23/25 September 2005
Richard Venn, Jarvist Frost, Sandeep Mavadia, Clewin Griffith, Jan Evetts, Ben Ogbourne
Flinging ourselves out of London via the magic of the National Express, we were picked up from a dingy Bristol street by our local yokel, Ben. Zooming along to Churchill packed in the rather close confines of Ben's peeling Golf, Clewin posed the rhetorical 'Is that Jan?' question. Matched by a chorus of 'Where's Jan?', the question was rather more pertinent than usual, as we overtook his bike by a particularly dodgy looking estate, shouting a few exuberious salutations out the wound-down window.
There's always something that really grabs me at these conferences. This
year, somewhat worryingly like last year, it was cave diving - for the
shear determination in the face of sanity, digging gravel, in a
constricted passage, 60m underwater and filming it at the same time!
On arriving at the campsite on Friday night I found the least well
pitched of the three Vango Equinox's (alias 'the casino'), parked my
bike, brushed the curry from my clothes and located Rik, Jarv, Deep,
Clewin and Ben in the bar.
The next day, escaping the fog of noxious gases in the tent and
stumbling outside, I releived myself by the hedge, to the dismay of
passers-by; then after some festering in the morning sun, a quick run
down to the shops on the bike provided Ben with the ingredients to
create breakfast and hot brown (possibly tea) on his stove; and we were
heading over to the conference centre sooner than a Jarvist Frost Alpine
start to get our delegate badges.
As always choosing between lectures can sometimes be hard, there was a
talk on British Columbia by some random Canadian (in fact one of the
infamous Dangerous Dick And The Duckbusters) and one on the Nullarbor by
cave dive legend Martyn Farr (legendary partly for his entertaining
talks) - as British Columbia seemed a more likely travel destination for
me, than a vast arid desert in Southern Australia, I chose that and was
treated to some peculiar Canadian humour involving plungers and potatoes.
Rik's afternoon talk on IC3's expedition was excellent and well
attended, and afterwards I set off on my bike to attempt a descent of
Cheddar Gorge in record time, in my absence Clewin attempted to eat the
local pub carvery clean and subsequently was unable to move.
So in the evening, the remaining IC3 cavers went along to see the
Cheddar Blues Band and pull our best worst dance moves on the floor,
while Clewin suffered in the tent. Beer was drunk and with the sound of
drum solos ringing in our ears we eventually stumbled back to the casino.
Sunday mornings routine followed a similiar theme as before. While back
at the conference Rick Stanton gave a more in-depth talk on his diving
in Wookey Hole, and some further heart stopping dive footage. The day
was a much more subdued affair, tea was consumed and a long lunch taken,
the others disappeared back to Bristol soon after Cambridge uni's
Austrian expedition talk. I needed to cycle to Weston-super-Mare for a
train, but hung around for the closing ceremony with one eye on the
time. With the traditional technical palava it got underway about an
hour late, but unfortunately I had to sneek out early to get home.