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Ario Caves Project 2017

After 4 years I returned to northern Spain. Here I joined the Arios Cave Project as photographer.

a long journey

Los Largos I followed the route of my first time at the project: From Munich via Barcelona to Oviedo by plane and then by bus to Covadonga. Here I was already expected as the expedition was already going on for over one week. 48h before I started my journey at Beijing where I spend 2 weeks with work. After all the travelling I decided to stay the night at a Hostel in the valley. Early next day we made our way to Los Largos, the upper lake in the valley. At 8 o’clock we started our ascent to the Refugio des Airo, the base-camp of the expedition.

the project

As exploration in the ‘old project’, the 1,2Km deep Pozu del Xitu (as reported) was finished some years ago, the main project became C4, a 650m deep cave high up in the mountains. The main goal was to connect C4 to C2/7 via a sump at -650m. As a dry connection is always preferable, this was also a high priority on the list of projects. And of course, there was the big aven (~100m) in the 2016 discovered ‘Sanctuary Chamber’ and other leads in the area to push. Apart from these leads we had the outdoor filmer Paul Diffley with us (Hot Aches Productions). He was working on his film ‘The Ario Dream’ which will have its premiere at this year’s Kendale Mountain Film Fetsival.

the Jump the equipment

The team around Steph Dwyer and Mike Bottomly, the expedition leaders, was able to win a lot of sponsors for the expedition. Alpkit enabled us to equip our camp at the ‘Sanctuary Chamber’. They provided comfortable sleeping bags, inflatable maths, cooking equipment and other gear. The camp was also the home for one of three Cave-Link stations which enabled us to stay in contact with the base-camp via text messages. For the vast drilling projects this year we were able to win DMM and Bosch as sponsors. The earlier providing us with a lot of metal work, ropes and quick-draws, the latter provided us with 2 new drills and other valuable equipment. A lot of other companies, to vast to name them all here, provided us with needed gear and food.

a successful expedition

Equipped as it was, success had not to be waited for: Tony Seddon our cave diver made the connection through the sump in two dives. The aven in ‘Sanctuary Chamber’ was pushed to 70m in only two days and with only two sets of batteries. The search for a dry connection over the sump was pushed as well as open leads from the 2016 expedition. Within the expedition we pushed to cave to over 2 Km (without the connection to C 2/7). Besides the pushing fronts, Paul Diffy was able to finish his filming I was photo-documenting the cave as well as making pictures for our sponsors.

back to civilisation

After nearly two weeks at the plateau it was time for me to leave the base-camp at the Refugio des Ario. With some regret, I left the remoteness of the mountains and returned to ‘normal life’ with all its noise, crowded cities and petty problems.
What stays is the memory of a successful expedition and the spend time with a lot of old and new friends…

thanks to
the team of the Ario Caves Projects 2017
especially Steph, Adam and Duncan

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