OUCC Proceedings 11 (1983)

The First Trip down Pozu las Perdices

OUCC Proceedings 11 Contents

OUCC Proceedings Index

OUCC Home Page

Ian Houghton

We woke up in a glorious blaze of sunshine, and after struggling with the last of the dry Mornflake Oats and syrup, applied ourselves to our last day of caving in Spain in 1983. Our task, suitably climactic, was to explore and survey the promising cave F7b discovered the day before. F7b is in fact one of four interconnected entrances: F7a and Fib are particularly interesting as they are joined by a passage containing spectacular ice formations covered in flies.

Our surveying got off to a good start, with a distance of 3 cm being recorded by the topofil across the entrance snow plug. On opening up this expensive piece of high technology, we were so amused by the array of tatty bits of plastic and cotton reels that we resorted to a more finely tuned instrument: Ian's body. Trying to measure body spans whilst traversing in the tight entrance rifts and then climbing down an awkward 8 m drop proved to be quite interesting.

After the climb there is a short squeeze and nasty piece of rift bringing you to the top of the first pitch. At this point we decided to abandon the survey, and in our euphoria kicked about two tonnes of rock down the pitch, revelling in the crashes and booms from below.

At the bottom we swore for joy: to the right was a large onion-shaped passage with a deep trench, whilst to the left the pitch continued. Following the latter way, for ease of rigging, we landed on a boulder slope which led us to a new 10 m deep trench. Ian, gripped by the excitement, charged right down to the bottom while the more prudent members of the party rigged a line.

Walking downslope, back underneath ourselves, we soon came across a small strongly draughting vertical squeeze. We casually threw a rock down and got the shock of our lives: after the initial extensive rattle, rattle there was a silence. 'Great, it's going!' someone said. 'Boom!' replied the small hole. 'It's really going' (Ed. - loses something in the translation) we all agreed, but the hole still had the last word with a final deep 'BOOOOM!'. Expletives were exchanged and we set about gardening the rest of the loose rocks.

The small hole turned out to be a graceful shaft of impressive proportions. 20 m down we landed on a ledge at an inlet, and rigged another superb 38 m free hang down to a further ledge. Only 20 m of rope were left, there were no convenient flakes for rigging, and it was getting late. Result: we weakened! Wistfully we threw some rocks down to the next pitch. It sounded very big.

Leaving a cross of soot on the wall, we started the prussik back out. The journey was uneventful but was made interesting by exercises in multilingual swearing when Iestyn had a rock fall on his head and the tackle bags all stuck in the rift.

Back on the surface, we struggled up the hill to camp to find Chris waiting for us with a piping hot stew. Sadly, this was totally inedible. The manufacturers had added six times the normal salt dose!