Cambridge University Caving Club

Lent Term 1999, Newsletter 7 - 19th January

Welcome Back!! even if most of you were probably at the Pub last week. I hope you all had good holidays, though they seem like a long time ago to me. There were lots of trips over the holidays, so here's some of the write-ups. But first!


THIS WEEKEND. See Andrew Ketley for details and the sign up form. Despite all the propaganda put about, there are good trips down in the South West. I know I enjoyed the trips I did before Christmas


Earl writes: Theo, Erin, Tony and Earl went, staying in Clive+Sarah's flood-recovering house (no carpets or heating, but walls, a roof and a floor..) Becka and Julian T joined us on Saturday and we did Sell Gill, as rigging practice for Earl and a novice SRT trip for Theo and Erin. Earl's extra backed-up backup on the entrance pitch used up so much rope that he ran out 2m from the bottom, much to the amusement of some other cavers on the way up... Unfortunately the delay caused Theo and Erin to get cold waiting in the snow and wind outside. Becka and Julian went down the active route while Tony guided the rest of us down the fossil route. After a brief amble along the streamway we returned to the surface, this time Becka and Tony on the active route and Julian T leading the rest of us out on the fossil route. On the way back to the car, Julian T practiced skiing with wellies instead of skis, achieving considerable success. The welcome visit to the pub was followed by what can only be described as 'bizarre': some sort of late night raw garlic eating contest between Theo and Erin!?! The victor was unclear the following morning, but only one of them reported hallucinations... On Sunday Tony, Becka and Julian left for the Lake District. The cold trip on Saturday had taken its toll, giving a particularly nasty cold, and so we went for a short walk near Ingleton after buying a couple of books for the CUCC library.

Pre Christmas Yorks Meet.

A very big thank you to Erin who wrote all the following about this meet and also the New Year's meet.

Saturday 19/12 Tony took Yuri, John P. and myself down Bar Pot to the bottom of Gaping Gill. After we took in the 100m waterfall, Tony exchanged with Sam, Anthony, and Julia, who had come down Wade Pot.

Sunday 20/12 The group split in two, with the more experienced people attempting Penyghent. Sam, Julia, John Hunt, Andrew F., and I tackled the Pool Sink entrance to the Ease Gill system. If memory serves, after the first pitch we took a short diversion to see a ceiling covered with sparkly gold-toned bits (pyrite?) and straw--very scenic. After reaching the main drain, Sam led us to Gypsum Cavern, boasting gypsum crystals in patterns on the walls, and then on through a tight crawl to Easter Grotto, with all sorts of amazing stals. Once we finished caving for the day, we came back to the caravans to find that there was no fuel left and it was so cold inside the caravans that my olive oil had frozen solid.

Monday 21/12 Julian took Andy Firth and myself down Alum Pot via Lower Long Churn. Skirting around a few deep pools, we managed to remain relatively dry. Continuing our wussy-streak, we also opted out of the Cheese Press. After the first pitch, we were out in daylight, about 1/3rd of the way down the Alum Pot chasm. The rest of the pitches were exposed and the scenery was excellent. It was rather wet beyond the final pitch, so lacking a hand-line we weren't able to bottom the hole. On our way up, it started to snow. To Julian's amusement, Andy and I went out the rather wet bedding crawl (or swim, in this case) and ended up with our gear frozen shut.

New Year's Meet with Oxford at Bullpot Farm

Monday, 28/12: Mark, James (OUCC), Adrian (OUCC), Matt (OUCC), (Steve? (OUCC)) and I woke up to snow on the dales. After excellent grub at ---- (on the path you take from the car park to Bernie's), we embarked on a through trip County to Wretched Rabbit via Easter Grotto, leaving County rigged. Along the way James introduced me to the wonderful technique of licking your glasses to keep them clear. Tuesday 29/12 Mark, Wookey, Ian (RRCPC) and I went down Bull Pot Kingsdale. While sorting the tackle, we spazzed and forgot the maillons. Fortunately, Ian drove by and offered to join us with his gear. Still a bit short, we rigged the first pitch as a sort of weird y-hang where you had to abseil down one of the y arms. Mark found this a rather more technical intro to SRT than promised. Meanwhile, at the top of the second pitch I was trying to figure out how to reach the first p-hanger a dozen feet above my head without levitating. A well-hidden natural demonstrated the importance of actually reading the rigging guide. Taking the "dry" route down the slot, we managed to avoid becoming completely drenched, only to fall afoul of the 4th pitch. There I completely missed the second deviation and ended up abseiling into the waterfall. Wookey's aquabatics, penduluming through the waterfall and out to a rather improbably placed p hanger saved the day. Ian and Mark decided the pitch was just a bit too damp, so they pissed off to the surface. Unfortunately, at this point my borrowed light died (sorry, Tony) and the tackle sack for the 5th pitch was swept away. Luckily it was tied to the rope, unluckily it was tied to the end of the rope (doh!). I abandoned Wookey to 10 minutes of heaving and started upward in the dark. It's worth noting that while it took us over 5 hours to get in and of Bull Pot, the Red Rose de-rigging team (Beardy and Rob) was down in 6 minutes and out in about 45.

Wednesday 30/12 The day began with a bang as Wadders realigned his headlights with the help of another car shortly before reaching Bullpot Farm. It was unseasonably warm for the dales, so Wookey and Tess went mountain biking, while Wadders, Mark, Steve (OUCC) and I hiked up to Bar Pot. We made a wrong turn after the greasy slab and ended up crawling along a bedding plane for a few meters to a steep looking climb that turned out to have lots of holds conveniently hidden out of view from above. This led to the top of the 2nd pitch, bypassing the walk across boulders with a traverse line. After the pitch it was stoop, stoop, stoop, crawl through phreatic passage to the main chamber. Along the way we passed some nice cave pearls in the floor.

Thursday 31/12 New Year's Eve found Yuri, Tanya, Mark, Duncan, Steve (OUCC), and Kitty (squady) and myself on a short trip to Nettle Pot. After we scoured the wrong stream bank for a while, a local pointed us in the right direction. A stooping height entrance followed by a short, relatively dry, bedding crawl led to the pitch head. We had to belay from the bottom as it was rather tight at the top. Following the obvious path led to about 100 meters of well-decorated walking/stooping stream passage with lots of small stals, straws, curtains, cave pearls, and whatnot. Duncan and I gave the far bedding crawl a go until we got sick of the sheep smell, while the others returned to the pitch, accidentally exploring a side passage (the wooden bar means it's not the right way out). It took a while to coil the ladders in the confined space, but we made it back to the farm in time for our call out. Chris Densham was not so lucky. He made himself unpopular by missing his call out by 15 minutes and causing a scramble to find sober cavers on New Year's Eve.

Friday 1/1 Martin (?), John Hunt and I went down Lost Johns. I don't know about the others, but I had a pounding hangover which made everything very sporting. We took the Centipede route with that fun BattleAxe traverse (footholds, what footholds?). There were amazing sheets of calcite and the passages were beautifully colored by the presence of iron oxide. I'd have to say that this was the best trip of the week.

Saturday 2/1 Leaving Bernie's at a keen 3:15 in the afternoon, Mark, Duncan, Keith (OUCC), Simon (OUCC) and I ended up bumbling about in the dark and rain for what seemed like forever, trying to find Ireby Fell. Once the elusive concrete tube was located, Mark and Keith rigged while the rest of us froze. A group coming up the Shadow route told us that Pussy was impassably wet. At this we vowed to return again some day to do the cave properly; in the mean time it was a good excuse to skip the wet third pitch and thus avoid the indignity of wet furry suits. To his credit, Keith (who was already soaked) did go down Bell, while the rest of us made a run for the pub.

Sunday 3/1 Clare (??), Chris (not Densham) (OUCC), Y. (Bulgarian) and I wallowed in the mud down Mistral. Heading for the streamways, we ended up almost to Gour Hall before declaring ourselves lost and turning back. We passed a stal forest and no fewer than 3 digs, but the highlight of the trip was when Chris gave us a demonstration of his homemade headlamp. It has both colored and white LED modes and was rather bright. Apparently version 2 has better optics, with a denser grid of LEDs arranged in an elliptical pattern, and a longer running time. He promises to leave one in Inglesport as soon as it's out of beta.

Thanks to OUCC and Chris Densham for inviting us along. It was a blast.

The report from the Pre-Christmas Mendip meet will probably be in next week's newsletter, but I ain't makin' any promises.

Have a good week,

Tim Vasby-Burnie

E-mail: trv21 Phone: 509099

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