OUCC Proceedings 9 (1979)


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The Picos de Cornion is the western massif of the Picos de Europa mountains in Northern Spain. The expedition was to the part of this area covered by the Province of Asturias (Oviedo), but Leon and Santander also have territory there. The mountains rise 2596m within 30km of the aptly named Costa Verde: the Green Coast. The climate is strongly influenced by oceanic effects and is rather wet. Rainfall at Bufferara near Lagos is recorded as 2119mm per annum with June, July August being slightly drier than other months. Despite this the summer can bring periods of prolonged drizzle and fog, as well as severe thunderstorms. The latter may be accompanied by hailstones or winds of prodigious size and intensity; both have been seen to wreck tents with great ease. Permanent snowfields are a prominent feature of the peaks and snow plugs persist in dolines and shafts down to at least 1250m in some cases. The spring thaw must be an important time for continuing cave development with impressive flooding. The evidence for such annual events is particularly in caves at lower levels, where new vegetation chokes appear each year in sites far above observed summer water levels. Vegetation is generally sparse above the level of Los Lagos, and is probably decreasing in extent with overgrazing by goats, sheep, cows, and sometimes, horses.

Further details of the biology of the area are contained in:
Proposals for the Biological Management of the Parque Nacional de la Montaņa de Covadonga, Asturias, Spain. Discussion Papers in Conservation, University College, London. No 25 (1979).