David Wilson, James Perry, James Wilson, Matti Mitropoulos, Chris Hayes, Vlad Catanea, Astrid Rao, Tony Hu, Flora Wu, Kang Gao, Valery Kirenskis, Laura Temple, Erica Keung, Lubaina Clementwala, Alice Duhem, Kevin Sohn
We were just about to leave Beit when we did a final head count and realised we were missing someone. Whoops.
OFDII: David Wilson, Matti Mitropoulos, Valery Kirenskis, Alice Duhem, Kevin Sohn, James Wilson, Chris Hayes, Tony Hu, Flora Wu, Kang Gao, James Perry, Astrid Rao, Laura Temple, Erica Keung, Lubaina Clementwala
Breakfast prep was fairly efficient – Alice and I had everything ready in an hour or so, and by 10:45 or so groups and caves had been decided. It was a wet weekend, so we didn’t fancy OFD1, and for whatever reason Cwm Dwr didn’t appeal so we went for all in OFD2, keeping groups separate of course, never ever super-grouping. James summed it up quite well as he came out of the hut at ~11:15 – ‘Oh man everyone’s changed already; I wasn’t ready for this level of efficiency’. At precisely 11:59 we got to the entrance and dived in head-first to escape the sun.
I realised quite quickly my light was a lot more shit than I thought when I packed it, and made a note to tell Chris to buy some more Pixas; luckily Davey’s collapsible sun backlit everything from behind. I did quite a crap job of navigating from the front, but in fairness I didn’t have a survey and was just relying on the vague memory of one trip I did last year. Davey occasionally called from the back that I had gone the wrong way and we eventually made it to the end of Salubrious and made the obligatory detour to the Trident and Judge. We extended the detour to Swamp Creek, trudging down the knee-deep stream and climbing up the traverse high above the stream. Valery and I were joking that he shouldn’t drop his phone down, just as the glove tucked into his belt decided to yeet itself down the cliff. Luckily the stream was quite slow and I managed to climb down to catch up and collect it.
Through the ever-gloriously pretty selenite passage and down the next detour to midnight chamber. Here we rested for a bit in the total darkness, made some funny noises and set off to an offshoot – not midnight passage but nearby. There was quite a strange climb down some extremely cuboidal rocks, where a false floor was only a metre and a half down, but as my light swept over the gaps in the boulders the 20-odd metres below showed themselves and I had quite a hard time getting down. Nevertheless, everyone did, and we stomped back to the main route.
The next offshoot was to frozen river, the classy and fun stal-filled crawl. Back on my very first caving trip I had been assured that somewhere along that passage was a really pretty fish fossil, but we didn’t find it then, and we didn’t find it this year either. I’m leaning towards believing its all a lie.
No matter, back to the route, and we were nearing the scary edward’s shortcut traverse. Last time I had bum-shuffled, which hadn’t really been particularly nice, but felt easier than straddling the gap. This time Davey recommended a new technique: feet on the edge, lean over the gap and hands on the opposite wall. This made it actually quite doable, not scary at all. Now for the climb – Davey climbed up first, and started rigging the slings we had brought to make a handline. Meanwhile Kevin had tried to climb up the first bit but put a bit too much faith in his boots’ grip so slipped down a metre or two, fortunately landing on his feet, only bruising his toe. With the slings in place and a shoulder to stand on everyone made it up, leaving me to free climb it. We later discussed this at the hut and agreed that we should always just bring a 15 or 20m rope and leave it at the top of the climb as a handline – its so close to the entrance and makes it so much easier for novices. We made it out just as the sun was setting, befriending sheep on the way down the hill, changing in pleasant weather.
After an enormous dinner had been cooked and consumed we began the pumpkin carving. I was determined to redeem myself after last year’s flop, but unfortunately I made my spider look extremely yonic which drew major criticism from Perry and James, despite Lubaina’s encouraging words. The we began squeezing ourselves through the squeeze machine, convincing freshers that its worth the pain. I still had my scars from the Halloween trip 2021, and promptly renewed them in exactly the same place, funnily enough. Table traverse followed shortly after, and unfortunately this is where the club vodka started hitting me hard. I remember trying and failing to do the traverse twice but memory becomes foggy after that. At some point sometime later I was outside, being dragged across the grass by Kevin and Perry and collapsed. Then Chris was in a tree and I tried to follow him up, but I don’t think I made it up very well. Davey said about 10 times he was going to throw up in ‘the flowerbed’, but no one clocked that there’s not a single flower near the SWCC. Turns out he just meant next to the front door. Then we were back in the hut and Perry wisely handed me another cider.
I think we shouldn’t buy club spirits on freshers’ trips – I’d like people to know me at least a little bit before I embarrass myself that much.
I slipped on Edward's shortcut and almost died :( but I survived :)
Pant Mawr Pot: James Perry, Astrid Rao, Valery Kirenskis, Laura Temple, Erica Keung, Kevin Sohn
Cwm Dwr: James Wilson, Vlad Catanea, Lubaina Clementwala, Alice Duhem, Matti Mitropoulos, Chris Hayes, Tony Hu, Flora Wu, Kang Gao
Cwm Dwr II: Matti Mitropoulos, Chris Hayes, Tony Hu, Flora Wu, Kang Gao
Cwm Dwr III: Matti Mitropoulos, Chris Hayes, Tony Hu, Flora Wu, Kang Gao
I woke up when someone opened the living room door on me, a bucket next to me that was almost empty but had clearly been utilised the night before. Trying to stand up it became immediately clear by my extreme lack of balance that the night’s festivities was still having quite a noticeable effect on me. Nevertheless I got up and started making breakfast, hopefully not annoying the oxford people too much with my incompetence. Thankfully Alice came down shortly after, followed by others who took over the breakfast prep while I sorted myself out.
The response to my question ‘who doesn’t want to go caving today?’ was dead silence. Shit, that meant I had to go underground. Clearly we need to make the Saturday trips harder to tire people out more. Davey announced he wouldn’t be caving, but Vlad from Oxford said he’d like to join one of our trips as a second leader, taking his place. That still meant I had to lead a trip though.
It took me so long to decide groups I was practically sober by the time the little red book was filled. Things then started happening very slowly, and we got ready for our Cwm Dwr extravaganza – first Cwm Dwr 2, then Cwm Dwr, then Cwm Dwr 3.
Turns out Cwm Dwr 2 is actually quite a grim place – prone crawling in deep puddles for a good section of the cave. We briefly got lost because I wasn’t paying attention to the survey, but eventually found the correct way, only to immediately reach a 20m pitch. Turns out, there’s a 20m pitch in Cwm Dwr 2 – should have read the description. Oh well, back through the crawl and into Cwm Dwr – more crawling. Coming down the entrance pipe I had forgotten that it’s actually quite an involved free climb to the first chamber. Kang summed it up quite nicely: ‘You’ve got to be kidding me…’
No matter, we were fed almost immediately into the 45-odd minutes of flat out crawling. I did start getting quite dizzy pulling myself through the stream, and had to take a couple minutes rest once we reached the main chamber. Annoyingly the group seemed to quite enjoy that so we carried on, stomping through the caverns. We made the obligatory stop at the slide, and pushed on towards the boulder choke, where we had a snack and turned around. Here James’ group emerged from the choke, and so to avoid super-grouping we waited back.
Sigh… back into the crawl. It wasn’t actually that bad, but I was quite glad the see the sunlight again on the other side. Here Chris convinced us that we should follow through with the half-joking plan made that morning, and walked the 2 minutes to Cwm Dwr 3. It is essentially 3 minutes of walking, ending in a dig. Worth it for the cave count though.