Updated 27th April 2012; 23rd November 2013; 23rd May, 2nd December 2014; 30th April, 19th October, 5th November 2016; 30th September 2017; 24th September 2018; 8th May 2022
An excavated shaft top (enlarged in July 2018), just up from the track, is covered with a fridge door. The ladder is best rigged from the tree as this puts the ladder in the middle of the entrance. A previous GPS reading is VP5126(0)0098(8) Altitude 130m. The current position is the result of a surface survey.
A 6m shaft descends to a
pool. The site was explored during very dry weather in October 2013. On this occasion the cave was found to drop into a stream passage with a small flow of water generally 3-4m in diameter, leading after 130m to an upstream sump. The water level was lowered by 5cm in October 2014. A climb at the sump leads to tubes. The main passage contains deep mud, and is largely sumped in wetter conditions.
Some draughting passages around the base of the pitch may warrant a further visit, one was connected to a climb from the streamway.
The downstream end (near the entrance), should be the feeder to Cueva Espada.
A dead goat prevented entry in April 2014. The body disintegrated, spilling out maggots and entrails when an attempt was made to remove it. It had disappeared 6 months later.
At Easter 2016, when water levels were high, the site was investigated by Jim Lister (video):
- downstream - taking a lot of water, blocked by boulders.
- upstream - left hand side pool is blank after 2m.
- upstream - under the way in, dived for 7m (duck leading to dry passage in summer). The diver turned around as believed Bunnies and Beer passage sumped to the roof.
Intensive diving work took place over July and August 2016. The upstream sump was dived and surveyed by Jim Lister past a couple of airbells to a chamber where an inlet trickles in and a possible route required capping. Colin Hayward subsequently inspected an underwater arch on the right near the end of the sump. At the moment this is too low over a large silt bank. The upstream passage seems to be heading away from Cueva Llanío and under the ridge. However, water may be coming in from Cueva Llanío or further afield, eg site 3451.
On the single trip in August 2017, Jim Lister capped out the "possible route" constriction beyond the sump and continued upstream for 31m where another sump was met (sketch survey).
Despite 2018 having a dry summer, the route upstream from the base of the ladder remained completely flooded, thwarting dives at the "usual" sump. (It may be possible to lower the downstream streambed by digging at the back end (upstream) in Cueva Espada.
Silt screws have been placed at appropriate distances along the initial passage so that a guide line can be installed in case of flooding! (The passage floods to the roof and is 100 meters long approximately.) Digging out the line was required in sump 1 as it was buried in mud banks. Two eels were encountered in the sump although they could only be seen for a short time due to the silt causing very poor visibility.
The dive base was reached and, taking my mask and reel, I headed towards sump 2. There is a slot and possible climb up into a continuation in the roof with a good echo above where, all those years ago, I capped my way into the continuation. I squeezed through the capped bit and climbed down 12 ft, to the bottom and looked for the way on which looked different to how I remember it, I tied off the dive line and ducked under several arches until there was no obvious way on except for below water, which was now out of depth and murky. The dive line was tied off to a good anchor point (eye hole) in the roof.
14th April 2022
Dived sump 1, with survey kit and haul cord, survival bag etc. Transported kit to sump 2, not easy as it needs carrying up climb, taking through capped squeeze and down the free climb on the other side. I took one 300 bar seven litre cylinder through first and brought it back as a test as I was not sure if it could be done and did not want to get stuck beyond sump 1!
Sump two dived, with the two 7 litre cylinders, no visibility most the time by feel. It seemed roomy and shallow, mud floor, with big soft silt banks, some arches, a few bends. A quarter of the way through I found a nice eye hole in the roof to tie the guide line to, which was reassuring! I placed 4 silt screws in, one of which is on a sharp right hand bend, hopefully it will not cause unaware divers a problem with their legs going under the line and their fins snagging? Another silt screw was placed and the diver passed under another arch before meeting a steeply ascending mud slope that lead to surface in a large chamber.
Another silt screw was set into the steeply ascending mud slope and the guide line was tied off. The passage was extremely wide with a steep mud bank in front, with what appeared to be two passages leading off at the top, behind the diver behind the sump pool appeared to be an large alcove - possibly a big passage?
The passage in front, on the left is 3m wide by 3m high, with a small dried up stream bed along the middle and firm mud banks sloping up along the sides. (Very simular to the passage leading from the entrance to sump 1.) This passage was followed till it was partially blocked by a bolder choke, with what appeared to be passage above?
The choke was passed easily and the passage was followed until eventually a side passage on the left was encountered. This was followed to an aven with a 2m blind, pot below. Above the aven appears to be blind but a large slot looks very exciting with what looks like a chamber or large passage.
Back at the main passage this continues to a sloping mud floor which falls away down to a long low duck?
At the dive base, the diver waded across the sump pool and, after several attempts and the construction of an improvised foot loop made from spare dive line, was able to climb up from the water to the bottom of an ascending mud ramp. The steep ramp leveled out and the mud changed to clay and then to sand.
At the top of the ramp, the passage was 4m with a arched roof, the floor was of crystallised sand that crunched under foot. The passage was followed to a junction, which had a two well proprtioned passages leading off, and some stalagmites and to the left giving the Junction its name. The cave here is different in nature and a lot higher than the passage previously explored, which is active stream way. Due to time constraints the diver made his way out.
18/04/2022 up into Sandy Passage
The diver installed a dive line along the dry passage between the entrance and dive base (200 meters) in case the passage flooded to the roof! which was likely due to the poor drainage at the Espada end and the potential for bad weather. Note: The passage is blocked beneath the entrance pitch and the water takes weeks to drain through the blockage / choke into Espada cave. This causes the passage between the entrance and sump 1 (Fridge Door Cave) to back up in heavy rain and stay flooded for weeks.
The line was belayed to silt screws, which were sank into the deep clay banks, found on the passage sides, Much smaller 3 litre, 300 bar cylinders were used. Sump 1 was passed and the awkward climb up to the capped crawl and down the other side was completed. The visibility in sump 2 was zero so no attempt was made to survey it. The tags on the guide line were counted and confirmed sump two is only 55 meters long.
The last survey point from the previous trip was the silt screw at the edge of the sump pool, 1800-22-02.27. This was used for the start of the Sandy Passage survey and nominated as station zero for batch 22-03. The steeply ascending passage was surveyed through the change to sand, continuing southeast to "Stalagmites Junction".
The left hand passage was explored first as it was thought most likely to be heading towards Llanío. The passage was surveyed as it was explored. A hole in the floor where a small stream sinks (impenetrable) was encountered and named the Bear Pit. It's only 1.5 meters deep and a few meters long and is best passed on the right hand side. Just passed the Bear Pit is a small inlet passage on the left (station 22-03.19) with a small amount of water running from it. A further 15m along the passage stalamites can be seen on the roof and a slight bank of calsite acts as platform for some stalagmites. Behind them a large passage can be partly seen, behind a rock arch with a shaft in front with steeply, well decorated sloping sides! The end of exploration in this passage, station 1800-22-03.21).
Returning to "Stalagmite Junction", the survey and exploration continued! Turning right the passage / chamber drops down a 2 meter bank which the stalagmites are located on and then meanders right and then left gently. It then reduces in size to a passage of a few meters wide, before then opening up into a mud floored chamber with a steeply sloping floor from right down to left. Down slope to the left, the chanber ends in a passage which descends down a very steep twisting passage, 2m by 3m dimensions. This passage has not yet been explored. Active station for this passage tie in will be:
To the left the chamber continues up slope (smooth round roof with cracked mud/ clay floor). At the top, a passage called "Buttercup and Stich" is encountered. A big alcove is passed on the left, then well-proportioned unexplored passage is also passed on the left. (Station 1800-22-03.33 is the survey tie in point).
The passage then changes and becomes "vadose", a very comfortable 2.5m wide at the bottom which has a sandy flat floor. A chamber is reached with unexplored passages leading off on both sides, the left hand being " Vadose" and of simular proportions as the main passage the right hand side passage is a high thin slot that also warrants future investigation.
A short distance along the main passage yet another chamber is met, this time with three passages leading off, two on the left and one on the right. A mud choked passage is then passed on the left (possible dig) and then a tight crawl on the right with some stalagmites on the roof.
The cave then splits into three: the right hand passage becomes a wide, stooping size passage which was left because of the delicate stal on the roof; the left hand side goes up a slope and splits into two - the right hand side continues for 7m and rejoins the righthand passage with the stal mentioned earlier; the far left passage which is smaller 2 x 2m, with calcite floor.This continues steeply upwards, and is called "Stairway to Heaven".
Back at the previous junction, the main passage continues and a passage / passages on the left emit a draft (station 22-03.62, is the tie in point here). This is now the best place to continue in this direction as the continuing "main passage" eventually ends in a large, mud / clay run-in choke.
Going back to "Stairway to Heaven" passage, this continues to a junction. A narrow, twisting passage here ends after a few meters in a round chamber with no way off. This is the highest area know in cave so far. It eventually becomes a scramble up brown calcite to a wide low slot, with a few short dumpy stalagmites in it. It's low but should be easily passed into a large chamber or even passage (?). With a good echo, this is also definitely a good way on and is the limit of exploration in this passage. (Station 22-03.57 is the survey tie-in point)
Back to the junction, the left hand passage continues, well proportioned, and is heading directly back towards the vadose passage seen earlier. However, it is considerably higher so may go over the top. (Station 22-03.55 is the limit of exploration here and is the tie-in point)
Note: Correction fluid used to mark stations and waterproof paper tags.
Link to entry in the Cave Diving Sump Index.
Reference: anon., 2002b (summer logbook); Corrin Juan, 2003b; anon., 2012b (Easter logbook); anon., 2013e (autumn logbook); anon., 2014b (Easter logbook); anon., 2014d (autumn logbook); anon., 2016b (Easter logbook); anon., 2016c (summer logbook); anon., 2017c (summer logbook); anon., 2018c (summer logbook); anon., 2022b (Easter logbook)
Entrance picture: 2002, 2013, 2022
Underground picture(s): 2016 : 2017
Videos: investigating pools, Easter 2016 : sheep disposal (YouTube) : sump diving videos summer 2016 (YouTube) :
|Explorations at Easter 2022 by Jim Lister - all videos on YouTube|
|1||Down entrance mudbank to sump 1 (5:07)|
|2||Traversing the awkward passage between sumps 1 and 2 (12:06)|
|3||New: Mud choke back to sump 2 (11:16)|
|4||New: End of passage heading toward Llanío (5:37)|
|5||Dive out through sump 2 (7:47)|
|6||Going out through newly enlarged excavated section to base of ladder and exit. (4:26)|