Matienzo Caves Project 2019
News and cave exploration around Matienzo during 2019.
A map with area names can be found here.
Section links: • Easter • Pre-summer • Summer • Autumn • Christmas / New Year
The University of Lancaster continues its link with the Matienzo Caves Project. Over a long weekend in January, Poppy Ambler, a master's degree student, accompanied by Dr Peter Wynn and Andy Quin collected samples in Cueva-Cubío del Llanío (site 3234 at Riaño) for a study of nitrogen levels in water, mud and stal, hoping to gain some insights into land use over the last few hundred years..
A walk in heavy showers on the hillside to the south of La Vega provided a couple of new sites above Volcano Cave (site 1391): "probably new" site 4853 - a slot dropping down a few metres and requiring digging gear and site 4854, another dig. Both sites had water running away down the holes in the wet weather.
Enough rain fell after the weekend to flood the fields in Matienzo, although well below the 2 - 3m higher levels at the end of January four years previously.
Near the end of January, a water trace from site 1265 to the Carrales resurgence (site 4855) was thwarted when the detector disappeared and a second attempt gave a "negative" result, possibly due to too little OBA or not enough time being given for the OBA to come through.
(Note: Some earlier January 2019 activities are documented in the 2018 Christmas / New Year account.)
The list below shows links to those 8 sites which were extended or newly discovered over January, or which have had surveys, references or descriptions updated, photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned using a GPS.
Barrio de Carrales 1265 cave;
El Naso 4856 cave;
Riaño 3234 Llanío, Cueva-Cubío del;
S Vega 1186 dig; 1627 dig; 4853 dig; 4854 dig;
JSC 29/1/2019; 5/3/2019
About 35 cavers visited Matienzo spread over nearly six weeks during and after the Easter period. It was much drier than last Easter and this helped with pushing Fuente Aguanaz. However, the expedition started with some wet weather that curtailed Rupert's work to push towards the South Vega system at sump 6 downstream in Cueva Vallina, so this project will resume later in the year.
The permit for 2019 has changed by adding the area of Hazas de Cesto as far as the main road but, in agreement with the Federation, we have given up the hill of Vizmaya which will be allocated to a Spanish group. Much work was carried out in this new area in order to understand it and identify sites and caves. Prospecting was made difficult in some places by dense "jungle" with "killer vines" making access very difficult. Despite this, 74 sites and caves were found and recorded, the majority not being recorded previously. A number have been pushed but work (pushing, digging etc) for a large number is still needed. In addition, a further 38 new sites were recorded bringing the number of new records to 112.
A variety of caves were pushed and surveyed and, in total, well over 200 visits to caves and digs were made over the expedition. Including work done earlier in the year, well over 2.5km of new cave were surveyed (see table) and about 400m of resurvey work carried out.
The main finds this Easter were in Fuente Aguanaz (0713), where nearly 1km of new passage was found and surveyed; in Now’t but Obstacles (4474) where some 350m was added after many trips and complicated digging and surveying; Cueva-Cubío del Llanío (3234), where over 300m of new passage was found and surveyed - but still the link to Cueva de Riaño (0105) is to be made just some 5m away (assuming surveys are correct!); Torca del Mostajo (0071), where over 300m of new and previously poorly surveyed cave (centre line only) was carried out below the Golden Void pitch, (but still an easy link to the "Manchester Series" is to be found); in La Gatuna, Torca del Cortiguero (4911) was found and pushed for nearly 200m and, in our new area, a resurgence cave, Cueva de Tesugo (4878), was found and looked at by several members of the expedition - but a crawl was missed that was later pushed for just under 100m to a sump that may be worth diving.
A number of finds are still to be surveyed including Drone Pot (4669) and 3% Pot (4877) in the new area. Bolting work at the Zeppelin Hangers in Cueva-Cubío de la Reñada (0048) and above the Double Dutch pitch in Cueva Vallina (0733) show good possibilities of finds with more work needed.
The excellent Matienzo Karst Entomology Project continued its work during the Easter period, recovering the many traps placed last year. New specimens taken from some 15 sites including Jivero II, Cueva del Coverón, Cueva-Cubío del Llanío, Sima-Cueva del Risco, Lenny's Cave, La Cuvía, Torca la Vaca, Cueva del Molino (Agua) and La Bodega. The traps and specimens will be examined in the coming months and a separate report on the work produced. However, with the very large number of finds, work to identify all and make a final report will take a long time.
At Cueva Vallina (0733), Rupert was not able to continue his diving work due to wet weather early in April but spent time bolting above Double Dutch Pitch where a bolted traverse is now needed to reach a possible upper passage. In the Zona Blanca area near Swirl Chamber work was done surveying and sorting out the survey and the link to passages which the Tortosa Group had found and surveyed. The top entrance to the cave was used to coach the diving team and trial the SubPhones prior to a planned location beyond sump 4 in Fuente Aguanaz (0713). These worked very well but, due to problems with contracting an infection, possibly from polluted water in Aguanaz, this location work had to be delayed until the summer.
Three new sites were found near Cruz Usaño but not pushed: two caves (4943 & 4945) and a shaft (4944), of which only 4943 was on our side of the ridge.
In the South Vega System, surveying work and bolting at the Zeppelin Hangers in Cueva-Cubío de la Reñada (0048) was carried out and this has helped to complete this part of the re-survey. The climbing has identified possible higher passages, but more work is needed to get to possible leads. After studying the survey, it is clear that a small passage in Torca de Azpilicueta (0333) past the Pipe Cleaner does drop into one of the Zeppelin hangers through a small hole, but this connection has not been surveyed and is not likely to be the lead seen from below.
Towards the top of the ridge two sites were found in February (4853 and 4854) both taking water in very heavy rain. At Easter, site 4854 was found to be a long term dig with no draught, and at first 4853 looked similar, but a small hole was noted on the south side that draughted. This was opened up on a later trip with caps to where you can see down a few metres to a possible standing size passage / small chamber. A very thin person may now be able to get down but, in any event, only another session of capping will gain access. Site 0822 was descended some 15m but found to be choked with no good prospect – there had been confusion with another site (Spanish Flea) on the Riva side of the hill also listed as 0822 but this has been corrected and renumbered as 4951.
The cave 4668 just to the west of Torca del Dron (4669) was checked out to see if it would give access to Torca del Dron. A connection was dug and made but it is awkward and restricted going via several bends to take a route some three times longer than the distance between the entrances. While this was being done it was found that it was easy to get under the concrete beams the farmer had put on Torca del Dron so giving easy access. Later a small metal grid was placed over this gap that can be removed via 2 nuts on our normal 8mm bolts – i.e. a normal bolting spanner. In Torca del Dron a traverse round a drop below the entrance pitch reached a further 25m pitch which on a following trip was descended to find a further very large pitch not yet dropped. This find is still to be surveyed.
The Active Route in Torca de Corcada (0780) at Seldesuto was pushed together with our French colleagues from Spéléo Club Dijon to gain access to further drops where more work is needed. This Active Route deviates away from the Fossil Route so making the dig in the latter also very worthwhile.
At Alisas, the shaft 4763 was pushed down a 4m ladder to a 2m climb. On the opposite side of a small chamber is a 3m climb to a choke with no way on. Shaft 4772 was worked on in order to enlarge access to a shaft in the corner of the open hole, but more work is needed. Site 2269 was noted to have much more vegetation covering it and a depression to the south (site 4955) had a small stream sinking and could be a good location for a water trace. (These sites are just to the west of our area and were looked at in liaison with G.E. Pistruellos club to whom details have been passed.)
In the Cubija valley, possible leads below the Golden Void in Torca del Mostajo (0071) were pushed and over 300m of passage surveyed of which some 157m were new. Previously a section of the survey only had a centre line and was dotted in on the old paper survey. With this work, this defect has been corrected. The possiblE easier link to the Manchester Series is proving elusive. Some radio location work may be needed to fix key points on the survey in relation to each other.
On El Naso, Cueva de Coberruyo (0138) was photographed and a small extension surveyed to complete the survey work on this site.
The North-East Sector including The Four Valleys System
In La Secada a number of digs were worked on in the area above the “Mushroom Field”. Progress was made at the strongly draughting site 4805 by the main track in the wood at the far end of the “Mushroom Field”. Shoring was installed to try to stabilise the loose infill. What was thought to be solid bedrock now looks like eroded and detached limestone and more shoring is needed. More materials were taken up to the site in Terry’s 4x4 ready for the summer. Two and a Half Fat Ladies (0880) was dug and several large boulders broken and removed. Digging is now awkward due to lack of space and, in the summer, work will be needed to open up the digging face where there is some open space in front. At site 0252 a little digging was carried out, but it was wet due to the floor being dug too low at the end of last year so pooling up water – again work may progress in the summer. Near the Bar Pot (site 0613) was checked out at the far end of the chamber where there is the strongest draught, but spoil may need to be taken out to the surface.
At the west side of La Secada, more progress and capping at Socks (1017) was carried out and the site surveyed. The site draughts well but less so at Easter, so it will be checked out on a hot day in summer to identify the best place to dig.
The area opposite Casa Germán had been burnt off just prior to Easter. Sitting in the bar with a telescope three possible holes were noted in the lower slopes. These were visited one evening and found to be small caves (4946, 4947, 4948) with little prospect but worth recording. No GPS unit was taken on the visit, but Juan located the three sites using his drone on a later day.
In Llueva, at the archaeology site Cueva Túnel (0658) two of the team observed the use of 3D scanning and photogrammetry by experts working for the Consejeria de Educación Cultura y Deporte to produce a detailed record.
At Fresnedo, in Cueva Fresnedo 2 (0841), a twelve hour trip to the far end pushed the leads in the extension found in 2018. None went any great distance apart from 30m in a nice streamway, but there are still some side passages to check out and survey in this area.
In Cueva-Cubío del Llanío (3234) at Riaño, over three pushing trips, more than 300m of new cave was found and surveyed. The extension started at a pitch near B Chamber and reached the same level as Cueva del Riaño (0105), apparently only 5m away. Other extensions seemed to take the cave further away from Cueva del Riaño. It seems quite likely there could be some small errors in the surveys of the two caves given the lengths of passages involved, so locating them with the SubPhones may prove helpful.
A side passage on the right past The Hub was dug but appeared too narrow ahead with no draught.
In addition to these trips, a visit was made to collect water samples as part of a Lancaster University project looking to see if paleo-nitrogen levels can be obtained in this cave that is currently below farmed meadow land.
Above Riaño, a new shaft (site 4889) was found with a choke where easy digging for 1m was carried out on a following trip. The site has easy access and a good draught so it's well worth some more work.
At Solórzano, to the east of the main road, a depression (site 4965) with a small rift feature at its base was found. This site is partially choked by vegetation and cut branches but has a slight draught. On the side of the same depression is a short, narrow, phreatic tube too narrow to enter.
In Cueva de Collada (0394) at La Gatuna, a lead at the west side of White Russian was pushed and surveyed for nearly 50m, but the dig here and near the entrance did not go and have few prospects.
A draughting shaft (Torca el Cortiguero, 4911) above and to the southeast of Cueva de Collada was found to drop into a passage, not to go to the cave below but to go up an inlet to the southeast. It was pushed and surveyed to a rift for almost 200m, ending right under a house on the Riaño – Cobadal road.
A “cold store” cave (4905) was located and found to go for 6m to a low dig with a calcited rift to the right. Also of interest are two caves, (4912 and 4913),which still need GPS locations (so they will not be on the map at present) that go for 5m to continuing passage but with no draught, and a series of rifts that could be easily opened up where stones fall for a few metres and run away. In addition, in this area, there are six choked shafts all about 3m deep (4898, 4900, 4901, 4902 4903 and 4906), a 6m free climbable choked shaft (4918) and two caves (4876 & 4904) that have not been pushed or dug.
At Hornedo, a trip into Torca la Vaca (2889) via BigMat Calf Hole (3916) was made in order to push possible leads in the Nearly Dan Chamber area, but they were found to either not go or had been previously looked at and surveyed.
In Fuente Aguanaz (0713) at San Antonio, Mark Smith and Jim Lister carried out a major diving project to push and survey leads in Sarah Jean Passage, climb a high aven and, if possible, locate the aven using the SubPhones. With dry weather and low water conditions, very good progress was made with nearly 1km added to the cave in this area. The aven was climbed to a ledge some 15m up from where the top could not be seen due to it curving out of sight. Work to complete this climb and at another aven in the area will be attempted in the summer. The location work was not carried out partly due to missing one or two pushing days: one of the divers developed a bad infection requiring medical treatment, possibly caused by polluted water in part of the cave. Leads in the main upstream passage were not looked at and will be addressed in the summer.
The area above the end of Sarah Jean Passage was checked out for possible digs / sites that may link into the system. Two digs (4458, & 4956) were overgrown and looked to be poor prospects but should be checked out in the summer for draughts. Site 4954 did have a small draught and again needs checking out to see if it is worth digging. Tyre Hole (4957) is a rift filled with a small number of tyres. In order to make progress some rock needs removing to get access down a drop of a few metres but, again, no draught was detected at Easter. The one site that was draughting well is the sink at site 2831 that had been dug previously but was thought to need a lot more work. Given its location above the newly found passages, this site needs checking out again to see if digging is worthwhile.
Further over towards the north, a new hole (4973) was noted adjacent to site 3213 and is still to be investigated.
Cueva Laberinto (3268) was pushed and dug in the sand choked passage near the big rift but no major extension was found and no significant open leads or good digs are left to be looked at in the cave. In Bamboozle Hole (3333) the draught was found coming from a 8m deep, tight rift that would need capping all the way down - so this dig was abandoned after surveying the bottom area. A dig near the entrance gave access to a blocked rift but no real prospect. The site was surveyed as was nearby 3422. At site 4698 the floor below the entrance 5m pitch was dug and capped but the way on requires a massive amount of work and the dig was abandoned. Two draughting digs in a large shakehole (3630) were dug but more work is needed. The floor below the entrance pitch in cave 3239 was excavated to gain 5m down the slope followed by 3m to a choke and a lot of bones embedded in calcite on the floor. There is no real prospect or easy dig left here.
In Cobadal the cave 4137 was worked on by capping out a rift to gain access to a cross rift, heading back to parallel to main passage. Other possible leads did not go and no significant leads are left to pursue in this cave.
Two sites were visited at Camposdelante. The cave 4550 was climbed down a 2m rift to a choked floor. The rift above the floor was seen to continue for at least 6m but is partly blocked by rocks and needs work to get access. The shaft / dig 4574 was worked on to remove a slab of rock preventing progress and a 7m shaft was dropped to where a further rift is about 6m deep. This needs “pinch points” removing, some 3m down, to allow access.
At Navajeda three new caves were found: site 4967, in a small outcrop, is a 3m sloping descent into a small chamber; 4968 is a 2m crawl to a cross rift where the left branch chokes and the right branch extends 2m to bend, continuing very low, and 4969 - an undercut with small passage going off. Cueva del Rotizo (4460) was visited, and it was noted the entrance is now accumulating rubbish.
This new area for the expedition extends both sides of the main road between Solórzano and the main N-634 road at Beranga. The area has three main types of land: very dense deciduous forest heavily colonised with “killer vines” and other thorny vegetation making access extremely difficult; eucalyptus plantations that allow better access, but can still be difficult, and fairly open farm and fell land, so with easy access. (Photos of the west side)
The area to the west on the hill of Monte Llusa is mainly covered by very dense forest and, apart from some tracks (used by hunters), access is a problem. There are some old aerial photographs from 1956/57 prior to eucalyptus planning and before this dense forest developed. From this resource, Juan has identified a number of depressions that may have caves in them. These have been identified and marked with "D" codes on the QGIS map for investigating, so limiting the need for random jungle bashing. A few were investigated at Easter, but most remain to be reached. (Maps and photos)
There are open fell areas on the south side of Monte Llusa that are easily reached from the Garzón side where a number of sites and caves have been found. This area extends into the Anero district which is not in our permission area. A number of sites have been located here (but not examined) and have been allocated a code starting with an "X".
To the east of the main road, the area extends north from Riolastras and is an area of low limestone hills and valleys and, apart from some patches of dense undergrowth and eucalyptus, has better access.
A considerable amount of time was spent prospecting in this new area where 75 sites in our permit area not previously recorded were found, located and photographed. In addition, a number of previously known sites were located and some surveyed and photographed. This report does not go into detail on all the finds, only the most interesting or surveyed ones are described below. Thirty two locations were identified in the Monte Llusa area, most of which were new. The majority of finds have not been dug or pushed and are not listed here. Some of the finds are listed below where they have been pushed or appear to have more potential.
In the Monte Llusa area, a big open shaft (4870) situated next to a small flooded shakehole was descended about 10m to a sloping floor. A more restricted drop at the base was descended 7m on a subsequent trip to a further 5m drop to a dig. The site has still to be surveyed and dug. Nearby 4871 is a smaller, open shaft, 4m deep with a 2m choked crawl under and a further rift that drops down 3m to a blind cross rift. Shaft 4864 was dropped for 12m to where it continues too tight to descend for about 5m to a muddy floor. Shaft 4863 is 8m deep to where there is a small 3m diameter chamber. The floor is loose fill and could be dug, but there was no draught at Easter. A wide hole (4891) next to a logging and walking track up from El Rincón to the open hilltop south of Monte Llusa (marked by red posts) was only a few metres deep but had a small draughting dig that would be a lot of work. A small cave (4874) ends in a short drop, this was confirmed to choke with poor digging prospects. Site 4895 is 3m to a blind chamber with mud floor.
At Garzón, cave 4960 was entered in walking sized passage, 8m long by 3m wide, to an 11m by 7m chamber, 3m high, with a very low passage on the right, but with no draught at Easter. Cueva de los Moros (4857) opened out down a climb into a 20m by 11m blind chamber.
At El Rincón, an overflow resurgence (4894) was found to have no flow in dry weather so it was possible to lower the water to gain entry. An attempt was made with a small pump, but a more concerted effort is needed. Another flood resurgence is site 4892, 3m of stooping height passage with a very narrow rift continuing. Site 4942 is a hole to water and a possible dive site behind the main, built-over resurgence (4893, marked with an obelisk). A resurgence (4867) on the valley floor on the north side of El Rincón appears to have a significant flow in wet weather. There is an open small cave just above, but this was not pushed due to having only surface gear and a dead animal in the passage.
A known cave is Cueva del Rincón (4868) where three places in this rock shelter were dug. The first opened up into a crawl to a small space but with no obvious way on. The second was a promising dig with a low passage sloping away but with no draught. Digging had to stop as possible human remains were noted (tibia and a skull fragment) and left in situ. The third dig is a very low crawl that continues with no draught on the left of a rock-shelter – this would need a lot of work.
In the Hazas de Cesto and Beranga areas, to the west of the main road just south of the motorway, 15 sites (4928-4942) were located. Again, most were new, although site 4937 had, in fact, been found and a sketch survey drawn by the expedition in 1977. This cave still needs pushing and surveying, but at the time of the visit this Easter there seemed to be some pollution of the small stream. Of the other sites, none had any significant extent of cave except 4933 which is a roomy entrance in a steep, fenced shakehole down to a roomy crawl and a small dig; 4934 which is a 4m climb to a dig with a small draught, which may be worth checking out in hot weather, and 4941, a small complex of rifts and tubes where one smaller entrance has a grill and a rift to the left may dig beyond a couple of blocks.
In the northern section of Riolastras in the Hazas de Cesto municipality, five new sites were found of which four had not been explored: Bedstead Hole (4916), a shaft that looks to be 4m deep; 4917, a shaft covered with a log where stones fall down "some way”; a dig 4924, and site 4949 a small cave under a thin limestone bed. A deep, large hole (Cueva Colapso, 4927), some 15m across with old cave sections extending all around the bottom, is home to a few bats and seems to be a collapsed chamber. This was surveyed to 68m. Nearby is the known Cueva de las Palomas (4004) that could not at first be found in the forest, the GPS being a little out, now corrected. This 146m long site was surveyed and photographed. The cave seems to be home to goats as a lot of the floor of most passages is covered in their droppings. There is a climb to a possible extension in a chamber where there is a large bat colony. This would be a good site to place a bat detector as access is via a roomy crawl. Cave 4095 was explored 10m to a dig in a small streamway.
Twenty two new sites were found and recorded in the Hazas de Cesto north (east of main road) area. Of these, 15 are digs or small sites with no significant open cave. The other seven are of more immediate interest. Site 4877 (3% Pot) was found in a small cliff next to a tree. Although it was thought to have low prospects (3%), it was found to drop some 8m to about 30m of passage leading to a second pitch and dig needing work to extend further. This site has a reasonable draught and should be surveyed.
A resurgence, Cueva de Tesugo (4878) is a walking cave to a dam, a tiny stream entry and a small, choked chamber to the west. On a subsequent visit, a low crawl on the east just inside the entrance entered 35m of passage to where the water in the main cave emerged from a sump and into a sink which appears to flow to the dam. A further passage runs parallel to the low crawl to a choke. In total, the cave was surveyed to 105m and the sump may be a possible dive site.
Site 4910 is a 20m long sloping cave to an upward dig at the end and is a bat roost. Cave 4919 was a dig that, after removal of a blockage, is now a 30m long cave with a climb down into a phreatic chamber with two ways on to digs, one of which was dug to a choke. It needs checking out in hot weather when there should be a better draught.
Site 4883 is a collapse hole in a flat area of in-fill in a small valley. A hole in the bottom drops through boulders to an easily diggable choke where you can see along for some 5m. This is likely to meet a stream that sinks not far up the valley.
A large depression (4923) has a 4m by 5m hole 7m deep to a choked floor. Shaft 4925 is a hole with a large rock over the top and drops 3m to a possible way on if dug.
The following work was carried out in agreement with the Spanish club G.E. Pistruellos.
At Moncobe, the shaft 4474 now called Now't but Obstacles was very difficult to push with multiple digs and restrictions to be overcome. However, a lot of cave was found and surveyed over seven trips with 314m added, bringing the length to over half a kilometre. Cave 3029 was worked on to enlarge the drop at the end to reveal small passage, however there is too much work needed to continue. At Barrio de Arriba a draughting shaft (4966) was dug but, to continue, the banking needs stabilising and the site made stock-proof. More work is needed to clear the blockage down the shaft.
Easter expedition article by Phil Papard.
Pete Smith has recently shown bones from various caves to Pedro Castaños. Those from site 3239 were identified as juvenile red deer or calf; from Two and a Half Fat Ladies (0880)as red deer and, of most interest, the decayed skeleton above Professional Advice Chamber in Cueva Hoyuca (0107) was positively identified as that of a leopard, Panthera pardus.
|0048||Reñada (additions)||complete (PP/JC)|
|0071||Mostajo (additions)||in hand (PP)|
|0736||cave (sketch)||complete (PS)|
|1017||Socks||sketch on centre line|
|4474||cave||in hand (AL)|
|4892||resurgence cave||complete (JC)|
|4911||Cortiguero / Litigation||complete (JC)|
|4951||Spanish Flea||complete (Madrid)|
Tom Thomson updated the summary of the work to date of the Matienzo Karst Entomology Project.
A BCRA field meeting titled Hypogenic Caves of the North Pennines UNESCO Global Geopark was held at Nent Head, Cumbria over the weekend, 29th / 30th June. Chris Scaife was joint presenter for a talk about the latest hypogenic cave find in the North Pennines, Cutthroat Cave. Juan Corrin attended the meeting to pick up more information about how such caves are formed and how to recognize indicator features in hypogenic caves. Possible candidates are (at least) parts of Torca la Vaca (2889) and Cueva de los Urros (2917). More information will appear in due course.
Rupert Skorupka was active in Cueva Vallina (0733) for 6 consecutive days from 30th May. Downstream diving conditions were not favourable so exploration continued around the top of the Double Dutch Pitch. However, leads crapped out so his focus moved to Jochen's Aven (see Pre-summer, 2018). First the climb up was re-rigged and new passage entered by traversing around an 80m pitch with anchors in good rock just above a 2m thick shale bed - but the route beyond closed down almost immediately. On his last day, Rupert started to rig the 80m pitch, dropping through a slot about 10m down to where the walls belled out and he was "hanging below a dense forest of 2 - 3m long, pristine white stals, hundreds of them on either side." Having used up his 38m rope, ending at a bolting route necessary for a free hang down the main pitch, he had to leave Zarco's Shaft, hoping to return in the summer with more people.
Local caver Carlos Lamoile Martinez visited Cueva de Entrambasaguas (0381) noting that the trees over the shaft had fallen in taking down a number of blocks into the shaft. He also found a draughting hole on the side of Muela, below Cueva de los Espinos (0489) which was investigated in the summer.
Most speleological man-hours were expended by Phil Goodwin, Phil Parker and Alf Latham over an 18-day period from 6th June, concentrating on holes at Garzón and Las Calzadillas.
Six sites were examined at Garzón, to the west of Solórzano. At the base of a small cliff, site 4975 drops into a 3m wide, rubbish strewn chamber with an short ascending slope. Another entrance in a cliff is site 4976 - a walk-in entrance to 14m of passage with lots of calcite ending at a blockage with no draught. Just 8m away site 4977 was found as a draughting dig where lots of work is required. Some 160m to the southwest, site 4978 was also found as a draughting hole with a couple of metres visible. Site 4989 was explored down a p9 into "unpleasant rock" with no way on and a parallel shaft ending at the same level. Site 4990 was found covered with limestone slabs hiding a 2m drop to 8m of zig-zag passage ending a 2m climb down into a 7 x 5 x 3m high chamber with no way on. Further north, towards Monte Llusa, a small shaft, site 4993, was noted but not descended.
Fourteen holes were investigated at Las Calzadillas. Site 4771 was dropped 8m after opening up the tight entrance. About 50m to the north, a constriction in a shaft at site 4772 (now called La Sima Grande de Las Calzadillas) was opened up and a p20 explored to a small chamber with the draught coming from a rock-choked rift under one wall. A small draughting hole, site 4980, was opened opened up then left for a larger team. Site 4984 also had a draught with a hands-and-knees entrance to a cross rift with boulders. A sloping entrance at site 4985 led down to boulders and a low continuation while site 4988 was a slide down into a small chamber with roof of boulders. Site 4992 was found as an open entrance to a small chamber with formations. There is a continuing passage with a draught that needs excavating.
Possible digs for the future were sites 4979, 4981, 4983, 4986, 4987, 4991, and a wet weather sink (site 4982) was noted.
At Moncobe, further excavation was carried out in site 4474, clearing one blockage but quicking reaching a point where more work is required. In site 4525, a shaft was widened but still requires more work, and a hole through a calcite plug was opened up to allow access to a sloping passage that ends, flat-out with a small hole and an encouraging draught.
Site 3692 at Ideopuerta was excavated but all leads appeared to either close up or require too much work.
At Riaño, a couple of days were spent continuing to dig out a draughting lead 20m past The Hub in Cueva del Llanío (3234). The inhabitants of the bee hives on the walk from the entrance took a dislike to Phil Parker, stinging him six times although without serious effect. A different route to the cave was taken on the second day of digging.
The list below shows links to those 34 sites which were extended or newly discovered over the Spring / Whit period, or which have had surveys, references or descriptions updated, photos or video clips added, or entrances repositioned using a GPS.Alisas 4757 shaft;
As expected there were fewer cavers and less activity during the summer than at Easter with some usual expedition members on expeditions elsewhere. Despite this, about 30 cavers visited Matienzo during the summer spread over nearly two months from the second week in July with only a few cavers in Matienzo after the middle of August. Next year will be the 60th anniversary of the first speleological work in Matienzo and there are many activities planned to mark this event and a large number of cavers are expected to attend.
The weather was generally dry with the Risco waterfall never running. The key find was the long looked for connection between Cueva de Riaño (0105) and Cueva-Cubío del Llanío (3234), having parties in both caves and using Ron “Obvious” Taylor’s SubPhones for communication and location. This connection brings the length of the Four Valleys System to over 67km. The other main finds were in Fuente Aguanaz (0713), El Cubillón (2538), Torca de Corcada (0780), Torcón de Riaño (106) and in Cueva Vallina (0733), resulting in just under 2km of new cave being surveyed (see table). Digging of some important sites continued, including Two and a Half Fat Ladies (0880), site 2522, Río Santa Juliana Resurgence (3282) and site 4805. Progress was made at all sites but considerably more work remains.
At Cueva Vallina (0733), early in the summer, Rupert worked on his project to push sump 6, but found his dry suit needed new seals. He made repairs good enough to access the sumps but not for extensive pushing. He returned later in the summer and replaced his damaged dry suit and set up his kit and rebreather which checked out ok for a dive to the end of the line. Bad weather was forecast with heavy rain and so the pushing dive was delayed and will be carried out on the next trip, conditions allowing.
Rupert accompanied Si and Di to Jochen’s Aven and Zarco’s Shaft at the top of this aven at the end of FN Passage. The area is very well decorated. The pitch dropped either near or possibly connected to the Catalans pitch in 600 Pesetas Passage, although no signs of previous visits were found. No open or good leads were noted and the find was surveyed, photographed (see below), video'd and de-rigged. On a mainly photographic trip to Swirl Chamber, a team had a look at marked pitches in the Galería Jesús Lecue. Here, the p8 proved to be a rope climb with a further 1.5m climb to a ledge over an undescended pitch (c.9m) into a large area where water can be heard falling. This has some potential as there is nothing known below this point.
In Cueva-Cubío de la Reñada (0048) the climb at the far end of the Itchy Crutch series was rigged with an etrier to avoid needing to pull on possible loose rock. This gave reasonably safe access to the large Boulder Hall with very large (up to small house size) boulders with no way on found at floor and easy climb levels. This hall is very close to and below Torca de Papá Noel (1471) and it is possible there is a connection via one of the gaps in the boulders at roof level. There was possible evidence (oddly placed rocks) that this hall may have been entered previously. Also on this trip, Bootlace Passage was checked out, confirming that ropes are in place above Two Sumps Chamber making it possible to access the area above using these aids. (Note that the first rope is worn through the sheaf but climbing gear can be put on the rope above this point.)
Two new sites were found in the area: 4999 a draughting shaft that needs digging and an undescended shaft (4998) that is 2.5m deep with a good draught to a wider section with a partial blockage where stones roll/fall for 5 seconds.
At Torca del Dron (4669) the rigging of the entrance and traverse etc. was altered to make it safe and photographs were taken, but pushing was left for Easter next year.
At Seldesuto, the Active Route in Torca de Corcada (0780) was again pushed together with our French colleagues from Speleo Club Dijon to gain the top of a 20m pitch. This was opened up on a second visit, and reached a further 30m drop into a large chamber with a boulder choke. There was no obvious way on but slots down in the boulders have not been examined due to lack of gear. This work has extended the cave to over 300m long and over 100m deep. Corcada is in a significant area beyond the end of Cueva-Cubío de la Reñada and Cueva del Arenal (0035) and, as this Active Route is well away from the Fossil Route pushed last year, the site is a key spot for further work in both sections of the cave.
At Las Calzadillas, the cave 2994 was dug but it was thought this non-draughting hole is not worth any more effort. At cave 2995 the entrance rift was dug but it gets too tight and would need capping or similar to make any more progress. The gully below the road near 2995 may be worth a look in early spring when vegetation is lower but it was too dense to easily get access in August.
At North Vega, a new site (4997) is a draughting dig that needs capping to gain entry. The entrance to the dig 4716 was capped to get to a 6m drop in a rift and a further 3m choked pit. The draught is coming from a hole that needs two sandstone blocks capping to gain access.
In Cubija, the sumps in the Powerhouse area of Torcon del Regaton (0892) were checked out. Spike Hall sump went down to 8m with slots in the floor with no way on found. Peaky Passage East sump has a sandy passage leading to where it goes steeply down a silt slope to a cross rift with an airbell above at a depth of 5m. The rift could not be fully checked left and right due to lack of visibility. Peaky Passage West sump looks inviting and is steeply descending to 9m where it is partly blocked by rock and chert, needing a lump hammer to remove. The sump can be seen continuing beyond, still steeply descending and big enough to get through.
At Simas del Picón (0075) the Matienzo team, using the steel Titan stretcher donated by the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association, helped the Wessex Cave Club get one of their injured members, who fell on the entrance pitch, down from the entrance to the field below from where he was air lifted to hospital. The Wessex team had done a fantastic job getting the patient up out of the cave and, with the Matienzo cavers, roping and getting the stretcher down the steep, wooded slope. The Spanish air ambulance team were extremely efficient with one member winching down to the patient through the trees. The patient suffered extensive damage to ligaments to his knee, a broken knee cap and bruising to ankles and leg, but escaped other broken bones.
On El Naso, a shaft (4974) was found and explored down a 3m pitch to a small chamber and slope to second 3m pitch and choke.
On La Colina, new GPS and photographs were made of both Sima and Cueva de Entrambascuetos (0381 & 0382). The dig 4958 discovered at Easter was found to have been filled in, probably by the farmer as it is adjacent to a track used by cattle. It now seems likely this hole had collapsed just prior to Easter when it was found. The location can easily be identified from the GPS and then using the photograph of the entrance to get the exact spot. If this is dug then it must be capped off securely to make it cattle proof.
High up on the hill at False Floor Cave (1557), a bolt was placed for a ladder or etrier to gain access above the false floor and a survey was made. The cave is a sideways crawl for some 6m, but the end needs checking out by a thin person. Below, in Sima-Cueva del Risco (0025), a photographic trip was made.
On Muela a new small and obscure draughting hole (4994) was opened up, allowing low, sloping access down to a small "sit-up" space and then a slope down to an open "pocket" in heavily altered limestone (grainy with grey and pink colour) which seems to be affected by hydrothermal activity. The end draughts but no clear way on was identified.
In Cubillas, Cueva de Gonzalo (0014) was surveyed and new photographs in Cueva de Tiva (0026) were taken.
At Barrio de Carrales, the cave 1265 was dug but more work is needed.
The North-East Sector and The Four Valleys System
In La Secada, as at Easter, a number of digs were worked on in the area above the “Mushroom Field”. At 4805 the limestone blocks (eroded bedrock) were stabilised using rebar pins and resin and some more scaffolding was installed. Digging down in this very strongly draughting hole continued with an open space on the uphill side. It seems the way on is down and work will continue at this important site. More work was done at Two and a Half Fat Ladies (0880) with an open space dug into in the roof of the dig. This was found to be going into a tight rift going up with a tiny hole at floor level. It seems the main way on is down and this is where digging will resume in 2020. In the fill at the end, a number of bones were recovered and two Spanish experts visited the site with our members and identified bones found previously. They also dug out more large mammal bones (limb and vertebrae) possibly of a bison or auroch. To the south of 0880, the dig 0874 was visited and found to have a good draught out of a too tight slot in solid rock.This was dug and capped and some progress was made but it now needs snappers. A survey and photographs of bones was carried out in the archaeological cave 0629. The underground survey work in Cueva las Cosas (0084) was completed and the survey linked from the dig 4599 giving it a new GPS.
On the western side of La Secada, cave 0723 was checked out and surveyed to resolve different descriptions - this seems to have been due to there being two entrances to the cave. A cave (4995) nearby was found to be a wide entrance to 4m of passage where a narrow flowstone slot leads up to a second small entrance.
Sites 0101 and 0229 at Fuente las Varas were looked for but could not be found. It seems likely the position is in error on the map. (The sites were found prior to GPS).
In Fresnedo, Cueva Fresnedo 2 (0841) was the scene for a long trip to the far end where the aven Bit on the Side was climbed. There is a possible passage on the opposite side of the climb which now needs traversing and surveying on a future trip. An attempt was made to find possible digs above Cueva Fresnedo 2 in the Campo la Cruz area but the team only found blind shake holes, and shafts 3205 and 3206 could not be located.
Above Secadura, shafts 3201 and 3202 were visited. However, the first could not be found and is likely to be in undergrowth where rubbish has been dumped. Site 3202 was a shake hole with nothing of interest noted.
The dig 2522, situated above Cueva del Torno (2366), was extensively excavated on six days by the DCC team with help from other Matienzo members. The dig got down to where an open low “bedding” above fill was found. Digging of a trench in this fill showed it was in an old stream bedding plane. This dig reached an open downstream section of standing height where sediments had collapsed – it is not clear where the draught is coming from and hence where to dig. A hole at the bottom of the entrance shaft draughts strongly and seems not to connect to the streamway area. This hole needs digging to check it out but, due to loose fill above, it will take a few hours to get access.
A visit was made to the end choke in Cueva del Torno (2366) where there is some possibility of getting up higher in the area but progress is not easy through the choke.
In Riaño, the main find of the expedition was the linking of Cueva-Cubío del Llanío (3234) with Cueva de Riaño (0105) bringing the length of the Four Valleys System to over 67km. This link had proved elusive when pushing in Llanío at Easter despite it seeming to be only a few metres away from Cueva de Riaño. This summer we had teams in both caves with SubPhones and a team on the surface with a further set. The surface team got to the possible link site at 11:45am on time and heard tone from the SubPhone in Cueva de Riaño. It was weak, probably due to the depth and not being able to get directly above locations because of the jungle. Later they could just hear the Riaño team communicating with the Llanío team despite the aerials then being held vertically. Underground, the team in Riaño made connection to surface using the SubPhones and the big aerial loop and then switched to a vertical loop and made contact with the 3234 team. It was clear the surveys were correct and locations were close. Shouting eventually identified a site to dig in order to connect. After 2hrs digging, connection was made by touching hands, then the passage was enlarged and members of both teams were able to get through. (YouTube video). On a further day, a through trip was made from Llanio (through the SubPhone entrance - 4536) to Riaño.
Also in Cueva de Riaño, side passages in the area of the connection were explored and surveyed and the Ammonite Choke was examined and pushed a further 28m towards Cueva del Torno at a higher level. In the first-explored section of Cueva-Cubío del Llanío there was a digging trip to the passage 20m away from The Hub where plastic bags were filled with the sand. There was no draught (not a hot day) and more digging, possibly with a tray, is needed.
The main, 93m deep shaft in Torcón de Riaño (0106) was dropped to check out side passages seen on a visit some years before. The team traversed around the shaft about 50m down (King Horn Traverse) and pushed a good side passage that ended in a dig. On a later trip, this was dug for 7m in a sandy choke. Some other prospects in the shaft remain to be examined. A small side passage to a pool of water was also surveyed on the entrance slope.
In the resurgence cave of Fuente de la Cuvia (0207), the small draughting passage to the left was dug enough to see it continuing 4m as a 1m high rift. On a later trip, this was capped and pushed for more than 10m to where the passage pinched in. At the start is a 30cm diameter, draughting hole. This was later capped and snappered. However, the latter did not do much and more work is needed. It was noted that the entrance seemed in the wrong location so this was later GPS'd and the location corrected.
In Cueva Hoyuca (0107) leads were pushed at the Tixtu Aven area (via Giant Panda entrance, 2691). Photographs were taken of the leopard skeleton and a climb above here into unstable breakdown chambers was surveyed for 63m. On a photographic trip in the entrance series and Pig Trotters Chamber an old ladder was noted that needs removing from Quadraphenia. Fungal growth and yellow organic deposits were noted in Gloomy Chamber. (This name is missing from the latest survey).
Elsewhere in Riaño, the shaft 4889 was difficult to get into due to the vegetation and a clearing job is needed to gain access. A tiny resurgence cave (4996) above a water trough was found but the passage is blocked 1m in. The big rift depression at Cueva del Cuervo (1319) was checked out for new caves. A 30cm hole was found where rocks fall 2m but this area is extremely difficult to work in due to dense jungle - an early spring visit may be better?
At Hornedo, a trip into Torca la Vaca (2889) via BigMat Calf Hole (3916) was made in order for Jim Lister to look at the sump off the main stream way past Cockup at Cockermouth Chamber. It was found, after transporting diving gear to the site, that the access to this sump needs a guide line putting in due to very low airspace and diving was adjourned until next year. Time was then spent checking the survey in the Bassenthwaite to Whitworth area. Leads were also checked out near Cockup at Cockermouth where some unsurveyed large passages were found - some 100m plus of surveying is needed. The diving gear was removed on a following trip. A photographic visit to record the gypsum in Kendal Mint Cake was made and the shaft at the end of the Help Me Lloyd traverse was pushed down 20m and found to be blind.
The Río Santa Juliana resurgence (3282), that has been tested and found to have sinks over 1km away, was dug on two occasions. This is to open up a sump and needs wet suit and diving gear. More work is needed to allow diving access to this site.
At San Antonio, Jim Lister carried out another diving and pushing project to push and survey leads at the end of Sarah Jean Passage in Fuente Aguanaz (0713). The tight sections on route to the Hippodrome were capped to allow easier access but, on the first visit, the caps did not work. On the second visit new caps worked ok, including at the Hippodrome dig, but more work was needed on a subsequent visit to get through to complex new passages. This area was surveyed to 178m and some leads are still to be pushed. On exiting the cave, Jim noted pollution coming from the side passage on the west downstream of sump 1 which was not present on the way in. Gear was then removed by Mark Smith for work elsewhere.
Above the end of Sarah Jean Passage, the draughting sink (2831) was found to be a massive digging prospect - big boulders etc. Instead, the team dug some 3m to the east at a draughting slot. At a depth of about one metre it seems to open up on the down-slope side. One more days digging would tell if it is worth any more effort - but it does not look promising as it may be the top of a massive boulder area. In the dry streambed and depression below, two further holes were dug, both draught but they look difficult to make good progress.
Cueva de Regato (3494) has possible leads - including a tight passage to the south and in the stream way - which were looked at, but nothing significant was found. Downstream, the strongly draughting way on is blocked by a flake and nothing was found upstream.
At Garzón, the cave 4960 was surveyed and photographed. A small passage on the right could be pushed by small caver.
At Navajeda, on a walk around the hill that contains the Church caves, a possible cold store was found but, due to the caver being stung by a hornet, the site was not GPS'd.
In our new area of Hazas de Cesto, 3% Pot (4877) was surveyed and checked out for leads. At the bottom of the final pitch there are two digs in boulders - half a day’s digging would tell if more work is warranted. In the same area, at Cueva de Tesugo (4878), the sump at the end of the left hand passage was checked out and found to be tight and would need the floor digging (under water) to get any access.
The following work was carried out in agreement with the Spanish club G.E. Pistruellos.
At Moncobe, the sump at Bassenthwaite Water in the south end of El Cubillón (2538) was dived by Mark Smith and Jim Lister over three trips. The sump proved to be very short and could be made into a duck. Both pushed 100m plus of new big passage to a chamber with leads still going. It was noticed that the ropes on the entrance pitches were in poor condition. On two further trips, over 500m of passage was surveyed bringing the cave to nearly 2.5km. The finds are mainly heading south including a stream way going upstream. Downstream will need digging of the gravel fill but there is no draught.
The walk in cave (3024) proved difficult to find, partly due to the summer's dense jungle. A look in spring would be a better bet. A new cave 5001 was dug to open up a squeeze to 12m of passage to a choke.
In Barrio de Arriba, a survey of the lower levels of the Mina Favorita (1561) is now on-line. It is at a similar altitude to the passages being pushed at the end of Sarah Jean Passage situated a few hundred metres to the NE. Near by, new photos of La Cueva en una Mina (4252) were taken. The dig 2070 was worked on but no real progress was made. It is thought not to be worth more effort. A new dig (5002) is a rift a few metres deep filled with farm rubbish. It looks to be just into our permit area, but this needs checking.
Summer expedition article by Phil Papard.
|0048||Reñada (Itchy Crutch +)||complete (PP)|
|0084||Cosas||in hand (ND/RB)|
|0105||Riaño||in hand (PF)|
|0106||Torcón||in hand (?? wait for next year??)|
|0107||Hoyuca||in hand (PF)|
|0733||Vallina (Jochen's/Zarco's)||complete (JC)|
|1561||Favorita Mine (Survex)||complete (PG)|
|2538||Cubillon||in hand (SC)|
|3234||Llanío||in hand (JC)|
|4877||3% Pot||complete (PP)|
The list below shows links to those 82 sites which were extended or newly discovered over the summer period, or which have had surveys, references or descriptions updated, photos or video clips added, or entrances repositioned using a GPS.
Arredondo 733 Vallina, Cueva;
Barrio de Arriba 1561 Favorita, Mina; 4251 Cueva en una Mina, La; 5002 rift;
Barrio de Carrales 1265 cave;
Barrio La Mina 2070 dig;
Campo la Cruz 3205 shaft; 3206 shaft;
Cubija 75 Picón, Simas del; 892 Regaton, Torca del;
Cubillas 14 Gonzalo, Cueva de; 26 Tiva, Cueva de; 32 Transformador, Cueva del;
El Naso 4974 shaft;
El Sedo 25 Risco, Sima-Cueva del;
Fresnedo 841 Fresnedo 2, Cueva; 2366 Torno, Cueva del; 2522 dig;
Fuente las Varas 101 Canal, Cueva de la;
Garzón 4960 cave;
Hazas de Cesto (east) 4877 3% Pot; 4878 Tesugo, Cueva de;
Hornedo 2889 Vaca, Torca La; 3282 Santa Juliana resurgence, Rio; 3916 BigMat Calf Hole;
La Colina 381 Entrambascuetos, Cueva de; 382 Entrambascuetos, Sima de; 1092 cave; 1557 False Floor Cave; 3553 shaft; 4958 dig;
La Secada 81 Carcavuezo, Cueva de; 84 Cosas, Cueva las; 229 shaft; 629 cave; 723 cave; 874 dig; 880 Two and a Half Fat Ladies; 4599 dig; 4805 dig; 4995 cave;
Las Calzadillas 2994 cave; 2995 cave;
Llueva 114 Llueva, Cueva; 501 Cerro Chico, Cueva del; 896 cave; 3116 Cuatro Entradas, Cueva de;
Moncobe 2538 Cubillón, El; 3024 cave; 5001 cave;
Muela 4994 cave;
N Vega 4716 shaft; 4717 dig; 4997 dig;
Navajeda 5003 hole;
Riaño 105 Riaño, Cueva de; 106 Riaño, Torcón de; 107 Hoyuca, Cueva; 207 Cuvia, Fuente de la; 1319 Cuervo, Cueva del; 2691 Giant Panda entrance; 3234 Llanío, Cueva-Cubío del; 4536 Sub-phone entrance; 4889 shaft; 4996 resurgence;
Riolastras 4004 Palomas, Cueva de las;
S Vega 48 Reñada, Cueva-Cubío de la; 177 Cuevuca, La; 333 Azpilicueta, Torca de; 1471 Papá Noel, Torca de; 4669 Dron, Torca del; 4791 Disto, Cueva del; 4793 cave; 4794 cave; 4998 shaft; 4999 shaft;
San Antonio 713 Aguanaz, Fuente; 2831 resurgence & sink; 3494 Regato, Cueva de;
Secadura 3201 shaft; 3202 shaft;
Seldesuto 780 Corcada, Torca de;