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The Battle of
Expedition log, Easter and Summer 1977
A summary and index of the Speleogroup logbooks.
1977 saw two Speleogroup expeditions to Spain; one, a reconnaissance
expedition at Easter, and the other (objective the Sima
de Garma Ciega) in the Summer.
01.04|| Temporary headquarters: St. Georges Drive,
London. Expedition launched with Taylor’s ’71 Special Reserve.
02.04|| Some hours flight delays, Bilbao at 18:30.
A wet Castro Urdiales and meal at Paris. Camped above cave at 01:30.
03.04|| Down Sangazo cave (as named by OUCC, real
name in 2001 log) 10:30 ad explored to just beyond previously unknown
inlet. Forced to curtail exploration by failing carbide lamps. Special
Paella lunch at Paris, then west and south towards San Pedro. Rental
car not quite up to off-road exploration of some interesting Forest-of-Dean-style
sinks caused a 3-hour delay; San Pedro reached at 20:00; Spanish
Cavers (QUAD-C) already there.
04.04|| Lost the Spaniards, so started up towards
Garma Ciega at 11:15. In snow once over 800m, with snow falling.
Reached cave by 13:15, soon met by Spaniards by gear by tractor.
Swapped caving rope samples. Returned to San Pedro in an hour, then
off to Suarías via Unquerra. Hayloft over noisy mule for the night.
05.04|| Up the gorge to Venta de Fresnedo via La
Hermida; potential resurgence (Cueva de los Marranos) didn’t go.
Looked at Cueva del Toyo, but more water than Porth yr Ogof
in flood and pitch far too wet. Slow return to Suarías via Panes.
A friend of Bill is 16 today.
06.04|| Perfect weather; move east to Matienzo.
Huge depression and sinks. On to Riva then up the Asón valley
via Arredondo to Cueva la Cuvera; a resurgence but too deep to follow.
Sinks above unpromising (blocked with mud/sand). Meet Speleo Club
de Paris members at the Col de Asón; they had been exploring the
On to Ramales de la Victoria (fine meal for 404pts) and back
up to San Pedro for a night in a field.
07.04|| A political start with Spanish cavers.
Then up the hill to sinks noted on 04.04] (not clear where; route
was around the Sumidero de Cellagua depression and Pico Tejes, but
sinks may have been seen on the way down). Found one small one then
a better one, ‘Cueva del Mazo Chico’, about 50m+; surveyed to grade
2b (see log). Another with a snow plug had roar of water beneath. |
Quad C again at camp; they had discovered that the earlier ‘Garma
Ciega entrance’; was in fact wrong (despite telephone cables, etc.),
but had found the right one. Long wait for meal in the San Pedro
bar, then off to find accommodation.
Ramales full, Santillaña closed, so on to Rales then towards
El Mazuco. Halted by cavers from Oviedo (literally) on the road,
who give us a room for the night.
08.04|| Posada Acuario & Café Moderno for a late
breakfast. Then east to Ribadesella and drove through the Cueva Tunel
de la Caretera to Cuevas. Afterwards, looked at depressions near
La Vita (“maps hopelessly wrong”).
Back to Panes for the evening and The Barn at Rales for the night.
09.04|| Attempted to drive up to Los Lagos, but
forced to abandon car below lake Enol due to traffic unable to negotiate
ice. 10cm snow around. Got to Ercina in daylight, then retreated
to Cangas. To Amieva, then Calabrez to big depression, Cuevona, near
Cueva Rosa, with interesting sink. Back to Posoda (Acuario, Becket,
10.04|| (Easter day.) Back to Cueva Rosa area again
and explored the sink cave for ~0.5km to wet deep duck. Obviously
explored and surveyed previously. Next to Moria sink; impenetrable.
Round to the resurgence, Tito Bustillo (now show cave). Back to Posada
11.04|| Departed east. Campsite closed at Castro
Urdiales, so back to Laredo. Huge depression just east of Laredo,
near the (old) road. Eat well, but both suffer shellfish(?) poisoning.
12.04|| Bilbao for the flight to UK.
Summer – Sima de Garma Ciega
26.07|| Heathrow to Bilbao. Car hire transfer into
Bilbao, then 1cwt of gear transferred in yellow Seat 127, off by
19:15, San Pedro (near Ramales) 21:15. Pete/Mark/Phil already there.
27.07|| Pouring rain, slow start, bolted initial
pitches in hard limestone starting 12:50. Second wave (Bill & Mark)
down at 19:30, all out by 23:00 and back to camp by 01:00.
Ropes on first carry: 35m (pitch 1), the 4 bags: 92m, ?m, 80m,
+ 30m + 15m. Mixed Edelrid & Marlow. 3 bolting kits, thimbles, rope
protectors (6+). Second carry: 45m Marlow, 1 tent, 1 bottle wine.
Details of pitches in Log.
28.07|| Surface exploration and recovery in more
rain. 3 resurgences (at K3, K6) examined. Cueva La Cubera (left bank),
Punta el Praduco (opposite, 400m upstream), and Las Fuentes (at K6.3).
M&Bill march up hill to camp at cave, others in Ramales.
29.07|| Rain all day again. Fabada breakfast, then
down the cave at 10:00. General exploration (Spanish campsite, etc.),
out after 5.5hrs. Down to Ramales for a recovery evening, while
others do the reverse ready for caving the following day. (Technical
details in log; Pitch 6, 6m, rigged.)
30.07|| Ramales for search & shopping; San Pedro
to charge lamps. Others have good trip in cave (progress beyond ‘point
12’, much abandoned rope found), but leave tent door open so Alpen,
eggs, etc. eaten by dogs...
31.07|| Sunday, so join in festivities. Meet J.
L. Garcia in Ramales and Antonio in San Pedro.
01.08|| Phil and Antonio descend cave past Salle
Blanche, into big chambers, a 20-hour trip. Mike and Bill both ill
– reach cave but do not descend and wait for Phil and Antonio; others
look for potholes on a different mountain.
02.08|| Phil and Antonio surface at 09:00. General
shopping and housekeeping, and return via Matienzo to meet MUSS,
03.08|| Pete and Mark descend to −750m, 19-hour
trip. Hydro-geology; Garma Ciega possible resurgences, etc. Back
to Matienzo to recruit some helpers.
04.08|| Strain amongst the personnel, despite two
fresh helpers (Steve and Alan). 6-hour detackling trip. “It’s the
best SRT rigged cave we’ve been in” (Steve’s entry in log). Fabada
Easter: Bill Collis, Mike Cowlishaw, QUAD-C
Summer: Bill Collis, Mike Cowlishaw, Pete Hiscock, Mark Falkner,
Phil Collett. Later joined by, Steve Foster and Alan Trevarthen (MUSS/PCG).
Other log details:
- Exchange rate 115.61pts:1GBP.
- Easter: Surveys of sink cave above San Pedro and Cuevas Tunel.