Oxford University Cave Club

"Ario 2000" Expedition Final Report

Picos de Europa, Spain

3rd July - 22nd August 2000

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Cave Descriptions

Pozu Jultayu (extensions)

Misery Loves Company

A short pitch up leads to a small chamber with a 1.5m climb up into tight rift, Misery Loves Company. The rift continues, sinuous and slightly wider, with several levels possible, breaking out into a larger chamber ending with a 5 m waterfall. Doubling back, a climb up in the rift and traverse over the chamber bypass the waterfall. The rift widens substantially above the waterfall, continuing for 40m to a sharp left bend. The way on is low through a tight, popcorn-encrusted rift for 15m to a 20m high, smooth walled aven where the stream enters. Erin

Dos Mas Bolts Traverse

As a time-saving alternative to descending Just Awesome 3 and climbing Dead or Alive, a truly spectacular traverse has been installed around the left (northern) side of the Just Awesome! chamber. This can save approximately 30 minutes of journeys between The Big Ledge and Primula Point, while at the same time providing some stunning airy views of the Just Awesome! chamber and waterfall.

From the bottom of JA2, instead of descending JA3 follow the wall away from the Big Ledge camp until the ledge is no longer wide enough. From here a rope traverse (natural followed by 2 bolts) takes you to a 5m pitch and pendule onto a small shelf of rock (bolt belay). A 5m pendule and prussic now gains the continuation of the traverse on sloping, muddy and chossy ledges. This continues for about 40m to the head of Dead or Alive (bolt belay followed by wire thread to three more bolts). The final section to the top of Dead or Alive was originally rigged as a genuinely bold step with a traverse line, a second line for balance and an alternative 5m pitch to a ledge which was the base of the final 5m prussic on Dead or Alive. We later re-rigged it to discourage the bold step approach. With additional bolts, a better rigging solution may well be possible. (The rigging on the far side of the bold step is as for the top of Dead or Alive - approx. 5 bolts/naturals).

The traverse gets its name from the requirement of (at least) two more bolts to remove the short abseils and prussiks currently required. Some of the traverse sections are quite long and exposed between the bolts and the fainthearted might appreciate some additional rigging. Rob

"A Savage Journey into the Heart of the American Dream"

A 20m thrutch through tight rift ends at a bend with several ways on. A climb up leads to an undescended 4m pitch overlooking a long, narrow aven chamber. The pitch is bypassed by continuing in the rift for 5m. On the left of the chamber is an oxbow with an uncompleted muddy climb up. The main way on is a traverse and undescended climb down to where a 15m waterfall enters at the far end of the aven chamber. Back at the bend, a climb up to the right over a mud slope gains a small chamber, where a climb up on the left is uncompleted. At the end of the chamber, a slanting, tight, popcorn-covered rift heads of. A thrutch up in the rift bypasses the worst of the constriction, beyond which he rift widens, intersecting a high chamber at a chossy 5m climb down. A short walk across the chamber leads to a muddy climb that was left after 10m, from which empty space can be seen above and to the left. Erin

Close Encounters Series

Catheter Canal to Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride

The initial step into Catheter canal is quite tricky (look for footholds under the water's surface) but quickly leads to easier traversing near water level. Before long, the walls open to reveal a deep pool about 4m wide and 6m long, Alien Changes. Traverse with care around the right hand side, at the end of the pool the going gets easier again. A little further upstream the walls open wide and the water gets shallow enough to walk through. The way is obstructed by two shoulders of rock, which stick out from either side of the passage with a 2m gap between them. Here the water becomes deep and fast flowing. Climb up the left hand shoulder (a 10m handline is useful here - anchor to dodgy spike up on the left wall). Past the shoulder, the passage opens into a large chamber. To the left of the stream lies Buy the Ticket, a boulder strewn chamber with the pitch (Martian Landings) into Canals on Mars at the end. To the right of the stream, climb a very loose, steep boulder choke (take care! The left hand side is easier) into Take the Ride, a vast chamber nearly 40m wide.

Tapeworm Passage

At the most northerly point of Take the Ride is a climb up over jammed boulders to the head of Aardvark's Bathtime pitch. Untraversable rift leads straight on, but this quickly opens out on descent. The pitch lands (with a bit of swinging) on a ledge about 3m by 6m. Walk to the other end of the ledge, where you can climb over the boulders to reach a mud slope that leads back to the shallow stream. Downstream soon sumps and upstream follows a series of bends known as Tapeworm Passage. Eventually the bends give way to a beautiful open streamway. The going is easy walking past a number of inlets. Almost 500m from Aardvark's Bathtime, the water deepens at a right hand bend. Climb up the right hand bank and over the shoulder to meet Return of the Sump Thing, where the roof arcs down to meet the stream with a small notch at the far end. This is believed to be the downstream end of the sump in Systema Verdelluenga. Doyle

Pieces of 22

Pieces of 22 is a dry inlet near the upstream end of Tapeworm Passage. 30m downstream from Return of the Sump Thing, a huge flake (~5m high) on the left-hand wall (if facing downstream) may be climbed, and leads to a short rift to a chamber. From here, two climbs of 4m each (both free-climbable but easier on (in-situ) rope), separated by a ledge, lead to a second ledge, and an alcove/chamber. From this level two ways on are visible. A large hole 5m up the wall, straight ahead from the top of the second short climb, has not been explored but a route to it looks climbable (certainly bolt-climbable). The explored route leads up from the ledge on the right, past two further ledges and through a small hole in the ceiling. This hole gains a dry chamber, the Randolph. A 5m pitch leads to a further chamber, from where no leads were visible for at least 10-15m up the wall.

Canals On Mars

From the West end of the Buy The Ticket Take The Ride chamber, a 10m pitch drops into the downstream end of a linear canal series, Canals On Mars. (Note: all visitors to this passage at time of writing (Oct 2000) have worn immersion suits.) The passage can be followed upstream past a number of small inlets. The slow-flowing water varies between ankle and waist depth. Watch out for the quicksand in some sections. After 250m a boulder chamber is passed through before returning to stream level, and further progress upstream is made largely by boulder-hopping. A short section of deeper wall-to-wall water in narrower passage may be negotiated while immersed to chest depth using handholds to prevent total immersion, or possibly traversed above the water. A waterway on the left at a right-hand bend in this passage has not been investigated. This section is followed by 100m of easy walking passage in a shallow stream, partway along which an inlet on the left-hand wall is passed and has been explored to an immediate aven. After the 100m is Olympus Mons, a large boulder chamber. Large boulder passage continues for a further 60m, from which all routes onwards, sideways and upwards end in boulderchokes. Ways on through these chokes may be possible but none have been found.