The 1978 expedition
The 1978 expedition was the first to be led by Juan Corrin, and had fewer
members than in previous years, with only half a dozen cavers present at
One of its first objectives was Torca de Solviejo in Secadura, as it was
known that a club based at Laredo, Grupo Espeleológico "Torca", had
been exploring it during the winter and they had connected it with Torca
del Rayo de Sol, discovered by the expedition in 1976. In the typical style
of caving at that time, 2700 metres of the main passages were surveyed and
photographed in just 6 trips. The system was bottomed at a depth of 111 metres.
It isn't surprising therefore that the survey produced clearly has some errors,
seen for example in the way that the shafts in one passage do not line up
with the avens in the passage that should be below them. Nevertheless, this
system, totalling 3.5 km in length, provided some large passages and impressive
formations. It became one of the main systems in the Matienzo area and was
featured later in the popular book Grandes Travesías: 40 Integrales
Españoles by Isidoro Ortiz (1995).
Also in Secadura, a Yorkshire-type pot called Torca de Simón was explored
to 69m in depth and a length of 330m. A "question mark" at the end of a second
passage leading off the entrance shaft wasn't checked out until 1992, when
the cave was extended to 823m in length.
These on-going caves and some bad weather were given as the reasons for the
little attention paid to Cueva Uzueka, the main cave being explored in those
years. However, one interesting trip was made on 19th July, when a weather
balloon and a bottle of helium were taken to the Astradome. The idea was
to measure the height of this spectacular aven and, at the same time, let
the balloon carry up a flashgun so that the aven could be photographed. The
second of these aims was not totally successful, but the balloon succeeded
in reaching a height of 101.6 metres.
Other work carried out in the area of the Four Valleys System included maypoling
in Cueva Carcavuezo and the exploration of a new shaft called Torca de
Cellarón. In Carcavuezo, as diving the sump had been unsuccessful
in 1977, a team tried to reach a passage in a rift above the sump. The maypole
was erected from a bolt at the side of the sump lake, and on a second trip,
the rift was reached. However the passage ended in a boulder choke after
only 20 feet.
Torca de Cellarón is located on the hill between Llueva and Secadura.
A single trip descended the 155 foot entrance shaft, and explored and surveyed
half a kilometre of large passage, including a massive chamber.
Two trips were taken over another new find, called Torca del Mostajo. The
entrance shaft was explored, through the first series of passages, down to
the bottom of two chambers. The length surveyed was 325m. A possible continuation
in the roof was noted, but this was only to be pursued in 1983.
Among other activities, the entrance of Cueva Fresnedo I was located, and
Cueva Cobrantes was surveyed and photographed. In Matienzo two shafts above
South Vega were descended: Cueva del Abono and Torca del Serruco. Both these
are further examples of rushed exploration, with extensions being made 20
and 25 years later respectively.
Another new site was Fuente las Varas Pot, explored 400 feet upstream and
down a 90 ft pitch.
The report of the expedition, which surveyed nearly three miles of new cave,
was published in MUSS Journal 9. It includes the quote "great potential remains",
although no one could really imagine what some of the leads that had been
found were going to reveal.
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