OUCC Proceedings 13 (1991)

2/7 - Pozu del Ojo de la Bruja

Cave Description

Proc. 13 Contents.

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Contents: Top: Location: Entrance Series: G.S.P.: Rift Series: Shaft Series: First False Floor...: Just Awesome: Streamway: London Underground: Downstream: Pimpernel Streamway

Italics mark alternative routes or side passages.

Location: 1° 13' 48'' W (of Madrid), 43° 14' 00'' N

Altitude: 1860m
Depth: 810m
Surveyed Length: 7595m
Plan Length: 5950m


The entrance is below the Jultayu summit, approximately 30m below the eye-hole (el Ojo de la Bruja) on the Juracao ridge linking the peaks of Jultayu and Cuvicente. The best route from the Ario Refugio is to follow the cairned path as far as the Jou del Jultayu and then to cross the Jou, aiming a little to the west of the Jultayu summit. The cave is situated below the most easterly of two obvious notches in the ridge.

Entrance Series

Contents: Top: Location: Entrance Series: G.S.P.: Rift Series: Shaft Series: First False Floor...: Just Awesome: Streamway: London Underground: Downstream: Pimpernel Streamway

The entrance is an impressive cleft in the hillside in a large shakehole. Almost immediately a 10m pitch lands on a very loose bouldery slope. Rocks from here fall straight down the second pitch. Originally it was recommended that no-one move on this section while anyone was on the pitch below. Now, however, three years of use have gardened the slope to the point where, with care, it is possible to avoid dislodging the still-plentiful ammunition.

The second pitch lands on an earthy ledge next to a strongly draughting (hammered) slot 36m below the boulder slope. The pitch continues for a further 10m before ending in a boulder choke.

Beneath the slot is a tight 3m climb below which is a 42m pitch, Seventh Heaven. A rope is best rigged above the slot, so that descenders may be attached before the squeeze. There is room in the climb to put on descending gear although this situation is rather more exposed. The main hang, 10m down, gives a free hang to the steeply sloping floor of a chamber. At the top of the chamber are three routes. To the left is an unascended climb up moonmilk to a ledge. Straight ahead lies a loose, tight passage that remains unexplored. To the right a short crawl, Gavin's Grovel, leads to the head of a 10m pitch. At the bottom, a 3m climb up leads to another short pitch, the bottom of which is choked. The slope is now very eroded by the repeated passage of most of OUCC, and a hand / haul line is useful. At the bottom of the slope is a 3m climb followed by the first of the squeezes in Paradise Rift: a vertical squeeze with few footholds.

From here a rift leads off which almost immediately becomes tight. The largest route is at ceiling level until a left hand bend when it is possible to descend the rift through a succession of squeezes. A line is useful on this section, for clipping tackle bags to (to guide their fall on descent, or to slide them up on jammers, with pauses for the extensive cursing necessary to aid their passage). The climb lands on a small ledge above a 20m pitch, the Flying Rebelles.

From Flying Rebelles, two routes on exist: the original main route (The Rift Series), and G.S.P.


Contents: Top: Location: Entrance Series: G.S.P.: Rift Series: Shaft Series: First False Floor...: Just Awesome: Streamway: London Underground: Downstream: Pimpernel Streamway

To the left of the shaft an inlet enters about halfway down the pitch. A pendule into this enters a rift. Two ways on are possible: a strenuous thrutch in the base of the rift, or a pitch up for 20m. Both unite in a rifty traverse level. Just before the end of the rift is a hole in the floor: this is a 40m pitch. The base of the pitch is well decorated with white moonmilk formations, and the short slippery traverse to stable ground needs care to avoid damage to cave or caver. A couple of short crawls lead to Blind Pot series: an 8m climb, a 6m pitch (named Blind Pot, because the original explorers inexplicably thought it to be blind) and another 6m pitch.

The route continues down two climbs and a short crawl to the top of Tumbling Dice pitch (30m, 70m). Beware - large rocks fall out of the roof without warning! At the bottom is a very large, inclined rift chamber. Short climbs down lead to a chamber where the water disappears into a tiny rift, That Tuesday Afternoon Feeling. A way through it may be possible by hammering; the passage visibly widens after the terminal stal blockage. Other possible ways on here are via a parallel shaft visible halfway down Tumbling Dice, or maybe via other routes through the boulder floor.

Rift Series

Contents: Top: Location: Entrance Series: G.S.P.: Rift Series: Shaft Series: First False Floor...: Just Awesome: Streamway: London Underground: Downstream: Pimpernel Streamway

Flying Rebelles lands in a small chamber with a rift leading off. The normal way on is an easy, lined traverse through a squeeze to a thrutch along the rift. At an aven it is possible to redescend the rift. This is Pablo Pot, which although free-climbable, is best rigged with a ladder. Alternatively, from Flying Rebelles it is possible to follow the bottom of the rift, along an unpleasant crawl, to the foot of Pablo Pot. A hole is passed on the left, down which the water disappears: this is believed to drop into G.S.P. and may be worth further exploration.

Pablo Pot marks the start of Popcorn Rift. The rift is at first easy to follow, with a couple of short climbs down. After a while, the rift becomes narrower, with various ways on. The easiest route is a narrow rift to the right, leading to a climb down to a small chamber (3m x 3m). From here a traverse along a piece of white rock reaches the head of Gripper Pitch (10m).

The pitch lands in a chamber split by a 2m climb up. From here there is another squeeze, Stimulated Emission Squeeze, followed by a right-angled bend into Black Crystal Rift. A 6m climb is met halfway along the rift. The route leads back up through a hole in the rift to a wider section, which ends at a small chamber with a trench in the floor. The trench may be descended to a traverse, leading to the head of a fine 17m pitch, Graham's Todger Pitch. The original route descended the pitch fully and then climbed seven metres up the rift opposite the landing. The current route uses a Tyrolean tight line connecting the top of the pitch and the top of the climb; abseiling clipped to this line saves much effort and an encounter with the irremovable pool of urine in the bottom.

The rift bends to the left to a small chamber (4m x 3m) with a trench in the floor. The trench may be descended for 5m to a wider section of rift. From here there are two possible ways on. A tight, awkward rift, Travellers' Scrabble, leads off horizontally. It is possible to avoid this by an exposed climb through a hole in the roof and traversing above the tight rift until it becomes wide enough to descend. This reconnects with Travellers' Scrabble just before Ascension Pot, an 8m pitch. This pitch is avoided by a lined traverse over the top and a climb down the rift on the other side. The rift here is narrow with a number of passable levels. The lowest route is the best. Care should be taken as the rift ends at a 70m drop, Pessimists' Pot. High level routes in the rift open out directly above Pessimists' and are not recommended.

Shaft Series

Contents: Top: Location: Entrance Series: G.S.P.: Rift Series: Shaft Series: First False Floor...: Just Awesome: Streamway: London Underground: Downstream: Pimpernel Streamway

From the small chamber at the foot of the climbs, a traverse slightly upward gains the head of Pessimists' Pot, the beginning of an impressive 400m shaft system. The initial short section bypasses the original belay ledge (The Fun Starts Here) and the main hang is a fine 70m drop: the longest freehang in the cave. Large pinnacles of rock are visible on a ledge on the opposite side of the shaft approximately 35m below The Fun Starts Here, and one wall has massive calcite crystals, round which detackling ropes can snag quite firmly. The pitch lands on a boulder strewn ledge, Supper Time, which has a supply of clean water entering from the inlet above Pessimists' Pot.

A short ascent up the ledge, using a traverse line, leads to the 31m pitch, Sing to the Devil. A short steep slope leads to the pitchhead; halfway down, the shaft splits, the route on being the larger and deeper of the two alternatives (water flows down the smaller shaft). From here a short traverse round a large hole leads to a spiky rock bridge from which the next pitch, The Bells, is reached. The pitch lands on a large (5m x 3m) wet ledge with a pool; a useful carbide fettling spot. From here it is possible to look down to the First False Floor, 140m below.

The following pitch, Armageddon (44m), is very impressive with the far wall just visible for most of its length. The next pitch (The Hundred) descends in a series of drops and is awkward to rig as the walls slope outwards at approximately 5° from the vertical. The pitch must be rigged near to the drips as, away from the water, the walls are coated in thick mud. The pitch lands on another wet ledge, from where a lined traverse leads to the head of the next pitch. This is a 22m pitch landing on the First False Floor.

First False Floor to Just Awesome

Contents: Top: Location: Entrance Series: G.S.P.: Rift Series: Shaft Series: First False Floor...: Just Awesome: Streamway: London Underground: Downstream: Pimpernel Streamway

The First False Floor is a fine chamber divided by a 5m ridge. Climbing up onto the ridge reaches a short pitch down to the other side of the chamber. From here, there are a number of possible ways on. A large rift enters from the right. This can be climbed for about 5m ending in a very steeply ascending muddy slope. Below the ridge is a short climb. Here, a route through a very loose boulder pile leads to a 30m pitch, Great Expectorations. This lands in a rift with a stream running south to north, which lands back in the main shaft at the bottom of Rosy Crucifixion. The main way on from below the ridge is to the right between boulders to the head of Rosy Crucifixion (38m), beneath a very large poised boulder. The pitch is against a muddy, sloping wall and deviations fail to prevent the rope quickly becoming clogged with mud.

The landing is in a small chamber with a stream that disappears down a crack in the floor. This may be the same stream that flows down Great Expectorations. The way on is to traverse along a ledge 5m above the base of the pitch to reach the next pitch, Cemetery Gates. This hangs just free of the rock to a buttress where a swing right leads to a bolt belay for the final 10m drop to the start of Gusamo Grovel.

If the swing round the buttress is ignored, the pitch ends on a small ledge behind rock spikes (the original route). The rock spikes and rifts make the route to the final pitch complicated. However, all routes appear to lead to the same place, a boulder chamber with water entering from a number of inlet rifts. A hole in the floor leads to a 6m pitch landing in a small chamber, That Monday Morning Feeling, with a pool in the bottom. A small waterfall lands in the pool. The only possible way on is to follow the water down a westerly trending body-sized tube which closes down after about 3m. A narrow slot in the tube draughts strongly but is far too small to be descended. No other routes were found from this chamber.

The 1988 extension was found at the bottom of Cemetery Gates where the water is left behind and a dry high level followed. A short climb down with the help of a handline attached to a large spike led to a roped climb up into Gusamo Grovel. Following the draught through the sandy crawls and stoops of the Grovel, past the squalid 1988 campsite, soon produces results in the form of the noise of a very large amount of falling water. A descent down a dry muddy slope (rope useful) leads to a chamber, from which the first of the pitches into Just Awesome is rigged.

Just Awesome

Contents: Top: Location: Entrance Series: G.S.P.: Rift Series: Shaft Series: First False Floor...: Just Awesome: Streamway: London Underground: Downstream: Pimpernel Streamway

A 17m pitch in a rift is followed by a lined traverse onto a ledge. The next pitch lands on the Big Ledge. A very large stream (flow rate 0.25 cumecs in 1989) enters the chamber on this ledge. The stream flows into a 2m wide passage and falls 50m to the chamber floor, from a hole about 10m below the level of the ledge.

From the Big Ledge, the full size of the chamber is apparent, if not Awesome! At 40m by 70m and over 120m high, this is the largest deep chamber found so far in Spain. Upstream from the Big Ledge is a waist-deep pool and a tall 2-3m wide rift containing many clean-washed boulders. After about 100m, the rift is blocked by a large boulder over which the stream falls. A possible way on is visible about 8m up. The upstream passage may also be reached from the top of Just Awesome by following a descending phreatic tube for about 40m to a short ladder climb. From here, traversing in a narrow rift on jammed boulders high up leads to a tight section, over a large drop. This is followed by wide bridging to jammed boulders, where the stream is met, about 10m downstream from the large boulder described above.

About 30m further round the Big Ledge from the main stream is an inlet with a much smaller stream and passage. This can be followed for 25m upstream before a waterfall blocks progress.

The descent from the Big Ledge leads past rebelays to the final bolt. Here, the wall is sharply undercut, leaving the caver struggling in space 5m from the waterfall to accomplish the last changeover. This superb, airy drop of 38m lands in the boulder-strewn immensity which is the floor of Just Awesome.

From here there are two ways on. The original route follows the stream; an alternative route ascends the cemented boulder pile to the right, to the climb up to the London Underground.

Streamway to Primula Point

Contents: Top: Location: Entrance Series: G.S.P.: Rift Series: Shaft Series: First False Floor...: Just Awesome: Streamway: London Underground: Downstream: Pimpernel Streamway

From the bottom of Just Awesome, moving away from the waterfall leads to a brief scrabble over boulders with a 2m climb down to the stream. The stream at this point is about 5m wide and shallow, with a gravelly bottom. The streamway passage continues at an imperceptible gradient, with a very variable roof height. The water varies from being ankle deep to being too deep to wade. In several places the stream is blocked by fallen boulders which can be climbed over or through.

The 1988 Second Camp was located on a ledge 2m above normal stream level, 200m downstream from the chamber. In the extraordinary floods of 1988, the stream rose 2-3m as the camping party took refuge on ledges on the wall.

After a short wade it is best to traverse above the stream on the left wall (line needed). There is a 5m climb down beside a waterfall 100m further along, which can be avoided by rigging a pitch from high up on the right hand side. This is followed by Fool's pitch, which drops into a large chamber full of massive boulders.

The stream continues to a narrow deep section that must be traversed (using a line) in order to reach Mesopotamia, an island in the middle of the streamway. A jump over the stream (Dan's Bold Step) is followed by an awkward traverse. The wide passage then soon closes down and high levels have to be followed by climbing up into a narrow section that opens into a large muddy chamber. A handline climb down rejoins the stream in a narrow passage that has to be traversed to a 1m waterfall.

The stream is best left here. A high level route through huge boulder floored chambers (Mr. Jones) continues for 150m until the stream is met again. An alternative (cairned) route at the end of Mr. Jones descends to the 1989 camp by a small inlet.

It is also possible to follow the water (the Sumpy Streamway) round to just below the campsite, as one very lost party found. This very aqueous route has only been partially surveyed. Immediately downslope from the campsite, the main stream emerges from the Sumpy Streamway, in a low (2m), wide, stalactitey passage. The way on is to turn right, up slope, and then along a short length of passage to a climb up behind a block, to emerge in a large chamber at the top of a rockpile. A waterfall inlet can be heard on the right. The cairned route leads over to the left, and back down to the stream just before a region which appears to be blocked by large boulders. There are many easy routes through here. Some are cairned. It is also easy to go round in circles. Few people have managed to go through this choke the same way twice. The route emerges briefly into open stream passage, which is crossed (left to right) and then recrossed. The stream flows to the right, into Choke Cuthbert. The route on is over the choke, to the left, via an ascending rope (15m). At the top, a brief scramble up leads to the first of two 8m ropes down (3m and 10m). The first descent may be bypassed by a devious climb. At the bottom is Floodlands; progress is made between large rocks at stream level.

The passage soon becomes more open and passes a large rock "duck', to a climb up over boulders on the right. The left wall is then followed round the back of a large block. A descent to the stream, with a few more manoeuvers around boulders, leads to the impressive wide meanders at Primula Point,the site of the 1990 camp. The stream runs to the right of a wide sandy ledge, in a wide and tall L-shaped passage.

The London Underground

Contents: Top: Location: Entrance Series: G.S.P.: Rift Series: Shaft Series: First False Floor...: Just Awesome: Streamway: London Underground: Downstream: Pimpernel Streamway

The boulder pile in Just Awesome ascends for 30m to the base of a flowstone waterfall. A bold 40m climb up this (rope left in place, 1990) reaches the enormous sloping sandy plain of Heathrow. This is an excellent vantage point for the Just Awesome Chamber. Following the well-trodden route on the left side of the passage (further damage to the sand and mud floor must be avoided) leads up to the base of a wide boulder slope. It is possible to go wrong here by heading too far right: if in doubt, follow a bearing of 040° .

On the right-hand side of the passage, a steep stal-coated inlet slope contains numerous small pools with a profusion of cave pearls. At the top of the boulder slope a cairned route leads off down the 1000m length of the London Underground. The passage here is about 70m wide, and is sufficiently straight that, in places, lights can be seen 400m away. The route ascends and descends steeply in several places.

After 400m, the route bears slightly right, becoming narrower (about 10m wide), and descends for 50m. One then passes a particularly large block, by which is a 20m diameter shaft (Marble Arch). Descent of this (15m) leads to the Picadilly Line, another large boulder-strewn passage. Heading downslope on the most obvious route leads to a 12m drop to another large, bouldery passage. This is Mr. Jones, just above the inlet to the 1989 campsite. Following the Picadilly Line in the opposite direction from Marble Arch leads to a steep descent to a platform which overlooks the stream near the 1988 limit.

Continuing along the London Underground, the route leads to Euston Choke. This is a steep strenuous ascent up loosely packed sand and rocks, first up the right-hand side and then crossing over to the left (the descent is easier on the return). A handline is now rigged most of the way up. The last steep section may be avoided by heading to the right, and ducking under some large boulders. Near the top of the handline, on the left hand side, a promising-looking rift leads off, but all routes here end in mud chokes.

Once over the top of Euston Choke, the descent is easy into a tall rifty passage about 8m wide. A short walk leads to the base of Paddington Choke. A rope is rigged up the left-hand side, ascending about 20m. Alternatively, it is possible to ascend to this point by an interesting climb on the right-hand side. From here, one can penetrate the choke, and various routes have been pushed to no conclusion. The most promising of these is Lost Paul's Rift. Another way on may be to continue the climb up the left-hand wall. Behind a large block at the base of Paddington Choke lies a hole in the floor, giving the entrance to Zasadska Way. Short, oversuit-ripping squeezes and rifts open out at the top of a series of six short, awkward pitches. The last of these lands in the stream just before Primula Point. It bypasses neither Drucilla nor Egbert, as its optimistic explorers hoped.

Downstream from Primula Point

Contents: Top: Location: Entrance Series: G.S.P.: Rift Series: Shaft Series: First False Floor...: Just Awesome: Streamway: London Underground: Downstream: Pimpernel Streamway

Beyond Primula Point the stream deepens in a tall 6m wide passage, and the easiest route is to traverse along ledges on the left-hand wall. A 4m pitch, with an irritating take-off, leads up to the first of these. An easy walk (line for safety) reaches a broader ledge, and a tension traverse to another ledge. Here, two routes diverge. Downwards, a pendule is made across the stream to a two-person sized ledge, from which a roped traverse round the downstream buttress gives a climb down to stream level. Here the passage widens slightly, and the shallow stream runs round the left hand side of a boulder pile before vanishing into choke Dreadful Drucilla. On the right, a small unexplored inlet enters. A route exists through Drucilla at stream level. However, a bypass exists via Postman Pat.

From the junction described above, a rope ascends against muddy walls past a ledge to a 3m diameter rocky chamber about 2m high. From here, a window looks down onto the start of Choke Drucilla. Traversing past this reaches another small sloping chamber. Upslope a narrow exit emerges into a vast, steeply sloping, boulder-filled chamber (Postman Pat).

Routes on were initially explored by dangerous climbs upslope. In several places holes lead down into the boulders; these have not been fully explored. Halfway to the top, on the left, a hole in the floor leads, via a series of short pitches, back to the beginning of Choke Drucilla. Near the top of the chamber, a large arch divides it into two. In the left branch, more dangerous climbs and traverses lead to an obscure series that may provide a bypass to Choke Egbert. A rift at the end of this appears to be part of Lost Paul's Rift in Paddington. The right-hand branch ascends past several promising holes to a traverse rightwards at the base of a steep wall. At this point the climb was abandoned, though continuation may be fruitful. The roof is visible at this point, but there appears to be a way on at the top of the wall. Rocks thrown from here crash down for a long period, landing in Bod.

The route into Bod is a hole in the right hand wall, near the base of Postman Pat. A bold step across a drop emerges into a large boulder-floored passage, about 10-20m across, and very reminiscent of the London Underground. The main route through follows the right hand wall, and is well cairned. At the top of a ridge, two routes diverge. The original route descends a 20m pitch over loose rocks on the right-hand wall. The passage narrows after a while, to a choice between a squeeze under, or a climb over, a chockstone (Chockstone Climb). This enters a chamber, from where a climb to the left is a route into Soup Dragon. The passage continues past a large blind pit in the left hand wall, before rejoining the main route.

The main route from the ridge in Bod is a short climb up the left hand wall. This reaches a descending traverse cum sloping pitch, onto a large ledge above Bod, Soup Dragon. This passes an undescended pit on the left, to the base of two small inlets, the White Inlets, which flow down over moonmilk. A ledge is visible at the top of these, which may be worth further exploration. Straight ahead from the White Inlets is a short drop. Penduling across one reaches a ledge at the bottom of a promising looking climb. However, on closer examination it was found to get steeper and chossier, rather than gaining a higher level. Alternatively, straight down is a chamber, from where a further pitch descends into the pit in Bod described above.

Crossing to the right hand wall at the White Inlets, and passing behind a very large boulder, the route descends over muddy boulders to the top of a short pitch, Clanger Pitch. This drops back into the original route through Bod.

Continuing along Bod a second pit is passed on the left. This can be descended for thirty metres, to a floor where a miserably small rift leads off. Alternatively, from half way down the shaft, penduling rightwards reaches a ledge from where a route over large boulders continues, unexplored. Above the pot the top of a muddy, sloping pitch is reached. Pimpernel Pitch (30m) lands on a rockpile in the streamway halfway between chokes Drucilla and Egbert.

Pimpernel Streamway

Contents: Top: Location: Entrance Series: G.S.P.: Rift Series: Shaft Series: First False Floor...: Just Awesome: Streamway: London Underground: Downstream: Pimpernel Streamway

Upstream of the base of Pimpernel Pitch a climb down from the rockpile lands in an 8m wide rift, carrying the stream. Easy progress in the stream or close to the walls in deep sections leads to the downstream side of Choke Drucilla. Downstream, a route following first the right hand wall, then the lefthand wall, descends to a small beach at stream level.The stream in the tall, 3m wide rift is 2-3 feet deep, and a wetting can be avoided by a tension traverse along a muddy ledge on the left. At the end of this, on the right hand side of the stream, a beach is reached at the foot of Colostomy Climb. This ascends for ten metres over two horrendous rub points to a ledge, which can be followed to a choke, Not Colostomy Choke. A further 25m higher is a platform of boulders very similar in character to Bod. It is possible to see from here to Clanger Pitch, and so it is believed that this is a continuation of the old high level. Traversing to the right there is a choice of two routes. A climb straight ahead reaches a further climb up to The Black Hole. This unfortunately just leads to a shaft back to the streamway. An inlet enters from above, but has not been ascended. Alternatively, from the foot of the climb, continuing to the right reaches Colostomy Choke, which draughts strongly, and which appears easily dig-able.

From the base of Colostomy Climb, the stream continues about 4-5 feet deep. This can be avoided by recrossing the stream to the left bank, via a rock island. From here, a roped semi-tension traverse leads to a beach. Continuing straight ahead, a mud bank can be ascended to a climb into a loose choke, which has not been pushed. This appears to be the continuation of the main rift.

From the beach the streamway cuts right and completely changes character, becoming a phreatic tube about 5m in diameter; previously the stream had run in a high rift with the roof out of sight. Various muddy side passages lead off from here: most end in chokes, but further exploration may be fruitful. The main passage soon reaches Choke Egbert: a dense and dangerous choke of small boulders. It is possible to climb into the choke at various places near here, but no way on was apparent. The stream splits in two, with both branches sinking. A flood overflow continues straight ahead between the two branches; this leads into the choke for about twenty metres, to a short drop which needs some boulders removing from it. Just above this is a very dangerous chute, which has the annoying habit of dropping boulders onto unsuspecting diggers. This should be stabilised before exploration continues.

A caver at Choke Egbert is only 10m or so below the level of the camp, and about 700m metres above resurgence level, at an unusually remote and difficult barrier to exploration.

Contents: Top: Location: Entrance Series: G.S.P.: Rift Series: Shaft Series: First False Floor...: Just Awesome: Streamway: London Underground: Downstream: Pimpernel Streamway