The year 1976/77 started uneventfully for CUCC with yet another beginners' trip to Carlswark Caverns. A coachload of greater and lesser novices grotted their way through the Wonder Caverns and/or retreated to Eric's Café for chip butties.
Hopes of good recruitment were high and a large party of beginners made the long treck up to Yorkshire. Many of the standard novice trips were done. However by the time the Mendip Meet came around the beginners' enthusiasm had waned somewhat and only one first-year recruit came on the meet what's more he was one of the two that bottomed the Primrose Pot route in Eastwater! I hasten to add that he did have some previous caving experience.
The vacation meet to S. Wales was again poorly attended by novices - this possibly accounts for the high standard and quality of the trips done (including a visit to III and our first tackling of the Oxbow Traverses). The New Year Yorkshire Meet was similarly affected, and this time Penyghent was bottomed in five and a half hours by a team of six in low water conditions. Tatty also succumbed - the icy walk up being more perilous than the trip itself.
The Lent Term commenced with a S. Wales meet which produced, among other fiascos, a marathon eight hour trip in OFD I with some members not excelling themselves at the five foot leap across the streamway on the escape route! The term heralded the first of many 'Big Yellow Van' meets - transport in the form of an ex-GPO van belonging to Doug Florence - its use meant a vast reduction in travel costs (as well as comfort).
February saw us in Yorkshire again; 'twas very wet, not for the last time, and a potentially poor meet was salvaged by a fine trip down a very cold Alum Pot. Later in the term six members bottomed a flooding P8. Again in Yorkshire a huge crocodile of ten people (some from the NPC) did a trip down Simpson's.
The Easter Vacation saw us sampling the delights of Christmas pot, aborting on a wet Stream Passage Pot, and bottoming Hurnel Moss, a superb fluted shaft with some very pathological boulders at the pitch head and before the sump. S. Wales produced PYO, OFD, OFD etc. Andy paid a visit to the start of New Quaking, but not much further!
The start of the Easter term occasioned a 'boys' Mendip meet, with a crack team getting the first tourist trip into Tynings Barrow Swallet (which has since collapsed) and introducing Manor Farm into the club's repertoire. With examinations threatening, some members went to Derbyshire and had an epic 10 hour trip in Oxlow visiting most places including the Crabwalk in Giant's!
A very fine pre-tripos meet was had with Lancs-County and Marble Steps being done. Nearer still to exams two heroes did Rowter Pot on ladders. The traditional pre-post-tripos was conducted at Aggie, a party of six managing the Grand Circle after a day's reconnaissance trip. The passages before the final sump must be some of the best in the country. Unfortunately a final trip round the Outer Circle was thwarted partly by the elusive nature of the Summertime Series and partly by an exploding ammo-can.
The official post-tripos meet saw Bar and Jingling done on ropes (just for practice, honest) . Pippikin was descended and explored at length on the day of the Great Dales Flood and an exciting exit was made through the rather low airspace bedding before Cellar Pot. Later in the week Simpson's was rappelled, and Easegill Caverns were visited.
The expedition to Austria was very successful with CUCC making their deepest ever finds (see elsewhere in the journal for details). The year was wound up with an excellent President's Invite Meet - Jingling, Alum, Dis-Main Chamber, and Lost Johns' succumbed. A Simpson's-Valley Entrance trip proved more difficult than anticipated (who took the fixed ladder away?) and the meet finished off with a fine ladder trip down Juniper Gulf.
In summary then, a vast amount of sporting caving has been done this year. Novice recruitment was poor compared with last year, but those who stayed with us have been consistently enthusiastic. The year saw more private meets than ever being organised and a very high level of enthusiasm has been maintained throughout.
On the administration side, the year will be remembered as the one with no third year members. Thanks therefore to our graduate members without whose support the club would have ground to a shuddering halt.
A final thought for all those in established Dales Clubs who spend their time muttering about University Clubs and how often they get rescued. From my meagre experience I know I feel far safer underground with CUCC than with any other organisation I've ever been with. None of us use the established practises I've seen used by some clubs, such as self-lining down a rope using a Jumar on a three foot sling (think of the shock loading!) , climbing 50-100' pitches without lifelines, belaying ladders by the rungs, and so on. The principle of 'You stand ro chance of being rescuod if you don't go caving' seems to apply to many of these wise sages.
Having got all that off my chest, I only hope CUCC has no cause to meet the CRO next year!