Application for Grant Aid

Submitted on: 27 Feb 2014

Expedition details (GPF2014a-009)

Expedition Name (& Club): Ario Caves Project (OUCC / mixed)
Destination country: Spain
Region: Austurias
Lat: 43.2413 Long: -4.9222 Elevation: m
MEF funding: none

Leader: Mr Ian Holmes
Total cavers: 40
Cavers ≤25 yrs old: 14
Cavers 25-35 yrs old: 13
UK/nonUK cavers: 28/12
Eligible for grant aid: 0
Alex Pitcher nominations: 2
Expedition dates: 28th Jun 2014 - 3rd Aug 2014
Duration (days): 37
Man-days in field: 600 Man-days travelling: 90
Brief Expedition objectives:

List a short summary of the main Expedition objectives.

The main 2014 ACP expedition aims comprise:
• Continued pushing of leads in Xitu in the hope of finding dry connections through to 2/7 and Culiembro;
• Re-rig of C4 to continue exploration upstream of the current limit and dye trace downstream to probable 2/7 and Culiembro connection;
• Digging and prospecting caves within the area above 2/7 choke Egbert;
• Preparations within Culiembro to facilitate future joint aid-climbing and diving trip; and
• Establishment of a permanent equipment store out close to the Vega de Ario.
How can the GPF support your Expedition?:

Please explain the aspects of the trip which make it eligible for Ghar Parau funding.

Reasons for GPF application and benefits:
• Potential for one of the deepest cave systems in Europe (+1800m);
• Continuation of historical OUCC expeditions that have been run since the 1960s;
• Strengthening relationship with FESPA and the Picos de Europa National Park;
• Original exploration will be undertaken;
• A dye tracing study will be completed;
• Large team multinational team (British, Irish, American, Spanish, Latvian, Finnish and Chinese) with a significant number of student cavers attending (16 from LUSS, GUPA, OUCC, UCD and DCU), some of whom may be experience financial hardship;
• ACP is trying to build up its own supply of equipment (and funds) which can be left out in Spain to avoid reliance on OUCC equipment; and
• A considerable amount of equipment has to be transported to Spain from the UK.
Detailed description of objectives:

Give a more detailed account of the purpose of the trip, including any particular known caves you intend to visit, specific areas where you will explore for new cave, and scientific experiments you will attempt.

The following objectives are planned for the 2014 expedition, albeit they may be subject to change following confirmation of attendee numbers and experience:

• Continue exploring ‘Up all night to get lucky’ and complete the aid climbs and limited digging work required in this area;
• Check all remaining leads and cross rifts in the bottom section of Xitu, particularly within the Death Series;
• Follow up the leads in William’s Bit, Avelina’s Bit, Avelina’s tunnel and El Puritan to suitable conclusions;
• Complete the aid climb required at the ‘Way of the Fairies’ and link the survey into the main Xitu streamway;
• Re-dive the Xitu sumps and traverse to Culiembro in order to review the possible leads between the sumps and obtain more photographic records and possible film of the traverse; and
• Strip all rigging and camping equipment out of Xitu at termination of remaining leads.

• Complete re-rig of C4, to gain access and allow exploration of the upstream C3 streamway, which includes a short (approx. 10m) aid climb at the previous limit;
• Dye tracing C3 / C4 sumps to downstream 2/7 streamway via Culiembro or Hoy la Madre (separate British team is diving here during summer 2014); and
• Possibly attempt to dive the connection between C3/C4 and 2/7.

• Familiarisation trips into Culiembro to prepare for joint diving and aid climbing expedition during September 2014; and
• Additional activities on the cliff entrances above Culiembro to determine exploration potential.

• Further work in promising surface digs above Choke Egbert and particularly in respect to Jenga; and
• ACP would also like to establish a permanent equipment storage base on the Ario Plateau to avoid unnecessary material transportation. It is hoped that the expedition may be able to gain use of an old shepherd’s hut following discussions with the appropriate stakeholders.
Previous work in this area:

Give details of any previous work in this area by your own and other teams. Include references to reports and articles published on the area, and the names of any local cavers or academics with whom you have discussed the Expedition.

See Ario Caves Project Expedition 2013 report (authored by Steph Dwyer) for the most recent discoveries.
Historical records available online at for expeditions dating back to the 1960s. Also see OUCC PROC 1 - 14.

Expedition Finances


Travel plans:
3 x vehicles (2 cars and one van) driving from UK to Spain via Dover.

Remaining travel typically involves flying into either Asturias, Santander or Bilbao and then public buses to Covadonga (~100 to 250km)

# from UK: 33 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from UK: £5,245 £750 - 1 x van (ferry, fuel, tolls, maintenance)
£1,000 - 2 x car (ferry, fuel, tolls, maintenance) @ £500 per vehicle
£3,465 - 21 x flights from UK and public transport @ £175 per person

# from outside UK: 7 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from outside UK: £1,650 £1,050 - 6 x flights from Europe and public transport @ £175 per person
£600 - 1 x flight from America

Travel total: £6,895 Travel p.p. from UK: £158
Travel p.p. from outside UK: £235


Total: £3,900 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £98 Expedition will be based at the Refugio de Vega
Accommodation ~£3.50 per night per person
Food ~£3 per day per person

£3,900 - 600 man days x £6.50 (acc and food)


Total: £2,000 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £50 £500 - rope
£500 - metal work (mallions, hangers, krabs, bolts)
£500 - underground camping gear (sleeping bag, roll mats
£200 - bags
£200 - surveying equipment and dye tracing
£100 - stoves, fuel, gas canisters
Exped Total: £12,795 Exped cost p.p. travelling from UK: £305
Exped cost p.p. travelling from outside UK: £382
Mean Exped cost per person: £319

Other Funding

Total: £0 Comments:
Total shortfall: £12,795 Mean shortfall per person: £319

Referees and Report

Please give the names, addresses and phone numbers of two suitably qualified people whom the Committee can contact. You should ensure that they are aware of the objectives of your trip, and that you have their permission for the Committee to contact them.

Referee 1: Mr Paul Mackrill
Affiliation: ASV, South Wales CC

Reason: Historical association with the Picos Expeditions.

Permission obtained?: Yes
Referee 2: Mr Tony Seddon
Affiliation: OUCC

Reason: Historical association with the Picos Expeditions.

Permission obtained?: Yes

Expedition report author: Ian Holmes