Oxford University Cave Club

2009 Expedition:

Picos de Europa, Spain

News, opinions, debate as it comes in

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Fleur Loveridge


Further to my text: when I left Ario on Sunday (19th) word over the radio from camp was that the passage that Hil and I had bolted up into had been followed down several pitches but had eventually ended in a sump pool. However, a number of possible climbs up had been identified so it was not all totally dead. The drill is at camp, so light work should be made of checking these out.

Tony had dived the downstream sump on the Friday, and had found that the sump headed down again sharply, before his rebreather started to take in water and he had to switch equipment and come back up. No more diving in the downstream sump was planned due to this problem.

As I left Nick and Ben were about to go in to camp taking with them rope and bottles for rigging to and diving the upstream sump and exploring the dry passage beyond. Potential divers are Phil, Hil, Ben and Tony.

Dave and Robbie have got lots of good photos of the cave and underground camp life and were due to come out Sunday, taking photos in the shaft “No Hay Cristal” on the way.

All together things have been going pretty well with almost everyone making it down to camp (except Simon who has had trouble with his elbow).

Oh, and the pretties truly are that amazing. Probably the best I have ever seen. Lots of selenite christmas trees and crystals everywhere on every surface. Magnificent.


Fleur Loveridge (text)

Dry lead bolted up into more phreas including several pitches down. But then reached sump pool. Several poss climbs up still exist though. Downstream diving aborted due to rebreather trouble. Upstream sump should now be underway.

More when i get to email. Fleur.


Nick Edwards

Another quick update from expedition. Camping trips have been happening all week, and there are currently 9 campers in the cave! So it's all a bit quiet on the surface, and all go underground. The pretties at the limit of exploration are as amazing as rumour made them out to be, with lots of amazing purple crystals and crazy helictites, some of it a bit like stuff in Lechuguilla (but on a smaller scale). There have been a couple of trips photographing the pretties (by Robbie Shone), and also Ben Lovett will take some more photos next week.

Hilary and Fleur bolted up the climb at the limit of exploration to reveal more huge going passage - we're still waiting for more news on that, but sounds exciting. Tony Seddon was hoping to make his first dive in the downstream sump today, so we're also awaiting news on that. Dave Rose succeeded in getting to underground camp, despite not having done any serious caving since the year I was born!

That's all for now, will keep you updated with any updates: Nick


Rosa Clements

Expedition is going well so far and even though there has been a lot of rerigging and stuff, by the end of today Texa should rigged to underground camp! Some camping gear has been taken into the cave too and the first camping trip should go in on Monday. How exciting! Texa is a really brilliant cave by the way, I had forgotten after not having been there for so long but it has some really top pitches.

There has been lots of clag so far and there is even some snow to collect on the Ario path, but now it is sunny and you can see a really long way. There was a fantastic view from the Texa entrance last night. More people are arriving too! Now there are 11 people on expedition. Also the landrover [Ed - Frontera!] has not broken down or anything, it only has minor exhaust problems. We even have an OUCC banner for the Ario kitchen.

Yours to the terminal cowbell, Rosa