Produced on 12 September 1988 on the Campus of UWIST Cardiff & Published on 17 September 1988 by Aberystwyth Caving Club
At long last Thrutch hauls itself back up to date! It's been a long uphill struggle, but at last we're back on schedule. 1987–88 turned out to be a rather mixed year, indeed a SPECULATIVE year. After the rather disasterous end to last year (Noon's and Taylor's East) things actually got worse. The near loss of a Fresher in Cross Roads was closely followed by the infamous South Wales breakdown leading to an uncomfortable night in Whitewalls. The bad luck with transits continued—instead of being unreliable, they never turned up at all for S. Wales on 23–25.10.87, the free 'replacement' for S. Wales, and Mendip on 27–29.11.87. What few trips ran were even further marred by The Gaping Ghyll fuck-up.
But still some trips ran, and the massive enthusiasm of the first years knew no bounds (in the pub at any rate). After the Yorkshire trip in February, by which time almost everyone in the club had been part of a rescue, we have at last shaken this new curse on the club—or so it seems...
The year has been remarkable for the intensity of the social life of ACC, our president being mainly responsable. The venue of the weekly Tuesday meetings lasted less than a term in the Crystal Palace Hotel (where we'd moved to at the end of last year from the Coopers) before being relocated in the Fountain Inn in Trefechan, mainly as a result of the fine Christmas Dinner venue it turned out to be. The year ended on a particularily high note with the participation of four members on the LUSS/ACC Picos expedition—the write up should appear in the next Thrutch in due course. Speaking of which, I am pleased to announce that this is the last regular issue of Thrutch that I will be coaxing into the world. Miss Rosemary Anne Charlton will be taking over from yours truly, to cover trips from August 1988—good luck! You'll need it!
On other fronts, the everlasting Cwmystwyth survey is progressing well, with many loose ends, especially in Pugh's mine having been tied up. Only the more noteworthy episodes are presented here. The main survey will be published in due course—hopefully in a year or so if all goes according to plan. I know I've been threatening this for the last two years but it may actually come to frutition this time!
Rumaging about in the archives of the Athletic Union (or the Central Athletic Board as it was then known) I discovered that this seems to be our 21st birthday year. If I can drag enough old members out of their retirement then we see a History of the club in print in the near future. So far I've got accounts back to 1973—the big strugele now will be to unearth a founder member from 1966.
I spoke of this being my last regular Thrutch—there will of course be three special ones now: (1) The historical review of the club; (2) a compilation of the mine surveys made in 1985–86–87; (3) and ultimately the Cwmystwyth survey. Anyway, at last I can hand over Thrutch in an up to date form—all that two finger typing at last bore fruit! As Lawrence Sterne (1713–68) said in Tristram Shandy:
Tis known by the name of perseverance in a good cause—and obstinancy in a bad one.
I leave it to you to decide which type of cause Thrutch can be termed.
Best Wishes to all you Speleobods
"Have a go at... CAVING".
Cwmystwyth Mines, 21.9.87
I have wanted to go caving for 5 years (don't ask me why) and now at long last here I was, standing by a low arch, waiting my turn to enter Crossroads Level. It was going to be REAL caving as well—I had seen the ropes, ladders and exciting looking ironmongery, previously only encountered in books.
Unfortunately said arch, which had looked like a promising squeeze, soon opened up inside. We ventured through some cold water (you'd have thought it was a metre deep from the fuss some people made) but the passage soon became drier.
I heard some vague warning about a hole but was too busy thinking how much better this was than 'caving' with a cycle lamp, being held back by the scruff of my neck by my anxious mother. Suddenly, Kath, who had been walking in front of me, disappeared. She was lodged in a 15' deep hole above flooded working and was quickly pulled out much to her relief. It was a lucky escape for I fear that had she actually fallen down the hole she would not have known much more about it. I for one was unimpressed at the time (not knowing ACC too well) having read many times of the Foolhardy exploits of several "irresponsible university caving clubs". I thought to myself 'Were I sensible I would get out of this Mine now and not have anything more to do with this club or I'll lose my live. If I want to cave I must find some responsible cavers'. But I wasn't sensible and let the "it won't happen to me" attitude prevail and so didn't leave the Mine.
However, on seeing the ladder, Barbara did decide to leave the mine. 'Have you seen that ladder, Ro?" she asked. "Not yet. but I'm really looking forward to it!" She gave me an odd look and replied 'I thought you were okay, but you're just as mad as the rest of them".
What characterised the trip were endless waits at shafts then much screaming (not from me!) and cries of 'I can't!' These words were screamed an astronomical number of times. Actually Paul subsequently said 'That was the worst group I have ever led' an astronomical number of times also.
After many eternal waits and some most enjoyable caving my turn eventually came to squeeze out on to the hillside. Relief was felt all round—Kath and Karen were relieved to see daylight and Paul and Joe were glad they did not have to make them nogotiate any more pitches. But I looked back at the exciting black hole and decided that caving was even better than I had hoped. Maybe Aber cavers weren't all that irresponsible...
Cwmystwyth Mines, 23.9.87
Relatively uneventful Lefel Fawr trip—many people decided not to come after hearing Karen and Barbara's account. Some changed their minds—taken in by my multiple enthusiasms—and then wished they hadn't. The memorable bits were:
- The knee deep water—quite cold due to all the icebergs floating in it. The passage also contains many vast potholes in which you may drown.
- The tram rails crossing a 4' feep ditch—'experienced' cavers run across these and then laugh as freshers nervously inch their way across.
- Rusty ladders missing many rungs which have "been there for years".
- A rotten plank bridging an "80' deep chasm".
- And of course—The Incline. Only two of us freshers made it up that—both girls I might add. I kept forgetting to attach myself to the lifeline. Fortunately no one saw this. Unfortunately for you lot, I didn't plunge to my death.
Bagged a superb position next to the door and set up our best display yet. Unfortunately no bottle of whisky to give nips to freshers—but those who'd drank it last night payed the price at Freshers' Fair, cluthing aching heads. Dismayed to find that everyone had to have a £5 A.U. stamp and had to pay £2 to join any club. Resulted in vastly reduced members—only 35 or so by end of day. Still, a good and very enthusiastic meeting at the Crysatal Palace in evening (our new meeting place, having got pissed off with the attribute in the Coopers), followed by a slide show in Bridge Street. Llanbadarn the following day was by far the worst ever—not only no members, but no one was seen to join any club!
Particularly successful surveying trip into 'the new extensions', concentrating on the New Lode. The rise ladder road which we'd previously pushed for 85' and looked so promising (especially as there was a 2" compressed air main going up it) unfortunately it fizzled out as an exploratory rise after a further 40'. Next we turned our attention to the huge stope extending off westwards. Halfway down in a short crosscut was a wooden box the size of a small suitcase—I gently lifted the lid to find the inevitable... it was crammed to the top with bang—not justy sweaty (i.e. very nasty), but covered by crystalline nitroglycerine (i.e. very, very nasty). So I lowered the lid even more gently and crept away.
At the bottom of the stope was a railed level, this gradually got wetter as we progressed south westwards. We waded just far enough to reach the Comet Lode. At last we had access to Gill's Lower Level! This is the deepest accessible level in the mine, 335' below Rosa Level, the entrance. Running out of time and feeling rather lonely at the nether-end of the mine we called an end to the day, well pleased with our exploration.
Paul and I'd rigged the Incline with handlines and everyone was provided with two cowstails—Result—an infinitely faster trip than we'd ever seen. The far end of the trip was improved by the introduction of a 15' abseil from the end of the Roman Level, followed by a 50' abseil down the footwall of the Graig Fawr Stope. Most people seemed reasonably enthusiastic and there were no disasters.
I'd already been on the Saturday fresher trip, but being possessed of extraordinary enthusiasm in those days, I squeezed onto the Sunday trip even though it meant I had to go without a light-even up the Incline. It made me feel terribly superior. Pride nearly came before a fall at the pitch from the Roman Level though—"Is this how I thread a rack?" I asked, waving rope, rack and krab above my head. The next thing I knew was that I'd been dragged back by the scruff of my neck. Then I realised what a pointy-head I'd been.
It was a rather long and uneventful trip, enlivened by the sight of bats at the top of the Incline. These grew in number from two to about 20, swooping around the small hole of the top of the pitch, obviously unwilling to go through whilst people were in the way. We didn't surface until the early hours of the morning—many of the freshers would never be seen again, but others would teel the urge to cave for many years/months/weeks.
'Day trip' to S. Wales in torrential rain. Considered Point Mawr Pot but abandoned idea, settled on Eglwys Faen eventually as a reasonable dry trip. Split into two groups, one playing about abseiling (it had stopped raining) whiulst the others did the through trip and poked around most of the side passages. Fairly uninspiring, slightly grovelly and damp. Main chamber surprisingly large though. Then group B went caving whilst the rest of us walked down to the Bridgend Inn in crickhowell. Many pints later (we were starting to get worried), they joined us having squelched down the Escarpment in the rain, to tell us that the transit was dead. Group A (the drinkers) being slightly wiser than Group B (the walkers) hired a taxi to go back up the Escarpment. The trannie was well and truly dead, so we had to spend a cold, wet, uncomfortable night sitting up in Whitewalls. The AA succeeded in drying the electrics out in the morning and we eventually returned through the floods to Aber.
First major social event of the year—mass gathering in the Downies and then onto the Indian. A break with tradition however—Ms. Clancy decreed fancy dress. Most folk made the effort, but it was disappointing to see that most of the first years were put off attending due to a misunderstanding that it was 'formal dress'—something they obviously lacked! Otherwise most successful.
After the disasterous S. Wales trip and the cancelled Mendip Trip (no transit) we at last got the chance to do some decent caving. However our previously bad luck turned into utter disaster—what would seem to be our main characteristic of the year.
Birkwith Cave & Calf Holes, 7.11.87
Parked at Alun for Rob and Co. to change. With massive efficiency the tackle for each trip was packed into different sacks and distributed: the Alun tackle with the Birkwith group and vice versa. Rob's group departed, and we drove across the Birkwith. Met a party from Wolverhampton Poly. who offered to take us down Calf Holes. Then discovered tackle muck-up. Burnt rubber back to Alun only to discover that they'd scrouged tackle off another group. Returned to Birkwith just in time to join the others—a reasonable enough novice trip in a wet streamway through trip.
Lower Long Churn, 7.11.87
Hitch turns into cockup into Fiasco. What promised to be an interesting afternoon SRTing turned into a stomp in what was actually my first cave with ACC. Very prophetic. Ho Hum. Rob rigged Alun mainshaft for us to join the rest at the Greasy Slab. We would then exit via Lower Long Churn whilst Grav would purssick out. However, found that Paul had taken my SRT kit to Birkwith so I joined Grav's party whilst Rob hung around waiting to abseil down to meet us in due course.
Lowish water and some long waits for reasons far too complex to go into. Rob was hanging around in mid air waiting for us, standing in his prussick loops. However due to a cockup in his rig he found he couldn't change over to abseiling mode again and so exited to wait for us on surface. We admired the shaft and then returned through Lower Long Churn. Later waited 1½ freezing hours on surface for the others to pick us up.
Bar Pot & Gaping Ghyll, 8.11.87
This is the sad tale of Bar Pot
(the one Carter talks of a lot)
It's most important to tell Stu
He'd be dead if he'd gone too.
After cold hours at Gaping Ghyll
where the 'pros' showed off their 'skill'
at rigging that quite aweseome pitch
(it didn't go without a hitch)
Paul took us down the Pot of Bar
and we embarked on journey far
I nearly abseiled without a rack
(stupidity Ro does not lack).
It wasn't far to the first squeeze
to get through that was quite a tease
I had completely no concern
of how I would make my return.
At the bottom I then did wait
the rest descended to their fate
and onwards, over slab of grease
(where my new Daleswear got a crease!)
Then I could walk, but those too tall
found it necessary to crawl.
We travelled further and did greet
the aweseome pitch of ninety feet
The first three went down and I did yearn
for my now long awaited turn
but as they went down, there were calls
of "Oh my God! My Bloody Balls!"
At least my turn to abseil came:
girls can abseil without pain.
Those other lights down far below
showed me how far I had to go.
On the way down as I cruised
I continuously enthused:
"This pitch is realy quite amazing
now you know why I love caving!"
Next we slowly had to creep
past a chasm, metres deep.
Then a long and stoney crawll
which our knees liked not at all.
At last we got to Gaping Ghyll
that was absolutely brill.
But as I looked up at that chasm
I had not even one orgasm!*
When we got there it was night
but up the pitch there was a light.
We yelled loudly and did shout
but in answer? We heard nowt.
For a long time I sat there
looking at this pothole rare
then: "Come and have some Mars bar Ro!"
"That's good of someone, I must go!"
I thought I was endowed with food
I ate my millimetre cubed
"Whose was that? You're really kind!"
"It was yours—hope you don't mind!"
Why were the 'pros' being so slow?
There was a lot we didn't know ...
Rob Jones in hanging the belay
had done some very fine crochet,
in fact he tied a super knot
that made poor Grav swear (quite a lot).
Another thing that was most wrong
was Grav's cowstail—too bloody long.
Rob's knot was quite a bitch
and left Grav stranded on the pitch.
So he hung there with Fell Beck
trickling coldly down his neck.
(Yes, I know, he had a hood
but that rhyme was rather good)
For help ran Richard, fast
over all the limestone karst.
He became extremely hot
(new furrey suits trap heat a lot)
"Come quickly!" he called CRO
"You to Gaping Ghyll must go!"
Of course you needn't be told
Grav by now was bloody cold
Cave Rescue soon went underground
and there a half dead Grav they found,
cluthing at a little sill
half way down Gaping Ghyll.
Of course none of this we did know
"They're not coming—we must go".
Their rope hung right down from the top
and in its end there was a knot
"Please untie that John" said Paul
"It makes it easier up to haul".
Then we returned the way we'd came
On the Journey we'd thought tame.
Meanwhile, back up at Gaping Ghyll
they had rescued a Grav, ill.
Rob was cold and Richard hot
CRO said "We'll de-rig this pot,
It's okay we all can cope,
Come on! Let's pull up that rope!"
But when CRO saw its knotless end
with Rob they went right round the bend:
"Have you never yet been taught
that every SRT rope ought
to have a knot tied in its tail
so off the end you can't abseil?"
Rob, looking at the rope wide-eyed
saw the knot had come untied!
"But I tied that know I swear!"
"No you didn't—it's not there!
It's obvious to that we
must teach you some knots for SRT"
Meanwhile us lot underground
that ninety foot pitch had now found.
Waggy went first, self lifelining
and found it quite knackering,
Mark was next, he soon did tire
of climbing that ladder of wire.
"Come on Ro, it's your turn now!"
I saw the ladder—climb it! How?
I had a box with the first aid kit:
"Bloody Hell! This weights a bit!"
Many times I called up "Resting!"
That endless climb was very testing.
There were other cavers there,
climbing ladders without care
"Please tell me what I'm doing wrong
this ladder climb feels very long!"
"Come on, thou must use thy feet
easy as walking in't street!"
After me then John (Nantwich)
wetsuit-clad came up the pitch.
Next to ascend was John Price
he was up there in a trice.
Last to come up, Irish Steve,
on that lifeline we did heave.
Then I said a bad swear word—
the first pitch I had remebered!
All to soon we were at its bottom:
Another climb? The thought was rotten!
In the wait, to sleep went Mark
"When he wakes he'll be in a nark
When he sees he has to climb
a ladder even one more time!"
"Come on Ro! It's your turn next":
I started climbing, feeling vexed.
In doing that bad squeeze most tight
I said words Mum does not think right
"Oh No!" I thought "Oh Piss" Shit!! Fuck!!
"I think I've become bloody stuck!"
The walls all movement did resist
and I am no contortionist.
I stayed quite still as if dead
until the two above me said
"Come on Ro, don't you start dying
please will you just keep on trying!"
Finally with one great heave
I found I could that crevice leave
and then (being crazy Ro)
I wished again to through it go.
But I went up and soon was out.
Bar pot behind, I looked about
and saw Richard, Rob, and Rob's bent rack
(he'd bent it in a limestone crack).
On the very way down Ingleborough
John made th disaster through—
a Nantwich ankle he did twist:
another accident on the list.
Somehow we got down to Clapham
and there met Grav, a drunkenman.
We next to Malham did drive
how on earth did we survive?
When us cavers left Yorkshire
CRO let out a massive cheer
But those idiots will be back
as common sense they seem to lack
They'll do stupid things for sure
and we will loose one evening more
Like next time in a flood they'll go
down a cave like, say, Swinsto...
(* Note: that's untrue—the Log Book never lies!—Ed.)
Two mile run aroun town in full caving gear. The more sensible wore boiler suits, but some idots/masochists (Tim and Grav) wore wetsuits! Knackering, and not helped by our being roped together as a team entry—many close calls with lamposts etc. Still, we won a bottle of whisky as the most unusual team entry. Word of advice—never, ever go running in pit boots!
A complete break with ancient, time-jonoured, etc., tradition—a fancy dress Xmas dinner at the Fountain Inn. And a good thing we chose it too as we'd never all have fitted into the Indian, or the Downies. Wide variety of strange costumes, including a Mars bar, a Xmas Tree, various transvestites, arabs, Nemesis, and a surfiet of pirates (with and without hands). Phenomenal amount of beer drunk thanks to our staying in one venue all evening, culminating in a lock-in. Later adjourned to Bridge Street for various sports, notably 'Are you there Moriarty?" A very fine evening.
Informed by the Pier that we had a booking (from a year ago) at the last moment. Resulted in a massive last-minute ticket sales drive. Everyone trekked around the pubs and in the end we made a £30 loss. It was okay as Pier parties go.
Another fine piss-up. ACC in Cerberus' bad books because most folk dropped out at the last minute. Some work on cottage then lunch in Wells. Later a coach to the Dinner at Cranmore. Good slide show on the Box Stone Mines. Back to cottage to continue drinking and to indulge in games etc. Hopefully the last event in the old cottage!
Mega-gathering crammed into a tiny cottage in the depths of the Lleyn Peninsular. Almost continual rain and check-ups by the landlady (there was room for 6, and we eventually admitted to having eleven!) Three minor trips—a circular tour in Cwmorthin Slate Mine on Monday, a wander around Parc lead Mine Nos, 2 and 3 levels on Tuesday and an abortive trip to the New Pandora Lead Mine on Wednesday which was abandoned when we discovered that the second winze resembled a bath plug hole! Also a little bit of sodden hill walking, but generally it was weather for staying indoors—so we stayed in the pub. Superb session on Wednesday night, and an even more evil one on New Year's Eve. One of the highlights of the holiday was Ro drinking half a pint of chili vinegar and (surprise, surprise) being very sick. Still, she won 10 cans for doing it.
Pleasant weekend at the Croyden cottage at Ystradfellte. John Carter continually enthusing about Bar Pot (yawn yawn) and t'other Jojn trying to live down his new "Blackadder" haircut.
Pant Mawr Pot, 16.1.88
Pleasant stroll over the moor and found the pothole without too much trouble for once. Much new SRT kit in evidence, it being the first trip after Xmas. Toddled along to 1st boulder choke, then some photos in the grotto just beyond. On through 2nd choke, and another photo stop at the Chapel. Yet more photos in the Great Hall; everyone tiring of John 'David Bailey' Carter by now. Some fun at the mud slides (more photos) and on to the sump (yet more photos). John having run out of film we made a relatively speedy journey back. Pleasant trip, though some folk seemed a little tired and struggled up the ladder at the end; then the 4 mile walk back to the transit.
Bridge Cave, 17.1.88
Grovelled along 200' of crawls and then popped out into a double-railway tunnel size streamway—most unexpected! Pleasant stroll down to the sump which connects to Little Neath, and a poke around various side passages. Astounded by the sheer size of the place as it easily surpasses all the caves around it.
Epic 10 hour overnight trip to tidy up most of the loose ends on and above Gill's Upper in the 'New Extensions'. Surveyed some hairy stopes off the "ladder road rise" adjacent to the Middle Level where the hanging wall was subsiding en-mass towards the footwall because of the extent of the open stopes. In some places the footwall was bulging upwards by up to 18" due to the uneven pressures! Cleared up all the loose ends, leaving Gill's Lower as the only lead beyond the crack. Very satisfying (but exhausting) trip; exited at dawn!
A return to tradition—a non fancy dress occasion at the Indian, the occasion being the presentation of a new award—the Nonsense Cup:
Once again we all meet up,
the purpose today is to present the "new" Nonsense Cup
The original was stolen by old Fent
to help him masturbate in his tent.
So here is the substiute to present to someone here
So get ready—no need to fear.
The cup is awarded—only from which is to be drunk tea—
to the person who has brought most humour to the ACC.
The first nomination was for our Grave,
the 'hang-loose' S.U.C.E.R. who the CRO did save.
The second was for 'Ro',
for her liking of the tasteful concoction of Chilli and H20.
However the winner who according to the tales
provided most entertainment in S. Wales:
his Black Adder haircut was a very funny sight
but not as amusing as the smashing of the Croyden Hut lights.
Of course our dear Edmond—sorry—John is the winner of this prize,
was it really such a surprise?
Well I hope you keep it safe and sound;
You'll find that now people will around you hound.
Jingling Hole, 13.2.88
After a leisurely morning exploring the tea and tackle shops of the Dales we drove over to Kingsdale to try out our new SRT, kit. Hywel went first, then John ("Not that I'm scared or anything—well, yes I am, but I want to take some photos".) His light got smaller and smaller. It was terribly lonely up there on my own and I really. felt my life was in my hands when I lifted the heavy rope to thread the rack. There being not much at the bottom of the 140' shaft, we returned to the surface. Once again I had a long lonely wait. And when I did prussick, the sit harness cut into my legs, my leg loops were too long and stretchy, and when I reached the top I had so much difficulty at the lip of the pot that I was pulled out. Worse was to come—when we got back down to the road the transit was still there; the other party was stuck down Swinsto...
Swinsto Hole, 13.2.88
The more hardy members of the club decided to attempt Swinsto. The trip itself was pretty enjoyable, our problems began after we finished the abseiling and last major crawl and were preparing to walk along the subterranean river system. When we got to the subterranean river systems edge we found ourselves somewhat stuck. The river had swollen slightly due, as we were later informed, to melting snow. At the time I don't think anyone in our group apart from maybe Tim knew what was going on. We sat at the side of the river for what seemed like ages waiting for the other groups who were stuck down with us (ULSA & YSA) to rig up what has since become known as the Grand Canynon of Swinsto.
After they had done this we began to traverse the canyon. Tim went accross first without any bother. I went next and fell into the raging torrent of Swinsto subterresterial river system. At first I thought I'd certainly drown, but then I stood up. Anyway, I went back to the beggining and started crossing again and fell in again, so I went back to the begining and fell in again. At this stage Tim told me to get well back and take a run up. I foolishly agreed to this and the rest is history. My Death Leap was perhaps the most dramatic and daring piece of caving ever performed by a member of ACC. After I had compleated this tremendous feat the rest of the group came along the Grand Canyon of Swinsto.
It was about this time that we actually realised that we were being rescued. The exact point of this realisation came when we saw this rather hardy looking caver cross the raging torrent using a tyrolean traverse. We then had to use the aforementioned technique to cross the raging subterranean torrent. After we'd crossed the raging etc. we then had to cross a well evil traverse. We were all amazed at the number of rescuers who were down Swinsto—there seemed to be hundreds of them down there, all taking the piss out of us and our feebleness. Anyway we completed the traverses and made our way out to surface where we were greeted by the other half of ACC.
Nettle Pot, 27.2.88
Kindly rigged by a couple of TSG lads. First pitch is 180' (4 rehangs) and very tight—abseiled down without a care about how the hell I'd get back up. Then waited half an hour whilst Hywel tried to tie a Y-hang for the next pitch. This was the very impressive Elizabeth shaft: 170' freehang. I went a bit too fast and burnt my fingers on the rack. Prussicking back was something else, especially the first pitch, and I emitted many naughty words. In fact I was quite glad to see daylight at the top, well for a couple of minutes anyway.
Peak Cavern, 28.2.88
Arrived at Peak Cavern to discover I'd forgotten my belt and one wellie. So a rather uncomfortable trip in one plimsole and one wellie. In through the gloomy, formation-less show cave, through some water and on to the streamway. First of all upstream to Far Sump to watch a diver going in, and a diversion into the very muddy Main Steam Inlet. By this time my plimsole was disintegrating, and caving in a wetsuit sock is painful and treacherously slippery. I waited whilst the others looked at Ink Sump (and more divers), and also the downsteam sump. Despite the discomfort it was a bloody good cave. Caving at its best in that glorious, gorgeous delicious, slimely, slippery cave mud: I did enjoy that!
A sign of the times—the 'mega trip' into Pugh's Mine becomes merely an SRT training trip! Leisurely descent to the 8fm. level and then a very cautious ascent of the manway to Gill's Upper. This is now so knackered that it is threatening to collapse—we had to prussick up alongside it and avoid touching it as far as possible. Once it's been photographed it'll probably be safest to demolish it. Went as far as the base of the ladder road on Gill's Upper on the New Lode in the new extensions. No hitches, but John and Ro had fun at the lips of a couple of the more awkward pitches and learnt how unpleasant prolonged prussicking can be!
Since our initial discovery of Bushell's Level at the top of the rises from Top Adit in the Crossroads system in May 1987 we'd not pushed any of the leads. We set this right in September when Paul performed some hairy thrutching to confirm that the two rises were blind and that two of the stopes were blocked. The last one, accessible from a winze at the west end of the level (and also from the west rise from Top Adit), 'went' but we ran out of rope. In February/March over three completely ridiculous trips we succeeded in pushing these utterly horrific stopes to their conclusion.
From Bushell's, a 50' abseil past rather 'runny' deads landed in a subsiding stope; a climb up at the far end gave access to a short passage and a 15' pitch onto more subsiding deads. These gave access to the base of a stope from which all the deads had collapsed, leaving drystone retaining walls precariously balanced on stemples. When Paul succeeded in pegging his way up the crumbling footwall of the 30' high stope I was amazed—and dismayed, for this meant we'd have to push on further into the horrible place! At the top of his climb a 15' ladder led up to yet another subsiding stope. To gain the passage visible at the far end Paul succeeded in pegging a traverse line along the footwall and penduluming the last 10' (off one peg aftr the two backups had pulled out!). This led to another 80' of collapsing stopes ending about only 50' from Turfstack Level, but unfortunately no through trip (to save exiting back through all those nasty stopes).
We surveyed and de-rigged, and back at the ladder almost got caught in small run of deads—for some reason it stopped just short of us. At the bottom of the ladder was a narrow winze 15' deep. I abseiled down and paused to examine the wood holding up the drystone wall lining of the winze. After an exploratory prod it collapsed 10' into the stope beneath. This meant that the entire lining of the winze (and God knows how much deads) was entirely unsupported. Such was my adrenalin surge that I climbed 8' up the rope hand over hand before the collapsing timber snagged it below! Did a very rapid change over to prussicking whilst praying the whole winze wouldn't run. Back at the ladder I chopped the rope—we lost about 50', trapped by the collapsed timbering—and we exited back to Bushell's before the whole place collapsed around our ears.
I wouldn't advise a visit to these western stopes on Fox's Lode under any circumstances—it consists entirely of subsiding deads leaving large precarious drystone walls balanced on single stemples. This was our most desperate pushing trip to date, and a warning to us that some bits of the mine are probably best left unsurveyed!
Manor Farm Swallet, 19.3.88
Now in the warm, comfortable MCG hut it all seems very distant. The fire crackles in the grate, Richard works out the accounts, John receives a cooking lesson from Delia Wagstaff, and my knees and elbows hurt. This weekend will be memorable for chasing around in circles, pushing the transit uphills, and going around smelling like a cess pit.
We'd intended doing Rhino Rift but it was already rigged so we tried for Manor Farm Swallet instead. I canonly conclude that we went down the neighbouring 'Manor Farm Shit Pit' by mistake—its famous as the most polluted sewage system in the world. After a 50' and a 20' pitch the delightful aroma of cow shit greets you. I will always remember, fondly, wading through knee deep foam and trying not to swallow the evil brown liquid. The third pitch was the last straw—why didn't I get a troll oversuit with divers' wrist seals? Why oh why? I got soaked in the shit solution and it all went down the back of my neck and I swore. 'I never used to wonder why I liked caving; now I'm wondering. God, what am I doing down here?'. Then I swallowed some of the numerous small flies. Totally revolting! Paul and John were maddeningly enthusiastic—'Where does this lead?' 'Let's go up here!' I only wanted to get out. Wallowing in super-saturated shit solution, we continued. At last we reached the sump. Brilliant! 'Let's go back' they said. The best decision' of the day. Ugh! Prussicking with shit going down your neck. Even the numerous pretties were no consilation. At last I prussicked out to beautiful daylight, rain and fog.
East Water Cavern, 19.3.88
Nice leisurely trip via the Traverse (amazingly polished 45° bedding chamber) and Canyon to the Twin Verticals—two 25' pitches, the last ending on a ledge in a 70' shaft. Poked around at the bottom and went down to the bottom of the Pots. It being Thomas' first trip we turned back at this point; probably a wise decision as he was all but exhausted by the time we exited. Very dry and sweaty trip apart from the entrance boulder choke—much wetter on our exit compared to a few hours previously.
Swildon's Hole, 20.3.88
What a cave! The best ever so far in my opinion (pretend I'm writing this before I went down OFD). Loads of cold water, and many cold boyscouts without wetsuits. Highlight of the trip was undoubtedly the sump. We couldn't do the round trip because the ducks were flooded—as fast we bailed, they filled up again. I've wanted to a sump ever since I discovered their existence. 'Piss in your wetsuit' Paul advised, 'It's a hell of a lot warmer'. 'Ugh!' we all said. 'Not in my wetsuit, it's almost new. Disgusting!' I said.
'Right, I'll go first' said Paul. 'Ro, you go next' said Richard and John simultaneously. I waited and watched him disappear under water. My mind filled with horrible thoughts. Then came two pulls on the rope. It was like a death sentence. Sometimes when fear rushes through you, you can't control nature. It was warmer. 'I want to do this, but then again, I don't... 'Oh, get on with it!' All too soon it was over (it's only 18" long). Fortunately we had to do it again on the way out. A bloody good trip!
A damp Easter in the Dales. Weather poor so we opted for 'safe, dry, novice trips'—and still had some nasty shocks. Did Lower Long Churn as far as the Bridge in Alun Pot on Friday. Fortunately we wimped out of doing the final two pitches down the main shaft, for on our way out a flood pulse arrived. The usually safe and small Long Churn streamway got sufficiently fierce that we were forced to traverse much of the way, and even abandoned the taqckle at one stage. Ro had the most difficulty, for being light she kept getting swept away (almost). Did Yordas Pot to Yordas Cave through trip on Saturday. The final waterfall was a little bit bigger than expected, but not too bad—if you had the technique. On pulling the rope down got a very nasty surprise—the sheath had broken completely at one point! Probably due to acid contamination.
Played safe and junked the whole rope. On Sunday went over to the Lakes and walked up Helvellyn via Striding Edge and Swirrell Edge—a superb day, and nice weather. Fair bit of snow on top: the ice axes were of more than psychological help. Amazed to see 6 people ski down the almost vertical corrie 500' to the still-frozen Red Tarn. Much fun glassading/bum sliding on way back. Finally, on Monday did Swinsto in (thankfully) normal water conditions and exited to glorious sunshine.
Minutes of the A.G.M. of A.C.C. held 14th May 1988 at the Downies Vaults
- The minutes of the last AGM were not read.
- The new committee was voted in; results as follows:
- Life Memberships were granted as follows:
- President's Speech
- Any Other Business
- Richard proposed that the Hierachy be abolished—defeated by 16 to 6.
- John Carter proposed that Life Memberships be abolished—defeated by 19 to 3.
- Lira proposed that he be elected as God in place of Alison Platt as Club Goddess—defeated by 21 to 1.
- Lira was proposed as Devil by Grav—carried by 19 to 3.
- Lira was proposed as the Anti Christ by Alison—carried by 20 to 2.
- Lira was proposed as a sexist pig by Elaine—defeated by 9 to 7 with 6 abstentions.
- Elaine proposed that the club elect an anti sexism officer—defeated by 6 to 10 with 6 abstentions.
- John Carter proposed Caroline Uff as Club Goddess—defeated by 7 to 9 with 6 abstentions.
- Cathy proposed Rob as returning officer in perpetuity—carried by 20 to 2.
- Stuart proposed that the club be renamed The Nelson Mandela Caving Club—carried by 9 to 6 with 7 abstentions.
|Stuart||4 (+1 postal)|
|+4 enfranchised candidates|
|Ro||5 (+1 postal)|
|John Price||13 (+1 postal)|
|Ro & Tim||20|
|+4 enfranchised candidates|
|+2 enfranchised candidates|
As another year comes to an end
Another AGM must we attend
Tonite we elect the new committee
and Lira will try and say something witty
Last year Lewis spoke of events in retrospect
It was quite funny I think I did detect
Well today I will talk about disaster zones
They seem to be quite common when some of us burrow under stones
First there was Grav who for many hours did lie
Thanks to the knots young Jones did tie
Next came the adventures of young Stu and Tim
Who went swimming in the Yorkshire caves for a whim
Finally there was the trip down Bar Pot
Where Ro, John and Waggy did nearly rot
Enough of this talk of gloom
Let me refer to the romances which now do loom
Last year the sex kitten was Alex before she did go
This year its been the title for our young Ro
She's stolen the heart of many a male caver
But now only Hywel does she savor
For young Ro we have a surprise -
She's been nominated as the receiver of the GOLDEN TOENAIL prize
Whilst on a trip in the middle of last spring
Some of her clothes did she forget to bring
First of all she had no wetsuit
Then she lost her boot
When down the cave she did go
For the entertainment provided she receives this golden nail from Lewis' big toe.
Ms. Clancy then concluded with the outgoing president's utterance:
It has been a SPECULATIVE year.
The AGM was then hurridly closed before it dissolved into complete chaos and anarchy.
Quick day trip down to Agen Allwyd courtesy of Hywel to make use of the permit we had for the weekend. Decided to do the Grand Circle. In via Southern Stream and back via main Streamway. Straightforward and no hitches (even in the boulder chokes!) until we found ourselves at Turkey Pool—we'd overshot Northwest Junction by almost a kilometre! Eventually got out, completely knackered—especially me. Hywel and Ro went to the end of term party at Pen-y-Lan that night but I simply went to bed—so much for Hywel's diversion!
Three day trip to Ystradfellte armed with an OFD permit, but defeated by abysmal weather. First day went down OFD II as far as Maypole Inlet to attempt to view the raging mainstream—the water at the fixed ladder in the tributary was to high! But the main stream certainly sounded very impressive. Spent a few hours exploring the passages between Selinite and Moonlight Chamber (which we didn't find). I was quite pleased at having been more or less successful in my navigation, but ruined this good impression by getting completely lost 100 yards from the entrance on our way out! On Sunday spent a liesurely few hours taking some photos adjacent to Chasm, and in Salubrious and Selinite. On Monday it was still raining, but being rather tired of OFD II we decided to do the waterfalls walk at the head of the Vale of Neath—most impressive. Just as we were packing to go home the weather vastly improved—sod's law!
It has been noted in certain circles that there has been a disturbing number of "mishaps" since the club commenced its activities this year (1987/88). Initially these occurrences seemed unrelated and were merely put down to coincidence and a certain degree of 'bad luck'. However, mounting evidence tends to indicate a far more sinister explanation. In order to explore this area more fully, we shall look at the build-up that has been taking place:
- On a fresher trip down Crossroads a young girl slipped and fell down a bottomless hole. She was only saved from certain death by her elbows getting in the way, halting her fall. We rang British Gas who said "What's this got to do with us?".
- A day trip to S. Wales was a catalogue of disasters. On arriving we were met by torrential rain and lightening. Thus prevented from going down the intended hole, two trips were made down a smaller, infinitely more boring one. Group A went down first whilst Group B practised SRT. Three hours later Group B went down whilst Group A practised pub games. By 11.00 p.m. the torrential rain had started up again, which was uncanny in itself, since it was exactly the opposite to what the transit was doing. Group B walked to the pub with the good news whilst three members continued, unavailingly, to start the transit. One taxi drive from the pub to the transit later (completely missing Paul on his way to the pub), we found indeed the transit was failing to operate. An extremely uncomfortable night was had by all in the Chelsea SS Hut. We rang British Gas, who said "What's this got to do with us?"
- The following weekend, the transit completely failed to appear at all, causing much distress and discomfort to all who had intended going to S. Wales. Again, we rang British Gas and again they said "What's this got to do with us?" By now a pattern was emerging. British Gas was refusing to take any responsibility; so was there another link, however tenuous? This final link made the jigsaw whole:
- On a weekend trip to Yorkshire both trips were badly marred. An equipment mix-up resulted in an embarassing situation down Alun Pot. The precise details of this are not known as the Police are still sifting through the evidence and a prosecution may follow. On the Sunday, three million passers-by watched in awe at the impressive sight of Gaping Ghyll being rigged. What they didn't see, as they were all immediately slaughtered by a passing tribe of Red Indians, was the cave rescue that shortly followed. On both occasions we rang British Gas, and on both occasions they said "Fuck Off!"
This didn't matter though, because the real reason behind these "accidents" had emerged—The Aberystwyth Caving Club had got a witch.
As I write this I fear for my life, as the following revelations point to the identity of the evil one. If you value your life, read no further.
On each of the above occasions, two people were present. Between then they have caused eons of chaos and havoc as they travel through time and space on their broomsticks. I speak of course of Paul Wagstaff, or as he was born Paul Lucifer Satan Wagstaff, and Ro Charlton, or Ro Beelzebub Desolate-One Charlton.
The evidence is overwhelming:
- As previously stated, they have been on every trip that has ended in disaster, loss of all limbs, or hairs growing on the palm of your hand.
- They both bought copious amounts of equipment at 'Inglesport' or 'Satan's Cash In' Carry' as they know it.
- In the past twelve months they have both spent large amounts of time away from the good christian community at Aberystwyth. Was Paul really doing a "Year Out"? And was Ro really in "New Zealand?" I think not. They were actually both at a withes convention in outer space, learning new techniques of evil corrputness.
I must end now: I have begun to feel quite ill all of a sudden. I hope someone finds this some day in the future and exposes these evil ones. I have a sudden cramp in my legs; my vision is going; I'm all hot; I can't breath... Aaaggghhhh...
R.I.P. Richard Griffiths 1987.
(Ammended To 17th September 1988)
- There shall be no editing or censoring of the log book.
- The principal hierarchy of the club shall apply at all times:
- Goddess—Alison Platt.
- Longest Serving Member/Master of the Lore.a
- Ex President.
- Life Members in order of their past seniority.
- Minister without Portfolio.
- Driver of the Day.
- People with tackle in their houses.
- Thrutch Editor.
- Publicity Officer.
- President's Favourite of the Day.
- Others (Freshers, etc.).
- Switzerland Trip Organiser.
- Pete Berlin (old jew).
- Non members.
- Free loaders, Fellow travellers, and Blacks.
- The code of conduct while speaking to members of the committee (see clause 2, positions 2,4,5,7,10,11,12,14) will be followed:
- To all, but the President, must be answered courteously and ending with "Sergeant Major".
- To the President, as 1. but ending with "Sir".
- To Life Members, as 1. but ending with "On Wise One".
- The meeting place of the Caving Club shall be the Coopers Arms on a Tuesday at 8.30pm.
- There will be at least one official Caving Club Dinner each term.
- There will be at least six unnoficial Caving Club Dinners each term.
- An annual masturbation contest will be encouraged to be held each year during the summer expedition.
- The Annual General Meeting will be held on Saint Dunstans Day, 19th, May, at which the Buckland Hymn will be sung to the tune of "Onward Christian Soldiers":
Lord Buckland is my leader,
Friend of everyone,
Peacock of the Universe,
Ruler of the sun.
- New members will be encouraged to learn the Seven Parts of a Button and when they enter their second year in the club, will be let into the mysteries of the eigth part.
- There shall be no copying in any form of the log book.b
- The constitution may only be changed at the Annual General Meeting.
- Voting may only proceed at the Annual General Meeting if a quorum consisting of twelve established members is present.
- There will be no thirteenth clause because of its superstitious nature.
- The constitution may only occupy three pages of the current log book.
- The Switzerland Trip will be cancled at every Annual General Meeting.
- Life Membership will be conferred on all members who have completed a degree course at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, and may be awarded to those persons who have given long service to the club, or those elected by a majority at the Annual General Meeting.
- The log book must be taken on every trip.
- There shall be a "Terminal Velocity Club", membership to be awarded at the descretion of existing members of that club.
- The Peoples' Committee will henceforth be regarded officially as an illegal and deplorable elitist group worthy of nothing but scorn.c
- The annual summer scientific expedition shall be held in Ireland each year.
- On the drawing of genitals—men only may draw those of men; women only may draw those of women.
Those belonging to positions 1,2,4,5,7,10,11,12,14 will confer with all others as subordinates and treat them accordingly.
- Defined as longest serving member living in Dyfed and attendant at the Coopers Arms at least one week in two.
- Except under the supervision of the Committee.
- See special file available to committee members only. File name: "Geheinestaatzpolizei 1983.IX.18."
We will abide by this constitution, and sign for all members. This constitution is considered inviolate for all time.
- Oldest Serving Member H.C.Davies, BSc, MSc, Dip.Mpal, PhD(pending).
- President 1983–4 P.C.Grainger, KC.
- Ex President (1982–3) D.Carruthers.
- Secretary C.P.Stayte, KC, TVC.
- Treasurer S.L.Frears.
- Life Member A.Platt, BSc.
- Minister without Portfolio C.Howarth, BSc.
- Thrutch Editor R.Protheroe Jones.
- Publicity Officer C.Lowe.
- Switzerland Trip Organiser D.A.Chamberlain, BSc.
The constitution was drawn up by H and the Lira on 18.10.83 in the Talbot; like fools the rest of the then committee accepted it. The constitution is based on three main things: (i) the long and strongly held belief of almost everyone in the club that the Log Book should never ever be censored; (ii) "The Bunce-Fenton Hierachical Principle of Spelaeology" (23.11.80—page 51 in volume 1 of the Log Book): "the basic axiom being 'maintenance of differentials'—(1) Fenton and Bunce have the most comfortable bed, (2) Davies, Mel etc go in the next best places, (3) first years suffer in damp and misery. Rule (3) must be enforced even if sufficient beds for first years exist. If no damp places are available Fenton and Bunce will provide these with buckets of water or urine. In warmer climes first years will sleep on hot coals instead."; and (iii) the various customs and traditions then existing in the club. The exact form in which the constitution was written was to expressly favour H and the Lira.
The following ammendments have occurred over the years: 11.2.84—clause 21 inserted, 16.5.84—clause 2(1) inserted, mid/late 1984—clause 2(20) inserted, 16.5.85—clauses 2 and 3 deleted, 15.5.87—clauses 2 and 3 re-enstated and clause 2(21) inserted.
List of past Presidents (and their words)
|1966—76||Lost in the mists of time||-|
|1978—79||H (Howard Davies)||-|
|1983—84||Lira (Paul Grainger)||Punctuated|
List of meeting places
|pre-1983||Glyngorse, North Road|
|1983—1984||12 Trefor Rd. (tackle in Rock House, Pier St.)|
|1984—1986||Nos Nibor, Llanbadarn Sq.|
|1986—||30 Bridge Stret|
- First published September 1988. Originally edited by Robert Protheroe Jones.
- This digital edition published on the World Wide Web June 2010. This volume was scanned and edited by Rich Smith. Hard copy supplied by Robert Protheroe Jones.
© 1988, 2010 Aberystwyth Caving Club