Cambridge Underground 1982 pp 2-3


I shall abandon the normal practice of writing about a complete academic year and relate what has happened since the last "bit" ie. Summer '81 to Easter '82. At the end of last year the club was doing pretty well for itself, being large enough to do classic trips and still take novices caving. The pre- and post-tripos meets in very dry conditions saw Hammer, Gingling, Black Shiver and Pippikin all bottomed as well as many of the more usual trips. This slice of club history was rounded off by a very successful Austrian expedition, which was unusual in that most of the members were still at Cambridge or had just left and for many it was their first taste of foreign caving. Despite this lack of experience of expedition caving, a solid base of Yorkshire pot bashing, coupled with much good luck meant that CUCC got to its deepest ever: -680m (plus or minus a bit)..

So the academic year 81-82 opened with quite a reputation to keep up. The squash and coach meet to Carlswalk were as polished as ever, but at the end of it all we emerged with our lowest recruitment ever. To some extent this can be blamed on our unwillingness to extract money from people (!), and also on the recession with students being rather more careful how they spent their meagre grant; however it seems that the only people we didn't recruit were those who normally contribute to the ghost membership of the club, and overall we were in the same position as ever. One problem which became apparent during the year was the lack of sufficient experienced members both to lead novices and to go on glory trips, and we were fortunate that this year novice trips took preference rather than a peeling off of the "hards" into their own clique as has happened in the past. Last year was exceptional in that there were sufficient older members to allow both sorts of trip on the same meet. The solution seems to be to reserve vacation and private meets for classic trips and to look after novices on the normal term time club meets - to let them do their own thing can only result in disaster as was shown by the rescue in 1979. Anyway, amongst the pots we finally got down were: Rowten, Sleets Gill, Cherry Tree, Wade's Entrance, Slasher (bottomed at last), Lost Johns', Magnetometer, Disappointment, County, South Wales, Mendip including a fine free diving trip to Swildons 9; and for the first time in 8 years, CUCC actually bottomed Langcliffe, even if it did take rather a long time.

To do our bit for conservation we have joined the scheme run by "Descent" and adopted Tatham Wife Hole. On our first cleaning trip down there we removed two fertiliser bags full of rubbish; we hope to do this regularly in the future.

On the tackle front: to replace our decimated ladder stock, 100m were constructed in about 4 days, and it doesn't really seem worth building it in quantities much less than this, since once the skills have been relearned ladder can be churned out at an alarming rate. Despite the expedition, SRT was not used much in Yorkshire; I think the first flush of excitement has worn off and it has been realised that there are remarkably few trips where it is worth using. The club's policy of abseiling down lifeline (ie. 11mm laid nylon not specifically reserved for SRT) and self lining up has come in for some criticism. I think that the length of pitches on which we use the method (130ft or less), and fairly good abrasion resistance of the rope make the sacrificing of some safety acceptable for the increased speed and simplicity.

Our distance from the caves has supplied the usual problems, but slogging up the A1 does nothing but increase our keenness to go caving when we do get there. There were few private cars in the club this year and this has meant the additional expense of hiring a minibus and/or cars but it looks as if the University Societies Syndicate will be subsidising transport to some extent and this will certainly be quite a breakthrough. On other financial matters, we get far less money than most other university caving clubs, but have evolved a reasonable system whereby only ladders, lining ropes and belays are owned by the club; and lights, krabs and SRT ropes etc. are individuallly owned. Producing a journal every year almost bankrupts us, but we survive somehow.

The older members (formally grouped together as EXCS) have been as active as ever in Yorkshire and elsewhere, and it is largely because of their efforts that this journal exists. You can read about Magnetometer further on, but not mentioned is that after many years of hard work, the Goyden - New Goyden connection has been established by divers Rob Shackleton and Julian Griffiths. Undergraduate members are too busy pot bashing and gaining experience to worry about such sordid and time consuming activites as digging, and although resident members can hope to do little original exploration in this country, there is always the surveying to be helped with at the end of it all, and the chance of glory in Austria. The ex-members are a vital part of CUCC, to provide experience when the club is flagging, inspiration ("the time we bottomed Penyghent in only 14 hours"), and to maintain the continuing traditions of the club.

To sum up then, this year has been largely successful, despite the apparent lack of new members, and this just goes to show that no matter what happens to the club, it will still bounce back; for where two or more are drinking together - there is CUCC. I look forward to the 1982 expedition; it should provide good reading in next year's journal, and wish the club a healthy future.

Pete Lancaster.

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