By Stu Coxon
We left the hostel with the intention and kit to look at the tight section in Cueva Donga and hopefully enlarge it. Our secondary objective was to have a look at the pitch in the entrance of what is now known as Practice Pot. Alistair and Dreads went over to Practice Pot to start the day. Alistair quickly donned his SRT kit, tied a rope around the tree above and took everything he needed to bolt down the pitch. Very quickly a shout from the hole came asking for a hammer. The hammer was lowered. A sound of drilling commenced. Tapping of the bolt followed. Another shout came. This time asking for a screwdriver. Much amusement on the surface followed and the request was rejected on the grounds we didn’t have one and Alistair should not be doing D.I.Y when on holiday. Instead we lowered down a rachet spanner, which on the whole was more useful. Alistair placed another bolt and then returned to the surface, muttering about the rope not being long enough.
Stu then took the sharp end and re rigged the rope off a sling round the tree, creating enough extra rope to place one more bolt and reach the bottom on a second rope. Alistair followed on surveying in. Upon reaching the bottom Stu voiced that we were at the end of the cave for us as it narrowed off into a muddy rift. Alistair disagreed and promptly got stuck into a dig. We made a few extra metres with the use of Alistair’sshovel hands and a hammer.
Upon returning to the surface we were greeted by Kelda and Will. Will had been down Cueva Donga looking for insects and had also been digging and extended Cueva Donga 4m (unsurveyed) upstream. Kelda had been prospecting.
After looking down several large shakeholes with no obvious entry points one had a large tree stump with the rest of the tree down the shakehole with just a small section of it exposed above the mud and leaf that has fallen into the hole. This had no entry point but just to the side as heading up out of the shakehole is an entry rift going down 10m to a large ledge of rock, mud and leaf. KJ went to get the rope and kit to descend the hole and see if it went. KJ met WB and he also came. KJ descended to the ledge and dropped a rock down the continuation of the rift which gets considerably tighter for a section. The rock hit the bottom and then rolled – an estimate of 30m so KJ came back up and went to find SC and AG to see if they had finished investigating the hole they were in and if could get some help and kit from them.
KJ and WB had also been wandering around prospecting and had looked at a few holes and were very excited about one in particular.
We wandered over and logged the hole as KJ1. KJ went down first and wasn’t confident in the rock for placing her first bolt. AG then took the lead, followed by KJ and SC. Upon descending we became quickly aware we were into a big hole. The start is an open shaft to a leaf, mud and boulder ledge. From here the cave changed into narrow rift down to a boulder slope with lots of animal bones! That was not the only thing of interest! The cave opens into a rift chamber with 3 onwards leads. We explored the dry rift to the right upto a boulder jammed in where the passage changes from walking to hands and knees crawling. Not explored beyond the boulder. Boulder is marked. A little further on from the rift chamber is a streamway. Upstream we explored 10/15m to a wet crawl but did not go into the wet crawl. Downstream from the rift chamber we quickly found a cascade (6m) which we handlined down due to running out of drill battery. Downstream from this a short section of passageway leads to another pitch. Due to not having any drill battery we did not descend this pitch. We returned to the surface to meet WB with tales of caverns measureless to man (mainly because AG would not let us survey!) a top days holidaying had by all!