Oxford University Cave Club

El Regallón 1997

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(Pozu del Polar Bear's Packed lunch)
(A very cold and slightly hostile place)

Jonathan Cooper

Depth: 203m
Plan length: 86m
UTM Co-ordinates: 034205 1.49E; 4787754.4N

Survey: Plan & Extended Elevation


Ben Lovett on ice in F41
(Tim Guilford)


Location: To the right of the house sized boulder in the middle of the Green Tongue. Traverse 50m upslope past large snow-choked shakeholes (F86a and F86b). The entrance lies at the upslope end of a boulder strewn shakehole. F 13 lies on a bearing of 2040. See also Top Camp Shaftbashing Guide.

History: First visited by Sherry Mayo in 1988, when it consisted of a short descent to ice with an impenetrable fissure through which pebbles rattled for some time. It was revisited during the 1993 recce when the snows had dropped. Gavin Lowe, Steve Roberts and others dropped the entrance pitches and reached an ice choked chamber on a 100m rope. In 1997, the snows were even lower, and F41 looked like a prime site for a way into the mythical system lying beneath the Green Tongue.

Description: The cave regularly shifts shape, so the rigging may differ markedly from year to year. In 1997 it consisted of three sections, Entrance, Old Way and New Way, which lie on a fault-line running roughly NNE-SSW. The entrance series began as a short pitch (P5) from a large boulder at the bottom of the shakehole. This dropped to an ice-slope at the far end of which an eyehole led to a second pitch (P20). This was rebelayed beside a large jammed boulder, with a deviation to drop to an icy ledge overlooking the third (Ice Rift) pitch (P25). Two deviations pull the rope away from the slippery walls and the pitch landed at an icy stance (The Parting of the Ways).

Continuing ahead (SSW) is the Old Way. A traverse along to a short pitch (P5) dropped to a 45° snow slope at the top of the Ice Palace (C30). This was a large icy chamber with two high avens. The chamber is littered with ice formations including impressive icicles and large blocks of ice scattered across the floor. The way on was an Ice Slide (C5, rope required), to another pitch in an ice covered rift (PS). This dropped into another chamber with yet more ice formations at the bottom of a high aven. The way ahead led to a rock-choked rift.

The New Way headed back under the entrance pitches (NNE). A snow slope (P8) reached an icy chamber with several holes in the floor. From this point until the top of the final pitch the route twisted its way around and beneath several large piles of snow which seemed to sporadically barrage the next section of the cave with ice and rocks. Ice or rocks dislodged here or in the entrance series follow the route of Incoming (P46), which was rigged down the largest hole to a hanging rebelay over snow, with several potential routes down. A further rebelay gave a free hang between snow piles and ice covered walls, to reach a cold stance on a  45° snow slope. Upslope appeared to be snow-choked and the way on was the 40m Cold Comfort climb downslope with the rope rigged at the stance. The final pitch, (The Ice Spider P70) lay at the bottom of this snow slope following a short traverse along the left hand wall. The final 60m was free-hanging in a superb shaft which appeared to be a largely out of the firing line. This landed in a 20m x 15m chamber with no obvious way on, except for a rock-filled rift. There was a possibility of a parallel shaft on the far side of the Ice Spider, but this would involve a long traverse from the pitch-head. Altematively holes at the top and part way down Incoming may drop into the far side of the Ice Spider, whilst both F86a and F86b draught and lie above the lower sections of F41.

Rigging Guide

Entrance P5 75m rope Y-hang on bolts. Back up in shakehole
Second P20 `` Natural, bolt, deviation from natural
Ice Rift P25 `` Natural, two deviations from chockstones
Old Way / Ice Palace P5 / C30 80m rope Bolt traverse from stance to Y-hang
Ice Slide C5, P5 `` Bolt to Y-hang. Back up in chamber
New Way P8 120m rope Bolt at stance to natural rebelay
Incoming / Cold Comfort P46 / C40 `` Bolt, bolt, deviation, natural, natural at stance
Ice Spider P70 100m rope Bolt traverse. Short pitch to Y-hang