0774: Morenuca, Cueva de la
Cubija 30T 450088 4796939 (Datum: ETRS89. Accuracy code: G) Altitude 285m
Length included in the Cubija System (North Vega System): See Regaton Depth 77m
Area position

Updated 13 February 1998; 19th February 1999; 17th September 2000; 26th October 2001; 28th October 2007; 5th, 6th May, 2nd November 2009; 7th January, 11th, 29th October 2011; 23rd February 2017; 1st July 2018

A strongly draughting hole on the north-east side of the dry stream bed. The first crawl breaks out in a larger passage, with a roof tube on the left-hand side. The passage continues to a squeeze into a larger chamber. Another squeeze ends in a final small chamber. This has been dug to a drop into a very tight rift. The rift was excavated and extended in the summer of 1995 and connected into the Sistema de Cubija during the Easter 1996 expedition.

Squeezing down through the dig, a very awkward bend in the rift must be negotiated before a narrow canyon gains the top of a 16m pitch into a large chamber (20 x 30m). Back under the base of the pitch, an ascending rift eventually chokes and this appears to be an active sink for the streambed above. Most of the water sinking in the chamber flows away down between the boulders and can be followed underneath before it gets too tight.

The larger of the two passages at the eastern end of the chamber contains a fine mud floor but eventually closes down in an area of boulders which draughts but looks choked. A small passage on the right hand side near here may possibly go further but needs digging. A low passage, also at this end, chokes but a small hole in the floor connects with a 30m pitch, accessed via a small tube nearby.

The 30m pitch lands on a sloping rubble floor that chokes at the bottom. At the top of the slope, a tight rift leads to a 7m pitch that lands in a small chamber. This draughts, but a dig would be needed to gain the passage / pitch beyond.

In the southern wall a climb up gains a calcited area which drops through a hole with a slippery calcite surround and descends a draughty 12m pitch followed by a 6m drop to a chamber with several ways out.

Leaving the chamber, a tube at head height in the left wall may be entered and after a very short distance, a small aven is entered half way up. Continuing on the other side the crawl is regained and, after 20m, there is a junction containing a pit. This is the first pitch of the Stair Rod Connection to Torca del Regaton. Pitches of 5m (best laddered) and 13m (small tube to rebelay, descend to ledge with bolt for long deviation, then down flowstone to a chamber). From here, a 3m climb up on the right leads to a 2m climb down, a crawl to a 4m ladder pitch (long belay) into the GT Series in Regaton.

Traversing over the pit, a T-junction is reached with a low crawl to the left and a calcite choke to the right. Both draught well and the sandy crawl would make an easy dig with the possibility of an alternative and easier connection with the Hedgehog Crawl area in Torca de Mostajo (071). The left hand branch of the junction terminates at a calcite filled chamber with a too-tight rift at one end.

The main way on is at the bottom of Bad Bolt Pitch and past the above series in what appears to be its continuation, Magic Carpet Passage. A small tube is entered which continues for about 200m with only a few features to interrupt what is mainly low crawling. An awkward fixed rope traverse over an 8m pit (which has a very tight rift dig at its base) must be negotiated before a junction is eventually reached. The right hand side contains a small chamber with the only possible way out being a too tight pitch at its base. Entering the crawl to the left of the junction, an oxbow is passed and a hole is seen in the floor which leads to a too tight, steeply descending, meandering rift. Eventually the crawl breaks out into a narrow rift that is best traversed at roof height. At its far end, a long piece of suspended floor (The Magic Carpet) must be crawled over before the crawl is regained. (The false floor is quite thin and it is recommended that only one person at a time crosses it).

Gradually the crawl transforms into a more comfortable nature and a junction is reached. The right hand side passes up through a low ramp of sand into a narrow, ascending rift which ends at an 8m muddy pitch into an aven. (A 3m climb up near the base of this pitch enters the rest of the cave).

The left hand side enters a very low dug sand crawl and emerges into a complex area of cave passage incompletely explored, Shangri-La.

Immediately left, a passage with a fine collection of stal at its start continues before the roof height lowers and eventually ends at a small chamber after several very low sandy digs. Just before this, a boulder choke on the right may be entered. No way on here has been located. However, continuing to the right, the cave contains many deep shafts, the first of which needs a bolt traverse into a passage (?) on the other side. One pit has been dropped: Lamp Black Pitch is a 10 + 26m drop into a muddy chamber with a passage which ends in a body-sized, ascending, muddy tube. A T-junction is seen ahead and the draught blows in.

Following the right hand wall past the climb down into the aven with the muddy pitch and traversing around a shaft edge, an area of anastomoses is reached. A small passage on the left gains a bouldery chamber with several pits, all undescended, and a sandy passage which leads to a steep sand slope on the edge of a pit. (This is the other side of one viewed from the anastomoses area and may be the best shaft for a connection with Torca del Regaton (site 892). At the top of the slope, a passage ends at breakdown and two parallel rifts which close down.

Climbing up a pebble and sand slope on the right hand side near here, a passage is entered that soon drops into a more roomy chamber containing a 3m high, lone column. Two passages on the left may be entered but soon apparently close down in chambers and more deep pits. Continuing from here for 100m down a comfortably sized passage, a junction is reached. To the right a chamber is entered that contains a large stal flow and two 30m+ deep pits, both undescended. Continuing left of the junction, with the draught, a small boulder choke is reached after 40m that would dig. Twenty metres before this a small tube in the right hand wall quickly leads to an awkward 2m climb down that is near the Italian Pitch in Torca de Mostajo (071). The boulder choke near here connects with the one in Morenuca and, if dug, would bypass the 2m climb which needs combined tactics or a fixed rope to usually negotiate.

Sick Inside Passage heads southwest and ends at incompletely explored possibilities (see survey). Over Easter and summer 2009, a passage was entered by bolting across the right hand wall past the "p (choked)", about 150m from the end. This, the first of the Happy Holiday traverses, ends in a large passage which soon intersects a big shaft (undescended) with a waterfall entering from above. This was bypassed by entering a small rift passage back on the right leading to the second of the Happy Holiday traverses, over a small clean-washed shaft with windows (left) looking into the big shaft behind the waterfall. The traverse ends in a small bouldery antechamber, where a window high on the far left drops onto another bolt-protected but easy traverse leading to the far side of the big shaft. A flat-out crawl (unsurveyed) leads off from the right near the start of the bypass rift, before the traverse lines are reached. It was pushed for about 40m to a T-junction - left is too tight almost immediately, and right becomes too tight after passing under a weakly drafting aven well decorated with crystals on the walls.

After the second Happy Holiday traverse the main passage is initially awkward, necessitating clambering over and around some undescended pits in the floor. Just after crossing a 'bridge' between two such shafts, a slope down to the left leads to a very short section of passage, which turns right and develops into a rift parallel to the main passage. Two 3m rope climbs (rope essential) lead to the top of an undescended 20m+ pitch with a weak draft. Further on in the main passage, a slope down in the floor leads to a chamber and a hands and knees crawl bearing left, ending at a window overlooking the same 20m+ pitch. Back in the main passage, the tricky section ends at a 3m climb up, where the going becomes easier. There are some incompletely pushed ascending rifts on the right here. The main passage enlarges - El Camino de la Luna (named after the distinctive flat, grey crusty floor) - and swings to the right at Unobvious Junction. From here on the route is very well decorated with stalagmites, stalactites, helictite forests, plus straws and curtains - The Milky Way [pictures]. The passage dimensions gradually reduce until a series of crawls and squeezes lead to a white crystal "frozen lake" with a black "stream" running from it and then some very vulnerable formations at the end - Smaug's Lair - where sand totally fills the narrow, rifty passage.

Left at Unobvious Junction, a strongly draughting out passage leads off behind a rock curtain, immediately entering a decorated, flat-floored chamber. From here the draft is followed through a short hands and knees crawl to enter a chamber with large fallen blocks. Across the chamber an easy climb follows the draft up between blocks to reach a 4m climb down, entering a large chamber with a small inlet falling from the roof. A p20 between clean-washed boulders at the lowest point has been descended but the way on at the base was too tight. A slightly tricky 5m climb leads up towards the roof of the chamber into an apparent continuation of the main passage. In 2009, the description reads "this passage ends almost immediately in a huge fallen block and all ways on beyond here are too tight. The farthest point (on the right) is a crawl up a rubble slope which ends in a triangular hole with a significant draught. Diggable, but not promising of a quick reward!"
   A second look in summer 2011 found two ways on to the continuing passage beyond. An awkward chimney climb over the top of boulders (this is the part named Patrick's Error, the lead previously overlooked), and then a climb/scramble of 5m gains access to this. The passage soon closes down in size but the roof heads up and over large fallen blocks. Another connection is a tight meandering route via Popcorn Passage, which has a couple of squeezes and is well decorated. This route joins back onto the other route, at the bottom of steep rubble ramp. In Popcorn Passage a letter box window on the left breaks into a shaft (warning: false floor) some 13m off the bottom. Water comes in from an aven and, on abseiling down, it sinks through a boulder blocked shaft at least 15m deep, with no person-sized way on.

In the main passage the roof lowers through blackened walls, but soon rises again where a clamber over fallen blocks gains a sizeable chamber nearly 20m across in places. Here a number of holes descend through the floor (10m+) but are too tight.

When entering the chamber, the obvious way on is to keep to the right-hand wall. Following this for some 20-30m passes several ways off to the left between large fallen boulders, these are the way on and regain the left hand side of the chamber, which then descends into a sandy 4m wide blackened passage with a hands and knees crawl.

Going back to the chamber and following the right hand wall for 40m passes through a diagonal rift where an unclimbed passage leads off up a steep ramp. Continuing at floor level a rise up to the right then overlooks a sandy chamber some 30m long, with numerous ancient bat droppings and an impenetrable rift at the end.

Back at the blackened hands and knees crawl, a climb up over unstable and highly fractured boulders leads into walking passage. Descending down the slope Gypsum Corner Passage is on the left (30m long) and well decorated, but the main way on is to the right. After a short narrow section, a large rift is reached with an undercut at the bottom that drops down into a chamber below. Here follow the right hand wall and traverse a small rift where it is then possible to drop down and walk into the large chamber. This contains one particularly large block, a high aven coming in from above and anastamoses formations. The way on is up a steep sandbank and re-gains fossil passage. Following this a small muddy pitch on the right is passed (undescended) and the passage decreases in size.

A T-junction is soon reached. To the left is the Belly of the Eel, which goes on for at least 200m, often crawling in places with large amounts of bat droppings. This is the continuation of Gypsum Corner Passage, but is not connected due to a sand choke. The Belly of the Eel continues on despite the sand choke, as off to the right just before this is an immature rift which is ongoing with a strong draught, but for the determined!
Back at the T-junction, going right, a large fossil passage continues for 50m with mud formations in places and a passage off in the floor on a left hand bend. Descending a slope, the roof stays high (+15m) and a rock formation/barrier to the left obscures the view to what is on the other side, and a popcorn covered platform surrounded by slippery flowstone sits in the middle of this bowl.

At floor level a short climb down reaches the top of a staggered muddy pitch going down (undescended, 8m+) and a low crawl leading off. Following the low crawl two pitches are reached and a passage heading up, the latter connects back into the hole in the floor passage mentioned earlier. The first pitch on the left is assumed blind as the bottom can be seen from the top with a good light. The pitch straight ahead down a slope drops off into a canyon overlooking a chamber with a small stream, which eventually with climbing and traversing drops down to the stream on the same level as the Torca del Regaton system. Upstream, the stream sumps immediately in the chamber, which also has a high aven coming in. Downstream, the way on is crawling with the stream and this continues.

Back at the rock formation/barrier, traversing up and round the popcorn covered platform on slippery flowstone a small gully up gets round the edge of the obstruction, and gives the first view of Picón Pie chamber some 80m long and 20m wide with impressive anastamoses. Up the slope and over the ridge boulder collapses in the floor are present and it is possible to see at least 15m down into sizeable space below - this remains undescended. Heading up to the highest point at the far end of Picón Pie chamber, a short passage breaks into a small chamber where the passage continues up a diagonal rift. This has been climbed at least 10m and is the closest point to Simas del Picón above. Equipment is needed to continue the climb safely. Back at floor level it is possible to continue forwards with a boulder slope to the left and roof/wall to the right. At points it is possible to climb down through the boulders several meters and there may well be a way on here also.

The "p40 undescended" from the 1995-7 explorations, to the left of the start of the Happy Holiday traverse was descended in the summer 2011 and immediately dropped into Torca del Regaton passage (see survey) via a p33m.

As of summer 2009 and 2011, a rope has been left on the first of the Happy Holiday Traverses, complete with footloops which make it a much easier proposition. No rope was left on the second traverse - it would require 40-50m plus 9 anchor plates for thru-bolts (washers and nuts left in place).

The old Morenuca survey is in Acorn format. This was converted to a bitmap and the new 2009 extensions (700m surveyed) have been added. The 2011 survey imported these as pdf files into a Corel Draw file which now contains everything.

Reference: pers comm., (P Smith); material in file anon., 1995c (logbook); Corrin Juan, 1995a; Corrin Juan, 1996; anon., 1996a (Easter logbook); anon., 1996b (logbook); Corrin Juan, 1997a; Corrin Juan, 1997b; anon., 1997b (logbook); Corrin Juan, 1998 (photo); anon., 1998a (Easter logbook); García José León, 1997 (survey and photo); Corrin Juan, 1997c; anon., 2000c (Summer logbook); Corrin Juan, 2001a; Corrin Juan, 2003c; Corrin Juan and Smith Peter, 2007; anon., 2009a (Easter logbook); anon., 2009 (summer logbook); Corrin Juan, 2010 (photo); León García José, 2010 (survey and photos); anon., 2011d (summer logbook); Corrin Juan, 2013a
Entrance picture : yes
Underground picture(s): entrance series crawl?  strange formations  breakdown  squeeze  cracked mud floor  cracked mud floor chamber?  solitary stal  tunnel  anastomoses  formations 1 formations 2  junction 
from Easter 2009 including new extension : from summer 2009 in the new extension
from summer 2011
Video: Formations in 2009 extensions (101Mb)
Detailed Survey : 1:1000 : Easter 2009 extensions off Sick Inside Passage : completed survey showing 2009 extensions
complete survey showing 2011 extensions : As part of the Cubija System (North Vega System) published 2017
Line Survey :
On area survey :
Survex file : yes (Amended magnetic declination December 2013 to align with Eur79 grid and coordinates altered to fit ETRS89 datum, April 2014.)  
in the North Vega (Cubija) System (Easter 2018) (Amended magnetic declination December 2013 to align with Eur79 grid and coordinates altered to fit ETRS89 datum, April 2014.)
Passage direction rose diagram: Sistema de Cubija (North Vega System) 1/7/2018