Today after a very late start, Emily, David, Derek and Duncan left for Marniosa. The 40 minute walk from the top of the sobra valley was pleasant, get into the cave was not fighting our way through brambles and gorse…
I (Duncan) had been the only person to have previously visited the cave and thus lead the trip. We planned to rig the entire route to the steam but because of our very late start time and my painfully slow rigging we bailed out on the 4th pitch once we had rigged it, in favour of going home and getting a relatively early night.
Also I learnt a valuable lesson, it’s all very well spending quality time reading the topo guide and getting the ropes ready but not remembering which rope you need for which pitch well…makes for a trip that ain’t gonna go right!
On the big pitch the rope did not touch the floor so David went back to the previous pitch and cut the excess off (because we had used the wrong length rope for a short pitch) and turned that into a traverse line, releasing the main rope for the main pitch.
At this point we all headed out.
Whilst we had only achieved half of our mission it was a good introduction to the system, tomorrow we will head back and complete the rigging ready for the cave divers and do some exploring upstream.
On Sunday Gareth, Mesh, Derek and Duncan went back to Wigan pier to find the sump. It was Mesh’s first time into Agua. We quickly got back to the main passage and spent hours walking up and down it searching for the elusive bypass. At one point Duncan found a promising way up on a treacherous moon milk slope. Gareth and Mesh went up it only to discover yet again it linked back to the main passage. They also had a bit of an epic coming down it as it was incredibly slippy with few hand holds.
Plan “B” was to bolt around a lake at the end of the passage and climb up. Mesh had attempted earlier to climb around the edge but a handhold gave way and sent him tumbling into the lake. Thankfully he was not hurt.
With the lake edge bolted we climbed up put in a hand line down for the descent and carried on. We passed colourful red rock and calcite. We split into 2 teams searched for a while and then regrouped. Re read a description and decided to head back passing under some annoying drips, this turned out to be a useful maker as just around the corner was the kit kat wrapper marking the way on. We had all passed under this without seeing it.
Time had run out and we headed out for some more punishing walking up and out of the gorge. The mountains were tipped with an orange glow as the sun was setting.
I think it is going to be a case of third time luck!
Emily, Gareth and Duncan visited Agua today in search of the sump and a bypass to it in a section called road to Wigan pier. We had a late start and got into the cave at 13:30. Duncan lead the way in as the others had not visited Agua before. We installed the hose to drain that annoying pool, it had worked a treat as the pool was almost empty on our way out.
All our efforts kept leading us in loops back to Clapham Junction.
We went back to Black hole and went left. Here we entered large passage with a blue rope hanging from the roof. This was the marker we had been looking for and found the sump. We left our kit in this area and headed out for the punishing walk up and out of the gorge. Absolutely knackered and a great first day exploring lots of new passages to me (Duncan).
I also have the dubious honour of being the first to fall out of the boat… 😉
After spending 30 mins on the M27 outside Portsmouth due to motorway being closed, Duncan and I made the ferry with only a few minutes to spare. Looking forward to two weeks caving, sun and good company. Just enjoying a pint of Guinness
The Picos de Europa is a range of mountains 20km inland from the northern coast of Spain, forming part of the Cantabrian Mountains. It consists of three main areas, the Central, Eastern and Western Massifs. It was the Eastern Massif that drew the attention of Lancaster University Speleological Society (LUSS) in the early 1970s.
The early years were spent pushing Cueva del Nacimiento (Cueva del Agua) located at the foot of the mountain range. Over the years this was pushed to around the 11km and +300m mark, but after several years the cave was abandoned as the major routes sumped and no continuation could be found. LUSS turned their attention to the Andara region higher up the mountain range and sought caves that would drop into the Nacimiento system and create a record-breaking 1500m through trip.
They eventually found a number of deep caves around this ‘top camp’ area. Sara, Tere, Flowerpot and the -1169m deep Sima 56 (at the time one of the deepest in Spain) were all pushed to respectable depths.
Many years were spent pushing the top camp systems but the way through remained elusive.
The idea was always to connect Sima 56 through to Nacimiento, a through trip of around 1500m vertically and ~5.9km horizontally.
Exploring Sima 56 downwards is an incredibly large undertaking (approx. -1129m deep, lots of pitches). Upwards from Nacimiento will also be difficult, the furthest point in 1986 was a +200m ascending ramp, followed by some avens with surface debris.
Depending on what you look at, the difference between Sima 56 and Nacimiento is about 3km, but they have overlapped height wise. Some of the known undescended shafts on the Sierra del a Corta are right above the furthest point of Nacimiento.
Recent SWCC activity
In 2005 a small SWCC trip found a number of undescended shafts on the top of the Sierra del a Corta. Al2 remains unfinished.
In 2009 a joint SWCC & SBSS trip further explored Cueva del Entre Cuetos, located on the Sierra del Corta. The 1996 limit at -100m was passed and the cave extended down a number of new pitches to an immature stream way that may repay a further visit
In 2010 SWCC and SBSS spent 10 days examining leads around the Sierra del Corta and Valdeladiezma, including a number of promising draughting shafts. (T69, T507, T504). Torca Septrin, on the Pico Boro, was also revisited and extended for a few more metres and remains an ongoing project.
In 2011 SWCC Cueva del Nacimiento was successfully bolted and re-rigged all the way through the cave and up to the current limit of exploration in the final Death Race 2000 chamber. T69 was investigated further with some digging revealing the head of an un-descended shaft.
In 2012 SWCC spend 3 weeks further exploring Cueva del Nacimiento, including a successful dive of the Upstream Sump, not visited since 1986, extending the sump further and deeper. Death Race 2000 was climbed and a series of pitches descending back toward stream level was discovered.
In 2014 SWCC and others further explored leads in Cueva del Nacimiento and revisited Torca Septrin
In 2015 the Tresviso Caves Project spent 2 weeks exploring Cueva del Nacimiento and discovered new extensions above the Death Race 2000 chamber.
The 2016 expedition will be undertaken over 2-3 weeks from end of July into August (dates TBC)
The expedition has a number of objectives. The following are a few primary objectives:
Cueva del Nacimiento – Die Hard – Jurassic World
The 2015 expedition successfully reached the highest known point in the cave, the ‘Jurassic World’, with a number of leads left open
Sandy dig at end of Jurassic World
Multiple climbs in Jurassic World
Multiple climbs in Die Hard
Cueva del Nacimiento – Pina Colada Bypass
A 3-10m rift heads off from the Pina Colada sump
Cueva del Nacimiento – Teeth of Satan – Wet Aven
The 2014 expedition partly climbed a promising aven, part way up the Teeth of Satan ramps. The aven requires completing with a possible continuation at the top.
Cueva del Nacimiento – Grand Circle
The Grand Circle is an area of passage around the main stream way at the far end of the cave. Although explored fairly rigorously in the late 70’s this was before the advent of more powerful lights and better equipment. Given the profile of the cave, exploration in this area would be worthwhile to try and find a middle dry phreatic level above the Far Upstream Sump.
Cueva del Nacimiento – Parting Friends
This sump lies about an hour from the entrance and is a short 8m dive to a second sump, currently at 200m still ongoing. A dive at this site is planned towards the end of the expedition.
Approx. 200m above the furthest point in Nacimiento is the Sierra del Corta. A heavily wooded area with a number of promising leads, that could potentially drop into Nacimiento and provide an easier route into the back to aid exploration
Cueto de Entre Cuetos
The 2009 trip pushed this cave down to a small stream way, this still requires pushing and the cave is in a good central location for dropping into the top of Nacimiento
The 2014 trip re-discovered a large 100m shaft on the Sierra del a Corta. Another good central location for dropping into Nacimiento, this requires some digging at the bottom
Discovered in 2005. A drafting shaft not yet bottomed. Jurassic World in Nacimiento appears to be heading directly towards this site
Time and resources permitting there are a number of secondary objectives that will be attempted:
Pozo Del Castillo. Reinvestigate the possibility of resuming exploration of the Castillo system, currently at -293m .
Locate draughting surface entrance, close to 80m aven beyond Sump 1 in Cueva del Marniosa