This is DTT volume 4. Why? Because I forgot the last number of volume
3. Well why not. Symptomatic, I suppose, of the psychological
break with last term's events brought on by two weeks on expedition in
the Picos (this is no idle jibe). So where better to start volume 4 than
with a mid-expedition update of events from Spain, brought to you fresh
(if such a thing were possible) by some of OUCC's flying oldies back from
expedition this weekend. There's some news of caving in Britain too.
Sistema Sierra Forcada
Part the First in Which Paul and Jim Find Out The Truth.
Something was definitely wrong with the 8/11 = Pozu Cabeza Julagua
So Paul put a postulated cross on the map on the western ridge of Cabeza
Julagua. We then waited for a particularly wet and windy zero vis sort
of day to go look for it. A fabulous plan, we crapped out and were sat
in the refugio by 3pm. A few days later in much better weather, we set
out again to do some shaft bashing in the Cabeza Julagua, Cabeza Muxa areas
(yes all of areas 11, 13, and 4. Sneaks that we were we had decided to
hunt for Bafuno Canal de Texa in the unstated hope of catching Pozu Cabeza
Julagua unawares. Cave Finding Frenzy. Within a few yards of 8/11 we found
Dave was convinced he was right.
According to the survey the SIE would have to have rigged pitches 1-5 as
3 very strange drops to get to Peanut Crawl and then give up.
It was too far from Vega Ario and Cabeza Julagua to make sense.
Pozu Cabeza Julagua was surveyed in '79, 8/1 1 was marked SIE 84.
Cock a hoop! With four new entrances to brag about we headed of to Pozu
Cabeza Muxa to see if we could find the Bufuno. All we managed to find
was a couple of big sheep shelter caves with no going leads. Time marched
on we were getting
20/11 Paul shuffled down a rift until he ran out of floor (SIE O)
21/11 Pozu del Shades: Explored a la Brennan with reactofear sunglasses
down to an impenetrable gently draughting rift.
23/11 A very obvious open shaft 12 m deep totally obvious, no markings.
22/11 A few yards away in a limestone buttress, rifty stuff.
close to our call out time, so we headed round the 1/4 depression and
headed for the col to the South East of Cabeza Julagua. The route got pretty
hairy and we were forced round to the summit of Cab Jag and popped out
onto the ridge a few yards from the summit, we noticed a rifty looking
cleft, it was painted (faded), had some rusty bolts in. This was Pozu Cabeza
Julagua, accept no alternative.
Part the Second in Which Rob and Jim Achieve Depth Through Wandering
Around on the Surface
Recovering from a 12h+ survey pushing trip to the lower streamway of
8/11 I resolved (well AlkaSeltsered) to free the world from the tyranny
of Wet Cheeks and Codiene Phosphate by finding a lower entrance, and I
wanted to become dead famous as well. Tony had been getting wired up in
the rifts chattering about leaves and grass roots. Taking some rough survey
data I figured that the end of the know cave should be 300m North of the
entrance. Compass Clino Tape, Rob and me headed north from 8/11. After
an hour or so we reached our end point, before we started surveying a grid
we had a quick look for caves. Five minutes later we had another fistful
We continued into Vega Mohandi, crossed the spring line, and followed the
stream to a pretty little sink in the bottom. Back to Ario via the refugio
24/11 Big open shaft (20M "SIE O"): we found this without even looking:
it was in the way.
25/11 A draughting dig in an elongated breakdown area I thought this was
a reasonable draught until ...
26/11 A strongly draughting rift (Pozu Mohandi)
27/11 The Big Blowing Hole: checked with large boulders
28/11 The little Blowing Hole: a partially choked rift.
It was pretty obvious from the data that 8/11 wasn't going to get any
deeper, the mud sump was at the same level as the spring line and a few
metres away. So much for the £800 worth of fluoroscein. We did use
special stuff not the commercial available crap at £40/kg, or so
it would seem (details in the Ario log for the gossip hungry...Ed).
Part the Last: An Overview of Systems
Sierra Forcada (NOT pron. Sarah Fuck Harder)
With all the high level stuff the Tony, Chris, Tim, and Rob have been furtling
about in, plus the Map Room inlets the surveyed length should now comfortably
8/11 Original and Best
20/11 Pushed by Paul and two of the Hungarians connecting into 8/11 below
the fourth pitch
23/11 Entrada del Raptor: Pushed by Tony Tim and Steve Phipps into Wet
Cheeks rift (via Landscape Gardening NICE, and Hooting Dilophosaurs)
24/11 Undescended but pretty close to the inlet and aven in the Lower Streamway.
26/11 Pozu Mohandi: Gavin, Rob, and Richard made a very quick connection
into the streamway just before the mud sump and 5m from where Tony had
been climbing .
Things were about all set up when Tony, Jim, Chris arrived at Ario (I arrived
by separate post, via the Trea path thereby executing a perfect accountancy
bypass and avoiding Lagos altogether). People had obviously worked hard,
and the atmosphere at camp was great. Within a few days, it was becoming
clear that 8/11, had reached its obvious terminal depth (though who knows,
its a complex system), and was not actually Cabeza Julagua after all.
The REAL Cabeza Julagua is a finely decorated pit in with a couple of big
pitches, and where Paul and I found about 50 metres of beautiful calcited
new passage. But 8/11 rapidly blossomed into genuine system, reflecting
OUCC's commitment to finishing the job properly. Gavin, Richard and Rob
pushed the bottom entrance (found by Jim et all, making final surveying
and photographic trips much easier, and providing Steve R and the Camp
Hungary with the first opportunity for an excellent through trip. Steve
P and I had much fun, however, bimbling in the boulders of another cave
that Jim had found (bastard), and gone waooah! at beyond the first and
lovely pitch (bastard).
This was Entrada del Raptor, the third entrance to Sistema Sierra Forcada.
A horrible loose boulder slope led down to a squeeze onto a free-climbable
rift, into a huge and horrible loose boulder choke ("Landscape Gardening").
Once apparently free of the looseness, I traversed out to a lovely prominent
spike to rig a ladder into the depths. Steve watched. I nudged the spike,
just to be sure. It tumbled helplessly into the abyss. I froze. Steve watched.
After much deliberation, the remains of the spike still appeared the soundest
thing to rig the ladder from, so I did it. Steve watched. I climbed down.
It held. "OK, Steve, come on down". To his credit, Steve did It, and we
continued gingerly down through perched boulders to hit a streamway (now
evidently the main source of water for 8/11). Lovely stuff, but gradually
getting into classic Picos meandro. On reaching a nasty corner in the stream,
I bottled out, and we returned to safety, buzzing and unbruised.
On the next trip, Tony and I surveyed down to the start of the nasty
bit (sorry William!), and then pushed on. I pushed the corner which turned
out to be a Z-bend requiring a tight three-point turn "Pmax"(so
what's new). Things got better, then worse again (so what's new). Up to
find a passable bit, then squirm into a popcorn rift followed by two nasty
horizontal squeezes ("The Raptor"). Time to deploy the Seddon. A grunt.
An Echo. A grunt. An Echo. A Hoot! He'd done it, and we were into big rifty
passage going both ways. Hang on a minute, this is a bit muddy. Then, just
round the corner a soot mark, a ladder, familiarity: wet cheeks rift. Well,
at least we now had a system: would anyone do the through trip? Another
Classic Picos cave. Tim Guilford
The atmosphere at Ario was excellent, with huge quantities of cave enthusiasm
and little lassitude. Paul (el jefe) was doing a grand job, against odds.
Everyone was having fun. Dave B and Sean were having less fun, trying to
cave from Lagos with little support. They abandoned the expedition last
week. Gavin was exceptionally cheerful, and was busy setting up Top Camp
with Steve R and Richard: low snow makes many good entrances promising,
so next year may concentrate here. The Hungarian for "Fuck you" and "Polsch
Generator" is, curiously, the same word "Bustsmeg"
Lesley, Rob, Paul & Jenny down Swillies On Saturday, two weekends ago,
we left the drudgery of Oxford (work, millions of tourists, and grey, miserable,
rainy weather) and drove merrily to the Mendip in search of something better.
We finally got to the Hunters after having our patiences tested to their
limits - it took us an hour and a half to get through Bath. After some
grub and a beer we went underground. Nothing very exciting to report, but
there were very few people down there, which was good. Everyone off` on
their holidays perhaps. We wandered to sump 1. Rob and Paul went on to
sump 2 while Leslie and I went off to look at Tratman's. On the way out,
at the ladder pitch, our gear had been rigged by another party in a very
dubious fashion. They hadn't found our tape (left at the bottom of our
tackle bag) and had hung the tackle bag off the bolt at the top of the
pitch, so we could use the bag to haul ourselves up at the end. But, instead
of securing the bag to the bolt, they had simply looped one of its shoulder
straps over the bolt. Not the perfect solution to the problem of how to
make a tackle bag act as a tape.
We emerged from the (dry) entrance around 5 o'clockish, to be greeted
by gorgeous, sunny weather. What a surprise. Drove back to Oxford, stopping
at the White Hart, Fyfield, for a drink, and in Abingdon to drop Leslie
off. Everyone had fun, and hopefully we will be seeing more of Rob (Ewing)
and Leslie (from the Bradford) in the future.