OUCC Proceedings 12 (1986)

Small Caves in & around Ario

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by Steve Roberts

Area 5

The comprehensive list in OUCC Proceedings 10 was not added to. 12/5 (Pozu la Cistra) and 3/5 (Pozu los Caracoles) were extended into Pozu del Xitu - see separate reports.

Area 6

From the 1985 Expedition log (shaft-bashing in area 8, 12/7/85):

"Could this be the day of the great breakthrough? We started off enthusiastically, skipping along in Ario's debilitating heat, first to Xitu then across the Vega Seca to what Roberts claimed to be Area 8. 'Area 5 is Ario, 7 is over there, and 9 is over there', he said, encompassing the mountains in single sweeps of his sweaty hand.
'What happened to Area 6?', Paul asked.
'It's only got one cave - 1/6 or Ridge Cave, and no-one's ever found it or Area 6 again!'
Wisely, in the heat, we decided not to try.."

Readers will note, from other parts of this publication, that Area 6 was, perhaps surprisingly, not entirely a figment of Dave Rose's fevered imagination).

Area 7

This is the area of the bowl between Jultayu and Cuvicente. Some descriptions here appeared in OUCC Proceedings 10 (Pozu del Xitu), but are repeated here for completeness. The additions are the result of two forays by Richard Gregson, Sara Whibley and Steve Roberts in 1984, and several by Gerhard Niklasch, Iestyn Walters and John Wilcock in 1985. Caves 7/7 and 8/7 are paint-marked, the rest aren't. See area map for locations. More details of caves visited by G.N. are in an annotated photo album in OUCC library !

1/7: Pozu Vayeya
On the north ridge where the path runs up to the summit of Jultayu. Two entrances: a walk into an eyehole and a concealed shaft near the path. An 80m series of shafts. No way on. Full description in OUCC Proceedings 10.

2/7: Pozu 30m below Eyehole
Below the eyehole (!) on the ridge connecting Jultayu and Cuvicente. Two pitches down 60m shaft. 'The bottom draughts strongly into a boulder slope designed for suicidal midgets'. Full description in OUCC Proceedings 10. (Ha! see Proc 13.)

Approx 200m downslope and towards Ario from 2/7. An open shaft, rigged from a wire round the rock wall at the entrance and rebelayed from a jammed boulder just below the lip. It descends approx. 50m past several ledges to a rocky floor with no way on, and only just enough room to cower from rocks kicked down from above. (13/8/84)
Tackle: 50m rope, long wire and tape for rebelay.

Near 3/7, further round to Cuvicente and slightly uphill. A shallow depression filled with rocks. On the Jultayu side, rocks can be cleared to give access to a small chamber over a rift. Rope or ladder climb down (slippy walls make climb up awkward) to a 1.5m wide twisty descending rift with the odd sheep bone. Round two corners it chokes, but looks clearable and could be worth digging.(13/8/84)
Tackle : 5m ladder or 10m rope.

Lies near the 'exit' from the bowl, opposite Jultayu. 25m shaft free-climbed to bottom where the only way on is a 5 inch rift rapidly narrowing to 1 inch. (13/8/84)

Not found in '84 or '85, though it may be the same as 7/7! Proceedings 10 description: an open rift near the bottom of a depression surrounded by collapses. Rift is 8m deep to a massive snowplug; it is just possible that snow-clearing would find a way on downslope.

7/7: Crossrift Cave
The description by Iestyn includes a drawing of the Ario hut and the information that the shaft is the same height as the Refugio and 'looks a bit like F20'! (25/7/85). Just to Ario side of 'exit' from bowl, bearing to Ario refugio approx. 5° . (1/8/85). Vertical rift 60-240° intersects N-S rift. Snowplug 10m down, past which stones can (possibly) be thrown. Not descended. (5/8/85).

8/7: Cowskull Cave
Approx 50m to left of Jultayu path, before the first steep bit (i.e. in area 5 really). Rift 1m wide, running north to a small chamber containing snow, leaves and bones. Light can be seen through 5 inch wide continuation of the rift. No way on. (29/7/85).

Near 5/7, but closer to the refugio, just before going over the 'exit' ridge. 15m shaft to 10m scramble to squeeze that was not forced. A small chamber was just visible beyond.
Tackle - 25m rope or ladder & long wire.

Area 8

This is the area of the slope of Pico Gustateru facing Xitu. Caves 1,2,3,5 & 6/8 are described in OUCC Proceedings 10, so only brief details are given here. 1-6/8 are labelled in paint: later numbers are not. 7-11/8 (12/7/85) are at the foot of the huge karren slope that has 2-5/8 at the top. See area diagram for details of locations.

1/8 - Pozu del Canalizos
An SIE discovery which OUCC failed to extend.

A large rift 50-70m above 1/8. Choked.

Between 2/8 and 1/8. Large entrance descending past snow to definite choke.

(see survey). Small hole in the corner of large shakehole 'round the corner' from 3/8. Traverse over rift to head of 10m ladder pitch, which lands on loose sloping pebble floor. Upslope leads to two small uninspiringly decorated grottoes. Downslope leads to a very threatening boulder choke, which was dug at until good sense prevailed - not a nice place.
Tackle - 10m ladder, wire belay.

Obvious entrance leading to boulder choke.

20m shaft with snow at the bottom, descended by SIE in 1980.

Dig at foot of shakehole. Remaining rocks too large to move without mechanical or chemical assistance.

8/8: Cueva del Darren del Cilau
The entrance is a grovel at the foot of a small cliff, looking rather like its namesake. Unfortunately it lacks the same potential and leads only to a 20' high chamber with two blocked upward routes.

Cleft in side of dry valley up from and to the right of 8/8. Leads to a small chamber with skylights and no way on.

Marked SIE C3. A cleft has a sharp bend with a 20m pitch in it. No way on wider than 3 inches.

In hillock slightly downslope from 10/8. An unexpected 15m deep slot proves to be free-climbable, but no way on. Nearby is an SIE mark 'M6'.

Area 9

Area 9 is between areas 7 and 8, and is the area around Tras la Jayada (not numbered !). 1-3/9 are listed in OUCC Proceedings 10. See sketch map of area.

A large shakehole in the middle of the valley. A route through boulders leads to a 5m pitch to a snow plug. 'A way on may just be possible'.

Is the huge entrance 'La Jayada'. No visible ways on past its snow plug.

(=28/5). 100m to the left of 2/9. 10m, 10m, and 25m pitches to a snow plug in a wide rift with deep but narrow holes round the edge. The snow could just be wedged in: 'ooerr!'.

On the approach to Tras la Jayada up on the right hand side of the valley. Bearings to Jultayu 64.5° , to la Jayada 202° . 4m deep entrance climb (approx. 2x1.5m) leads to a series of small chambers, ending in a rift which can be climbed down about 4m but becomes too tight.

Due south of 4/9, on other side of small valley. Jagged rift partially concealed by a few jammed boulders. Ladder pitch to snow plug. A small hole leads to a tiny chamber with no way on.

About 60m down-valley from Tras la Jayada. Climb down to snow plug followed by 5m ladder pitch. The chamber at the bottom leads into a very narrow rift blocked with a boulder. 'This may continue' - but all attempts to shift the rock failed.

15m pitch to snow plug, sloping down at 20° to another (upwards) shaft. Halfway down the slope it is possible to kick down into the snow to a rift leading to a blocked bedding plane. At the bottom of the slope it is possible to kick down into a blocked shaft.

A 30m deep rift with some choked passages leading off.

About 70m upslope from Tras la Jayada. Red SIE 'O' mark as well as the OUCC mark. 30m shaft to a snow ledge, followed by a 5m pitch to the bottom. Three ways off, one at the foot of a 4m climb down, all choked. (see sketch) (14/7/85)