Oxford University Cave Club

Extremero Expedition, 1991

Final Report


Small Caves Explored

Areas: 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, 12

During the expedition, a number of small caves in the area were looked at.

Area 4

Areas: 5, 7, 10, 11, 12: Contents 

This is the area beyond the Cabeza Covu - Julagua ridge. Caves 5/4 - 11/4 were discovered on a previous expedition but their locations were not correctly recorded. Some of them were refound this year, and so are included here. They can be found by crossing the ridge and following the valley down to a large bowl with a prominent tree in a cliff (bearing of 297° to Cabeza Julagua ). This area is of interest because dowsing experiments have suggested that it lies above 2/7, beyond choke Egbert.


Location: 40m south-east of 7/4, bearing 294° to Cabeza Julagua in a 10m diameter shakehole. A 16m pitch to the snow plug.

Description: a climb over a boulder leads to a short pitch which remains undecided.


Location: to 95° to Cabeza Julagua, 100m south-east (down valley) from 9/4 and 40m south-west of the tree.

Description: boulder slope with 2m free climb leads to a chamber with no way on.

Unnumbered shaft

By 7/4, marked OUCC 88.


Location: 75m from tree on bearing of 012° .

Description: a squeeze through a low rock arch leads to two 10m pitches which end in a choke.


Location: 30m from tree on bearing of 335° , in cleft. Marked SIE Ø.

Description: a horizontal passage leads to an 18m pitch with a second, undescended pitch beyond.


Location: 30m below the lowest ridge above the depression of 5/4. Insignificant partially choked cleft in cliff facing gorge (roughly north-east).

Description: small pit contains animal remains, with rattling drop under boulders. No draught.


Location: crawl-in entrance above 13/4, going up-valley, at top of small cleft in cliff.

Description: chokes.


Location: next to 7/4.

Description: two second rattle. Undescended.


Location: large cleft in right-hand wall 30m from tree on bearing of 288° in upslope continuation of 9/4 cleft. Marked SIE 86 .

Description: 15m shaft, worth looking at.


Location: 15m north-east and up-slope of 5/4.

Description: 5m sloping rift leads to impenetrable choke.


Location: open entrance down valley from the first green depression over ridge east of 5/4, with picturesque Pozu arch.

Description: chokes. Possible dig, but no draught.


Location: hole in north-west face of depression just before the valley becomes steep.

Description: chokes.


Location: rock shelter in the left wall of shattered valley north of 19/4 just below tree.

Description: chokes.


Location: entrance in small rock buttress at end of valley depression before valley becomes very steep. Altitude approximately 1465m.

Description: short passage chokes.


Location: rift entrance in shattered depression as valley becomes very steep. Altitude about 1435m.

Description: passage leads for 10-15m past a snow plug to a choke. Passage leads up to the right for 10m to a choked inlet.


Location: in valley notch overlooking steep section down to Culiembro, south-west from 22/4. 139° to top spire of right hand group of Central Massif. Altitude about 1435m.

Description: dual pitches of 6 and 8m. Choked.


Location: in wide rock cleft, running down valley overlooking Culiembro, just before depression containing 22/4 and 23/4.

Description: 8m choked shaft.


Location: big walk-in entrance in right of valley over lip from 5/4.

Description: chokes.


Location: 150m south-east of 5/4 high up on a bank. A goat shelter with water resurging from the entrance.

Description: chokes.

Area 5

Areas: 4, 7, 10, 11, 12: Contents 

This is the area around Ario and includes the lower slopes of Jultayu and the Valle Extremero down as far as the 53/5 bowl.


Location: about half way between 29/5 and where the Trea and Jultayu paths meet.

Description: a strongly draughting shakehole which was dug to a depth of about 3m before being abandoned as too unstable.


Location: 80° to Cabeza Llambria, 196° to Jultayu. Altitude about 1515m. Best route is to contour west from a point in the Valle Extremero at an altitude of about 1525m. A large well-vegetated rift entrance.

Description: 40m shaft leads to several routes, all choking. One site could be dug, but would be a long term project.

Area 7

Areas: 4, 5, 10, 11, 12: Contents 

No new caves were discovered in this area, although one known one was revisited.


Location: close to the grassy shakeholes forming the very bottom of the Jou, some 25m uphill on the northern rim in an area of parallel southwest - northeast joints.

Description: entrance is a rectangular manhole, climbable for 2.5m to a steep loose soil ramp with fragile roof and walls. This is followed 6m later by a fine elliptical shaft of 35m which lands in a 3m x 6m chamber. 3m above the floor a strongly draughting diagonal crack in the north-west wall opens to 5cm and offers a view through the wall into an adjacent chamber. Attempts were made to get through to the parallel shaft, but without success.

Area 10

Areas: 4, 5, 7, 11, 12: Contents 

This is the area on and beyond the green ridge of Jultayu, and includes the Valle Extremero below the 53/5 bowl.


Location: climb the green ridge towards Jultayu to a height just below the top of Cabeza el Verde. To the left is a large bowl, with a very steep and insecure rebecco path. The cave is obvious and located on the far side of an exposed traverse.

Description: this cave was originally found in 1989, but never descended or even found again until this year when it was found to be an impenetrable crack.


Location: 53° to Cabeza Llambria, 214° to Jultayu. Just before the Trea path starts to descend steeply, it splits in two, passing either side of a grassy patch, containing a small cave.

Description: a short drop into a tight rift.


Location: 56° to Cabeza Llambria, 357 trees to Cabeza Verde, in the middle of the ridge leading to Cueto la Requexada, in a most unlikely position.

Description: a 3m deep pit, with a 50 cm diameter entrance. Described as very silly.


Location: 45° to Cabeza Llambria, 344° to Cabeza Verde. On the left hand side of the ridge leading to Cueto la Requexada. Invisible from the path.

Description: entrance squeeze leads immediately to a 6m drop to a bouldery ledge. A further pitch of 10m in 3m wide pot, with slimy walls of mud and moonmilk, to floor with a 1m high body size rift, partially blocked by stal and mud.

10/10, Cave of the Old Men's Dream

Location: 44° to Cabeza Llambria, 347° to Cabeza Verde, altitude about 1510m. Directly below 9/10.

Description: this cave was discovered amid much excitement, and described as being as large as the 2/7 stream passage. It was explored and surveyed. The next day it was identified as 2/10, explored the previous year. It is much smaller than described, being a fairly typical phreatic passage.


Location: 58° to Cabeza Llambria, 003° to Cabeza Verde, altitude about 1555m, in shattered ridge running towards the Valle Extremero.

Description: a shaft with a wedged boulder at the top. A ledge 2m below surface leads to an 8m pitch, and further 4m boulder slope down to choke. Climb up to right leads to choked inlet.


Location: 47° to Cabeza Llambria, 357° to Cabeza Verde. 15m from 8/10.

Description: "S" shaped rift chokes after 2m.

Area 11

Areas: 4, 5, 7, 10, 12: Contents 

This is a new area situated behind the ridge behind the Ario Refugio; it is marked as Jous de Ario on the map.

1/11, Pozu Optimisto

Location: halfway up (60m below the ridge) a fracture-controlled valley, about 80m long, with strike 20° , in a fairly even northwards-facing slope, southwest of the Jou de Ario. The bottom of the gully is a shakehole 20m long by 5m wide with a path running through it. Above this is an open 20m deep shaft, 6m long by 3m wide, with an inscription on the top of a boulder on the western brink. A rock bridge separates this from another shaft. Bearings from entrance: Julagua 92° , Llorosos 51° , small hills northwest of Jou de Ario, 37° and 359° ; from top of ridge above entrance: entrance 47° , Jultayu 159° , Pico Jorcada 223° , Julagua 90° , first small hill 39° . Entrance grid reference: E43330, N89940, A1590.

Description: see Proc. 11 for details. This cave was originally explored in the early 1980s when it was numbered 30/5. It ends in a constriction which may be passable to the new generation of OUCC thin cavers. It is supposedly very hard to find; three attempts were necessary to locate it this year, hence the detailed location above. [Further exploration 1993]


Location: 225° to Cabeza Forma, 276° to Cabeza Los Campanas, 146° to Cabeza Julagua, 180° to Ario saddle. From the valley (approx 400m north of Ario) a cairn is visible above the cave. Marked "OUCC 2/11" badly.

Description: climb down 3m in entrance cleft to head of 10m ladder pitch, rigged off natural plus long wire through thread above. Lands in gently sloping, bouldery rift chamber. At lower southwestern end is an easy squeeze through to continuation of rifts which become too tight. To the right an outlet has cut down into another chamber but way on requires hammering. To be left an undescended 8m pot is found. Cave trends 290° - 60° . Back at the bottom of the pitch, a crawl leads off either side; upwards to the left, downwards to the right. These rifts leads down to the top of a parallel rift that can be free climbed down for 15m to boulders.

Both caves 3/11 to 6/11 are close to the path running north west from Ario parallel to the Los Lagos path below sod 4. 3/11 is the furthest of these from Ario. The compass bearings may be unreliable as the pencil used to make notes was found to contain metal!


156° to Cabeza Forma, 112° to Cabeza Julagua. Small bedding crawl at base of cliff above col on left hand side, 15 feet above green col. Undescended.


Location: 164° to Cabeza Forma, 106° to Cabeza Julagua. Unlikely entrance at foot of 6m deep and 10m across green basin at foot of valley on path. 100m closer to Ario than 3/11.

Description: a wide crawl leads to a 5m pitch into a choked rift.


183° to Cabeza Forma, 103° to Cabeza Julagua. Obvious shaft with snow plug, on right hand side of path towards Ario, and foot of valley. Marked as unfinished by SIE. No OUCC mark. Undescended.


Sheep shelter at base of 2m high cliff 10m above 5/11. Unentered.


Location: 196° to Cabeza Forma, 131° to Cabeza Julagua, 337° to Porrón de Mohandi. Forms a large feature near a cairn on the col overlooking the steep drop to Pozu los Texos. Walk down boulder slope to foot of 12m cliff.

Description: cave floor is covered in animal droppings. Crawls lead off. Not investigated further.


Location: 125° to Cabeza Julagua, 227° to Cabeza Forma, 330° to Cabeza de Los Campanas. Almost on top of the cairned ridge running at a bearing of 340° north-west from Cabeza Llambria, just on the right hand side (away from Ario) near a cairn. Large obvious entrance with perched boulder over top, tarpaulin in the entrance and bushes growing. Faded SIE mark Ø84.

Description: go down 5m to another boulder then back under first and climb another 5m to floor. Crawls leads off into the boulder pile. Carrying on down the slope takes you under a perched boulder, to a platform on top of the pitches. The area here seems to consist of two or three parallel shafts, one to the right, the other to the left. A ladder can be rigged down one, from one of the perched boulders, to reach a bouldery floor. To be right there is no way on, but climbing down to the left the base of the other shaft can be reached. A rift leads off; this seems to be a partially boulder filled inlet, with few signs to encourage. In the far side of the base of the shaft, a large rift leads off, similar to Flying Rebellés in 2/7. Several routes are passable here. The most obvious is following the widest section of the rift up and this ascending slope in cream coloured rock, to where it meets the ceiling. Here is an undescended climb of about 10m.


Location: about 200m from Ario Refugio (bearing 20° ) 1 second green ridge. Altitude about 1630m. 95° to Cabeza Julagua, 140° to Cabeza las Campanas. Faint SIE mark, not marked by OUCC.

Description: entrance is 1.5m by 5m trending 30° . Opens out to 3m by 10m. 12m shaft with short climb at foot of ladder which leads to a boulder floor with no way on.

10/11, Leg of Mutton Cave

Location: on northwest side of Cabeza Julagua, 352° to Cabeza las Campanas, altitude about 1605m. Entrance at lower end of large obvious cleft running down across the hillside. Marked OUCC 10/11.

Description: entrance squeeze through boulders is followed by a 5m climb to a bouldery, bone scattered floor sloping towards an alcove. From this point there is no way on, but a 2.5m climb up reveals a small alcove to the left with a too-tight inlet beyond, which may be hammerable. These seem to be continuations of the surface fracture. Seems limited in potential.


Location; 275° to Cabeza las Campanas, 220° to Cabeza Forma, altitude about 1575m. Unmarked. On green grassy grike, 15m north of the green path running east from Cabeza las Campanas.

Description: 6m pit with very mossy sides and possible dig at the bottom. Distinctly unpleasant.


Location: 298° to Cabeza las Campanas, 210° to Cabeza Forma. On the south side of the same valley as 2/11 and 11/11, at the same height as 2/11. 10m south of the green path from Cabeza las Campanas.

Description: hopeful looking rift leading southwards and soon gets to a point where minor gardening may allow further progress. Worth another look.

Area 12

Areas: 4, 5, 7, 10, 11: Contents 

This is a new area situated on the slopes above Culiembro. All the caves were spotted by Richard and Fred while en route to or during a climbing trip in the Central Massif. None have yet been entered; they are of interest because they may be possible resurgences for 2/7.


Visible from Oston, at an altitude of about 1150m. A round transected phreatic passage in a cliff. This will require a tricky climb to reach.


To the left of 1/12 at an altitude of about 1050m. A huge hole (about 15m by 10m) lurking at the head of its own little gorge, with a small wood in it. Looks like a fossil resurgence for 2/7.


Below the Oston - Carmameña path and not on the map. A massive hole leading in the direction of Carmameña. This might have nothing to with 2/7.


About 150m above and slightly to the left of Cueva Culiembro, looking like a transected phreatic passage. Access would require being guided from the other side of the gorge, using radio or semaphore.


Between the Valle Extremero and Valle de Trea, about 2/3 of the way towards the Trea path, and about half way up to Huerta del Rey. Looks like a scoop but difficult to assess.

Joan Arthur

Areas: 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, 12: Contents