Asopladeru La Texa – Day 1 – Entrance and aven climb
Tuesday, 15 July 2008

I was exceptionally fortunate to wangle my way onto this 4 day pushing trip down a system of 1060m total depth. This was within a day of my being at expedition surface camp, after doing no portering or hard work, and without knowing any other cavers there.

I packed a small tackle bag of camping equipment clothes and survival gear and was rather chuffed with it until ‘Mad Phil’ Rowsell insisted I wouldn’t be needing any of it except two thermals (“there’s already survival bags/ rations at camp” – what if I don’t make it that far I thought?)

The entrance was reached on Tuesday morning at 09:30 after portering equipment to the entrance from camp the night previously, a good hours walk in spectacular Picos scenery. Tackle bags of camping supplies, rope and diving bottles were attached to us ready for the descent. I soon realised my small group of companions consisted of some rather ‘hard’ cavers as we started nailing pitch after pitch, my bobbin causing slight delay compared to everyone else’s Stops. The entrance series to La Texa is a series of many pitches leading down shafts of up to 80m, with occasional rift and climbing sections to a depth of 750m at camp. We reached the camp which was situated in a sandy phreatic tube above a large chamber at called Sala Osten around 3.5 hours later at 13:00. (I later realised how fast this was when the next camping team took around 10 hours to get down). The camp put ULSA’s expedition tackle store to shame with a rather comfortable tent created by Hilary, and even a Nicola radio to inform the surface through 1.5km of rock that we needed more cheese, bog-roll etc.

After a brief lunch of sandy pasta and two cups of tea, we progressed along the large phreatic passage that leads via more pitches, a net 200m descent and a short boat ride to the final ‘lower streamway’, discovered in 2005 by Hilary Greaves and co. At this point Si and Phil continued bolting up an ave just beyond Knife Pitch, whilst me and Steve had a good look around the final streamway. This is a section of stream intersected by the route in with a large waterfall upstream and a large open sump downstream. A few days previous to our arrival, Tony Seddon dived the downstream sump. It led via large passage to a sloping shaft down where at 42m depth he decided to call it a day without re-breather equipment, as the sump continued downwards.

After looking around for a couple of hours, and me digging out a tight rift to find a 3m extension (claimed in the name of ULSA) we decided to head back to see where the others were at. It just so happened that the Aven climb was finished as we arrived and led up a 40m pitch to large continuing phreas (continuation of the passage leading off from camp). We quickly jammed up the pitch to gain the top where the boys were just tidying up the rigging.

At this point Phil kindly allowed me to head on up the large climbable passage first, due to me having never entered virgin passage before (good job I didn’t tell him about my aforementioned 3m extension). This led up to an impressive phreatic tube which quickly led a climb down into a chamber that was previously a large pool. This mud floored chamber appeared to have a small aven leading off, but after a small while rummaging around, I squeezed myself under a low muddy arch previously briefly ignored, which connected to a parallel large chamber. This had more obvious looking passage leading off above but due to the time, and a lack of climbing equipment or rope we decided to call it a day.

Camp was reached well after midnight where I reflected as I ate my sandy pasta and bunked down in my one set of thermals in a sand filled sleeping bag, that it wasn’t such a bad day’s caving for my first trip down anything deeper than Pen-y-Ghent.

Images

Surface camp at dusk
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Posted: 24 July 2008
Surface camp by day
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Posted: 24 July 2008
Cave – surface radio
Posted by: Noel Snape
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Posted: 24 July 2008
Entrance to La Texa
Posted by: Noel Snape
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Posted: 24 July 2008
View from entrance, resurgence (expo target) is in valley bottom
Posted by: Noel Snape
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Posted: 24 July 2008