I have just had a phone conversation with Steph Dwyer about
progress to date. She has had a wrist injury and so is not well
able to write up this herself (don't worry, it's getting better!).
A possible way on has been found near the terminal sump. This is a
passage starting from near the sump, which turns into a tube going
over the sump region with a climb up to extensive fossil passage.
There are several ways on, one of which appears to be heading
towards 2/7. This is still going and is being explored.
The Chunder Pot lead has been thoroughly looked for, and several
passages have been found in the region, all of which have turned
into hading rifts going upwards. This doesn't look too promising,
but exploration in the area continues.
At the Depsthscalator, a cross rift has been found with leads in
both directions. This is currently being investigated.
Before the Flyer, an inlet passage has been found (Sli
na Siofra: the Way of the Fairies) which has been
explored for about 250m and is still going. This appears to be
another inlet cave, but who knows what else it might intercept?
There are some side passages from this inlet which are being
So there is enough exploration potential to occupy at least
another "Ario caves project" expedition in 2014. It is been
decided to leave the cave rigged for this purpose. Steph is
willing to be overall leader/coordinator of such an expedition.
Ian Holmes is keen to lead an exploration effort in the top camp
area; and it is likely to be useful for another deputy leader to
take charge of the Xitu explorations.
[David Rose] had a long chat with Vicky Lim last night. From all
she says, it sounds as if she really has found my elusive Chunder
Pot lead from 1981. And when she left Spain, it was going...
[Vicky Lim] And Richard too: couldn't have found anything
without him! In more than one way I was standing on the shoulders
of (relative) giants
[Nick Edwards] Where abouts was it? What sort of passage is it?
Having spent a fair exploring the rift above chunder pot looking
for it, am keen for more details!
[David Rose] Vicky has em. It's where I always said it was - a
long, long way up, starting close to the pitchhead.
[Nick Edwards] Ah ok - I guess we didn't go far enough up, and
maybe went too far away from the pitch; we were forced away from
direct line up by various obstacles as I remember.
[David Rose] Yes, I think she and Rich went through/past some
obstacles. But they found popcorn stuff that had seen passage of a
person and a flat section with a pool and regrowing broken stal,
which I remember very clearly. And (shame!) some carbide... which
I think I recall emptying out. It was still going up where they
left it, but from what she says, they must have been very close to
the top where I found the pitch going down into a different
passage. It just has to be the same place, especially given that
they started where I am certain I did.
[Vicky Lim] It started above the pitch-head with a big passage
going horizontally to the left, back along the rift. You probably
went in there: it was well travelled and Paul Mackrill said he
knew where I meant. From there we just went left and up for a very
long way until the rift started closing down and we were forced
back right through a small squeeze which took us to the pool and
carbide area which looked untouched but for some very old
disturbances to the formations. When we came down later we took a
direct route (too direct in some places where the popcorn broke
off from under me!) and popped out above the end of the Ferdie's
traverse line. It would have been very hard to find the way up
from there though because of obstacles and false ceilings
[Nick Edwards] Yes we went along the big passage and up and a
long way to the left - we ended up quite near the previous pitch I
think as we could here the water. I think from where we ended up
there was no way back to the right, so I guess we just went the
wrong way...I remember it being very complicated and also lots of
very scary loose bits. Exciting to hear that you found it and it's
still going! How much pushing time is/was there left after you
[Vicky Lim] Yeah, we didn't get nearly as far back as the last
pitch and the way off to the right was not at all obvious, just a
squeeze we happened to try! Not long, less than a week I think and
sump leads are probably the priority, but chances are we'll be
back next year so...
[Dickon Morris] I remember the passage left. It led into a wide
rift with loads of boulders which I ascended for about 20m before
it closed down, or got tight enough for me to realise we were not
30 minutes from the hunters. I think I remember basically ending
up in a rift a long way above (but connected to) chunder pot. Of
course in retrospect we should not have given up so easily as the
later vadoes canyon will continue upwards until you reach the
phreas from which it has cut down.
Apologies for the lack of updates, been very busy, thankfully. We
have been so busy that at any given time at least 9 people have
been camping or pushing or surveying leads underground.
Where to start?
- A completely new lead called Sli na Siofra, The Way of the
Fairies, was pushed at the end of my 5 day camp and is currently
still ongoing uphill for well over 100m vertically. It looks
like a new inlet (very pretty) and we hope to intersect some
horizontal passage higher up - a black abyss awaits us. At the
moment a team are en route to the sump to push the tube that is
seen to go over it. Another team is going to the bottom to
follow up on some cross rifts, prevously identified, that are
looking very promising.
- The Chunder Pot lead, despite many efforts, still eludes us
- however we are not easily defeated so efforts are on-going.
- El Puritan is going but seems to lead back over camp, with a
pitch dropping into the servicio area of Camp Cuppanagh.
- The lead above the Gap has been surveyed but has been
brought to a conclusion with other possibilities for
continuation highlighted elsewhere.
- William's bit has been surveyed and is currently at a
- Avelina's bit is a new lead in the Teresa series which is
on-going with a promising draught - stay tuned here guys.
- Jeff found a stunning chamber in the Teresa series (no prev.
record of this) and has done an amazing job of photographing it.
There are some very unusual and beautiful formations here.
Today, all except three of the whole expedition are underground
pushing various levels of the cave. The weather is beautiful and
the craic has been mighty.
A more detailed update will follow up soon.
Just another very quick update before we set off on our 3 day
camp. We have just met the rigging team exiting from Hitu (Xitu),
and they successfully rigged past Chunder Pot and ferried camping
and rigging gear beyond Ferdie's Delight. All is now in place for
The expedition is really starting to ramp up now. 6 others arrived
The cave is now rigged to -950m and we are awaiting the
reappearance of another team who carried on the rigging from there
two days ago.
Two independent prospecting teams have been exploring and
digging two ongoing caves, both with signifigant draughts and one
with massive quartz crystals. One cave is below what we hope is
the Choke Egbert fault and the other down the trea side of the
Jeff, our expo photographer, is setting off with a team to
photograph the impressive 140m shaft - Flat Iron - and two teams
of four are heading to Camp Cuppanagh to spend a few days pushing
El Puritan and investigate the elusive Chunder Pot lead. If
Chunder goes, teams will start bringing Camp Purgatory down the
And if all that wasn´t enough, the new arrivals once warmed up
intend on continuing exploration in Williams bit.
Chat to you all again once I re-emerge from the depths on
Monday.Stay tuned and please share about :-)
I am delighted to say we are making fantastic progress. Camp
Cuppanagh is set up and is the most luxurious camp anyone has ever
experienced. We didn't want to leave :) It offers a great
opportunity to recoup and continue the great efforts thus far.
We are now re-rigged to -850m with some additional bolting and
rope replacement. A team are currently pushing even further as I
type and other teams are prospecting and starting to push some
leads in the Teresa series. Thanks to Shane's Moonshiner light
we have spotted some very exciting high level pasages above the
Graham's Balls-up area and more even further down the cave.
Adventurous times ahead :)
We now have nearly 20 people with us working hard.
Multiple teams going in today to ferry the mountain of kit for the
two camps down the cave. Steph, Shane and Eabha starting the
re-dangle effort beyond camp all going well.
Once Camp is fully operational, which will take alot of effort,
we will push to the bottom of the cave. Some bits and pieces have
needed re-bolting as snow melt has made one or two spots a little
splashy. All great otherwise ;-)
A team tried to find Snowcastle yesterday - unsuccessfully.
Ario connoisseurs - any advice?
Ian Holmes should be arriving today.
[David Rose comments] In Teresa Series, before the first
drop, you reach a distinct, round bell-shaped chamber with a
flat floor and a low arch out of it. At this point go back a bit
towards the entrance. You'll see you're in a high rifty passage
with an obvious way up a kind of rampy climb. At the top is a
whole complex of big chambers and passages, which lead up to
Snowcastle. If memory serves, when you're in one of these
chambers it's up towards the left at the back.
Internet and power is very limited here and much work means little
time to go off hill and update things, apologies.
I am elated to say that 10 members have arrived to Ario safely
and have been working very hard in searing heat to carry all the
food, equipment and caving gear up the hill - a three hour walk.
Special thanks to Teca who came along to help us with our permit,
interpretation and carried lots for us.
There is loads of snow up here which is unusual but helpful for
water and keeping food cool.
Today Eabha and Emi were up early to bring Lola and Bellirina
(the donkeys) down to Lagos for a heavy sherpa back up. Much
thanks to Ignacio at the refugio who has been so helpful and
generous to us. We now have two massive outside tents at the
refugio for cooking and gear.
Yesterday a team went in to rig the entrance series
successfully and today a number of parties have gone in to start
sherpa-ing camp gear down the cave and re-dangle the ropes to
camp. Now called Camp Cuppanagh to destinguish it from Camp
Purgatory which will be set up around Chunder Pot.
Once Camp Cuppanagh is set up a team will re-dangle the ropes
as far as they can to the bottom.
Will try our best to keep ye updated. The team are having a
ball and it is a testiment to the great things that can be
accomplished when a group of good heads get together :-)
Expedition van departs for Spain.