. We took the Devil’s elbow route, which was a little snug for some, and it took a while to negotiate. I remember the water crashing around, bouncing off the walls at the bottom of the route as it entered the Gorge – very spectacular and exciting. A fair stream flowed down the Gorge. We took the loop over the Bridge and popped out at the bottom of Main Chamber. We quickly headed in to the ladder dig, wary of the water backing up from the sump, although it still had a long way to rise before being problematic. The formations in Bat Passage at the end of ladder dig are pretty spectacular, and I would highly recommend going to see them. We headed back out via the loop as the waterfall in Main Chamber was impassable. I remember Pete being a bit worried about getting out of the cave, as he thought we would have to go back the way we came through the Devil’s elbow. Fortunately there was no epic as there is a quicker alternative route to the Devil’s Elbow. We emerged after being underground for around 5 hours. I had even more fun at the hut after, when I was introduced to squeezing competitions, and ‘floorboard surfing’!

I would like to use my first edition of DTT to ask for articles. It is easy to publish in this well respected publication – peer review is minimal (non-existent), and it is ‘open-access’! Seriously though, DTT provides a good record of the club’s activities through the years; and as I can testify during my exile abroad for a couple of years, it is a good way of letting club members who aren’t around Oxford know what has been happening. Plus, for those closer to home it provides a short happy moment to the day when it arrives, and makes those who missed a trip regret it! You can write about anything caving related, and not just about a recent caving weekend. For example you could send it articles about geology, a review of new equipment, or about your first caving trip. Reports don’t have to be long – just a paragraph would be great. If you have been on a very long but interesting trip, or on an expedition then maybe you could serialise your story so you don’t have to write it the whole thing at once. Another idea is that all the people on a trip could write a joint article, then you only have to write a few sentences each.

I await to receive many articles! Andrew

Bull Pot Farm, Oct 4/5 2008

Peter Devlin

This weekend was a Red Rose committee weekend with a Stomp on the Saturday night and plans to do a rescue practice Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was to be theory day, with the morning at CRO in Clapham, and afternoon looking at techniques at Ingleborough Hall, with Sunday's session being underground in Bull Pot of the Witches. Slug, who is a member of the CRO team had put together the program. On Saturday we had 6 of us in addition to Slug: Tony Speight, Ray Duffy, Tim Eastwood, Steve Robinson, newbie Paul Geddes and I. We started out with a talk from the CRO chairman. This was a great overview of the process of a rescue, highlights of which were the emphasis on clear call-out directions and the fact that temperature loss through being wet is 26 times higher than when dry. This was followed by a session with one of the CRO doctors which was useful and finally a play with oxygen and entenox bottles.

The afternoon was a hands on session looking at varying hauling and rope cutting scenarios: particularly interesting was watching Slug cut a rope using a short piece of nylon cord in what felt like under a minute. Slug pointed out that rescue techniques for the Dales where additional man power is available are likely to be different to expedition rescue techniques where man power is more of an issue. In the context of the Dales, the dictum was "keep it simple". In the end we got tired of standing out in miserable weather and knocked it on the head mid afternoon to go and fester in Bernies.

The stomp that night went ahead but some folks missed it to help out with call-outs in various location. The trip down Bull Pot of the Witches to try out rescue techniques underground got cancelled. I wanted to get on the road middayish, so Steve Robinson, Paul Geddes and I decided to take a look in Gale Garth. Having been past this umpteen times on my way to Lancs I wanted to at least stick my head in. It became clear fairly quickly that this was a thin man's cave, as almost immediately I was having to slip through passage sideways.

About 10 minutes in I went down a climb with a handline: the passage on looked a little small to me, but I thought I'd give it a go. Having inserted myself I decided that while I wasn't completely stuck, I wasn't in the mood for getting wedged in. Additionally Steve had been unable to follow me in the entrance to Pool Sink, so even if I made it in, he might be unable to follow. A degree of awkward thrutching freed me from the embraces of the cave, and we discussed the options: Steve decided he wasn't even going to bother with the climb. Paul climbed down and tried unsuccessfully to give it a go. Paul decided it wasn't for him, so we turned about and came out.

This had probably been the shortest trip I have ever done, but at least I had been underground. Back at the Farm Johnny Baker laughed at our ignominious defeat and explained that the next shake-hole along had been named something like "Fat Man's Dig" as I was not the first oversized Red Rose member not to get past that passage. Hey ho!