Oxford University Cave Club

Expedition to the Picos de Europa, Spain, 1994

"La Verdelluenga"


The Initial Exploration of F64

Beautiful sunny day - just right for an alpine start to go exploring. At 1:30 p.m. we raced off to find F64. Having got there, a small (2 hour) delay was caused by having to collect the ropes which were left at F65 the night before. At about 4:00 p.m. I started putting in the first bolt of my life into the rock at the front of the rift, where, combined with some tape hanging off a nice pointed boulder opposite, Chris was going to construct the perfect Y-hang. Just before he went down he kicked this boulder to test it - and it nearly went down the entrance shaft with its tape, rope etc.. So we re-rigged a less perfect Y hang.

At 5:30 I finally lowered myself down the first pitch. Given I had only done one S.R.T. trip before I was glad that Rob had arrived to talk me through the first rebelay. Apart from that, he told me exactly what he thought of Chris' rigging. The first pitch opens out into a wide (~ 4-5m) shaft with beautiful white marbled walls. The second rebelay is about 20m down and is a hanging one - which again I had not done before. No problem though, at least not while going down. Facing toward the camp, there is a wide rift leading into the mountain away from E2 which awaits exploration. It's too far away to swing in while going down, but could be climbed from the bottom of this pitch(?).

Anette Becher

The 'Whistle Stop Café' is beautiful and banded with white. A wide rift led round a corner to an almost choked pitch - plenty of ammo. Rigged down the 15-20m on naturals, landing in the middle of a 1m wide rift. Downstream was choked, a too-tight squeeze beneath the choke appeared promising, and was hammered for a few minutes. I thought I would then check above it - climbed up and over the top of large wedged boulders, the way on completely choked. But, lo, 10 minutes of rock removal and the choke prolapsed, leaving a loose 45 degree sloping tube heading down 10 m, only one spear-shaped boulder poised tantalisingly at the lip, waiting for someone to breathe on it to send it down. Do not touch, except under the supervision of a responsible adult. Beyond the choked tube - a car sized boulder sat at the top of a slope, 2 second drop beyond. Passage 2-3m wide, 5m high. Its all going to go and go! Out of rope, we made a generally relaxed and contented exit, except for Anette's first hanging rebelay. A wonderful trip. Shouting down to camp yielded a night-time survey pushing team. Read on . . .

Chris Densham