Depth through thought

OUCC News 15th October 2008

Volume 18, Number 16

DTT Main Index

OUCC Home Page

Editor: Andrew Morgan

Trips this term:

Note from the editor:

Please send articles, we need to inspire our new recruits. Please send them to me by Tuesday evenings, for inclusion in that weeks issue; or if you let me know the article is on it's way, by midday Wednesdays.

Ogof Draenen

Andrew Morgan

Unfortunately I picked up glandular fever at the start of summer which put me out of caving for a few months. When I recovered I fancied a light trip to see how I fared. Inspired by reading the excellent new OUCC proceedings when I was ill, I fancied a trip to Draenen. I remembered the trip to Riflemanís choke was relatively easy Ė last time I did it carrying scaffolding bars on a digging trip so I decided to go there. Unfortunately I planned the trip rather late, and at the pub on Wednesday it seemed everybody already had plans for the Bank-holiday weekend. Fortunately a couple of my Mendip caver friends could go, and Fumie said she could join me the day before the trip.

The entrance was a bit wetter than I the last times I went, and my new helmet has vents in the top, so the wet slot in the entrance seemed very wet.

With few route-finding difficulties we made our way from the entrance series via Wonderbra Bypass to the Beyond a Choke Streamway. People have said this is a boring streamway; it is long, but it does have some variety. If I remember this correctly: at the start it is bouldery , then you have clean washed rock with cascades and potholes. Part way along there are a couple of chokes that you have to get out of the stream to negotiate. The first one is ok, but the boulders in the second one didnít look too stable. There are even a few nice formations, one of which reminded me of a wedding cake. Towards the end of the streamway, the stream bed becomes sandier. Unfortunately we didnít make it to Riflemanís chamber. One of our group had be out by a certain time, and we had taken longer to do the trip than we thought it would. We passed the Blorenge inlet, and I thought Riflemanís was only 10 minutes from there. If I remember correctly we went for about another 20 minutes and we still hadnít got to Riflemenís, we carried on for another 10 minutes, all the time thinking the end was close. Reluctantly to get out in time we had to turn back - I bet the end was only about 100 metres away. All was going ok on the way out, apart from a wrong turn in the second choke (now the first), below the dodgy boulders, until I slipped on a cascade. It was an easy chest-high climb up. I was pretty much up the climb when my foot slipped, dropping me to the bottom of the climb.

Unfortunately my chest hit the corner of the cascade as I slipped down, which winded me. This wasnít really a lemming award moment, as it wasnít a serious mishap Ė perhaps a ĎMavis momentí is the best way to describe it. Mavis was the clumsy character in Willo the Wisp for those of you too old or too young to remember it. However I soon got my breath back and we carried on out. On the way out my lack of fitness started to show, and I was a tad tired and slow in the last parts of the entrance series. However it only took us 5 minutes longer from the point we stopped at in the streamway on the way out of the cave, than it did on the way in. This was Fumieís last trip in the UK before she returned to Japan. We hope to see you again Fumie!