The 1976 expedition

The following year the expedition returned to its more conventional dates of mid-July to end of August. The other great change was that the KCC did not take part. It is clear from reading the log-books that even from the start of the 1974 expedition there was a great deal of rivalry between the different clubs. Although this was generally good-humoured, it is one reason why members of the KCC, including Buddha, wanted to be independent. However members of Derbyshire Caving Club took part for the first time, and were active in most of the new finds. Members of Preston Caving Club joined the expedition too.

Another novelty this year was that for the first time the expedition received a £120 grant from the Sports Council.

As soon as people started to arrive in Matienzo, Lank returned to the draughting holes he'd seen at the head of the Llueva valley. On 23rd July, together with Juan Corrin and Ian Morley, he dug through the sand and shale choking the entrance passage to discover the great tunnel of "Biggo". Here they found the river coming from Carcavuezo in Matienzo, and as a fluorescein dye-test later confirmed, from Uzueka. Hence it was settled that the 4 valleys (Matienzo, Riaño, Llueva and Secadura) were linked by one cave-system. None of the connections could be made in 1976, but Cueva Llueva was 2.6km long, ending at sumps both upstream and downstream.

Due to the activity in Llueva and elsewhere, there was no trip to the end of Uzueka until 12th August. None of the people on this had been through Armageddon boulder-choke the year before. But they succeeding in passing this psychological barrier and continued along the river passage till they were temporarily stopped by another choke. By the time they found a way round this, and returned to the river, it was time to turn back. Five days later they went on to a sump. The dye they had put in the river gave the murky water a green tinge, like engine oil. But even Duckams Sump had a by-pass, and they pushed on to explore Shrimp-Bone Inlet and the start of Rocky Horror. The dye detector was positive in Secadura on 19th August.

Several other new caves were explored. On 26th July Torca del Rayo de Sol was located at the head of the Secadura valley, in an attempt to fill the gap between Llueva and Secadura. Torca del Somo was 77m deep, on the top of the ridge above Cubio de la Reñada. Cueva de la Basura was surveyed in Riaño, and Cueva Elegante in Secadura. Here cavers helped the local plumber install a water supply pipe inside the cave. In addition, 500m of maze-passages were surveyed in Cueva Riaño.

This year there was no separate expedition report. Instead, an 18-page report was included in MUSS Journal No. 8, published in December.

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