Cueva del Marniosa – Upstream Avens (Part 1)

Eastern Massif, Picos de Europa, Northern Spain

Cueva del Marniosa – Upstream Avens (Part 1)

by Sam Deeley

Having been driven down to the entrance by Joe, we entered the cave at 1300. Bob and Dave led the way to the streamway, after which we split into two parties.

Following the directions of Dave, specifically details of the climb over a calcite flow, we reached the first boulder choke. Quickly, we made the decision to climb the first aven before the choke, in an effort to avoid any misery associated with ‘choke-finding’. Before we could even flip a coin to decide who would lead first, Dan had his down jacket on and was ready to belay. I kitted up to climb first, scrambling up a first short section, under drip, to a level false floor. Our intention was to climb directly up a flow-stone/calcite wall, chasing the voids above. Very quickly, it became apparent that the flow-stone/calcite wall was utter sh*te. It was more suited to ice-axes, rather than bolting. After many wields of the hammer, the occasional suitable bolt placement was found, generally hidden by and inch or two of moonmilk (read: calcite j!zz). Eventually, I made it up to a false floor level, where a pitch could be rigged back down to the level of the main passage, approximately 12m below. The rift continues above, where it would appear to open up. The false floor continues along the same level, where a small traverse needs to be negotiated – although this is not considered the preferred lead.

All in all, a successful, friendly trip to begin the 2018 expedition. All kit was left at the base of the climb so that it can be continued tomorrow.