Cueva del Nacimiento

The rising roaring noise in the distance marks the arrival at the Hole in the Wall, a small hole in the side of the cave passage that channels all the air coming down through the cave. Looking into the hole, is like sticking your head out of a car window…. with a face full of grit for good measure.

A small pitch soon follows and then once more the cave climbs up, until leveling out briefly at the sump. It’s at this point that I notice my chest harness has snapped, bit of a sobering thought as I’d just been pruskking up the last few climbs. The sump is more of a duck now, and the level has remained the same as last year, so we get through relatively dry. A couple more pitches and we reach Consort Hall, it’s taken about 4 hours, so quicker than we were expecting but a slow dawning of realization to the task we have undertaken.

Lunch is eaten and we set off once more, heading toward the back of the cave. The next few parts of the cave are probably the best, large, well decorated passages that slowly head up through some more climbs into Dan’s Big Room. From here we gradually climb down once more towards the start of the climbs for the Teeth of Satan and the route onto the stream way.

None of us have been to the stream way before, so armed with a 1979 map and various contradictory descriptions we climb up and over an obvious calcite blockage and into a large passage heading downwards. Gradually a rumbling can be heard in the distance and we pop out into a large stream way with deep pools. It’s great to be at the stream way, but it becomes quite obvious we cannot move up the stream way to the sump without full on immersion in the water.

We try a few different routes around the stream but they all lead to more deep pools. Eventually we backtrack around 50m up the passage to what initially looks like a rope coming in from the ceiling, but turns out to be 6mm dive line. Martin and madPhil make a start on climbing the wall once more while myself and Dave return to the calcite climb to fetch the rope and drill.

On returning to the climb, the others have returned having reached the sump via this route. The drill and rope is hauled up so that they can get down! Diving lead is dumped at the foot of the climb and we start the slow trip back out. The landmarks pass quickly and we are back at Consort Hall in about an hour and half. A bit more food and we set off for the entrance. It all seems a lot quicker on the way out and we reach the entrance at 9:30PM. Total cave time of 12 hours 30 minutes. Slog up the hill and dinner just before going to bed.

T69

T69

A part rest day prior to a big equipment carry tomorrow. A short trip to my favourite named cave, T69. Still unfinished after the last couple of years, we keep coming back to 69 as a possible quick route into the back end of Nacimiento. The current limit is a false floor of mud and large flakes of rock, with a big hole beneath, that rocks fall a considerable way down. The entrance gives of a slight draft, so it’s a promising site.

Martin arrived in the morning after a long drive from his French diving drip in the Lot so came along with myself and MadPhil.

Not much to report, the spoil and rocks from previous visits was cleared up, but an attempt to remove some of the rock with more explosive methods failed, when my firing pin failed to work and got stuck in the rock.  Packed up and came back to Tresviso

Revised GPS co-ordinates paces very close to Dans Big Room in Nacimiento, albeit 500m vertically apart.

Sima Bromista

Derek and Mark spent the afternoon relocating Sima Bromista, a cave we had failed to locate on 2 previous years out in the area. It took them all day, but it transpired that it was only 50m from a cave marked by Bob in 2010…..

A little bit of historical context

I’m not going to go into the usual arguments around, exploration, adventure, ‘because it’s there’ etc. but the following post briefly details a little bit of the motivation and competition related to the specific exploration in this area.

The Goal….

The main goal of the work, undertaken by LUSS and now by SWCC, is to attempt to find a route through the Eastern Massif mountain range from the deep potholes on top of the range to the resurgence (where all the water draining through the mountain range re-emerges) at Cueva del Nacimiento.

At the time of the original exploration, it was believed that such a cave would be one of the deepest in the world.  Around the same time as LUSS was exploring the caves of the Eastern Massif the Oxford University Caving Club (OUCC) was in the neighbouring mountain range looking for a similar deep cave to break the records.

 The 80’s…

OUCC, centred around the Ario plateau, were looking for a connection between the potholes in the Western Massif and the resurgence, Culiembro. In particular a deep pothole called Xitu on the plateau was the centre of attention.

In 1981 OUCC broke a couple of records, extending Xitu below -1000m, the first British team to achieve such a feat.  At the end of the 1981 expedition the cave had reached a depth of -1139m and exploration terminated at a sump.

Within 2 years LUSS, concentrating on Sima 56 (Cueto de los Senderos) surpassed this limit by 30m, reaching a depth of -1169m, with the last few bits of passage referred to as the ‘Oxford By-Pass’ and ‘FUZ2’ (you can work this one out..)

Despite numerous expeditions in the following years these limits in both the caves were not passed.

 The 2010’s…

In 2010 the sumps at the end of Culiembro were finally passed and the divers reached the terminal point reached in 1981 at the bottom of Xitu, making a -1264m traverse a possibility.

http://www.casj.co.uk/index.php/culiembro-expediton

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1303152/A-mile-daylight-4-145-feet–deepest-British-caver-been.html

 Last Week…

Finally the first full traverse from Culiembro to Xitu (and back) was achieved on the OUCC 2012 expedition.

http://www.oucc.org.uk/expeditions/expedition2012/2012_index.htm

This makes it the 3rd deepest traverse and the World’s deepest diving traverse.

Next week…..!

The caving world and exploration has moved on since the original exploration and the deepest cave goal is no longer geologically achievable.

However, modern mapping and GPS techniques still provide some exciting reading and recent extensions in another deep cave (Torca Jou Sin Tierre) in the Eastern Massif, still give hope for some records to be broken in the next few years.

Sima 56 – Cueva del Nacimiento would be a -1475m deep underground traverse, this would make it the 12th deepest cave in the world.

Torca Jou Sin Tierre – Cueva del Nacimiento would be a -1530m deep underground traverse.  This would make it the 8th deepest cave in the world, 2nd deepest in Spain and the 2nd deepest traverse in the world (I still need to confirm this… any takers?)

It would be a close one but we would just miss out on the deepest cave in Spain which is currently Torca del Cerro del Cuevon-Torca de las Saxifragas at a depth of -1589m.

List of deepest caves in the world.