York University Cave and Pothole Club

Explorations in the Picos de Europa

View over the Cares Gorge from Vega Huerta (Photo: Dave Milne)



Expedition Summaries
1984    1987    1990
1985    1988    1991
1986    1989    1994

Pozo de Cuetalbo (M2)
Pozo de Llastrale (β3)
Sima de Cotalbin (K903) Thesaurus Fragilis (M921)

Survey Galleries

Image Galleries

Camping in β3, 1990

Caving Clubs
Caving in the Picos



Picos '85 Summary

The expedition was joined this year by SEG. Whilst there was significant joint exploration, the three clubs led the way in the following areas:No Eighth in M2

  • The exploration of Pozo de Cuetalbo (M2) by York and SEII continued, increasing in depth from 250 m to 650 m, with a large un-descended pitch.

  • SEG did a lot of work in I-area, systematically locating many new caves: the most notable being Sima de Forcadoņa (I41) (-267 m) and I45 (-130 m).

  • York found two new significant caves: I34, which unfortunately doesn't end at -225 m; and M15, at an estimated depth of -200 m..

  • SEII's new cave, Pozu la Llerona (b10), currently reaches -300 m, and is an extremely pleasant pot with easy traversing and pleasing pitches

View the Top Camp Log Book

Pozo de Cuetalbo (M2)

The Bypass to No Quarter in M2 The first week out on expedition saw Pozo de Cuetalbo (M2) rigged to its previous limit of 250 m. The first new pitch was 50 m, to a platform called the Motorway Services. This was to prove a useful kitchen on later trips. This degenerated into the long, tight and slippery Play the White Man before entering a pleasant, if rather wet in places, pitch-ramp series ending in the Chamber of Horrors. Traverses and climbs lead into the rather well decorated carrot patch before a series of small pots and a dry stream way lead to the 65 m Roo's Pitch, bottoming at -650 m with an uninviting sump.

The way on is from the top of Blind Pot, 90 m further up with two pitches of 25 and 35 m to -634 m where a 4― s drop beckons.

Sima de Forcadoņa (I41) and I45

The best of the bottomed caves was Sima de Forcadoņa (I41). This is a fine trip down to 267 m with hardly a foot on solid floor all the way. Apart from the bottom chamber you only unclip form the rope at one point!

Descent of I45 begins with a 15 m pitch giving access to a narow rift. A series of small pitches descends to -130 m where the way on becomes impenetrable.

I34 and M15

I34 begins as a tight rift-controlled cave, has a 40 m free hanging pitch and currently finishes with a narrow vadose passage with walls which crumble as you touch them at -225 m. The continuation is similar; definitely a cave to be avoided.

M15 descends abut 200 m, a series of short pitches and rather devious routes through squeezes and out of chambers. This ends at a pitch guessed at 25 m.

Pozu la Llerona (b10)

Pozu la Llerona (β10) is a bright spacious cave. This year it was located and explored via deep roomy shafts to the base of Poso Peperonatta at -300 m.

Minor Finds

A number of other caves were found, explored and surveyed. Most notable of these were I7, I20, I21, I22, I23, I24, I25, I26, I27, I28, I29, I30, I31, I33, I40, I42, I48, I50, I51, I52, I53, I54, I55, I56, I57, I59, K6, K7, K8, M10, M11, STD-83.

UK Contingent

Gareth Davies Steve Foster Simon Fowler Andy Kemp
Neil Kemp Kev Senior


Excerpt from Caves & Caving 30 York University - Picos de Europa 1985, Caves & Caving, Nov 1985, 30, 18-20 Neil Kemp in English. PDF (872 kB)
Article from Garma No. 1 (SEG) Campaņa PICOS '85. Vega Huerta, GARMA, No 1, 19-26 Isidoro Ortiz, SEG in Spanish. PDF (322 kB) [English translation PDF (279 kB)]

WebAuthor: D.Milne[at]Tesco.Net