Application for Grant Aid

Submitted on: 16 Feb 2018

Expedition details (GPF2018a-003)

Expedition Name (& Club): Tresviso 2018 (Bradford Pothole Club / SUSS)
Destination country: Spain
Region: Picos De Europa
Lat: 43.2576 Long: -4.6677 Elevation: 895 m
MEF funding: none

Leader: Mr Phil Walker
Total cavers: 55
Cavers ≤25 yrs old: 26
Cavers 25-35 yrs old: 18
UK/nonUK cavers: 52/3
Eligible for grant aid: 0
Alex Pitcher nominations: 2
Expedition dates: 1st Sep 2018 - 16th Sep 2018
Duration (days): 16
Man-days in field: 770 Man-days travelling: 138
Brief Expedition objectives:

List a short summary of the main Expedition objectives.

The latest expeditions are now fully concentrating on the aven climbs at the back end of Cueva del Nacimiento. Gains every year are pushing the cave higher and the surface is getting closer. Ideally, as well as breaking out to the surface, the cave will drop down again, so that further progress towards the deep systems can be gained. There are more and more leads being identified, both at the back end and also nearer the entrance series. Aided by modern technology, maps and surveys are highlighting features within the cave and on the surface that hold promise for some big discoveries. Interest is also building in the deeper systems in Andara and Cueva de la Marniosa.

The main objectives are:
1. exploration beyond Death Race 2000 & radio location of key passages
2. exploration beyond Sump 2 in Cueva de la Marniosa
3. In conjunction with SUSS, several of the open leads in the deeper alpine potholes in the limestone plateau above the resurgence systems are to be re-visited.(Flower Pot)
How can the GPF support your Expedition?:

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

In 2018, the core team will be bolstered by a large group from SUSS (both old and new) to aid the exploration of the vertical systems located above Nacimiento. SUSS intend to camp high in the Vegas de Andara (Sara depression) on the Andara plateau, requiring additional logistics. The caves will be as rope hungry as any alpine pothole. Thought must be given to the charging of drills & lights, a problem not encountered during the original LUSS camps! Most of the grant aid will be directed towards supplying SUSS with the hardware and camping equipment required.

The exploration of Cueva del Nacimiento, 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.
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 gorge 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 regaining the original route over the following years and climbs above Death Race 2000 began with the hope of finding further extensions to the cave and a connection with the surface. This aim remains the main objective of the expedition. More recently, expanding interest in the region has allowed a more multi-dimensional approach with cavers looking at the far end of Nacimiento, surface prospecting, diving in known feeder systems and re-investigating the deep alpine potholes on the plateau above.

With over 200 active leads, the list of objectives in this region is near never-ending. Below the main objectives for each area (Nacimiento, Marniosa and the Andara plateau) are listed. This list is not exhaustive, neither do we expect to achieve success in all these over the short duration of the expedition - however it is good to be positive :-)

Cueva del Nacimiento:
1. Terror Firma. - This aven is the highest known passage in the cave. It is of particular interest, not only as the final aven in the furthest reaching passage, but also due to the nature of the area. Here, unlike the other previously climbed avens in the area, the passage resumes a more ramplike and phreatic nature. The climb was started in 2017, with a number of possible leads remaining unvisited for 2018.
2. Satan's Chode - Found above the massive 'Satan's Ramp' which marks a change in character of the cave, this passage is a large phreatic inlet. Over 150m above the Far Upstream Sump and trending away from Death Race 2000 the potential for further discovery's is significant.
3. Wet Aven. - Located near the top of the 'Satan's Ramp' is the Wet Aven. This has been climbed to over 60m and appears to be a surface pothole which has interconnected with the main drain of the system.
4. Pina Colada Sump. - The discovery of the Pina Colada Sump in 2015 was unexpected. Over 150m below Death Race and back at the water table is a small immature meander breaks out into the Pina Colada Sump, a large 30x30m sump pool. A large rift was seen extending away over the top of the sump. If the rift 'goes', it will head into a blank area on the map, however due to the proximity to the water table this has the potential to be very aquatic. As a diving project it presents a major undertaking.

Cueva de la Marniosa:
An exciting moment in 2017 was the discovery that Sump 2 in Marniosa was both short and managable (similar to Sump 1). Further exploration beyond Sump 2 is expected to continue this year, although the nature of the downstream passage remains arduous, it trends towards Cueva del Nacimiento.

Andara Plateau:
A large group from SUSS are visiting the Andara Plateau in conjunction with the Tresviso Caves Project. Their aim is to re-visit several of the more promising leads from the LUSS era of exploration. It is hoped that electric lights, drills and modern SRT exploration techniques may facilitate access to high leads that either could not be seen or proved impossible to access in the 1970's and 80's.

1. Fallen Bear Cave - An interesting cave discovered by LUSS and extended by the Spanish club AD KAMI in the 1990's. The further reaches are perhaps the closest to Nacimiento of any significant cave in the area. In 2017 the cave was re-visited and a number of high level leads were identified in the final pitch series. The cave is exceptionally loose and great care must be taken. The end of the cave was not reached in 2017 and many verbal descriptions suggest the lead are be open 'but wet'... Pack a wetsuit.
2. Pozo Castillo - Due to time constraints, a significant lead was left open at the end of an expedition. On returning the following year access to the cave was blocked by a collapse and a snow plug. If this obstacle can be bypassed, discovery's may be significant.
2. Dossers Delight - A number of leads in the high passages before the final sump appear to be of interest. In particular a high window in the final large pitch 'Pozo de los Picos'. From past accounts, access to this region of the cave is likely to be non-trivial!
3. Surface prospecting

To aid the long term success of the project and furthering the knowledge of the cave network the Tresviso Caves Project aims to collect as much peripheral data as possible, making this information readily available.
1. Radio Location of Terror Firma and other interesting passages in Agua.
2. The dye traces conducted in the 70's and 80's proved the connection between the major caves (such as Sima 56 & Marniosa) and Cueva del Nacimiento. However little is known of the other minor feeders in the region. To improve understanding of this complex cave network now may be the time to begin further dye traces.
3. Updating GPS locations of old cave entrances.

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.

Under the banner of the Tresviso Caves Project, all available reports to the area have been filed, documented and converted into more up to date technology with many leads highlighted and key surveys redrawn and updated to .svx files and illustrator files. In total there are nearly 200 articles and reports on cave exploration in the area. The key reports have been uploaded online (Spanish reports translated into English) and can be found here

A full bibliography of publications can be found here:

Going through old reports/data is not only essential for future discovery, but ensures that the rich exploration history of the area is maintainted and added too.

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 transport 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: 51 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from UK: £20,458 Based on 4 people in a vehicle

Ferries £320 pp
Fuel £50 pp
Breakdown cover £16 pp

Total £416

# from outside UK: 2 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from outside UK: £210 Fuel, return from Madrid £60
Fuel, return from Geneva £150

Travel total: £20,668 Travel p.p. from UK: £401
Travel p.p. from outside UK: £105


Total: £10,575 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £200 Tresviso Team
Accomodation £6pppn + one time £3 joining fee.
Day fee (food) £6pppn

underground rations - 40 days @ £6 (additional)

Andara Team
Accomodation free
Day fee (food) £6pppn

Total accomodation = (25*14*£6) + (25*£3) = £6375
Total day fee = (50*14*£6) = £4200


Total: £5,572 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £105 Static rope - 5x200m reels (8.5mm beal spelenium) @£350-£400 each
Dynamic rope - 3x30m @£70-90 each (around 9.5mm e.g.Joker, simond edge, edelweiss rocklight II)
Hangars - 400 @3.51 each
Maillions - 400 @3.10 each
Bolts - 400 @£0.32 each
Accessory cord - 50m (6mm) - £50
10 Tackle Bags (various) - 8 medium @£50 each & 2 large @ £90 each

Special 1

Total: £5,005 Comments:
Special 1 p.p.: £94 Insurance at £100pp
Exped Total: £41,820 Exped cost p.p. travelling from UK: £800
Exped cost p.p. travelling from outside UK: £504
Mean Exped cost per person: £789

Other Funding

Total: £0 Comments:
Total shortfall: £41,820 Mean shortfall per person: £789

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 Julian Carter
Affiliation: SWCC, SMWCRT, Previous expedti

Reason: Previous expeditions with Phil both and Chris. Familiar with many other members through SWCC and SMWCRT.

Permission obtained?: Yes
Referee 2: 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

Expedition report author: Chris Jones