Oxford University Cave Club

1998 Expedition: "Jultayu"

Picos de Europa, Spain

1998 Expedition Report - Contents

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2/7 or not 2/7

Every Picos expedition begins with a question, "Where shall we go this year?". Sometimes the answer is easy. If you have a 400m deep cave and turn back at a 50m pitch, then go back and drop that pitch. At the end of the summer of 1997, the answer to the question was not so easy. For the third consecutive year the lake at the bottom of C3 had been found to be a sump with no easy way over the top, and less predictably no other really tempting leads had been left elsewhere on the hillside. Bugger. The answer to the question turned out to be quite simple, go back to Pozu Jultayu and find a way past choke Egbert, either climbing over the top or punching a way through the middle. Egbert had rebuffed all persuasion, cunning and guile for three years and had been abandoned in 1991 in search of less resistant leads, at first in the Ario region, then boldly returning to Top Camp to find Sistema La Verdelluenga. All the while, though, there were whispers. "When shall we go back to 2/7?" and "Who will be foolish enough to come with us?". El Regallon 97 partly solved these riddles by bottoming all its good caves, and so the campaign gathered steam in the late summer of that year. Those that had been to the bottom felt the cave had been left at an unsatisfying conclusion (Big passage, boulder choke, 800m above resurgence) and were desperate to return. Those that had cut their teeth on the Fierce Ladies of Cannock were intrigued by Paradise Rift and tales of something more tasty beyond. Those that had not been to the Picos before knew no better. So 2/7 it had to be. There could be no other.