Oxford University Cave Club

1989 "Juracao " Expedition Final Report

Picos de Europa, Spain


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The cave, 2/7, Pozu Jultayu, (Pozu del Ojo de la Bruja) was rigged down to last year's limit of exploration within the first three weeks of the expedition. A camp was set up in an alcove to the large chamber (Mr. Jones) near last years limit. This was to act as a base for subsequent exploration.

Within a few metres of last years limit (at stream level) we reached a boulder choke (Choke Cuthbert). This was relatively stable with large voids between the boulders and was pushed quickly to 300 - 400m of large streamway ending in another boulder choke (Drusilla). This proved less amenable to exploration, but a route through at stream level was eventually contrived. This yielded a further 500m of streamway, to Choke Egbert.

The unpleasant nature of Choke Drusilla meant that a bypass was sought for. A climb up one wall prior to the choke led to a short piece of passage emerging in a large boulder chamber. Several routes were explored here. One provided a bypass to Drusilla via more large boulder chambers. Other side passages are still going, but will require some aid climbing; they may provide a bypass to Choke Egbert.

A still and video photographic record was made of the cave. On one of the video trips a large passage was noticed leading off about 40m from the bottom of Just Awesome (the large chamber where the vertical route meets the stream). A climb up into this passage revealed a massive high level route in places over 100m wide and 100m high (The London Underground), containing some spectacular cave pearl deposits. Over 1.5km of passage ended in a boulder choke (Paddington); two routes led back down to the stream. One landed near the camp and provided a dry bypass to the streamway which was then derigged; the other bypassed Choke Cuthbert.

In all over 3km of new passage was explored this year leaving the cave at a depth of 820m. The complexity of the cave system beneath Jultayu is now becoming apparent. Route finding in the massive high-level passages is difficult and exploration is even more so, requiring bold climbing in loose boulders.


A bypass to Choke Egbert was not found, but several leads remain for next year. The upper levels of the cave near the limit of exploration are 100 - 200m below the surface (in the Valle Extremero), and a lower entrance will be sought next year. It is not yet clear how the 2/7 drainage relates to that of Pozu del Xitu. A fully integrated survey of the cave systems (2/7, Xitu, Cabeza Muxa and Culiembro) and the surface will be needed (much of the data are already available).


Samples of sediment were taken from various locations within the cave together with rock samples both from the cave and on the surface. These are presently being examined. Dye tracing established that the through-flow time to the resurgence at Culiembro is less than 52 hours, and that there may be a further (minor?) resurgence upstream of Culiembro.