MARACAIBO

Two entrances 30 metres upstream of the oxbow at OXBOW CORNER in the Main Drain of Lancaster Hole lead to a the narrow inlet passage of MARACAIBO.

Link to original exploration account (1973)

The Last Post, Maracaibo

A twisting rift soon leads to a climb up where calcite flow blocks the way. Ahead now stretches for over 100 metres a dead straight rift 1 metre wide by 7 m high, BLOODY THIGH RIFT, and must be traversed until the stream is met. It then bears left again as a short oxbow at the end of the rift rejoins the stream in a passage of varying height. This passage is pursued for 30 metres until,as it suddenly lowers in height, a climb up a slope to the right leads to a sandy crawl into the largest chamber in the extension. The stream may also be followed at this point, where it reappears as a trench in the floor. In the roof of the chamber is an aven with a low passage at the top - a possible dig!

A climb over some blocks at the end of the chamber leads back to the stream and some crawling (TORTUGA WAY) is required in the next 30 m. Soon the roof rises and just near here a shelf on the right hides a crawl into another sizable passage, which eventually chokes.

Back in the main passage the roof continues to rise and the formations become more profuse. A mud slope on the left leads to the Wurlitzer, some beautiful organ pipe stals and a crystal pool containing the Ballerina. This point must not be crossed since the passage ends just around the corner.

The Ballerina
Meanwhile the main passage winds on varying in height from less than a metre to over 6m and the formations increase in amount a beauty. The formations eventually end at the Last Post and just beyond the roof lowers over a pool and then dives into a crawl. The way on continues through straws and into a traverse with particularly sharp helictites (THE KEEL HAULER) to a junction.

Left leads in a short distance to a chamber and a passage that chokes. Straight ahead leads into a crawl, an easier variation of the original and one is then into the final section of twisting rift passage which is made awkward by the acute angle of some of the corners. Finally the rift heightens to about 9m and a short section of walking leads to a climb up into a final chamber. At floor level on the left a bedding plane over cobbles eventually gets too low. This area has been radio located to a point on the north bank of Ease Gill Beck about 130 metres downstream of HOW GILL SINK


R.R.C.P.C. 2001