Self portrait on exiting XITU cave - Jeff Wade

Chasing Dreams with help from SpanSet and ukcaving

As experts in both the manufacture of height safety equipment and training in its safe use, it’s no surprise many cavers work at SpanSet.  The skills required and interest in this multifaceted sport are naturally transferrable.
To strengthen our links with the caving community, SpanSet, in partnership with the Cavers’ forum are supporting the Ario Caves Project and their dream of finding one of Europe’s deepest cave systems.

UK cave explorers have been visiting the Picos de Europa mountain range in Northern Spain since the 1960s. This year the Ario expedition is returning with two objectives: 

  • To make a historic connection between two deep caves, Sima Cabeza Muxa and Asopladeru La Texa involving cave diving. 

 Cabeza Muxa was last visited by a UK team in 1988 when at the bottom of the 900m deep cave the downstream sump (water filled passage) was dived by Rick Stanton to a depth of 33m using scuba gear.  The Team plan on re-rigging Cabeza Muxa to facilitate continued cave diving exploration in the downstream sump using closed-circuit rebreather technology.  

  • To continue the exploration of a cave called 'C4', a vertical 600m+ deep cave that is featured in the 'Ario Dream' film. 

C4 was first explored in 1996 and became the focus of many future expeditions. Finally in 2017 a breakthrough was made when the cave, which drops into a major stream way called 'Underground Overdrive' was connected to the main watercourse in another cave called '2/7'.  Upstream C4 has split into several  passages, chambers and cavens.  With several ongoing passages, much work remains to be done in search of the 'Ario Dream' - finding one of Europe’s deepest cave systems! 
Both projects will require a dedicated Team of experienced cavers as well as an awful lot of rope for rigging the pitches.  SpanSet & UKC have donated a kilometre of rope each to support the multigenerational Team and to enable future exploration efforts in the area to map and understand the cave systems of the Ario plateau. 
Steph Dwyer and Mike Bottomley of The Ario Caves Project travelled down to SpanSet to meet with Rob Hinton (SpanSet) and Jane Allen (UKC) to take delivery of the 2k of rope – good job they brought a van! 

The Ario Team have already made a start preparing the rope for expedition which takes place in July 2022 – SpanSet and ukcaving wish them every success!


Left to right - Rob Hinton (SpanSet) Steph Dwyer and Mike Bottomley of the Ario Caves Project and Jane Allen(

Rope being prepared for expedition.

Chris Jewell, expedition cave diver for 2022.  (Photo courtesy of Stuart Gardiner)

SpanSet also donated one of their new slacklines for a little team building fun! 
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