Application for Grant Aid

Submitted on: 28 Feb 2017

Expedition details (GPF2017a-007)

Expedition Name (& Club): Tresviso 2017 (Bradford Pothole Club)
Destination country: Spain
Region: Picos De Europa (Eastern)
Lat: 43.2573 Long: -4.6688 Elevation: 900m m
MEF funding: none

Leader: Mr Phil Walker
Total cavers: 14
Cavers ≤25 yrs old: 1
Cavers 25-35 yrs old: 8
UK/nonUK cavers: 13/1
Eligible for grant aid: 0
Alex Pitcher nominations: 1
Expedition dates: 8th Jul 2017 - 22nd Jul 2017
Duration (days): 15
Man-days in field: 181 Man-days travelling: 22
Brief Expedition objectives:

List a short summary of the main Expedition objectives.

Cueva del Nacimiento is a large resurgence cave, with a catchment area of 37km^2 and a possible vertical range of nearly 1500m. Caves found in the high plateau have been dye traced to Nacimiento, although continued and hard exploration of the deep vertical potholes (CS-9 being the deepest at ~1203m) has failed to find the elusive connection.

However, the ancient Nacimiento lends itself to the unusual approach of 'upwards' exploration. With many steep slopes, or ramps taking the vertical range of the cave to over 500m, with a strong draft present throughout the system.

In brief the main objectives of the 2017 trip will be to continue the upwards exploration of Nacimiento, undertaken alongside the downwards exploration of nearby surface potholes.
How can the GPF support your Expedition?:

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

The exploration over previous years has required a strong team to camp in the further reaches of the cave (Death Race). This is a remote location and it is a gear hungry place, with poor rock quality and lots of traversing/bolt climbing requiring large amounts of rope, hangers and bolts.

Any grant aid will go directly towards the exploration of the cave.

In addition, we need to have a set up trip in may 2017 with a small team of expert bag carriers to stock the camp with food and exploration equipment in the camp in Death Race. This will maximise the exploration time available for the main expedition.
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.

Cueva del Nacimiento is a large resurgence cave in the valley below Tresviso. Originally explored in the 1970's and 80's it was pushed to a terminal chamber 'Death Race 2000', ~400m above the entrance. Interest was re-kindled in 2009 with a lot of work put into to regaining the original route over the following years and climbs above Death Race were started.

During 2016, a two week expedition saw systematic exploration of the wide open leads left from 2015 in Nacimiento, with nearly 1km of cave surveyed. Much of this beyond the 'terminal' Death Race Chamber. A permanent camp has been established in Death Race, considerably reducing the commuting time to underground exploration. The main objective for 2017 is to find a bypass to the Pina Colada sump pool below Death Race. We will also continue to explore avens in Jurassic World with the ultimate goal of a higher entrance being located. It is expected to require bolt climbing from several strong teams rotating in camp.

Secondary objectives in Nacimiento include Joe's Crack, an intriguing lead very near to the camp in Death Race, and continuing to climb the Wet Aven, which has all the characteristics of a pothole entering the system.

Pozo Del Castillo.
Pozo Castillo was located and re-explored in 2015. The blockage that has prevented progress since 1987 is still in place
and consists of a number of large boulders held up by a snow plug. Without significant shoring work the obstacle appears to be impassable. However, the neighbouring Pozo Natacha cave, currently finishes at a similar depth to Castillo and survey work would seem to suggest that they (and others in the area) are feeders into a main system. Natacha will be revisited in 2017 to confirm this theory and hopefully extend the cave. Phil has obtained a number of mine schematics which may aid progress in this area.

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.

All previous work in the region has been well documented as part of the project. Detailed reports of previous exploration in the catchment area (and immediate vicinity) can be found here - whilst an overview can easily be seen here -

In short, Cueva del Nacimiento was originally explored by Lancaster University Speleological Society in the 1970s and briefly re-visited in the 1980s when the terminal chamber, Death Race 2000 was reached. Here is seemed the nature of the system changes from steep ramps to a large vertical shaft and no obvious progress was made. During this time further exploration was being made on the surface plateau (by LUSS, Adi Kami and eventually SWCC) with several very deep (>1000m) caves being found. However, whilst many were very deep, few were trending towards Nacimiento (despite positive dye traces).

Whilst Adi Kami were pushing CS-9, British exploration in the region waned. However, the increased use of drills over hand bolting has made the further exploration of the more vertical further reaches of Nacimiento viable and exploration was again possible. Over 2011/12 a lot of hard work was put in regaining the terminal chamber (over 300m of climbing) and progress began on climbing the pitches

Expedition Finances


Travel plans:
Expedition members will be making their own travel arrangements to Tresviso. Options are driving through France, 24 hour ferry to Santander and flying to Santander/Bilbao. Most are planning to travel via 24 hour ferry. As this is the most likely option, it is costed up here.
Flying is the cheapest option but public transoprt links to Tresviso are poor and we cannot carry all the gear required on a plane. With the 24hr ferry we must tow a trailer in order to transport all the gear.

# from UK: 13 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from UK: £4,576 Ferries £300 pp
Fuel £40 pp
Breakdown cover £12 pp

# from outside UK: 1 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from outside UK: £80 Fuel 80 euro

Travel total: £4,656 Travel p.p. from UK: £352
Travel p.p. from outside UK: £80


Total: £2,453 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £175 Accomodation £6pppn + one time £3 joining fee.
Day fee (food) £6pppn

underground rations - 40 days @ £6 (additional)


Total: £421 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £30 200m Courde Courant Ultima rope = £255
40x hangars = £96
100x bolts = £40
6 x sds drill bits = £30

Special 1

Total: £1,400 Comments:
Special 1 p.p.: £100 Insurance (variable, assume £100 pp)
Exped Total: £8,930 Exped cost p.p. travelling from UK: £657
Exped cost p.p. travelling from outside UK: £385
Mean Exped cost per person: £637

Other Funding

Total: £0 Comments:
Total shortfall: £8,930 Mean shortfall per person: £637

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 Alan Braybrooke
Affiliation: Member/organiser of SWCC Beliz

Reason: Participant in 3 trips to the area previously, knows the area and familiar with most of expedition members

Permission obtained?: Yes
Referee 2: Mr Toby Dryden
Affiliation: SWCC, SMWCRT, Member of Belize

Reason: Previous expeditions with Phil, Dave and Chris. Familiar with most other members through SMWCRT

Permission obtained?: Yes

Expedition report author: Phil Walker