Hidden Earth 2023
The Ario Reality and other Draughting Rifts
45 minute Lecture|Fleur Loveridge
Perseverance through small rifts and plenty of draught chasing in recent years set up the 2023 expedition to the Ario area of the Western Massif of the Pico de Europa to be an absolute cracker. Over three weeks in June and July the team extended four main caves. The Cave of the Singing Pasteur finally yielding easy shafts and at 450m depth, the much-postulated connection to upstream Cave of the Witches Eye. This will give easier (but not easy) access to a very remote section of a classic cave for subsequent years. Further exploration in Torca del Regallon (-650m) led to a new upstream sump. Resurvey and bog roll spliff draught testing revealed upstream extensions and a potential new way on in Cueva de la Rana (-85m). This small (and for the Picos unusually horizontal) cave is tantalising poised in blank space above key missing links and establishment of the source of the howling gale blowing through the entrance is an important piece of the jigsaw puzzle. Finally, we took advantage of climate change to make progress beyond past snow plugs in Black Feather (-50m) and uncover yet another draughting tight right in an interesting area. In total the team mapped about 1.5km of new cave and have exciting leads remaining for next year.
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