Ario Caves

By Hati Whiteley

What is the Ario Dream?

In one sentence, to find and document the world's deepest caving through trip.

In another sentence, to abseil into the mountains at the top and to re-emerge back into daylight at the bottom of Cares Gorge, nearly 2000 metres below.

The Ario bowl is located in the Western massif of the Picos de Europa, Northern Spain. Its horned limestone peaks are stark, devoid of water, yet honeycombed with inviting openings to a vast complex of chambers and waterfalls far below the earth's surface.

'I draw a line in the sand, stumble over the slight frog in my throat, then look away in an attempt to distract us both from the sobering question, “so... how long shall we give you before we call rescue”? A token gesture, like one could really be rescued from the far side of a flooded cave passage this far underground! Tony though, seems unfazed, then again he is a well practiced diver in his element and as he says himself, “I have no imagination”. However, I do and our cave diver last year nearly died at no fault of his own, and to be honest that scared me.

Cavers are tough, we have to be, we train our minds, our bodies and practice how to deal with stuff going pearshaped in such remote and committing places but... stop it Steph! I pull my mind back in line, doubt or fear are luxuries one cannot afford down here. I mean even if one wanted to, ya can’t exactly opt out now, 650m beneath the mountains with 100s of metres of rope climbs between you and the surface. It’s the stuff that would drive some mad but the bravery required and discomfort of being cold, wet and chaffed after days spent camping underground are insignificant compared to the elation felt whilst doing original exploration.

a second showing on Sunday 19th September.

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