Arun Paul, Ben Honan, Christopher Bradley, Dave Kirkpatrick, David Wilson, Ho Yan Jin, James Perry, Jennifer Ryder, Rebecca Diss, Úna Barker, Zaeem Najeeb, Yurong Yu, Ahhyun Jeong, Nemo Godebski-Pedersen, Seth Ratcliffe, Chris Oliwa, Linda Liu, Lily Fang, Ada Chen, Oscar He
After many hours of driving and finally nearing the SWCC, Jennifer yelled ‘STOP THE BUS NOW’. David, the driver, was momentarily shocked before quickly pulling over to the nearest side road. A few noticed rattling noises for awhile and Una then noticed a tackle sack hanging off the roof rack. Things somehow managed to fall off the bus without any of us noticing it. Despite losing both Seth and Ada's kit bags, fortunately (?), we had spare kit and managed to get full kit for everyone.
I roll into Chester Station at around half 6 in the evening. A Bun arrives. Far later than agreed a Perry arrives also. And so we roll south westwards stopping at Aldi for Galahads, and a pair of roadsides for bladderial relief.
Upon arriving at the SWCC a few randos and a few IC are there already, all those who weren’t bussing. Someone mentions something about bus faff but doesn’t elaborate sorry what were you saying? OH hold up a Lot o’ notts have just rolled in! Hey Y’all. Many fresh faces.
Then our bus pulls in and many a stressed caver fall out, Jen yells at Perry for trying to help whilst being drunk. There’s something about the bus randomly deciding to eject kit due to being overladen, a new insurance feature of the union busses I believe.
We mingle. Some of us drink. We chat, some of us with the freshers. Bed? Bed.
OFD 2 Group 1: David Wilson, Ho Yan Jin, Yurong Yu, Nemo Godebski-Pedersen
Davey, Nemo, Yurong and I went into OFD 2 with the intent of reaching Top Waterfall. After a lot of faffing with kit, batteries and chocolate bars, we were ready to go. Most of the trip was all right and uneventful, and I was just glad not to have to do Edward's Shortcut. We stopped around to look at pretty things like the Trident and Judge, and took our time getting in.
The interesting bit started when we reached Maypole inlet and saw the fixed ladder pretty much submerged under a waterfall. This would probably have been where I turned around, but Davey said 'just go down the ladder and don't stop until you're down'. That was very good advice because having water going down my neck was highly unpleasant. We got down to the streamway, with the water levels higher than what Davey remembered, and accidentally stepping into the deep bits meant submerging to chest level.
On the way back up, the two climbs before the fixed ladder were really hard. My first try up the 2nd climb put my head right into the water, and I took a full mouthful of it. Davey gave me a knee to help me up. Yurong had a lot of difficulties getting up that climb, and couldn't get up even after Davey gave a knee. After some tries, Nemo was roped in to help to pull her up from the top while Davey pushed her from the bottom, and while I, at the top of the ladder, tried to use my foot to stop more water from going down (of little avail). Eventually she got up, but we were all cold and shivering by then. We had a chocolate bar and quickly went through the cave.
At the next challenging climb up (the 35 foot climb) where Davey left a ladder in, we heard Chris, Ben and Perry from the top and roped them in to help Yurong up. Despite all these, she still seemed to enjoy caving. Nemo was also impressive for remembering the way out.
That evening, I paired up with Jennifer for Pot and Sling, and attempted the Squeeze Machine and Cardboard Game but didn't fully commit to it because I didn't want to be in pain the next day.
OFD 2 Group 2: Arun Paul, Christopher Bradley, Linda Liu, Lily Fang
Morning all! Up and cooking by the time I get down, no pot of tea?! Amateurs, I get straight onto amending that. But forgivable, the president and ex-president are already off searching roads far and wide, vainly, for discarded kit bags. There’s only so many people that are needed to cook so after directing a few freshers to pans I retreat to take up position scowling into a cup of tea hoping no one really talks to me until I can think properly. Good handful of freshers are up and assisting with frying tomatoes or other things. Notts eat, then we displace them and take up residence, load ourselves with carbs and grease and tea. Jen balances the trips for today, largely intending to avoid the streamways because of water (ahaha, oops).
We fortunately have enough spare kit to dress everyone up for caving.
Chris and I are bound to bounce around OFD2 trying to see lots of variety and pretties, a highlights trip of sorts.
Chris leads us straight to the bedding chambers and on the way we realise one of the freshers’ lights is not working… Chris’s spare light isn’t quite bright enough and I don’t have my headtorch today (RIP). Chris valiantly swaps and emulates his first UG experience. We have some navigational fun up in the bedding chambers. ‘left or right?’ – Allowing Linda and Lily to have a choose-your-own-adventure. I improve Chris’s illumination situation by Macguyvering my superfriend torch to his lid with 1st aid kit duct tape and the spare cable tie on my battery box. Not bad.
We head down to Gnome passage for a gander and bump into a pair of Nucclings bouncing around with their traditional pineapple… What? But thanks for lending us your spare Fenix though Alex! We pop down into Salubrious via the corkscrew (DON’T FALL DOWN THAT BIG HOLE) splashing around trying to keep our wellies feet dry? BAM, there’s the trident and judge, large formations. Lily and Linda seem suitably impressed.
Since the tradition of fresher’s sandwiches was forgotten (sorry) I had packed us up a hearty lunch of saltandvinegar stackers, cave creams and whapped out a speaker to bounce all sorts of tunes around. Nooice. Had my phone wrapped in many tea towels (since stolen) in the daren so I took a few snaps of Lily and Linda posing with the daren and Chloe Tacklesac (their initiative) and took some cave selfies. Cute.
After eating, on the way to maybe trying to find frozen river we collide into many people. Yurong, whom Davey had unsuccessfully tried to sacrifice to the Cave Gods, embraces both Lily and Linda, searching for some semblance of comfort in the cold, wet, hostile cave. Something something Ben and Perry helped unclear..? Whatever, they’re okay now, we head past them to give them space and get lost for a bit.
Aight lets turn this around, stomp back down salubrious, pop out of corkscrew – Chris and I attempt to upwards squeeze out of it in a half-convinced memory that I once did it? But it’s impossible I’m sure. See a bit of arete chamber, pass back through big chamber near the entrance and we emerged with intact freshers, relieved but enjoyed the whole experience I think. Tired though.
Walking down back to the hut Chris and I are entertained by the random furniture features now adorning the hills. What’s the deal with the mound of chairs? Is it art? Bonfire? Art apparently.
All out, brews and brews, lets eat! Got some appetites now.
Did I hear someone say pan and sling? From across the room: ‘POT AND SLING!’ We attempt novel match ups for entertainment and ability-levelling purposes.
The game provides entertainment for many and for hours. Squeezing and table traversing occur later, simultaneously, for those who cared to indulge.
Evening highlights: doing good work as a tree, re-instating consistent tree-vine relationships (serious attempts aborted due to poor choice of footwear), Lydia being removed from the kitchen shelves. Talking to so many people before I know it its late and there are 3 of us left. Bed!
OFD 2 Group 3: Ben Honan, James Perry, Seth Ratcliffe
OFD 1: Dave Kirkpatrick, Rebecca Diss, Zaeem Najeeb, Chris Oliwa, Ada Chen
Cwm Dwr: Jennifer Ryder, Úna Barker, Ahhyun Jeong, Oscar He
OFD 2 Group 1: David Wilson, Zaeem Najeeb, Ahhyun Jeong, Ada Chen, Oscar He
OFD 2 Group 2: Dave Kirkpatrick, Jennifer Ryder, Chris Oliwa
OFD 1: Ben Honan, Rebecca Diss, Nemo Godebski-Pedersen, Lily Fang
Cwm Dwr: Arun Paul, Ho Yan Jin, Yurong Yu, Seth Ratcliffe, Linda Liu
Arun, Seth, Yurong, Linda and I went into Cwm Dwr, which was much wetter than I remembered. It was pleasant though, and we met Lydia and the Notts gang in the crawl on the way out. Seth seemed to really enjoy the crawling, odd.
Unfortunately I mistimed and am amongst the first downstairs and so crack on with the cooking, have to scowl at buttery pans whilst drinking tea until enough people wake and I can pass forward the duties.
Who wants to go caving?!
Everyone said everyone! Damn. Keen freshers, did we not go hard enough yesterday? Ofd1? Nah cwm dwr… but ofd 1? But also cwm dwr... indecisiveness.
So I head into cwm dwr with Yan Jin, Yurong, Linda and Seth.
Cwm dwr is fab! Navigation: get in, go down that obvious hole on the right, then do not do anything other than continue straight on until you exit the entrance crawl. After that, turn left and continue straight until you reach the boulder choke. Easy!
I get Yan Jin feel her way through the boulder choke so she could learn the way. For future navigators: enter straight in through that bit of a crawl and drop down in the water. Straight. Straight on, up on the right ish, soon, a pipe. Continue past that. Don’t go down that polished hole! 1 metre further and a squeeze up (with a pipe) through a lil puddle and that’s basically it mate. Probably. Don’t quote me one that
Fun fun, let everybody just explore. I sit in a hole and sing some songs at the dark, myself, then Yurong.
At the point where there is the weird sign about a cat. 2 crawl space we begin to get tailgated by Lydia and a pair of Notts. After singing some NBeddingfield we eventually we let them past.
Yurong: ‘are you sure this is a beginners cave?’ Seth’s fucking loving it, the masochist.
I sing them through the crawl with dire versions of songs to motivate faster progress. SSSSWIIIIIIIINNNNGGGG LOOOOOWWW.
Back out, 4pm. Perfect timing, satisfying. SWCC tidy, help pack up the bus a little then bail!
Car fiends back at it! Chatting and giggling our way back to Chester station. Good weekend ????