Author Topic: Tenerife & El Hierro, June 2012  (Read 2072 times)

Online Ed W

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Tenerife & El Hierro, June 2012
« on: June 21, 2012, 08:20:35 pm »
Just back from a great week's caving in the Canary Islands.  Started off last Thursday in Tenerife surveying passages found last year in Galleria Barrosso off the Cueva de los Breveritas section of Cueva del Viento.  This has added something over 100m of mostly pretty horrible passage to the longest lava tube outside of Hawaii.  Galleria Barrosso starts off as a low crawl off the main drag of Breveritas and leads to a network of mostly small crawls and sharp squeezes.  The limit of exploration is more set by pain threshold than size...

Colourful Crawl in Galleria Barrosso

A large "lavaball" welded to the cave roof in Galleria Barrosso

Glad to be out in the sunshine after the trip in Galleria Barrosso

Friday we took the ferry out to El Hierro, the most southerly of the Canaries, and considered to be the end of the world until 1492.  The island has just 7,000 inhabitants and few tourists (apart from divers) visit.  At present there are very good deals on accommodation, eating out etc since the tourist industry is still recovering from the effects of an evacuation due to a submarine eruption just offshore last year.  The main objective of our visit was to descend Cueva de Don Justo which contains over 6.3km of passage and to our knowledge had never been visited by British cavers (please feel free to correct me if you know different).  Most of Friday was spent tracking down the key, a process greatly simplified by contact made through our friends in the Benishare club on Tenerife as the cave is heavily protected and permission to enter is not usually given.

Saturday saw a group of six of us descend into the cave.  It is a great trip, but by no means an easy one.  Most of the passages are of crawling height (anyone who has been in a lava tube knows what that means), the route is very complex and the internal temperature is somewhere above 25C.  The cave descends about 150m to its deepest point.  It is packed full of interesting features such as welded breakdown, small lavafalls, lavaballs and both primary and secondary formations.  We spent over 5 hours in the cave, but missed one of the major branches so I guess we will have to go back.

Typical crawling passage in Cueva de Don Justo

The principal gallery towards the end of Cueva de Don Justo

Small lava straw in Cueva de Don Justo

Sunday saw us travel back to Tenerife and Monday saw us split into two parties.  One group went to survey part of Cueva Felipe Reventon (3km long) with a view to establishing potential places to try and link it to Cueva del Viento (18km long).  The rest of us did some photography in the nearby Cueva de la Candelaria (700m long) and Cueva de los Breveritas.

Tree roots in Cueva de los Breveritas

Small but perfectly formed Levee in Cueva de la Candelaria

Fine passage in Cueva de los Breveritas

Tuesday was my final day in Tenerife (but others are still out there caving and surveying) and we had a big trip planned, to Galleria de los Ingleses in Cueva del Viento.  For me the trip was a bitter-sweet occasion.  This 4km long lower series of the cave having been discovered in 1973 by my good friend Chris Wood who died earlier this year.  Also the trip was a late one as we wanted to go with our friends Alfredo and Drago and had to wait until they had finished work, packing for the morning flight would have to wait until after the trip.  We entered the cave at about 6pm and headed up Cueva de los Breveritas towards the connection with Cueva del Sobrado.  The entry to Galleria de los Ingleses is via a 7m climb reached by an unlikely looking low crawl.  It was this crawl that Chris had ventured up in 1973, and found the pot just 5m beyond the previous limit of exploration.  The climb looks a little intimidating from above, but is in fact furnished with plenty of holds and is very easy.  The passages below the climb are amongst the best under Tenerife, mostly large and festooned with interesting features.  We sepnt a couple of hours looking around and photographing but only saw about half of the passages that make up Galleria de los Ingleses as we had to get out in time to pack for the following day's flight.

Alfredo and Drago in Galleria de los Ingleses

The climb down into Galleria de los Ingleses

The crawl leading to the pot

Fine passage in Galleria de los Ingleses

A huge sculpted rafted block in Galleria de los Ingleses

Lava cascade in Galleria de los Ingleses

Still loads to do on both Tenerife and El Hierro, let alone La Palma and Lanzarote!

Offline Roger W

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Re: Tenerife & El Hierro, June 2012
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2012, 09:30:25 pm »
Great photos    :thumbsup:

Any skin left on your knees?
"That, of course, is the dangerous part about caves:  you don't know how far they go back, sometimes... or what is waiting for you inside."   JRR Tolkein: "The Hobbit"

Online Ed W

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Re: Tenerife & El Hierro, June 2012
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2012, 12:28:44 pm »
[quoteAny skin left on your knees?][/quote]

Yes! But only coz I was wearing these...

Offline Inskia

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Re: Tenerife & El Hierro, June 2012
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2012, 01:05:36 pm »
Interesting report & a great set of photos Ed, thanks for sharing. We were in Tenerife last year but didn't have time to sort access for caves - a good reason to go back!
Don't wait till it's too late!


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