Thrutch Volume 1 Christmas 1979

  1. Editorial
  2. Birks Fell Rescue
  3. Warning to Cavers in Mendip
  4. Oliver 'Bear' Statham
  5. Caving in South Wales 17–18 Nov
  6. Quote of the Term
  7. Sulo Sulomen
  8. The Big Bang
  9. Life on Mars?
  10. Ogof Daren-y-Cilau (Thrutcher's Delight)
  11. A Reason for Caving, Or Conservation of Mass in Continuous Systems!
  12. Don't be kept in the Dark
  13. The Brummagem Caver
  14. Effluent Answers Questions
  15. Future Meets


Being the first issue of Thrutch, I will explain why the decision to give Aber cavers their own voice. Caving is now becoming a semi-respectable sport. There cannot be a house-hold in the country that did not see or hear about Messrs Yeadon and Stathams exploits in connecting the Kingsdale Master cave with Keld Head. With this increasing public awareness in our sport, we must make available information for those who seek it.

A second reason for publicising caving is that the club at present is top heavy with regards to interested and experienced members. Next year a large proportion of the club's active members will be moving on to better things. To keep the club active during the coming year will require a lot of work and organisation. To the people involved in the running of the club at present, this must seem a strange concept as the structure now is centred on the philosophy that if things are left long enough they will either be forgotten or be done by someone else.

I have made the first steps towards initiating this idea and have taken the burden of producing this edition. In future I hope this will become the responsibility of an elected editor and more widespread co-operation from members will enhance the final product. May I thank all the people who have kindly contributed to this edition and hope that in time more members will unleash their own ideas through this medium.

Cheers speleobods

Steve Simmons

Birks Fell Rescue

The latest information regarding the rescue of Thirza Holden from Birks Fell cave in Yorkshire reveals that a probable factor in the cause of accident was a direct breach of cavings golden rule. The party of four who eventually were rescued had spent the Sunday lunchtime before their descent in the Buck Inn. The trip should have been with 10 people, but in Thirza's own words "as the drink went down, so did the amount of cavers contemplating the trip, and so out of ten cavers, only four of us actually made the entrance". I hope this serves to strengthen our clubs' resolve not to mix caving and alcohol, directly anyway. Ask Howard about Mendip.

Warning to Cavers in Mendip


A new danger has to be added to the usual ones associated with caving. So far the danger is confined to Wookey and the deepest regions of Swildons, but it may spread.

This new danger comes in the shape of a 15–20ft. shark-like creature. It is believed to have originated as a mutation of a small goldfish lost in 1965 by a schoolboy in the Wookey show cave. The goldfish apparently bred with some sympathetic bats and the offspring were mutated by the lead from priddy mineries.

This bafish trognostis has a voracious appetite and unfortunately the only food source available is cavers.

The bafish trognostis has no eyes, but detects its prey by means of the disturbance to the water currents caused by the passage of cavers. It then trails its prey until the moment comes to strike. It nips the caver on the ankle and injects a paralysing poison, then the unfortunate caver is dragged back into its lair, usually drowning in the process.

The presence of shreds of neoprene in some strange dung seen floating out of Wookey has confirmed that these cavers truly have been eaten and not just nipped off to the pub.

Tim Lewingdon

(Taken from Cerberus Spelaeological Society Newsletter Vol. 9, No. 6m Nov./Dec. 1979)

Oliver 'Bear' Statham

It is with deep regret that I have to report the death of Oliver 'Bear' Statham. His body was found at his pottery in Sedburgh with the breathing valve on his diving equipment altered to allow in gas and exclude oxygen.

Statham, along with his friend Geoff Yeadon, was responsible for some major discoveries, including 2 1/4 miles of Boreham Cave. They established the world cave diving record of 6,000ft. from the Kingsdale Master Cave to Keld Head. It was for this dive that Oliver became the British Sub-Aqua 'Diver of the Month' in May.

He contributed much to caving and his death will be a great loss to people involved in this most dangerous aspect of caving.

Caving in South Wales 17–18 Nov

Members attending:- Pete, Steve, Chris, Martin, Dave, Lil, Colin, Eurig, Roger and Aitch.

Chelsea Spelaeological Society allowed us the use of their hut at an extortionate rate of 60p/person. Arriving on Saturday morning, we immediately decided on Agen Allwedd. This cave is one of Wales' longest and is expanding conrtantly as new extensions are found. The recently opened Ogof Garn entrance was entered and two parties separated, the first party consisted of Pete, Dave, Colin and Roger who were attending the Inner Circle trip but unfortunately were unable to locate Easter Passage.

The second group, Steve, Chris, Martin, Lil, Eurig and Aitch were attempting a general trip aiming for Northwest Junction. This trip was partially successful with 2/3 of the group reaching the destination.

The evening was spent in the Bridge, where Caving Club was very subdued for a change.

The next morning three groups were formed, Steve, Colin and Eurig were attending Ogof-y-Daren Cilau, grade 4–5. This was an extremely tight 2000ft. squeeze that opened out rarely into just as tight places. But very sporting even so. Dave and Lil tried Eglwys Faen and again found it to be tight. Pete, Roger and Aitch went to Aggie to walk to the Aven Series, whilst Martin and Chris attempted Easter Passage.

The whole weekend was excellent. Let's hope we can repeat it in Derbyshire where we've always managed a good laugh and certainly impressed the locals.

Quote of the Term

The Star this month, not unduly, was:-
Roger Cross in C.S.S. Whitewalls Hut, Bryn Mawr.

"We're from Aber.—just up the coast".

"I've broken my bloody spinal cord—I'll have to get a new one".

Sulo Sulomen

On 29th Sept. 1973, Sulo Sulomen, the secretary of the Pegasus Club was tragically killed down Eldon Hole.

Sulo is remembered by all those who knew him as a great character with a tremendous sense of humour, the depth of which cavers did not quite realize until it transpired at the inquest that Sulo was not his real name. He was really Paul Frost and did not come from Finland. He was a cockney. His mother, Mrs. Joyce Wynne, said at the inquest "my son was very prone to changing his name".

He also had another foible, a liking for other people's cars! His latest car—a blue 3 litre Rover—was "borrowed" from the Russian Embassy! A great traveller, in one week he went from Morocco to Gibralter 5 times! Thrutch advises you not to ask too deeply about members' backgrounds. Take Peters Land Rover for instance!

The Big Bang

The possiblity that someone has stolen enough enriched uranium to make an atom bomb strengthened yesterday with a statement by officials that chances of a clerical error were "diminishing". A routine inventory at the Nuclear Fuel Services Inc. Plant in Tennessee revealed that at least 20 pounds of the substance were missing. Simon is also missing—Manchester.

Is this too much of a coincidence? Could Si be planning to join Gaping Ghyll and O.F.D.? Thrutch leaves you to draw your own conclusions.

Life on Mars?

In the dim subterranean glow, a small black object lay still. On first impressions it vaguely resembled a human form, yet so hideously malformed, so utterly repulsive was it that surely it could not represent any form of intelligent life. Its skin was black, shiny and covered with a filthy slime. Suddenly the seemingly lifeless form was galvanised into action and tried desperately to remove its right leg from behind its left ear. Only another hundred yards...! Then the fortune would stop!

With its right leg now free, the creature slithered along the muddy surface, pausing only to pierce the inky blackness with its cyclopean eye. The roof above descended until the creature was forced to squirm horribly on its back. For what seemed ages this continued and then at last the roof lifted. The body stumbled over a boulder, then finally staggered on to two stumps that acted as feet. The claustrophobic tunnel had opened out into a massive cavern. After a moment's pause, the creature's attention moved to its own waist, where its two scabby, purulent paws removed a small brown casket. Its single eye focussed upon the casket and the lid was savagely wrenched off. The body's putrescent face contorted horribly into what appeared to be a gesture of acknowledgement. A claw was thrust into the casket and a small oblong object was removed. The object seemed to radiate light and warmth to the deepest recesses of the chamber. Eagerly, the creature discarded the other layer of the object and then pushed one end into an opening near the front of its head.

Suddenly the creature was aware of a faint glow in the direction from which it had just come itself. A shadowy figure moved slowly into the chamber and stood upright. An opening appeared on its face and the figure grunted "Hi, Rog, can I have a bite of your Mars Bar?"

Dave Blunt

Ogof Daren-y-Cilau (Thrutcher's Delight)

On Sunday 18th Steve, Eurig and myself decided over breakfast to venture into the depths of this elusive and rarely attempted cave. An hour later and breakfast could be dragged on no longer. Amongst the screams of agony as bodies were forced into very cold wet, wet suits, second thoughts were heard to emerge from a certain quarter (or third). Eventually we ventured out into the freezing wind and headed up towards the quarry where the cave is situated. First investigations revealed only a fairly recent looking collapse and a small very sharp hole between the boulders. "Maybe the entrance has been buried" said a certain third hopefully. However the entrance was found and we bravely ventured forth.

The entrance is a very low squeeze through a two inch deep pool of water, resulting in three wet ears. After this the passage gets slightly bigger and develops into a narrow rift, but movement is restricted to the floor where the passage is slightly wider due to the presence of a clay band in some parts. The first interesting point was reached quickly where the rift passage developed in a number eight shape, and progress was made by inching forward through the upper tube supporting yourself on one arm on the floor through the slot trying not to let your body or legs slide down and jam in the slot, and to make it a bit more interesting there was a right angled bend halfway through. The passage continued tight with flat out crawls, crawls over boulders, crawls under boulders and crawls in the stream. Eventually about halfway through the entrance the passage gets slightly larger and it is possible to stand up. Unfortunately this doesn't last too long and the second half of the crawl seems even smaller. Much of the passage is semi-circular with a rounded gravel floor and small stream which makes the crawling quite pleasant. The passage gets lower and you pass under some broken formations and finally leave the stream and emerge into walking size passage. Hanging over the entrance back into the crawl someone has put a large FIRE EXIT sign and the effort needed for this incredible piece of lunacy must have been enormous.

The passage to the right contains some superb formations, pure white stalagmites and crystal clear straws and ends in a choke after a short distance. To the left the passage continues round a short oxbow to a large collapse chamber; climbing up the boulders to the left you enter a long rift passage. To the right the passage continues for a long distance climbing up and down over boulders and passing some more fine formations. To the left the passage ends, after a short distance blocked by a beautiful dry crystal pool and a large glowstone. Hanging on the wall by the pool, was a small hibernating bat, dead to the world. The contrast between the entrance and final passages was amazing not only in size, but in the total silence at the end.

Having been suitably impressed we returned to the depressing prospect of getting out again, entering the crawl was very depressing knowing what we had to go back through. On the way out Eurig's Carbide Lamp gradually went out and the sweat shirt and jeans he was wearing over the wet suit got ripped to pieces till the sweat shirt was only held together by the neck and waistband and both were eventually discarded to join the rest of the shredded clothing in the stream. The only notable event on the way out was Eurig finding a dead Salamander(?) newt like animal in the stream. Eventually we remerged into daylight and staggered back to the hut to contemplate our bruises.

GOVERNMENT WARNING: This cave can damage your health and should be treated with respect. As the guide book says "For experienced cavers only."

Colin Bunce

A Reason for Caving, Or Conservation of Mass in Continuous Systems!

An eigenfunction of the Hamiltonian operator's diffusionstability has been proved to relate to the Crutcher Normal Vibrations and Co-ordinates inpolygonization within purely phreatic anastomosed cavities. If one extends any multiple effect coefficient through psychotropic agents into a total synthesis of absolute units then a definitive Von Kobell Scale of fusibilities for a closed system is gained. A differential or integral equation possesses solutions satisifying the given boundary conditions only if the Birefringence Biondi-Heidenhain mixture is allowed a total binodal reaction during deposition. Thus absolutely, inconclusively denying any totalitarian collection of exposure-density relationships to the researcher. Therefore one is led to conclude that active beings fall into one of two classes. These can be simplified into:-

  1. Cavers or
  2. Non-Cavers

I think this will answer any problems one may have found in explaining why one goes caving.

Any other queries to

P.D. Herzberg-Smith
Euratom - CEA

Don't be kept in the Dark

As some unfortunates occasionally discover, to have a light fade halfway through a trip is definitely an experience to be missed. It increases hazards, causes delays and results in less time at the pub in the evening. This undesirable outcome can be avoided by getting to know the equipment officer.

The equipment officer can be recognised by his acid-corroded clothes and flesh and by the pungent odour, occasionally varied by a whiff of carbide which clings to him. As is natural in such an important post, he is also a rampant megalomaniac, and easy to provoke. He can advise you on which cells are good and which are duds; whether you take his advice or ignore it will depend on your present relationship with him.

If he is not available, this means he is trying to kill you off and that none of the cells are properly charged. Your safest course then is to twist your ankle jumping out of the Transit; this involves no permanent loss of face. Do not break your ankle—you may be injected with antibiotics which do not mix well with beer.

So there it is, all you need to know about getting a good light. Of course helmets, lifelines, people on lifelines etc. are another problem.

Roger Cross

The Brummagem Caver

(Tune Manchester Rambler by Ewan MacColl)

I'm a caver, I'm a caver from Brummagem way.
I get all my pleasure the potholing way.

I may be in Cwm Dwr on Monday,
But I am down Swildon's on Sunday

I've been to Town Drain when it peed down with rain
And I've pitched my tent down Gapping Ghyll.
I drank so much ale on leaving Kingsdale
that I made myself violently ill!
My helmet has oft been my pillow
And the calcite has oft been my bed
And sooner than part from the potholes I love
I think I would rather be dead.


When we're in the Ancient, the landlord is patient
'It's only weekends' he explains,
We take over a room and sing out of tune
all the time we are pickling our brains
some cavers they work for a living
They tell me it's good for the soul
But it leaves them no time for the potholer and mines
So the best men are all on the dole.


There's pleasure in digging through squeezes and bragging
of super-severes that you know.
There's even a measure of some kind of pleasure
In changing in three feet of snow.
But I've been down Dan-yr-Ogof
Where the Green Canal stretches ahead,
And sooner than swim in that icy ravine,
I think I would rather be dead.


I once courted a maind, a potholer by trade,
Who was fair as the moon-milk in June
And the blue of her eye matched the bluejohn on high
And I wooed her from April till June.
On the day that we should have been married
We were searching for Pwll Swnd instead!
For sooner than part from the potholes I love
We thought we would rather be dead.


So I'll go where I will, under valley and hill,
And I'll lie where the calcite is deep.
I belong to the grottoes, those beautiful grottoes,
Where the straws stand in layers ten deep.
I've stood at the end of cloud chamber
And seen all the pretties outspread
And sooner than part from the potholes I love
I think I would rather be dead.


Roger Cross

Effluent Answers Questions

Dear Effluent,
I find I am unable to face my friends after I have been caving. I am experiencing total withdrawal from human contact and communication brought on by exposure to bat urine. I am really desperate.
Yours, B. Lay

B. Lay—try passing your lifeline back over the stal to give a better protection whilst laddering those pitches.

Dear Effluent,
Whilst returning from a trip to Alum Pot, a friend pointed out that I was dead. This came as a surprise, a shock even, as I have survived many 200ft. freefalls. Do you think my technique is at fault?
Yours, R. Kros

R. Kros—I suspect that it is your landing technique and not your falling that is to blame for your lack of life.

Dear Effluent,
I cannot think of a question to ask you.
I am, dear Sir, Yours truly, N. Prideaux

Nigel—I suspect that you cannot think of a question to ask me.

Future Meets

This term:-

Next term:-

* Any persons referred to in this issue are entirely fictitious—no resemblance to any person living or dead is intended.

Document history:

  • First published 1979. Orignally edited by Steve Simmons.
  • This digital edition published on the World Wide Web June 2010. This volume was scanned and edited by Rich Smith.

© 1979, 2010 Aberystwyth Caving Club