Application for Grant Aid

Submitted on: 28 Feb 2017

Expedition details (GPF2017a-006)

Expedition Name (& Club): Ario Caves Project 2017 (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: 35
Cavers ≤25 yrs old: 5
Cavers 25-35 yrs old: 10
UK/nonUK cavers: 28/7
Eligible for grant aid: 0
Alex Pitcher nominations: 2
Expedition dates: 24th Jun 2017 - 23rd Jul 2017
Duration (days): 30
Man-days in field: 450 Man-days travelling: 31
Brief Expedition objectives:

List a short summary of the main Expedition objectives.

The 2017 expedition will focus on continued exploration in the 600m deep Torca del Regallon (C4) located high in the Picos de Europa National Park. Over the last 2 years, this cave has been rebolted and several leads pushed with exciting results. The upstream waterfall was finally scaled during the 2016 expedition and turned out to be ~30m high, leading into a higher-level upstream series (Underground Hyperdrive). Around 300m of passage was explored and surveyed with numerous inlets and avens, all of which were left ongoing and hold excellent potential for further discoveries, including a likely connection with nearby F64 located at over 2,020m altitude. The downstream sump was explored for a further 80m, is still wide open and appears to be shallowing. The sump is not giving in easily, but there is no doubt we are extremely close to a connection with nearby 2/7. This years expedition holds massive potential for forging 2 links in what should ultimately be the deepest cave in Europe!
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 last two expeditions which comprised a smaller team size than normal and so individual costs were much higher. It is likely that we will have a relatively small team size once again this year, and so any help Ghar Parau can give us would be gratefully appreciated. In addition, we have the award winning film maker - Paul Diffley - on board to finish a film on the expedition he started last year 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.

Below is a brief summary of the main objectives for the 2017 expedition, which will take place during June/July:

• Establish a camp in The Sanctuary (the large chamber found during the 2016 expedition). This will provide an excellent base for multi-day pushing trips in the new upstream extensions (Underground Hyperdrive) as well as the downstream sump. The main leads in the new upstream extensions include:

1) 26 m waterfall inlet (bolt climbing project)
2) 100 m+ aven (major bolt climbing project)
3) waterfall climb at end of F64 inlet (bolt climbing project)
4) Possible capping project in Tinkle Tankle Passage if way over top of too-tight rift cannot be found

• Diving Special Agent Sea. The camp in The Sanctuary can be utilised for this, and so gives chance for several dives if required. Prospects are very good for a connection with 2/7. This year, Tony Seddon will be taking on the dive.

• Complete bolt climbing project in vicinity of phreatic roof tube, located ~ 150m upstream of Special Agent Sea, which ended this year beneath interesting tubes and indentations in the wall above. Examine avens above 'A Hard Days Knight' if this lead closes down.

• Have another look at the end of 27/9, which is currently around 100 m deep and may link in with avens either side of 'Special Agent Sea' (most likely 'Pieces of 22' a dry inlet on the 2/7 side of the sump).

• Have another look at current limit of E14, which is likely to drop into the end of F64 or just beyond. Currently ends at a too-tight rift, beyond which is a pitch and sound of running water.

• Continue work in the Valley of the Dry Bones when possible (i.e. days off from working in C4).

• Continue re-investigating known sites from the OUCC shaftbashing guide, particularly ones which ended in snowplugs 20 to 30 years ago. For example, F88.
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.

Much work has been done on updating the Ario Caves Project website, which can be found at the link below:

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 and 2016 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 three or four 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: 28 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from UK: £7,100 £3,300 = 22 x flights from UK to Asturias (£150 pp return)
£1,300 = 5 x hire cars from the airport for two weeks (inc. fuel)
£2,500 = 4 x cars travelling from UK with 6 people minimum (inc. fuel)

# from outside UK: 7 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from outside UK: £1,450 £150 = 1 x flight from Germany to Asturias (£150 pp return)
£750 = 5 x flight from Ireland to Asturias (£150 pp return)
£250 = 1 x hire car from the airport for two weeks (inc. fuel)
£300 = 1 x car travelling from Grenoble

Travel total: £8,550 Travel p.p. from UK: £253
Travel p.p. from outside UK: £207


Total: £14,700 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £420 The expedition will be based at the Refugio vega de ario (£10 pppn). Most meals will be bought in refugio to reduce amount of food to carry up the hill (£15 pppd). However, lunches will be provided by expedition (£5 pppd).

35 people x 14 days (average time on exped per person) x £30 = £14,700


Total: £1,480 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £42 Rope = £200
Metalwork (hangers/maillons/karabiners) = £200
Throughbolts = £100
Tackle bags = £120
Dry bags = £50
Dive line = £10
Large, bespoke made underground shelter = £150
DistoX = £350
Drill and batteries = £300

Special 1

Total: £320 Comments:
Special 1 p.p.: £9 Rental of donkeys to bring equipment up the hill (4 donkeys x £80)

Special 2

Total: £2,000 Comments:
Special 2 p.p.: £57 Costs associated with filming project (e.g. underground filming assistant, insurance, extra hold luggage)
Exped Total: £27,050 Exped cost p.p. travelling from UK: £781
Exped cost p.p. travelling from outside UK: £735
Mean Exped cost per person: £772

Other Funding

Total: £0 Comments:
Assistance from Alpkit and DMM for kit
Possible money from Sunday Times article

We currently do not have any additional funding for the filming project, which is likely to provide fantastic publicity for caving and will be shown at various cave and mountain film festivals including Kendal Mountain Festival
Total shortfall: £27,050 Mean shortfall per person: £772

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 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. He is currently President of OUCC.

Permission obtained?: Yes
Referee 2: Ms Ursula Collie
Affiliation: OUCC

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

Permission obtained?: Yes

Expedition report author: Mike Bottomley