OUCC Proceedings 8 (1976)
Pozo La Texa / Alphonse's Hole
by Steve Tarran
|OUCC Proceedings 8 Index|
A 136m deep pot probably with its most pleasing aspect being the view from the entrance, which also provides the only pleasant pitch. A last resort for ladder-equipped parties.
From the bar at Lago de la Ercina follow the good path towards Ario along the E. shore of the lake. At the spring at the far end bear left past a group of shepherds huts and ascend the hill to the immediate left of the Ario path. On the top there is a series of depressions and a reasonably obvious path. The hole is located to the right of and above this near the third depression. It is not obvious unless you can persuade a shepherd to guide you, your approach then being heralded by the accumulation of masses of rocks in the shepherd's arms destined to impress the bottomless nature of the hole on your mind!
The 1963 Oxford / Derbyshire Speleological Expedition to N.W. Spain explored this hole on being shown it by a shepherd called Alphonse, after whom it was named. Our guide, Angel, gave it the name used here and our exploration was to check that the hole was indeed what we suspected, and to provide a survey. Litter in the cave testifies to extensive visits in the past, presumably by Spanish, and perhaps French, groups.
An approximately 2m square entrance gives access to a pleasant and freehanging 20m pitch landing at the top of a long boulder slope interspersed with short climbs. Towards the bottom of this, a left turn leads to about 15m of pitch, almost vertical at the bottom, where there is a chamber. A muddy hole then leads to a calcited mud dome and a 30m mud slope to the next vertical drop, again about 15m, which leads into the final chamber. This is littered with muddy boulders and includes a chamber with a stal flow and a climb into a rift which can then be descended to a series of extremely muddy passages which become too small. Above the last vertical on the main route is a small decorated chamber.
Ladders are recommended for use throughout the cave due to the mud, although the entrance is quite suitable for SRT. A handline should suffice on the first boulder slope but ladders are needed on the mudslopes.
Carried out by S. Tarran, T. Moult and B. Matthews, the survey agrees well in all but one detail with D.Judson's description of the cave and gives a total depth of 136m.