Cave exploration around Matienzo during 2009
The explorations that occurred up to the middle of January are outlined in the 2008 history article.
Heavy rain caused more flooding, and this time the Carcavueso sink was photographed (from well above).
On the information side, database routines were written to generate each cave index showing extra information such as "dig" or "unexplored" along with Survex and survey links against each site. Site 2594 was upgraded from a surface to an underground dig after an out-of-date description was noticed. High resolution surface photos were obtained from Luis Miguel Casabona Sevillano. He's produced a Google Earth file which drapes these hi-res pictures over the low-res standard. Ways to obtain the 1800 files are shown here.
Researching the 1978 log book for the Matienzo - 50 Years of Speleology volume has revealed what is very likely to be the first discovery of The Fox Hat in August 1978.
The list below shows links to sites which were extended or newly discovered over and around February and March 2009, or which have had surveys updated, entrance photos or movie clips added, descriptions significantly modified, or entrances located with a GPS.
S Vega 2594 dig;
Secadura 2025 The Fox Hat;
Over ninety cavers and associates were in Matienzo over the Easter fortnight with most people staying in local accomodation. Weather conditions for the few campers were reasonable. The highlight of the expedition was undoubtably the extensions in Torca La Vaca at Hornedo. Over 8.6km has been surveyed since the entrance shaft was discovered last Easter and the extensions this April have added 2.3km and much more complexity to the system beyond the sump / duck. In the Four Valleys System, explorations and survey at the end of the Gour Inlet extensions in Cueva Hoyuca were completed giving a revised length for the Four Valleys System of 51697m. Further entrances are being sought on north Secadura.
The Northwest Sector
Fuente Aguanaz is the major resurgence and some of the water comes from the Sumidero de Cobadal. However, Cave of the Wild Mare is another resurgence - 1.5km to the east and very forthcoming in wet weather - which could also bring water from the Cobadal area. The dye trace from Easter 2006 should be repeated with detectors in Wild Mare as well as Aguanaz, to shed more light on the hydrology. The cave behind Wild Mare is Torca La Vaca and this was extended by 2337m over the Easter period. Despite some effort to find passage over the top of the duck, all routes here appear to be choked. The only way into the continuing passages are through the 5m long Penrith Historic Market Town duck / sump. The water level went up and down through the ten days of exploration, but not by much: airspace varied from nothing to about 10cm and a well positioned fixed rope makes the underwater route a simple free dive.
The extensions all went off from the 40m high Scafell Aven. This was climbed up for 20m from last years high level (itself 17m above the streamway) to reach another level. This headed both north and south. To the north, the route choked as it approached a surface depression (site 3166) and there is the possibility of an entrance here that would cut a couple of hours off a trip to the end and cut out the sump. To the south the passage descends a couple of small drops to intersect another level, and it is this level (about 35m above the water) that has really "taken off". To the north, routes choke as they approach the sump at high level. To the south, the passage splits: the route to the east ends at a tight rift while the other continues for over 800m to a point where the explorers turned round with the passage still going. This is not very far from the final choke where the cave finished last year. This choke was checked out at Easter and found to be impassible. However, there is a good chance of the new passage continuing beyond.
In the "old cave", an attempt by Jim Lister was made to dive upstream and downstream at the base of the Buttermere pitch. On one occasion the visability had been 3m, but on the day of the planned push it turned out to be "3cm" with too great a flow to push downstream. Upstream proved confusing with no real conclusions. A dive to repeat.
There was no extra southern progress towards the depressions of Cobadal. The new levels meandered above the passages found last year. The Easter 2009 Survex 3d file can be found here.
Much activity took place above and beyond the Torca La Vaca system. In Snottite Hole, a supposed "top sink", no progress was made at the low-point dig. In the Sumidero de Cobadal, the high point in the downstream boulder choke was surveyed, an inlet pushed from near the pitch and a short high level extension made in the Highs & Lows of Just An Inlet. At Camposdelante, various holes were checked out, some continuing. The highlights of Hornedo were Pooch Cave, site 3175 and 3170 although all were somewhat squalid. The latter is a cave / dig near the base of the Torca El Hondo depression. A number of sites were dug and a one remains "promising", site 3147 (open shaft; good stone rattle). In the Langdales doline, site 3034 was surveyed for 33m. More towards Fuente Aguanaz, in the Fuentecil area, some small features were investigated. At San Antonio, a couple of holes were investigated, including an ongoing draughting dig at site 3027.
To the east of Torca La Vaca, the La Gatuna area was reinvestigated. The major success came in Cueva Collada, when a team pushed on across the top of the final p20 and entered a large and complicated set of bouldery chambers. Although adding over 400m to the length of the cave, the passages have yet to properly move away from the depressions at the head of the valley, although there is a window onto a pitch that remains undescended. Well above Cueva Collada and the Cobadal-Riaño road, a number of new sites (3187-3193) were found. Site 3189 is an undescended 5m shaft; site 3190 is a body-size tube to a continuing mud slope, while site 3191 (Hepatica Hole) took a couple of days to explore. Day one explored a p15m to a descent over very loose boulders to the head of a p25. Day two ended up 50m down in a choked chamber. On the northeast edge of La Gatuna, sites 3148 - 3152 were investigated and include a couple that are "still going".
Way to the south, a single visit to Ideopuerta produced site 3196, an undescended shaft.
The Four (or Five?) Valleys System
This system continues to grow, although a revised length has now shortened it to 51697m! The highlights were surveying the end of Gour Inlet and finding over 100m off the entrance passage in Cueva Riaño. Leads off the Acid Bath and 89 Cents Tinto Passage in Cueva Riaño were pushed and there are still places that merit a return. Resurveying continues in the entrance passages of Cueva Hoyuca, trying to make sense of the complex passages, surveys and survey notes dating from 1974. Not least of the issues is the apparently overlapping entrances and passages in sites 596, 1531 and 1532.
In Cueva Llueva, one trip had to turn back with the amount of water falling down through squeezes in the 80m climb. On other occasions, the stal grill preventing progress at high level was smashed but more work is required and a "new" rift was pushed that had evidence of a previous visit - possibly from Spanish cavers. A trip to the Right Hand Fault Passage allegedly pushed up 50m beyond the end but this was not surveyed.
Above the end of Gour Inlet, on the northern hillside of Secadura, some surface investigations resulted in finding sites 3217-3221. The most intensively worked was the draughting site 3218, where boulders were removed and scaffold used to stabilise the 12m drop. Unfortunately, one boulder dropped onto Paul Fretwell, giving him a badly bruised foot. This area of Piedrashitas (standing stones) will see more investigation over the summer. In Cueva Suviejo, now only 600m from the end of Gour Inlet, passages off Brain Cell Hall extended the system by 143m, but no closer to Hoyuca. After 30 years for some data, all of the surveyed passages in Suviejo are now in a Survex file and visible in 0122.3d.
Downstream of the Cueva Riaño resurgance, Cueva Espada (possibly associated with Cueva Riaño) was reinvestigated. The downstream entrances were resurveyed, extending the cave by 57m and the upstream passages were resurveyed to shed light on the positions of some interesting, draughting digs (sites 3222 and 3226). Cold Store Cave was dug for 10 minutes then 145m of mainly walking-size passage surveyed. Another 100m has been explored and the cave is a good prospect for the summer - possibly opening up the hillside to the northwest of Cueva Riaño. Towards the Gorilla Walk, sites 3197 - 3199 remain to be descended along with site 3233 near the field Cueva Hoyuca entrance, and there are a number of new digs waiting attention.
Mareserection Hole was extended by 50m although the 'inlet' which grows progessively smaller appears to be heading downhill.
On the Llueva/Secadura ridge, Torca Andando and Three Idiots were finally demystified and the survey completed. The 72m deep system has a number of intersecting shafts that give a complex survey length of some 238m. Behind the resurgence at Los Boyones, a number of digs and small shafts (sites 3155 - 3165) were explored, the largest being a 14m pitch at site 3160 and tight 16m drop at site 3165.
In La Secada, in the area where a going cave might link the North Vega System to the Four Valleys System, site 415 was re-explored and surveyed, with the aim of producing a definitive survey. Boil-in-the-Bag, site 868, was excavated again, as was Torca JR.
El Naso / Cubija / Las Calzadillas areas
A number of trips into Cueva Morenuca, part of the North Vega System, significantly extended the cave. Part way along the SW-trending Sick Inside passage, a awkward traverse over a pit enters large passage which leads to a second undescended pitch. This is also traversed over and the continuing passage, initially awkward, has some possible, unpushed leads on the right. At a corner a strongly draughting-out passage leads off on the left. It immediately leads to a decorated, flat-floored chamber from here the draught is followed to a short crawl and then walking passage. This soon reaches a short but muddy climb which was reported to lead to a pitch. This needs descending! Back at the main corner, the passage continues in fine style with a distinctive flat, crusty floor. It is extremely well decorated with stalagmites, stalagtites, helictites plus some straws and curtains. The passage dimensions gradually reduce until a series of crawls and squeezes lead to a white crystal"pool" with a black "stream" running from it and then some very vulnerable formations at the end where sand totally fills the narrow, rifty passage. The passage really needs protecting and photographing, particularly the second half where it's hard to avoid the stal as the passage is small. The 648m of new passages pushed the length of the North Vega System to 19317m.
On El Naso, sites 3136-3140 remain unexplored. One is a wide open, 7m deep hole that's been missed for 40 years. Site 3229 is an unexplored 5m deep shaft; site 3258 requires a small amount of excavation to enter and site 3259 proved to be 15m of hands-and-knees crawling from the back of a large vestibule, another unexpected find.
On north Vega, site 3132 is an undescended 4m deep hole "with passage leading off at the base", 3134 a small cave with the "way on visible" and site 3135 a rift with a "good stone rattle". A month or so after Easter, shaft site 3260 is being explored to about 20m depth.
At Las Calzadillas, site 3194 is a small resurgence and sink and site 3195 was documented as an undescended narrow slot.
On the north slope of La Vega, site 3153 (not far from La Cuvia de La Vega where a large example of a Bronze Age pot was found) is a small shelter where a couple of human bones have been discovered.
Seldesuto and Trillos
At Seldesuto, a number of sites from the past were GPS'd and the entrances photographed. This can mean rather more sites being repositioned as the newly GPS'd hole could have been one of a batch found on one day. The relative positions are likely to have been reasonably correct, so GPSing and repositioning one means repositioning the others. In the same area, 400m WSW of Cueva Contrabandistas, we can now be confident that site 3255 (an undescended 6m drop to a chamber) is, indeed, new. Sites 3253 and 3254 are both large, 6m deep, undescended holes.
Carbon-14 dates have come back for the remains found in Callejón de Seldesuto 2, the human baby skulls. Unfortunately, the dates range from 60 years ago to the 17th century.
Muela / Mullir - the mountains to the east
The track on the north side of Muela is now well established and it is possible to drive up to at least Wild Horses Cave at 620m altitude in an ordinary car. Pylons are being erected and eventually cables will complete the landscape desecration. But while the track is driveable, it makes sense to make the most of it. A number of holes were "ticked off": site 761 quickly closes in, site 903 was descended for 22m in a fine, fluted shaft to a choke at the 10x7m base, and the twin shafts at site 1069 were finally descended (8 and 11m deep). The track opened up a well decorated, 5m long cave at site 3145 and an 8m walk-in cave was discovered under cliffs in the Hoya de Yusa. Site 3252 is an unexplored cave with 2 entrances and nearby is a phreatic passage visible in the base of a shakehole.
On the Matienzo side of the mountains, sites 3247-3250 await exploration. Lower down, site 616 was extended and resurveyed to give a length of 49m. To the south, Cueva Cuatribú (site 13) was explored to the end and the climbs at the end checked out. High alcoves with animal bones were also noted. The dig in Cueva Subterránea was also worked at over 3 days but there is now less enthusiasm as the diggers are "not sure where to go".
Above San Miguel, site 2693 was dug at the base through calcite on mud. More work remains.
West of Cruz Usaño
A number of small holes were explored. Site 2926 was descended 8m to a muddy choke. Site 3059 was partly explored down 7m to where a boulder blocks the way on and an 8m pitch dropped onto a bouldery floor at site 3183.
Dave Ryall made 3 dives in the system. The first was well inside Cubio de la Reñada, at the "slope down to sump" just beyond Breakdown Chamber, where a 40m dive entered a canal with a voice connection 10m above. A further 40m dive entered an airbell with an ascending hading rift where the sherpas could hear the diver shouting "a long way off". Two dives in Cueva del Comellantes were a day apart and with totally different conditions. The first had 3 - 4m visibility but the second very poor vis. and a strong flow after heavy continuous rain. Nothing new was found although it was felt that the "end" was an alcove. A number of large, black spaces were noted on the right travelling outwards as he made an "effortless, rapid exit". The water also caused problems with a group surveying The Ramp near Ghost Lake in Reñada. On the return, they were unable to pass the duck for 6 hours, only emerging after a rescue team indicated the passable route from the other side of the water. This area is fed by a rapidly responding stream, so the cavers were cut-off here even though the entrance lakes were only thigh-deep and generally "regional" water levels were only "moderate".
In Torca de Mega Mujer, a small extension was made near the base of the entrance pitch. Above Cueva de Coquisera, Torca Kunka was descended down the short pitch and a dig excavated to reveal a flowstone-decorated 10m of passage.
At Campo La Cruz on high ground to the east of Fresnedo, four shafts (sites 3205-3208) were discovered and remain to be explored along with cave site 3209 which continues beyond a wall. A number of holes were documented in Fresnedo: sites 3201 and 3202 require further investigation.
Meetings took place with Spanish and French cavers to try to coordinate dye tests. Caving groups in the Asón are hoping to trace water routes to the north of Bustablado. Among other resurgences, there is a possiblity that water may emerge at Fuente Aguanaz and it would benefit nobody if simultaneous dye tests were being carried out. We have agreed not to test until at least late summer 2009. A very interesting test to (re)do would be from site 567 Torca de Hoyón with detectors in Molino, Comellante, Cuevona, Wild Mare and Aguanaz.
Think of the most tranquil and scenic area of Matienzo, and then plan to put a quarry there. That's is what the company, Exploración y Proyectos Mineros S.L., is hoping to do. They have the mineral rights to a large area of the lower Cubija valley and have produced hefty documentation detailing the extent of a 110m high quarry which would extract 3 types of decorative limestone. New quarrys in Spain have to be hidden from main roads and, according to the proposal, the quarry would not be visible from Cruz Usaño road. This is not true, and the company appear to have forgotten the Alisas-La Cavada road where about 75% of the workings would be highly visible. There are also errors in the coordinates given for the quarry - they do not agree with the published maps. An independent environmental impact study has been requested from the Cantabrian Government Environment Department, citing these errors and omissions as good grounds for refusal. The Mayor of Ruesga had also agreed that a study should take place and will not sign the licence to start work until (if ever) the application is proved to be legal and meets all requirements.
2010 has been picked as an appropriate year to celebrate 50 Years of Speleology in Matienzo. Details appear here.
Thanks must go again to Pablo and family at Bar Germán - the use of the restaurant as an expedition base during the larger expeditions is vital and greatly appreciated. The Ghar Parau Fund committee has awarded £400 to Matienzo 2009, with an additional £75 individual award. The list below shows links to those 223 sites which were extended or newly discovered over Easter 2009 (and in the immediate weeks following), or which have had surveys updated, entrance photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS.
Arredondo 733 Vallina, Cueva;
Barrio de Los Urros 3034 Langdales, The;
Bosmartín 2411 Dischuffed Chough Pot;
Campo La Cruz 3205 shaft; 3206 shaft; 3207 shaft; 3208 shaft; 3209 cave;
Camposdelante 2435 cave; 2441 shaft; 3176 dig; 3177 shaft; 3178 quarry; 3180 sink; 3215 dig;
Cobadal 1874 Snottite Cave; 1930 Cobadal, Sumidero de; 3200 shaft;
Cubija 71 Mostajo, Torca del; 72 Hoyos, Sima de los; 774 Morenuca, Cueva de la; 892 Regaton, Torca del; 3231 cave;
El Naso 60 Arnilla, Torca de; 79 Wendy, Sima; 361 shaft; 2125 shaft; 2785 shaft; 2884 dig; 3136 shaft; 3137 shaft; 3138 shaft; 3139 shaft; 3140 shaft; 3141 rift; 3142 resurgence & sink; 3229 shaft; 3257 cave; 3258 shaft; 3259 cave;
Fresnedo 1212 shaft; 2366 Torno, Cueva del; 3201 shaft; 3202 shaft; 3203 sink; 3204 sink; 3216 dig;
Fuente las Varas 3127 shaft;
Fuentecil 2832 hole; 3181 cave; 3182 shaft;
Hornedo 767 Wild Mare, Cave of the; 2889 Vaca, Torca La; 3128 shaft; 3146 cave; 3147 shaft; 3166 dig; 3168 cave; 3169 dig; 3170 cave; 3171 resurgence & sink; 3172 cave; 3173 shaft; 3174 Pooch Cave; 3175 cave; 3179 cave; 3185 cave; 3186 cave;
Ideopuerta 1976 sink; 3196 shaft;
La Colina 1034 cave; 3247 hole; 3248 hole; 3249 hole; 3250 hole;
La Gatuna 394 Collada, Cueva de; 3148 cave; 3149 dig; 3150 resurgence; 3151 cave; 3152 cave; 3187 resurgence; 3188 dig; 3189 shaft; 3190 cave; 3191 Hepatica Hole; 3192 dig; 3193 dig;
La Secada 81 Carcavuezo, Cueva de; 94 Bardalones, Cueva de las; 366 J.R., Torca de; 415 cave; 616 cave; 868 dig;
La Vega 3153 cave;
Las Calzadillas 3194 sinks; 3195 shaft;
Llueva 114 Llueva, Cueva;
Moncobe 3024 cave;
Muela 478 cave (S entrance); 761 cave; 903 shaft; 1069 shafts; 1947 shaft; 2338 shaft; 3130 shaft; 3143 cave; 3144 cave; 3145 cave; 3251 hole; 3252 holes; 3256 cave;
N Vega 290 shaft; 428 shaft; 2998 Pretty Fox Cave; 3132 shaft; 3133 shaft; 3134 cave; 3135 shaft; 3260 shaft;
Ozana 1 Burro, Sima del; 13 Cuatribu, Cueva de; 25 Risco, Sima-Cueva del; 29 Subterránea, Cueva; 515 shaft; 1642 shaft; 2926 shaft; 2964 shaft; 3059 shaft; 3183 shaft; 3210 shaft; 3211 shaft; 3212 cave; 3246 hole;
Riaño 102 Castañas, Cueva de la; 103 Entrambasaguas, Cueva de; 105 Riaño, Cueva de; 107 Hoyuca, Cueva; 596 cave; 936 Fox Cave; 1531 cave; 1532 Bat Cave; 2649 Mareserection Hole; 2859 cave; 2905 hole; 3197 shaft; 3198 shaft; 3199 cave; 3222 cave; 3223 shaft; 3224 dig; 3225 dig; 3226 dig; 3227 dig; 3228 dig; 3232 Espada (bottom entrance); 3233 cave; 3234 Cold Store Cave;
S Vega 40 Comellantes, Cueva del; 48 Reñada, Cueva-Cubío de la; 333 Azpilicueta, Torca de; 413 Mega Mujer, Torca de la; 1693 shaft; 1888 shaft; 2437 Kunka, Torca; 2556 hole; 2913 shaft; 3131 shaft; 3184 dig;
San Antonio 713 Aguanaz, Fuente; 2782 cave; 3027 dig; 3084 dig; 3090 cave; 3213 cave; 3214 cave; 3235 shaft; 3236 shaft; 3237 cave; 3238 cave; 3239 cave; 3240 cave; 3241 cave; 3242 cave; 3243 shaft; 3244 cave; 3245 cave;
San Miguel 2693 shaft; 3230 shaft;
Secadura 122 Suviejo, Cueva de; 689 Andando, Torca; 2786 Three Idiots; 3155 dig; 3156 dig; 3157 shafts; 3158 cave; 3159 shaft; 3160 shaft; 3161 shaft; 3162 cave; 3163 shafts; 3164 dig; 3165 shaft; 3217 Shagpile Pot; 3218 Piedrashitas, Torca de; 3219 sink; 3220 sink; 3221 sink;
Seldesuto 663 Contrabandistas, Cueva; 665 shaft; 1088 shaft; 1094 cave; 1095 cave; 1096 cave; 1097 shaft; 1123 shaft; 2741 Callejón de 2; 3255 shaft;
Trillos 1178 shaft; 1179 shaft; 1180 shaft; 3253 shaft; 3254 shaft;
May / June (Whit period)
Two Spanish volumes have been "dissected" to tease out the references to Matienzo sites. One was straightforward: a well-illustrated article about the skull from Cueva del Torno can be found in Munibe 59, 2008, the journal of the Sociedad de Ciencias Aranzadi based in San Sebastian. This is reference Ruiz Cobo Jesús et al, 2008 in the bibliography. The other volume is the final part of a massive 3-part work coordinated by Jesús Ruiz Cobo. These works (published by British Archaeological Reports) describe the archaeology of the high and middle Asón and, most recently, the lower Asón area. For the purposes of the Matienzo caving area website, Ruiz Cobo Jesús and Muñoz Fernández Emilio et al, 2009 covers the archaeological sites in and around Llueva and Secadura. Caves which are referenced by these volumes (often with "new" material) are shown in the list below.
Just before the Whit holiday, 520m of extensions were made in Hidden Hole on South Vega, 55m in Cueva Collada in La Gatuna and over 350m in a cave to the west of Fuente Aguanaz. Details to come. (Sites 3265 - 3269).
Guy Simonnot, one of the French cavers from the Asón - going back decades! - has kindly provided some GPS coordinates and other information about caves north of Arredondo. These are included because of possible links to Cueva Vallina, although they are out of our current permit area.
The list below shows links to those 62 sites which were extended or newly discovered over May / June 2009, or which have had surveys, references or descriptions updated, entrance photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS.
Arredondo 752 Rotura, Hoyo de; 753 Rotura, Torca de; 1746 Fuego, Torca del; 1750 shaft; 1752 Llaneces, Hoyo de; 1756 resurgence; 1757 Perte 1 de Fuentes; 1758 Orbitolines, Cueva de; 1759 Lledes, Hoyo de; 3270 Resurgence de Fuentes, Cueva; 3271 Cueva boueuse; 3272 Perte 2 de Fuentes; 3273 Grosse Perte Fossile du Vallon; 3274 LBT X, Torca; 3275 LBT 152, Torca; 3278 Barcena Morel, Fuente de;
Camposdelante 2441 shaft; 3279 dig;
El Naso 65 Cofresnedo, Cueva de; 913 Reyes, Cueva de;
Fresnedo 672 Regato, Cueva del; 2366 Torno, Cueva del;
Hornedo 2889 Vaca, Torca La; 3261 shaft & caves;
La Gatuna 394 Collada, Cueva de;
La Secada 89 Grajas, Cueva de las;
La Zuela 1754 Hoyo del Ramon, Torca del;
Llueva 112 Covarona, La; 502 Peñarrobra, Cueva de; 658 Tunel, Cueva del; 731 Helguera, Cueva de;
Muela 847 Concervera, Cueva de; 3262 Concervera II, Cueva de;
Piluca 1745 Portillero de Tocornal, Torca de; 3276 shaft; 3277 shaft;
Riaño 100 Canes, Torca de los;
S Vega 179 cave; 458 Hidden Hole; 2482 shaft; 3264 shaft;
San Antonio 3013 cave;
San Mames 504 Carabión, Cueva; 729 Domingo Lopez, Cueva de;
San Miguel 110 Cobrante, Cueva de; 435 Llanio, Cueva del;
San Pantaleón de Aras 113 Chora, Cueva de la; 421 Entrambascuevas 1; 503 Mazarredonda, Cuevas de (3); 886 Ratón, Cueva del; 887 Carro, Cueva del; 2152 Cubo, Cueva de;
Secadura 119 Otero, Cueva del; 122 Suviejo, Cueva de; 633 Casa de los Cristales, La Cueva de la; 2386 shaft; 2387 resurgence; 2787 Otero 2, Cueva del; 2788 Otero 4, Cueva del; 2789 Tres Ríos, Cueva de; 3263 Callejón del Infierno, Cueva del;
Solórzano 2713 Toca, Cueva;
The weather was generally excellent, with any rain being light enough to allow a number of trips beyond normally sumped passages.
The highlights during the 5 week expedition include the exploration of over 4km of extensions in Torca la Vaca; a new cave in Riaño – Cubio del Llanío – being pushed to 1.3km with a number of open leads, and nearly a kilometre of new passages surveyed in the entrance series of Cueva Hoyuca. Over 9.8km of passages were surveyed, 14.8km for the year, helping to bring the total of explored cave in the Matienzo area to more than 302km.
Groups from Sheffield, Huddersfield and Manchester Universities were among the 60 cavers and associates who participated in the expedition this summer.
DistoX’s were out in force. At least six were in use, with varied results. Some surveyor / DistoX / PDA combinations seemed to be both accurate and reliable but they were problems with wrong readings, Bluetooth connections, calibrations and lack of detail in the underground sketches. In a major DistoX (re)calibration by Phil Papard, 5 of the devices were found to be up to 8 degrees out in E-W directions, even though original calibrations had been carried out to within the error limits. The key to successful calibration appears to be isolation of the DistoX from any possible magnetic field, including belt buckles, watches, bracelets, keys, etc, etc. The survey data from this summer must be considered suspect until underground closed loops and/or GPS’ed surface connections are surveyed.
The Northwest Sector
Most activity took place in the northwest of our permission area. In Torca la Vaca, nearly 4.3km of new passages were explored.
At the start of the expedition, a number of days were spent trying to dig out a couple of holes above Torca la Vaca, beyond the duck. A French team from the Association des Barbastelles d'Issy les Moulineaux pour l'Exploration Spéléologique (ABIMES) concentrated on one of these – a draughting cold store (site 3286) - reaching a depth of about 20m between sandstone boulders. Tiny rifts down now require people on the other side to show the route to concentrate on. The other hole, site 3166, was excavated on half-a-dozen occasions and developed a good draught. This currently ends in boulders about 8m down and has a sandstone roof with blackness beyond. So there was no immediate bypass to the sump/duck at Lake Bassenthwaite but, due to the weather, there was always about 30cm of air space in the out-of-depth section.
The first lead investigated in Torca la Vaca was a choke that might connect with the digs and a scaling pole job in the same area that entered 127m of passage, but no surface connection.
Trips then concentrated on the leads further into the cave left from Easter. A loop between the highest level just south of Scafell Aven and a passage “wide open with excellent draught” off 1 Haverflatts Lane revealed 400m of passage with an inlet that was later surveyed for 756m. This ends just short of a large area of surface sandstone collapse, The Langdales. (A 9m pitch in site 3034 here was dropped to a choke, but there are more interesting holes deeper down into the depression.)
The most compelling lead in Torca la Vaca was open passage heading south towards the Cobadal depressions. This was pushed on August 6th when over 800m was surveyed. The high level route split into southern and west directions about 50m behind the impassable Shoulder of Mutton choke. The southern passage ends at a choke where it splits into 3, and the western route, in passage 5m high with a sandy floor appears to be still open and going(?).
Two days later, a descending, muddy boulder slope at the high-level junction was pushed into large passage, ending in a boulder choke and ramp up at the most south-westerly point in the cave, Henry’s Chamber, about 1.7km from the entrance. This was later explored down a 22m drop to a sinking stream and a boulder choke in large passage ending a further 100m to the south. This passage has now passed under the Alto de Collada ridge into the Cobadal area and currently finishes about 150m east of Torca del Hombre, but 277m below ground level. A significant depression and sink area some 400m to the west has also been investigated: fragment 3297 was surveyed for 52m and dig 3305 at the base was excavated to a small chamber with loose boulders.
Another major extension in Torca la Vaca was made off the low-level passage when an inlet from the east was entered. This meandered about in smaller, generally rift passage for a surveyed 1500m. The equipment broke down and there was another 200m or so explored. This passage currently ends just inside the La Gatuna area to the east and appears to be heading towards Cueva Collada at the head of the valley. (Cueva Collada was also revisited near the end of these Vaca explorations but no progress to the west was made. There are other leads to look at, although the stream at the deepest point disappears into an impenetrable passage.)
Other holes in the vicinity of Torca la Vaca were inspected. Site 3300 was excavated as a draughting shaft with a number of internal pitches. The lower level dropped down to -63m but the draughting middle level, with traverses, continues towards the new Langdales inlet about 60m away on the same level. The final rift above the first sump in the resurgence for Torca la Vaca, Cave of the Wild Mare, was climbed but was found to close in with no draught.
Fuente Aguanaz was also the scene for new explorations. An inlet to the east was pushed for 83m and the aven passage to the west was resurveyed and pushed beyond the base of the aven to an inlet sump. A climb up before the sump reaches a large passage with a pitch down, still to be climbed.
Cueva Laberinto, site 3268, 450m west of the inlet sump, was surveyed over about 12 hours on three trips using a DistoX. The cave is a maze, made worse for surveying with choked passages (potential digging sites) every few metres. The 329 surveyed metres would easily fit under half a football pitch. There are a number of possible leads.
Possibly the most unexpected find of the summer was site 3283, Invisible Cave, so called because the open entrance, next to the large bottom entrance of Fuente Aguanaz, had been ignored as an overflow passage. After passing through 15m of chest-deep water, the route opens up into Room 306 where a 1m step up enters a crawl to a pool. A generator and submersible pump drained the pool to allow crawling past a run-in area to the continuation of the cave. On the first trip through, passages with deep water headed to the south west, away from Aguanaz. That visit ended at a draughting duck some 120m SW of the entrance. Before the next trip, a second entrance was engineered just upstream of the pool and a team lowered the duck by digging out the floor downstream and then exploring in more deep water through to a sump. A bouldery ramp 40m back from the sump was also investigated and this is likely to permit entry through a third entrance, shaft site 3291, when excavations have been completed.
Although still 500m away, site 3122 is a potential link beyond the sump. Excavations in a draughting cave are revealing a 3m drop. Another possible link, site 3012, was dug through into 4m high, choked passage.
A cold store just above a possible sink area for Torca la Vaca (site 1976, 1.8km to the southwest) was opened up and excavated in a draughting route into boulders that require stabilising.
A couple of small caves were surveyed just inside the northern permit boundary, site 3261 at Hornedo where a slither down a rift and a separate pitch entrance combined in a chamber with various walking-size passages to a length of 97m. Of a similar length was site 3281 at San Antonio where initial walking passage at the base of a small pitch closed down in various crawls.
Halfway between Torca la Vaca and Fuente Aguanaz, draughting site 3170 is at the base of the deepest depression in the area and was surveyed for 39m.
The Four (or Five?) Valleys System and surroundings
Cueva Hoyuca provided opportunities for new passages. Over 954m was added to the length, all in the entrance series. These passages partly clarify old routes and pitches around the Dog Series, Wardrobe Passage and Flashbulb Hall. Hundreds of metres of resurveying were also carried out for the new Four Valleys System survey. The unconfirmed length of the system is now 52651m.
Lying to the north and west of Cueva Riaño, the entrance to Cubio del Llanío (or Cold Store Cave, site 3234) is found at the back of a built-up sheep shelter with a draughting crawl as the entrance. Discovered at Easter, the cave has now grown to 1288m length and, although progress is slow, there are still a number of tantalising leads that may see connections with Cueva Riaño, Cueva Espada and Cueva del Torno. Early explorations in the summer scaled 4m up to open passage that choked almost immediately. Large passages to the west choked after a 15m pitch at a silted “old sump”, while well decorated passages to the east have draughting digs. To the north, the cave enlarges at a 32m high, draughting aven (to be climbed) and enters a complex area of parallel rifts, drops and digs. The deepest point here is down a fine 15m free-hanging drop in a rift where an open passage can be seen and another 20m drop is undescended. Beyond chossy, roof breakdown passages at the northwest extremity, a 9m pitch is reached with an open passage over the top waiting exploration.
Seven hundred metres to the northwest, in a valley that may truncate or influence passages in Llanío, a small resurgence (site 3316) was investigated and found to become too small. A nearby dig produced 25m of hands-and-knees progress to a pool with no way on.
A number of other digs and sites were explored to the north and west of Cubio del Llanío, some with draughts waiting further work. Closer to Cueva Entrambasaguas (Cueva Espada, site 103), site 3299 was explored down a 5m slope to deep water and site 3226 entered 9m of rift passage that became too small.
One of the diggers at site 3222 expected exploration down a new p6 to last five minutes. He was surprised 20 minutes later to hear the caver coming up behind him on the surface, having connected to Cueva Espada at the upstream end.
In the Matienzo depression, the Hole-in-the-Road / Bollón complex (sites 1452 and 98) was extended by 405m. Dry conditions allowed cavers to explore beyond the normally sumped boulder pile at the base of the entrance pitch and slope. Avens were climbed but the main breakthrough came through a choke at the end when rising, well-decorated sections were explored. Other passages were surveyed near the slope down from 1452 into Bollón. (This western end of the cave is now only 200m from site 415 which in turn is only 400m from Torca de Mostajo and the North Vega System. Bollón itself is within 50m of Carcavuezo in the Four Valleys System.)
In site 415, Helictite Passage was pushed through a small route for 30m west and south. There may be possibilities to extend through formations, but the passage appears very small beyond.
D ownhill of site 415 , Mustard Pot, site 2742 , was found collapsed, and will require a day to re-excavate.
In Cueva del Torno, the cave in the Fresnedo valley that remains 50m from linking with the 4 Valley System, an inlet was pushed to the east, some 50m beyond the boulder choke on the way towards Riaño. The explorers stopped after 150m where a “thin and determined person is needed” and dry conditions. A push was also made at the potential Riaño connection area but the 122m of survey passed through well-decorated sections and some very loose areas. One of the explorers at least, is not returning!
El Naso / Cubija / Las Calzadillas areas
There were high hopes of good leads in Cueva de la Morenuca but just over 107m were added to the Easter discoveries, producing small extensions down pitches to the south. The length of the North Vega System is now 19424m.
A number of small holes, shafts and digs were discovered on El Naso and, as usual a number remain to be pushed.
In Cueva del Bosque, the stream-sink cave was further extended to 265m with more leads to look at. Shaft 3325, downstream of Bosque, was explored to a depth of 5m with tiny fissures leading off.
Seldesuto and Trillos
A number of visits were paid to the Seldesuto lower level and Trillos higher level areas to the south west of the Matienzo depression. Various shafts and caves visited a number of years ago, some unexplored, have been subject to GPS positioning with the result that nothing is very clear any more! Certain sites under trees may have been refound and given a new number, and others moved a fair distance. A small cave at site 1094 seems to now be correctly positioned and was surveyed for 28m - likewise, site 1095, a 7m long fragment. Others remain to be properly documented. Site 3253, was properly positioned but turned out to be only a 5m drop to a slighting draughting rift.
Cueva Contrabandistas was extended through to a choked p5 and a body-sized passage currently blocked by one boulder.
At Seldesuto, draughting site 879, a dig obscured by track widening was rediscovered and, a few metres away, another draughting hole was opened up, site 3318.
Muela / Mullir - the mountains to the east
A t the base of Mullir, a number of trips into Cueva Risco continued the resurvey. A number of trips also resurveyed Cueva Tiva (1041m), the lower end of the Risco system, without finding anything new. Cueva Statua (site 487) was surveyed (length 35m) 25 years after its 1984 discovery. On the Llueva side, Cueva de Cuatro Entradas (site 3116) was extended at high level by 72m to give a length of 245m. On the northwest side of the Hoya de Yusa, site 3284 was descended 23m to a choke.
West of Cruz Usaño
Cueva Tablons (site 242, the Wednesday dig) was finally opened up through boulders about 13m down. A short pitch leads to moves between, around and over more boulders. Routes are dropping down the side of a hading wall, the rest of the cave being quite loose. The depth of the dig is now 27m and the length increased from 26 to 92m, some in a fragment of solid passage.
A number of small shafts were discovered to the east of Cueva Coquisera: sites 3311 – 3314 wait exploration.
The entrance drop (120m) to Sima Piluca (site 472) was tackled up but lack of time prevented any pushing in the tight streamway at the bottom.
A small number of sites were investigated, eg site 3317, a 5m drop; site 3323, an undescended 9m drop and a couple of stream sinks that may dig out. Site 3308, just above the water tank track, is a dig with a possible way on visible. To the east, site 3309 enters a small chamber and, up the hill to the southwest, site 3310 is a small cave.
Near the ridge, site 3264 was cleared out and 5m of passage entered to a dig that has a very strong draught.
Little appears to have happened with the proposed quarry in Cubija, although an article did appear in El Mundo (22/7/09) and there are moves by various individuals and groups “behind the scenes”.
The latest issue to possibly ruin the Matienzo landscape and cause damage to caves is a proposed wind farm. Details are supposed to be published during September but it is proposed to run one line of generators along the ridge from Fuente las Varas to Alisas.
The list below shows links to those 128 sites which were extended or newly discovered over July and August 2009, or which have had surveys, references or descriptions updated, entrance photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS.
Arredondo 733 Vallina, Cueva;
Barrio de Los Urros 3034 Langdales, The;
Bosmartín 1892 cave; 3307 shaft;
Camposdelante 3215 dig; 3297 cave; 3305 dig;
Cobadal 3303 cave; 3304 cave;
Cubija 71 Mostajo, Torca del; 774 Morenuca, Cueva de la; 892 Regaton, Torca del; 1548 cave; 3287 dig;
Cubillas 26 Tiva, Cueva de;
El Naso 59 Molino, Cueva del; 79 Wendy, Sima; 150 Canto Cocurryo, Cueva del; 1556 cave; 2810 cave; 2811 cave; 2975 cave; 3259 cave; 3285 cave; 3288 shaft; 3293 cave; 3294 dig;
Fresnedo 2366 Torno, Cueva del;
Fuentecil 3117 cave;
Hornedo 767 Wild Mare, Cave of the; 2889 Vaca, Torca La; 3166 dig; 3170 cave; 3261 shaft & cave; 3281 cave; 3282 resurgence; 3286 dig; 3300 shaft; 3306 dig;
La Colina 3001 shaft;
La Gatuna 394 Collada, Cueva de; 3188 dig;
La Secada 98 Bollón, Cueva de; 415 cave; 1452 Hole in the Road; 2742 Mustard Pot;
Llueva 3116 Cuatro Entradas, Cueva de;
Muela 164 dig; 487 Statua, Cueva; 652 digs; 1580 dig; 1959 dig; 3284 shaft; 3295 shaft; 3296 hole;
N Vega 373 Bosque, Cueva del; 428 shaft; 793 Redondo, Cubío; 3132 cave; 3260 shaft; 3325 shaft;
Ozana 242 Tablons, Cueva de los; 574 shaft; 1846 cave; 3289 shaft;
Riaño 107 Hoyuca, Cueva; 575 Resurgence ; 1809 cave; 2783 dig; 3199 cave; 3222 cave; 3225 cave; 3226 cave; 3234 Llanío, Cueva-Cubío del; 3292 dig; 3298 cave; 3299 cave; 3301 cave; 3302 cave; 3316 resurgence; 3326 dig;
S Vega 54 Prado, Cueva de; 407 cave; 458 Hidden Hole; 472 Piluca, Sima de la; 497 cave; 825 Coquisera II, Cueva de; 894 cave; 1344 cave; 1460 cave; 1510 cave; 1511 cave; 2594 dig; 3264 shaft; 3308 dig; 3309 cave; 3310 cave; 3311 shaft; 3312 shaft; 3313 shaft; 3314 shaft; 3317 shaft; 3319 cave; 3320 sink; 3321 dig; 3322 sink; 3323 shaft; 3324 cave;
San Antonio 713 Aguanaz, Fuente; 2359 shaft; 3012 CTB, Cueva; 3122 cave; 3268 Laberinto, Cueva; 3283 Invisible Cave; 3290 dig; 3291 Entrada Tres; 3315 The Other Alum Pot;
San Miguel 3280 Joe's Lost Cave;
Seldesuto 35 Arenal, Cueva del; 663 Contrabandistas, Cueva; 879 dig; 1094 cave; 1095 cave; 1096 cave; 1098 shaft; 3318 dig; 3327 shaft;
Trillos 3253 shaft;
A small number of cavers were in Matienzo at various times over the October / November period but they made some interesting finds and connections.
In Cueva-Cubío del Llanío, a sandy dig at the south east corner of the Left Ladders Series was excavated into 20m of passage and a possible dig through stal. A nearby pitch was dropped into 3x3m passage and a streamway that, upstream and downstream was too low and wet to explore in the very wet conditions. Over 230m was surveyed. A draft survey of the extension is found here.
Around the San Antonio area, digging took place in Cueva Laberinto and Entrada Tres shaft was linked into Invisible Cave down three pitches. Other small finds, listed below, were made in the area.
In Llueva, where the road widening continues, site 3334, Road Works Pot has been opened up and partly explored. About 34m deep, there is a continuing narrow, draughting passage and an undescended 3-second drop. One or both routes should link with the new passages in Cueva Llueva. Other small holes were documented and some found partly destroyed. (See list below).
The gated cave of Cofresnedo was "broken into" by "persons unknown" when a wall at the gate was partly demolished. The opportunity was taken to photograph the wall markings and ensure that no other apparent damage had occurred. Further surveying took place in Sima-Cueva del Risco.
Details of explorations in sites 3237, 3265, 3266, 3267 and 3269 were updated this autumn, but actually explored over the Easter / Whit period.
The wind farm threat became a bit clearer with the undated document that is an environmental strategy for 20-25 parques eólicos each with 20 generators (wind mills). The maps in the document show that possible areas include the ridge from east of Fuente las Varas through to Alisas, along with the El Naso ridge and hillsides above Fuente Aguanaz and Torca La Vaca. The Matienzo area is labelled B7.1, B7.2 and B8. The document can be viewed here.
The list below shows links to those 31 sites which were extended or newly discovered over the autumn period 2009, or which have had surveys, references or descriptions updated, entrance photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS.
Camposdelante 3215 dig;
El Naso 65 Cofresnedo, Cueva de; 3258 shaft;
Fresnedo 2415 dig;
La Secada 3328 shaft;
Llueva 1984 cave; 1987 cave; 1989 cave; 1990 cave; 3329 cave; 3330 cave; 3331 dig; 3332 shaft; 3334 Road Works Pot;
Ozana 25 Risco, Sima-Cueva del;
Piluca 3337 cave;
Riaño 3234 Llanío, Cueva-Cubío del; 3269 hole;
San Antonio 713 Aguanaz, Fuente; 3237 cave; 3265 shaft; 3266 cave; 3267 dig; 3268 Laberinto, Cueva; 3283 Invisible Cave; 3291 Entrada Tres; 3315 The Other Alum Pot; 3333 Bamboozle Hole; 3335 cave; 3336 shaft;
San Miguel 3280 Joe's Lost Cave;
Juan Carlos' son has put an old Matienzo documentary on You Tube. This NO-DO film was shot over 4 days in September 1965 - No-Do is the colloquial name for Noticiarios y Documentales, state-controlled series of cinema newsreels produced in Spain from 1943 to 1981. Caves shown include Coquisera, Cofresnedo, Agua and Cuevona.
The highlight of the visits around Christmas was completing the exploration of Roadworks Pot (by the Llueva road side) along with a survey. Eight metres from the base of the shaft a parallel rift and shaft sets off which can be bottomed but appears too tight down its length. The base is at the same altitude as Back Draught Passage in Cueva Llueva and probably over it ( subject to survey error). The surveyed length of this shaft is 71m and the depth 38m.
A number of caves were repositioned and some explored on North Vega. Site 3340 is a small cave reached by a scramble up a cliff face. Site 792 was explored down 17m in a good-sized shaft with a possible parallel shaft part-way down.
Some digging also occurred in site 3166, a draughting dig above Torca la Vaca. More shoring is required before more progress can be made.
Following more surveying in Cueva del Risco, a new Survex file has been produced.
To complement Penny's flowers section, Pete has produced a PowerPoint presentation on the trees to be found around Matienzo. (Both are incomplete and will be updated in the future.)
The list below shows links to those 26 sites which were extended or newly discovered over the Christmas period 2009, or which have had surveys, references or descriptions updated, entrance photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS.
El Naso 76 Campo, Cuvia del; 248 La Cuevona; 362 shafts;
Hornedo 3166 dig;
Llueva 3334 Road Works Pot;
N Vega 364 cave; 365 cave; 446 shaft; 447 shaft; 448 shaft; 449 shafts - 2; 452 shaft, cave; 700 shaft; 792 shaft; 794 cave; 795 cave; 796 cave; 3338 cave; 3339 dig; 3340 cave; 3341 dig;
Ozana 25 Risco, Sima-Cueva del;
S Vega 492 Abejas, Sima de las;
Seldesuto 432 shaft; 1171 shaft; 1283 dig;