Chris and Hannah required a dry way into Segura. Phil responded by rigging a few pitches down Pozo Castillo. Pyro lead us to the start of the ropes from the previous trip. There was a snow plug. We went down it. A few blind pots and cold feet later and a sump was located. Time to find the sun!
Phil and Pyro started some surveying, as an attempt to connect the dots with Castillo and try and find some missing bypass to the collapse. Using a Distox and a Nexus 7 with Topodroid (excellent bit of kit!) we started surveying a number of areas; Castillo pitches down to main junction, Castillo crawl and a few further upper series passage. While approaching the Castillo crawls, Pyro pointed out that he had taken team over the top of the crawl, and that the crawl lead to FT16 probably. I felt a bit of disappointment, in that I had hoped that the area of the snow plug that the others were working may have been beyond the collapse, but it was looking more likely that they were in Segura 1 or an undiscovered mine area near the surface. We went into the collapse and I had a quick look, compared to last year the snow appears to have melted further (no much snow in the picos this winter) and exposed more wooden props. Maybe it just needs some balls of steel and slide down the snow plug at one side, into lower ‘ante-chamber’. 80’s description suggest this is the way forward, possible the collapse is no worse than it ever was, just we are not as hard as the French.
After a quick stop at the snow plug entrance, where we couldn’t hear Hannah or Chris, we exited and located Segura 1. A short adit, straight onto a wooden winch platform, with nice soft rock and muddy underneath (scary). This was the same winch platform as can be seen from below, in the snow plug cave. Again disappointing, but serving to clarify points of entry and conditions. Exit again and met up with others.
Friday 14th July
Lots of illness and injuries running through the expedition personnel, myself and Bob headed up to the White House, so that I could survey the ‘new’ snow plug (FT16) and derig. Bob had no SRT kit and Emma was taking some kit to Fallen Bear with others before meeting us with her SRT kit (never happened). Bob and Phil surveyed, Segura 1, Upper Crawl Series and a few little passages. There was still no sign of Emma so I donned my SRT kit and started surveying FT16. One massive snow plug with various stages of melt, proving tricky and unnerving. Obviously the survey equipment malfunctioned, requiring a long sit on a patch of snow. The bottom of the plug suddenly ends in some driven mine passage, containing old mining ladders, before a final pitch down to a sump / flooded level (probably same level as flooded pot in Segura 2.
Started de-rig to eventually greet a worried Bob, who thought I was either buried under snow, or taking too long and he would miss the pub.
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