MATIENZO CAVES PROJECT
Cave exploration around Matienzo during 2006
The year began with some worries about the permit - however, it had turned up at the end of January. By the end of February, the Ghar Parau Foundation had OK'd UK Sport funding of £450. So on the admin side, the year started well!
A small number of people visited for a few days but the weather was too wet and cold to do much. Digging continued in Boil in the Bag (site 868) and a couple of sites were documented in Riaño. Stream levels were too high to carry out a proposed through trip from Oñite to Risco through the Sala Carballo Pitch Bypass, but the survey was finally drawn up.
The list below shows links to those 5 sites which were extended or newly discovered during February 2006, or which have had surveys updated, entrance photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS.
0027 Oñite, Cueva; 0868 dig; 1616 dig; 2362 dig; 2363 cave
Easter, Whit and summer
Before Easter, much discussion was had over the proposed optical brightener test from the bottom of the Sumidero de Cobadal. Most scenarios were considered regarding flooding, time for the OBA to come through, etc but - with a lot of preparation and a bit of luck - the test provided a positive and intruiging result. The optical brightener came through to the Fuente Aguanaz resurgence (some 4.3km away and 75m lower) in a time of somewhere between 5 and 7 days. Fuente Aguanaz has an average flow of 951 litres per sec and a known passage length of only 1.7km - there are no feeder systems known. In comparison, the Four Valleys System with 43km of cave passage feeds a resurgence of 650 litres per sec.
Hopefully, with thorough surface work, we will start to piece together the system that must lie behind Fuente Aguanaz up to Cobadal and possibly up to Alisas. (The method used for the test and detailed results are found in this document).
In the summer, some prospecting over the supposed Cobadal-Aguanaz route rediscovered Cueva Casillas (site 1163), a small resurgence cave that was explored for 43m.
There were high hopes of Cueva Collada at La Gatuna being a feeder to the Cobadal-Aguanaz system - the cave had been explored in November 05 to a "40ft damp pitch". This turned out to be 20m deep and the stream disappeared into a low bedding that is "not a good digging prospect". There is a possible passage on the opposite side of the pitch, but for the moment that's it for downstream Cueva Collada. The phreatic passages upstream were also looked at again but with no extra sections to add after the initial 1982 explorations.
The early days of the Easter expedition were partly focused on the depression at La Gatuna. Sandstone beds are abundant and form the roof or floor of a number of sites. Holes investigated included 2317, 2367, 2368, 2369 and 2370. One older member of the team thought he had discovered a new open hole, until the farmer presented him with a survey obtained off our web site. (Cubio de la Gatuna). In the summer, a number of holes were opened up one afternoon in a small area. The holes (sites 2485, 2486, 2487, 2488, 2489 and 2490) included a number of draughting sites (including one where a goat needs to rot completely away) and possible digs.
A number of days were spent and a substantial number of shafts and holes were investigated above Cobadal around the Bosmartín area. Site 2408 was one of the longer holes at 71m and others are shown below.
Solorzáno and Riaño
The highlight of the Easter trip was Cueva del Torno (site 2366) - a classic discovery, found in the bar when locals started talking about a draughting entrance. The following day, at Fresnedo, the open entrance was eventually found, backing up childhood reminisences, and exploration started into large walking passage with many junctions. Further trips were eased by enlarging an awkward suqeeze and turn, but essentially the cave was there for the finding! Digging was required downstream to reach a 50m long chamber with some fine formations. At present, the lower streamway seem likely to drain to the resurgence Nacimiento del Campiazo (site 1102) at the head of the Solorzáno valley. Upper level passages may head south west to pass under the hill to link with the 4 Valleys System in Cueva Riaño. There are still a number of leads to explore in the cave, currently measured at 2801m long and 63m deep.
As well as finding over a kilometer of higher level passage in the cave in the summer, a human skull was discovered in a passage apparently heading out to the surface. A hunt on the surface for a possible entrance led to site 2523 (Pig Nut Cave) being excavated over a number of days. After a 6m pitch, the site yielded about 100m of passage with much infill. Another apparently human bone was found in this cave'
The discoveries in Torno precipitated further explorations in Cueva Riaño. The entrance had to be dug out (probably the last team entered in August 2001) and an inlet at the northern edge of the cave was pushed for 245m. The passage is heading east rather than north to Cueva del Torno, but there are still leads to explore. Further explorations in the easter extensions yielded another 128m of passage, unfortunately not heading through to Torno.
During the summer, a new cave to the northwest of the Fresnedo 1 and 2 caves was opened up and explored to a going canal. Cueva de Huerto Rey (site 2519) has some walking passage but also has a generous supply of sediment. The high level runs to the northwest and ends at a dig with passage visible beyond. The lower level is reached down a 12m pitch: to the northwest the passage ends at a low, draughting duck and in the opposite direction, a 4m pitch reaches the unexplored canal.
This water is probably at the same level as a possible resurgence (Nacimiento del Campiazo, site 1106) over 1km away. In Carcass Cave, site 2476, a hands and knees crawl ended at a dig after 20m. This was passed to another draughting dig after 2m.
Numerous other sites were found around Torno and Cueva Riaño, for example, Trackside Cave in Riaño - a draughting hole with 86m of passages including a 9m pitch and site 2414 on a fault above Torno where 39m were surveyed to a gravel floor at the deepest point. Others are listed below.
South Vega and Arredondo
Cueva Vallina keeps providing passage to explore - this time over 650m were surveyed at Easter. Bird's World Upper Levels had probably been entered previously but were not on the Catalan survey. In the summer 4 trips into the system took place. The Rio Rioja was re-investigated and nothing ne wfound. The Man Trap (probably previously explored by the Catalans) was surveyed. The passage parallels the strong east-west trends in the higher level passages and over 800m was surveyed. In a trip beyond the boulders into Vallina 2, a disto was used to find the height of the Tocadome Aven (75m) and Kingsdale Passage was extended by 120m. The new, adjusted length of Cueva Vallina is 31050m.
In Papá Noel, Shafted Oyster passage was surveyed off Snowbat Bypass and the deepest point in the system was reached when holes off Floorless Chamber were pushed down p17, 9 and 22m followed by a couple of short climbs and a p10. The tiny draughting streamway continues flowing on at about the same altitude (168m) as the resurgence, 600m away.
On the same trip as the extensions were made, Bjarne Buchardt tumbled 5 or 6m down boulders in the Paper Plane area. By the time the first rescue team reached the top of the Coterón entrance pitch with a long rope, he had been assisted to the base. He was then hauled up the 45m to the surface. By then, a large number of Spanish cavers had arrived and they were turned away with thanks. An excellent and speedy turn out! Bjarne was taken to Loredo hospital where a broken rib was strapped up - very lucky!
In the summer, one trip in Papá Noel pushed beyond Hole in the Wall to discover Hanging Death Chamber, with a slope down to undescended 30m pitches and a long "diving board" rock with another possible 30m pitch. The survey showed this area to be close to Anastomoses Hall in Cubio de la Reñada some 50m below. A search through the card index showed that avens beyond Anastomoses hall had been looked at in the past, and partially bolted.
A number of days was spent bolting up one of these and exploring the passages at the top. Fine helictites and other formations were found including one slanting 180cm long straw that appears to have attached itself to a vertical stalagmite. 358m of passages were surveyed and they were linked to Papá Noel, not near Hanging Death Chamber but near Floorless Chamber, further east.
Site 2563 was found near a stream sink and explored through low passage for 104m to a small but diggable end. The cave is on dipping sandstone similar to site 574 with a shaft entrance which is nearby. And some people spent Wednesday afternoons in Cueva de los Tablons, digging down in the hading rift. Over Whit, the site "went" into a small chamber with further draughting digs in the floor which should be stabilised. In the summer, a couple of other nearby draughting sites were opened up to tiny draughting holes and filled in again. (Sites 2491, 2492, 2493).
In Juan Lombrero, some extension work was carried out in a draughting passage very close to the entrance.
A number of shafts and caves were explored and partly explored on South Vega / Ozana over the year. Site 2290, the resurgence above Tablons was pushed for about 70m and can be pushed. Site 2424 was dropped for 17m in an enlarged clint. At site 2437, a 25m pitch remains to be explored. Other sites are listed below.
The current highlight of the Alisas area is the vertical descents in site 2264. The site appears to have reached a partial conclusion in the summer with the base at about -140m. To the northwest of Alisas, the hills and valleys around Moncobe were looked at. This area is at the extreme southwest of our permit and could provide some feeders to Fuente Aguanaz. A number of days were spent prospecting without any major find, although the area still seems to have good potential. The sites discovered are listed below.
Mullir / Ozana
Some digging was carried out in site 12, Cueva Concebo and site 0029, Cueva Subterránea, both large passages which irritatingly close down. Surface prospecting in the summer revealed a couple of interesting sites to return to - sites 2570 and 2572 appear to be more than 15 and 20m deep respectively.
A full list follows -
divided into areas and showing links to those 177 sites which were extended
or newly discovered over Easter and Whit, and 156 over the summer or which
have had surveys updated, entrance photos or movie clips added, or entrances
repositioned with a GPS.
The autumn has seen a number of trips. A site in Llueva (opened up by Jesús Ruiz Cobo behind the plumber's house) provided well decorated chambers (site 2580). In the same valley, Cueva de Hoyo Verde was revisited and prehistoric pottery was discovered on the eastern entrance slope.
A couple of sites discovered in the summer were looked at. Both of these are at high level to the east of the Matienzo depression. Three ladders taken on the hill were enough for site 2570 as this turned out to be a roomy 24m deep shaft; they were inadequate for site 2572 which provided a 12m drop to a ledge with at least another 31m below (measured with a Disto). A number of apparently easy digs were noted on South Vega and a couple of hours were spent photographing in Cueva del Agua trying out new i-Slaves (from Cumbria Designs). On the side of Cueto, sites 271, 272, 273 and 274 were revisited, positioned in the right order (!) and 273 was partially surveyed.
In Cueva Riaño, about 670m of passages were surveyed: passages found in August and a 470m extension from the most northerly point in Riaño, Schoolboy Error Aven, heading for the Torno area. Another ten surface sites were documented above Hoyuca / Riaño including 2 draughting shafts (2595 and 2596). In Cueva del Torno, the passage / dig at the bottom of Torno chamber was pushed to a sump after 30m and the skull was taped off.
The list below shows links to those 44 sites which were extended or newly discovered over the Autumn visits (to mid December) or which have had surveys or descriptions updated, entrance photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS.
El Naso 59 Molino, Cueva
A variety of explorations were carried out over Christmas and New Year.
In Cueva del Torno, a couple of trips investigated the possibility of another entrance (banging was heard on the surface) and a shorter route to the skull, aiding the possible removal at Easter - a dig in sand and clay continues from the Tigger Series.
Excavations continued in Boil in the Bag.
New sites were documented on a number of walks in the Bosmartín / El Naso area: site 2597 is a sink against a limestone scar; site 2600 is a 4m climb down onto a boulder slope in 3m high passage which continues for 20m to end at a choke; Cueva del Campo may be worth a dig at the rear of the cave. Sites 2604 and 2605 are draughting digs on a line of depressions near the top of the road up El Naso. At site 2608, a wide 30m long rift requires investigation where it appears 8m deep and may continue. In the highly vegetated area around Lastrilla, site 2611 is a hidden rift that also requires further investigation.
The list below shows links to those 23 sites which were extended or newly discovered over the Christmas visit or which have had surveys or descriptions updated, entrance photos or movie clips added, or entrances repositioned with a GPS.
Bosmartín 1355 shaft; 2607 dig; 2608 shaft;
Coteron las Llanas 2609 shaft;
Cubija 2597 dig; 2598 dig; 2599 dig;
El Naso 76 Campo, Cuvia del; 2604 dig; 2605 dig; 2606 cave;
Fresnedo 2366 Torno, Cueva del;
La Secada 868 dig;
Las Calzadillas 1274 shaft; 1275 shaft; 1500 shaft; 2602 cave; 2603 dig; 2610 cave;
N Vega 836 shaft; 2600 cave; 2601 cave; 2611 depression;
Juan Corrin, March, June, November, December 2006; January, February 2007