During the next few days following the Muxa trip, the forecast was deteriorating. It has been decided to visit a weather safe option 27/9. Light rain was forecasted for 6pm and the four of us, Mark Sims, Sandy Wright, Paulina and I, set off for the day. Plan was to re-rigg, survey, photograph and possibly explore. Mark and Sandy carried on surveying pass the squeeze as Paulina and I took few pictures heading back to towards the entrance, as the squeeze was not very accommodating for some members of the party.
27/9 the big pitch where we got rained
27/9 the pitch where the old survey finished
Cave pearls at the bottom of Sound of Silence
All was fine until about 4.30pm when suddenly someone above us opened the tap. Initially we heard the noise, soon followed by a heavy spray which started to increase, as we hung between the rebelays on a 50m pitch with all the camera gear spread out between me, Paulina and the bottom of the pitch. We managed to pack it all quickly and proceeded to come out towards the final few pitches slightly concerned about Mark & Sandy as we didn’t know how the cave reacts to the rain. As quickly as the water came it very soon started to slow down and we also heard the boys following us out of the cave. Only when we got back to the Refugio, we learned how heavy the rain actually was, when we saw the aftermath of the flooded gear tent.
Next day was the bad weather day and coincidentally a deserved rest day as we were all pretty worn after few days of continuous travel and caving. Once the weather improved, in next few days we carried on with the expedition tasks, surface prospects, C4 prep for the next year and slow de-rigg of the camp with only 5 of us left at Ario.
Tony and Mark packing gear for the re-rigg beyond the Monster in C4
C4, The Monster
As the weather got better towards the weekend, we’ve had some most amazing cloudless nights stargazing and admiring the milky way.
Stargazing evening sponsored by the Dinner Mix
Couple of days were spend on surface prospecting, entrance finding, GPSing, shaftbashing and we had an interesting trip to 53/5 and the very end. 53/5 is an interesting cave with an unreal blowy draft coming out of the entrance. We took the path towards the Trea Canal and after a while I realised that I forgot my undersuit (I’ll be fine, I thought, it’s only drafty at the entrance). By the entrance I realised that I had no gloves, no to worry, I did pack all the camera stuff though. Going through the coffin lid squeeze wasn’t as bad as the Ario Reality rift in 27/9, so I thought going through it on the way in. As we later learned it was my first out of 6 passes through that squeeze, last of which was to assist a caver who had to go back to the cave to get his forgotten lunch box out (and it wasn’t me this time who forgot to take it out of the cave). In the cave itself we found the lost draft, kind of, and Mark and Sandy followed it upstream, with me chasing them with the camera. No conclusion was made on which direction the cave develops as the exploration up and down the rift consumed a lot of time, and did not allow for surveying.
Which way will this cave let us in? Do we look confused enough?
The Pterodactyl pitch, the pitch of the lost draft.
All in all, it was an amazing time spent in a breath-taking landscape, satisfyingly challenging caves and super fun and friendly company. Thanks to all involved.
Special thanks to our sponsors UKCaving, Petzl, Spanset, MountainFuel