Oxford University Cave Club

Oston 2004 Expedition Report

Picos de Europa, Spain

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Paul Garver

On the 6th of July this year, Oxford University Cave Club left the UK for the next episode in the story of the caves around Ario in the Picos de Europa, and area that has been being explored by cavers from our university since 1961. Many entrances had been logged over the years, and quite a few of them had been developed into deep caves, in some cases over a kilometre in length. But many had been left unexplored or partially explored, and the hills had many more yet to be discovered. This year, our task would be to look at these unpushed entrances, and to search for more, particularly in the direction of Oston and the Ceres Gorge, the area covering the gap between Ario (where we have entrances to deep caves) and Culiembro (where many of their streamways have been shown to resurge). This area had not been looked at before, and could help us join systems together to produce caves of over 1400m in depth!

On the 2003 expedition, one particularly promising hole was discovered on the slopes down from the far side of the valley of the orange rock - Pozu Chicago (17-13), named for the chirpy family song sung frequently throughout the initial exploration of the cave. A few pitches had been dropped, including one huge one (~70m), and at the limit of exploration was another big black open space leading downwards. This would be another important focus for our expedition.