Pozo Azul 2017

During August/September 2017 another Pozo Azul (Spain) campaign was undertaken, with a multi-national team of personnel, from UK, Spain, Holland, Switzerland, Andorra. The objectives of this years expedition were:

  • to continue exploration at the end of the system (Sump 6),
  • survey and map the known passages beyond Sump 4,
  • establish a new stage camp beyond Sump 3, and
  • establish communication from Tipperary via Cave Link device.

A 3 man team was to make the journey to the far camp (beyond S3) supported by the other divers. In the event only 2 divers managed to reach the far camp and only 1 of those made it to Sump 6 and explored further.

The initial days of the expedition comprised of transporting large quantities of dive kit to Sump 2 dive base at 1km from the entrance. This included the large scooters which would propel the exploration divers through Sump 2, these weigh around 80 kg out of the water and a 4 man team is required to transport them up the sharp and awkward passage between Sump1 and Sump 2. Habitats were also to be prepared in Sump 2 to allow divers to decompress in comfort. Once the necessary kit was in place at Sump 2, stage dives where undertaken up to 2000 m into Sump2, where stage cylinders and scooters were placed for bail-out scenarios.

Another stage dive was then necessary to transport camping kit to Tipperary for an interim stage camp. This was only achieved by 1 of the team and this diver established a camp and spent 1 night in Tipperary before exiting. The dive to Tipperary is 5160 m long and requires around 3 hours of decompression before surfacing either side due to the deep sections (70 m) of underwater passage. A scooter failed at the start of an attempted dive to Tipperary, and the fault turned out to be an electronic control unit. A new part from Germany was ordered and this took several days to arrive.

Once this interim camp (Tipperary) had been established, several days of preparation, re-charging of batteries was necessary to allow for the next stage of the expedition which was for the 3 man team to travel to Tipperary, spend 1 night there and then proceed through Sump 3 and establish the far camp. This is from where all the further work would be based. Due to substantial amounts of equipment that needed to be towed through Sump 2 only 2 divers managed to reach Tipperary, the 3rd diver retired at about 1200 m into S2 with serious drag issues. The only issue was that the Cave Link device did not reach Tipperary and so no communication was possible for the entire 6 days, whilst the 2 divers continued to the end of the system.

Both of the continuing, exploration divers passed Sump 3 the following day, taking extensive video footage of Sump 3 on the way. Despite much advice, being sought and given, 1 of the exploration divers did not take a wetsuit for the caving/diving beyond Sump 3. This had proved to be the best and safest option for the previous 2 expeditions. Therefore it was inevitable that this diver tore a large hole in his drysuit on the first day beyond S3 (as did the 2nd diver although smaller tear) and this precluded him taking any part in the work beyond S5. In addition, using a drysuit caused the diver to overheat and so became drenched with sweat within the drysuit and saturated the underclothes. The repair of the drysuit was difficult, but luckily this achieved to make a drier exit possible later in the week.

With help only as far as Sump 5, the remaining push diver found transport and progress difficult and was only able to manage one dive in Sump 6. The limit of 2015 (60 m into the sump 6, at 8 m depth) was passed and beyond this the passage dimensions increased, as did the depth ( – 40 m) at which point the buoyancy device of the diver failed (due to inflator hose breaking off) and so a negatively buoyant diver was forced to crawl back to base, having only progressed 140 m beyond the 2015 limit.

No survey work was carried out at any point during the 6 days. Some of the dry passages between S5 and S6 were also explored the same day as the push in S6. The remaining time was spent transporting equipment between sumps, packing up the far camp, returning to Tipperary and exiting the cave. Thus ended the expedition. Although a small amount of further exploration took place, little other work was achieved. The depth of S6 now would suggest that a full back-mounted rebreather be taken there to make meaningful progress. The survey work remains outstanding and so a further expedition will be planned for 2019. This gain would involve a 7 day camp, beyond S3.

Text: Jason Mallinson
Photos: Pedro Gonzales & Rene Houben

Download: Summary Expedition Report

Close

Website Use

Terms of Use

Please read these terms of use carefully before you start to use the site. By using our site, you indicate that you accept these terms of use and that you agree to abide by them. If you do not agree to these terms of use, please refrain from using our site.

Reliance of Information & Disclaimer

The materials contained on our site are provided for general information purposes only and do not claim to be or constitute legal or other professional advice and shall not be relied upon as such.

We do not accept any responsibility for any loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on the information on this site and to the fullest extent permitted by English law, we exclude all liability for loss or damages direct or indirect arising from use of this site.

Information About Us

The Ghar Parau Foundation is a 100% voluntary-based charity that manages an investment fund to provide grant aid to assist British caving expeditions to all parts of the world. The fund focuses on those expeditions which include an element of innovative exploration or scientific study. We are also particularly keen to encourage young cavers into expedition caving (as well as sport caving) to maintain an active caving community in years to come.

The Ghar Parau Foundation, a sub-charity of the British Cave Research Association, (267828-1) works by investing the capital within the fund and distributing the interest in the form of grants to caving expeditions who apply and fit the foundations criteria.

Accessing Our Site

Access to our site is permitted on a temporary basis, and we reserve the right to withdraw or amend the service we provide on our site without notice (see below). We will not be liable if for any reason our site is unavailable at any time or for any period.

Intellectual Property Rights

You may print off copies, and may download extracts, of any page(s) from our site for your personal reference and you may draw the attention of others within your organisation to material posted on our site. Please credit The GPF as the source and any expedition whose detail or report you have downloaded. Expeditions and organisations may have additional copyright or restrictions as to using their data and reports and The GPF does not relieve you from any of those additional restrictions.

You must not modify the paper or digital copies of any materials you have printed off or downloaded in any way, and you must not use any illustrations, photographs, video or audio sequences or any graphics without further permission.

Our status (and that of any identified contributors) as the authors of material on our site must always be acknowledged. You must not use any part of the materials on our site for commercial purposes without obtaining permission from GPF.

Our Site Changes Regularly

We aim to update our site regularly, and may change the content at any time. If the need arises, we may suspend access to our site, or close it indefinitely. Any of the material on our site may be out of date at any given time, and we are under no obligation to update such material.

Our Liability

The material displayed on our site is provided without any guarantees, conditions or warranties as to its accuracy. To the extent permitted by law, we, and third parties connected to us hereby expressly exclude:


This does not affect our liability for death or personal injury arising from our negligence, nor our liability for fraudulent misrepresentation or misrepresentation as to a fundamental matter, nor any other liability which cannot be excluded or limited under applicable law.

Information About You and Your Visits To Our Site

We process information about you in accordance with our privacy policy. By using our site, you consent to such processing and you warrant that all data provided by you is accurate.

Viruses, Hacking & Other Offences

You must not misuse our site by knowingly introducing viruses, trojans, worms, logic bombs or other material which is malicious or technologically harmful. You must not attempt to gain unauthorised access to our site, the server on which our site is stored or any server, computer or database connected to our site. You must not attack our site via a denial-of-service attack or a distributed denial-of service attack.

By breaching this provision, you would commit a criminal offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990. We will report any such breach to the relevant law enforcement authorities and we will co-operate with those authorities by disclosing your identity to them. In the event of such a breach, your right to use our site will cease immediately.

We will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by a distributed denial-of-service attack, viruses or other technologically harmful material that may infect your computer equipment, computer programs, data or other proprietary material due to your use of our site or to your downloading of any material posted on it, or on any website linked to it.

Links from Our Site

Where our site contains links to other sites and resources provided by third parties, these links are provided for your information only. We have no control over the contents of those sites or resources, and accept no responsibility for them or for any loss or damage that may arise from your use of them. When accessing a site via our website we advise you check their terms of use and privacy policies to ensure compliance and determine how they may use your information.

Jurisdiction & Applicable Law

The English courts will have non-exclusive jurisdiction over any claim arising from, or related to, a visit to our site.

These terms of use and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with them or their subject matter or formation (including non-contractual disputes or claims) shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the law of England and Wales.

Variations

We may revise these terms of use at any time by amending this page. You are expected to check this page from time to time to take notice of any changes we made, as they are binding on you. Some of the provisions contained in these terms of use may also be superseded by provisions or notices published elsewhere on our site.

Your Concerns

If you have any concerns about material which appears on our site, please contact the committee. Thank you for visiting our site.

Close

Privacy Policy

Your data

We do publish grants awards and expedition information and pass information to the press about the expeditions we support and grants we make. We do publish the names of expedition members but we do not pass on personal details to any organisation outside the British Cave Research Association or British Caving Association, unless requested to do under the Law of the United Kingdom.

Close

Accessibility Policy

We endeavour to make our site as accessible as possible to people of all abilities. We test our site for compatibility with a range of browsers and permit those browsers to enable any accessibility preferences the user may choose to use. However, as volunteers, we cannot accept liability for any accessibility issues any user may have, though we shall be very willing to gain feedback and address any issues we can. Please use the site feedback facilities to do so. The GPF however, work strictly with the UK English language and, whilst this site should work, we do not design this website with features for use on mobile devices such as tablets and mobile phones.