Oxford University Cave Club

Extremero Expedition, 1991

Final Report

Contents

Pozu del Ojo de la Bruja or Pozu Jultayu (2/7)

Summary

Description

We are well used to rigging 2/7 now, so we did it very efficiently, taking four trips to reach just awesome. Short trips were also made into the cave, while it was being rigged, to explore the Somnambulist Series which leads off from a point halfway down the third pitch, Seventh Heaven. There was a slight hitch on the final rgging trip when a tackle bag was dropped from the top of the first pitch in just awesome. It fell 120 metres. It contained all the rigging gear needed for the rest of the cave. It also contained a cordless hammer drill worth nearly four hundred pounds.

The first camp went underground with strict instructions to find the drill. They stumbled around at the bottom of Just Awesome looking for a grey tackle bag against the background of grey rock by the light of flickering carbide flames first that were continually being extinguished by the spray and wind from the waterfall. They did not find the drill. The first camp spent its first night on the big ledge to try to reduce the otherwise peculiar task of setting up camp at Primula Point straight away. The next day all the gear that had been brought in from the surface was carried along London Underground to Primula Point. On the way the pitch up from Just Awesome was rerigged. Tony got so cold waiting for this to happen that he found a new passage, Tony's back passage, leading of the side of London Underground. The campers got to Primula Point to find that it had been swept clean of all the footprints from the previous year, which was a bit disconcerting because the camp is about 3 metres above the level of the stream. Even more disconcerting was the discovery that all the camping equipment that had been stashed on a ledge 10 metres above the stream had also disappeared. Alarmed by this prospect, and missing the food that they expected to find there, the campers came out a day early.

The second camp went down with strict instructions to look for the drill. The didn't find it. However, on the first day, taking a wrong turning, they reached choke Drusilla to find most of the missing camping gear floating in the stream. The second camp devoted its time to rigging the cave beyond Primula Point. The river level was about 30 centimetres higher in 1991 than in previous years, so a lot of rerigging was needed to enable cavers to reach the end of the cave has without getting water in their boots. The most contentious result of the de-rigging was a river crossing that was successively known as Densham's Dunking deviation, David's Devious Deathslide and Dickhead's Deathtrap. Argument raged back and forth over the relative merits of swings and Tyrolean traverses, and in the end a compromise was reached where both were rigged side by side.

The third camp went down with strict instructions to look for the drill they didn't find it. The third camp were so busy admiring the view on the surface that they forgot to go down the cave until the middle of the afternoon. They arrived at Primula Point very late and spent the rest of their time out of sync with the surface, despite strenuous efforts to get up an hour earlier every day. They reached the end of the cave to find that the ankle - deep wade across the stream of the 1990 expedition had become a waist-deep pool the size and colour (but unfortunately not the temperature) of a municipal swimming bath. While rigging a traverse line around the edge they came to a hole that no-one else had seen before. Investigation revealed a low wide passage, Tim's New Bit, that seemed to run parallel to the streamway. Lots of loose climbs led over over choke Egbert, and these were all pushed with enthusiasm, but without success. The third camp surfaced jubilant, and still 12 hours out of sync, to meet the rescue party sent down to find them.

The fourth camp went down with strict instructions to look for the drill. They didn't find it, although they did find a jammer that had been dropped in 1990 from the same place as the drill. The passage found by the previous camp was re-examined, and the remaining climbs were all investigated and found to be choked. Some climbs in the streamway just before choke Egbert were also examined. Dave Lacey re-rigged colostomy climb, a dreadful, muddy, example of bad rigging that had not been looked at since 1989 precisely because it was a dreadful, muddy, example of bad rigging. He was at the top, 30 metres vertically above the stream, when he dropped the bolt driver. He had time to say "B****R, F**K, S**T, D***" before it hit the water...

The fifth camp went down with strict instructions to look for the drill. They were in such a hurry that they didn't take any fuel with them, and when they passed the previous campers halfway down the cave and learned that there was no fuel at the underground campsite they were obliged to send a special messenger back out of the cave to collect some. To add to their woes they were also struck down with a mysterious disease while they were underground. Despite this they managed to find a 30 metre shaft, Big Sloppy Job (well, would you rig a shaft that deep, off one bolt and a wobbly rock). It seems that the end of the rift leading off the shaft is very close to choke Drusilla, and so is unlikely to yield much more passage. This is a pity. They also looked at the end of the cave, and found that the loose and dangerous passage into choke Egbert that was discovered in 1990, and for which high hopes were held for 1991, had been finally, irretrievably and permanently filled with rocks by the river. Lucky really.

The sixth camp went down with strict instructions to look for the drill. They didn't find it. The sixth camp was very busy. They pushed and surveyed Tony's Back Passage to a temporary conclusion, finding beautiful crystal pools and flowstone cascades. Big Sloppy Job and Tim's Bit were also surveyed to less auspicious conclusions before being de-rigged. An aid climb above choke Egbert was also attempted; Tony was pleased to hear singing from below him while he was climbing, although he was less pleased later when he found out that the singing was his lifeliner who had found himself falling asleep and was desperately trying to keep awake. The campers also made two attempts to reach the bottom of a pitch off the side of Soup Dragon. Thirty metres of rope did not reach the bottom; neither did fifty metres. The pitch was called Tantalus.

The second camp went down with strict instructions to look for the drill. They didn't bother. They moved the camp back to the big ledge. From here they had a brief look upstream and found that it continued easily for some distance. The next day they headed out, taking the camping equipment with them. On their way out they were met by a party from the surface, and between them the two parties de-rigged the cave to just beyond the top of Pessimist's Pot. The cave was de-rigged in its entirety on the following trip.

David Monaghan

Description

Contents , Summary

The full description of 2/7 is included in OUCC Proceedings 13. We give here the descriptions of the new cave passages discovered this year.

Somnambulist Series

This small section of passage is to be found roughly 15m above the floor of Seventh Heaven. A cobbly ledge, first reached by Dave Heatherington at the end of the 1989 expedition, runs along to an alcove where two routes lead off. A rift drops to the left and connects with Seventh Heaven; straight ahead an opening at head level develops into another rift. After a few feet it is possible to climb down and head "downstream" back towards the pitch in a larger passage. This ends at the base of the small blind pot where water sinks in gravel

Returning to the top of the rift, a squeeze is passed into the continuation. Another small blind pot is to be found on the right, but straight ahead a hammer modified passage was not pushed far beyond a corner.

Tony Seddon

Tony's Back Passage

A wide, high passage leads of from the top of a climb on the southern side of Heathrow. This passes a drippy inlet and an undescended shaft on the right. A steep climb up a mud slope leads to a boulder choke with no way on.

Big Sloppy Job

In the left hand wall of Bod, before the climb into Soup Dragon, is a 10m wide, 27m deep circular pot, dropping on to a flat, mud floor. A small cascade passage leads off at floor level. A 5m, overhanging climb leads down to a short pitch into a chamber with a suspended boulder roof. A tiny stream flows down a tight, muddy rift reminiscent of the top of Drusilla. The rift eventually closes down at a draughting hole from which comes the sound of roaring water.

Tantalus

In the wall of Soup Dragon, just after the traverses is a large hole. A short pitch leads to a muddy, loose slope. Round the corner is a second, larger pitch of about 50m. Initially the descent is in a narrow rift, but soon opens out to give an exposed hang in a large chamber, with an inlet entering from one side. The pitch was not fully descended due to lack of rope.

Tim's Bit

Just before Egbert, a low, wide crawl leads off from the right and sight of the stream. After several grovels in gravel, the passage splits. To the left is a series of very loose climbs up into a chamber in a boulder choke; several routes lead off but none go. Ahead, the passage continues as a low, wide, flat roofed phreas with boulders on the left. The passage ends at a boulder blockage which may be diggable.

David Monaghan

Contents, Summary, Description