Oxford University Cave Club

2004 Expedition Reports

Picos de Europa, Spain

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13/8/04 John Pybus Expedition member Matthew Robinson injured himself while at the Ario surface camp. He dislocated a knee while climbing into his tent!

Apparently the dislocation reduced without assistance. The following morning word was sent to the nearby Mountain Refuge Hut who were able to make radio contact with the local hospital. A helicopter arrived and took Matt to hospital in the town of Arriondas (though they were unable, or unwilling, to take any other expedition member with him in the helicopter).

Matt was discharged the same (or early the next) day, and started to make his own way back to the UK. This happened before other expedition members, who had to hike down to the road head and then drive to Arriondas. The confusion arose because Matt left the hospital and started back without contacting either the expedition, or his parents (who were in telephone contact with Mike Hopley -- expedition medical officer).

Apparently, Matt got back safely to the UK, and is now with his parents.

10/8/04 Rosa Clements Hi everyone: Pozu Chicago is currently going strong, with great big pitches, a beautiful fossil passage, an undescended pitch that looks like it has a way on at the bottom, a climb that should be looked at more, and lots of windows to swing into. There is a problem though. There are currently only 2 people on expedition so it is impossible to explore Chicago or do anything else useful. With just one more person the callout system could work and it would be possible to explore this exciting wide open cave. If you are considering coming out on expedition, please do so. We desperately need more manpower.

Also we have lots of vino tinto, an improved cow defence system, and possibly the best tarp water collection system in the recent history of expeditions. See you on expedition soon I hope! Rosa.

27/7/04 Arry Frazer Hi: I've just got back from the Picos, where Mike, Rosa, Gareth and Keith asked me to send a message to all those waverers thinking about joining the Spanish expedition this year - please go, exciting plans are afoot, but they are a little short of man and woman power! They're currently surveying and pushing Chicago and shaft-bashing to find the entrance to downstream 2/7. Oh, and the weather and the views are really beautiful (not that you'll notice down a hole!)....

If anyone wants advice on buses and how to get hold of the expedition, I'm very happy to help if I can. Cheers, Arry

26/7/04 Keith Hyams Greetings from Spain!

Expedition is now in its third week and several interesting shafts have been bashed and logged. There is a team surveying chicago as i type and a trip is planned for the near future to push the rift at the end and swing into some windows identified on one of the pitches. Shaftbashing has been going well over the last week with trips to the forest on the lower slopes of extremo in search of an entrance to downstream 2/7 and a couple of trips to the blank mountainside between the xitu and muxa systems - finds in this area including a hole with a howling draught coming out of it which is to be investigated further... Yesterday also saw a trip to the Cares gorge to see what we could spot from down there.

If you are thinking of coming out to Spain but haven't quite made your mind up yet please please do come, and the sooner the better! With one member leaving today we're now down to three people and its hard to get stuff done (let alone safely) with that number - even one or two more people could make all the difference! We have several promising leads to go at, lots of vino tinto (and sangria which we have discovered is even more yummy) and gorgeous sunsets... go on, you know you want to...    Luego, Keith

17/7/04 Al Wilson Greetings from sunny Ario - camp is fully established and the first caving & shaftbashing has started, although we're severely hampered by lack of manpower. If anyone can make it out over the few weeks, for however long, you'd be most welcome.

La Texa has at last been located conclusively (I hope), almost exactly where the underground survey placed it relative to Tormenta. We have all the equipment and backup needed to rig it, we just lack enough cavers to do so safely. A determined team of 4 experienced cavers or so could apparently bottom it in under a week, so it would be a real shame if we can't manage it this year.

Despite lack of numbers, Chicago has been rigged to beyond last year's limit at about -200m, and is still going. Various new shafts have been noted in the cliffs of Cabeza Llambria above Oston, and should be descended soon.

As an added attraction to potential expeditioners, this year Ario is equipped with a solar panel providing both DC and AC, so you can charge your batteries/phones/electric toothbrushes etc.

Plus the weather's good (apart from the storm which destroyed a big green tent last night) and the Picos are as stunning as ever. Make it out if you can... Cheers, Al

11/7/04 Al Wilson This year's expedition is now at Ario. The primary aims are to do extensive shaftbashing on the slopes of the gorge, and, if possible, to go down La Texa and push the leads in Sistema Julagua. Towards the first end, I've put our gps data into a map program and made an overlay map of the cave systems and entrances in our area: if interested you can see it at http://milos2.zoo.ox.ac.uk/~john/maps/Picos-Overlay1.jpg . Its a little inaccurate in places due to past gps coordinate mix-ups and the fact that no-one seems to know where exactly Texa is, but should be enough to help work out where to look for new entrances. Comments/corrections are welcome.

If you're wondering about coming out this year, please do - we need as many people as possible if we want to rig Texa safely, and if you don't feel up to deep caving then there's plenty of wandering around in the sun looking for new entrances and drinking tinto to be done instead.

Yours to the terminal mornflake, Al

8/7/04   Expedition vehicle leaves for Spain