Thursday 30 December 2010

December 30th 2010 - Lancaster Hole to Wretched Rabbit

The Collonades Chamber in Lancaster Hole
A team of five assembled early at Bull Pot Farm for this classic through trip. Just a few icy patches where left on the paths, and most of the recent snow had now thawed. Lancaster Hole had several ropes down it already, but with everyone abseiling stright down from the top with no re-belays we were all down in about 30 minutes.

After a quick detour to see the Collonades we headed to Fall Pot (seeing some other cavers leaving up the far slopes as we arrived). With two young cavers in our team (Andrew and Matty) we protected the slippery fixed rope descent with a top rope.

Heading into Montague East we briefy stopped to enjoy the spectacular formations at Bob's Boss and Painters Palette before carrying on to Stake Pot.

The Painters Palette in the Hight Level Series
Once again we top roped the youngsters across the exposed descent and re-ascent at Stake Pot, and then continued past the minarets before stopping for a bite to eat. Ian was overheating and briefly stripped down to his undies much to everyone elses amusement! I won't put the photo of this on here, but you can see it on the slideshow!

The Minarets

Exiting the Minarets

Passing through the silent Cornes Cavern and Monster Cavern soon we were at the fixed ladder leading us down into Stop Pot and everyone had a drink of water from the river. A cold section in quite deep water in the Stop Pot boulder choke took us downstream to Eureka Junction.

Mark tackling the boulder choke in the main streamway at Stop Pot
All that remained was the long twisting passages of Wretched Rabbit, always good entertainment, everyone seemed to have plenty of energy left to tackle the awkward climbs and crawls of this classic bit of passage.

In the Wretched Rabbit Meanders

After roping the lads up the last climbs we arrived on the surface at twilight, 6 hours after starting. A very good effort for a team of 5 including two novices annd two 13 year olds! All that remained was to walk back across the moor in the fading daylight and then return to Lancaster Hole to get out ropes.

A happy team back on the surface

Map showing Location of Lancaster Hole

Lancaster Hole / Easegill Survey showing Route - click for large image

Saturday 18 December 2010

17th December 2010 Diccan Pot

The Awesome last pitch of Diccan Pot

A very cold night saw Lawrence breaking ice as he drove up the track to Alum Pot (Lawrence is a VW campervan).  The temperature when we stepped outside was well below freezing so the change into caving gear and sorting out the ropes was conducted quickly.  Just as we finished packing, the cream team arrived back at their bus, cold and wet from their day of training for their level 2 cave leaders award, TNC member Ali having been there learning new techniques to speed up our trips underground so we can arrive at the pub quicker.

The entrance to Long Churn was icy and icicle festooned as we slipped underground, the air temperature difference immediately noticeable. The water level was quite high despite the freezing conditions outside and the water temperature was low.  Our feet were wet by the time we reached the top of the first pitch of Diccan Pot.

Descending the main pitch

The first pitch was spray lashed but quickly dispatched once the third re-hang was rigged.  Once at the bottom of the second part of the pitch in the dry away from the spray it was time to watch the water lashing over the rocky ledge in the backlight from Tom's Scurrion light.

The second pitch was passed in the dry followed by the final awesome pitch that requires a traverse above a huge chasm leading to a technical descent that involves pendulums to catch deviation slings in the sloping roof in order to guide the rope away from the thundering water falling down the back of the pitch.  A single re-hang off a ledge led to a final icy-spray lashed pitch landing in a pool about 5 metres away from the terminal sump of Alum Pot.

A quick look at the sump pool and then off up the passage towards Alum Pot and the daylight (now dark as it was nearly the shortest day) shaft where we had heard from the cream team that icicles were falling  down the shaft.  We were brought up short by the short pitch leading up into the open air where ice pearls were forming on the rocks, formed from spray splashing off the rocks.

Ice covered rocks at the bottom of Alum Pot

Back at the foot of the ropes it was Tom's turn to de-rig.  The awesome pitch caused some wild swings  as the rope was freed from the deviation slings, the light from above and from Tom's Scurrion showing that he swung into the water falling  down with the stream.

At the last pitch Tom went up first as his hands were really cold and the rope was spray lashed for 3/4 of its length.  Climbing the pitch brought us soaked and cold back to the re-hangs, which were fortunately above the spray.  Once back the head of the pitch the 80m rope wouldn't fit back in the ropebag so it was  coiled on top but with the water in the bag and weight of the rope the final 50m back up the stream passage was hard going.

Returning up the main pitch

Once back on the surface the cold hit us.  Wet gloves froze to metalware, the rope bags formed hard ice carapaces and our suits froze hard.  

Back at Lawrence a quick change led us to the warming drive to the once famous caving pub of the Craven Heifer in Ingleton where generations of cavers have drunk the night away.  If only we could say that a warm welcome awaited but .... well that is another story.

Sunday 12 December 2010

10th December 2010 - New Rift Pot

In the description of New Rift it mentions that even with moderate rain the crawl between the first and second pitches can become impassable. It hasn't rained in weeks but the cold snap had ended during Wednesday night and with temperatures rising by the best part of 20 degrees what effect would the snow melt have had?
With neither of us ever having visited Rift before, there was only one way to find out...

As we drove up the lane to Mason gill we could see that a lot of water had come down recently with gravel strewn across the road in a number of places. Just before the water treatment works the sheet ice started and Tom skillfully turned the car around before parking on the most ice free spot we could find.

Finding the large shake hole in which the entrance sits, our worst fears were becoming a reality. The remaining snow was melting fast and all of the melt water was making it's way down the wood covered opening. As we geared up we heard an ominous rumble from within, a lump of ice making its way down the first pitch.

From within the entrance we began to get an idea of the amount of material held back by earlier explorers using wood shuttering. Neither the state of some of the wood, nor the water filtering through it filled us with much confidence, still there were some nice ice formations. An in-situ rope soon saw us at the bottom of the pitch and a first look down the crawl leading to the next pitch.

The water seemed to be confined to a very small trench in the crawl, so removing my SRT gear I set off to have a look. A couple of shallow pools were no match for my brand new, tailormade undersuit and so I kept going till a slot in the floor allowed me to stand up. Nice and cosy and working on the principle that the melt rate should be decreasing as the night set in, I set off down into another crawling section.

Unlike the wider passage that had gone before, this was more tube like. Another drop in the floor beckoned so I kept going until I had the disconcerting feeling of water coming over my shoulders. Though the drop in the floor was only a couple of feet away I crawled backwards as fast as I could, trying to let the backed up water run underneath me, rather than over. Standing once again and lesson learnt I made way back to Tom and the climb back up to the entrance.

Tom making his way out of the entrance (exit?)

Tom accepted my apology for possibly not the best choice of cave and the forshortened nature of the trip with unparalled grace. It was almost as though he was happy to be making his way back to the pub so soon.
As we approached the water board building, there was something not quite right. On leaving the car it had been neatly parked by the side of the lane next to one of the walls. It now sat nearly right across it about 6 feet further down the lane. The handbrake was still on and there was no sign of outside interference. Spooky.
"I'm sure this is where I parked the car."
John would have loved this trip, we probably spent longer in the Craven Heifer than we did underground and still got home at a reasonable time.
My thanks go to Dennis at Jumpsuits for a fantastic new undersuit and my apologies again to Tom for about the shortest trip of the season so far.

Saturday 27 November 2010

26th November 2010 - Pool Sink

In the bacon slicer

With poor Tom unable to join us having fallen off his bike earlier in the week and Phil and John otherwise committed, it was a slightly reduced team that set off onto the moors from Bull Pot farm.
With temperatures in the last couple of days having fallen well below freezing we followed a ribbon of ice over to a very dry Easegill, Pool Sink seemingly a misnomer under these conditions.
Entering the cave was like stepping off a plane in Southern Spain having boarded it in England, the exertions that followed adding to the rise in temperature too.
Once through the entrance S bends, the sink opens up into a fabulous meandering passageway before the first pitch is encountered. Given the complete lack of water, the initial Y-hang gave us the desired free hang with no need to deviate and use up one of our precious krabs. Gearing up at the car we had realised that most of the maillons must be with Tom, but by cobbling together all the krabs taken off bags and found in the car boot, we hoped we had just enough.
While the way on lay down stream, we deviated up stream to have a look for Magpie Grotto. It felt like we were very close to the surface again when we stopped in a small chamber, presumably the Grotto, decorated with stal but with boulders and a large of amount of mud spilling into it.

Dick in Magpie Grotto

On again downstream before a traverse over a couple of deep holes led us to the second pitch, split by a small pool.

Rigging the second pitch

To gain the third and final pitch we needed to make a rising traverse up "Jacob's ladder". A brilliant final pitch in this classic Ease gill entrance.

Heading up Jacob's Ladder

Following the water down from the base of the pitch we were soon in familiar territory, the unforgetable "blades" of the bacon slicer cutting into the passageway. Mindful of the return journey through the entrance passage with our tackle bags, we set off back up our ropes towards a stunning star filled sky and the sofas in front of the fire at the Barbon Inn.
John you'd have loved the last bit.

Saturday 20 November 2010

20th November 2010 - Coniston Copper Mines

Friday night. Caving season. Heading AWAY from the Dales and its cave riddled limestone.
They say though that variety is the spice of life and we were heading towards Coniston and its historical copper mines. John had arranged for the TNC to meet up with some friends who actually do cave on a Thursday and a member of CATMHS to be given an intro (or refresher for some) to the possibilities for trips in the workings.

The first level we looked into gave us the chance to look down into a shaft flooded by crystal clear, blue green water. The level was terminated at a set of workings. While the ladders looked sound their exposure to air and decades of dripping water excluded further exploration for us. On returning to the surface we headed up hill again and into the higher entrance of Hospital level.

Dick in the entrance passage

Before long the nature of the workings became apparent as a collapse in the false floor allowed a view down onto further false floors and the remains of their stemple supports. Fortunately the volunteers who have done so much to gain and maintain access to the mines had provided us with a secure bridge over the collapse.

Looking down towards Deep level

Further passage and chambers led to a tunnel, complete with railway lines that followed the miners optimism towards further deposits. These never materialised and the tunnel finished at a dead end.

Stemples high in the stope
Returning back to the entrance gave us another opportunity to admire the green and blue formations, a change from the pristine white of calcite that we are used to. Before returning to the entrance a quick detour took us to a Temple of Doomesque passage with railway lines finishing in mid air over a huge void.

Phil admiring the green formations

Our thanks go to Mal and Brian for their company, Mark for being a superb guide and John of Barrow Mountaineering and Ski club for the post trip cup of tea in such comfortable surroundings.

Saturday 6 November 2010

5th November 2010 - Bull Pot of the Witches

An Enthusiastic (you must be joking) team assemble for the start of the new season. Last years first trip was a tough outing to Fire Hydrant Chamber in the depths of Easegill, this year we bumbled about Bull Pot of the Witches for an hour or so before retiring to the pub! Pathetic!
We still had time to get a few nice pictures and Alistair was keen to test out the new Firefly flash slave units - they will take a bit of practice!

John points out subtley that even this short trip has gone on long enough.
The time is now: Timmy Taylor Time

Wednesday 31 March 2010

26th March 2010 - The Christmas Party

They say that history is written by the victor.

If however the victors' grammar is truly atrocious and they rely on made up words, then it's probably better if the losers do it...

The going forward of the clocks signals the end of the official TNC season and also the time for our Christmas party. A cave, campsite and pub or two in fairly close proximity are therefore required and 4:30 on Friday afternoon saw the team assembling at Mr Suttcliffe's campsite in Horton in Ribblesdale.

It's a very long "kilometre" slog up the Pennine way from Horton. There has to be a better way than walking. At least the entrances of Sell Gill Holes aren't far from the track. The wet or Goblin entrance was living up to its name so rather than the hope for exchange trip, the whole team set off down the dry entrance. With Tom rigging and two members of the team already fired from photographic duties, the camera passed to Dick as he had recently attended one or two lessons of a photography course.

The only difficulties with the pitches came from choosing which of the many rigging alternatives to use, Tom in the end choosing a minimalist approach to see us quickly to the bottom. The impressively sized chamber narrows and lowers till the stream only has a crawling sized hole to flow through and flood debris can be found high up the chamber walls. The exit passage from the main chamber soon reaches a sump and we returned to photograph the main chamber. The temperature of the water and associated wind coming down from the wet route convincing us we'd made the right route choice.

The sky was still light as we made our way back up to the surface. The long trog back to the village was made a bit easier by the couple of cans Tom had stashed close to the entrance. 

Phil having made the sensible decision to take some clean clothes with him was left in The Crown as we passed to secure a table, while the rest of us returned to the camp site to change. Phil did us proud and we were soon digging into a fine supper.

Moving on, we found ourselves in the "Brass Cat" with probably the worst pint of beer we've had all season. Spirits were low, but were soon raised as Phil produced an immaculate blue folder containing the Christmas quiz. Teams were decided and a (impartial) referee appointed.

While John and I graciously conceded that Tom and Dick may just have edged the first round, in the second and final round we were robbed, "zwerving" is not a word!

At least on the final question, to remain and drink awful beer or to head back to the Crown, we were unanimous.


Saturday 20 March 2010

19th March 2010 - Jockey Hole

A short, vertical objective was required for this evening and Jockey Hole is exactly that, a relatively deep pot with almost no horizontal development.

The absence of deep snow made the walk up onto the allotment easier than of late and Tom's cave detecting, GPS watch led us straight to entrance. The main shaft is vertical virtually from the surface with steep grassy banks leading down to it. Fortunately a smaller hole a few metres away allows easier access to the pitches.
If you go to Jockey Hole looking for pristine, white, calcite formations you would initially be disappointed but the architecture, even of the entrance tunnel, soon overcomes any such dissatisfaction.

On the way up to the Allotment we'd worried that our 6 bolts may not be sufficient for a complete descent, but Tom was soon having to choose between the numerous bolts of different ages as he lead down the inclined tunnel leading to the main vertical shaft.
9 metres below me, Tom had landed on a small ledge before commencing out on a traverse to gain a free hang to continue his descent. The shout of "Rope free", saw Dick descend to the ledge as Tom left it before an enormous crash resonated around the rift.

First pitch - note the block jammed in the rift at the bottom of the photo - this is the one that slipped

Looking down from my vantage point above I was relieved to see two headtorches still on the ledge. What I didn't realise is that the ledge was now about a foot further below me than it had been a second or two before. The "ledge" turned out to be a large chock stone, partially held in place by smaller stones down one side. The movement of these had allowed the block to fall, before once again becoming jammed.

Coming close to the end of the rope, Tom made the most of the ubiquitous bolts and rebelayed.
Decsending the excellent main pitch

His progress down to the bone strewn boulder slope at the bottom of the pot was made with the accompaniment of small stones still falling from the repositioned chock stone.
A short distance down the slope any further progress is blocked by a vertical wall of conglomerate. Above a faint glimmer of light could still be seen at the top of the shaft. A pair of old boots testament to much earlier exploration.

At the bottom - nowhere to go

These boots were made for caving

On the return up the pitches, Tom took the time to retake the pictures I'd taken in a more conventional "in focus" style and as quickly as we had entered the vertical world we were once more in the horizontal one.

Entrance passage

For the last few months the ground has either been frozen solid or under a layer of snow. The return to warmer conditions with the first rain of the year seemed to have brought forth a vast number of worms. As we walked back down to the cars, the ground flickered as they shot back down into their burrows.
Perhaps birds would be better off staying up late to catch the worms.

Sunday 14 March 2010

12th March 2010 - Sylvester Pot

Prologue - A chance meeting.

Making the most of the stunning weather and to break up the journey home, Dick and Mat were taking a stroll from Bull Pot Farm over to Sylvester pot, the team's objective for the evening, hoping to bump into us.

Seeing two cavers, they waved and went over to speak them. The two old timers had been digging and were puzzling over why their dig had filled with water, as there hadn't been any water in it before they'd started. Asking Dick where he was off to, "Sylvester pot" came the reply. "We found Sylvester", said the old timers explaining how it had got its name from the jack they had used to haul out boulders from the entrance crawl, "not many people go down there anymore, what are you off to see?". Dick mentioned that we hoped to go and see the formation of Newton's Wonder, "That's named after me!", replied one of the pair.

Sylvester pot.

Having met Dick at Devil's bridge, just Phil and myself headed back up to Bull Pot farm, with the Sun just starting to set over Morecambe bay in the distance. A solitary hare ran across the road as we caught our first view of Ease Gill and the last remaining patches of snow coloured with the rays from the setting Sun.
A fantastic set of instructions allowed us to locate the entrance without difficulty and the promised crawl through a pool of water fortunately failed to materialize. Leaving a small chamber via a sandy passage that soon lowered to a crawl, we could soon hear a stream somewhere ahead. A large hole in the floor gave us our first glimpse of the streamway, though we continued traversing above it for a few metres until it became just a short climb down into the water.
Turning back on ourselves we followed the stream over a couple of small cascades and arrived at the pitch head. In a first for me, we rigged the pitch from a couple of spits backed up to a natural thread, before I made the slightly wetter than expected descent of the pitch.
Landing in a wet, spray lashed chamber, high above Phil tried to improve the rigging of the pitch to make it slightly drier. With us both down, we found the way on and rather than continuing further towards the main chamber and the eventual way on into the main Ease Gill system, we took a sharp right and headed down Route 880.

 Newton's Wonder

The low crawls brought us out into quite a large chamber which, on its far side, revealed a beautiful gour pool with a stunningly decorated aven above, Newton's Wonder. Pictures taken, we decided that the delights of the loose main chamber and the Rocky Horror show beyond would have to wait for another day and headed back to the surface.

Our thanks to Jim and Lionel for digging out the pot, not once but twice!

Thursday 4 March 2010

3rd March 2010 - Notts II

There may be snow drops in the hedgerows and daffs out for St David's day, but it felt very wintery as we changed on Leck Fell lane just below the snowline on the surrounding hills.
One of the beauties of caving on Leck Fell is the proximity of the caves to the road, though this advantage is somewhat negated if, as a couple of the members of the party did, you go on a yomp to view the vista of Ireby fell and Marble steps.
Team re-united, we headed off to explore another of the Notts II inlets, which in keeping with many of the others was muddy, aqueous and due to most of the water in the system at present being from snow melt, quite chilly. 

A couple of nice formations though made it all worthwhile.

Returning to the surface there seemed to be groups of head torches dotted around each of the entrances on Leck Fell and the lane resembled an Ikea car park at the start of a sale. Fortunately the CRO were only involved in an exercise rather than a real call out.
After another chilly change, the team were soon well ensconsed in the Snooty Fox with pints of Timmy Taylor's Landlord and Cheese and Onion crisps all round.

Friday 26 February 2010

25th February 2010 - Beyond Easegill Aven

The Easegill system is big.
Despite most of the team having spent nearly two decades ferreting around on a huge variety of trips, it's great when you can still end up in a previously unexplored corner, especially when it turns out to be such a gem.

Heading off caving in daylight has that same strange feeling as when you leave the cinema in the afternoon, it doesn't quite feel right, but nevertheless we were soon making our way down into the rift of Wretched Rabbit.

Once underground the effect of Tom's 70km/week running regime became startingly obvious as Dick and myself sweatily followed the distant sounds of his progress through the meandering passageway. Climbing up into 4 ways brought us onto the Stop pot boulder slope and the ladder that leads to the vastness of the high level series.

The Ladders at Stop Pot leading to Mainline Terminus

Furry suit now soaked and with sweat now running into my eyes, I tried to keep pace with the faint glow of Tom's headtorch somewhere in the distance, the easier ground having allowed him to up the pace a notch. Given the size of Corne's cavern, the entrance to the Mancunian way probably feels tighter than it actually is but it soons gives way to crawling that, if it ever crawling could be described as pleasant, almost is.

 Mancunian Way Crawl

The white rock of the trench walls a stark contrast to the dark soil of its base.
At a cross road with the way ahead becoming blocked and the right hand way leading to the start of a dig reminiscent of Skylight passage, our way on lead to the left.

 Approaching Easegill Aven

A flat out crawl,which saved the very tightest bit till last, soon opened out into a larger passage way. A short climb up utilising possibly the most perfect foothold led into a small chamber.
After a quick ratch around during which we managed to find ourselves back where we had already been and have to use the foothold again, we found the way on. Unlike the previous crawl, this one was of the quite unpleasant type, over ill proportioned cobbles. A "surprise" does however wait at the end and unlike most treats, which are over far too soon, this one continued as we made our way along the aptly named Nice Way.
Having looked at the survey since, leaving a rope down the County pitch would make a very nice roundtrip via Easegill Aven. As it was it was out the same way as we had come in.
Today the Wretched Rabbit climbs felt very wretched and it was with some relief we gained the surface and much needed refreshment from a spring in the gill side opposite the entrance.

The view down Easegill Aven

The Surprise

Nice Way

Nice Way

Dick working up a head of Steam in Mancunian Way

Wednesday 24 February 2010

18th February 2010 - Andalucia

The entrance was just as we had dreamt, after walking for 15 minutes through the idyllic high pastures of the Sierra Castril the GPS took us directly to the impressive cave entrance, a dark gash in the steep hilside surrounded by rocky bluffs and ancient pine trees.

Just a few feet inside the perfectly placed bolts allowed us all to abseil down the bell shaped shaft in quick succession. Bruce, bringing up the rear, lowered down the carefully prepared leightweight inflatable boat that we would need in order to cross the huge underground lake that lay somewhere beneath us.

The walls of the shaft were now hard to pick out in the vastness of the chamber, but after nearly 100 metres of free hanging decent we landed on the crystaline white floor of the cave, surrounded by spectacular sparkling gour pools. The distant walls of the huge cavern echoing our amazement that such a place could exist.

By this time Johns concerns about the pre-planning of this trip had now evaporated, we knew how difficult caves in this area of Spain are to locate, their co-ordinates and access details shrouded in mystery, jealously guarded by locals. However Bruce had spent several days roaming the hillsides until he had identified first the gully, and then the cave entrance.

A late night feast around a blazing log fire at our high altitude camp the night before had been the perfect start, and the amazing display of shooting stars shortly after midnight seemed like a good omen.

The small but robust boat was quickly inflated, and soon we were paddling across the underground sea, at one point we stopped paddling and as the ripples faded the water became so transparent it seemed as if we were floating many metres above the floor. This really was just like a dream.

OK - you've guessed it it was.

The Reality

Slipping and sliding, engine screaming our little hire car was urged on up the muddy track by the exhortations of the four occupants. At least the arcs of yellow mud plastering sides, windows and mirrors of the Peugeot hid the steep drop off from the track side. A combination of clay, slush and a ramp of snow against the front spoiler where it scraped the track stopped further progress. With a bit of cajoling the car slid back, completed a graceful arc with one wheel more than a foot off the ground and slithered, wheels locked, the way we had come. No country for young Peugeots. Any further progress in search of the entrance to Cueva Fuente Frio was going to be on foot. 

 Peugeot put to the test

Meticulous planning by Bruce led to a carefully organised chance meeting with Alfonso on main street Castril, he had pointed us this way, “the cave entrance was in the second quebrada at about 1600 metres, but dangerous in the snow” he said. Hours spent plodding to the col at over 1800 metres confirmed what he said. It would be a dangerous descent in the snow; locating the entrance to Fuente Frio and its tropical underground lake remains a good excuse for a long walk on another day. 

There is a cave in those hills!

The second cave is even harder to find, a narrow slot somewhere high on the slopes of Pico Del Buitre and almost certainly snow filled. Unable to find two of our three caves this was turning into my sort of trip. So it was time to Fandango with Cueva Don Fernando. Bruce and Tom had already done the real work on this with their previous trip, but it’s still an hour and a half uphill slog carrying 230 metres of rope. 

You can't miss this cave entrance

The impressive entrance is slightly marred by the accumulation of years of goat muck, incredibly slippery where wet but with a high incentive not to fall, we left brown ski tracks. Fortunately there is a small clean area before the first pitch to rig up and scrape off the clingons. Pitches, all bolted, descend past the Gran Estalagmita and flowstone features increasingly dominates the cave. 

Flowstone formations

A water lubricated squeeze over more flowstone gives access to the lower pitches – no Yorkshire pot this, full of the noise of running water, all is silent. The route climbs gradually again from the pitch bottom and becomes noticeably warmer, white sand and powdered lime covers areas of the floor, sufficiently few people have been here that individual footsteps are identifiable and most of the cave remains pristine apart from the bats! A squeeze into creepy chamber revealed a pulsating lump of aggregated bats huddled together like one organism just above head height. We had swapped from goats to bats – metre high cones of bat crap built up under their populous winter roosts. 

Bat "deposits"

Quickly leaving creepy chamber and moving through Bat Chamber the fantastic formations of Sala de la Colada were revealed. The most impressive that I have seen outside a show cave. An enormous screen of flowstone dominates one wall of the stalactite decorated chamber. Plenty of time was spent trying to photograph the splendours of the cave but its size soaked up light and a bigger team with more flash power is really needed to do it justice. 

Below - the extensive formations in Sala Colada



We regained the entrance to a wet misty dusk after 6.5 hours underground. It was dark on the descent, but not only had Tom remembered to bring a GPS he had remembered on the way up to turn it on, so without too much staggering about we were back at Cortijo Sierra Castril, wood stove burning, Bruce pouring out the beer, Janice serving lashings of hot food – good country for old men.