Ario Caves Project

This isn’t really news, but I want to take the opportunity to wish the Ario Caves Project the very best of luck with their summer.

They’re leaving in about a week from now, and are all working very hard at washing and preparing ropes, putting together shelters for underground camps, and double checking that all the rest of the necessary clatch is in place. I’ve seen them at work these last days and you can see the tremendous amount of effort and preparation that’s going into making it work as smoothly as these things can go. I remember that sense of rush, the insuperable, seemingly endless series of jobs that always finishes (always, miraculously, just in time) when you slam the boot of the car, get in, and say “right, now we’ve just got to get there”…

I can’t make it out this year – the Congress in Brno is making a big hole in my expedition season – and already I’m deeply jealous. The Picos de Europa is one of the loveliest caving areas in the world; wild but not harsh, grand, but still on a human scale. The cave that is the prime objective – Pozu del Xitu (as I still call it, although not the best local name as we’ve found recently) is possibly the best trip out there, so far. Challenging, varied, not unduly nasty and with some excellent situations. Plus, I’ve had some cracking days caving in there over the last couple of years with some very good mates; it’s that sort of cave, and the expeditions to the Picos are those sort of trips.

But this year, all that’s to do is to feel proud to have been part of the tradition of exploration out there; to look at old photos; and to wish the team heading out a grand old time and a safe return.

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