2005 Expedition: Asopladeru La Texa
Picos de Europa, Spain
Team: Pete Eastoe; Tom Evans; Geoff O'Dell; Harvey Smith
Tom, 1st camping trip; Geoff & Harvey to see bottom of cave, Pete to see the end he didn't quite get to previously; de-rig back to camp; consume as much spare food in cave as possible; Tom & Pete to eat the mountain of sweets!
I imagined myself arriving at Ario, and Gavin greeting me with "Ah, Harvey, put your rucksack down, you're going caving". Hence was planning to psyche myself up during ascent of Sod 4 to explain that I really wasn't fit enough to drag myself out of a 900m deep cave.
Foiled. Before I got there Tom and Pete came bouncing down the path to greet me, and caught me completely off guard with enthusiasm to go to underground camp. "You're coming with us tomorrow, it's in Gavin's schedule....."
Resistance was futile. If Tom and Pete were happy to follow me out at a snail's pace, then I knew I wouldn't be able to resist the opportunity to see the bottom of the cave I was assuming I wouldn't get chance to.
And if I was going, Geoff had no excuse not to either.
No probs getting to camp, with Pete & Tom leading one crock each.
Trip to bottom of cave. 'Boat' now down to 3 tackle sacks with 5 Darren drum's worth of air. (Presumably the blue life-boat tied to it inflated automatically in an emergency?) The crossing provided Pete with opportunity to have a bath & wash his hair - daily washing routine not neglected just because underground.
Gour pools fantastic - everything John Pybus's photo-e-mail suggested. Fortunately Pete not influenced by the lyric "G's for the Gour Pools we Wash Ourselves in". Hang-man's noose over sump pool a splendid touch.
De-rigging accomplished with only a small bit of excitement when Tom found rope above boat rubbed through to the core. Pete proved that, as ever, washing on expedition is a bad idea - since being too fit to break into a sweat, he never warmed up after immersion. However, Geoff + Harvey de-rigging and Tom + Pete carrying stuff back to camp made for an efficient exercise.
To balance fitness levels, Geoff and Harvey took the lightest tackle sacks they could find, Pete and Tom took the heaviest. Food at brew-stop was good plan, as the crocks reaching knackeredness by then. Geoff's jammer starting to slip hampered progress further up, but we all made it out in the end. [Exactly 15 hours as predicted by me.] The breaking dawn as we exited the cave was awe-inspiring. Geoff and Harvey even found enough dregs of energy to stagger back to Ario, but only JUST!
The most impressive thing about the trip for me was Tom and Pete. My previous trip with them was to teach them SRT, and I remember saying that next time I caved with them they'd probably be expedition hardened cavers leading ME underground. Prediction turned out to be 100% correct. I was well impressed with their competence, given the short span of their caving career, but most of all by their sound attitude to doing adventurous things safely, and looking after fellow team members. Pete naturally ended up as the team leader, since he knew the way to the bottom of the cave, and had bags of spare energy to look after us all, and he lead the trip very effectively.
And we did make a good team - each of us had different abilities, experience, energy or knowledge to contribute, and between us we completed the mission 100% successfully. Including the application of youth to convert an unbelievable quantity of sweets into useful work.