Oxford University Cave Club

British Speleological Expedition to the Cantabrian Mountains of Northern Spain, 1965

in conjunction with the "Espeleologos de Penalba", Leon

British Speleological Expedition 1965 Report

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Sima el Solitario and Area

R. Cooper

On the second day at Valporquero, six members (J. Carney, D. Hazelwood, M. Walker, G. Cooper, D.I. Gill and R. Cooper) went to look at some potholes upheld as promising by the Spanish Speleologists. There were several large pothole entrances almost on the edge of ridge overlooking the Leon-Oviedo road. The six of us split into two groups of three and looked down several holes, which proved depressingly similar to each other and to Sima Grail, although not as deep. They all had the same orange-reddish flow on the walls and were choked at he bottom with silt, hence most unpromising.

El Solitario itself was the largest of the group, the entrance being about 50' wide and 50' deep with large boulders in base. A 25' ladder was used. Several choked shafts and crawls in the boulders, one of which yielded, after a short dig followed by a 15' climb-down onto a silt floor. Right on the edge of the ridge, further along, was another sizeable pothole entrance. Scrambling down into this we found two approximately 20' pitches into a small chamber with a Big draught! This was solely because the chamber connected with the outside clift over the head of the pitch, which we descended from the clift-side, 75' of ladder to a ledge 25' more to the bottom and choked with silt.

Several other shake-holes were looked at either blind or similar to the above two. The only interesting thing about these holes was their uniformity and lack of promise.