Matienzo Caves Project 2016

News and cave exploration around Matienzo during 2016.
A map with area names can be found here.

January & February

   Guy Simonnot (Spéléo-Club Dijon) has shared his team's finds and explorations on the hillside above and around Cueva Vallina and down into the Bustablado valley. Some sites are known to us and some of these have an updated description, but over 100 new sites (4277 - 4384) have now been added to the Matienzo Caves Project database and on- and off-line documentation. Future collaborations and/or permit changes may see these explored and pushed further. Some could well be associated with Cueva Vallina (0733) and/or Torca del Hoyón (site 0567) and, of course, link with the South Vega System (which now has a proven connection with Cueva Vallina).
   A second water tracing exercise was carried out from Cueva Orillón (through the Malbujero entrance) at the south side of the Matienzo depression. The results confirmed the first test: the water in the Orillón complex passes out of the depression to the south, resurges at the eastern spring (site 4272) in the Hoyo Mortiro, flows about 100m across the floor then sinks into Cueva del Mortiro (site 0005). The water finally flows into the río Asón after resurging at site 4271, Cueva de Esquileña.
   In a water trace carried out from site 3884 (at the southern end of the Matienzo depression), the detector showed positive at the Jivero 1 resurgence after 48 hours. This was somewhat unexpected as the resurgence was thought to be 5 metres higher than the downstream end of site 3884. Some (re)survey may be required.
    The mysteries of the depression containing Torca del Hoyón were further revealed during a surface survey. As well as the main shaft entrance (0567), the hole at the base (site 4245) and the shaft with audible water flow (4246) being tied in, a new sandstone shelter (site 4385) was documented and a tall wall (part of some type of kiln?) photographed. The planned descent of site 4246 was put on hold when it was discovered that some work would be needed to open up the entrance drop.
    In Cueva de las Perlas (site 0074), Lancaster University PhD student Laura Deeprose and Erasmus exchange student Joanna Houska continued gathering data, resetting detectors and collecting stal samples over three days. Occasional assistance was provided by Andy Quin and one of Laura's supervisors, Dr Peter Wynn. The eventual purpose of this study is to discover if climate change more than 25000 years ago was possibly a reason for the disappearance of the Neanderthals in the area. A video of work in the cave can be seen here.
    Phil Goodwin has produced three surveys for the archive: an updated Civil War Cave (site 3543) survey after work in the cave last September and plans and elevations for Cueva la Revoltona (site 3973) and "Pipe Cave" (site 4050).
    A new entrance to Cueva de la Loca 2 (0020) was confirmed. Pete Smith has been resurveying the system and, at the northern extremity, had found a rift with daylight appearing above. He was unable to find any hole on the surface. Peter entered the cave and, on the surface, Ian Chandler and Terry Whitaker were able to talk to him down a small, obscure hole (site 4276).
   A New Year's Eve trip into site 415 continued the resurvey of the cave. This time, Carol and Pete found a possibly undescended pitch.
   An interesting paper from Elsevier (Marine and Petroleum Geology) is entitled "Characteristics, genesis and parameters controlling the development of a large stratabound HTD body at Matienzo (Ramales Platform, Basque - Cantabrian Basin, northern Spain)". The authors identify a large hydrothermal dolomite (HTD) body in Matienzo and discuss its characteristics - the "sandy limestone" often referred to by Matienzo cavers over the years . Another paper from Elsevier (Sedimentary Geology) is titled, "Hydrothermal dolomite - a product of poor definition and imagination". Perhaps the second should be read before the first!

  The list below shows links to those 208 sites which were extended or newly discovered over January & February 2016, or which have had surveys, references or descriptions updated, photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS.

Alisas 567 Hoyón, Torca del; 1075 shaft; 4245 dig; 4246 digs; 4247 Tilina, Torca; 4248 Casa Blanca, Torca de; 4249 Gallinero, Torca del; 4385 cave;
Arredondo 41 Cueto, Sima del; 43 Escarabajo, Cueva de; 52 Muesa, Torca de; 733 Vallina, Cueva; 752 Rotura, Hoyo de; 753 Rotura, Torca de; 1147 cave; 1350 Hoyos, Sumidero de los; 1393 Colorado 1, Cueva de; 1730 dig; 1745 Portillejo de Tocornal, Torca de; 1746 Fuego, Torca del; 1747 Arroyo, Fuente del; 1748 shaft; 1749 Dioses, Cueva de los; 1750 shaft; 1751 Azuela, Torca de la; 1752 Llaneces, Hoyo de; 1753 shaft; 1754 Hoyo del Ramón, Torca del; 1755 shaft; 1756 resurgence; 1757 Sumidero de Fuentes; 1758 Orbitolines, Cueva de; 1759 Lledes, Hoyo de; 1820 Cisterna, Cueva de la; 1824 cave; 2031 caves; 2034 shaft; 2115 Camino 1988, Cueva del; 3270 Resurgence de Fuentes, Cueva; 3271 Boueuse, Cueva; 3272 Sumidero de Fuentes 2; 3273 Sumidero Fosil; 3274 LBT X, Torca; 3275 LBT 152, Torca; 3276 shaft; 3278 Barcena Morel, Fuente de; 4284 cave; 4285 Basura, Torca; 4286 Prado, Torca del; 4287 Naranjo, Cueva del; 4288 cave; 4289 cave; 4290 cave; 4291 cave; 4292 cave; 4293 resurgence; 4294 cave; 4295 Tocayo, Cueva del; 4296 cave; 4297 cave; 4298 Abrevadero, Cueva del; 4299 shaft; 4300 cave; 4301 shaft; 4302 Juanjo, Torca de; 4303 shaft; 4304 shaft; 4305 cave; 4306 cave; 4307 Bani 3, Torca; 4308 Curva, Cueva de la; 4309 Dos Pinos, Torca de los; 4310 Acebo Colgante, Torca del; 4311 sink; 4312 Bani 5, Torca; 4313 Murciélago, Cueva del; 4314 shaft; 4315 shaft; 4316 Fragón, Cueva del; 4317 Zorro, Cueva del; 4318 Ruina, Torca de la; 4319 Término, Cueva del; 4320 Antena, Torca de la; 4321 Bani, Torca 4; 4322 shaft; 4323 Regada, Torca; 4324 shaft; 4325 Carrasquilla, Pozo del; 4326 Chalet, Hoyo del; 4327 Vacas, Pozo de las; 4328 Vacas, Perdida de las; 4330 sink; 4331 shaft; 4332 shaft; 4334 Gran Abrigo; 4338 Hoyo 1; 4339 Casa, Hoyo; 4340 Tantas Noches, Torca de; 4341 shaft; 4342 cave; 4345 cave; 4346 shaft; 4347 shaft; 4348 cave; 4366 1988, Torca; 4371 Min, Cueva de; 4372 Minimax, Torca; 4373 Ilegible, Torca; 4377 shaft; 4378 Rotura, Meandro del Hoyo de; 4382 Vallina (bottom entrance), Cueva; 4383 Labrada (& sink), Fuente; 4384 Brena Vieja, Abrevadero de;
Barrio de Arriba 1561 Favorita, Mina; 4251 Cueva en una Mina, La;
Bustablado 727 Molino, Cueva del; 791 Molino, Cueva del (resurgence); 1099 Cárabo, Torcón del; 1194 Plata, Fuente de la; 1195 sink; 1196 Jaral, Cueva del; 3602 Orcones, Sumidero de; 4279 Orcones 2, Sumidero de; 4280 cave; 4281 Molino Viejo, Cueva del; 4282 Manchega, Fuente; 4283 Tabladillo, Cueva de; 4333 Tabladillo 2, Fuente de; 4335 Rasa, Cueva de la; 4336 cave; 4337 cave; 4343 resurgence; 4344 shaft; 4349 shaft; 4350 Dos Piedras, Pozo de las; 4351 cave; 4352 Garganta, Cueva de la; 4353 Caballo, Torca del; 4354 cave; 4355 cave; 4356 shaft; 4357 Alambrada 1, Torca; 4358 Alambrada 2, Torca; 4359 Alambrada 3, Torca; 4360 shaft; 4361 Tres Spits, Torca de los; 4362 Hoya, Torca de la; 4363 shaft; 4364 shaft; 4365 shaft; 4370 Amado, Agujero; 4374 Vecina Molino, Cueva; 4375 cave; 4376 Vecina Molino 2, Cueva; 4379 Laverón, Torca de; 4380 shaft; 4381 cave;
Camposdelante 3543 cave;
Cobadal 2121 Campizo, Cueva del;
Cubija 76 Campo, Cuvia del; 2139 Cráneo, Torca del;
Cubillas 3929 Lisa, La;
El Naso 59 Molino, Cueva del; 65 Cofresnedo, Cueva de; 74 Perlas, Cueva de las;
Fresnedo 841 Fresnedo 2, Cueva; 2366 Torno, Cueva del; 2519 Huerto Rey, Cueva de;
Garzón, Solórzano 4050 Pipe Cave;
Hornedo 767 Wild Mare, Cave of the;
Hoznayo 4001 Injanas, Cueva de; 4042 Riocueva, Cueva; 4086 Riocueva 2, Cueva de; 4171 Fuente del Francés, Cueva de la;
La Colina 89 Grajas, Cueva de las;
La Rasa 1176 Garma de Los Trillos, Sima de la; 4367 Arbustos, Cueva de los; 4368 Dos Madrigueras, Cueva de las; 4369 Tapada, Torca;
La Secada 81 Carcavuezo, Cueva de; 415 cave;
La Zuela 4277 Colorado 2, Cueva de; 4278 Colorado 3, Cueva de;
Navajeda 2382 Cuadra, Cueva de la; 2383 Bocarones 2, Cueva de los; 4111 Murciélagos, Cueva de los; 4112 Cuesta de la Encina, Cueva de la;
Ozana 8 Anderal 1, Cueva del; 16 Jivero 1, Cueva de; 19 Loca 1, Cueva de la; 20 Loca 2, Cueva de la; 1162 Orillonzuco; 3884 cave; 4276 dig/shaft;
Piluca 2482 shaft; 3277 Cumbre de Piluca, Torca de la; 4329 VT, Puits;
Riaño 100 Canes, Torca de los; 103 Espada, Cueva de la; 255 resurgence;
Riva 5 Mortiro, Cueva del (top entrance); 4271 Esquileña, Cueva de; 4272 resurgence (E); 4273 resurgence (SW);
San Antonio 713 Aguanaz, Fuente; 4386 Palo de la Mesa, Cueva del;
Secadura 2025 Fox Hat, The;
Solórzano 3973 Revoltona, Cueva la;
Villaverde de Pontones 4043 Cañaos, Torca de los;

Juan Corrin, January, February 2016


   This year the length of the expedition was extended, partly due to varying holiday periods caused by the early Easter. This meant that the 40+ members were spread out a little thinner than usual over a 4-week period. As happened last year, there were cancellations of Brittany Ferry boats and Ryanair flights meaning delayed trips and the need to drive through France for some people.
    Over 3.5km of new cave passages wwere surveyed mainly in Torca la Vaca (2889), Cueva Fresnedo II (0841), Cueva Vallina (0733), Cueva-Cubío del Llanío (3234), Torca del Coterón (0264), the Riaño Cave Resurgence (0575) and Cueva Laberinto II (4144). The total figure includes 442m surveyed in Pozo de la Hoya (4017) and the two Injanas Caves (4001 & 4444) - all of which are known caves surveyed many years ago by Spanish groups. They are in the area to the north of Hoznayo. Fifty new caves / sites were located and over 1.4km of resurvey work was completed mainly in the South Vega System where there is no modern survey data. Two diving projects took place with Rupert Skorupka re-lining and pushing the downstream sumps in Cueva Vallina and Jim Lister pushing the Cueva Riaño Resurgence for a further 160m. Wet weather and some flooding curtailed work on these two dive projects but both were left ready for further pushing in the summer when we hope for more stable weather.
   Almost all of the objectives noted at the meeting in March were carried out.

   One of the key primary objectives completed this Easter was to continue with the “Alto Asón” water tracing exercise. We completed two tests. These were from Duck Pond Sink (1976) with a positive test to Fuente Aguanaz (0713) and from a cave (4246) with a stream sinking in the Torca del Hoyón (0567) depression. That trace confirmed it feeds into the Reñada system with a positive result at Cueva del Comellantes (0040). In the first test, checks were made to confirm that the resurgences and rivers to be tested were negative and, once there was flow into the sink following overnight rain, four litres of Leucophor were introduced. Detectors were in place at the Riaño river downstream of Wild Mare rising, Verde watercourse, inside Fuente Aguanaz, just downstream in the Rio Aguanaz to pick up Invisible Cave and at Fuente Molino (2364) which lies just to the south of La Cavada. Following heavy rain, the dye took between 4 and 7 days to reach Aguanaz.
   Two weeks later, a check was made to ensure that Aguanaz was negative and, for the Hoyón test, five litres of Leucophor were poured into the Hoyón sink with detectors in Cueva del Comellantes (0040), the stream below Cueva del Arenal (0035) where it joins the stream in the valley running down on the south side, Cueva del Molino resurgence (0791), the Bustablado river just upstream of site 791, Fuente Aguanaz (0713), and Fuente Molino (2364) near La Cavada. After three days with heavy rain the detectors were replaced and checked and the Cueva del Comellantes (0040) proved positive, a further check some days later confirmed that the only positive detector was Cueva del Comellantes. This test confirms one made many years ago, which was suspect due to possible contamination, and shows that the South Vega System must extend at least to the Alisas road area, confirming it should extend into the large blank area to the west of the present system. Together with last year’s test from Cueva Vallina (0733) this more than suggests that we have a potential 100km plus system that needs to be targeted.

Southern Sector
   To place the Leucophor into the sink (Torca del Hoyón II, site 4246) the cave had to be descended down two short climbs (ladder useful) to reach a chamber with two streams of water entering where the optical brightener was released and was seen dropping down a further partly choked drop which would need a little capping to make entry easy. A permit may be applied for in 2017 to push this and the main Torca del Hoyón (0567), possibly in conjunction with any other group who may have the permit for this area.
   At Cueva Vallina (0733), all the sumps up to sump 5 were re-lined and the old broken line taken out. High water levels after a flood prevented further diving, but most gear was recovered and the dive is ready for pushing in the summer. At the bottom of the Double Dutch Pitch the upstream area was pushed and 140m of new passage surveyed. The pitches at the end of the passage that were found off the first sump bypass in Rio Rioja last October closed down, but a traverse gave nearly 300m of further passage above the main stream passage between sumps 4 and 5 with links in the roof of this stream passage at several points. The new passage continues to a draughting choke that can be easily dug. High water levels and their risk prevented further work this Easter. At the same time a group pushed the passage that goes off to the north half way along to the pitches. They surveyed 120m ending near passages found previously at the end of the upstream Rio Rioja streamway. All these areas need a good push in the summer.
   In the South Vega system, 616m of resurveying was carried out in Torca del Coterón (0264) along with 176m of new survey and, in Cueva-Cubío de la Reñada (0048), 386m were resurveyed with, in addition, 30m of new passage surveyed. Some scaling was carried out to possible leads in Cueva del Comellantes (0040) but none continued.
   The bottom of Not Too Bad Pot (2964) was opened up using snappers and caps over four trips, but was found to continue narrow for some distance. Given the logistics and tackle needed (250m+ of rope and 50+ hangers), it makes it inefficient to continue to push this fine pothole. A dye test in wet weather would be useful to see where it joins known caves or resurgences.
   Orillonzuco (1162) was found not to flow to the Matienzo side but was water traced in 2015 to a resurgence (4272) in the Hoyo Mortiro depression on the Riva side. At Easter, the downstream end of Orillonzuco was found to require digging to reach the end point noted in the 1974 logbook. A climb here proved not to go, and digging started where the water sinks under the wall a little distance back – more work is needed at this site.
   In the Ozana area, three sites were visited (0725, 3036 and 1967) and a new 7m deep shaft (4390) was located. All were descended and no good leads found.
   At Trillos, a sink (4082) at the end of a gulley was dug to a small chamber where flood debris needs digging to make more progress down a dipping bedding. As this site draughts and must take flood water it is worth a further dig in dry weather.
   At Alisas, four new sites (4396, 4408, 4409, 4410 were located. The latter three need more work to gain access and need checking in warm weather for draughts. Shaft 4123 was descended to 25m but found choked. A dig (4125) with a good draught was progressed but needs more work including caps or similar to continue and a choked shaft (4120), wrongly located, was re GPS located. Some digging took place at the base of the chamber between two entrances (3938 & 3939) but it was not clear the best place to dig – the draught needs checking in hot weather.
   On the southern side of La Vega, the area above Cueva de los Tablons (0242) was checked out and undescended holes pushed and a number of new sites located. A 10m deep shaft (3675) choked; cave 3674 was found to be 30m long and 12m deep to a possible dig; a shaft (3676) needs capping to continue 9m down; a shaft (3677) choked at 5m; sites 1519 and 2895 have been covered and will need a little work to get access, and sites 3680 and 1937 were located (GPS) but have little prospect. Nine new sites were located (4411, 4412, 4413, 4415, 4416, 4417, 4418 and 4419). Most were either choked or had little prospect (lack of draught). However, sites 4416, 4417 and 4418 all had draughts and in particular the first two are adjacent and have strong draughts that warrant digging using capping or similar - signs of old cave can be seen below constrictions.
   At Seldesuto, a cave (1205) was dug to a corner where it went even smaller – it would turn into a mine if continued!
   On the northern side of La Vega, site 3771 was dug, but more work is needed. A new shaft (4430) was big at 3x4m but choked at 8m. A new cave (4414) went 3m to an eye hole but looked bigger beyond – it needs caps to progress. In Cubija, Frank’s Cave (2167) was found to require capping to continue, the squeeze being too tight even for thin cavers.
   The caves at the base of El Naso around La Cuevona (0247) and on the La Colina / El Camino side were checked for prospects. It was noted that Cueva de Gonzalo (0014) is worth a dive and Sima del Andrés (0080) is worth a dig. No easy prospects were found at the other sites. High on El Naso adjacent to a track, site 4209 was dug following the opening up last summer. It draughts well but more work with caps is needed. A dig at Bosmartín (3850) was opened up and a chamber entered, but no leads were found. Site 0773 at Cubija was found to have no viable leads, and was identified as being the same as site 1948. This number will be re-allocated.
   Cueva Coquisera (Codisera, site 0039) was the scene for a successful goat rescue. The animal was unable to turn around on a tiny ledge over the frist hole with a 12m drop below. An ascending ledge gave access above the goat and she was eventually hauled up and escorted out of the cave.

North East Sector and The Four Valleys System
   At Cueva de Carcavuezo (0081) the entrance was found to be blocked with wood debris following the winter floods. Due to this and the wet weather, further work was left to the summer expedition.
   In La Secada, a shaft (4393) was located and found to be 4m deep to tiny rifts and blocks with no way on. Cave 1200 was dug and a new GPS taken. More digging is needed. A new site (4405) is a bedding cave with the continuation visible that also requires digging.
    In Cueva Llueva (0114) the big draughting aven on the fault at the end of the Left Hand By-Pass was climbed but no leads were found beyond previous exploration 35 years ago. The Left Hand By-Pass area was pushed and a part survey carried out with some 87m of undocumented passage surveyed, heading in the direction of the Ramón Bolado series on the Carcavuezo side. Capping and extensive work is needed to make more progress.
   The climb at the end of the east passage out of the main chamber in Torca de Cellaron (0109) was looked at but it seems to be choked up to the roof. A bolt climb on the north side of the passage between the entrance pitch and the main chamber reached a passage that passed over holes into the main chamber and dropped via a 6m pitch into a known passage on the north side of the entrance tunnel. About 80m long, this loop is still to be surveyed.
   The far end of Fresnedo II (0841) was reached via “The Howling” which was dug so that it now cuts off a number of hours for the trip. Although it is very wet and muddy, the worst part is now only short. An inlet (Shabby Inlet) and a second (Not Too Shabby) were pushed to where they got too small and 288m were surveyed. The main lead left at the end is a possible climb, but other sites further back still need looking at.
   In the Fresnedo area, three sites were identified and located. Two shafts (4402 & 4403) are partly covered / blocked by pallets but also dead animals – not a good prospect - and a depression (4404) that needs checking out further. Shaft 2652 was found to have been covered or filled in - a new GPS position was taken.
   In Cueva Llanío (3234), a route into the lower SE area was opened up and a new passage, Mitre Passage was dug into and pushed for over 180m on an overnight trip. Digging and progress was made difficult by the very wet conditions. Further work will be carried out in drier weather.
   At Regolfo, three new sites were located, two sinks (4431 & 4433) and a 2m deep shaft (4432) but none were dug or pushed.
   The Cueva Riaño Resurgence (0575) was dived by Jim Lister on a number of occasions (Video on Youtube). The diving line placed in 2012 was in good condition and a further 162m was added and surveyed. However, the wet weather caused poor visibility on a number of the dives and seemed to be related to run-off from surface excavation and forestry work. This greatly restricted diving and the ability to see if there were any side passages as the walls could not be seen. A large air bell (rift with stal) was found some 240m in and this was used to store gear for a further attempt in the summer when visibility should be better. The near-by Pozo Negro (4445) which must link to the main resurgence (a boulder blockage was seen on the dive that could be associated) was looked at and, in wet weather, a resurgence at the base of the entrance ramp was seen to feed a good flow into the main pool. This should be inspected in dry weather.
   Fridge Door Cave (1800) was examined with diving gear, but the water levels were very high and the main passage seemed to be fully sumped. It is not worth looking at this sump except in low water conditions and, as the outlet is partly filled with mud and rock, it seems to take a long time for water levels to fall.
   In the Riaño area, a number of existing sites were visited: 1672, 1617, 1618, 1666 and 2362 were looked at for possible digging prospects, of which 2362 would be the easiest dig. Site 3584 has a new GPS and is over Cueva de la Espada (0103). Photos were taken in site 3636 and a new photo taken of site 3223 which is a possible dig above the air bell rift in the Cueva Riaño resurgence dive. Cave 4173 was dug but more work is needed. Five new sites were located: a dig (4387) needs capping; a shaft (4388) needs ladders; a shaft (4389) choked 2.5m down; site 4392 consists of muddy choked holes, and shaft (4394) is undescended at over 3m deep. In addition, El Cubio de Gencia (4391) a cheese store and resurgence was located.

Solórzano and Riolastras Area
   Little work was done at Easter in this area. At Cueva del Arroyo de Canastrillas (4046), also known as "Daddy Day Care Centre", the duck was lined ready for a diving push. On the dive trip the sump was found to be blocked by large blocks that will need lifting out with gear. The 22m of passage from the duck to the sump were surveyed.
    Above and beyond the sump, a new shaft - Torca de Canastrillas (4407) - was located and dug to a choke with a draught. To make progress some shoring is needed and capping or similar to remove boulders. Site 2764 was checked for a draught but none was identified.

Northwest Sector
    BigMat Calf Hole (3916) was found to have survived the winter, but work is needed to consolidate the site in the summer and remove some of the scaffolding. This entrance was used to push and survey Torca la Vaca (2889) in the area of the maze south of Fisticuffs at Botchergate where over 1100m of passage was surveyed. Bolting up avens above Scafell added a little passage and side passages in the "green level" on the survey near The Buzzing Gets Closer were also surveyed adding some 70m. Also, via the Cuba Libre (4182) entrance, passages in this area were pushed and surveyed including dropping pitches which were all choked. The area around this entrance has been cleared of trees so access is now easy.
   In the San Antonio area, three new sites were located: a 2m deep cave (4399) that closes down; a 2m deep shaft (4400) that looks choked but needs checking out, and a small resurgence (4401) that seems to be an old cave remnant with a small sump in a 1 x 0.5m possible passage that is worth a dive with minimal kit. A cave / dig (3360) that has a good draught coming from slots in the floor was photographed. A new 3.5m diameter shaft (4423) was found to be 8.5m deep to a 6 x 4m chamber with no way on. In the same area a shaft (4424) was dropped 9m after an entrance ramp to a 1m wide descending rift to a chamber, again with no way on. Also found in this area was a cave (4425) that consists of a 12m hading climb in a rift to a boulder floor and a further 3m drop but via a very tight squeeze that needs work to open it up. A small hole (4447) to a 2m drop in the right bank of the road to Fuente Aguanaz has no draught.
   Two known cave systems with archaeological interest in the Hoznayo area north of the motorway were surveyed and pushed. Pozo de la Hoya (4017) was surveyed for 137m. A feature of this cave is the cemented infill with embedded bones and flints that form a floor in one passage and is the roof of the one below, along with evidence of previous false floors of the same material. In Cueva de las Injanas I and II (4001 & 4444) some 304m were surveyed and a visual connection down a very tight 2m drop found between the two caves. In the same area, a depression (4446) was located with two holes, one choked with mud the other ponded due to the wet weather. In the same limestone block as Pozo de la Hoya, two new digs with some potential were located. Cave 4395 is next to dig 4243 which was not seen due we think to overgrowth. The latter is the best dig site. Dig 4398 is a tyre-filled depression / sink which, if two tyres can be moved, looks like it may have potential.
   In Cobadal, a number of sites were investigated with a view to digging or potential for future work. Shafts 0928 and 2022 were not found and seem to have been covered or filled in. The undescended shafts (2023, 2024, 2027 and 3585) were all pushed to chokes with little prospect. Digging took place at cave 4435, but more work is needed and Cueva de Tocida known as Fat Boy GT (0613) was examined for future digging work. Three new sites were located: a cave (4435) with a good draught, 3m deep with slots needing enlarging going down 3m more; a cave (4440) with a good draught from under large boulders which need removing to make progress, and a sink (4441) that needs digging out. At Camposdelante, a sink (4434) was located. This is a 1m deep choked hole with bedrock on one side taking two small streams.
   In the Navajeda area, Cueva de la Encina (4112) was extended following difficult digging out of a strong calcite floor at a squeeze. Due to smoke not clearing and more work needed to get bigger people through the squeeze, this extension is still to be surveyed and properly checked for archaeological interest. A climb to a possible passage near the east entrance is still to be done. A small known cave (4397) located in thick undergrowth below the west entrance to 4112 was surveyed. Maze Cave (Cueva Laberinto II, site 4144) was pushed and 148m was surveyed. More surveying and digging needs to be done. (This is the third maze cave found north of the Cobadal area, but is smaller than either Cueva Laberinto I (3268) or Cueva de los Urros (2917)). To the east of the church is a limestone face with the known 8m long Church Cave (4420) that was looked at but did not have any good leads. This cave has archaeological interest. Above, a site named Church Shaft (4406) dropped 8m with some interconnecting passages giving 37m in total. Other sites checked out in this area were shaft 3952 which was found very wet and needs drier weather; shaft 4029 - found to be a 5m pitch and 5m of passage with no-way on; site 4034 - a 4.2m shaft that needs capping to open up the entrance to get access; shaft 4033 - 9.5m deep with no way on, and site 4063 - dug to a 6.5m narrow, choked shaft. Three new sites were located: in two adjacent depressions, site 4426 is a 3m choked rift and 4448 is a 5m through trip - and site 4427 in woodland is a 4m deep earth collapse with no way open. A shaft (4253) was found to be 6m deep to a rift with a chamber and a squeeze to a descending rift to a choke. Total depth 12m. In the same area, shaft 4255 was 3m deep over a dumped mattress with a further 3m through boulders to a full choke.
   In El Cubillón (2538), a bolting route at the end of Upper South Passage leads to a small hole. Stal was removed to reveal a substantial chamber beyond and snappers were used to open up the hole. On the second trip more work was needed, again using snappers. On the way out, the two-man team encountered flood conditions at the bottom pitch with the SRT rope in the main water. Eventually it was possible to fix the line at the base and to climb up the angled rope, with difficulty, but out of the water. It was then found possible to move a boulder just before the pitch edge to give the second caver a drier climb. The two cavers had just celebrated their 73rd birthdays and did wonder if they would reach any more! The pitch needs re-rigging out of possible flood water and entry made in more stable weather conditions to complete the work to get access to this new chamber.
   The collapse (4258) at Ideopuerta is now 2m deep but still no bedrock is seen. As found last Easter, water levels were too high to attempt work in Washing Machine Hole (3420) or Cueva de Los Campizos (YoYo Cave, site 3812).
   At Barrio de Arriba, Mina Favorita (1561) was partly resurveyed (174m) including down the pitch into the lower series. La Cueva en una Mina (4251) was surveyed and a dinghy used to cross the "lake". Digging was started but was hard going and needs more work. The draught in the cave seems to disappear near the lake. This needs checking in hot weather with a stronger draught. The rift at site 4270 was pushed to 20m deep and 32m long where it chokes. In the same area holes 4442 & 4443 were located but not dug to any extent; a shaft (4264) was descended but had no prospects and a mine (4269) was found having a large entrance with two 8m passages going off, the left blind and the right dropping down 6m to a pool. Site 4421 was discovered with a slight draught and old smashed stal leading to a 10m pitch and a squeeze caused by flowstone on the side stopping progress. A stone thrown through seems to drop into water. Site 4422 was dug to a 1.5m drop onto a boulder floor and a small chamber with no obvious way on, but the cave does draught. At Calleja de Alisas to the north of the road junction to Cobadal on the Alisas road, three new sites/digs were located (4436, 4437 and 4438) in an area that has been cleared of trees, and a 2m-long cave (4439) below boulders but with no draught. At Barrio de la Mina three sites were checked out: the resurgence (3969) has a low wet crawl and needs looking at in dry weather; cave 3953 was pushed to 8m but closed down and cave 3954 also closed down after about 20m.
   In the Bencano valley to the west of the Alisas road, two sites worth some work in the future were found: 4428 is a low draughting crawl that needs enlarging and 4429 has a stream issuing from under a boulder with an outward draught.
Easter 2016 article by Phil Papard.

Additional news
   Andi Smith has had another paper published about the paleoclimate work in Cueva Asiul (site 0061). This one is in reports ( where it can be viewed online or downloaded as a pdf.
Survey updates (incomplete)
0040 Comellante (dry) complete (AN)
0048 Reñada (resurvey) complete (AN)
0080 Andrés centre line complete
0109 Cellaron sketch on survey (ARi)
0575 resurgence complete (JC)
0733 Vallina complete part: DD Streamway
complete part: SoPI (AN)
0841 Fresnedo complete (JC)
2889 Vaca complete (JC)
3234 Llanío complete (JC)
4001 Injanas 1 & 2 (4444) complete svg pdf (JC)
4017 Hoya complete (PP)
4046 Daddy Day Care complete (JC)
4144 Laberinto 2 complete (PG)
4251 Cave in a Mine complete (PG)
4397 cave complete (PS)
4406 Church shaft complete plan : elev (PG)
4407 Torca de Canastrillas complete (JC)

    The list below shows links to those 172 sites which were extended or newly discovered over Easter 2016, or which have had surveys, references or descriptions updated, photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS.

Alisas 4120 shaft; 4123 shaft; 4125 dig; 4246 Hoyón 2, Torca del; 4385 cave; 4396 cave; 4408 shaft; 4409 hole; 4410 hole;
Arredondo 733 Vallina, Cueva; 4382 Vallina (bottom entrance), Cueva;
Arronte 2364 Molino, Fuente;
Barrio de Arriba 1561 Favorita, Mina; 4251 Cueva en una Mina, La; 4264 shaft; 4269 mine; 4270 shaft; 4421 cave; 4422 dig; 4442 dig; 4443 dig;
Barrio la Mina 3953 cave; 3954 caves; 3969 cave;
Bosmartín 3850 cave;
Bustablado 791 Molino, Cueva del (resurgence);
Camposdelante 1976 Duck Pond sink; 4434 sink;
Cobadal 613 Torcida, Cueva de; 928 shafts - 2; 2022 shaft; 2023 shaft; 2024 shaft; 2027 shaft; 3585 shafts - 3; 4435 dig; 4440 cave; 4441 sink;
Cubija 773 cave; 2167 Frank's Cave;
Cubillas 14 Gonzalo, Cueva de; 32 Transformador, Cueva del; 3929 Lisa, La;
El Camino 80 Andrés, Sima del; 137 Coreano, Cueva de;
El Naso 61 Asiul, Cueva de; 247 Caracoles, Cueva de los; 248 Cuevona, La; 913 Reyes, Cueva de; 4209 cave;
El Suto 3584 shaft; 3636 cave;
Fresnedo 841 Fresnedo 2, Cueva; 2652 shaft; 2886 sink; 4402 shaft; 4403 shaft; 4404 depression; 4431 sink; 4432 shaft; 4433 sink;
Fuente las Varas 3945 resurgences;
Hornedo 767 Wild Mare, Cave of the; 2889 Vaca, Torca La; 3916 BigMat Calf Hole; 4182 Cuba Libre, Cueva;
Hoznayo 4001 Injanas, Cueva de las; 4017 Hoya, Pozo de la; 4243 dig; 4395 dig; 4398 sink; 4444 Injanas 2, Cueva de las; 4446 depression;
Ideopuerta 4258 collapse; 4428 cave; 4429 resurgence;
La Cavada 542 cave;
La Colina 1019 cave;
La Helguera 4046 Arroyo de Canastrillas, Cueva del; 4407 Canastrillas, Torca de;
La Secada 81 Carcavuezo, Cueva de; 1200 cave; 2800 Ramera, Fuente; 4393 shaft; 4405 cave;
Las Calzadillas 4436 dig; 4437 hole; 4438 hole; 4439 cave;
Llueva 114 Llueva, Cueva; 313 cave;
Moncobe 2538 Cubillón, El;
Mullir 3036 shaft;
N Vega 3771 dig; 4414 dig; 4430 shaft;
Navajeda 1072 Bocarón, Cueva del; 3952 shaft; 4029 shaft; 4033 shaft; 4034 shaft; 4063 shaft; 4112 Cuesta de la Encina, Cueva de la; 4144 Laberinto 2, Cueva; 4253 shaft; 4255 shaft; 4397 cave; 4406 Iglesia, Torca del; 4420 Iglesia, Cueva; 4426 shaft; 4427 collapse; 4448 caves;
Ozana 20 Loca 2, Cueva de la; 725 cave; 1161 Malbujero; 1162 Orillonzuco; 1967 shaft; 2964 Not Too Bad Pot; 4390 shaft;
Riaño 107 Hoyuca, Cueva; 575 Riaño Resurgence, Cueva; 1617 cave; 1618 dig; 1666 cave; 1672 dig; 1800 Fridge Door Cave; 2362 dig; 3223 shaft; 3234 Llanío, Cueva-Cubío del; 4173 cave; 4387 dig; 4388 shaft; 4389 shaft; 4391 Gencia, El Cubio de; 4392 holes; 4394 shaft; 4445 Pozo Negro;
S Vega 39 Coquisera, Cueva de; 40 Comellantes, Cueva del; 48 Reñada, Cueva-Cubío de la; 264 Coterón, Torca del; 1937 depression; 2895 shaft; 3674 shaft; 3675 shaft; 3676 shafts; 3677 shaft; 3680 shaft; 4411 shaft; 4412 hole; 4413 depression; 4415 shaft; 4416 dig; 4417 cave; 4418 cave; 4419 shaft;
San Antonio 713 Aguanaz, Fuente; 3360 cave; 4399 cave; 4400 shaft; 4401 cave; 4423 shaft; 4424 shaft; 4425 shaft; 4447 cave;
Secadura 109 Cellaron, Torca de;
Seldesuto 35 Arenal, Cueva del; 1205 dig;
Solórzano 2764 dig;
Trillos 3938 cave; 3939 cave; 4082 dig;

Summer Expedition

   The summer proved to be drier than normal although a day of heavy rain did cause water to rise in Cueva Vallina hindering some of the diving work. The latter part of August and early September were unusually hot.
   As had been expected, person-days were fewer than normal and spread a little thin for a number of reasons: people using part of their limited holidays in order to attend EuroSpeleo 2016 in the UK; attending the Gouffre Berger cleaning exercise; a vehicle breakdown en route in France; some people moving their main trip to the autumn, and illness preventing Alasdair Neill, a key member for the work in Cueva Vallina and South Vega System, from travelling. Despite this, 3km of new survey was completed including 1800m of new passage surveyed in Torca la Vaca bringing this system up to well over 23km; 33 new caves and sites were found including some found at Easter but not recorded; over half a kilometre of resurvey work carried out in Cueva Vallina and Cueva de la Loca 2 and some 6 sumps were dived.
   A number of key objectives were met, these included:
- Testing the location and operation of the new “SubPhone” developed by Ron Taylor which proved to be very successful. We will work on getting the operational system for the Matienzo Caves Project in 2017.
- Diving the Riaño resurgence by Jim Lister through to Cueva de Riaño, bringing the Four Valleys System up to 58,572km in length.
- Linking and surveying the new passages off the main stream way in Cueva Vallina to the river passage between sumps 5 and 6 giving Rupert Skorupka a secure flood-free base for storing the extensive gear he carried in for pushing sump 6 later in 2016.
- Diving the upstream Rio Rioja sumps in Cueva Vallina by Jim Lister for a further 70m to an air bell.
- Diving the sump at the end of Cueva de Lolo by Colin Hayward. This entered a chamber with a way on that was left for 2017 as it needs two divers to safely move some fallen rocks to gain entry.
- Removing the rock fall blocking the first pitch in the Giant Panda entrance to Cueva Hoyuca and dropping the rope (probably damaged by falling rocks). This entrance is now open with care, but some shoring is still needed to prevent further collapse above the pitch due to extreme wet weather - as happened last winter.
- Diving the sump in Fridge Door Cave and surveyed through to a chamber needing further work to progress.
- Pushing, in a joint French/UK trip, Torca del Hoyón 2 that was dye tested to Cueva del Comellantes at Easter. This cave was explored for over 50m to a crawl and undescended pitch that needs a little more work to allow easy access.

Southern Sector
   At Cueva Vallina (0733), work was carried out to get Rupert's and Jim's gear into the dive sites. This included rigging a Tyrolean over The Canyon for gear. (This is still in place to assist further diving work over the autumn and winter.) Over a number of trips (many solo) Rupert re-lined sump 5 and moved diving gear ready for a major push of sump 6 later in the year.
   The recently discovered high level passage from the Rio Rioja stream way (Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence) was surveyed into and along the big stream passage between sumps 5 and 6. This route was examined as a path for the diver to a safe bivouac spot above sump 6. However, the awkward nature of the passage meant that it was not a good option, but it does provide an escape route and access for the assistance of non-divers. Some pushing and surveying was carried out in the passages off Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence above sumps 5 and 6 but the main leads are still to be pushed and surveyed.
   Jim Lister dived in the main upstream Rio Rioja sumps which needed some re-lining and tidying up. About 70m of new flooded passage was pushed to point where larger cylinders and logistics are needed to progress further. The survey of this new sump passage was left until it is pushed further in 2017.
   At the top entrance to Cueva Vallina, the opportunity was taken to test the SubPhone that has been developed by Ron Taylor. In particular it was tested for locating passages nearer the surface where the larger loop aerial used on the Molephone had proved to be difficult to use accurately. A new smaller loop aerial proved to be both easy to use and to give excellent results. The general operation of this SubPhone has now been proved and we now need to look to working with Ron to get some production models for the expedition, this being more urgent now that the old Molephones are unreliable due mainly to their age.
   A trip was made to the avens at the upstream end of Rioja Reserva to check prospects for work in 2017 and to familiarise some younger members with the Vallina system. (They had only a few days in the valley this year and had not been into the cave before.) The team also checked out the route into Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence through to the river passage between sumps 5 and 6. The prospects looked good and all are keen to push this area next year.
   The Water Tank Dig (1820), 100m to the west of Vallina top entrance, was dug with help from Guy Simonnot. This draughts well and Guy will carry out more work with any UK cavers available over the autumn/winter. It seems this site should link with Vallina to the west of the known cave.

   Apart from some photographs taken in Cueva del Comellantes (0040) and a trip with a very young member in Reñada, no work was carried out this summer in the South Vega System.
   Above the network, undescended shaft 3627 was pushed down two pitches to the top of a further drop of 10+m but needing work to enlarge its access. This site draughts well and is in a key position between the South Vega System and Cueva Vallina. The nearby shaft 0569 (marked VT 183) was correctly located and surveyed, the original location on the map being some 100m out. The base of the shaft is quite extensive but no good prospects were noted. Shaft 3621 was dropped to a choke but the shaft 3625 marked nearby was not found. Shaft 3980 near Hammered Hole had no way on at the base.
   Further to the east below the TV mast track, the strongly draughting sites 4416 and 4417 were dug but they need more work and equipment in order to make more progress. Given the strong draught, these sites show good potential. Digging took place at Dairy Dig (1189) where loose boulders and a near-miss (almost losing the Derbyshire Caving Club one member) caused a tactical withdrawal to Dead Fox Dig (1253) where good progress was made. Both sites need more work to progress given the potential shown by the draughts. In the same area Dairy Dig 2 was accurately located and a nearby new site 4466 was found. Neither was dug.

   In the Ozana area, Orillonzuco (1162) was dug where the underground water sinks just back from the end. The main problem is re-infill at time of flood. More work is needed at this site that has been tested to the resurgence (4272) in Hoyo Mortiro over 1km to the south. Two new sites, a cave (4464) and a shaft (4467) were located and they were dug and dropped respectively but did not “go”. The GPS location of Sima de Cagiga Redonda (0531) was checked as it is over the postulated continuation of Orillonzuco. The resurvey of Cueva de la Loca 2 (0020) was completed with almost 200m extra survey length. This site is close to Sima-Cueva del Risco and must drain into it via a sumped area. The invasive signal crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus was sighted again in Cueva de Jivero 2 causing major risk to the remaining native species, Austropotamobius pallipes.

   At Alisas, shaft 0722 was identified as shown on the map in the wrong place, it being near the next electricity pylon to the SW and previously marked at site 4238 (this number has now been re-allocated). Site 0722 was re-descended, to a possible dig with a small draught. The rope was belayed to what appeared to be part of the bedrock but it was not, and a large block of limestone (about 500kg) pulled out, ripping out its anchor and nearly causing the demise of another DCC member who was prusiking up. Two undescended shafts, 4239 and 4140 were dropped to chokes and surveyed, with 4239 having a very small inlet of water that seems likely to come from 0722 situated just above.
   Two sites, 4450 and 4451 were found at Easter but not recorded. Both are possible but poor digs, the latter being a sink near the road. It was also noted at Easter that the large shaft, site 1973, takes a lot of water in wet weather.
   Torca del Hoyón 2 (4246) was visited with the local Arredondo French team of Guy, Patrick and Sandrine. This shaft was descended at Easter to place the optical brightening agent that emerged at Cueva del Comellantes (0040). We did expect the hole to drop down shafts if it went, but after dropping down a short drop it entered a low passage taking water on sandstone that requires digging to a tight section to the top of a pitch. Work is required to get access to this pitch that hopefully will pass the sandstone band. This site is outside our area but, given the connection to the South Vega System, we will apply to explore it in 2017 together with the then permit holders. At the same visit, some digging took place at the base of the Hoyón depression at site 4245 - silt was dug to where it seems a stream comes in from the east and then flows to the northwest. It is possible that this is the same water as seen in 4246 but more work is required to test this theory.

   In the El Naso area on the North Vega side, Cueva de Rascavieja (0077) was checked out but it was found that, after 31 years, either the route through to the extension had got smaller or the two-man team had become larger or less flexible! This is a important site and should be looked at by a younger team. Little other work was carried out other than photographic trips into Cueva del Molino (Agua, site 0059) and Torca del Mostajo (0071) and photographs of sites 0560 and 1529.

   In the La Colina area, four new sites were identified that had digging potential, 3619 (surveyed for 7m), 4471, 4472 and an undescended shaft 4470. A new location for 1247 was taken which seemed to be mixed up with 3619 and the site surveyed. Despite a number of attempts, Cueva las Cosas (0084) was not found. It is clear the location shown on the map was wrong it being further to the south facing Bar Germán and was probably overgrown. Further to the south a possible old cave that is completely blocked (4479) was pointed out to the expedition by Juan Carlos. It was photographed and GPS taken, but the origin of this site was not clear and more work is needed. To the south, at El Camino, Cueva de Coreano (0137) was dived but no ongoing passage was found.

The North East Sector and The Four Valleys System
   With other priorities and the entrance being well blocked with wood debris no work was carried out this summer in Cueva de Carcavuezo (0081). Elsewhere in La Secada, Cueva Aldi (3004) had been identified as a possible dive site. The entrance was capped open to gain better access but, on descending, the “deep sump pool” had almost dried up with no way on. This well decorated cave was surveyed and photographed. A little to the south, adjacent to the track, a walled up spring (site 4238) was examined. This appears to be a reasonable cave passage that has been modified with a small dam to hold back water. Beyond, the cave is blocked with rocks. The water did originally feed a trough for cattle but it is no longer in use. There is a small draught and it is well worth a careful dig. To the north and above the track, site 3640 was found at the correct GPS but the description did not seem to fit. It was found to be a 2m deep dig with some draught and not an undescended shaft - it may be that there has been some collapse but only digging will show if this is correct. Site 0616 was surveyed and GPS checked for the top entrance.

   In Cueva Fresnedo 2 (0841) a side passage and stream inlet on the north side past Block Chamber was pushed in an area of very loose boulders. There is still potential but care is needed. Some 31m of new cave was surveyed. Cueva Fresnedo 1 (0126) was pushed and further examined and about 3m was excavated where water appeared to go in flood with lots of wood and other material washed in showing a strong and large flow. At the end, the way seems to drop down but more work is needed to see if this is a worthwhile prospect - there is a small draught in this dig.
   Elsewhere in the Fresnedo area, Cueva de Huerto Rey (2519) was searched for but could not be found in the thick undergrowth and a new site (4449) was found but not dug.
   Around Riaño, the main resurgence (site 0575) was dived by Jim Lister continuing his work from Easter, but now with good visibility. This allowed better surveying and pushing on to emerge in the Cueva Riaño downstream sump, adding over 100m to the sump and bringing the Four Valley System up to 58,572m.
   At Fridge Door Cave (1800) a dead sheep that appeared to have been put down the entrance (unless the sheep removed the door, put it back behind it and then died) was removed, making access and hence work to dive the site less nauseating. The site was dived by Jim Lister and later by Colin Hayward through a 129m sump to reach a dry chamber with a possible way needing digging. An arch in the sump to a continuation was found to be partly blocked by silt on a later dive. Checking when there is a little more flow and digging at the end may be worthwhile, provided there is diver backup. It may also be worth a look downstream of the entrance to see if it is possible to make progress to reach Cueva de la Espada (0103).
   The Giant Panda Entrance (2691) to the Four Valleys System had been inaccessible since Easter 2015 due to a collapse above the first pitch blocking its top. This rock was broken up remotely and later removed with care. A lot of rock had moved and much must have gone down the pitch. As the rope left was likely to be damaged, the top anchors were removed and it was dropped down. There are still some dangerous rocks above the pitch and in the roof but access to the pitch is easy without touching these - but care is needed. Prior to Easter 2017 and, if possible before the winter wet weather, work is needed to install some Acrow props and scaffolding to make this pitch safe and, importantly, less prone to collapse if we get more extreme wet weather. Some minor work was carried out at the entrance, but a more permanent secure entrance is needed.
   A number of existing sites were visited in the Riaño area: a new GPS of cave 4173; shaft 4175 was descended 8m and then 5m to a narrow section which needs a thin person to progress , and shaft 4457 was found to have been bulldozed and filled in. Cave 0644 was dug to 10m with more digging required. At El Suto a new rift cave 4476 was found and pushed to 3m where it got too tight.

Solórzano and the Riolastras Area
   At Cueva del Arroyo De Canastrillas (4046) also known as the Daddy Day Care Centre, the downstream sump was dived by Colin Hayward but proved to split and narrow some 2m down with no further dive prospect. It was realised that the sump extension found at Easter had been put in the wrong place on the survey and this was corrected, but a full resurvey is really needed as some passages and leads are not surveyed. Nearby, a shaft found earlier in the year, Torca de Canastrillas (4407) was dug to give good access to the cross rift at the bottom. To make further progress, digging out a boulder filled rift to join this cross rift at a wider part is required and some shoring will be needed to hold back the rubble slope.
   In Cueva de Lolo (del Secretario) (site 3991) - which is situated behind a door at the back of the medical centre in Solórzano - the end sump was dived by Colin Hayward after some digging out of the gravel infill. The water level was very low and a small (not useable) air space allowed some voice contact when he got through to a chamber after a short sump. There was a small draught and the passage looks to continue although it needs some rocks and fallen blocks moving in this area of friable roof and walls. Two people are required to dive to this chamber for safety, and so surveying and further work was left to 2017.
   In the Riolastras area, shaft 4465 was pushed to a choke where there is a possible dig but the site was found to be about 100m out of our permit area when plotted on the map. A new cave - Lady’s Cave (4468)- was found and surveyed to 36m. Shaft 4143 was dug to a fist sized hole in solid rock – not a good prospect and the nearby Puppy Dog’s Tail Cave (4048) was dug and pushed. This is a worthwhile prospect with more work needed.

Northwest Sector
   Nine trips were made into Torca la Vaca (2889) via BigMat Calf Hole (3916), the majority were pushing/surveying trips plus one familiarisation trip of the route from BMCH. The main areas pushed and surveyed were in the "green levels" below Scafell Aven up to the Terminal Choke 1; side passages off It Only Hurts When I Laugh up to the Shoulder of Mutton; the Hardknott Pass area, the Frizzington Extensions and Doldy’s Draughting Rift. During this work, Simon Cornhill and Diane Arthurs managed to connect Terminal Choke 1 to the north extension of It Only Hurts When I Laugh thus giving better and quicker access to the level up to Shoulder of Mutton. However, no major way on was found in the passage up to Shoulder of Mutton but the stream way going on from the Rib Tickler is still to be checked out. The majority of the open leads in this area have now been looked at and the survey improved where needed. In total, 1800m of new survey was completed in a two-week period – a major achievement.
   In the San Antonio area, two new sites were located: a major shake hole (4462) with a small resurgence and sink although it is not clear where would be best to dig, and a small cave (4477) that consists of a small phreatic tube that splits after 3m and gets too tight. Found at Easter but not recorded is a draughting dig (4458) which needs a lot of work to make progress. Adjacent to this is a large deep shakehole that is partly filled with rubbish and needs a better examination.
   In the Hoznayo area, a sink (4398) was inspected but it was found that tyres dumped in the hole were too big to easily move (tractor tyres, etc). A lot of work is required to move them enough to get down into the sink to see if progress is possible. A new site was located, a tight undescended rift (4478). This site needs checking out in early spring when vegetation will be low.
   In Cobadal, cave 4457 found at Easter was pushed for 38m to a well decorated chamber with possible leads. (A number of sites identified at Easter were not recorded in the report they are numbers 4452 to 4457.)
   In the Navajeda area, the caves in the hill behind the church were investigated and surveyed. They are mainly of archaeological interest although Cueva de la Iglesia 1 (4463) is quite extensive at 151m. Other adjacent caves are Cueva de la Iglesia 3 (4459) and Torca del Iglesia (4006).
   Well above and further to the east, Cueva de la Cuesta de la Encina (4112) was pushed to a small extension at Easter but, due to bad visibility from smoke, a survey could not be carried out. This was corrected in the summer with the 18m extension surveyed, but with no significant archaeological deposits seen.
   In the Ideopuerta area work started in Cueva de los Campizos (Yo-yo) (3812) to re-bolt the big pitch and to remove the old rope. Work was not completed and will continue in 2017. Two other sites were investigated: cave 4428 was found to have a good draught but needs major digging, and resurgence 4429 was pushed for 3m to where it got too tight.
   In the Moncobe area, time was spent trying to sort out a number of sites where they may have been duplicated and confused. The following sites were visited and new descriptions produced: 3032 dig; 3031 dig and 3030 Ants In My Pants dig. Two new shafts (4473 and 4474) were found and a meeting with the club having the permit (the G E Pistrellos Group) was arranged and it was agreed to continue work at these sites. Also discussed was the need to carry out water tracing in the area both from El Cubillón (2538) and a cave further to the east that the Pistrellos group are pushing. If the weather is suitable this water test may be carried out in October/November 2016. Shaft 4474 needed some work to remove boulders from above a second pitch and was left with a tight section needing capping out to make progress. Nearby the second new shaft (4473) proved to be more extensive and was pushed down to a fourth pitch into a passage. A line survey was produced with leads left but requiring more work to progress. The cave 3033 was visited and it looked like a new find at first. It seems clear that this cave floods badly and removes all foot prints and perhaps partly blocking the entrance - so it looks as if it has not been entered.
Summer Expedition article by Phil Papard, September 2016

    The list below shows links to those 121 sites which were extended or newly discovered over the summer 2016, or which have had surveys, references or descriptions updated, photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS. A separate table lists the diving videos produced over the summer.

Alisas 722 shaft; 4239 shaft; 4240 shaft; 4245 dig; 4246 Hoyón 2, Torca del; 4450 hole; 4451 sink;
Arredondo 733 Vallina, Cueva; 1820 Cisterna, Cueva de la;
Barrio de Arriba 4461 shaft;
Cobadal 2179 Badger Hole; 2181 collapse; 2182 depression; 2984 dig; 4143 shaft; 4453 dig; 4454 resurgence; 4455 resurgence; 4456 cave; 4457 cave;
Cubija 71 Mostajo, Torca del;
Cubillas 4479 dig;
El Camino 137 Coreano, Cueva de;
El Naso 59 Molino, Cueva del; 65 Cofresnedo, Cueva de; 77 Rascavieja, Cueva de; 560 shaft; 1529 cave;
El Suto 4476 cave;
Fresnedo 126 Fresnedo 1, Cueva; 841 Fresnedo 2, Cueva; 2519 Huerto Rey, Cueva de; 4449 hole;
Hornedo 2889 Vaca, Torca La; 3916 BigMat Calf Hole; 4117 Doldy's Cave;
Hoznayo 4017 Hoya, Pozo de la; 4398 sink; 4478 shaft;
Ideopuerta 3812 Campizos, Cueva de los; 4428 cave; 4429 resurgence;
La Colina 1247 cave; 4471 cave;
La Gatuna 4452 dig;
La Helguera 4046 Arroyo de Canastrillas, Cueva del; 4407 Canastrillas, Torca de;
La Secada 81 Carcavuezo, Cueva de; 84 Cosas, Cueva las; 616 cave; 1452 Hole in the Road; 3004 Aldi, Torca; 3619 shaft; 3640 shaft; 3930 caves - 3; 4045 dig; 4116 collapse; 4238 resurgence; 4470 shaft; 4472 cave;
Las Calzadillas 1973 shaft;
Moncobe 2538 Cubillón, El; 3029 cave; 3030 dig; 3031 dig; 3032 dig; 3033 cave; 4473 shaft; 4474 shaft; 4475 cave;
Navajeda 4112 Cuesta de la Encina, Cueva de la; 4397 cave; 4406 Iglesia, Torca del; 4420 Iglesia 2, Cueva de la; 4459 Iglesia 3, Cueva de la; 4460 Rotizo, Cueva del; 4463 Iglesia 1, Cueva de la;
Ozana 17 Jivero 2, Cueva de; 20 Loca 2, Cueva de la; 531 Cagiga Redonda, Sima de; 1162 Orillonzuco; 1221 cave; 4464 dig; 4467 shaft;
Riaño 103 Espada, Cueva de la; 105 Riaño, Cueva de; 107 Hoyuca, Cueva; 575 Riaño Resurgence, Cueva; 644 cave; 1800 Fridge Door Cave; 2691 Giant Panda entrance; 4173 cave; 4175 shaft; 4187 shaft; 4188 Shrewd Find; 4445 Pozo Negro;
Riolastras 4048 Puppy Dog's Tail Cave; 4465 shaft; 4468 Lady's Cave; 4469 shaft;
Riva 4 Mar, Cueva del; 1948 Brazada, Cueva de la;
S Vega 40 Comellantes, Cueva del; 48 Reñada, Cueva-Cubío de la; 1189 Dairy Dig; 1252 cave; 1253 Dead Fox Passage; 3980 holes - 2; 4416 dig; 4417 cave; 4466 dig;
San Antonio 4458 dig; 4462 sink & resurgence; 4477 cave;
Seldesuto 35 Arenal, Cueva del; 569 shaft; 572 shaft; 3621 shaft; 3625 shaft; 3627 shaft;
Solórzano 3991 Lolo (del Secretario), Cueva de;

Survey updates
0020 Loca 2 complete (PS)
0569 shaft complete (JC)
0575 Riaño resurgence complete (JC)
0616 cave complete (ND)
0733 Vallina in hand (JC)
0841 Fresnedo 2 complete (JC)
1247 cave complete (ND)
1253 Dead Fox complete (ND)
1800 Fridge Door complete (JC)
2889 Vaca in hand (JC)
3004 Aldi complete (ND)
3619 cave complete (ND)
4046 cave complete (PP)
4112 Cuesta de la Encina complete (PS)
4239 shaft complete (JC)
4397 cave complete (PS)
4463 Cueva de Iglesia 1 complete (PS)
4468 Lady's Cave complete (JC)

Additional news
    EuroSpeleo 2016 was held in August at Dalesbridge, Austwick near the Yorkshire Dales and the Matienzo Caves Project had a week-long presence at this international event. The format for EuroSpeleo included dozens of rigged caves for delegates to visit, trade and club stands, various salons and competitions, day-time talks and evening entertainment.
   Over the eight days, Matienzo - 50 Years of Speleology books and other publications were sold along with Matienzo Caves clothing - all from a stand which displayed maps, surveys, photos and some of the IT applications used within the Matienzo Caves Project. Juan Corrin gave a talk about the 56 years of expeditions - 138 of them - and the top 10 caves. Laura Deeprose presented a talk on her ongoing paleoclimate work in Cueva de las Perlas - "Caves, climate change and Neanderthals: ongoing palaeoclimate research in Matienzo" and Andi Smith displayed a poster entitled: "12,000 years of rainfall history revealed by stalagmite deposits from Cueva de Asiul".
   An A3 landscape survey of Cueva de las Injanas received a Merit Award in the Survey Salon for innovative use of QR codes to link with photos and videos.
   Permission was received to excavate calcite over a supposed Neanderthal layer in the gated Cueva Cofresnedo. Supervised by Chuchi and a couple of funcionarios from Cultura, Andy Quin cut out a section of calcite with an angle grinder. Laura hopes dates and other data from this layer will correlate with data from Cueva de las Perlas and shed light on the demise of the Neanderthals in the area.

Paul Dold (1973 - 2016) 
   Paul Dold died on August 30th while diving at East Portholland near St Austell. The large number of public tributes on Facebook show that Paul was loved and respected by his family and others in whatever activity he took part in - his work, caving, the Scouts, cycling and photography.
   Paul "Eddie Sharp Pencil" Dold first came to Matienzo at Easter 2006 and from then on made himself an integral part of the expeditions he took part in. His positive, cheery and sometimes wacky outlook soon made him many friends.
   His involvement with the Scouts (along with Gary Cullen, Paul Fretwell and Tony Radmall) gave him the opportunity to bring young people out to Matienzo where they were able to experience the thrill of new exploration. One notable example was the new Cueva Llueva series, pushed and explored in the summer 2007.
   Paul was also a leading light in the exploration of Cueva Torno and Mareserection Hole along with major extensions in Cueva Riaño, Cueva Hoyuca, and further finds in Cueva Llueva. In recent years, his increasing interest and skill with cave photography meant that many of the explorations he was involved with were documented with his photos. Examples of his work can be seen on the Matienzo Caves Project website, for example in Cueva Risco and Torca la Vaca.
   He was one of a team that was instrumental in finding and digging out the new back door into Torca la Vaca. His necky underground climbs up tall rifts to hammer on the rock to a waiting surface team was a major element in the successful location and excavation of the new entrance.
   His funeral and an afternoon memorial function were held in Horsham, West Sussex on 29th September.
  Paul was an inspiration and help to many whenever he visited Matienzo. He will be missed and remembered with respect and affection.

   (An article titled "That Wicked Smile" appeared in Descent 253, December/January 2016/17, pp20 -21.)


   Three teams were the main organised explorers over the October / November period. The weather ranged from good to not good at all. For one group, on 5 out of 14 days, speleological activities were prevented by rain. The results of the explorations are shown below in geographical areas.

Southern sector
   A number of trips were made into Cueva Vallina, pushing and surveying the high level extensions above the downstream sumps - the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence extension. The large chamber above sump1 was surveyed (length = 99m) but not tied into a known survey point. The major find (surveyed to 231m) was an intermediate level entered via a 2-ladder pitch. This dropped into a small chamber with 3 ways off.
    One route headed north into the large (20m wide x 15m high with large mud banks) inlet passage entered by diver Martin Holroyd in 2002 and the window into sump 6 where he popped up.
    To the east leads to 3m by 4m high, level traversing passage that ends looking over the beginning of sump 6. Rupert's dive bottles were seen below but the team were 10m above the stream way and couldn’t find a safe climb down.
    The 3rd way was through Swiss cheese tubes and enters a high level passage going south in the opposite direction to the sump. This petered out but there is a high degree of certainty that further exploration lies in this direction in the inlet stream way below. The inlet stream was followed for a short way but a bit of hand line rope may be useful if continuing up stream as it involves some steep muddy banks to continue. The length of Cueva Vallina is now 33719m
   Although diver Rupert Skorupka was intending to push on downstream, this was found impossible due to a bad cold.
   A draughting, bouldery dig (site 4492) above Cueva Vallina in the Hoyo Rotura area has been recorded.

Sites within the Matienzo depression
   Cueva las Cosas (site 84) was finally relocated and GPS'd after a fruitless search in the summer. A few photos and an experimental 360 degree video were taken in the cave. When last visited by team members at the turn of the century there was an open view across the valley overlooking La Secada. Sixteen years later, the usual path to the cave and any vista was obscured by 4m high trees and dense vegetation. One easy route still remains to the entrance of this impressive but vandalised chamber: starting near La Ramera spring, a 10 minute walk up the hill through open woods reaches the entrance with barely a scratch.
   A walk down the valley apparently formed on the major fault running through Ozana encountered a stream sinking in an area of rubble. Site 4491 is about 300m southwest of the 195m-deep Not Too Bad Pot and could drain in a number of directions.
   A dog was rescued from site 4497, a small shaft near to sites 1023 - 1025.

Northern sector
   Pipe Cave (site 4050) at Garzón, west of Solórzano, was extended after a constriction was found to have been washed out. A tight climb was followed down a short rift with further climbs and chambers. At the base, a narrow vadose trench in sandy rock continues but needs ‘thinnies’ to make progress along the draughting passage.
   Puppy Dog's Tail Cave (site 4048 at Riolastras was further excavated to where it requires significant work at a mud-filled continuation.
   At Riaño, continuing excavation occurred in Cueva Shelob (site 4173).

Sites to west and northwest
   At Alisas, sites 0189, 0190, 0191, 0192 and 0193, first explored in 1980 were GPS'd and properly positioned. Two new sites, found down into the Matienzo depression, were recorded: site 4499 is a small shaft that needs opening up and site 4500 is a small sink that may be worth digging.
   A number of trips occured in El Cubillón (site 2538) at Moncobe where first, the entrance pitch head was enlarged then an aven just prior to the last entrance pitch was bolted up 10m until there was no safe on between boulders. Work continued at the southern end of the Second South Passage (survey here). Here, a 35m climb up leads to a calcite constriction where a chamber is visible beyond. The previous snapper was found not to have done much damage, so the enlarging exercise was repeated with snapper smoke left to clear for the next trip.
   Also in Moncobe a number of small sites were investigated: site 4483 is a draughting hole that needs enlarging; sites 3902 and 3903 were found to have good draughts but have become long-term projects;
   Site 4480 is a site discovered by the Grupo Espeleología Pistruellos and Matienzo cavers were invited to open it up. This was done over a couple of visits and the Spanish group informed of the progress made - enlarged to a sloping passage that may dig out. Further liaison with the Pistruellos group occurred when Miguel was shown the entrances to a number of sites: 4473, 4474 and 4259 with 4270 in the Barrio de Arriba area.
   A cave in Moncobe which the Spanish group is exploring was also water traced by Matienzo cavers to the resurgence at La Riega (site 551), to the southeast of La Cavada.
   In site 4474, the pitch obstruction was removed and possible leads at the base will need some work to pursue.
   To the northeast of La Cavada, at Navajeda, six new sites were identified. Site 4489 was explored down a 12m shaft where the stench from a cone of debris and rotting animals prevented further exploration. Site 4490 dropped down a p3 to climb down, reaching a mud-floored blockage at -7m. Two holes at site 4493 have been partly covered by the farmer and have been left unexplored. Site 4494 was explored down a 6m pitch to a passage off into a small, well decorated chamber with a window through to water-filled passage. Two holes (sites 4495 and 4496) were not excavated as the work would have created a hazard to the stock.
   At Barrio de Arriba, neighbouring shafts, sites 4481 and 4482 were explored down to choked rifts at 11m and 12m depth, respectively.
   At Cobadal, Snottite Cave (site 1874) was found to have disappeared under flood debris and mud. On the hill to the north, adjacent digs were investigated. Site 4484 was excavated down to a depth of 6m where there is a slight draught but major work is required. Site 4485 was opened up to 2m depth to a very narrow passage.
   Further excavations were carried out in two sites at Ideopuerta: site 3578 was capped to reached 5m depth but substantial extra work is required and the draughting site 4428 was dug until it was realized that this also required a major effort.
   At San Antonio, site 3027 was re-opened after a gap of 7 years. More work is required. Site 4447 was checked out to halve the estimated dimensions to length and depth = 1m. The new site 4488 was recorded as a small resurgence.
   Having wondered where culvert water appearing from under the motorway came from, an intrepid team investigated by crawling up the 120cm diameter pipe for 34m to where they found a rock face with water welling up from the base, a rift up to 75mm wide and a roof of shuttering plywood - suggesting a concrete slab above. This is now site 4498.

    The list below shows links to those 77 sites which were extended or newly discovered over the autumn period 2016, or which have had surveys, references or descriptions updated, photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS.

Alisas 189 shaft; 190 cave; 191 shaft; 192 shaft; 193 shaft; 4247 Tilana, Torca; 4499 dig; 4500 sink;
Arredondo 733 Vallina, Cueva; 4492 dig;
Arronte 4487 resurgence;
Barrio de Arriba 4259 rift; 4270 shaft; 4481 shaft; 4482 shaft;
Cobadal 1874 Snottite Cave; 4484 dig; 4485 dig;
Cubija 2139 Cráneo, Torca del;
El Naso 65 Cofresnedo, Cueva de; 77 Rascavieja, Cueva de; 247 Caracoles, Cueva de los; 248 Cuevona, La; 1263 Diente, Sima del;
Garzón, Solórzano 4050 Pipe Cave;
Hoznayo 4042 Riocueva, Cueva; 4498 resurgence; 4501 resurgence;
Ideopuerta 3578 dig; 4428 cave;
La Cavada 542 cave; 549 resurgence; 551 Riega, La; 4486 Verde, Cueva la;
La Rasa 3167 cave;
La Secada 84 Cosas, Cueva las; 565 Tres Niños, Cueva de los; 709 cave; 880 dig; 2800 Ramera, Fuente; 3930 caves - 3; 4472 cave; 4497 shaft;
Llueva 502 Peñarrobra, Cueva de;
Moncobe 2538 Cubillón, El; 3669 caves; 3902 dig; 3903 dig; 4473 shaft; 4474 shaft; 4480 dig; 4483 dig;
N Vega 423 Barandas, Cueva de; 433 Acebo, Cueva de; 3153 Escalón , Cubío del;
Navajeda 4489 shaft; 4490 shaft; 4493 holes; 4494 shaft; 4495 hole; 4496 hole;
Ozana 17 Jivero 2, Cueva de; 4491 sink;
Riaño 105 Riaño, Cueva de; 4173 Shelob, Cueva;
Riolastras 4048 Puppy Dog's Tail Cave;
S Vega 48 Reñada, Cueva-Cubío de la; 179 cave; 408 Helechales, Cueva de los; 1514 cave;
San Antonio 713 Aguanaz, Fuente; 3027 dig; 4447 cave; 4488 resurgence;
Secadura 288 Bodega, La;
Seldesuto 2741 Callejón de Seldesuto 2;
Solórzano 2713 Toca, Cueva;

Alasdair Neill 1960 - 2016 
   Alasdair "Ali" Neill died from cancer in a Plymouth nursing home on 28th October, aged 56.
   He first came out to Matienzo in 1988 and soon made himself an integral part of the expedition scene: whenever Ali was in Matienzo, you could be sure that cave exploration and surveying would happen.
    In recent years he would be camping in the valley at Easter, summer and in the autumn and he encouraged whoever was there to go underground with him to survey or resurvey passages in the South Vega System, Cueva Vallina, Cueva Hoyuca and, indeed, countless other caves and underground systems. He was meticulous with his data entry and drawing up, often revisiting sites if he wasn't happy with the data collected underground. In recent years, he sometimes took solo trips, using Tippex to mark stations and taking readings in his quest to accurately map the cave networks.
    He had a real love of caves and mines - there was rarely a day during the expeditions when he wasn't underground. And when he wasn't, he would be scouring the hills for new entrances or digs, or drawing up cave surveys. When reminiscing about his explorations in Cueva Vallina in August 1994, Ali wrote about the passage leading to Swirl Chamber,"... a large elliptical passage in sandy-coloured limestone containing large transverse ribs in the roof. Passing along the sandy floor is so effortless and following someone with a good carbide is mind-blowing, just like floating along in some huge, crystal-clear sump. I found this stunning passage a moving experience, which did not diminish after a summer of long trips into the cave."
    Ali was a member of a number of UK caving and mining organisations and, as well as being an outdoor activities instructor, he had a passion for the mines of the Tamar valley and Cornwall. As far as the Matienzo Caves Project was concerned, Ali was the complete, reliable speleologist - a very competant rigger and explorer, meticulous cave surveyor, consciencous scribe for his trips and finds and a patient educator, passing on his knowledge and skills to the Matienzo "newbies".
    Ali was also self-effacing, never rushing to be a centre of attention - although he often was, because of his trip leadership or surveying expertise. He was one of the king-pins of the expeditions' exploration and documentation and will be greatly missed for his friendship and skills.
   Alasdair's funeral was held on November 10th at the Weston Mill Cemetery, Plymouth.
   A "Farewell" event took place on 23rd December 2016 at Wheal Coates on the north Cornwall coast, where his ashes were scattered below and above ground.

(A short note summarising Ali's speleological activities appeared in Descent 253, December/January 2016/17, page 7.)

The Reports, Papers and Presentations page details the documents and reporting activities about Matienzo caves. The latest in the list for 2016 is a paper about the human remains from the Chalcolithic period found in site 3153.


   Dennis Rugg passed away in early December. He was one of the earlier British explorers of the Matienzo caves, being an expedition member in 1974, 1975 and 1992. In 1974, he made the first known free-dive in an expedition cave, passing through an unexplored 1m-long sump in the Sistema Mortiro-Esquileña. With Rhoda, his wife, he pushed the cave from the bottom entrance near the río Asón to the stream sink in the Mortiro depression. An account of the explorations can be read in the 1974 log book (pages 1, 2 and 3).

   A small group led by Simon Cornhill and Diane Arthurs managed to fit in daily speleological activities (with "fantastic weather") over the Christmas and New Year celebrations (23rd December - January 1st).
   The Four Valleys System Giant Panda entrance (site 2691) proved to be too unstable, although one person did descend, then - very carefully - came back up through the bouldery pitch top before the trip was abandoned. The main entrance (at the base of the field) was subsequently used to visit the Astradome for photography, and Tixtu Aven where a rope was replaced and two short pitches rigged to avoid a Sloppy Inlet soaking.
    Three trips into Torca la Vaca (2889) via the BigMat Calf Hole entrance (3916) were mainly to check for any new leads: the base of Scafell Aven to the Penrith Historic Market Town Duck and the route to the Should Have Gone to Spec Savers area. On the third trip, the "confused and confusing" area between the Fred Whitton Series to the north of Scafell Aven was resurveyed.
   In smaller sites at Cobadal, re-exploration found 2718 and 2720 choking up fairly quickly with "nothing of interest found". A similar state was found in site 2719. At Bosmartín, Sprog on a Rock (site 710) was re-opened and the tight rift about 40m down was capped open to reveal 3 choked drops. On the northwest flank of Muela, Torca de la Espina (site 128, depth 78m) was revisited. Digs at the base were all found to be in sandstone and climbing the three impressive avens was thought to be "difficult with the soft cheese nature of the rock".
   The first site in the New Year was Torca JR (site 366, one of the many holes below site 415 in La Secada). At the base of the 28m entrance pitch the audibly draughting dig was enlarged to where a GoPro "possibly showed some sort of passage that could be big enough to get you hand in".

    The list below shows links to those 11 sites which were extended or newly discovered over the autumn period 2016, or which have had surveys, references or descriptions updated, photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS. There is more survey information to come.

Cobadal 710 Sprog on a Rock;
Hornedo 2889 Vaca, Torca La;
La Collada 2718 shaft; 2719 shaft; 2720 shaft;
La Secada 366 J.R., Torca de;
Moncobe 4473 shaft; 4474 shaft;
Muela 128 Espina, Torca de la;
Riaño 107 Hoyuca, Cueva; 2691 Giant Panda entrance;

Autumn and December articles by Juan Corrin, November / December 2016 and January 2017.