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MATIENZO 2004 - The DCC contribution to the expedition

Members of the DCC have been taking part in the Matienzo expedition since 1976 and have made regular visits.  In 2004, a team of nine met in Matienzo travelling by boat, over land and by plane.   The team was: Bill Booth, Tony Brocklebank, Nigel Dibben, Len Gee, Pete Clewes, Geoff Standring, Liz Taylor, Chris Wright, Gareth Goodall.  We were joined by Linda, Lucy and Thomas.

Outside Renada Figure 1 - Outside Renada after a tourist trip

During the visit, the main activities by the DCC team were continuing work in cave 489, visits including digging in Cueva Valline, supporting filming Cobadal, digging by the main road at 2101 and in the Llueva valley at 1987, shaft inspection near the TV Mast and a visit to Renada.  The team also visited Bar Tomas and the Ason River at Riba.  During the fortnight, we laid Roy Hayes to rest in the valley, according to his wishes, but not before taking him to several bars and drinking to his memory.

Bill in the Smoothie bar Figure 2 - Bill showing his commitment to S Miguel beer in the Smoothie Bar We were welcomed by the other expedition members and local residents alike and the DCC went on a number of expedition trips and other expedition members shared in the work at 2101.

Throughout the expedition, the weather was quite good and we ate outside almost every night.  The only weather to mar the trip was a strong wind from time to time which took away the gazebo and mess tents.

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CAVE 489

Digging continued at the end of the cave and in the first chamber in the Billy's Vision extension.  Some progress was made in both but they will need more work to make any significant extension.  The big crowbar made by Lennie after last year's visit proved useful in the dig in the floor.  It was christened "Big Roy".

  The group at 489 Figure 3 - DCC and ADCC members remember Roy at 489

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Prompted by Juan, the team searched a wooded hollow just north of the main road out of the valley at the first large bend.  Road works have provided a useful car parking space right by the dig and, although its a struggle, it takes all of about a minute to get to the dig site.  Several days were spent digging in a draughting rift at the foot of a small cliff and we dropped a shaft about 3 metres between large and somewhat loose boulders.  Eventually, it was decided that the whole enterprise was getting a bit hairy and it was left to stabilise.  We think it would make a good winter or Easter dig, given how close it is to the road.

Digging at 2102 Figure 4 - Digging at 2101

While the old lags were digging at 2101. the Apprentices (no good expedition is without one) were looking around the area and found two more draughting rifts in a shake hole further up the road by about 100 metres.  Chris started digging the upper hole and Ashley the lower one.  After a few days and some hard work, a way on could be seen in the lower hole which was eventually enlarged and entered into about 10 metres of passage by Bill.  The Apprentices certainly earned a return trip to the valley!

The lower Apprentice dig Figure 5 - Ashley at the lower Apprentices Dig.

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Nigel joined Ali, Carmen, Pete, Steve and Phil on a trip down Barney Rubble.  He vowed never to return to this tight awkward crawl and was still nursing bruised ribs a moth later!  The trip led to some new passage pushed by Phil and Steve traversing over a large void.  The chamber where the exploration ended (although the passage continues) was named Sala German in honour of German Solana who had died the day before.  Tony led a through trip from the top to bottom entrances to give Gareth and Linda a taste of abseiling.  Apart from one rope, all the pull-throughs worked well.

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The whole team turned out for a filming expedition down the Sumidero de Cobadal, a recent find, with Juan.  Three sets of film lights were used and the filming ended at the wet pitch.  The film rushes were reviewed in Bar Tomas on the big screen the same night. 

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Help was given to Pete Smith and Juan to enlarge the entrance to the rift called 1987 in Llueva valley.  Eventually, Tony, Pete and Juan got in, only to find that thinner cavers had got there first.  During the whole digging time of two hours, only one car, one cyclist and one lorry passed!  The work used a generator, drill and some other techniques to remove rock, some of which bit Lennie's leg when it complained about being removed.  Some movie film was taken and edited by Juan into "The DCC's Grand Day Out" (warning: 3.8MB file) which can be played below.

Pete drilling at Llueva Tony and Juan about to enter Llueva dig Figure 6/7 - Digging in Llueva valley

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Tony's visit, Geoff?  Detail to be added.

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Yet again, a visit was made to Renada by a small group to enable Pete to see what the caves are really like before we set him digging.  He went with Tony and Ashley to Crowbar Passage.  The rest of the group, including Lucy and Thomas, went in as far as the Blowhole.

Tony in Renada blowhole Figure 8 - Tony goes through the Blowhole in Renada

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This year there was no barbecue but we all joined in celebrating Paul and Bethan's 20th anniversary.  A good meal was had in Pablo's followed by jokes and singing.  The only problem was the dismal state of the DCC choir and song book both of which, it was agreed, needing serious attention.  Apart from seeing off Roy, the expedition was saddened by the sudden death of German, 91 year old proprietor of the bar who had been in poor health for some time.  Nevertheless, on the morning of the day of his death, he was still sitting outside the bar in his usual place.  Everyone attended his funeral two days later.  Pablo's bar was shut for two days as a mark of respect.

Paul's anniversary meal Figure 9 - Lank in full flow at the anniversary meal

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The expedition proved again to be a great experience with caving, digging, exploration and general relaxation (when was that, I think I missed it?).  The numbers of cavers were down a bit but even so the DCC members present were able to mix well joining in trips with Carmen, Ali, Pete, Juan, Jennie and others.  I am sure it was an interesting experience for Pete Clewes and Ashley, both out for their first time, and I hope they will feel like returning in future years.  The weather was kind, the food and company was good, and the bars are still not to expensive.  


August 2004