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 '90 Summary

Simon Mann descending Null and Void in β3 (Photo: Dave Binks) This summer, the four clubs continued the exploration of several deep caves and located several other caves of note:

During this expedition a caver fell in Sima del Tenero (K901) and was knocked unconscious. Serious head injuries were suspected and a major rescue proceeded.

View the Top Camp Log Book

Camping underground in β3 (Kaos de Bloques No 4)Pozo del Llastral (β3)

In 1989, exploration of Pozo del Llastral (β3) had reached a sump at a depth of 944m. It was reported that the draft here came from the rift across the top of the final pitch. Cavers returned this year to see whether this rift would provide a sump by-pass. To ease exploration, a camp was set up at the bottom of The Thunderdome in the Hall of the Mountain King. After rigging down to the sump, it was found that the 'rift' was in fact an inlet. This was pushed, up several pitches for several hundred metres.

Sima de los Cuatro Caminos (K897)

Four Ways Pot (K897) was found the previous Summer and had been explored to a depth of 320 m. At this level, the cave split and we returned to explore both routes. The obvious way on at about 300 m depth was through the ramp trench. Despite the tantalizing depths below, no one could pass through. Attention was therefore paid to the other route which involved a short climb from the top of the ramp into a series of short pitches.

Exploration continued here with the addition of several more short pitches and then a 51 m pitch. This landed in a steam way. Up stream ascended steeply to where it became too tight. Down stream was followed to a short pitch leading to a very well decorated piece of stream passage with orange and red stalagmites and stalactites. This soon however ended at a frighteningly loose and impassable choke.

Lynne Robinson in the rift at the base of the entrance pitch (Photo: Dave Binks)

Sima del Ternero (K901)

Sima del Ternero (K901) was discovered and pushed to its current depth within this summer. For most of the way down, the cave follows the dip of a fault. The cave can be described as spectacular and makes an excellent SRT trip.

The entrance series is mainly vertical, with short tight crawls between shafts. This leads into an area of parallel shafts which must be crossed to gain the main fault controlled section at about 100 m depth. The remainder of the cave involves a mixture of ramps, clean-washed shafts and boulder chambers to attain a depth of 367 m.

Looking up the 29 m Pitch (Photo: David Milne) Sima de Cotalbin (K903)

Sima de Cotalbin (K903) was found late in the summer after the York contingent had left. The French team pushed the entrance series through a series of spacious ramps to a couple of decent pitches and then found an amiable 300 m pitch. Exploration ended at the base of this with a crumbly and awkward rift to look forward to.

Minor Finds

A number of other caves were found, explored and surveyed. Most notable of these were I32, I52, I45 and I58, I68, K6, K9010, K9011, K9022, K9023, K9024, K9025, K9026, K9027, K9028, K9030, K9031, K9032, K9033, K9034, K9035 and K9036.

Rescue helicopter arrives at Vega Huerta (Photo: Dave Binks) Rescue in Sima del Ternero (K901)

Halfway through the expedition, Guy Jackson fell whilst traversing a chamber in Sima del Tenero (K901). Guy was unconscious and head injuries were suspected. It was therefore decided that the expedition did not have the appropriate rescue equipment for this type of injury and a major call out was implemented. More...

UK Contingent

Simon Ashby Dave Ashley Dave Binks Mark Bowen
Steve Brooks Simon Cawthan Gareth Davies Steve Foster
Chris Gibson Bruce Grieve Steve Harrop Andrea Hartley
Pete Hartley Angus Higgins Henry Hill Guy Jackson
Andy Kemp Simon Klyne Simon Mann Dave Middleton
Dave Milne Tony Padget Bruce Robinson Lynne Robinson


YUCPC log book from 1990 Top Camp Log Book, YUCPC, 1990 in English. HTML
Expedicion Picos - 90, SEII, in Spanish. PDF (28MB)
SEG Journal covering 1989-90 Kaos de Bloques No 4 1992, SEG in Spanish. PDF (73 MB) (Cover)

WebAuthor: D.Milne[at]Tesco.Net