Asopladeru La Texa – Day 4 – Aven extensions and exit
Friday, 18 July 2008

We got up bright and early (well early at least) on this final day of our camping trip, in order to fit everything in. The plan was to first re-ascend the aven, photograph the formations above, then continue through and push the pitches beyond, before returning to the surface after 4 days underground.

The first thing I became aware of as I put my caving gear back on was just how smelly and sandy my furry and thermal was getting. At least everyone was minging too. Sandy pasta was once again enjoyed before we headed out of camp at 07:30 with half of the rope the others brought down (they planned to rig ‘Piss-Poor Pushing Pot’ and the pools in the bypass to allow dryer access to the streamway, before continuing down the pitch where we ran out of rope).

The aven was ascended on slightly safer ropes than previously and the previous limit of exploration was soon reached. Above the chamber where I last got to, the short climb had been roped 2days previously by Phil and Steve and now led up into a clean-washed solid limestone phreatic tube, very large in diameter. This very quickly led to the pretties.

The formations here were exquisite and untouched – I’ve never really appreciated that before. Bushes of crystals adorned the walls and stal, some as thin as hair and spiny and sharp. Unfortunately the passage here is a boulder floored rift and the whole of it is plastered with formations, so progression without any destruction is very difficult. Unfortunately I think with even a very small amount of careful people passing through here the formations will soon be ruined due to their delicate nature. A game of cave twister ensued with each person taking about half an hour to pass the 10m or so long section of passage without touching anything other than a couple of spots sacrificed for progress.

Once past the formations, we bolted and descended a couple of 10m-ish pitches into huge phreatic passage with slight stream trenching in the floor possibly indicating running water here after it was abandoned as phreatic passage. A short walk along the huge passage led to a short pitch through a slot to a couple more 10m or so pitches. At the final pitch, the phreatic tube was almost vertical, and at the bottom passed a low arch through thick old sediment and muddy boulders. Once this arch was passed the passage inclined sharply upwards again – like a giant u-bend. This almost certainly used to be a sump, even after the rest of the passage ceased to be phreatic, as old tide lines are apparent high up. However the constant up’s and down’s in this passage make it very hard to try and visualise where exactly water could flow.

Once past the ‘U-bend’ the passage once again ascended up muddy boulders to a climb just a little too hairy and away from help to be attempted by any in the party without aids or bolts. From here a passage less than 10m above seemed to be heading off in a similar style and size. All this passage was then surveyed back to the previous limits of surveying and Simon undertook some amateur photography of the formations. These were to give a taster to the folks above so they could arrange for a real photographer to come down and photo them before they get destroyed.
On the way back down the aven, my bobbin, which had taken some abuse on this trip, stopped going down. I though to myself “This isn’t so bad though because my jammers have stopped going up”. With some extra force and physically pushing the top of th descender, the bottom was slowly reached and we made our way back to camp after a 9.5 hour trip. This was a little worrying for me as I was feeling pretty tired and the prospect of 750m of prussicking seemed quite daunting.

However after a fine tea of sandy pasta, I was starting to feel a little more enthused. I started ascending the pitches with mad Phil flying off ahead of me. I didn’t hear him again until the 80m pitch about a third of the way out, and didn’t see him again until the next day. Steadily (but probably fairly slowly) I ticked off the pitches and I actually started to quite enjoy myself, even with worn out slipping jammers, and large prussicking blisters forming on the sides of my feet.

Then at around -150m depth it became apparent why no-one had come to camp this day. At the top of No Hay Cristal pitch I encountered a couple of fairly cheerful cavers, one of whom was in a survival bag. Asking if they were just staying the night before continuing down they replied that one of their party’s legs had started spasming on the way down and there was no way they could continue up or down tonight. They had already sent someone else out to alert the people on the surface to bring warm sleeping kit and supplies for the night, before he would attempt to prussic out in the morning. Simon kindly donated his camping thermals to him, whilst I headed out. I passed Hilary (this was the first time I’d actually met her in the flesh) and Gavin with sleeping bags upside-down in a rift, as I was passing through an un-passable section of rift. Unfortunately, this was the chap who was supposed to go and photograph the formations up the aven so it looks like exploration up that lead will halt for this year until someone can get down there and photograph them next year.
I reached the surface after what felt like a fairly slow but comfortable trip out from camp after 7 hours of prussicking and a total of a 19.5 hour trip that day (including lunch).

My timing and luck seemed once again to be finely tuned in as my exit coincided nicely with the surface support party for the ‘rescue’ going on below, where the lovely Pip fed me warm soup and cheese sandwiches.

An excellent four days of caving and exploration, I wish I didn’t have to go back to work….

Comments

You should make these visible to the public….

Mike Bottomley

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Images
Smelly gear drying in the sun
Posted by: Noel Snape
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Width: 600 pixels
Height: 450 pixels
Posted: 24 July 2008
Was this the most worn descender in the world? (Tony Seddon’s)
Posted by: Noel Snape
Size: 155kb
Width: 600 pixels
Height: 450 pixels
Posted: 24 July 2008
Sunset over surface camp
Posted by: Noel Snape
Size: 33kb
Width: 600 pixels
Height: 450 pixels
Posted: 24 July 2008