Oxford University Cave Club

2007 Expedition: Fissura la Chica

Picos de Europa, Spain

Here are news, opinions, debate as it comes in. Last updated 13/8/07

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John Pybus
Expedition arrived back last Wednesday night (after the traditional transportational cock-up of arriving for the ferry a day late due to not reading the ticket)


Dave Legg
What ho! I'm sat in an internet cafe in Cangas and so didn't read all the rope e-mails, but fortunately a discovery on the final push/de-rig trip renders all previous discussion pointless: there is a way on at the bottom of the cave after all! I went down on Thursday with Javi, one of the Catalans who joined us at the start of the week, to pull out the rope from the bottom, check out the window on Vamos and then de-rig back as far as possible. The lead Chris S and I gave the Spanish crapped out spectacularly (mud sump in tiny passage) about 6 feet from the bottom of the pitch we found last week, but the Spaniards had decided not to check out a fossil gallery slightly higher up the cave, thinking it looked poor and took no draught. Javi and I decided to stick our heads down it before heading out, going for about 20m along the gallery and a short crawl to the head of a pitch at the top of small and windy rift. This is different in character to the rest of Chica (Javi has done a geological write-up in Spanish in the log book), and stones rattle down for 6 seconds. However, we had no rope and no time so we had to leave it for next year (I'll be back!).

Ropes have been left in the cave from We Are Still Warthogs After All These Years to the bottom, with the exception of the bottom 45m of the unnamed pitch after Cristal Ship, which got immovably snagged. This took a fair amount of time (Javi's nickname is now 'El torro frio'), but means one more trip with me de-rigging and Phil and Gareth (both broken) hauling should get the remaining ropes out. These and the rigging gear are going down the hill on the refugio horse, which will be bribed with deep-fried garlic.

Other notes: congrats to Yifan for getting down Cristal Ship; props to Gareth and Phil for free-climbing up a pitch at the bottom of 28/4 as another team misses the way on in there; AND we got on really well with the Catalan cavers, and drunken plans have been hatched for trips top Oxford/Yorkshire and Barcelona/Pyrenees at some point in the next year, probably Easter! Time to start booking those holidays...

YTTT lead in this cave, which does a phoenix impression on the last trip of every year, Dave

late July 07
Chris Sinadinos and Dave Legg
Pushing trip report. See DTT 17.18.
Fleur Loveridge
Just home last night. Ben and I set up camp a head of Vamos on 19th July. This was entertaining in itself as the campsite is not ideal, being quite small, very dripping, at the head of a 90m pitch and with the stream running through it. We rigged the tarp across the passage to catch most of the drips and then rigged two hammocks across the passage. Although getting into the hammocks was straightforward enough, then getting into the 2 layer buffalo bags and bivvy bags was more challenging! You then cannot move for the rest of the night.

On the 20th we pushed on down into the new stuff, thankfully finding the survey notes that Chris D had dropped down the 110m shaft. Ben bolted up the wall of choss to the window, which took quite some time as the rock was more than S@@t and this was no place for risking it. The shaft on the other side indeed proved to be blind, but there is another window through to another drop (also likely to choke), but another window beyond this looks to lead to a rift. Chris S and Dave L went in on the 22nd to investigate.

The SIE arrived on the 21st and we had a few beers in the refugio. Hopefully they will have gone into the cave yesterday (23rd).

Ben took a load of photos on our camping trip - hopefully he can send some on tonight: Fleur.

Chris Sinadinos
First pushing trip with me and Densham - down to unconfirmed 640m, 110m pitch from boulder ledge at foot of Vamos lands in a choked floor. A 4m wall from the boulder floor leads to a window into apparent adjacent shaft. Rocks thrown into the shaft rattled only as far as the level of the choke or perhaps a little deeper. Ben and Fleur have been on a two day camping trip attempting to scale the wall and investigate the shaft. Expecting news of this soon.

Meanwhile, camp has been established at head of Vamos pitch with several pits, brew station and tarp roof to protect form waterfall spray. We are expecting the SIE members to arrive soon and aid in the further exploration of the cave.

Dave Legg
Pushing has begun! CD and CS rigged the lead pitch down 110m to land on a boulder choke on 18th. BL and FL down on 19th to set up camp at top of Vamos and then investigate a possible parallel shaft 4m above the boulders. We're also about to push 28/4 (aka 77/4?). YTTT Choke, Dave
Fleur Loveridge
Cave rigged to bottom of Vamos. Chris and Chris gone pushing today. Pete, Ben and I going camping from tomorrow. Fleur
John Pybus
On my way back from expedition (via Cain). As I left Ario the cave was rigged into the shaft series and a team of three was heading off to rig down to camp. Pushing should start soon. John
John Pybus
Expedition continues to rig Chicago. Progress has been slow with many acclimatization trips by inexperienced expeditioners / riggers. However, fresh new members have arrived in the last few days and the pace is picking up. All well at Ario, John
John Pybus
Just got a text from John to say they are out after the 1st rigging trip in Chicago. Anita
John Pybus
Standing at the top of sod 4, tapping away in front of a beautiful setting sun [22:00].

Expedition arrived at Lagos on Tue evening in time to get up to a very damp Ario; a slightly miserable camp was made. Since then three solid days of sun meaning hot carries. Ario camp is now fully setup though, thanks to Gavin for getting a lantern that doesn't fit the gas, romantically lit by candles, and caving is due to start tomorrow.

The vino tinto tastes just as good! - John

PS: the central massif has just started to turn pink

1/7/07 Expedition has left for Spain, catching the 11pm ferry.