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REPORT

Matienzo 2017

31 July - 20 August 2017 - Nigel Dibben

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2017 MATIENZO EXPEDITION REPORT

Members of the DCC were in Matienzo from the end of July to mid-August. With Steve Martin (who was of course out for considerably longer), those present for shorter times were: Bill Booth, Richard Bullock, Pete Clewes, Nigel Dibben, Dave Dillon, Tom Howard, Charlotte Meakin, Pete O’Neill, Liz Taylor and Paul Willman.

As usual, we tended to work as a group but on several occasions, DCC members were working with others on the expedition including Juan Corrin, Phil Pappard and Pete Smith.

Dig at 1189 (Dairy Dig) and 1253 (Dead Fox)
We found that the Dairy Dig had collapsed badly after the previous year’s digging, rather as we expected might happen. We left it and moved back to Dead Fox. Here there was no change, but not much draught so it too was left for another year.

Above the mushroom field
Following instructions from Phil P, we went to look at some holes above the mushroom field on the northern side. These were listed as 2709, 1552, 1553 and 4180. We found 2709 and 1553 which were descended on ladder but with no obvious way on or place to dig. 1552 did not seem to have much draught. 4180 is a short rather pointless cave so we explored, surveyed and photographed it. A little further on, we found a draughty shakehole which was later numbered 4594. This was dug briefly on one day and then more intensely the next. However, the dig was basically down through boulders and no obvious way on was found by the end.

Las Cosas (0084)
We found it! After spending many hours, actually days, in 2016 looking for Las Cosas, one of the largest single chambers in the valley, we found it first time in 2017 using coordinates that Juan had provided following a search by him in the winter. On the first day, we explored and photographed the chamber and then on another day we produced a new survey which lengthened the cave by 20m.

415 (0415)
Tom and Nigel had a chance to visit 415 cave for a photographic and surveying trip with Carol and Chris. We went to what seemed to be the end but route finding seems quite tricky, particularly as there is currently no decent survey. However, in the course of the trip, Carol and Chris managed to do some useful surveying and Tom and Nigel took photos.

Llanio (3594)
Tom led us into Llanio, the recent find made through a new entrance into a known cave. Like Big Mat Calf Hole, the new entrance right by the road down to Riaño has made further exploration of this cave much easier. We went into an area that Tom had been asked to survey and explored some small linking passages, reluctantly leaving the main wide-open route which has been reserved for the Dane’s next visit! We probably added about 50m to the known length. The entrance proved interesting as it was very muddy and has a sharp bend at the bottom. However, it seems that it has now been enlarged and also secured with a length of plastic tubing.

Rascavieja (0077)
This trip was with Lloyd from MUSC and was aimed at going further into the boulder choke at the end that was still being pushed. The trip to the end was uneventful and made easier by putting handlines on some of the slippery and loose slopes. At the end, some of us had a look in the boulder choke while others took photos and had a general nose around. That evening, we had the now traditional DCC sub-team barbecue at the apartment.

Valley tour
James came for a long weekend so for the first day we organised a tour around several of the caves in the valley. For the next day, we took him to Coventosa and the Fantasmas followed the day after by a trip to the abandoned zinc mine at Udias.

Caves visited on valley tour:
Jivero I, II and III (through trip of Jivero II), 1298 dig, Molino (a.k.a. Agua: to end of first chamber) & Reñada (to blow hole)

Dig at 3318
After James had left, we resumed the dig at 3318 at Sel de Suto but did not each any useful conclusion. Next year it will go!

Coreano (0137)
Nigel had a brief visit to find and explore Coreano with a view to a look next year. The cave is half way between The Baker’s and German’s on the east side of the valley.

Resurgence (4328)
For the last day, we went to drain and explore the resurgence 4238 at the north east corner of the valley. Exploration did not prove possible but we also had a look in La Cuvia (0086).

Conclusion
As well as the trips above, we had a few days out of the valley on Liz’s “culture days” including Santander museum, Espinosa market, the fort at Medina de Pomar and Ojo Guareña. A day was spent helping Johnny and Jude with their house. Despite these days off, we still managed 14 out of the 21 days digging or underground including surveying and photographing.
 

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