Oxford University Cave Club

Cabeza Julagua Expedition

28th June - 20th August 1993

Spanish Expedition Reports

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Small caves explored in the Ario area

Gavin Lowe

Small caves explored in Area 4


In the right hand side of the valley containing most of the caves in area~4 is a visible cleft, which continues to the top of the valley; in the base of the bowl the cleft contains 9/4 and a small undescended shaft on the left-hand side of the valley. 20m entrance pitch (spike, 2 bolt Y-hang, 2 deviations) lands on snow on a flattish floor. Ignoring the choked phreatic tube, there is a crawl over a stony slope into a chamber, filled at the bottom by a loose mud floor which 'sumps'. Traversing round to the right, through a window leads into another chamber. The write-up says: "It gets more complicated. See survey''. Unfortunately no survey is included. Ends up in a 20m rift, which bells out. Other routes are possible at higher levels.


Head East from Cabeza el Verde along a gulley which rises up and then dips down again towards a shakehole. Level with this shakehole to the right of the gulley is the entrance (hidden from view from this approach). Entrance shaft (P7,P19) drops into chamber. Climb down through slot into large chamber (alternatively, rig pitch further along). [ Inlet to right leads to moonmilky area. Straight ahead leads to crawl through boulders, down to 4-way junction (Wobbly Rock Junction). To left is a crawl leading to a chamber. Climb over boulders to where rift narrows down: first lefthand bend is passable to wider section, but this needs widening in order to turn over for the next right-hand bend. Straight ahead from Wobbly Rock Junction, a tube descends to 3m drop into a chamber. the start of the SIE Route. [ The rift to the left closes down.] Main route leads to 9m climb down to slot which is the top of the third pitch (P8). From the bottom of the third pitch, the fourth pitch follows immediately (P11). At the bottom, the rift becomes too narrow. To the right from Wobbly Rock Junction, a crawl, with holes connecting down into SIE route, leads into a flat area of breakdown, ending in a blockage with an enlargement - and a bone - visible beyond.


First pitch (P7)   40m      Thread backup; Y-hang off 2 spikes            

Second pitch(P19)   "       Spike backup; bolt and spike Y-hang; needs  
                            deviation half way down                        

Climb (C9)         40m      Spike belay                                   

Third pitch (P8)    "       Y-hang from two bolts; spike deviation        
Fourth pitch (P11)  "       Bolt; bolt rebelay                            


To the east of Cabeza Verde is a collection of interconnecting bowls. On the left-hand side of the largest of these is a 15-20m shaft, with a perched boulder above. Faded SIE mark. Bearing Cabeza Llambria 163° . Undescended.


20m from 29/4 and lower down. Marked SIE 3$\otimes$ 5m climb down to a chamber. Undescended by OUCC.


Follow Culiembro path to 1/4, and then skirt round about 30m away from the bowl to pick up another path running up and down the hill. (Don't follow too close to the bowl as this leads to a sheer drop overlooking the cave.) Uphill on the left (true right) is an 8m diameter walk in entrance. Appears to choke, but worth checking fully: a climb to the right may go.


Downhill from 31/4 is a double bowl. On the ridge between then, at the side nearest the path - but invisible from the path - is a 4m diameter entrance. No way on.


Over the ridge to the north of 31/4 is a 40m diameter shakehole. On the far side is a shaft, just above the path. Undescended.


West of 28/4. "I found a shaft just where I was expecting to find one.'' 5m free climbable shaft leads to chamber with no way on.


In the next valley left (NW) of 31/4, at an altitude of 1420m, just above where a subsidiary valley joins from the left. The valley continues down to the pasture with the big brown boulders. Bearing to big brown boulders: 70° . An unlikely looking rift in the rock on the right of the valley, marked by a cairn by the entrance and another cairn above, and tagged as 34/4 (whoops!). Just round the corner is a shaft of maybe 30m.

36/4, Pozu de la Garma de Julagua

Two adjacent holes (larger 0.5m by 2m) in slab just east of summit of Cabeza Julagua. Small, faint red paint marking by SIE. Bearings: Cabeza del Verde 150° , Cabeza del Covu 165° . 5m climb down to bouldery floor. No way on.

37/4, Pozu del Brigadoon

Follow path to Area 4, up to the ridge. Instead of crossing the ridge between the cairns, continue to climb up to the ridge to about 6m above the height of the two peaks and traverse around inside the valley at this height. About 50m away from the peaks is a dark green patch, above which the hole is located. But the hole can only be seen from the top of the ridge. This cave was found by Chris Vernon while he was lost in the mist, so the above description may be inaccurate. Undescended.

Small caves explored in Area 5


In the Valley of Dry Bones, a strongly draughting hole. Dug to 6m depth over a number of trips, from where a side rift lead into a small chamber in a boulder choke with no way on.


150m from camp on a bearing of 292° . This cave was dug open by removing a large boulder. A 15m pitch is followed by an 8m handline climb down to a boulder floor. An inlet rift part way down the pitch soon becomes too small.

Small caves explored in Area 7


Outside the Northern rim of the bowl, 70m downhill from 23/7. 2m wide rift can be free-climbed down. The rift closes down in both directions.


Go to lowest part of ridge between Jultayu and Cuvicente. Walk along ridge towards Cuvicente until stopped by sheer rock wall. Contour at this level about 30-50m further. Large cairn by entrance. In a good place to drop into upstream 2/7. 20-30m deep shaft. Undescended.

Small caves explored in Area 9


Just below the Cuvicente-Verdelluenga ridge (100m to col on bearing of 160° ) is an area containing several large shafts containing snow. 16/9A is the largest and highest of these. Twice as high as the tree outside Harvey's house. Twin shafts meeting at the bottom. No way on past the snow. The other shafts in this area are still worth looking at.


In valley running down from Verdelluenga, just over the rocky ridge 400m NNW of La Jayada. Bearings: Verdelluenga 232° , Cuvicente 144° . 10m descent to snow plug; further 5m descent reaches too-tight rift.


In the spur of Verdelluenga overlooking a 200m diameter closed depression. Bearings: Verdelluenga 222° , Cuvicente 118° . 25m deep shaft to snow plug. A shake hole behind has a window into the main shaft. Undescended.


In the side of the spur of Verdelluenga, in an area containing many shafts and shakeholes. Bearings: Verdelluenga 216° , Cuvicente 110° . 30m long gulley with snow plug. Entrance pitch lands on snow, and slope can be followed down to the top of a pitch, choked with snow 10m down. Traversing over this pitch reaches a pleasant, round, 20-25m deep shaft, unfortunately choked at the bottom.


Near the western col on the Cuvicente-Verdelluenga ridge, overlooking a bowl. Bearings 148° to col (about 300m), Verdelluenga 250° . An undescended 25m shaft.


About the same height as Boca del Joon, and 60-100m to the right (true left), in a shakehole behind a little ridge, and to the left (true right) of some nasty karren.

Small caves explored in Area 11


On the NE side of Cabeza La Forma, 5m N of the path leading to the Ario Refugio and on top of a small spur. Cabeza La Forma 193° , Cabeza Julagua 101° , Cabeza Las Campanas~345° . Not marked. Obvious hole in the ground. Triangular vertical shaft about 2.5m by 1.5m at the top and 10m deep, to a snow plug. A tight crawl heads south, but becomes too tight.

18/11, Pozu Small Snails

15m east of the climbing wall. A 3m deep hole with a connection through to 19/11.

19/11, Pozu Rubber Clogs

15m east of the climbing wall. A 3m deep hole with a connection through to 18/11.


The easier top entrance into Systema Sierra Forcada. See elsewhere.


Small entrance above 23/11.

22/11, Pozu del Shades

6m pit to draughting rift.

23/11 Entrada del Raptor

A sporting entrance into Systema Sierra Forcada, entering in Wet Cheeks Rift. See elsewhere.


A hole overlooking Mohandi. 80m SSE of 26/11; 130m north of 23/11. Marked 'SIE~$\bigcirc$'. 10m entrance pitch lands on boulder slope, leading to second pitch of 8m. Bouldery floor descends, before suddenly ending in a wall. Hole 6m up can be reached by traversing from top of second pitch, but the rift becomes too-tight.


In left (East) side of long depression to west of 26/11 and 27/11. Small draughting dig.


The bottom entrance into Systema Sierra Forcada, entering just before the Mud Sump. See elsewhere.


Near 26/11. Looks like a fossil resurgence. A big draughting hole


A strongly draughting hole, downhill and to the right of 26/11. A squeeze between loose rocks enters a too-tight rift.


In Mohandi valley, just above the springs, behind a car sized boulder. A horizontal grovel, which splits just inside the entrance. Both routes choke quite quickly.


Small shaft in small north-facing depression, 10m below top of ridge (On Cabeza Julagua side). Bearings Cabeza Julagua 139.5° ; Area 11 survey cairn 166° , Cabeza Forma 219° , Cabeza las Campanas 281° . Entrance climb of 2m leads to short crawl. Doesn't look as if cave continues through crawl.


At base of cliff on the ridge above 26/11 (63.30m north, 11.18m west and 28.08m above 26/11). Small draughting crawl.

Small caves explored in Area 13

5/13, Bufona Canal la Texa

This is an cave described in the SIE journal. Several unsuccessful attempts were made to find it. It is described as being about one kilometre NE of Cabeza Julagua, in the middle of a "canal''. It may be in the base of the cliffs at an altitude of about 1350m, about where Oston first becomes visible when walking down the Culiembro path. Or it may be somewhere else. A door shaped entrance, 4m by 3m (if I've correctly understood the Catalan description). Pitches of 35m, 18m, 21m, ending at a constriction at a depth of 103m, emitting "fort corrent d'aire''. Well positioned to drop into Cabeza Muxa beyond the sump. Well worth trying to find.

8/13, Pozu Cabeza Julagua

See elsewhere.

9/13, Pozu de la Cemba de Julagua

North of 8/13. An 8m drop to a bouldery floor, with a small climb down at one end, which is choked.

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