Application for Grant Aid

Submitted on: 29 Feb 2016

Expedition details (GPF2016a-003)

Expedition Name (& Club): Ario Caves Project 2016 (Various)
Destination country: Spain
Region: Picos de Europa National Park
Lat: 43.2000 Long: -4.9000 Elevation: 1850 m
MEF funding: none

Leader: Mr Mike Bottomley
Total cavers: 16
Cavers ≤25 yrs old: 0
Cavers 25-35 yrs old: 5
UK/nonUK cavers: 14/2
Eligible for grant aid: 0
Alex Pitcher nominations: 0
Expedition dates: 28th Aug 2016 - 18th Sep 2016
Duration (days): 22
Man-days in field: 224 Man-days travelling: 32
Brief Expedition objectives:

List a short summary of the main Expedition objectives.

The 2016 expedition will focus on continued exploration in the 600m deep Torca del Regallon (C4) located high in the Picos de Europa National Park. This cave was re-bolted during the 2015 expedition, and two signficant leads explored a short distance with excellent potential for further discoveries. These leads include an impressive waterfall marking the upstream limit of the master cave, which was scaled for 25m, and a downstream sump which was dived for 50m and a way-on located. With the cave left rigged, the expedition will be able to gain both leads very quickly this year and prospects remain very good for both gaining the continuation of the master cave upstream, and connecting C4 with nearby 2/7 and therefore forging one more of the links in what should be one of the deepest caves in the world.
How can the GPF support your Expedition?:

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

GPF funding has proven a major help to previous expeditions to Ario, in particular, the 2015 expedition which comprised a smaller team size than normal and so individual costs were much higher. It is likely that we will have a small team size once again this year, and so any help Ghar Parau can give us would be gratefully appreciated. In addition, we have an award winning film maker - Paul Diffley - on board to produce a film on the expedition and so there will be additional costs (e.g. transportation of camera equipment, insurance, additional specialist equipment, editing time, specialist software) incurred by this and requiring us to source substantial funding - tens of thousands of pounds to raise.
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 main objectives of the 2016 expedition will be to:

* Continue bolt climbing at the upstream waterfall, beyond the 2015 limit. Prospects are very good for making a significant extension here.
* Continue diving the main downstream sump. A way on was located during the dives conducted in 2015, which is heading in the right direction and appears to have a similar character to that seen at the upstream limit of 2/7
* Investigate some high-level development approximately 100m before the downstream sump, which appears to take the draught and may offer a high-level sump bypass. A dry way into upstream 2/7 would be extremely significant, allowing much easier access to this cave which still holds much potential for further exploration
* Continue work in Jenga (a dig located above Choke Egbert in 2/7), as well as other promising caves in the area.
* Assist Paul Diffley of Hot Aches Productions ( in making a film on the expedition. Paul was drawn in by the history of cave exploration at Ario when he attended a talk at Kendal Mountain Festival and thought that the 2016 expedition would be a great one to follow, especially if a connection can be established with 2/7 thereby forging one of the links in this world-class, deep cave system.
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.

Oxford University Caving Club have been extremely active in the area since the early 60s, and the results of their efforts well
documented. See the following links for more information on expedition objectives by year, as well as a list of journals:

In particular, a link to the 2015 Ario Caves Project expedition report:

David Rose and Richard Gregson also wrote and published the book Beneath the Mountains based on expeditions carried out
by OUCC to the Ario Plateau.

Expedition Finances


Travel plans:
It is likely that most will fly out to Asturias/Bilbao/Santander. Cars will be hired from the airport to help with transporting kit and people from the airport to the car park at Los Lagos, from where the 3hr walk up the hill commences. It is hoped two vehicles will travel out from the UK to also help with kit transportation, although we will look into costs of sports baggage for taking some kit on the plane. One vehicle will be travelling from Grenoble, France.

# from UK: 14 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from UK: £3,700 £1,800 = 10 x flights from UK to Asturias (£180 pp return)
£600 = 3 x hire cars from the airport for two weeks (inc. fuel)
£1,300 = 2 x cars travelling from UK with 4 people (inc. fuel)

# from outside UK: 2 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from outside UK: £500 £200 = 1 x flight from Finland
£300 = 1 x car travelling from Grenoble

Travel total: £4,200 Travel p.p. from UK: £264
Travel p.p. from outside UK: £250


Total: £5,824 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £364 The expedition will be based at the Refugio vega de ario (£9 pppn). Most meals will be bought in refugio to reduce amount of food to carry up the hill (£12 pppd). However, lunches will be provided by expedition (£5 pppd).

16 people x 14 days (average time on exped per person) x £26 = £5,824


Total: £990 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £62 Rope = £300
Metalwork (hangers/maillons/karabiners) = £150
Throughbolts = £100
Tackle bags = £100
Dry bags = £30
Dive line = £10
Large, bespoke made underground shelter = £150
Sleeping bags = £150

Special 1

Total: £160 Comments:
Special 1 p.p.: £10 Rental of horse to bring equipment up the hill (2 horses x £80)

Special 2

Total: £100 Comments:
Special 2 p.p.: £6 Extra hold baggage for camera/filming equipment. Other costs regarding the film to be confirmed at a later date.
Exped Total: £11,274 Exped cost p.p. travelling from UK: £706
Exped cost p.p. travelling from outside UK: £692
Mean Exped cost per person: £704

Other Funding

Total: £0 Comments:
Total shortfall: £11,274 Mean shortfall per person: £704

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: Ms Fleur Loveridge
Affiliation: OUCC

Reason: Fleur has had a long involvement with the OUCC expeditions up to Ario and knows the area and our objectives extremely well.

Permission obtained?: Yes
Referee 2: Mr Steve Roberts
Affiliation: OUCC

Reason: Steve has had a long involvement with the OUCC expeditions up to Ario, including leading an expedition in 1985 and knows the area and our objectives extremely well.

Permission obtained?: Yes

Expedition report author: Dave Rose