Matienzo 2010

Cave exploration around Matienzo during 2010


A team of three extended Cueva Riaño, mainly in the entrance series, by 349m and carried out some re-surveying in Cueva Hoyuca. The length of the Four Valleys System is 52788m (or thereabouts!).
Another team discovered the new hole 3342 on the side of Mullir and refound 2820. They also dug out and extended Cueva Tablons by a significant 30-40m, adding another 15m to the depth. The site was not draughting well enough to decide where to dig for the continuation. The estimated length is now about 127m with a depth of 42m. This gives the base an altitude of about 260m. There is a level in Coteron at this altitude.

The list below shows links to those 6 sites which were extended or newly discovered over the February trip 2010, or which have had surveys, references or descriptions updated, entrance photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS.

Mullir 134 shaft; 2820 shaft; 3342 shaft;
242 Tablons, Cueva de los;
105 Riaño, Cueva de; 107 Hoyuca, Cueva;


Nearly 3.8km of new passages were surveyed. Most of this was to the north of the depression.

Southern Sector
Just southeast of Alisas, at around 730m altitude, a number of small shafts and digs were discovered (sites 3391 - 3398). These require opening up or descending.
In Cueva Tablons, at the eastern end of the southern La Vega hillside, the February extension was surveyed taking the megadig to a 44m depth and a length of 138m. The draught at the bottom was still not strong enough to decide the best place to continue excavating. The nearby site, 1062 was also dug.
A number of small caves near to La Cuevuca (site 177) were investigated. Site 3355 was excavated into about 25m of reasonable-sized passage with a possible lead. 3378 is a 10m wide chamber with a low crawl leading off while sites 3381 and 3383 are possible digs. Open sites found included shaft 3388 (undescended) and 3389 where a slope down dropped to a choked 4m pitch.
To the west of the Cubija valley, Torca de Lastrilla was tackled up and assessed for future work around the p24.

Northwest Sector
High up on the Alto de Portillón (to the west of Cow Pot), site 2441 was explored down a p7 to a choked crawl. Downhill, to the south, site 3359 has a p7 into a chamber with a possible 14m pitch left to descend. Of the sites explored around Camposdelante, a couple were slightly more interesting than the usual choked holes: site 3367 drops 10m to a boulder with another short drop to various possible leads; site 3368 is a 16m pitch to a mud floor.
At Cobadal, the draughting site 2066 at the base of a steep shakehole which lies over a possible drainage route to Fuente Aguanaz - The Sewer - was pushed and extended. Downstream was forced over a couple of days through widened squeezes in a tiny, sandstone-floored stream. A breakthrough was made into much larger passage, through 3 chambers (one with a blind, 15m high, free-climbable aven) to further crawls on sandstone as the only way on. At this point the cave "smells horrible" and contains "a collection of very large worms". The route downstream currently ends in a loose, bouldery chamber where the stream can be seen continuing below. Capping is required to get down and the passage is seen to continue tight. An inlet leads up into a much larger, older passage some 10m x 8m which closes down in both directions (west and east) despite some digging effort. The length of The Sewer is now 252m with a depth of 21m.
The entrance to the Sumidero de Cobadal was found to have slumped just inside the entrance and will need stabilising.
The area around sites 978 and 979, first visited 16 years ago, was re-examined with some success. These holes lie at the northern end of the La Gatuna depressions next to the main river from Riaño to Entrambasaguas. Site 3357, Cueva del Nabo, was opened up and explored down a drop to a clean and scoured streamway which ends upstream at a sump and possible aven. The cave also nearly meets site 979 and does connect with site 978 which now provides the easiest entrance.
A relatively small amount of new passage was found in Torca la Vaca - there were only a couple of trips into the system. Some high level inlets were surveyed for 363m taking the Vaca length to 13282m. Site 3300, to the east, which may provide another entrance was pushed but there are parts still to look at.
Torca de Peña Encaramada was discovered 5m off the road above and to the south of Wild Mare Cave. The entrance was excavated and the cave explored over 3 days in not particularly large passages. At the eastern, downstream end of the 543m-long system, close to Wild Mare Cave, eels were seen in the water. This find, of course, precipitated more surface prospecting: see sites 3402 - 3406. The latter is a 40m shaft from a bouldery dig which appears to go deeper. Other sites in the area include 3413, a 50m long cave with a walk-in entrance; 3415, where a rift leads to three unexplored pitches and dig 3419 - a significant stream sink in a gulley.
Around San Antonio, Fuente Aguanaz was the main focus where high level, small passage was met at the top of a 40m climb. The length of Aguanaz was extended by 153m. Site 3360, to the east of Fuente Aguanaz has a draughting window which requires further work. Northwest of Aguanaz entrance, shaft 3407 is a draughting, bouldery site that is still going down beyond 12m.

The Northeast Sector including the Four Valleys System
North of the track that winds down past Tora Bora, in the supposed vacinity of Joe's Lost Cave, there is a large and deep depression which was explored at Easter. Site 3345 is a 7m deep shaft and site 3346 was explored down a 30m pitch to a chamber with a passage to a second, 17.5m drop to a choke. Total length was 12m with a depth of 51m. Old spits were seen: probably from a previous Spanish exploration.
In Cueva Espada (Ruchana), a major new segment - old, high level - was found up a chimney climb. From halfway down the cave, the new route heads back southeast, almost to the top entrance. The cave was extended by over 400m. The entrance series of Cueva Hoyuca was again "blitzed", especially around the Dog Series. The large numbers of people appear to have disturbed the entrance and it has partially collapsed. The length of the 4 Valley System is now (unchecked) 53323m.
Most new passage was explored in Cueva-Cubío del Llanío, the possible missing link between Espada, Cueva Riaño, Cueva de Torno, etc, etc. The streamway upstream at the base of the Blood, Sweat and Tears pitch was pushed into low and higher level passages eventually meeting up with the Pulse Racer. Extensions in this area were also made. A total of 789m were discovered increasing the length to 2.3km. Unfortunately, the cave still appears to be constrained within a triangle of side approximately 250m.

Lancaster University students under Dr Peter Wynn have started a programme of cave monitoring in a cave on El Naso commencing April 2010 to characterise cave microclimate (specifically temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide). They have also installed drip rate monitors to understand the nature of the hydrological system feeding the speleothem formations and have placed a rain gauge in a safe location on top of the cave site. They are also asking for permission to carry out a project called High resolution isotope analysis of Iberian speleothem deposits. More details about this can be found here. A short video of the equipment installation can also be viewed. (wmv 13Mb : mpg 110Mb)

The list below shows links to those 121 sites which were extended or newly discovered over the Easter trip 2010, or which have had surveys, references or descriptions updated, entrance photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS.

Alisas 3391 shaft; 2626 shaft; 3393 shaft; 3394 shaft; 3395 shaft; 3396 shaft; 3397 shaft; 3398 shaft;
733 Vallina, Cueva;
3420 caves;
2441 shaft; 2986 dig; 3297 cave; 3359 shaft; 3361 cave; 3362 cave; 3363 cave; 3364 dig; 3365 shaft; 3367 shaft; 3368 shaft; 3369 shaft;
1930 Cobadal, Sumidero de; 2066 Sewer, The; 3348 shaft; 3349 shaft; 3370 sink; 3421 cave;
El Naso 61
Asiul, Cueva de;
El Suto
3386 shaft; 3387 resurgence;
2415 dig;
978 cave; 979 cave; 2889 Vaca, Torca La; 3081 shaft; 3300 shaft; 3357 Nabo, Cueva del; 3358 shaft; 3380 Peña Encaramada, Torca de; 3402 cave; 3403 dig; 3404 cave; 3405 dig; 3406 shaft; 3413 cave; 3414 cave; 3415 cave; 3416 shaft; 3417 dig; 3418 dig; 3419 sink;
La Gatuna
3351 dig; 3352 sink; 3356 sink; 3371 resurgence; 3372 sink; 3373 caves; 3374 shaft; 3375 shaft; 3376 collapse; 3377 cave;
La Secada
89 Grajas, Cueva de las; 3409 cave; 3411 shaft; 3412 cave;
502 Peñarrobra, Cueva de; 1259 cave; 3343 cave; 3344 shaft; 3345 shaft; 3346 shaft; 3347 shaft; 3353 cave; 3354 cave;
Muela 3424 cave;
N Vega
427 Lastrilla, Torca de;
242 Tablons, Cueva de los;
103 Entrambasaguas, Cueva de; 107 Hoyuca, Cueva; 1802 cave; 1805 cave; 2900 cave; 3234 Llanío, Cueva-Cubío del; 3350 dig; 3384 dig; 3385 dig;
S Vega
33 Abono, Cueva del; 477 cave; 852 dig; 1062 cave; 1478 cave; 1479 cave; 1480 cave; 1858 dig; 3355 cave; 3378 cave; 3381 dig; 3382 dig; 3383 dig; 3388 shaft; 3389 cave; 3390 cave; 3399 cave; 3400 cave; 3401 cave;
San Antonio
713 Aguanaz, Fuente; 3014 cave; 3046 cave; 3235 shaft; 3360 cave; 3366 sink; 3379 cave; 3407 shaft; 3408 cave; 3410 shaft;
Secadura 119 Otero, Cueva del; 633 Casa de los Cristales, La Cueva de la; 668 cave;
3423 cave;


The year 2010 was when we celebrated 50 years of speleology around Matienzo. The events culminated in a day out at the San Miguel factory and Atapuerca in Burgos (organised by Pablo and the San Miguel rep at no cost to the Brits) closely followed by a 2 day, weekend Fiesta in Matienzo which was highly successful and well attended. Details of the events and memorabilia can be found here. A 320 page, full colour book was published on August 7th, just in time for the Fiesta. Caving virtually stopped for the two days although 18 children were taken into Cueva de la Reñada on the Sunday morning.

The weather was generally excellent throughout allowing, for example, a trip to the western reaches of Hole in the Road. Over 5.7km of new passages were surveyed, most in the Easter find of Torca de Peña Encaramada.

The Southern Sector
The ends of the Easter 2009 dive in Cueva-Cubío de la Reñada were surveyed and, nearby, an inlet heading south (ending at a tall aven) was surveyed to provide 78m of new passage. On a trip to "tidy up" the holes known below the entrance to Torca de Azpilicueta, sites 338 and 386 were explored along with new sites 3426, 3427 and 3428. Site 386 continues down a narrow drop. A number of known sites on the southern La Vega hillside were GPS'd.
In Sima Cumpleaños, 70m of decorated passage was added to the length after a dig from the main chamber.
The 140m-deep Sima Piluca was re-visited and the explorers declared the site finished down a p10 at the end of loose meanders where a sandstone choke gives no hope and the stream disappears down a tiny tube.
At about 495m altitude, a very strongly draughting area of the hillside between the south eastern end of Coterón and TV Mast Cave was excavated in a number of places. Work started at a "fridge", site 894 and expanded to sites 3460, 3461, 3462 and 3463. Although no breakthrough was made, there are still possibilities for the future.
Water sinking at site 178, Cueva del Haya, reappears in site 477 where it sumps downstream. Site 3309 was excavated last year to a small chamber and this year the water was met in this site which reached a length of 43m in wide passage. Downstream, the passage becomes too tight.
On the north side of La Vega, a dig at the base of the p40 in Torca Lastrilla was enlarged but no further progress made.

Central Matienzo
At Cubillas, Cueva de Tiva, being resurveyed by teams from the Sheffield University Speleological Society, was extended for nearly half a kilometre at the eastern end into the Rosado Series. Resurveying should continue next year. The route through into Risco was found to be blocked by a fridge and other domestic rubbish.
Above the Carcavuezo sink, draughting shaft 603 was enlarged through a boulder choke to end at a rift blocked with boulders that require more effort. The entrance to site 1941 was found to have collapsed in. On the western side of the valley, site 1438 was also dug in a very cold draught but more work is also required here.
In the Bollón / Hole in the Road system, cavers went down through boulders at the end and, despite the good draught, reckoned that the site was not diggable.
On the hills to the southeast of the depression, a couple of days were spent documenting, exploring and surveying known and new sites. For example, site 132 was surveyed for 53m to an echoing slot which may be worth pursuing. Site 3342 was explored down 26m but a "calcite wall climb was not attempted". Other small sites that were initially interesting included 3445 and 3447.

Northwest Sector
In Cobadal, the Sewer (site 2066) was again extended when boulders were removed. Further digging will happen next Easter. High above the southeast end of the Sumidero cave, site 3441 was found to be a small, choked cave and site 3444, a continuing slot.
As usual over the last few years, most activity was around the San Antonio and Hornedo areas. Torca la Vaca was pushed in the middle section, adding nearly half a kilometre to the length. The most interesting was a passage heading northeast towards the surface from Ed's Birthday Passage. This ended in draughting rifts and prompted searching on the surface. Sites 3470, 3471 and 3472 were all discovered as draughting holes and the first was descended to a draughting boulder choke. The others wait for further attention. Site 3300 was also revisited but no link found through to Vaca.
Torca de Peña Encaramada, discovered at Easter, continued to reveal new passage. Over 2.3km of passages were discovered and surveyed. The sumped downstream route comes very close to Wild Mare Cave (which also acts as the downstream outlet to Torca la Vaca) while upstream revealed a number of routes on 3 levels, some draughting and requiring more work to enlarge the way forward. The current combined length of the Peña Encaramada(?) System (Vaca, Wild Mare and Encaramada) is 17284m.
To the west of the Torca de Peña Encaramada entrance, the cave at site 3413 was surveyed (length 82m) and excavated at a stream sink inside the cave. Site 3415 was also joined to site 3405.
A possible top entrance (site 3166) to a dry route into Torca la Vaca was accurately surveyed, placing it very close to underground chokes.
Beyond the northern edge of La Gatuna, and a possible resurgence for all the jungle-filled depression in that area, site 3357, Cueva del Nabo, was visited on a couple of occasions. The upstream sump was inspected, first as a free dive, then as a short dive off a base-fed line. It was finally passed by Simon Cornhill who surfaced after a shallow 36m dive into a canal and continuing passage. Sixty one metres were added to the length giving a current total length of 461m. The resurgence cave (site 979) was inspected and renamed as Fuente de Culebro after talking to a local.
Around San Antonio, the Fuente Aguanaz area, the upstream sump in Invisible Cave was dived by Chris Camm, then by Chris and Phil Papard. The short dive is about 3m down under a rib of rock and the passage continues as a canal upstream to where the passage splits. Both routes sump. The bouldery entrance started to collapse as the divers climbed out, making for an "interesting" exit.
A small road-side resurgence (site was explored (unwittingly for the second time) to a cross rift then continuing flat out beyond a length of about 25m.
Northwest of Maze Cave, the sump at site 3214 was found to have dried up but the route forward in menadering passage requires a small person. The nearby site 3422 was surveyed and various leads pushed to short conclusions. Five hundred metres south of maze cave, Torca El Suto was explored after removing tyres from the entrance. After a 10m pitch into a chamber, a p35 was explored down to a bridge at -29m when an old bolt (presumably from a Spanish club) was found at the top. Nearby holes 3452 and 3453 were excavated in blocks. About 800m west-southwest of the end of Aguanaz, a small resurgence (site 3459 was described as continuing "low, wet and smelly".
On the east side of Fuente Aguanaz, a route at the base of site 3360 was excavated to a conclusion - 2" wide draughting rifts.

The Northeast Sector including the Four Valleys System
Digging continued in site 2415, next to the main road over the probable downstream continuation of Cueva de Huerto Rey. In the Llueva valley, at the base of a scar created by the road widening, site 3456 was opened up with a bouldery length of 14m and a depth of 7m under the road.
In Riaño, resurveying in Cueva Espada continued at stream level and new passages were found in the high level with a length of over 300m. Site 3222 was hammered out and dropped down a p6 to link into Cueva Espada. The nearby site 3226 was enlarged in rift passage to solution tubes and a choked p6. Site 3442 was enlarged to solution pockets and a rift that descended to a "large streamway" - almost certainly Cueva Espada.
In Cueva Hoyuca, resurveying continues resulting in new passage being discovered. New passages around the Dog Series (including Goldie's Way), extensions at the end of 4th River Inlet and high level climbs in Gour Inlet extended the system to over 54km (probably!).
High above the Near Stomps, site 1673 was pushed and surveyed to a soil run in where the passage is seen to continue beyond. Site 1802, at the base of a large depression, was dug in a tight passage which choked.
Cueva-Cubío del Llanío continues to slowly reveal more passage: passage by the aven was excavated through sand to end at a choked shaft after 88m; a complicated 122m-long series was explored at the southeast extremity; pitches were dropped just beyond the aven and the Playing Card House Pushover extension was entered up a bolted climb to the west to interesting holes and future leads. The aven was partly climbed but battery power ran out.
A number of holes were investigated in the area of Llanío. Uphill, Cueva-Cubío del Llanío 2 was pointed out by the landowner and was surveyed to a length of 74m and depth 26m, ending at an 11m pitch into a 20m long chamber with a further 8m pitch through boulders to a highly unstable choke. The small cave, site 3440, below Llanío 1, was documented after being explored at Easter. Site 3448, on the line of the Playing Card House Pushover extensions, was dug into a 4m choked pitch. Five hundred metres north of the same cave end, draughting site 3451 was excavated in an area of cleared trees. Over downstream Cueva Riaño, cave digs 3457 and 3458 require more work.
In Secadura, various old holes were re-explored and GPS'd: a good draught was noted from the narrow passage in site 288. Site 2653 was explored down a squeeze into 5m of choked passage. In the Otero limestone knoll, site 2690 was excavated through a couple of squeezes to where the continuation can be seen past an obstacle. Next to that entrance, site 3464 was explored for 10m in a short length of meander passage and on the northwest edge of the knoll site 3465 is described as a low, 7m long passage and site 3466 as about 10m long with a small person required for the continuing meander.

After the very satisfactory summer caving expedition and 2 day Fiesta the total passage length documented has risen to 311.5km with 3472 sites of speleological interest in the database. The two main trips surveyed 9494m of new passages. The two main trips surveyed 9494m of new passages.
The fund raising efforts, patronage and sponsorship for the Fiesta and the book are gratefully acknowledged. Individuals, clubs and organisations have been thanked on the Matienzo 50 pages and in the book.
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 awarded £200 to Matienzo 2010.

The list below shows links to those 149 sites which were extended or newly discovered over the summer trip 2010, or which have had surveys, references or descriptions updated, photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS.

Bosmartín 3420 caves; 3434 shaft; 3435 shaft;
3364 dig; 3369 shaft;
613 Torcida, Cueva de; 1931 Green Pepper Cave; 2066 Sewer, The; 2121 Campizo, Cueva del; 3349 shaft; 3421 cave; 3441 cave; 3444 shaft;
Cubija 72 Hoyos, Sima de las;
26 Tiva, Cueva de;
El Naso
59 Molino, Cueva del; 63 Bosmartín, Torca de la; 589 shaft; 594 shaft; 3425 shaft; 3475 cave; 3476 dig; 3479 shaft;
2415 dig;
3065 dig;
978 cave; 979 Culebro, Fuente de; 2889 Vaca, Torca La; 3166 dig; 3179 cave; 3300 shaft; 3357 Nabo, Cueva del; 3380 Peña Encaramada, Torca de; 3405 dig; 3413 cave; 3415 cave; 3470 shaft; 3471 dig; 3472 dig;
La Gatuna
3431 shaft;
La Secada
603 shaft; 1438 dig; 1452 Hole in the Road; 1941 cave / collapse?;
La Vega
881 cave;
3353 cave; 3456 cave;
132 cave; 209 shaft; 212 Sima M-49; 215 shaft; 217 shaft;
230 shaft; 2969 shaft; 3342 shaft; 3432 cave; 3433 cave; 3445 holes; 3446 hole; 3447 shaft;
N Vega
427 Lastrilla, Torca de;
17 Jivero 2, Cueva de; 25 Risco, Sima-Cueva del; 3429 cave; 3473 shaft; 3474 dig;
103 Entrambasaguas, Cueva de; 105 Riaño, Cueva de; 107 Hoyuca, Cueva; 575 Resurgence Riaño; 1673 cave; 1802 cave; 2691 Giant Panda entrance; 2783 dig; 3222 cave; 3226 cave; 3234 Llanío, Cueva-Cubío del; 3430 dig; 3440 cave; 3442 dig; 3443 dig; 3448 shaft; 3451 dig; 3454 Llanío 2, Cueva-Cubio del; 3457 dig; 3458 dig;
S Vega
40 Comellante, Cueva; 48 Reñada, Cueva-Cubío de la; 267 Overhang Cave; 328 cave; 333 Azpilicueta, Torca de; 335 cave; 337 shaft; 338 shaft; 386 shaft; 392 shaft; 459 Cumpleaños, Sima; 472 Piluca, Sima de la; 714 cave; 894 cave; 1243 cave; 1335 shaft; 1460 cave; 1536 cave; 1537 cave; 1538 cave; 1539 cave; 3309 cave; 3426 shaft; 3427 cave; 3428 shaft; 3436 hole; 3437 cave; 3438 shaft; 3460 dig; 3461 dig; 3462 dig; 3463 dig; 3467 shafts; 3477 holes; 3478 cave; 3480 cave;
San Antonio
2016 cave; 2298 cave; 3009 resurgence; 3041 shaft; 3214 cave; 3268 Laberinto, Cueva; 3283 Invisible Cave; 3291 Entrada Tres; 3360 cave; 3422 dig; 3450 El Suto, Torca; 3452 cave; 3453 cave; 3455 dig; 3459 resurgence;
124 Crecidas, Surgencia de las; 234 Sierra Salces, Cueva de; 288 Bodega, La; 289 cave; 2653 cave; 2690 cave; 3464 cave; 3465 cave; 3466 cave;
3468 shaft; 3469 caves / digs;


We were saddened by the sudden death of Bob Cawthorne in November. Bob was a long-standing member of the Plymouth Caving Group and William Pengelly Cave Studies Trust and had been caving in Matienzo since the early 1990's. Together with his wife Julie and son Lloyd he moved to Llíber near Benidorm and they regularly drove north to their "second home" in Matienzo when the expeditions were active. Bob was an avid collector of stamps, and cave entrances, recently enjoying walks on the Matienzo hills with his brother Ted, where they would document and explore the smaller sites. He wrote a gently amusing piece for the Matienzo 50 publication entitled "Matienzo's Smallest Caves". Bob will be greatly missed.
An obituary by Dave Jean appears here.

Apart from an archaeological study (and resurvey) in Cueva Barandas (organised by Pete Smith), little speleology was carried out over the autumn period. New sites were documented close to Cueva Coquisera (numbers 3481 - 3483) and a successful dog rescue from a 7m deep shaft, 2km west of Cruz Usano was carried out.
Over the Christmas period, site 3416 (situated over Torca de Peña Encaramada) was excavated and a depth of about 25m reached with a good draught.
Patrick Warren produced over 50 passage direction rose diagrams for sites over 500m long (available in the Google Earth file and at the base of the relevant site descriptions) and Penny Corrin completed the translation of Jesús Ruiz Cobo's article about gastropods around Matienzo.

The list below shows links to those 6 sites which were extended or newly discovered over the autumn 2010, or which have had surveys, references or descriptions updated, photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS.

Hornedo 3416 cave;
3424 cave;
N Vega
423 Barandas, Cueva de;
Ozana 1175 Pino, Cueva del; 3481 cave; 3482 collapse; 3483 cave;

Juan Corrin, February, June, July, August, September, October, November 2010, January 2011