Apr 13 04
On Tuesday evening we attended the expedition dinner which, being held in a Spanish bar, started quite late. We had Wednesday off. The day wasn’t completely wasted because we did manage to fill one cylinder but that was about all we did that was useful. Still, everything was in place for the following day and the big push. It was therefore with some horror that we watched the weather forecast change throughout the day. By nightfall we had gone from just missing the rain to being in the middle of a seven drop rain cloud with two lightening bolts. Things did not look good but we turned in consoled by the fact that the weather forecast had changed for the better all week so far.
The quiet of Wednesday morning informed us of two things: Firstly, the forecast had been right and secondly the cockerel had drowned. Things did not improve and with the river at the end of the road a muddy brown torrent we set off for the cave. We had to bailout the push and pull our kit out against the risk of the cave flooding. It was still raining when we arrived at our parking spot. We changed quickly and got on with it. The plan was for me to dive in while Jim moved his kit out of the cave, he would then help me with mine when I returned; a reverse of the first day underground. Water levels were predictably high but we were undeterred and dive base was reached very quickly because we had no kit to carry. After I kitted up and headed off upstream to recover the equipment left in place in the boulder choke Jim headed out with his kit. Swimming upstream against a strong current through what, in dry conditions, would be a walking passage I found the dive line through the (sumped) duck. On the surface, the other side, I could hear an air leak. A quick investigation found the culprit, a blown O-ring on a low pressure hose. Continuing the dive upstream now looked silly so after a partial repair I turned back. I was hoping I could use one of Jim’s regs and have another go but he had already removed all his gear from the cave by the time I made it back to dive base. I de-kitted and started out, Jim met me part way and took a bag off me. It was still raining when we surfaced and the water level in the cave was continuing to rise. Near the entrance a new inlet was running with enough force to redirect the main flow that was exiting the cave.
In summary it has been the week that nearly was. Wednesday was the day to do the push but by then I needed a rest day and Jim is to much of a gentleman to push me beyond my comfort limit. We have learned more about the water flow in the cave and have made some outline plans for dye testing later in the year but for now the cave will keep it’s secrets.
Series - Matienzo Caving
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