York University Cave and Pothole Club

Explorations in the Picos de Europa

View over the Cares Gorge from Vega Huerta (Photo: Dave Milne)



Expedition Summaries
1984    1987    1990
1985    1988    1991
1986    1989    1994

Pozo de Cuetalbo (M2)
Pozo de Llastrale (β3)
Sima de Cotalbin (K903) Thesaurus Fragilis (M921)

Survey Galleries

Image Galleries

Camping in β3, 1990

Caving Clubs
Caving in the Picos



1990 Log Book — YUCPC

Sunday, 1st July

Henry Hill, Dave Binks, Simon Cawthan, David Milne

Usual weather for packing the Landrover. Wet. Packing the much loved items into the new revamped Landrover took about 2 hours and one apathy attack.

One fuelled we sped on our way. One stop at Dave's house for refuelling of the occupants. Nearly at Plymouth the Landrover decided it wanted some attention. Bang. One puncture later the Landrover gets lots.

Dave hasn't got a jack or any enthusiasm to change the wheel for the very flat spare, but does know a man who has and will.

We waited 50 minutes for the AA. Cheerful chap laughed when we told him we were going to Spain, didn't understand about Landrover hand brakes and hadn't got a pump to inflate the spare.

Service Station 1 hadn't got a working tyre pump.

Service Station 2 had 3 broken or semi-working tyre pumps and one working. We visited and ensured the three broken pumps were knackered before using the working one to inflate the tyre.

Once on our way again, very nearly at our destination and the fuel pump decided it wanted some attention. Usual routine: fuel pump off, fiddle with the valves, put back on. No recurring problems (that day). We arrived without incident at the ferry terminal to find a queue and a bivi bag encased Simon.

Tea was eaten and pits entered at about 1:00 a.m.

Monday, 2nd July

Henry Hill, Dave Binks, Simon Cawthan, David Milne

We were woken at 5:30 a.m. by a friendly Brittany Ferries employee. When we tried to check in, we found that the trailer hadn't been booked onto the ferry! A quick trip to the booking office and £23.40 later we were booked on as a car and over height trailer. Their computer would not accept an over height car and trailer. A bug perhaps. The customs men had a good laugh at the landy. Cooked breakfast on the front wings of the landy while queuing to get on the ferry. Then we put a new inner tube in the burst tyre before finally boarding the ferry. Immediately set abut producing a pile of rubbish in order to increase the squalor levels, but initially we were thwarted by the French cleaning lady. Slept on deck near the front from 10:30 p.m. onwards.

Tuesday, 3rd July

Henry Hill, Dave Binks, Simon Cawthan, David Milne

Fuel pump fixed in Santander. Arrived about 2 p.m. to find rocks blocking 1989 camp site. Camp by refugio. Pan man says hello and we think he is trying to tell us some thing. No Spanish at camp site. Dave Milne last seen heading for Top Camp.

Wednesday, 4th July

Henry Hill, Dave Binks, Simon Cawthan, Tony Padget, David Milne, M1

Dave M came down the hill. Steve, Henry, Tony, Dave B and Henry went up the hill. Tony, Dave B and Simon came down the hill. Dave M went up the hill. Steve and Henry came down the hill.

Stores recovered from M1: pots and pans stank; one bag of lentils were OK; there were some medical supplies and a tent. Steve tried to chase away the cows the Vacca man was herding. Plans to go to Cangas tomorrow just in case the Spanish decide to arrive on Friday or because people can't be bothered to go up the hill. Tony made some deicious pasta. Henry and Steve put up a tent. Blah, Blah, monotone, drone and drone.

Henry's comment (silence) — "I can see this is going to be a year for caving and lying in the hammock listening to the cow bells and smoking. Its more peaceful this side of base camp."


Morning started with a scream from Tony as a vaka trod on Tony's head (this doesn't appear to have made any difference). Breakfast:- mornflake and golden syrup, a wonderful start to the day (had two helpings). Bright sunshine for the stroll up to top camp and what a nice stroll it was. Can't wait to do it again. Top camp, or Butlins by the Spring, was bathed in sunshine. I died in Dave M's tent for an hour while H2, Steve and Bunny erected the gear tent.

Note for the future:- could who ever leaves pots and pans in a bin liner buried in M1, for next year please scrape the old food off them first! The life form that evolved i last year's bin liner has now worked out the existence of Mornflake, the length of a piece of string and come close to maiming 3 members of the group.

Trip back was done with as little stopping as poss to get back for a bowl of fried rice. Tea was interesting. Its the first time I've ever seen a foot cubed piece of cooked pasta. Even Tony admitted it was a bit over cooked (and he cooked it). Am now bored of writing.

Thursday, 5th July

Henry Hill, Dave Binks, Simon Cawthan, Tony Padget, David Milne

Dave M arrived at base camp after an epic through the woods at 12:20 a.m. waking everyone up and enjoyed Tony's amazing pasta.

Woke up at 9:30 - still no Espaniols! Whilst H2 and Simon were crunching away at Mornflake, its merits for building a new fuente at top camp were discussed. Everyone (except H2) went down to Cangas - the two Daves on their bicycles. Naturally it pissed it down and they had to battle against gale force winds (av. speed - 18 mph). Dave B bought enough tomato for Picos '90, Picos '91 and Picos '92.

Back at base camp, put up tents - new design - took down tent. 5 tents between 6 bods - who are the lucky pair. Optimus stove - new preheat method - pour petrol over stove and ignite - didn't work.

Friday, 6th July

Henry Hill, Dave Binks, Simon Cawthan, Tony Padget, David Milne

Still no Spanish.

Morning: Tony went up the hill at 11 a.m. I felt like getting to he top as fast as I could but thought it better to enjoy the views and the walk as there's now hurry. Didn't enjoy the walk though.

Henry and Stephen went up the hill (not to fetch a pale of water and neither of us were stupid enough to fall down). The rest festered and decomposed a bit at base camp.

Good curry for tea from Simon. Simon and the 2 Daves are going up the hill for the evening and Dave M will stay there tomorrow. We forgot to get carbide in Cangas so any caving will have to be on batteries. Dave B needs new spokes for his mountain bike.

Evening: Saw that the null's strained baying is not due to its having orgasmic delight. Besides about 30 times a day is a bit frequent, but then what else has it to do apart from eat grass. Burnt Dave M's Y-fronts on the fire, needed soaking in petrol first, they were a bit stodgy after I'd put them in the pasta on Wednesday.

H2 and stephen came down the hill, met DB, SC and DM on scree, some "interesting" potos of Simon taken.

Night: Had the first fire of the expedition which didn't involve large volumes of petrol. Dave M, Dave B and Simon stayed at top camp.

Simon — "All interesting photo's of my body/hair/testicles/clothes sold for profit will be liable to 10% modelling fee's (or the equiv. in alcohol."

Saturday, 7th July

Henry Hill, Dave Binks, Simon Cawthan, Tony Padget, David Milne, B3, B5, B6

Base Camp:- The Spanish had arrived in the night. Had breakfast with SEG who then went up the hill. Tony followed later. Stephen and I went to speak to Blanca and the rest of SEII. Started moving camp when DB and Simon arrived. Moved camp in two trips in beastie. Dave M arrived. Later Tony arrived. Regretted moving camp as much more flies on this side, and there is also a 'den' of Spaniards, the view isn't as good and there are a family of Spanish camping where we want to, so no barbed wire 'til after the weekend. No vakkas this side though.

Top Camp:- Um, what did happen at top camp? Well, it was dark at night. Got up when it got light. Looking forward to breakfast, but, oh no! No eating implements:- improvisation: Tent peg = spoon. Simon spent the rest of the day boiling the stuff that was left un-washed up from last year, really needed mechanical robots, etc.

DB and DM went to find β3. Had it moved, would it still be there? No one knows. Well it was ther and it looked the same as last year. Its funny how caves seem to age very well. Not much snow in it. Found β4, β5 and β6 (and paint pot). β5 is ~ 60 m above β3 \994 + 60 = 1004: over a K. I would like to push β5 very hard.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (Top Camp), Spanish women arrive. SEG! Finally, feed them tea in exchange for oranges. Tidied up and walked down to B.C. - That's all folks.

Important notes of the day: Unfortunately, the Spanish women left in the evening taking their bikini tops with them.

Even more important not: The Spanish men left theirs here!

p.s. The washing up at top camp wasn't too bad after I managed to club a mutant plate to death. 45 minutes disinfecting in a pressure cooker saw the rest off! SEG were a happy bunch, even suggesting I try factor 21 sun block, sarcasm across two languages by hand signals and pictures scratched on the ground. Not bad eh? Won a bottle of beer off Steve B in the evening by lying naked on the bottom of the stream while being filmed. (Can't wait for BCRA '90 - fame at last).

p.p.s. See not 3 pages back regarding all photos, film, etc.

Sunday, 8th July

Tony Padget, Dave Binks, David Milne, Henry Hill, Simon Cawthan.

Day of Rest: Went to mass at the church in Soto. Had to pay the pan man to be allowed to take part in communion.

Tony and Dave B go down to Soto in the afternoon. Dave B demonstrates the potential hazards of toe clips but remains unscathed. Tony stops at Soto and Dave B rides on to Ajzaka.

Dave M walks up the hill opposite base camp and H2 watches with binoculas. H2, Dame M and Steve go to top camp at 6:30.

[Simon] Did bugger all all day, lit a fire, went to bed.
PS Drank a bottle of red wine with SEII sometime during the above.

Monday, 9th July

Henry Hill, Steve Brooks, David Milne, K897.

H2, SB and DM went caving. We showed Spanish K897, and then went shaft bashing. H2 found a 4 second hole - further investigations to follow. Then went down K897 - were impressed with Spanish rigging. Hanging Gardens: imagine a 45º scree slope with crumbly walls and a big hole at the bottom; no hand line; no foot holds; no hand holds; imagine DM's reaction.

We followed the Spanish down the cave re-rigging the pitches (they have some aversion to Y-hangs). We caught them up at the Hanging Gardens to find them pondering over a one hang wonder (French/Spanish trip last year had rigged this pitch!). Pitch consisted of one bolt, re-belay, a rub point and the bottom of the pitch.

Next was Firecracker, a 100 m pitch from last year and marvel of marvels we found a back-up bolt and a Y-hang at the top of the pitch. After a massive shaft with numerous re-belays, the cave closed down to a small (ish) passage to the head of a pitch (no bolts). The belay appeared to be a rock bridge. So one back-up (natural) and main belay (bolt - we did not have any tapes left) later, we went down this pitch. During the excursion to find belays for this pitch we climbed above the pitch (it is very very loose) and after sending a couple of tons of choss crashing down the pitch we rigged the pitch from below as described. This pitch and the next one (which quickly followed) amount to 20 m (perhaps a 30 m rope is required). A 43 m rope is installed: perhaps this could be changed later. Following this next pitch was a ramp. At the top scrotty bit of passage continued. DM enthusiastically put a bolt in. SB and H2 decided to go out as it was 11.30 pm. Uneventful trip out apart from DM bricking himself in the Hanging Gardens. Walk back is a severe pain in the bott.

Tuesday, 10th July

David Milne, Henry Hill, Steve Brooks, Dave Binks, Tony Padget, Simon Cawthan, K897.

Top Camp

DM, H2 and SB returned from K897 at 4 am to find no food ready - we were very generously left some water.

H2 went down the hill to take over from DB on vacka duty.

DM, Tony and Simon went to K897 at 2 pm. Tony decided to come out at the 2nd rift (after Dave entered it at the wrong level). Roped the small climb (from the first rift) using a natural. The Spanish later re-rigged it from a bolt!

Got to the current bottom - a ramp - tried to bolt a second wall for a Y-hang above an obvious pitch - gave up (the wall now has 5 scars). A 2 m clib led to two pitches and a massive draught. (We didn't find naturals or bolts on 1st pitch. Found 2nd pitch bolted - do the French only rig every other pitch?)

Wednesday, 11th July

David Milne, Simon Cawthan, Steve Brooks,

Arrived back at top camp at 2 am, shagged. A delicious meal awaited us - just need heating. Slept rest of day.

(Does the above prove DM and SC cannot use Peaks or does it prove they are good at wreaking them.) Steve went for walk around I-area. Nearly got killed by rebbeka (again). Most people walked down the hill to go to Cangas tomorrow.

Thursday, 12th July

Steve Brooks, Simon Cawthan, Henry Hill, Andy Kemp, Simon Ashby.

Got up - good start that! Everyone except Stephen went to Cangas in the Landy, Stephen being on Vaca patrol. Stopped in Soto to get rid of our rubbish as we can't put it by the Refugio anymore. Got to Cangas. Simon and I got out to go shopping. The rest went to Arriondas to meet Andy K and Simon A. Simon C and I went to the  bank. Very nice place, lots of art deco, unfortunately, very badly designed and the service was very leisurely. Eventually got the shopping done and sat outside the supermarcodon waiting for the others. The others eventually arrived, no Andy or Simon A though. The had one radiator hose burst. Went for something to eat at the Rio Grande, then sat by the river. Landy overheated a lot on way back. Burst two more radiator hoses in Soto, so had something to drink and an ice lollie. The guy in the Hotel Peña Santa said two English had gone past. Got to base camp to find Andy K and Simon A. Eat some bread, went up the hill. Went to bed.

Friday, 13th July

Henry Hill, Steve Brooks, Tony Padget, B3.

We got up. It was windy. We ate mornflake. The Spanish got up. Andy Kemp and Simon Ashby came up the hill. Andy Kemp talked. We thought about caving. We sat down. We counted karabiners. We counted maillons. We counted twisties with maillons. We counted rings. Andy Kemp continued to talk. We drank tea. We washed up. We drank tea. We didn't see Freddy. We made dough. We fried dough. We ate bread. Andy went down the hill. Simon went down the hill. Steve and Henry thought about caving. We think Andy was still talking. Steve and Henry thought about caving again. Steve packed his rucksack. Henry packed his rucksack.

Henry went caving. Steve went caving. Henry walked to β3. Steve walked to β3. Henry arrived at β3. Steve arrived at β3. It was windy. It was cloudy. The sky went bang. Henry shat himself. Steve put a bolt in. Steve put his gear on. Steve abseiled down. Henry dropped (we assume Andy was still talking, the sky went bang) a hammer. Steve couldn't find the hammer. Henry couldn't find the hammer. Steve abseiled again. Henry found the hammer. A goldfish went bloob. The world is flat. Bull shit level increased. Steve put a bolt in what he thought was rock. The rock was not rock. the rock was a collection of pebbles. The deviation was thus 'dodgy'. Steve put yet another bolt in. This bolt was ok. The rock wasn't though. We came back to camp. We all had something to eat. We heard Andy come over the hill. It thundered. We tied the tent down. It thundered some more. We tied the tent down some more. We went to bed.

Tony went up half of Peña Santa, 1st attempt. Had to go down for Vacca patrol.

Saturday, 14th July

Andy Kemp, David Milne, Simon Cawthan, Steve Brooks, Henry Hill, B1, B3

Note: Eating whole Spanish stock cubes makes you feel sick!.

Andy and Mr Morrrrrrrrrrnnnnnnnnn flake went caving down K997 (Nice Cave). Dave was intending to take some photos and collect stalls and put a 80m rope on the Spanish 60 m pitch which had a 53 m rope on it. Last seen at 1:00 am. More news as it arrives.

Simon walked down the hill. Usual fantastic scenery in view.

Steve ate a stock cube (see note). Steve made some wonderfully scummy lentil soup and stopped feeling ill. H2 and Stephen went caving. H2 rigged β3 putting 6 bolts in the process. Stephen looked in β1, found it is choked. H2 and Stephen got cold and hungry and came back to camp.

Dave Milne and myself (Andy Kemp) went down K897 (or  997 or 998?...). Dave photo'd some broken stal, on the way down through the Hanging Gardens, for some obscure reason or other. And we carried on to the bottom. The bottom was a 60 m (estimated) un-descended pitch. I went down this and it was a wonderful 60 (odd) metre free hanging pitch. From here the way on was through an awkward rift, tight and wet. At the end of this Dave went down a ~10/15 metre drop rigged on chock stones. Below this is a very pretty (for the Picos!) canyon way. However, after a short distance the stream disappears under a very, very, particularly, frighteningly, unstable looking boulder choke. These "hanging death" boulder chokes are in place all the way up this rift (apparently) spaced by small gaps. This bottom one we worked on a little. Or at least Dave did: I was too scared! Eventually, after we had moved a big rock from the stream way, Dave inserted himself into the hole thus formed. This exposed to his eyes a boulder choke beyond, which he was now under, which was a hundred times worse!!! We came out of the cave!!!

Sunday, 15th July

David Milne, Andy Kemp, Simon Ashby, Henry Hill, Dave Binks, Steve Brooks, Tony Padget, B3, K901

Everyone except DM got up. Everyone festered. DM appeared to be dead. People festered some more. Andy and Simon A. went to β3 to finish off the "snow" ramp. H2 showed them the entrance. Simon put a bolt in, his first, for fun. Andy and Simon went caving. H2 came back to camp. meanwhile, Stephen went walking and shaft bashing. Stephen got back to camp just after me, H2. Ate some slop which was left, made some pancakes. DB arrived and ate some pancakes. Eventually Simon C arrived. DM had gone down the hill whilst he was in a coma.

H2, DB nad Stephen went to look at the shaft H2 found. Simon C came to spring. Found the shaft, looked around, took some photos. Went down the entrance shaft (rigged totally on naturals). Short climb to the head of the next pitch. H2 went to a ledge while DB put a bolt in at the top. One re-belay and a deviation later saw the bottom. Some snow ever here. Short slope led to another large pitch, two bolts later we reached the bottom to find a small shitty rift. Way on involved a difficult climb up, now a pendulum from the last pitch. Another bolt and a short pitch led to a large chamber. The chamber consisted of some rifts joining together with lots of big boulders in the floor. There was a very big and loose scree slope which just went up and up. Way on was down a short climb which led to a short loose slope. The hole at the bottom of this had a 19 sec rattle! Took a few more photo's on the way out.

Andy and Simon A. finished rigging the snow ramp. Then they came out.

Tony went cycling for half a day, coming down is good, going up is bad. Relaxing is more pleasurable at the moment.

Monday, 16th July

Simon Ashby, Andy Kemp, Simon Cawthan, Henry Hill, Dave Binks, Steve Brooks B3

Simon A. and Andy went to do some rigging in β3. The rest of us festered for a while. Simon C. and Henry  (me) went for a photo trip down β3. Took a few phots on the way down and put a bolt for a deviation (see previous diag of β3 *). Went to the bottom, caught Simon A and Andy, Simon C wimped. Showed Andy the way on then went out taking photos with Simon C. H2 passed a re-belay and deviation in the dark in the name of photography. Put another bolt in (see #). Got out about 10:00 pm, had something to eat. Simon A. and Andy arrived just as we started eating. Dave B and Stephen went walking.

Tuesday, 17th July

Steve Brooks, Dave Binks, Henry Hill, Andy Kemp, K901, B3, Tony Padget

DB and SB went to Nueva Hendidura Pozo. H2 and AK went down β3 uneventful to the squeeze, where Andy got stuck and so did his tackle bag. Andy and I went through the squeeze (me twice) and I rigged the next pitch while Andy went and recovered his tackle bag. Then we came out again without incident (boring eh!).

Tony decided, not to be expedition layabout, and, to do some caving. But the French delayed his plans by the vital 3 hours that he'd planned to spend underground as they wanted showing up the hill.

Wednesday, 18th July

Lynne Robinson, David Milne, Steve Brooks

Cangas: Lynn should have arrived but didn't (Dave M pined all evening). Bought lots of food. Steve B went smashing glasses in the supermarket (he was testing to see if they were plastic). Got back pretty late.

Saturday, 21st July

David Milne, Andy Kemp, Bruce Robinson, Guy Jackson, Steve Brooks, Simon Ashby, Henry Hill, Simon Cawthan, Simon Mann, Dave Binks

Andy Kemp went down hill, prior to return to England. David M and Bruce did scientific work in K897.


At around 18:45, Guy Jackson fell off a climb in K901 resulting in injury and a full Spanish rescue call out.

The fall happened as hand holds apparently gave way at around 200 m, beyond a ramp of around 20 m length. He fell off backwards and landed on his back (with a tackle sack on it) befor sliding for around 5 m into an 8ft pit. Simon A left to summon assistance after Steve B made a preliminary examination.

Guys shoulders were on a rock with his head at the lowest point in as hole. He was unconscious with blood from his right ear and the back of his head was swelling badly. Simon A left the cave at 7:15 and arrived at top camp at 8:15.

20:30 - two Spaniards ran down to base camp where they informed Nievers who called out rescuers. A helicopter was arranged and 12 cavers summoned from Oviedo. They also called for a stretcher as there were none on the expedition.

20:40 - Henry and Simon C entered the cave with emergency supplies of: sleeping bag, Mars bars, tins of tuna, sardines, water and first aid kit. On arrival at Guy, he was found with Steve and was able to acknowledge with grunts of yes/no type. His eyes were rolled back showing only the whites. He had had a convulsion of some sort while he was alone with Steve in which he went completely rigid. Steve left when the others arrived. Guy was falling asleep continually and his minders were keeping him awake as much as possible. They also wrapped themselves around him to keep him warm.

20:50 - 3 Spaniards entered the cave with no tackle to see what the situation was.

21:00 - Caving tackle carried to entrance - 2 x 60 m, 200 m, 4 slings, stitch plate, 10 maillons, ring hangers, 7 crabs, rope protectors, 1 kilo of carbide, 2 litres of water.

21:45 - Simon M and Dave B carried brew kit to entrance - 1 peak, spare sigg of fuel, la Lechera paste, another sleeping bag, lighter, tea bags, 4.5 L of water.

Times At Entrance

23:30 - First Spaniard (Santi) emerges and reports that Guy is conscious and talking slowly. He has lost some blood from the ear but not a lot. He also has bleeding under the scalp; he is very weak but is showing signs of improvement. Initially he was unconscious and suffered a spasm, but is now secure in a sleeping bag.

23:55 - Other Spaniards emerge.

Sunday, 22nd July

Steve Brooks, Henry Hill, Simon Cawthan, Guy Jackson, Tony Padget, Simon Mann, David Milne, Bruce Robinson, Steve Harrop, Bruce Grieve, Steve Foster, Mark Bowen, Dave Ashley, Dave Binks, Andy Kemp.

00:05 - Steve B came out. Henry and Simon C are with Guy and expecting lots of people.

It is decided not to move Guy immediately but to wait for the doctor and rescue team. This will allow him time to recover as he seems to be and also avoid further damage. It was also decided to change the minders every four hours until the rescuers arrive.

00:30 - Tony enters the cave to carry in the brew kit and peak etc. Also the spare sleeping bag. Tony also located the bolting kits and brought them to the entrance.

01:15 - Everybody by entrance returned except Simon who waited for Tony (and Lumat and Bruce to come from K897).

02:00 - Two Spaniards (Esther and boyfriend) went to entrance to keep Simon company and take some food.

03:30 - Tony entered and reported that water and karri mats are needed underground.

04:00 - Steve H and Bruce G enter as the next pair of minders with 5 litres of water  and fuel for peak. Simon returns to camp with Spaniards and Tony (and Lumat and Bruce who have come from K897).

3/4 hours sleep while Steve and Bruce freeze with Guy.

08:00 - Helicopter arrives at Top Camp with rescue equipment and several Spanish rescuers. The rest of the team will arrive at Vega Huerta at about 10:00.

(Steve F, Mark B and DA travelled down on Friday 30th/Saturday 21st. Arrived Soto 23:15, met Nievves who told us about accident, had a quick beer and went to Vega Baño. Woke up Andy K who didn't know much about what had happened.)

Woke up at 06:30 got sorted.
Rescue helicopter arrived at 07:45.
SF, MB, DA set off up hill at 08:00.
Arrived Vega Huerta at 10:30. Found out about Guy. Organised gear for caving.

Ca. 12:00 - Helicopter with Doctor promised.

12:15 - Still no helicopter - set off with Tony to entrance.

13:00 - Arrived at entrance - lots of people and gear, but no information from underground. Met 2 x French and 1 x Spaniard at top of 2nd (40 m) pitch. They knew very little on progress - carried on. At small pitch before meander to Pendulum Pitch, rope rigged off 1 crap natural with no traverse line. SF/MB placed 2 bolts and traverse line. In meander met Spanish Rescue Chief? and Hosé. Carried on down past 2 Spaniards on Pendulum ledge. Arrived at top of big ramp. A Spaniard was trying to hand on safety line which ran over about 30 m of ledges - definately no go.
Got pissed off and carried on down to 3rd rebelay where I could talk to Vulture. He was prussiking just above Guy. Guy had been placed in Stretcher but had fought his way out! He insisted he could make his own way out. Steady tension was applied by SHF, 1 rebelay above Guy/Vulture, and Spaniard at top of ramp. Guy was slightly confused but recognising people immediately and making slow but steady progress.
On next pitch ca. 40 m SHF/Guy tandemed steadily with lifeline from above, and pull from SHF. Guy claimed lifeline no use, in fact a pain. SHF donated his cows tails to Guy and a battery so he could have some light. At top of pitch short narrow meander was traversed and up small pitches to below Pendulum Pitch.

16:00 - Doctor entered cave.

16:30 - Doctor at base of Pendulum examined Guy briefly and confirmed injuries were superficial.

16:45 - Guy had some water and chocolate and biscuits. Given OK to move out ASAP. SHF/Guy tandemed first part of pendulum pitch to meet D Ashley on ledge. Guy was definitely NOT going to have a lifeline on this pitch. SHF carried on and asked for more slack on pendulum. This was organised and 1 Frenchman climbed next. Guy then came up on his own. He was lowed out across pendulum so as to avoid diagonal prussik. At top of pitch he was slow, definitely more tired but still going OK. SHF/GUY then continued tandeming, beating a path through numerous bods still littering cave. SHF surfaced at 17:58

18:00 - followed by Guy at 18:00, to photos, cheers and thunder. Weather was very threatening. Started to rain - Guy wanted to walk to Vega Huerta, but heli was promising. Eventually it pissed down so H2, Guy, DA, MB and SHF set of walking. Guy quite wobbly but still very belligerent and determined to walk back. Got about 1/3 of way back when helicopter seen. It landed just above K901, then set off directly towards us. We pointed at small outcrop above gulley - heli hovered and rescue man jumped out. We rushed Guy up on to ridge where he was ushered into heli which was hovering on 1 skid. He looked shit scared, we was impressed. Guy then flown to Leon hospital.

Guy was very lucky in that his injuries were relatively minor but showed a very positive attitude to getting out. The support provided overnight obviously helped tremendously and helped him to recover sufficiently to get out.

20:00 - A lot of people stumbled down to Vega Baño where upon AK and SHF went to Refugio to buy a lot of beer. We had some food, some beer and were starting to fade when Spanish appeared at about 22:00. A large lump of botanical origin was produced and everyone fell over.

Henry, Simon C, Steve B, Bunny, Simon M stayed up at top camp overnight after ferrying rescue gear from K901 to top of hill for a few hours.

Monday, 23rd July

Henry Hill, Dave Binks, Simon Mann, Simon Cawthan, Steve Brooks, Gareth Davies, Bruce Grieve, Steve Harrop, Guy Jackson.

H2, Bunny, Simon M, Simon C collected Guys gear and went down hill. SB walked down hill with personal gear later.

4 above set of to Leon to see Guy. We had heard that Gareth, Bruce and Steve H had set of about 1 hour before to see him. Our money was on him geting lost in the Leon 1 way system, getting more and more angry, driving faster and faster, getting more and more angry until he crashed.

Got to hospital about 5pm, Guy was looking bored and tired but quite well. After talking to the hospital staff we found out he couldn't be released till a doctor had seen him the next morning. ½ hour later Bruce etc turn up, stay for 10 mins before Bruce claimed he had to go. Left Guy watching TV.

Drive back:- 2 hours continuous thunder storm, non-stop lightening, flooded villages, rivers running down the roads, everything. (Landrover slides well in the wet!) Had some supper in Soto about 10:30pm, then went to bed.

Tuesday, 24th July

Dave Ashley, Steve Foster, Mark Bown, Lynne Robbinson, B3

DA, SHF, MB and Lynn set of at 08:00 to carry up to Top Camp. Arrived at 10:30 and started to eat, now that we had a fully functioning stove. Plan was 4 of us to sherpa loads of rope down β3.

11:30 - started to think about caving. Looked for excuses but unfortunately found carbide etc.

1:15 - set of with 4 large tackle bags (MB SHF DA L?). arrived at entrance after a brief respite (Mark who found β3 (1985) wasn't sure where it was!)

2:00 - Set off underground to take bags, containing rigging gear etc, to past 'squeeze'. Took them down to about 3 pitches past the squeeze at about 4:30.

7:20 - Arrived out of β3. Walked back to Top Camp when we saw 5-6 Spaniards with 5 pulleys shifting some very large boulders (best estimate 2 tonnes). BM and DA couldn't resist helping until 30 mins later got bored. Cave doesn't go! But is drafting well.

SHF (who is feeling v. old and knackered has refused to go down β3 tomorrow!)

Went to Leon, collected guy.

Wednesday, 25th July

Dave Ashley, B3, Steve Foster, Mark Bowen, Steve Brooks, Guy Jackson, Tony Padget, Simon Mann.

Festered until 13:00 then to β3 for photos and to simplify the Elliotesque rigging. Battery on camera died so not very productive - cold and pissed off. Cave draughting like mad.

DA returned to base camp. SHF/MB have finally discovered something sweet to eat for afters - yippee! Getting some very serious carbohydrate loading in for tomorrow. Clouds clearing and it looks like we might get a nice sunset.

Went to Arriondas to drop SB, Guy and Tony off. Dropped Simon M in Cangas. Came back.

Thursday, 26th July

Henry Hill, Lynne Robinson, Bruce, Simon Cawthan, Steve Foster, Mark Bowen, B3.

Got up late, came up hill late. Went caving very late. H2, LR, BR went down K901, while SC cooked some slop. The idea was to photo the two chambers and bring out the rest of the rescue gear. I don't know how to use an SLR proper, and neither do the other two. Found lots of gear (Simon's Peak 1 also) and a Spaniard who had just pushed ~150 m on the end, to a very loose bit. Took a few photos (what fun) then came out. Got out at 1am.

SHF and MB up at 06:15! Still dark. Underground 07:45. Picked up 2 × 100 m 9mm and 2 × 100 m 10mm just after squeezes. Got slightly confused in rifts until we got to Alicia. All well except for weight of sacs to Thunderdome, reached at 11:00. Rigged pitch then carried on down to the Soldier of Fortune Pitch. Had to place another bolt then got to bottom where we promptly lost the way on. Walked up steep slope to find hole which led through to another hole with small cairn. Rigged hand line down and finally got to pitch head. Started rigging but decided that 3 bolts needed and we were probably in the wrong place. 15:45 set off back. Went much more easily then expected. Surfaced at 20:45. back to camp for food. Ponchez pancakes and munchies till we passed out. Didn't achieve as much as was hoped, but with 2 people who'd never been in cave, it was almost like a push trip.

Friday, 27th July

Dave Ashley

It Rained! Dave Ashley is the unluckiest person in the world!

Saturday, 28th July

Steve Foster, Dave Ashley, Mark Bowen, Henry Hill, Bruce Robinson, Lynne Robinson, Simon Cawthan, Dave Binks.

Still misty, but SHF very bravely decides to go up Peña Santa and bullies DA and MB into going with him. He claims it will be above the clag. Rest to us go and fetch caving gear and the Spanish 'underground first aid kit' from K901. The weather is changeable apart from around Peña Santa which seems permanently wreathed in cloud. BR and SC go down for food. DB comes up. Lots of Spanish arrive. 8:30pm, Peña Santa emerges from te clag. No sighn of SHF, DA or MB.

The were both really keen, honest. Absolutely fucking brilliant route. Caving is shit: climbing is brilliant.

Sunday, 29th July

Henry Hill, Lynne Robinson, B3, Steve Foster, Mark Bowen, Dave Binks, Dave Ashley.

Henry and Lynn set off down β3, took bags to camp, continued down to Spanish 70. Found bags which SHF and MB had left and de-rigged what they had done. Went the correct way into the rift only to find the chamber where we had picked up the bags. Turned back and immediately found the bolts. Continued rigging down. DB caught us up at bottom of Pete's Pitch. Continued down with DB taking photos, Lynne modelling mud and H2 (me) pretending to rig pitches with the bits of tat that were down there. Got to top of last pitch with no rope. DB exited at warp speed while me and Lynne returned to camp, with lots of empty bags. Got back to camp at 1:00am Mon. Ate a lot and slept.

3 musketeers went on photo trip down K901. Also visited but didn't photo new Spanish extension, v. impressive.

Monday, 30th July

Steve Foster, Mark Bowen, Dave Ashley, Henry Hill, Lynne Robinson, B3.

SHF/MB/DA climbed Ajuja Corpus Christi. Loose but impressive, excellent views, hot. Returned via epic descent route, couldn't find gulley for ages. Finally walked to Base Camp for a wash! food, beer wine and iruka - staggered to bed.

H2 and Lynn got up at 1:00pm, ate lots and lots and set off out with lots of empty bags at 4:00pm. Got out at 11:15pm to even more food.

Tuesday, 31st July

Henry Hill, Lynne Robinson, B3, Dave Ashley, Steve Foster, Mark Bowen, Dave Binks.

Just a tad hung-over, walked up at leisurely pace with yet more food. Arrive mid-day H and L out of β3 and going down with others for R and R. DA has rather reluctantly decided to come to bottom of β3. He's now looking decidedly unhappy. Its been fucking hot here.

SHF, MB and DA got underground 8:00pm. Went to camp carrying extra (3rd) camp and photo gear. Took photos above camp, arrived camp 11:00pm, got up Wed 1st.

Rest of us festered and photosynthesized.

Wednesday, 1st August

Mark Bowen, Steve Foster, Dave Ashley, B3.

MB, SHF, DA got up at underground camp at 7:00am (alarm went off ca. 6:00am) got away 9:00. Went down to last pitch left un-rigged ca. 12:00. Descended to find NO SUMP. The strong draft which had been with us from the entrance was only lost above the last pitch and to there was still quite strong. It was noted that

  1. There is no evidence of the 'sump' backing up.
  2. The bottom simply gets tight, around the bottom cleft is sand/mud wth cracks in it, evidence that this has not been under water for some considerable period of time.

It was decided that the draft must have been lost above the last pitch. The 'inlet' marked above the last pitch. A four bolt aid climb up the wall allowed access to a small ledge from which a traverse across a mud bank was made. From this vantage point it was possible to see the inlet continuing at a steep angle (ca. 80º) into an aven, a small hole which was initially hoped would be a lead on was seen to simply lead back over the chamber from where ascent had been made. The rope (the tail end of P12) was left up the aven on one good bolt to allow descent. The rope being somewhat short now does not reach the bottom of the chamber and allows descent to a ledge on the opposite side of the chamber form where it is possible to free climb to the bottom.

In light of the strong draft it is suggested that the higher traverses over the pitches above the last pitch (P12) should be investigated since there is little evidence that the 'sump' backs up.

Exited cave 10:00pm, taking ca. 30 mins for a brew at camp. Exit time from bottom 8hrs.

Thursday, 2nd August

Henry Hill, Steve Foster, Mark Bowen, Dave Ashley, Dave Binks, Lynne Robinson, Simon Cawthan.

H2 came up the hill, SHF, MB and DA went down and set off for France/beer (not necessarily in that order). H2 tidied the squalor at camp and did not a lot.

The rest:- DB and Lynn festered at base camp. Simon C was left in Cangas to go drinking/clubbing in Cangas

Friday, 3rd August

Pete Hartley, Andrea Hartley, Henry Hill, Simon Klyne, Dave Binks, Simon Cawthan, Lynne Robinson

Woken up by English voices, Pete and Andrea have arrived. Simon K still not here, 7 days late. Rest day, patch over suit etc and fester and may even decompose a bit.

 Dave B, Simon C, Lynne R all festered at Base Camp. Lynn cycled to Soto and back. DB made some tuna and tomato Frito and all three tried to eat it. Eventually made it up to top camp just as it got dark, after being filmed on the video staggering up the hill.

Saturday, 4th August

Henry Hill, Pete Hartley, Andrea Hartley, B3, Lynne Robinson

H2, Peter and Andrea Hartley set off to go to push the bottom of B3,

Found out what the K901 looked like. Also pushed K905. LR and DB took lots of photos. Carried over rope for K901 (DB and LR) then went to push K905 in furies and head torches! Lynn put in her second under ground bolt!!!! Then hung on it. Went down route one. Down 10-15m pitch, ramp, then 3-4m climb into aven. I (DB) thought it stopped, but Lynn would not have it and climbed up into a small, horrible, narrow, scrotty, awful, disgusting, stupid, diabolically ridiculous rifty bit of passage and pushed it to aa pitch - after about 15m whee upon it gets bigger and the pitch is about 25 ft. I refused to go to the pitch head so we retreated, with some photos of Lynn's bum, back to the point where it splits. Route two was much nicer, banged a bolt in and destroyed it, dropped another, finally descended about 8m. Climb down 4m into a rift for 3 m then a 10-15m pitch inot more large rift. Route two looks the most promising. So there. Took more photos, without Steves flash as it broke again. Dropped gear by K901 entrance ready for the great re-rig.


H2, PH and AH got to camp in 3 hours continued down past the interesting rigging fot to the bottom of the last pitch to find the heroes had done a bolt climb and left a ridiculous pendulum. Then found the sump which the heroes missed, it was very green. Pete climbed the inlet and climbed tow pitches to find a way on? Started back up the pitches to camp. Tried to traverse over the pitch heads to find a way on but no luck. Got back to camp to find the peak didn't work!
Found the emergency solid fuel stove evetually, a cold night.


Sunday, 5th August

Henry Hill, Pete Hartely, Andrea Hartley, B3, Lynne Robinson, Dave Binks, Simon Cawthan, K901.

H2, PH and AH got up. It was cold. Started out! Pete wizzed out. H2 was very slow and eventually he got a migraine. H2 and Andrea came out a bit later.

The others carried gear to 901 for the re-rig - photo - de-rig trip


Monday, 6th August

Henry Hill, Pete Hartley, Andrea Hartley, Dave Binks, Simon Cawthan, Lynne Robinson, K901, Simon Klyne, Andy, Steve.

Fester for H2, Pete and Andrea.

DB, Simon and Lynne went down K901. Rigged it, took millions (well over 100) of photos, then de-rigged. Arrived back at camp to find Steve and Andy with mountain bikes and the missing Simon Klyne.


Tuesday, 7th August

Pete Hartley, Andrea Hartley.

Pete and Andrea went to the bottom of β3 (again). Rest of us went down carrying gear. Pete and Andrea rigged the climbs at the bottom and surveyed..

Wednesday, 8th August

Pete Hartley, Andrea Hartley.

Went to Cangas, except PH and AH. Shopped etc. Pete and Andrea came out of β3 and came down the hill.

Thursday, 9th August

Pete Hartley, Andrea Hartley.

Pete and Andrea went to the beach (intelligent). Rest of us except Simon came up hill..

Friday, 10th August

Dave Binks, Andy, Lynne Robinson, Simon Cawthan, Pete Hartley, Andrea Hartley, Simon Klyne.

DB, Andrew and Lynn went up Peña Santa and abseiled down. Simon C came up the hill. Pete and Andrea came back up the hill. Eventually, Simon K made it up to Top Camp (bog roll in hand).


Saturday, 11th August

Henry Hill, Dave Binks, Steve, Andy, Simon Cawthan.

H2 was suposed to go underground but didn't. DB, Steve and Andy went down the hill on their mountain bikes. A guy from Oxford's expedition arrived and gave us some fudge. It rained a lot and lightened. Simon C danced naked (except for wellies) in the rain. Simon C then walked down. The guy from oxford told us their cave had been extended by only 20 m horizontally (snigger, snigger) and they have done nowt else!


P.S. The guy from Oxford was like an angel. He turned up from nowhere, promptly gave us all a bar of Thornton's fudge each and the next morning he was gone. It was like a dream.

Sunday, 12th August

Andrea Hartley, Pete Hartley, Henry Hill, Simon Klyne, Lynne Robinson, B3

Andrea went down the hill. Pete went down the hill. H2, Simon K. and Lynn went underground.

H2 stayed with others to far side  of squeeze then whizzed off down to bottom. Uneventful trip down, but very frightening. Looked at Pete's extensions and collected all gear at bottom. Had a look at an unascended climb but couldn't do it. Came out collecting all the hangers and carrying the very very heavy tackle bag. Arrived at camp at ~ 1:00am to find Lynn and Simon K. in bed (not together but in separate hammocks!)


After Henry left us at the squeeze, Simon K and Lynn made a gradual descent to camp. Arrived at about 8pm. Tidied u the hundreds of black bin liners and packed some of the gear to go back up to the surface. All the food was left and we couldn't cook anything to eat as there was only 1 block and a half left for the block stove. As Simon is a veggie, I had a whole tin of tuna to myself with a marathon for pudding. Mended the hole in the hammock and then went to sleep till Henry returned (in separate hammocks!) When Henry arrived, cooked some chicken soup with a tin of tuna and some potato flakes - yet again Simon didn't eat anything - what does this man live on (he caved for 24 hrs on a mars bar and a tube of condensed milk). After the feed, tidied and packed the rest of the gear and then Henry doused the whole area in petrol. It made a wonderful bang noise and we all thanked our lucky stars there were no loose boulders in the roof.

In Henry's words: "It looked like Hell! This huge fire burning underground. Very impressive." Eventually left this burning inferno and went out. H2 carrying a horrifically heavy bag up Thunderdome and the rest of us with the camping gear. We did leave some food and dirty pans for the bacteria to indulge themselves on. Ascent was uneventful except for Lynn's attempt at finding a by-pass to the squeeze. This was not successful and eventually had to go through it like everyone else (when she actually managed to find it!) with help from Henry. Got out about 2pm absolutely knackered.


Monday, 13th August

Henry Hill, Lynne Robinson, Simon Klyne, Pete Hartley

H2, Lynn and Simon K, emerged from β3 at 3pm. Pete was here at top camp on his own and did the washing up, whilst waiting for the other 2 (Dave B and S.C) at Base camp to come up the hill.

H2, LR and SK all slept and ate when they got back to camp.

SC and DB came up the hill in the evening.


Tuesday, 14th August

Pete Hartley, Dave Binks, Simon Cawthan, B3, Andrea Hartley, Henry Hill, Lynne Robinson, Simon Kline.

Pete, D.B and SC went down β3 to Thunderdome to try and de-tackle back to the squeeze. Andrea came up the hill and went back down with a carry down, rucksack full to the brim and a little bit extra. H2, LR and SK festered and recovered at camp.

Wednesday, 15th August

Simon Cawthan, Dave Binks, B3, Pete Hartley, Lynne Robinson, Henry Hill, Andrea Hartley, Simon Kline.

SC and DB detackled to squeeze at midnight, out by 2pm. 10 bags at squeeze. PH and LR and H2 go in to drag bags out. Managed to get 10 bags from the squeeze and out in 7 hrs.

Andrea came back up the hill, did a carry down and came back up in the evening again! I would call her a hero(ine) but this now seems to be a term of abuse rather than a compliment, for some strange reason.

SK festered.

Thursday, 16th August

Henry Hill, Simon Cawthan, B3, Simon Kline, Pete Hartley, Andrea Hartley

While siting in the tent @ TC every one decides that they can't be bothered to go caving, so Henry has to go solo. No... Simon has been persuaded to go, yes its definite, Simon C is going. Bored.


DB says from the squeeze to the surface in 2 maybe 3 bags. It only took H2 and SC 6 bags to fit all the rope in. Everyone else went down the hill. SK didn't go underground. No-one has a watch up here so don't know what time it is. Pete and Andrea went to beach (very good idea).


Obviously was not packed very well.


Friday, 17th August

Henry Hill, Simon Cawthan

H2 and SC did a carry down.

Saturday, 18th August

Pete Hartley, Andrea Hartley, Simon Kline

Everyone except DB (injured), Pete and Andrea did a walk up and carry down. SK went prospecting with Pete and Andrea..

Sunday, 19th August

Pete Hartley, Andrea Hartley, Simon Kline

Fester for all (and pack landy). Except PH, AH and SK ® prospecting in p.

Monday, 20th August

Leave for H2, DB, SC and SK. Rained, landy wasn't happy. Went to beach 'Virgin de la Mer' for a bit. Had a meal and spent £20 on sweets. Got to Santander after 12:00 midnight and went to bed..

Tuesday, 20th August

My Birthday! Got on Ferry.

WebAuthor: D.Milne[at]Tesco.Net