Matienzo 2004

Cave exploration around Matienzo during 2004

(Explorations in early January 2004 are tagged onto the Christmas 2003 descriptions in the Matienzo 2003 article).

   With the arrival of the 2004 permit from the Gobierno de Cantabria and a map delimiting the exploration area from the Federación Cántabra de Espeleología, it was suddenly realised that there was a corner of the permit area in the municipalities of Riotuerto and Entrambasaguas that had not been visited. It had been assumed over the last few years that the south-western edge of the area was defined by the Alisas - Cobadal road but it was actually a grid line a couple of kilometres to the west of Alisas. The effect of this was to enlarge the area by around 9 sq km and precipitate an attack of "new exploration fever"! The couple of days in February spent getting to know the area and speaking to a number of the locals, uncovered some holes itemised below. A visit in March saw site 1975, Torca de Mortiro descending 2 pitches, 30m into a chamber where it was possible to see at least another 20m and hear running water.
   The area, centred on the hamlet of Ideopuerta, includes a number of valleys draining to the north and east down from the ridge to the west of Alisas. The ground drops from 700m to around 100m in the north where a sizeable stream sinks (site 1976). This may be particularly interesting if it picks up water from Cobabadal and heads north under the next ridge to resurge at Fuente Aquanaz. Over the 600m height range there is a mixture of horizontally bedded limestone and sandstone visible, and some of the shafts documented below appear to start in the sandstone.
    A lot of the ground is farmed and a number of entrances will, inevitably, have been covered over and "lost". However, the limited contact with locals has shown the usual friendliness and amusement that anyone should want to drop down the holes. One farmer took time to show us a shaft and, when asked, the people have said that nobody has explored the area in the past (but see below). 
   The potential could be considerable in any or all directions of  Matienzo, Bustablado, Miera and Fuente Aguanaz to the east, south, west and north respectively.

The list below shows links to those 12 sites which were discovered during the  February 2004 "flying visits".

1969 shaft; 1970 cave; 1971 shaft; 1972 shaft; 1973 shaft; 1974 Machorras, Torca de; 1975 Mortiro, Torca de;
1976 sink; 1977 cave; 1978 shaft; 1979 shaft; 1980 shaft;

Easter 2004
   The first major explorations of the year took place over the Easter fortnight. Despite the very poor weather, over 50 people braved the rain, hail and campsite quagmire (video) with others staying at Bar Tomas in Ogarrio. Over 7.2km of new cave passage were surveyed - an excellent achievement with mixed teams from CCC, CDG, CPC, CUCC, KCC, MNRC, MUSS, NCC, NPC, Plymouth CG, RRCPC, SUSS, SWCC, University of Wales and Wessex Cave Club, and cavers from Denmark, Sweden, Spain and the UK combining to discover "caverns measureless". The major discoveries of 4km were in the Sumidero de Cobadal (sites 553 and 1930), Torca de Papá Noel (1099m) and Cueva Vallina (939m).

Some detail
   In Cobadal, an enclosed depression to the west of Matienzo, a rift opened up last year (site 1930) was explored down a 17m deep, tight slot into a streamway sinking 50m away. Subsequent enlargement of another hole near the sink allowed much easier entry to the cave.
   The passage was quickly explored downstream to a small climb and 5m pitch. The streamway - typically 4m high and 2m wide - was then followed to a bouldery chamber where downstream has not been followed. At a number of places, a higher level has been surveyed and a large proportion of the length (4020m) is in inlet passages, not all of which have been pushed.
   The current longest inlet (Just an Inlet) enters the cave just before the boulder chamber and has been followed up into a higher level which approaches the entrance passages. There are draughting leads to go at. The trip back to the entrance from this end takes 2.5 hours.
   At the current downstream end of the cave, the passage is heading straight for the draughty Powerhouse / Peaky Passage area of Torca de Regaton in the North Vega System. Speculation has the combined waters either heading back to Fuente Aguanaz, or being a feeder to the 4 Valleys System through Bollón / Carcavueso. This annotated line survey shows the closeness of the systems.
   Other surveys include an annotated cave survey, a survex 3d file which includes the nearby systems and a gif of the latest detailed survey of the cave. 
(Some photos in the Sumidero by Peter Eagan: old entrance, entrance passage, Eye-Glasses Passage, streamway 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9)

    In Torca de Papá Noel, 1014m of new passages were explored: the Cheesecake Series rose up from the base of Belcher's Slab, the CIC Series (pitches around the Plaza de Concorde), and the Floorless Chamber was explored to Torture Grotto where routes come close to the Coffin Levels and At the Opera in Torca de Azpilicueta. The South Vega System length increased to 30187m after these explorations.
   In Cueva Vallina, the Shatter Passage area was surveyed and pushed along Barney Rubble's Uranium Mine, and the high level Skyhook / Albert's Passage extension was surveyed across a 20m pit into 130m of high level passage that closed down. Along with other surveying, the length was increased by 939m to 32108m.
   Eighteen holes were investigated on Muela; site 810 has been left after running out of rope part way down an 8 - 10m wide shaft with water heard.
   Cueva Mortiro (site 1975) was the "star" of the new area. A number of trips pushed the depth to 103m with two series of pitches dropping down after the entrance pitch. The traverse length was surveyed to 356m.
   Shaft / cave hunting was also undertaken in the Cobadal / Ideopuerta / Alisas areas. Some of the shafts were descended but most have choked. The remainder await exploration in the summer. The total documented sites in the Matienzo area rose by 98 to 2078.

   The list below shows links to those 98 sites which were extended or newly discovered over Easter 2004, or which have had surveys updated, entrance photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS.

71 Mostajo, Torca del; 121 Simón 1, Torca de; 166 cave; 264 Coterón, Torca del; 417 shaft; 418 shaft; 419 shaft; 420 shaft; 548 dig; 553 Cobadal, Sumidero de; 715 shaft; 733 Vallina, Cueva; 760 shaft; 807 shaft; 808 shaft; 810 shaft; 841 Fresnedo 2, Cueva; 915 Porquería, Cueva de; 917 shaft; 921 cave; 928 shafts - 2; 939 shaft rift; 1189 dig; 1391 Volcano Cave; 1464 cave; 1471 Papá Noel, Torca de; 1655 dig; 1900 cave; 1930 shaft; 1958 shaft; 1969 shaft; 1974 Machorras, Torca de; 1975 Mortiro, Torca de; 1978 shaft; 1979 shaft; 1981 shaft; 1982 shaft; 1983 cave; 1984 cave; 1985 shaft; 1986 cave; 1987 cave; 1988 cave; 1989 cave; 1990 cave; 1991 caves; 1992 cave; 1993 shaft; 1994 sink; 1995 shaft; 1996 cave; 1997 shaft; 1998 dig; 1999 cave; 2000 shafts; 2001 cave; 2002 cave; 2003 shaft; 2004 shaft; 2005 dig; 2006 dig; 2007 shaft; 2008 shaft; 2009 shaft; 2010 cave; 2011 shaft; 2012 shaft; 2013 dig; 2014 dig; 2015 shaft; 2016 cave; 2017 shaft; 2018 dig; 2019 shaft; 2020 shaft; 2021 shaft; 2022 shaft; 2023 shaft; 2024 shaft; 2025 The Fox Hat; 2026 shaft; 2027 shaft; 2028 shaft; 2029 dig; 2030 cave; 2031 caves; 2032 shaft; 2033 shaft; 2034 shaft; 2035 shaft; 2036 shaft; 2037 shaft; 2038 shaft; 2039 sink; 2040 shaft; 2041 dig; 2042 shaft; 2043 shaft; 2044 cave; 2045 shafts; 2046 shaft; 2047 shaft; 2048 shaft; 2049 shaft; 2050 cave; 2051 shaft; 2052 shaft; 2053 shaft; 2054 shaft; 2055 shaft; 2056 shaft; 2057 dig; 2058 shaft; 2059 shaft; 2060 shaft; 2061 cave; 2062 cave; 2063 shaft; 2064 shaft; 2065 shaft; 2066 dig; 2067 shaft; 2068 Corporales, Cueva de; 2069 dig; 2070 dig; 2071 dig; 2072 dig; 2073 shaft; 2074 shaft; 2075 shaft; 2076 shaft; 2077 shafts; 2078 shaft

   For a couple of weeks around Whit, a number of explorations took place. Trips occured in Torca de Papá Noel (through Torca de Coterón) , to the area beyond Floorless Chamber, where 181m were surveyed putting the cave very close (4m) to At the Opera in Torca de Azpilicueta. More photos were also taken, including some of colourful stal and the nesting Alpine Choughs and chicks halfway down Coterón entrance shaft. An updated survex file of the South Vega System is found here.
   A couple of days were spent around the area between Cruz Ozana and Cueva de Coquisera (site 39). Site 378 was finally explored 22 years after its discovery: the 16m deep shaft in clints choked. (A number of other holes were descended in this vacinity, but GPS readings appear suspect).
    Above the entrance of Coquisera, an open, echoing shaft was discovered. This hole (site 2079) turned out to be a roomy 8m pitch into a descending passage to a choke and aven - the total length about 20m. In the valley above Coquisera a 30m pitch (site 2081) was encountered that needs some boulders removing at the top.
   To the west of Fuente las Varas a 15m shaft (site 2084) was explored to a short choked passage.
   A single trip was made into the Sumidero de Cobadal. After giving the farmer a small photo album of shots taken at Easter, a lead half way up a rift on the right about 150m from the entrance was visited. At Easter, this had been left over an exposed drop into a passage. The pitch was quickly rigged with a bolt and ladder and the 5m climb (Loop Pitch) dropped into walking passage in both directions. To the south west, 80m of walking (Pinnacle Passage) lead to a small boulder pile and station 228, the final survey point from the Easter exploration. The first "good lead" on the east of the passage was then looked at. Birthday Passage is mainly walking in passage up to 5m wide and high that "ends" at boulder breakdown. This was linked to station 180, just above where the Easter explorers climbed out of the water, but before Rat Junction.
   Back at the ladder a short amount of walking passage to the north east "ends" at a calcited surface run-in boulder choke that seems to have holes to look at. About 400m was surveyed in total and the pitch has been left laddered, as to get to the boulder pile now takes 20 minutes rather than 2.5 hours! The survey with the Whit discoveries added is here (584kb) with the Survex file.
The big loop (about 3km) closed with negligible horizontal error but there is a large vertical error that may indicate clino problems down stream around the cascades or problems with transcriptions  - this needs checking out.

   The total length of new passage surveyed at Whit was 408m.

   The list below shows links to those 12 sites which were extended or newly discovered over Whit 2004, or which have had surveys updated, entrance photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS.

264 Coterón, Torca del; 378 shaft; 733 Vallina, Cueva; 1471 Papá Noel, Torca de; 1642 shaft; 1930 Cobadal, Sumidero de; 2079 shaft; 2080 cave; 2081 dig; 2082 shaft; 2083 cave; 2084 shaft

Summer 2004
   On August 12th, the man who gave his name to Germán's Bar passed away peacefully at the age of 91. Germán Solana Gomez had always welcomed returning cavers and in recent years was often seen sitting on his chair at the end of the bar or strolling up and down the road in the warmer weather.
   The caving period was spread out with about 60 people (including Danes, Slovacs and Spaniards) turning up over a 6 week period, enjoying excellent weather throughout. The focus was Sumidero de Cobadal where the cave length grew to over 6km.
   There were a number of trips in Cueva Vallina, exploring a major extension. New cave passage surveyed over the period amounted to nearly 2.7km.

Some detail
   Sumidero de Cobadal (site 1930) was the main centre of attention, with pushing trips downstream and in various side passages. Downstream, a route following the water between boulders from the bouldery chamber was followed, reaching the top of an 11m wet pitch. At the base, the way on was under the deluge and down a boulder slope. The bottom levelled out and the water sank in sediment near an apparent fault. An alternative route down exists to the east, beyond the p11 where an 8m pitch dropped to a tight route through to the base of the p11. "Upstairs" in the boulder choke, spaces have been enlarged and boulders removed. The possible route onwards appears unstable with boulders in clay. Tne streamway route from the 5m pitch in the main streamway to the boulder chamber was also surveyed and the Wessex Inlet pushed a few metres to a sump which could be drained.
   Around the main stream, there are various oxbows and higher routes which were surveyed and a number of small inlets were looked at. Passages around the maze area near the start of the streamway were extended and one came back towards the entrance to end in a boulder choke which must be the one seen at the northeast end of Pinnacle Passage.
   A number of trips were made to the Evidence of Measure and Rat Junction areas where a "big keyhole passage" had been left unexplored  from Easter. A series of sandstone chambers with inlets were entered. These all close in although there is a lead in Top Tip. The inlets appear to be associated with the valley to the south of the cave and a number of surface holes await proper investigation. Downstream was followed in small passage and a route through forced into the streamway downstream of Rat Junction. This streamway / high level area, with the junction of Birthday Passage and high rifts part-filled with boulders, is confusing and more exploration is required from station 180.
   To the west of Rat Junction, an 8m climb was passed to 50m of rift passage that closed in, while further north, Evidence Oxbow Series was entered revealing a set of small, draughting passages that continue.
   Nearer the start of Pinnacle Passage, Taters Deep, Mountain High was entered near station 228. This higher level set of rift passages bypassed Pinnacle Passage to emerge 5m above the floor opposite Loop Pitch.
   Attention was given to a number of draughting surface sites that may join into downstream Cobadal and provide a link between the North Vega System and the caves in La Secada (Cueva de Carcavuezo, Cueva de Bollón, etc). The Pants Dig (site 1655) was excavated into a crawl to 2 draughting digs. Site 2101 (on the first road bend from La Secada and above the western end of Cueva de Bollón) was excavated through draughting fill and widened until it was decided nearby sites were better. Both of these lie in the same depression in trees about 150m to the north. A small, mud-floored , horizontal tube (site 2109) was abandoned after digging out about 5m of fill. More digging is possible but there is no draught. Of more interest was the draughting rift 5m away (site 2108) which was enlarged over a number of days. The passage turned to the left and this was pushed down through a hole in the roof of a small chamber where possibilities exist between boulders over a short drop, and over calcite. A couple of walks over the Bosmartín area confirmed that a number of holes required more investigation, e.g. sites 706, 710, 711, 2107, 2106, 2077, 2104, 2105 and 2103.
   Walks over the cave on the Cobadal hillsides indicated nothing wide open at a higher level. Sites investigated included shaft 917, descended 12m to a choke; dig 2026 where blocks need removing to obtain the way on; 2077 - a small undescended shaft; 2085 and 2086 fenced depressions in sandstone which weren't investigated; the small shaft 2087, and site 2099, a small shaft dug on a number of occasions where stones fall another 6 - 8m in a draughting rift. At the level of the entrance, the Firestone dig (site 2091, with a Firestone tyre) was excavated to a wet, draughting crawl.
   Exploring the Sumidero has involved dozens of cavers and various passages have been left open and going as people have headed back to the UK. Few secrets have been held back and these leads have spurred the next team to push on and "grab" the glory. During this period of easy openings, e.g. Grabba's Oxbow and the "big keyhole" lead, a certain "competitiveness" developed that saw groups booking flights to get back to Cobadal to grab some passage before the rush! In the end, everyone got some of the action and a curious coincidence rounded off this aspect. Site 2088, a small shaft above the cave, had been filled with tyres by the farmer. On lifting the top tyre, the manufacturer's logo "Grabber" was revealed. The tyre now adorns the excavated entrance to the Sumidero.
   The Sumidero de Cobadal appears to drain the water from the east of the Cobadal depression and takes it east and south towards the northwest corner of Matienzo. To the west and north of the cave, there are a number of digs and caves that have been investigated in the past, e.g. Snottite Cave, Orchard Cave and Torca de Torcida and it is possible that the further west in the depression the more likely the water is to drain northwest to Fuente Aguanaz rather than feed the Sumidero de Cobadal. An interesting site (2066) which could go either way is at the base of a steep sided basin that takes water in wet weather. An excavated entrance leads to a draughting boulder choke which requires shoring and to 70m of draughting "sewer" passage that continues. Other sites to the west investigated in the summer include 2089, a possible dig were draught emerges between boulders and 2090, an excavated, draughting bouldery hole above a wet weather stream sink. Cueva del Campizo (site 2121) was pointed out by the farmer. This 180m long, old phreatic level, higher than Torcida, has some good stalactites and helictites. There was evidence that the cave had been previously explored and unfortunately, the cave is currently the home of foxes which have fouled sections of the cave.
   The line survey of Cobadal, the North Vega System (Torca del Regaton, Torca de Mostajo), Cueva de Bollón and the 4 Valleys System shows the exciting prospect of linking all these caves together. Current thinking is that the North Vega System will drain into a downstream continuation of Cobadal, join with the water from Carcavueso and Riaño and then resurge at Secadura, a sink to resurgence distance of over 7.2km. The 5 Valleys System would then be approaching 70km in length. One aim for next year is to tackle up Torca del Regaton to reinvestigate the northern passages.

Some altitudes of interest:

271m - the floor altitude in Cueva Candenosa

235m - the entrance to Cueva del Campizo

201m - 127m The entrance and deepest point (Sept 2004) in Sumidero de Cobadal
182m - 162m Entrance and deepest point of Torca de Torcida, Cobadal
152m - 139m Entrance and deepest point of Orchard Cave, Cobadal
147m - 127m Entrance and deepest point of Snottite Cave, Cobadal
126m - stream sink (site 1976)
122m - approximate water level behind the Carcavueso sink, La Secada
60m - Approximate water level in the southern end of Fuente Aguanaz.

   Cueva Vallina (site 733) at Arredondo also received some attention this summer, with a major extension at the end of Barney Rubble's Uranium Mine. This was entered at Easter and is about 250m long, largely crawling over sharp rock, with a tight section at the start, and dug out in places following a fair draught. At the end larger, unstable passage is entered, choking to the right, and to the left. where, in the summer, a large chamber with pitches in the floor was entered. Holes on the left hand wall have not been pushed. At the far end of the chamber, the continuation is followed for 170m with a pit traversed round on the left, and is followed by two 20m pitches which have been descended. At the base of the second pitch is an unexplored passage over a pit on the left. A few metres beyond the two pitches, the main passage ends at The Bridge of Khazad- Doom, overlooking a large passage, Galería de Germán. This cannot be reached directly as it is cut through by a big hole taken by the second 20m pitch. It is reached by crossing The Bridge of Khazad- Doom, followed by a 15m rope traverse, the Traverse of the Pigs, and a 5m pitch down. The passage is followed to an aven where a passage on the left reaches a larger passage, ending at undescended shafts to the left and a chamber to the right. Galería de Germán continues along steep mud slopes requiring traverse lines, and has been explored as far as a 6m handline climb to a lower level. This has been explored as far as an aven chamber.
   Various smaller extensions were made in the maze area, near Swirl Chamber and Pinnacle Chamber. The length of Cueva Vallina is now 32575m.
   Ever hopeful of more entrances and the link to the South Vega System, a number of excursions were carried out over Vallina and the hilltop over the supposed link area. On the south side of the hill, sites 2112, 2113 and 2114 are digs and site 2115 has a strong draught with a walk-in to a crawl. Near the top of the hill on the north side, shaft 2094 is 20m deep and has been explored by another group, but undescended by us; site 2095 is a 4m deep, roomy hole; site 2096 has a 5 x 5m top and chokes 10m down; site 2097 remains unexplored with a 10m pitch and stones rolling further and site 2098 is a climb down into a small cave. In the same area site 1139 was descended on 2 ladders with about another 8m still to go.
   As always, a number of trips above and below ground added to the knowledge about the South Vega System. A single trip into Torca de Papá Noel (site 1471) pushed the passages entered at Whit and connected these western passages (The Hall of Tubes) with Torca de Azpilicueta in a chamber called At the Opera, first explored in 1992.
    In Torca de Coterón, the base of a 20m pitch in Frank's Passage was excavated into a small chamber. The length of the South Vega System is now 30571m.
   One hundred metres higher than Cueva Helechales, a number of interesting sites were investigated. Site 2116 (first spotted through binoculars from Enaso) is an 8m wide remnant with roof pendants almost completely filled with sediment. There are a number of possible digs at the back of the shelter. Nearby, a 4m deep shaft (site 2126) was not descended and neither was the unexpected 30 - 50m pitch in site 2127 at the end of a short crawl in from the surface.Other holes to be descended include 2128 and 2129 (a roomy 12m deep pitch).  
    Above the TV Mast depression, a dry resurgence (site 2130) was investigated and a shaft under a large sandstone block (site 2131) left undescended). After bramble bush clearance on the TV Mast track a dig has emerged at site 2132. Some more work was put into The Volcano (site 1391) but the way on is still elusive.
   Above Seldesuto, shaft 2102 was explored down a 4m pitch to an 8m long rift. Site 780, Torca de Corcada, was re-explored and surveyed after Catalan cavers had explored it some years ago. A tiny entrance in a field is normally blocked by a rock. A 4m entrance pitch drops onto a steeply sloping passage which drops to a p9. From the base two routes go off. The Active Route leads to a 5m pitch in a meander passage, which continues narrow but which might be pushed further. The Fossil Route leads a 7m pitch, followed immediately by a 8m pitch. The way on to the right is in a steeply descending bedding with an abandoned stream trench in the floor. Traversing off to the left reaches the head of a 16m pitch. At the foot a short passage leads to a narrow rift. The length of Torca de Corcada is 134m, the depth 64m.
   Some more work was put into the Alisas / Ideopuerta area, although large areas around here have still to be looked at. At Alisas, shafts and sinks 2035, 2036 and 2037 (around which the road is built in a hair pin bend) were descended. The largest, site 2035, was dropped to a depth of about 20m where the various holes in the floor are blocked with rocks, sediment and rubbish. Site 2036 splits immediately into two 9m choked drops. Site 2037 chokes 3m down. The rift at site 2042 was explored  down to the right over boulders on a short ladder to where a tighter p6 awaits exploration. Also waiting to be explored is site 2120 - "a shaft in a wooded depression".
    The wet weather sink in the streambed at site 1976 to the west of the Cobadal depression was found to be dry with no sign of any draughting holes or other prospects.

Other explorations
   On Enaso, site 356 was rediscovered and photographed; sites 2122 and 2123 were explored small caves and sites 2092, 2093 and 2125 are vertical holes that remain to be investigated. Near La Cuvia below the "white house", caves 2118 and 2117 remain to be entered as do the small shafts at sites 2110 and 2111, above Cueva Coquisera.
   In Riaño, the Torcón de Riaño was re-explored with the purpose of looking for some way over the top of the sump. The 93m shaft was first (and last) descended on ladders on 8th August 1975. Twenty nine years later, the impressive (30m wide) echoing and wet shaft was rigged for SRT and photographed. No ways on were found beyond the sump, about 100m along a narrow, meandering passage at the base, but possible passages were noted on the way down the free hanging 80m section where the shaft seems to cut through passages at -15m and -35m. Nearby, sites 1991 and 1992 were investigated and appear to continue with more effort.
   On Muela, a number of sessions in cave 489 failed to add much to the Billy's Vision extensions of last year. In Llueva, site 1987 at the side of the road was enlarged at the top of an 11m pitch. The drop was explored and then an old bolt at the pitch head was seen.
    Also in Llueva, after locating Cueva del Tunel amid typical bramble and ivy jungle, a new cave was walked into 30m below the bottom entrance. Site 2100 starts as a hands and kness crawl under a false floor and then walking and stooping in calcited passage that chokes after 30m.

The list below shows links to those 95 sites which were extended or newly discovered over the summer 2004, or which have had surveys updated, entrance photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS.

47 Rellanos, Sima de los; 59 Molino, Cueva del; 106 Riaño, Torcón de; 177 Cuevuca, La; 264 Coterón, Torca del; 271 cave; 272 Cubillones, Abrigo de los; 273 cave; 274 cave; 333 Azpilicueta, Torca de; 356 cave; 489 cave; 637 shaft; 658 Tunel, Cueva del; 706 shaft; 710 shaft; 711 cave; 733 Vallina, Cueva; 780 Corcada, Torca de; 786 shaft; 917 shaft; 1139 shaft; 1350 Hoyos, Sumidero Pozo de los; 1351 caves - 2; 1391 Volcano Cave; 1393 Colorado, Cueva de; 1452 cave; 1471 Papá Noel, Torca de; 1655 dig; 1721 shaft; 1915 cave; 1930 Cobadal, Sumidero de; 1931 Green Pepper Cave; 1974 Machorras, Torca de; 1975 Mortiro, Torca de; 1976 sink; 1987 cave; 1991 caves; 1992 cave; 2026 shaft; 2035 shaft; 2036 shaft; 2037 shaft; 2042 shaft; 2048 shaft; 2066 dig; 2077 shaft; 2085 shaft; 2086 shaft; 2087 shaft; 2088 Grabbers Shaft; 2089 dig; 2090 dig; 2091 dig; 2092 shaft; 2093 shaft; 2094 shaft; 2095 shaft; 2096 shaft; 2097 shaft; 2098 cave; 2099 dig; 2100 cave; 2101 dig; 2102 shaft; 2103 shaft; 2104 shaft; 2105 shaft; 2106 shaft; 2107 shaft; 2108 cave; 2109 dig; 2110 shaft; 2111 shaft; 2112 dig; 2113 dig; 2114 cave; 2115 cave; 2116 cave; 2117 dig; 2118 dig; 2119 cave; 2120 shaft; 2121 Campizo, Cueva del; 2122 caves (3); 2123 cave; 2124 shaft; 2125 shaft; 2126 shaft; 2127 cave; 2128 shaft; 2129 shaft; 2130 resurgence; 2131 shaft; 2132 dig; 2133 shaft;

October / November
   Over 40 sites were visited in one way or another over a week and 409m of new passage were surveyed.
   In Cueva Vallina, the end of the Galería de Germán was pushed beyond the mud walls to a parallel series and a streamway. Also, some exploration and surveying of passages previously explored by the Catalans off Swirl Chamber was carried out. (The length of Vallina is now 32954m).
   On one trip into the Sumidero de Cobadal, the upstream sump at the end of the Wessex Inlet (possibly coming from Torca de Regatón) was lowered and allowed to start draining. A good draught is coming through small passage. Another 29m was surveyed to an "airbell" and more digging is required. The length of this cave is now 6045m.
   Various new and old holes were looked at above Cueva Vallina, including Torca de Muesa where the British survey was found to be 180 degrees out. On the South Vega hillside, various left-overs from the summer were looked at including the 50m shaft at site 2127. A few new holes have been found on El Naso, waiting for exploration at Christmas.

Christmas / New Year
   The sites on Enaso mentioned above were revisited and a rather significant find made. Site 2139 was descended by a free climb down over the back of the 10m pitch and also by ladder down the main drop. At the base, a low decorated chamber had bones and pieces of black pottery on the floor. A 4m wide rift rose gently to a calcited choke after about 12m. At the top of the calcite is a small hole that may repay attention.
   After taking a few photographs, one explorer exited via the free climb while the other climbed the ladder. About halfway up the ladder route a human skull was noticed on a ledge. Nearby was more black pottery. Some photos have been taken but the discovery remains undisturbed and awaits study by a Spanish archaeologist. This may be the first time that such a complete skull has been found in a Matienzo cave and the pottery and bones may indicate a cave entrance "urn burial".

   The list below shows links to those 65 sites which were extended or newly discovered over the autumn and Christmas 2004 visits, or which have had surveys updated, entrance photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS.

52 Muesa, Torca de; 64 Chova, Sima de la; 113 Chora, Cueva de la; 122 Suviejo, Cueva de; 262 cave; 387 cave; 421 Entrambascuevas 1; 435 Llanio, Cueva del; 502 Peñarrobra, Cueva de; 503 Mazarredonda, Cuevas de (3); 504 Carabión, Cueva; 623 dig; 633 Casa de los Cristales; 658 Tunel, Cueva del; 731 Helguera, Cueva de; 733 Vallina, Cueva; 793 Redondo, Cubío; 879 dig; 886 Ratón, Cueva del; 887 Carro, Cueva del; 1154 cave; 1295 shaft; 1298 dig; 1436 shaft; 1656 cave; 1753 shaft; 1754 Portillo del Hoyo del Ramon; 1930 Cobadal, Sumidero de; 2033 shaft; 2034 shaft; 2116 cave; 2127 cave; 2129 shaft; 2133 shaft; 2134 shaft; 2135 shaft; 2136 shaft; 2137 shaft; 2138 cave; 2139 cave; 2140 cave; 2141 cave; 2142 cave; 2143 cave; 2144 shaft; 2145 dig; 2146 dig; 2147 shaft; 2148 dig; 2149 dig; 2150 cave; 2151 cave; 2152 Cubo, Cueva de; 2153 cave; 2154 dig; 2155 cave; 2156 dig; 2157 dig; 2158 shaft; 2159 shaft; 2160 shaft; 2161 shaft; 2162 resurgence; 2163 dig; 2164 resurgence;

   Over 10.7km were surveyed by the end of December - our most successful series of trips for a number of years. There are still many leads left to explore underground and according to the database, there are 340 unexplored sites to be entered!

   Alasdair Neill is continuing to produce a 1:1000 survey of Cueva Vallina (all 32km of it). The survey is substantially complete on a PC but will need updating at least twice a year as passages are discovered. The survey is available as a pdf from this web site and paper copies may be available for sale, exhibition, etc.
   A number of surveys from earlier publications have been scanned and are now available on the web site, in some cases as "historical documents", e.g. the first survey in Cubio de la Reñada, carried out in 1965. Also now available are Survex files for caves and areas, e.g. Mostajo and the North Vega System. To view these files, the Survex application must be installed.


   The Ghar Parau Committee recommended a welcome grant for Matienzo 2004 of £400. 

Juan Corrin, March, April, May, September, November 2004, February 2005