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Tresviso Caves Project with SUSS 2023 - Rope sponsorship entry

AlexF

Member
Tresviso Caves Project information
Sheffield University Speleological Society (SUSS) will once more be joining the Tresviso Caves Project's (TCP) 2023 expedition. The expedition continues to search for a connection between the deep alpine potholes on the Eastern Massif mountain range and the Cueva del Nacimiento resurgence cave, potentially creating a record-breaking 1.5km deep through-trip.

This year SUSS will be searching for a way on in Torca del Pico Boru (T169 Flower Pot) as well as nearby caves high in the Pico Boro area of the region. Flowerpot is a large deep vertical cave system currently surveyed to -720m deep, with most of the cave passage being accessible only through rope and SRT, hence why the rope sponsorship would go a long way in assisting SUSS efforts.

The area has a place in every SUSS member's heart as the previous visit in 2018, involved the discovery of further passage in the largely forgotten, Bill and Ben Series of Flower Pot, including pushing beyond the previous 1980s limit and discovering Invasive Species, a 60m pitch down to a possible continuation. This is where SUSS will concentrate on exploration in 2023. The long anticipation to return and continue our work has only fuelled SUSS cavers to come back this year to make more progress. We hope to become more active in the wider project now and long into the future to achieve the ultimate goal of discovering possibly one of the largest through-trips in the world.
Invasive Species, Flower Pot (Tommy Moore)

This is a picture of Invasive Species, Flower Pot (Tommy Moore)

SUSS
After a daunting few years of covid lockdown, SUSS has resumed caving activities with possibly the largest pool of young freshers to date. Many of these freshers are keen and active cavers, excited to participate in the Tresviso Caving Project's main goal. SUSS will once more be situated at the top camp, based in the Vegas de Andara depression, prioritising cave passage discovery over the comfort of the bottom camp.
Vegas de Andara (Phil Walker)

This is a picture of Vegas de Andara (Phil Walker)

The SUSS team has already begun expedition training in the form of gruesome and rigorous caving trips, individual exercise, and collaboration with Alastair Gott (TSG) to skill up the SUSS expedition team on Therion and surveying. Future training weekends will be taking place from the 30th of June to the 2nd of July at the TSG, as well as from the 14th of July to the 16th of July in North Wales.

We envisage that the Tresviso Caves Project and UKCaving will feature across our merchandise and website this year in return for sponsoring and assisting with the expedition efforts. We will also be looking to add trip reports (hopefully from the mountain) and photos to the forum so that the wider community can see how the rope was used.

SUSS is looking forward to the expedition to assist in TCP efforts, as well as develop and skill up our new cavers. We will be actively Blogging on the UKCaving forums, TCP Blog, and the SUSS website in order to keep the interest high and share our discoveries and progress with the wider British Caving Community. We hope that you consider us.

Useful links
More can be found on the Tresviso Caves Project here as well as an active blog which will also be used to give coverage to UKCaving for assisting with the expedition.

The Heinous Shaft, Sistema Sara (Helen Fairclough)

This is a picture of The Heinous Shaft, Sistema Sara (Helen Fairclough)

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phil

Member
In just under 2 weeks the members of the 2023 expedition, to Tresviso, will be leaving the UK by various means to travel across to Spain. All being well there will be blog updates from both the top camp and bottom ‘camp’.

Overview & brief history:

The Picos de Europa is a range of mountains 20km inland from the northern coast of Spain, forming the westerly extension of the Cantabrian Mountains. It consists of three main ranges, the Western, Central and Eastern Massifs.
  • The Western Massif (Cornion) is to the west of the Rio Cares and has been explored by various clubs including Oxford University Caving Club (OUCC), Seccion de Espeleologia Ingenieros Industriales (SEII), York University Cave and Pothole Club (YUCPC), Sociedad de Espeleologia Geologicas (SEG) and Speleo Club de Paris (SCP). This includes the area under exploration as part of the Ario Caves Project and includes the Pozu Xitu – Cueva de Culiembro system (-1264m)
  • The Central Massif (Urielles) is between the Cares Gorge and the Rio Duje and has been mainly explored by the Speleo Club de Seine (SCS), Spekul and IE Valencia. Caves in this area include Sistema del Trave (-1441m), Pozo de la Cornisa (-1507m) and the deepest cave in Spain, Sistema del Cerro del Cuevon (-1589m)
  • The Eastern Massif (Andara) is to the East of the Rio Duje. Lancaster University Speleological Society (LUSS) were exploring the Eastern Massif from the early seventies to 1987 with the help of SEII, before several Spanish clubs, including AD KAMI, GE Flash and Tracalet, took over exploration from the early 1990’s. The major caves in this area are CS-9 Torca de Jou Sin Tierre (-1203m) and Torca del Cueto de Los Senderos (-1169m) and the main resurgence, Cueva del Nacimiento (+535m)
It was the Eastern Massif that drew the attention of LUSS in the early 1970s. In the early years exploration was mounted from the mountain village of Tresviso and exploration was dominated by the resurgence cave Cueva del Nacimiento (Cueva del Agua) located at the foot of the mountain range.

The resurgence flows into a canal that contours the Urdon gorge with an average flow of 2 m3/s and the passages behind the resurgence lead to >16 km of surveyed passage and a height gain of over +535m. The catchment is some 40 km3 and includes caves such as Torca Jou Sin Tierre (CS-9) at -1203m deep and Torca del Cueto de Los Senderos (Sima 56) at -1169m deep.

In the late 70’s LUSS pushed Cueva del Nacimiento to around the 11km and +300m mark, but after several years the cave was abandoned as all the major routes sumped and no continuation could be found. LUSS then turned their attention to the Andara region higher up the mountain range and sought caves that would drop into the Nacimiento system and hopefully create a record-breaking >1500m traverse.

They found several deep caves around this ‘top camp’ area; Sara, Tere, Flowerpot, Dosser’s Delight and Sima 56 were all pushed to respectable depths, but a connection remained elusive.

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Entrance to SIma 56 (Phil Walker)

LUSS and then SWCC spent some time diving the sumps in Nacimiento and later 90’s trips concentrated on the heavily wooded Sierra del a Corta region, looking for a potential middle entrance between the resurgence and the deep caves at the top of the mountain range.

The Spanish clubs, starting in around 1993, based themselves out of the nearby village of Bejes and gradually explored out towards the same area as LUSS, sometimes discovering new ways on in existing caves or finding new deep systems, culminating in finding the deepest in Andara, CS-9 Torca de Jou Sin Tierre (-1203m).

In 2010 UK clubs, featuring ex-LUSS cavers, started returning to area, exploring the furthest reaches in Cueva del Nacimiento once more, and re-visiting some of the deeper caves, as and when caving numbers allowed. Collaboration with some of the Spanish clubs became the norm and the Tresviso Caves Project started, a joint undertaking across numerous UK and Spanish clubs.

The overall aim remains the same, a connection between one (or many) of the deep potholes to the resurgence, creating a cave system in the top 10 of worlds’ deepest caves, the deepest in Spain and potentially one of the deepest through-trips in the world.

The depth potential to Cueva del Nacimiento, at an altitude of 470m, from a selection of the major caves on the Andara range:

Top EntranceAreaAlt (m)Current Depth(m)Vertical Range (m)
S-4Samelar2160-2251690
CS-9 Torca Jou Sin TierreCueto de los Senderos2074-12031604
Torca del Cueto Senderos (Sima 56)Cueto de los Senderos1975-11691505
S33 Torca de la HendidaSamelar1975-4521505
Sistema Sara (from T78 entrance)Vegas de Andara1884-6441414
Sistema Castillo (from T145 Pozo Castillo entrance)Minas de Mazarrasa1870-3091400
2.24 TEREVegas de Andara1820-7921350
Sistema Ramazosa (multiple entrances)Minas de Mazarrasa1820-3131350
Torca del Picu Boru (T169 Flowerpot)Pico Boro1785-7231315
Torca del Cueto de Los Calabreros (T173 Dosser's Delight)Pico Boro1706-8311236
T190 Torca SeptrinPico Boro1696-1801226
Torca de Branaredonda (Fallen Bear)Samelar1589-4561119
T225 BromistaValdediezma1375-130905
T742 Sima Vuc PotSierra del a Corta1320-63850
T510 Cueva del Entre CuetosSierra del a Corta1305-117835

One of the main challenges the expedition faces is that most of the deeper caves have not been visited since the late 70’s to early 80’s. Although surveys and descriptions exist (of varying quality), there is no way around the fact that those caves will need re-exploring and re-rigging, just to get to the previous limit of exploration before any new exploration can begin. This requires a tough sell of repeating old work before getting to the exciting stuff!

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Cueva de la Marniosa (Jules Carter)
 

phil

Member
Tresviso 2023

The 2023 expedition will continue with the exploration of the resurgence caves around Tresviso, specifically the newly discovered ‘way on’ at the end of Cueva del Nacimiento, high level climbing leads in Cueva de la Marniosa and an attempt once more will be made on the streamway leads in Marniosa, beyond sump 2, not visited since 2018.

2023 also sees the return of a large group of Sheffield cavers, after a 4 year break, with the intention of continuing their 2018 work in Torca del Picu Boru (T169 Flowerpot), on the Andara plateau.

A small selection of the objectives:

Cueva del Nacimiento - Exploration at the far end.

  • In 2022 the previous limit to exploration (a small calcite hole) was dug out and passed to over 400m of new passage. This was left with multiple ongoing leads. The passage has hit an obvious fault (shown on all the geological maps) and lies in a prime position for connecting with some of the potholes on the Sierra del a Corta, the middle ground to a further connection with the deeper holes on the top of Andara.
  • Also, at the far end of the cave, but down at the water level, a steep ramp was climbed to ~ 100m to a large chamber and a continuing ramp. These will be revisited.
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  • A return to the Far Upstream Sump, last dived in 2012, is planned in 2024, dive bottles and support kit will be moved to the far end of the cave in 2023, in preparation for next year’s attempt.
Cueva de la Marniosa
  • Downstream Marniosa leads to Sump 1. This was passed in the 80's to Sump 2. Sump 2 was finally passed on the 2017 expedition and was left ongoing at a P6 down into the continuing streamway.
  • In 2019 a dye trace confirmed this water reappears in the Nacimiento upstream sump. The completely different size and scales of passage / water between the two sites suggests something else in between the two (i.e., intersection of major underwater trunk passage). An attempt to push further into the streamway, will be attempted by a team of divers.
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  • Before Sump 1, in the main cave, are several high-level climbs above the streamway. These will be scaled to attempt to find a bypass to the sump.
Cueva C29
  • Permission has been extended into the Invernales de Caballar region (Asturias), a small area to the edge of the current explorable zone.
  • This includes C29 a cave not visited since 1975, and although only ‘small’ at -158m, it potentially sits between the resurgence and the deeper caves. Depending on the suitabity of the ‘sump’ at the end, it will hopefully be dived and subsequently dye traced, to prove or disprove a connection with Cueva del Nacimiento.
Torca del Picu Boro (T169 Flower Pot)
  • In 2018 SUSS passed the previous 80's LUSS limit in one of the branches of the cave (the BILL Series) and this was left at a tight wet continuation. This will be revisited.
  • Survey the BILL series, including the new discoveries from 2018, as this was not completed last time
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Dye Tracing and Water Studies
  • Permission has been extended into the Invernales de Caballar region (Asturias), a small area to the edge of the current explorable zone. This area contains Torca La Barga and C29, two caves that contain sizable streams. A dye trace is planned to establish if they are part of the connection to Cueva del Nacimiento.
  • Also, in 2022 several TinyTag™ temperature sensors were installed in all the known resurgences and have been monitoring for the past year. These will be replaced, and the data correlated with rain fall statistics for the same period.
Resurvey
  • In 2021 the resurveying of Cueva del Nacimiento was restarted. Over the past few years, it has become apparent that a lot of the old data and drawings is widely inaccurate in some places. Modernising the surveying and rechecking old leads has become a prime goal of the expedition.
  • Alongside the exploration of new passage, one of the ongoing aims of the Tresviso Caves Project is to collate and document the area, providing an online database for all the caves in the region. To date >80kms of cave across 1100 sites have been described, logged and made publicly available along with relevant surveys, descriptions and possible leads. (http://cave-registry.org.uk/svn/Andara/ & www.tresvisocaves.info)
Other stuff:
 

AlexF

Member
Preparation for the Tresviso expedition
In preparation for the Tresviso expedition, SUSS has carried out training weekends in the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales to train new SUSS members for the more rigorous and tiresome caving trips ahead of us in the Vegas de Andara depression in Tresviso. This has been achieved through introducing newer members comfortable in the environment of 1-2 hour trips down Oxlow to much longer trips such as Cow Pot to Wretched Rabbit taking around 4 hours. In addition to this, the fortnightly caving weekends hosted by SUSS during university term time have provided keen members who are involved with the expedition, the opportunity to experience a variety of difficult caves across the UK taking upwards of 8 hours.

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The above photos are from Alum Pot in the Yorkshire Dales featuring the 200m rope provided by UKCaving. We have used the rope before bringing it on the expedition to trial it and wear it down slightly for safety reasons.

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We have been actively training expedition members on necessary and essential skills required for a caving expedition that may not be necessary down already traversed and recorded passage in the UK. This includes bolting practice and bolt climbing, as well as surveying practice down caves and training on the software to create accurate survey records.

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Each training weekend hosted by SUSS has involved a heavy focus on rescue techniques and training, to ensure that members are up to standards on self-rescue and are aware of how to deal with certain situations calmly if a need arises. As the start of the expedition approaches, we have carried out kit orders to ensure everyone has equipment up to standards, measured and cut new expedition rope including the 200m provided by UKCaving ready for the expedition, as well as organising equipment into vehicles for the journey ahead.

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All of SUSS is keen for the expedition to be underway and looks forward to sharing our progress through UKCaving throughout the expedition.
 

Tritim230

Active member
Preparation for the Tresviso expedition
In preparation for the Tresviso expedition, SUSS has carried out training weekends in the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales to train new SUSS members for the more rigorous and tiresome caving trips ahead of us in the Vegas de Andara depression in Tresviso. This has been achieved through introducing newer members comfortable in the environment of 1-2 hour trips down Oxlow to much longer trips such as Cow Pot to Wretched Rabbit taking around 4 hours. In addition to this, the fortnightly caving weekends hosted by SUSS during university term time have provided keen members who are involved with the expedition, the opportunity to experience a variety of difficult caves across the UK taking upwards of 8 hours.

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The above photos are from Alum Pot in the Yorkshire Dales featuring the 200m rope provided by UKCaving. We have used the rope before bringing it on the expedition to trial it and wear it down slightly for safety reasons.

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We have been actively training expedition members on necessary and essential skills required for a caving expedition that may not be necessary down already traversed and recorded passage in the UK. This includes bolting practice and bolt climbing, as well as surveying practice down caves and training on the software to create accurate survey records.

View attachment 16626View attachment 16627View attachment 16628View attachment 16629

Each training weekend hosted by SUSS has involved a heavy focus on rescue techniques and training, to ensure that members are up to standards on self-rescue and are aware of how to deal with certain situations calmly if a need arises. As the start of the expedition approaches, we have carried out kit orders to ensure everyone has equipment up to standards, measured and cut new expedition rope including the 200m provided by UKCaving ready for the expedition, as well as organising equipment into vehicles for the journey ahead.

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All of SUSS is keen for the expedition to be underway and looks forward to sharing our progress through UKCaving throughout the expedition.
All the best. I always wanted to visit FlowerPot and so glad you have found a way on. Sounds nicer than Dossers or 56!
 

AlexF

Member
Tresviso turning point 1:

Our main objectives on the Tresviso expedition are to resurvey all of flowerpot from the 2018 expedition, and follow promising leads in Bill as well as Ben if we are able to get to 700m deep as was achieved in the 1970s.

The 1st of September was used to setup the camp after arrival, organise supplies, and learn the routes to FlowerPot, where the cave splits into the Bill and Ben series. We setup a tarp at the entrance to keep caving equipment sheltered from the rain over night, making the 90-minute walk to and from much more lightweight and easier for longer and deeper trips.

Diving straight in, we begun by rigging and re-bolting where necessary in both the Bill and Ben series of FlowerPot to where the expedition in 2018 reached. This allowed us to start surveying as soon as possible with 2 teams down either side of FlowerPot. Currently Bill is fully rigged to the bottom at 300m< depth primarily using the rope provided by UKCaving and is almost fully surveyed, see below. The leads at the bottom of Bill have been explored thoroughly, but with no realistic prospects for further passage. The next trip down Bill will be a long trip to finish surveying the remaining pitch head and passage as well as push the promising lead at the bolt traverse.

Ben series in FlowerPot is currently rigged to a depth of 350m, we are focusing on resurveying down to the depth achieved in 2018, and when we have achieved this, we will move on to continue surveying deeper. There are already several prospects for us to look into, or prep for the future, 2024?

3 days into the expedition we were hit by relentless winds, destroying and decommissioning 3 tents including the large SUSS tent where the food and electronics are stored. Sapping our motivation over night as people slept uncomfortably, we woke up the next morning demotivated that another night of strong winds could ruin the expedition. However, we used the old redundant rope to tie around large rocks, thus supporting the tent and keeping it upright through strong winds. Our hope and motivation restored thanks to having spare rope holding up the splintered tent poles, thanks to the newly provided rope from UKCaving!

The expedition is thoroughly underway with 9-hour underground days being the average in order to finish surveying, and 3-day rotations between the hill and the hostel in order to support the ongoing exploration of Agua and Marniosa.

More pictures will be uploaded when we have better signal. We look forward to updating you!
 

AlexF

Member
As of writing this post the expedition has ended, we have pushed the main leads down Bill and Ben surveying the new cave passage, and have completed our objective of resurveying to the bottom of Bill and as far down as Ben as possible. The rigging topo and the survey are currently underway to being completed and when finalised will be found on the Tresviso website. Currently, we have a picture showing a rough sketch of the raw data and the depth of FlowerPot Bill and Ben series.

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The final few days of the expedition were trips to the bottom of both Bill and Ben pushing potential leads on the way and surveying and rigging as deep as possible before it was time to begin de-rigging FlowerPot and taking down the SUSS camp. Bill was fully surveyed first and so de-rigging trips went down simultaneously to teams surveying and pushing down into the Ben side of FlowerPot, ultimately time was limited and the further down we got in Ben more bolts needed placing. In the end, Ben was pushed to a depth similar to Bill and any deeper trips would require heavy logistics in setting up a camp to push deeper leads and given the verticality of Ben, there weren't many possible campsite locations. Perhaps this is a future prospect that we or others could look into?

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After de-rigging FlowerPot and taking down the SUSS camp we all headed downhill to the main hostel in Tresviso where we would gather for an expedition celebratory meal where progress and discoveries across the expedition were discussed and shared.

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We would like to thank you all for joining us on this amazing journey in Tresviso, and a special thanks to UKCaving for providing us with the additional rope to make this all possible. The rope we received from UKCaving was donated to the main Tresviso Caves Project expedition to assist with further exploration into further promising leads. If anyone has further questions about the expedition feel free to message and ask questions here.
 

alastairgott

Well-known member
Another good year in Tresviso, a few of us were exploring some of the caves quite near to the Crossroads (car park) for the white house and Mazarrasa. I spent one day in C29 and also a few days in Concha Vias, we pushed Concha Vias to the limit of Spanish exploration down one side and got to within 200+m of another cave which has a "large abandoned passage" at the same elevation. If we pass a constriction which was our stopping point on this years expedition it could prove another >1 entrance system is created in the area. By investigating some of these caves to the north of the Sotres-Tresviso road, we can possibly prove or disprove where the watershed is for the catchment down to cueava del nacimiento (Agua) and where the water decides to take another route down into the valley upstream/downstream of Sotres.
 

phil

Member
A brief summary of the overall expedition:

Cueva del Nacimiento – Barbenheimer & the Shepton Mallet Matador

The limit of exploration of Nacimiento was reached in the first few days of the expedition. The main route, following the fault, was pushed for another 100m to a lowering and a damp low crawl (Barbenheimer). The passage continues trending towards the surface and an obvious cliff face on the surface of the Sierra del a Corta. The way on here would be rather squalid, so future trips should concentrate on surface sites near this location.

A second trip followed the opposite direction of the fault. This quickly led into a large breakdown chamber (The Shepton Mallet Matador) 80m long by 40m wide. The chamber descends steeply down, along same plane as the fault and a potential black hole / pitch was seen at the bottom, before exploration was ended.

In total 800m of new cave was found in Nacimiento and another 1km resurveyed as part of the ongoing resurvey project.

Dive bottles and equipment also carried into the cave, ready for an attempt on the Far Upstream Sump in 2024.

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Cueva del la Marniosa – Sump 3 and new inlets

A team of three divers passed the second sump once more and dropped the undescended P6 beyond. Another 100m of cave was found, unfortunately ending in a third sump. The remoteness of this site suggests future dives will be limited unless a sump bypass of another entrance can be found.

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In the same cave a new inlet series was discovered, extending to 150m, and a (small) upstream sump.

In the Silvestre entrance, the upstream sump was dived, to 100m of new passage, but with no way on

Cueva C29 (Torca Brana Espina)

C29 was explored in 1975 to -120m and small sump. The cave was re-rigged, and the sump quickly reached. It transpired that the sump was perched, and it was possible to drain overnight. Beyond lay 1km of previously unexplored cave, dropping down to -450m and with ongoing leads.

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Cueva Concha Vies

A new project started, in between C29 and the Torca la Barga system. Reached 1996 limit, down to -220m and left rigged for future exploration.

Torca del Picu Boru (Flowerpot)

A hoped for streamway, at the bottom of one branch of the cave, was not as promising as hoped, but modest successes were achieved, and the cave was resurveyed form the entrance down to the -300m mark.

Dye Trace

Results just in from the dye trace… unfortunately inconclusive, no positive results obtained.
 
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