Austria last year was plagued by bad weather. Promises of fierce Alpine sunshine did not materialise as a damper was put on the proceedings. Nevertheless, much prospecting was done, numerous holes were found, and this year's expedition can look forward to two holes wide open at 270m and 200m, and the prospect of linking the Stellerweghöhle system to a higher entrance increasing its depth to 990m.
Back in Cambridge, the Club year got off to a good start. The squash went well, or so we thought, probably mainly due to the catering arrangements. The coach trip to Carlswark succeeded in getting 45 freshers cold, wet, muddy and either jubilant or miserable in two waves and record time. This, combined with our quick persuasive tongues and charming manners produced a large number of new members.
As seems to happen every year the departure of a number of the club's oldest and most experienced members at the end of the year left the club with only a handful of cavers capable of leading trips. Fortunately those who did remain did come on meets and did take novices caving. We saw a few years ago what happens when the experienced cavers form a clique and leave the novices to their own devices. Luckily this was avoided. The lack of experience at the beginning of the year poses a perennial problem with much concern being expressed over what will happen next year. I can see no solution to this problem. The idea of recruiting a large number of members at the beginning of the year to provide the next year with experience just doesn't work. Most people don't like caving and nothing you can do will make them. You're stuck with the fact that only a small number of people will stay with the club and gain the necessary experience. This year, therefore, thanks to those who did remain to lead novice trips. Caving has gone on as normal with a full minibus hurtling up to the Dales every fortnight during term.
These term time trips have been well attended by new members and the caving has been more orientated towards the novice. It also became possible to hire cheaper minibusses as we had a driver over 23; this, with the travel subsidy provided by the Societies' Syndicate, brought the cost of travel and accomodation down to below ten pounds for the weekend. Vacation meets have become quiet affairs attended mainly by experienced cavers who are then free to do their own thing.
Socially the club is as active as ever. The Wednesday night pub meet in the Granta became the club's focal point. Nearly all the active resident members descend on the Granta much to the delight of the charming Landlord and Landlady. The other weekly pub meets still occur though are slightly less well attended, and Tuesday lunches are still popular. Numerous parties have been thrown, some exceptionally good, some awful. The dinner came and went bringing with it the traditional debagging of the president, and the soon-to-be-traditional secretarial streak. The dinner also incurred the wrath of the college authorities who showed their displeasure in a material fashion.
We will return to Austria this summer mainly by default. CUCC has had summer expeditions to Austria for the past 8 years now. This year interest was expressed in going somewhere else, preferably more 'exotic'. Austria requires little organisation and since no-one was willing to do the work necessary to go elsewhere, we are returning there.
Finally I would like to thank everone who has helped in the running of the club over the past year, and wish the committee the best of luck for the coming year.