Matienzo Caves Project 2014
News and cave exploration around Matienzo during 2014
A map with area names can be found here.
January & February
Ongoing excavations in site 3153, just above the valley base in La Vega, are revealing more human bones. A long bone, tentatively identified as a left human femur, is the third such bone to be found in the small cave.
In February, a two-person team spent the half-term in the northwest sector. Over three trips In Cueva de los Urros, leads were pushed through and down mainly chossy areas resulting in 163m of new survey. Torca del Hombre was revisited, surveyed and pushed through a dig at the base to a small, choked passage. The entrance to site 3916 (a potential second entrance to Torca la Vaca) was found collapsed at the entrance. The hole has been covered with branches until remedial work and further excavations happen at Easter.
The list below shows links to those 4 sites which were extended or newly discovered over January & February 2014, or which have had surveys, references or descriptions updated, entrance photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS.
Barrio de los Urros 2917 Urros, Cueva de los;
Camposdelante 3115 Hombre, Torca del;
Hornedo 3916 dig;
La Vega 3153 cave;
Juan Corrin gave notice a year ago to give up coordinating the expeditions and Phil Papard has agreed to take on this role - from asking for the permit through to expeditions reports and what goes on inbetween. Steve and Sue Martin have agreed to look after the tackle and expedition funds respectively, while Juan continues with the IT side, the web site, the data and information archive and the Reserve finances. These changes have been formalised within the Matienzo Caves Project along with an aim and objectives for the Project. Various meetings have been held to discuss the changes and suggest expedition objectives. A presentation was made to Penny and Juan at the Easter Expedition meal.
Although our permit area is not a "given", we do hope that the information made available to the permit authorities near the end of each year through a report and web site updates allows us to continue pushing and documenting the caves within our traditional boundaries. So it came as something of a shock when the permit was returned with a substantial change in the permit boundaries : "out" was all of Secadura and Llueva, ie Voto, and "in" were new areas of Solórzano and Entrambasaguas to the north. The surface area remains about the same (some 96sq km) but, at first glance, the quality of the karst is much poorer with more habitations, industrial units and the coast motorway! As the permit extends towards the coast, the relief is less and there is likely to be more archaeological sites which will constrain digging activities.
Spanish caving groups have been allocated these parts of our old area and they are aware of the work we have done in the past. The Cantabrian Federation has suggested that contact with Spaniards should allow us to continue exploration in known caves, eg Llueva in the 4 Valley System and might allow digging in sites that have been started.
The new areas have meant new maps being obtained and, as a consequence of that, a change in the coordinates datum (ETRS89) for all the caves' positions. (See Maps and GPS use around Matienzo from 2014). As well as updating entrance coordinates (and checking altitudes for all entrances on the new map), all the Survex surveys have been updated and all 3946 site descriptions. The Orux Maps files have been altered, a new digital map for use in the Matienzo Office prepared, and both Google Maps and Google Earth have the new boundaries on - all available from the documents page.
Some of the previous speleology carried out in the Solórzano and Entrambasaguas areas can be found on the Federación Cántabra Espeleología website through a searchable database. At least some of the references mentioned are available in Matienzo.
A planning meeting, mainly for Easter 2014, was held in mid-March and the minutes are online.
JSC, May 2014
The Easter 2014 Expedition
About 30 people took part in the Easter expedition with the weather being like summer
for the two weeks up to Easter day; it then changed to the more normal mix of
sunny, overcast and wet days – but still quite good for Easter. The fixed
holidays for those who teach in Lancashire meant a group were out for the two
weeks prior to Easter with others out either over the normal week before and
the week after Easter or just the week after. This meant the numbers of cavers
were spread thinner than normal.
This year our permit area changed with us losing the parts of Voto and Riotuerto that we had previously been allocated, but we gained all of Entrambasaguas and Solórzano. To continue the exploration and surveying in the caves we have been working on in Voto and Riotuerto, such as El Cubillón (2538), Lenny’s Cave (3721) and Cueva Llueva (0114), we contacted the Federation and the clubs who now have these areas, and they confirmed it was acceptable for us to continue our work in these caves.
A lot of time was spent getting to know the new areas of Entrambasaguas and Solórzano and re-surveying some of the existing caves that were last looked at by the Spanish over 20 years ago. Most of these caves are quite short, but Torca Cañaos-Riocueva (sites 4043 and 4042) is over 3km long and Cueva Lolo (3991) is 270m to an undived sump. It looks like the sump should be short to a continuation of the stream passage (about 1 to 1.5m² cross section).
Over the winter site 3916 (likely back entrance to Torca la Vaca) had suffered a major collapse. This was dug last summer and it appears the very wet weather has turned, what was hard sandy clay, to “mush” that managed to flow and fill up all the voids we had created!! Once the entrails of a calf had been removed from the now shallow hole by Big Steve (almost throwing up in the process!) digging out the fill commenced. Over 10 digging days this material was removed down to where we had got to in 2013 and the draught regained. A lot of shoring had to be installed to stabilise the now soft overburden.
This work and the task of looking at the new areas meant we did not survey or find as much new cave as the past, however together with the February work in 2917 Cueva de los Urros, about 3km of passage was surveyed, of which some 1.5km was new. The biggest find was a 500m high level extension to Cueva Llueva that still has open leads, gained via a climb off the top of the slope to the Big Bang Burger Bar. The results are shown in the table. In addition, over 90 new (to the Expedition) sites of speleological interest were identified.
Rupert Skorupka continued his excellent work in Cubio de la Reñada (0048) diving the upstream sumps from Squirrel’s Passage that had to be abandoned in 2013 due to high water levels. Rupert laid some 120m of new line, but although the sump had a large cross section it ended up breaking down into a number of rifts and airbells that appeared to be a collecting area for streams coming from the big passages above in the main cave route.
Peter Smith (Pedro) continued his work locating and fixing (gps) cave entrances in the Seldesuto (and La Secada) areas that had only previously been located approximately by reference to the maps. These included 0883, 1250 (Torca Loca), 0690 and 0692. However, it seems clear that some sites are likely to be duplicates, such as 0692 and 0899 – more work is needed and is continuing.
Two climbs near the bottom entrance to Cueva de los Cefrales (0042), were examined but no significant progress could be made – the elusive connection of this cave to the main South Vega system remains to be found!
The known caves below the climbing face on the north of the Vega valley were located to the new ETRS89 grid as some were in the wrong place on the map. The locations were corrected. One new joint cave was located, site 4013.
In Sima-Cueva del Risco, as part of an intensive study of an entomological collections project in Matienzo Caves organised by Tom Thomson, a small team laid traps on a through-trip from the top entrance Oñite (0027) to the main Risco entrance Torca del Sedo (0025). This was Tom’s research colleague’s (Fergus) first significant caving trip, but he had no problems and the duo team of Tom and Fergus went on to set traps and collect specimens in a number of caves in our area – all helped by the remains of fat off-cuts of a “Chuletón meal” at the Panaderia used to bait the traps! Analysis of the results will take some time, and a report of this study will be produced by Tom in due course.
(The work is the Matienzo Karst Entomology Project, a Natural History Museum initiative supported by the British Cave Research Association under an individual research permit from the Cantabrian government. This included the setting of baited pitfall traps (in sites 0025, 0048, 2889, 3234, 3721 only), arachnid species distribution by light level zonation, temperature and humidity data logging and spot collection of invertebrates from all environments. Ongoing results will be published at http://matienzo-entomology.myspecies.info and in Cave and Karst Science in full on completion. - Tom Thomson)
El Naso area west to Las Calzadillas
The main work in this area will take place in the summer at a number of sites with open leads. At Easter, despite El Naso being walked over previously many times, a 3m x 2m open shaft about 5m deep 4022 was found by Penny. This shows that even in well trodden areas, sites can still be found. The area on the north-western flank of El Cueto at Las Calzadillas was looked at and an 8m shaft to a chamber with no way on (3964) was found. In addition 3 undecended short shafts were identified 3965, 3966, 3967 and an open, tight rift 3963.
The Northeast Sector and The Four Valleys System
The pitch from the entrance passage into the main tunnel of Cueva Llueva (114) was re-rigged via a traverse and short ladder pitch. An exciting major find was half a kilometre of large high level passage found via a bolted climb to the south of the Big Bang Burger Bar. These passages are situated some 70-80m above the main river passage and lake and still have open leads to look at in the summer.
Road Works Pot (3334) was descended to see if there is any prospect of a dig into the system at the high level Backdraft Passage and an easy route to this new find – but no good leads or digs could be identified.
At Cueva de Carcavuezo (0081) the entrance was found blocked by logs following the very wet winter and floods in Matienzo. This was cleared and the work to re-survey and push the entrance series continued. A festering dead calf found washed 70m into the cave made the trips memorable! The main work was in the Big Chamber Somewhere Near the Entrance (straight on in the entrance series), where a route and pitches were pushed to the stream - not a good alternative route - and tying in some of the route from the Western Series to the Afternoon Stroll – this work will continue in the summer. Also in this area, site 3895 was linked to Carcavuezo by removing the blocking sandstone block at the pitch top and a dig (4016) that is within 20m of passages of the Big Chamber was identified.
Boil in the Bag (868) was dug a few times, but progress is difficult and way on now seems to be down in the floor.
The entrance tight section in Giant Panda Entrance (2691) was opened up to make access to the Near Stomps in Cueva Hoyuca (0107) much easier and possible for all. A “topo” guide to rigging this entrance is in the log book and will appear on the web site for 2691. The opportunity was taken for a group to familiarise themselves with the route to Sandy Junction and the Astradome. This is knowledge that will help them push the system on future trips. The end of this part of the system needs pushing as it has had very few trips and there is potential for higher level passages to be found. This route into the cave should encourage more groups to push this area.
The “bug team” (Tom and Fergus) collected specimens in Cueva de Riaño (0105).
In Cueva Llanío (3234), a number of possible leads were looked at in the lower levels but most closed down or needed more digging aids. A number of corrections to the survey and links between adjacent passages were made, but no significant new passage was found. A Radon meter left in the cave for 5 days in April showed an average reading of 3612 Bq/m³ – this is some 20 times more than the suggested limit for houses in the UK – but then most people don’t spend all their time in Llanío, even if you are Danish!
The plans to continue the exploration of Fridge Door Cave (1800) that was pushed in October 2013 to 136m and which could be a link between Cueva Llanío (3234) and Cueva de la Espada(0105) was curtailed. After opening up the entrance cover, a dead goat was found. On trying to remove the goat a stream of maggots and entrails spilled out down the entrance slope. Even for a hard Geordie like Pete this was too much! Hopefully by the time of a return trip the maggots will have done there work and only bones will be left!
Work was done looking at the area to the west of Fresnedo going towards Garzón (to the west of the hairpin on the main road down to the Solórzano valley), that previously was partly outside our permit area. A number of sites and caves were explored. This included surveying and checking out one that had been looked at by the Spanish some 30yrs previously, Cueva la Revoltona (3973), work was done capping to open up a pitch in this cave but more work is needed. Other digs and sites looked at in a line from the hairpin to the west in this area were 3948, 3974, 3975, 3976 and 3977. Also looked at were sites to the north above Nacimiento Campiazo (1106) but all were found to be poor prospects being mainly blocked by mud/clay. One new cave in this area of 3,5m to a dig was identified, site 3947.
In the Fresnedo area, two dives were made by Jim Lister at 3910 and Fuente de la Virgin (582) but both closed down with little progress. Site 3842 was opened up via “an easy section”. On a return trip this proved to be easy, if you are Danish and slim but, for a larger member of the team, more chiselling was needed to widen the section. The cave closed down after 94m and a survey and video were taken.
Solórzano and Riolastras Area
This is the new area for the Expedition to the east and west of Solórzano and has a number of closed depressions that should have some potential. There are a number of known caves in the area that were mainly explored and surveyed in the 1970s and 80s by Spanish clubs using the old Spanish maps based on Madrid as the origin – this makes accurate identification of the locations difficult. Time was spent identifying and surveying some of these caves, and in so doing a number of new sites were found and explored.
To the west of Solórzano, in the Garzón area, Cueva del Ermita (3955) - a steeply dipping, root-festooned rift - was found and part of a human skull recovered. This was later taken to the laboratories of MUPAC, the Museo de Prehistoria y Arqueología de Cantabria in Santander and an official receipt obtained. Given the possible archaeological significance of this cave further work was put on hold. A number of other digs and sites in the Garzón area were found and recorded. None were extensive and digging would be required to make progress – 3955, 3956, 3957, 3958, 3959, 3978, 3979, 4024, 4025.
In Solórzano, Cueva de Lolo (3991) was identified after enquiries at the local bar. This site had been seen in the 1970s by the Expedition when it was a “wine store” for a house, but was not entered. It was later explored and surveyed by Spanish groups. The cave is now behind a locked door in the back boundary wall of the new Health Centre. The key was obtained from the Solórzano town hall and the 270m long cave surveyed. This cave seems to be a flood overflow and ends at a hydraulic gravel rise down to a small sump that looks like it should be short and must take a lot of flow in flood to push up the gravel – a diving prospect for the future.
Another previously known cave that was explored and partly surveyed in the area just to the east of Solórzano, was Cueva de Nicanor (3961) where a few metres were dug but no significant progress made. A number of new caves in this area were found and surveyed including Funky Flashing Light Cave (3985) that has been partly converted into a store behind a house with fitted flashing lights! (still to be fully explored) and 3988, a new 63m cave ending in a calcite choke. Site 4019 was first explored to a sump which was then dived by Jim Lister to a continuation. A dig bypassed the sump and will allow exploration to continue in the future. Other digs and undecended shafts identified were: 3949, 3950, 3960, 4037, 4038 and 4039.
In the Riolastras area, the known cave of Cueva del Abortal (4007) was located and surveyed, with just 8m of new passage dug into. In the area of this cave, a dig 4011 was found and a draughting cave 4012 explored after opening up a tight entrance rift.
This area was significantly changed, with the whole of Entrambasaguas allocated to the Expedition, stretching to north of the Santander motorway and almost to Solares. We lost the Riotuerto area where El Cubillón, (2538) is situated, however we met with members of the G E Pistruellos group and they were happy for us to continue our work in the area, and showed interest to come with us on occasion.
In El Cubillón (2538) the tight section above the first pitch was opened up to allow easy access for diving gear and the sump was dived by Jim Lister. It turned out to be shallow over deep mud with no way on. At the bottom of the last pitch a rift full of water was found, Jim managed to get along this to where it seemed to go deeper into a possible sump – but it was tight and likely to trash gear and was not dived. An aven was bolted, but it broke up at the top into rifts with no clear way on.
The work in Duckpond Dig (3215) paid dividends with it opening out with two chambers and a boulder choke with possible ways on adding 94m to give a current length of 122m. However, with little draught the site was left for hotter summer weather when a good draught should be present to indicate a way on. The entrance shaft has been re shored with steel now making it safe.
Site 2381 was examined in detail with five passages pushed to add some 60m. Washing Machine Hole (3420) was opened up to allow two of the thinner members in to this flood prone cave. A way on was pushed to a pitch, but the way was tight and only one member could reach the pitch. A return with a two or more thin team is needed for the summer.
A cave 3954 with a good draught and with a possible link to 3969 was found. It existed mainly in sandstone was opened up into some interesting passages and chambers. However rats were spotted and when an attack was made on a boulder choke a crack was heard and part of the roof away from the choke dropped. The cave seemed less interesting as the team retreated! A lot of other new sites, digs and shafts were identified in the new area to the east of Navajeda in the area near our border with Riotuerto, these were from east to west: 3968, 3953, 3952, 4026, 4027, 4028, 4029, 4040, 4031, 4035, 4032, 4034, 4033.
In an area further north (to the south and west of Famous Five Cave) more new sites and digs were found: 3981, 3982, 3983, 3989, 3990, 3998, 4014, 4018, 4020 and 4021.
To the north-west of our new area is the hill Monte Vizmaya that sits between the “hanging bar” at Hoznayo and La Cavada. There are old mines and quarries on the heavily wooded hill. A number of sites were identified that need further work, including one that may enter mine workings 3971 and two undecended shafts 3970 and 3972. Also noted were small resurgences at a working quarry - 3984 and the walled up spring, Fuente Seca (3986) – permission would be needed to dig these, but they are very low priority. In addition, a rift 3987 was noted half way up a bolted climb that will be worth a look.
To the north of the motorway, at Hoznayo, the known cave of Pozo de la Hoya (4017) was located and explored. This was found to be an old abandoned remnant cave with three entrances. There is little scope for extension apart from one dig site in the upper section, but it shows there is good development in the area.
Of more interest is the 3.1km long river cave of Riocueva (4042) that sits just in our new area to the east of the Río Aguanaz. A lower entrance was located and found to be gated, as it is an important archaeological site. Permission was given to explore the cave through the top entrance (Torca de Cañaos, site 4043) and a visit in mid-May surveyed 767m along one of the upper galleries. There is much more exploration and survey work to be done in here.
In the Hornedo area Torca de Luna de Miel (3596) was looked at, but the boulder blocking the way was found to be very dangerous and would need remote removal to make any progress. More fruitful was a quick visit by a group from Sheffield University Speleological Society who tided up some leads in Torca de Peña Encaramada (3380) left over from 2013, surveying 156m.
The possible dry entrances to Torca la Vaca (2889) were dug. Site 3906 was dug on a number of occasions and steady but slow progress made. BigMat Calf Hole 3916 took 10 trips and a lot of work to remove the collapsed spoil that had filled up the 8m deep excavation, completely with no voids! The site was made secure and well shored and is now ready for work in the summer.
PP, May 2014
Surveys are being prepared for sites 3215, 3973.
The list below shows links to those 172 sites which were extended or newly discovered over the Easter expedition 2014, or which have had surveys, references or descriptions updated, entrance photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS.
Barrio de los Urros 3925 dig;
Barrio La Mina 2381 shaft; 3953 cave; 3954 caves; 3968 rift; 3969 cave; 3989 cave; 3990 cave; 3998 sink; 4018 cave;
Camposdelante 3215 dig;
Cobadal 613 Torcida, Cueva de; 626 Cepo, Torca del;
El Naso 59 Molino, Cueva del; 77 Rascavieja, Cueva de; 138 Coberruyo, Cueva de; 1348 cave; 1349 cave; 2575 cave; 2803 cave; 4013 cave; 4022 shaft;
El Sedo 25 Risco, Sima-Cueva del;
Fresnedo 582 Virgen, Fuente de la; 672 Regato, Cueva del; 2477 shaft; 2478 sink; 3842 cave; 3910 cave;
Garzón, Solórzano 3955 Ermita, Cueva del; 3956 shaft; 3957 rift; 3958 cave; 3977 cave; 3978 collapse; 3979 cave; 4024 cave; 4025 cave;
Hornedo 3380 Peña Encaramada, Torca de; 3594 Luna de Miel, Torca de; 3596 cave; 3906 dig; 3916 BigMat Calf Hole;
Hoznayo 4017 Hoya, Pozo de la; 4042 Riocueva, Cueva;
Ideopuerta 3420 Hoyo Carabo, Torca de;
La Secada 81 Carcavuezo, Cueva de; 87 Emboscados, Cueva de los; 92 Rocabado, Sima de; 96 Vecina, Cueva; 143 shaft; 144 shaft; 367 shaft; 708 cave; 709 cave; 868 dig; 1231 shaft; 1232 Germán, Cueva de; 1482 cave; 1619 cave; 3628 hole; 3895 cave; 4016 dig;
Las Calzadillas 3963 rift; 3964 shaft; 3965 shafts - 2; 3966 shafts - 2; 3967 hole;
Llueva 114 Llueva, Cueva; 3334 Road Works Pot;
Moncobe 2538 Cubillón, El; 3669 caves;
Monte Vizmaya 3970 cave; 3971 shaft; 3972 shaft; 3984 resurgence; 3986 Seca, Fuente; 3987 rift;
Navajeda 3952 shaft; 3981 cave; 3982 cave; 3983 cave; 4014 dig; 4020 shaft; 4021 shaft; 4026 dig; 4027 cave; 4028 dig; 4029 shaft; 4031 shaft; 4032 shaft; 4033 shaft; 4034 shaft; 4035 dig; 4036 shaft; 4040 rift; 4041 shaft;
Ozana 12 Concebo, Cueva del;
Riaño 107 Hoyuca, Cueva; 1800 Fridge Door Cave; 1803 cave; 2691 Giant Panda entrance; 3234 Llanío, Cueva-Cubío del; 3454 Llanío 2, Cueva-Cubío del; 3917 SixFourOne, Cueva;
Riolastras 4003 Pantalla, Cueva de la; 4004 Palomas, Cueva de las; 4005 Francés, Sima del; 4006 Castaño, Sima del; 4007 Abortal, Cueva del; 4008 Avellano, Torca del; 4009 Medio, Sima-cueva del; 4010 Campos, Torca de los; 4011 cave; 4012 cave;
S Vega 40 Comellantes, Cueva del; 42 Cefrales, Cueva de los; 48 Reñada, Cueva-Cubío de la; 333 Azpilicueta, Torca de; 457 Hammered Hole; 577 Limestone Lump, Torca de; 3980 holes - 2;
San Antonio 3422 cave; 4023 sink; 4030 caves - 2;
San Miguel 847 Concervera, Cueva de; 3262 Concervera II, Cueva de;
Seldesuto 685 shaft, dig; 690 shaft; 691 shaft; 692 shaft; 780 Corcada, Torca de; 873 dig; 883 cave; 884 cave; 899 cave; 1250 Lorca, Torca; 2743 sink;
Solórzano 2762 cave; 2763 cave; 2764 dig; 2765 dig; 3947 dig; 3948 dig; 3949 dig; 3950 shaft; 3951 holes; 3959 resurgence; 3960 cave; 3961 Nicanor, Cueva de; 3962 rift; 3973 Revoltona, Cueva de; 3974 shaft; 3975 cave; 3976 cave; 3985 Corte, Cueva del; 3988 cave; 3991 Lolo (Secretario), Cueva de; 3992 Invitado, Cueva del; 3993 Cuadrada, Cueva; 3994 Dos Casas, Sima; 3995 Mini, Sima; 3996 Llana, Cueva de la; 3997 Cacoles, Cueva de los; 3999 Pitona, Torca; 4000 Embalse, Cueva del; 4002 Santiago, Cueva de; 4019 cave; 4037 resurgence; 4038 cave; 4039 shaft;
Villaverde de Pontones 4043 Cañaos, Torca de;
The Summer 2014 Expedition
About 50 people took part in the summer expedition with many camping at Bar Germán, the most for many years. Weather was generally dry but cooled off a little after the beginning of August. The expedition was more spread out than in previous years with an advance team there from 12 July and the last group leaving on 27 August.
As at Easter, quite a lot of time was spent working in the new permit areas so that we now have a good understanding of the potential and sites for our efforts in 2015 and beyond. Work continued in the caves we have been exploring in Voto and Riotuerto, under the arrangement we made in April with the Federation and the clubs who now have these areas.
Again, like at Easter, a lot of time was spent digging, shoring and concreting at BigMat Calf Hole, site 3916 but, this time, with the great success of linking it to Torca la Vaca. This entrance will now giving better access to the upper levels beyond Lake Bassenthwaite and should lead to more new cave and survey in 2015. Even with only a few trips into Vaca some 982m (to be confirmed) of new cave was found and surveyed. The BigMat road drainage pipe was placed in the entrance and the area back-filled. In October, after the backfill has settled, a concrete cap and lid will be placed on the pipe and some stainless steel steps added to make the exit easier and the area cleaned up for the farmer.
Another significant amount of time was spent on exploration and survey in Riocueva / Torca Cañaos in the far north of our area. This cave was explored and surveyed by Spanish cavers in the 1980/90s to 3.1km. We have surveyed over 4km so far, with the entrance series (from the archaeological entrance which is gated and locked) still to be surveyed. We hope to complete this in October. Also to be pushed and surveyed is the far upstream area where new passage was found through low airspace. We expect to have nearly 5km of passage surveyed in 2014 which will allow a good updated survey to be included in our report to the Cantabrian Authorities.
The other main finds this summer were in Sima-Cueva del Risco, Torca del Mostajo, Cueva de Carcavuezo, and Cueva Hoyuca all adding up to about 6.7km of cave surveyed. In addition, Cueva de Los Campizos (YoYo Cave, site 3812) was pushed to an 80m and then a 53m pitch to a large chamber with two vadose trenches going off that need tackle to enter - a prime target for the future.
On the same week-end as the 2014 Hidden Earth conference, a major conference is being held in Ramales de la Victoria on the main caves in the Alto Asón area. The lead organiser of the technical content is Peter Smith. Phil Papard will present a paper on the caves and potential in the South Vega/Vallina area and it will be posted on this site. One element of the paper is to try to obtain an agreement for the teams working in this area to cooperate in mapping the hydrology using dye tests. If agreed, this will be a major focus of work for 2015 as we will need to place dye (e.g. optical brightener) in a number of caves. Some placements would be at the far reaches and so, to make the most of resources, pushing should also take place. This project will be discussed in the planning meeting for 2015.
Cueva Vallina was not looked at due to efforts elsewhere. This cave is a key site for work as it now appears it may link directly to the South Vega System as the source of the water. A dye test will discover if this theory is correct. Also, it is possible that the higher passages may be associated with the Sistema del Alto del Tejuelo that lies west of Bustablado. Pushing in Vallina will be one of our high priority projects for 2015. The cave has three dive sites - not too deep for air use - all open sumps with good potential. Any divers wanting to push these sites are very welcome and will be supported for the carry.
Southern Sector (La Colina, Ozana, South Vega and Vallina)
In Sima-Cueva del Risco, some follow up work was carried out to support the Easter entomological study by Tom Tompson, as more specimens of a possible new spider species were needed. During one of these trips Paul "Footleg" Fretwell with Paul Dold climbed into an unsurveyed high level route and pushed it into extremely well decorated passage - Where Are All The Spiders? - situated between the Dambuster Series and the river passage. The total length of survey here is 422m.
At Cruz Usaño. a 5.6m shaft (site 4062, Sima K23) was dug to a tight section needing a smaller person to progress further.
In the high level Trillos area of South Vega, southeast of Alisas, a number of known sites - 637, 638, 2630 and 2684 - as well as new sites 4064, 4072, 4079, 4080 and 4081 were investigated. Of these, site 637 needs more gear (30m+ pitch); 4072, Cueva del Perro, needs the top of a 10m pitch opening up, and 4064 has a good draught but needs more digging. In site 4079, a 12m pitch was dropped to a chamber with no way on. In Torca del Serruco, a 22m shaft was descended and surveyed. In Torca de Azpilicueta, some of the Rub-a-Dub-Dubs traverse lines were re-roped but this work and the difficult route in Reñada III meant the far end could not be pushed and will have to wait until 2015.
In the La Colina area Peter Smith located with GPS a number of sites after the Easter expedition where the position was in some doubt (including 1559, 97 and 137). This area was also independently looked at during the summer to look at a lead in site 1561. Also examined were 1559 and 97 - both found to have only poor prospects. Site 1561 was pushed and surveyed to 65m through well decorated passage, some with pooled water with stalagmites under the water level. A further flooded section needs looking at with diving gear. When this and Peter's new GPS details were located on the map and the descriptions checked, it was clear that 1561 was in fact the same as 137, Cueva de Coreano, which had not been pushed previously.
North Vega, El Naso area west to Las Calzadillas
Torca de Lastrilla was pushed down the tight pitch in the chamber opened up in 2011. At 9.8m down, a slot has an outward draught, needing snappers to progress. This is an important site as it could link to both Simas del Picón and the North Vega (Cubija) System at Torca del Regaton.
A dig, site 3762, was noted again where rocks drop for some 3 seconds down a scree slope.
In Torca del Mostajo, the MUSC team continued their work on the 2013 discoveries with about 670m of new passage surveyed and a possibly better way into the 2013 series found from the main high level passage, but this needs more work.
In Cueva del Molino (Agua), site 59, the usual tourist trip was made. Water levels were low and signal crayfish were seen.
To the west of the first hairpin out of Matienzo, sites 1015, 1017, and 1016 were located accurately using GPS and dug. All draught well and they were left with more work required. Site 1017 is the most promising at present. There was a voice connection between 1016 and 1017.
The Northeast Sector and The Four Valleys System
The entrance to Cueva de los Tres Niños (site 565) was found with some difficulty as the location is now quite overgrown.
Two sites (4016 and 4045) above Cueva de Carcavuezo were looked as possible links to the Four Valleys System. Both require more digging.
In Cueva de Carcavuezo, some 57m of surveying linked to the resurvey carried out in 2013 between the western and eastern areas. About 145m of new passage was also surveyed near here, including "dodgy traverses". In the Haymarket Series, the water was followed downstream and some 119m of new passage surveyed. Another trip pushed this further into another section of over 100m which has still to be surveyed. A small team will be in Matienzo in October and it is expected this passage will be surveyed then.
Cueva Hoyuca had 310m of resurvey in the entrance series, through the Lake of Green Loveliness into Tilers' Way. The tight section in the Giant Panda entrance (site 2691) was opened up at Easter and is now a much easier way into the further reaches of Hoyuca. However, the entrance and its shoring is in a poor state and work will be required to stabilise it in 2015. Taking advantage of this entrance, a 48m aven (Tixtu Aven) was climbed up 28m at the end of Sloppy Inlet to find an airy traverse and passage to a 28m pitch down into a series of passages and chambers going down stream. This series was left with still open passages. A trip to this point takes about 3hr and described as "quite strenuous". The surveyed length is 239m.
In Cueva SixFourOne (site 3917) two trips opened up a tight section to reach narrow draughting passage that now needs snappers to progress further.
In Llueva, site 3392 was located accurately and, in Secadura at Lenny's Cave, the choke on the upper level was capped. The way on can be seen but it needs more work.
Solórzano and Riolastras Areas
In the Solórzano area a number of sites were examined. Site 3951 was explored and accurately located but closed down after 7m. A number of digs were recorded - 4044, 4045 and 4046 which is a resurgence with a good flow and needs a jungle bash to reach. Site 4069 was explored and surveyed to 106m in decorated passage. Site 4083, Stop Swap Shop, dropped down three pitches where a small draughting hole need more work to progress. Cueva del Ermita, site 3955, which has some archaeological interest and should not be dug at this time, was surveyed to 21m. Also in the Garzón area of Solórzano a number of small sites were located and explored - all were found to be poor prospects: 4051, 4052, 4053, 4054, 4055, 4056 and 4057. Also in this area site 3978 was looked at. This has a very good draught, is a good site to dig, but would be a major undertaking.
Some time was spent checking out the ground at Riolastras. It seems the most promising sites are just outside our area! In our area, Slug Hole, 4047, has little draught and needs a lump hammer to make more progress; Puppy Dog's Tail Cave 4048 was pushed through a draughting dig to where daylight comes in although the source of draught was not found, and Bat Cave 4049 was noted but not explored. Pylon Cave, site 4060, was located and explored to a drop needing a ladder. Similarly, Snail Cave was pushed to a pit that needs a further look with a rope. Site 4091 was surveyed to 32m. The cave splits and becomes too tight with the left hand passage draughting. A dig, 4070, was explored but has no prospects. Site 4071 was pushed over two days to a dig in the bottom chamber, but care will be needed due to the boulders that may need to be stabilised. The longest find in the Riolastras area was at 4089 where some 132m of new cave was surveyed.
This is the main extended area under our new permit. In the far north, beyond Hoznayo and the motorway, the survey of Riocueva via the pitch entrance of Torca de los Cañaos was continued over some 16 trips with 3.3km surveyed in the summer. The old Spanish survey has only just over 3km surveyed and, by the time the archaeological entrance passages are added ( in October), almost 5km should have been found. Of particular significance was the push up stream through low airspace sections and leeches, to where you could climb to a higher area. This was left still going - one of the objectives for 2015.
A number of sites were located nearby and checked for possible links to Riocueva. These were 4073, 4074, 4090 and Double Dog, site 4075, surveyed to 81m but closing down with a slight draught.
Monte Vizmaya was walked over again but nothing new from the Easter finds was noted.
In the Navajeda area - to the west near the Alisas to La Cavada road - a number of sites were explored and located. Site 4041 was dug and surveyed (57m) to a tight base, but a choke at the base of the entrance was dug through and needs more work to follow the good draught. Site 4036 is a 16m shaft blind shaft with poor prospects, and a possible dig at site 4063 was noted.
Duck Pond Dig (site 3215) was looked at on a couple of occasions, trying to find the best draughting spot in the terminal choke found at Easter. However, the draught proved elusive this year.
At site 3901 in the Moncobe area there was more digging following the draught, but more work is needed.
A major site has proved to be Cueva de Los Campizos (YoYo Cave, site 3812). A tight section was capped out to a 17m pitch and further capping gained access to a large drop. Two more trips found that this was an 80m pitch which was descended to a ledge of boulders and a further 53m pitch to a large chamber with at least two ways on (vadose trenches) needing gear (rope) to access. This will be a priority to push in 2015.
At San Antonio, site 3105 was looked at and bolted into a large rift. More work is needed to follow the draught and there appears to be more passage than the 2008 sketch of the cave shows. The entrance to site 3703 was found to have slumped in and will need digging out. At Cueva de Regato, site 3494, the first crawl was pushed to a shingle bank. It needs a thin person to continue. There is a very good draught at this point. Fuente Aguanaz middle entrance was checked out and a possible sump just to the right of the end choke was located. Also the 2009 extensions were entered with low water levels - the top of the slope up looked to have the best prospect for further extensions.
In Cobadal, Cueva de Torcida, site 613, and Shanty Town, 2090, were looked at for digging prospects. Torcida was not thought a good prospect, but Shanty Town looked better if the large rocks can be stabilized. It will need scaffolding, etc. to make more progress.
At Hornedo, possible digs 4058 and 4059 were located. The first is the best prospect having a small draught. Site 3923 was pushed and surveyed. A pit at the far end needs work to get down to possible lower level.
The possible dry entrances (3905 and BigMat Calf Hole, 3916) to Torca la Vaca (2889) were again dug. On the 9th day of digging, and after a voice connection, new molephone location and two smoke tests, a connection was made at 3916 - some 3m above our deepest digging point. The molephone location and depth proved correct and the connection was horizontal in the direction of the track. On the molephone trip, a passage was found going east and on a subsequent trip this new passage was surveyed and, in total, about 440m of new passage was surveyed.
Work was carried out on the Vaca side of the connection to open up some tight sections at the link to BigMat Calf Hole entrance and some more stabilising work here is needed. Four more days were spent concreting a base for the entrance tube, installing the tube and backfilling. The final cap and lid will be completed in October after the infill has had some time to settle. This entrance now gives good access to the upper levels of Torca la Vaca beyond the duck, and was used for a number of trips mainly to push, survey and tie in the Frizzington Series which resulted in some 554m of new passages with the now correctly located series passing between the Wasdale Screes route and the main cave, and almost reaching the Cueva de los Urros area, although at a lower level.
PP September 2014
|4041||shaft (CC)||in hand|
|4074||cave (MUSC)||in hand|
|4083||Stop Swap Shop (SCo)||complete|
The list below shows links to those 109 sites which were extended or newly discovered over the summer 2014 expedition, or which have had surveys, references or descriptions updated, entrance photos or videos added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS.
The summer update is now "complete", ending at site 4091 (except - only partial update - 71, Mostajo; 2889, Vaca). (19/12/2014)
Alisas 637 shaft;
Bosmartín 1889 hole;
Camposdelante 3215 dig; 3543 cave;
Cobadal 613 Torcida, Cueva de; 1874 Snottite Cave; 2090 Shanty Town; 2566 sink; 4056 cave; 4057 rift;
Cubija 71 Mostajo, Torca del; 76 Campo, Cuvia del;
El Camino 80 Andrés, Sima del; 90 Mantequilla, Cueva de la; 137 Coreano, Cueva de;
El Naso 59 Molino, Cueva del; 4068 Rasqueza, Cueva de la;
El Sedo 25 Risco, Sima-Cueva del;
Garzón, Solórzano 3955 Ermita, Cueva del; 3978 collapse; 4050 cave; 4051 dig; 4052 dig; 4053 shaft; 4054 cave; 4055 shaft; 4069 cave; 4083 Stop Swap Shop;
Hornedo 2889 Vaca, Torca La; 3174 Pooch Cave; 3905 cave; 3916 BigMat Calf Hole; 3923 shaft; 4058 dig; 4059 cave;
Hoznayo 4042 Riocueva, Cueva; 4073 hole; 4074 cave; 4075 Perro Doble; 4084 shaft (capped); 4085 cave (Riocueva bottom entrance); 4086 cave; 4087 resurgence; 4088 resurgence; 4090 dig;
Ideopuerta 3812 Campizos, Cueva de los;
La Colina 97 Vera, Covacho de la; 1559 dig; 1561 cave;
La Helguera 4046 resurgence;
La Secada 81 Carcavuezo, Cueva de; 415 cave; 565 Tres Niños, Cueva de los; 1015 dig; 1016 dig; 1017 dig; 4016 dig; 4045 dig;
Las Calzadillas 4081 shaft;
Llueva 3392 shaft;
Moncobe 3901 dig;
Muela 489 Espino, Cueva del;
N Vega 427 Lastrilla, Torca de;
Navajeda 4036 shaft; 4041 shaft; 4063 dig;
Ozana 17 Jivero 2, Cueva de; 4062 K23, Sima;
Riaño 107 Hoyuca, Cueva; 3917 SixFourOne, Cueva;
Riolastras 4007 Abortal, Cueva del; 4047 Slug Hole; 4048 Puppy Dog's Tail Cave; 4049 Bat Cave; 4060 Torre, Cueva del; 4061 Caracol, Cueva del; 4070 shaft; 4071 cave; 4089 cave; 4091 cave;
S Vega 48 Reñada, Cueva-Cubío de la; 50 Serruco, Torca del; 53 Roca, Sima de la; 54 Prado, Cueva de; 333 Azpilicueta, Torca de; 881 cave; 3762 shaft; 4066 cave;
San Antonio 713 Aguanaz, Fuente; 3105 cave; 3494 Regato, Cueva de; 3703 cave;
Secadura 3721 Lenny's Cave;
Solórzano 3951 cave; 3995 Mini, Sima; 4044 dig; 4065 Zorros 1, Cueva de los;
Trillos 4064 Deaf Gerald's, The; 4067 ; 4072 Perro, Cueva del; 4076 shaft; 4077 hole; 4078 hole; 4079 shaft; 4080 shaft;
Villaverde de Pontones 4043 Cañaos, Torca de los;
Three small, separate teams were out in Matienzo at different times during the last two weeks in October and first three weeks in November, with very dry conditions and summer type weather most of the time. Over 1395m of cave passages were surveyed.
A start was made to produce a comprehensive survey of the South Vega system, with Cueva-Cubío de la Reñada (0048) entrance series up to the "blow hole" surveyed on a solo trip by Ali. On a separate trip Patrick Degouve from the Spéléo-Club de Dijon was taken to sump one to show him the cave and water flow, etc. Patrick has been involved in many of the most important explorations in the Alto Asón area and will be working with the Matienzo Caves Project and others to map the hydrology of this area over the next few years using water tracing methods. A Google group has been set up to coordinate the planning for this work - Peter Smith is the contact person for this. At the same time, a photographic trip was made to record some of the main parts of the system up to Breakdown Chamber, as the existing photographs were mainly scanned from old slides and are not of the best quality.
In Torca de Coterón, a through trip team were enticed back for a second trip by a "passage" above the second pitch. This turned out to not exist. A shaft on the first level below the entrance pitch, unexplored beyond a boulder, was found choked at -20m.
Above the TV Mast track, sites 2345, 2346 and 2347 were checked out and better documented.
In the Alisas / Trillos area the linked caves 3938 and 3939 were surveyed, and the bottom of 3938 pushed using snappers and caps - but only to a choke with limited prospects. The site should be checked out in hot weather to see if the choke at the bottom of the chamber between the two entrances is worth a dig. Two sites were identified on the slopes SE of Alisas. The first was a cave (4082) that is a sink at the base of a shallow valley/gully that appears to take significant water in wet weather. The cave draughts out quite strongly and will be an easy dig of leaves and soil to see if the site has any significant potential. Towards the Alisas viewpoint a shaft (4092) with rocks capping its top, was located but not explored. Below this site, in the same shallow valley, are two further shafts (4015 and 4099), but due to GPS problems they were not accurately located.
Site 1969, at the side of the Alisas-Las Calzadillas road, was examined and a side pitch part way down the main p47 was found to choke at the same depth.
A comprehensive article about the pottery in site 3167 has been published and is online. Although in Castellano, there is a full and interesting abstract in English.
In Cueva Hoyuca (107) Tiler's Way survey was completed and several passages pushed, more work is needed as it seems there should be a link to the cave 0718.
On a trip to see if the sump in Fridge Door Cave (1800) could be lowered, a little drop in water level was achieved. However, despite the water levels being as dry as the team had seen, progress could not be made. This shallow, small but reasonable sized sump now needs to be explored by diving.
Site 3917 (Cueva SixFourOne) was cleared of debris and further digging gained entry to a rift passage that soon closed down. A higher level continuation also closed down.
Solórzano and Riolastras area
Top Dog Cave (4069) at Garzón was photographed. Site 4050 was excavated to reveal a 17m pitch to 30m of walking and scrambling passage ending at a breakdown with a good draught. The site will be surveyed at Easter 2015. A short visit out of the permit area near Riolastras has located 3 unexplored sites: 4095, 4096 and 4097.
The "back door" entrance to Torca la Vaca, BigMat Calf Hole (3916) was completed on three visits with the grille lid installed and concreted in place, plus stainless steel steps placed to aid access. It took two trips for route finding before, on the third day, a team found the way through from BigMat Calf Hole to the main north-south route in Torca la Vaca. The frustration was worthwhile as they found and surveyed over 670m of new passages close to Nearly Dan Chamber. An open lead at High Street proved to be 242m of easy passage (Fanny Bramble Passage) with a scree and gypsum floor and delicate gypsum flowers. This route heads north and ends at a boulder choke that looks loose and dangerous to push. A higher level passage heading southeast from Nearly Dan Chamber has a couple of holes high up that could be bolted into. Should Have Gone to Specsavers starts as a short climb on the west wall close to Nearly Dan Chamber, continues through a couple of short squeezes then pops up into a large, well decorated passage. This is generally 10m wide and is truncated to north and south by boulder chokes which may repay further visits as both are heading into blank areas on the survey. There are some superb formations in routes heading west from the main passage, terminating in stal chokes. 428m were surveyed here. The total length of surveyed passage in Torca la Vaca is now 17498m.
More holes were investigated east and north of the entrance to Peña Encaramada. Site 4101 is a 10m deep shaft; a sandstone edge has two digs ,sites 4102 and 4103 and a walk-in cave (site 4104) with a good draught over a sand fill at the back. Other small sites are 4105, 4106 and 4107.
Cueva Riocueva (4042) was a main target of activity with the aim of getting the survey updated and with the main entrance passages included. As the archaeology team were working in the Riocueva entrance (4042), Peter Smith arranged for our team to use this entrance so the survey of this part of the system was completed and photographs taken. In addition to this visit, two trips were made via Torca de los Cañaos (4043) to complete several sections of surveying including the Bold Step Passage and aven near the end of the Galería de Yeso and also beyond the stal squeeze in the passage above the ladder pitch in Galeria del Laboratorio. Photographs were taken in the main passages. Below the base of the Torca del Cañaos entrance shaft, a small section of impressive stream way was entered and photographed - this still needs surveying. The upstream unexplored passages found in the summer were not looked at and will be left for the 2015 expedition to progress. Over 585m were surveyed taking the length of the system to 4682m.
Below the Riocueva entrance, the wet weather resurgence (4087) and small cave above (4086) were investigated.
Cueva Picadon (site 4001), first looked at in 2009 and possibly less than 100m long, can now be pushed and surveyed.
Work continued in El Cubillón (2538) at Moncobe, where it may be that downward rifts at the top of the southern-most aven could be pushed by a thin person. In the entrance series, a recent collapse down an aven just before the last pitch was found to have a strong draught. Investigation on the surface found a large collapse and open hole in the streambed which was later tackled up and explored down a p10 and a further 2m drop to a narrow rift choked with river sandstone boulders with a very strong draught (site 4094). It's thought not to be worth digging because of its flood-prone situation.
Further digging occurred at site 3901 but considerably more is required both at the original inverted "V" and a narrow, draughting rift.
Cueva de los Campizos (Yo-yo Cave, site 3812) at Ideopuerta was visited on two occasions. At the base of the 125m split shaft, a vadose trench was explored down small drops until it became to tight at floor level. However, as it is 40m high at this point, it may be possible to find a route through at a higher level. The downstream passage was also entered and surveyed for about 110m in a southeast direction with formations and a side chamber. The end could probably be dug.
Torca de Hoyo Carabo (Washing Machine Hole, site 3420) was found open through the entrance crawl. Beyond the base of the big pitch, an 8m drop was tackled to larger passage. A series of short climbs down ends at a U-shaped squeeze with the passage seen continuing. Also at Ideopuerta, site 3807 was deemed "impossibly tight" and site 3811 was explored down to a choke at 8m depth.
At Las Calzadillas, site 2504 could not be found and has possibly been filled in. Site 3195 was found draughting slightly and looks passable if the entrance is opened up. A draughting slot (site 4100) at the base of a cliff was partly excavated but little progress was made. A set of three shafts (sites 4108 - 4110) were investigated - more details to come.
At Camposdelante, the Civil War refuge cave (site 3543) was re-examined. A dig at the end of the high level passage dropped 4m back to the roof of the first chamber. An undescended pitch in the lower chamber could not be found so is probably under a boulder collapse.
At San Antonio, a small draughting cave (4093) in the base of a shakehole needs excavating and site 2831 was capped but the draughting sink requires much more work.
JSC & PP, November 2014; amendments and additions January 2015, JSC
|0048||Reñada (part resurvey)||complete|
|3917||Cueva SixFourOne||in hand|
The list below shows links to those 59 sites which were extended or newly discovered over autumn 2014, or which have had surveys, references or descriptions updated, entrance photos or videos added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS.
Alisas 1969 shaft;
Barrio de Arriba 1561 cave / mine;
Camposdelante 3543 cave;
El Sedo 25 Risco, Sima-Cueva del;
Entrambasaguas 4098 resurgence;
Garzón, Solórzano 4050 cave; 4069 cave;
Hornedo 2889 Vaca, Torca La; 3916 BigMat Calf Hole; 4101 shaft; 4102 dig; 4103 dig; 4104 cave; 4105 hole; 4106 rift; 4107 dig;
Hoznayo 4001 Injanas, Cueva de; 4042 Riocueva, Cueva; 4086 cave; 4087 resurgence;
Ideopuerta 3420 Hoyo Carabo, Torca de; 3807 shaft; 3811 shaft; 3812 Campizos, Cueva de los;
La Rasa 3167 cave;
Las Calzadillas 2502 cave; 2503 dig; 2504 cave; 3195 shaft; 4100 dig; 4108 shaft; 4109 shaft; 4110 shaft;
Moncobe 2538 Cubillón, El; 3901 dig; 4094 shaft;
Riaño 107 Hoyuca, Cueva; 1800 Fridge Door Cave; 3917 SixFourOne, Cueva;
Riolastras 4095 cave; 4096 shaft; 4097 cave;
S Vega 48 Reñada, Cueva-Cubío de la; 264 Coterón, Torca del; 606 cave; 2345 cave; 2346 cave; 2347 cave;
San Antonio 2831 resurgence & sink; 3422 cave; 4030 caves - 2; 4093 cave;
Trillos 3938 cave; 3939 cave; 4015 shaft; 4082 dig; 4092 dig; 4099 dig;
Villaverde de Pontones 4043 Cañaos, Torca de los;
A two-person team (Simon Cornhill and Diane Arthurs) spent most of their caving time in Torca la Vaca, entering through BigMat Calf Hole. They surveyed 1024m of passge: 801m had not been previously surveyed but had mainly been scampered. The remaining 223m was a resurvey of passage beyond Nearly Dan Chamber which had very little passage detail. This route, heading southeast then south, has a number of open leads (possibly 12) many of which have been previously entered - but not surveyed. "This area has loads of potential, and hopefully plenty for everyone to have a go at!". The line survey shows the Xmas surveys as batches 2889_14_05 through to 2889_14_12. The survey is also "complete".
A "real time" video of the route in from BigMat Calf Hole to "Walking on Egg Shells" in Torca la Vaca can be found on YouTube. A shorter version showing just the critical junctions is also online. A number of shorter videos were also filmed and these can be found in the Videos section near the bottom of the Torca la Vaca page.
The surveyed length of the Torca la Vaca system is now 18.3km.
Site 2621, some 250m southwest of Torca de Lastrilla, was found choked 11m down. A trip into site 415 was made to investigate the state of the survey. It is likely that another(!) resurvey of this, potentially significant, cave should commence in 2015.
JSC, January, February, March 2015