OUCC Proceedings 13 (1991)

Small Caves in Area F

Proc. 13 Contents.

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Gerhard Niklasch

The following notes update and supplement those published in OUCC Proceedings 11, pp. 22-28, and 12, pp. 58-64. Except for F14-F19 and F43 which lie east or southeast of Top Camp, the caves mentioned below appear on the map in the back of these proceedings. Grid references are included with each entry, in the order Easting, Northing, Altitude (in metres a.s.l. at Alicante) and refer to the UTM square 30TUN. All bearings are relative to grid north.

F6 Pozu Paso Doble

Extending between            E 47 385                N 87 940               A 1899
and                                 E 47 385                N 87 930               A 1904

See Proc. 11. The main pitch seems to be controlled by the same fault as the F20 entrance shafts. In the entrance area collapse appears to have been progressing.

F7D (Pozu las Perdices entrance complex)

E 41 579                N87 946.7            A 1891.2

In the SE trending fracture converging on F7B. Open rift 8m long and 1.2m wide, about 10m deep to gravel floor (with little snow left in '89); both ends close off. A line is advisable.


E 41 557                N 87 949               A 1889

Open shaft in SW trending rift ascending from F7B. 12m pitch hading southeast lands in narrow, sharp crawl leading SW along the rift, parallel to the vein-controlled F7C entrance 15m away; not pushed past a squeeze. Draughts and continues, expected to connect into Perdices eventually. Likely to be blocked with snow except in all but the lowest snow years.


E 41 554                N 87 956               A 1886

A few metres downhill and left (N) of F7E; still above F7A. Archetypal key-hole (revealed by clearing a few boulders), with leg-trapping lower section, is thrutched down to 5m pot (rope essential) still in daylight. At the bottom, a corroded flowstone cascade emerges from a 30cm wide phreatic tube up in the right-hand wall; the main way down is choked with gravel after 2m.

There are two unnumbered karst features nearby: a short crawl in shattered rock near the large doline below F7A (E 41 544, N 87 985, A 1871), and a bit of walking-size vadose passage intersected by surface erosion and partly covered by boulders a few metres W along the fault (?) joining F7A to F48 (E 41 537, N 87 968, A 1878). F7A itself could do with another look. The Iceflier (see Proc. 11, pp. 26 et seq.), which must by now have melted away, might have concealed a shaft and the F20 rifts pass 200m vertically below.


E 41 626                N 88 010               A 1876

See Proc. 12. Collapse has rendered the entrance impassable.


See Proc. 12. A visit in '88 revealed no leads, although the other side of the snow-covered breakdown pile forming the floor of the entrance chamber could now also be descended to a blind chamber.

F15, F16

F15                              E 41 906                N 87 968               A 1914
F16 northern window    E 41 948.4            N 87 909.6           A 1918.4
F16 southern window    E 41 947.8            N 87 902.5           A 1918.1

The descriptions in Proc. 12, p. 60 have been swapped. At the bottom of the "pronounced rift entrance" of F15 (10m pitch), the remaining snow was found to rest on the floor. A crawl down the E end chokes after 2.5m; at the W end a boot-sized gap affords a view into a tiny cross-rift.

It is no longer advisable to walk into F16 since the remaining 3m of snow sitting on the floor (visible around the edges) of the "small chamber" in '88 were a good 8m free-hang below the entrance windows (2 bolts from the S window). The side-shaft leading up to the N window is almost free-climbable from below. The cave is in remarkably clean white limestone, apparently in a very large block derived from the Picos limestone strata further south that has come to rest in the middle of the thrust zone.


E 41 857                N 87 840               A 1950

East of F18, at edge of pavement overlooking the depression below F38, in a fracture system on a 30 strike. Open rift 1m wide and more than 10m long, hading 70 NW, with a snowplug some 10m down (in '89) that looks passable, draughting.

E 41 245                N 87 840        A 2030

High up in the F20 gully (Argayo Cortado), in the lefthand wall (looking downhill), an unmarked entrance leads into a chamber with some remarkable fossil stal and possible continuations.


Entrance              E 41 246                N 87 949               A 1991
Skylight                E 41 240                N 87 957               A 1998  
Balcony                E 41 224                N 87 972               A 1989

Just below F20, look for a folded, reddish, thinly banked limestone bed on the lefthand verge of the gully and follow this diagonally upward until some 10m below the crest of the ridge. Climb down a fluted rock face and walk into the obvious entrance. The description in Proc. 12, p. 61 is accurate except the cave does not cross to the other side of the ridge; the 'balcony' at the end looks NW along the ridge onto the hill containing 2/6!


E 41 293                N 87 928               A 1951

Erroneously relabelled "F23" from '85 to '89, and referred to under that number in Proc. 12, p. 57 (but not on p. 61). Awaits re-inspection.


F23A      E 41 311                N 87 956               A 1933
F23B      E 41 312                N 87 946               A 1937  
F23C      E 41 304                N 87 946               A 1938

In platform on lefthand verge of the Argayo Cortado below F20, just above F36. Three sound-connected openings; the original one (F23A) some 15m ahead; away from the gully is a 15-20cm wide crack with a booming 6 second echo (F23B) pretending to be another karren; and a few metres W along this crack a boulder-covered hole (F23C) in a corner which could conceivably be cleared. These are already some 60m off sideways from the F20 passages below and thus could go deep independently.


E 41 227.2            N 88 000.1           A 1959.1

On lefthand verge of the "Brown Gully" (Argayo Pardo) just below where it crosses the ridge. Meander with skylights ending after 15m in a choked little rift. Thought at one time to belong to the 2/6 shaft system nearby, but it rather seems it once was part of a cave system underneath the fault-controlled Brown Gully itself. Three entrances up (S) along the ridge from the top of the gully, opposite F25 and not counting the balcony end of F21, may also relate to this hypothetical system, as may F21 itself; the middle one of these needs to be checked (the other two being blocked).


E 41 294                N 88 020               A 1908

Halfway up the Argayo Pardo, in lefthand verge (looking down). Awaits exploration. This, as well as F24 and possibly F34, is another candidate for a way into the hypothetical Sistema del Argayo Pardo just alluded to.


E 41 395                N 88 105               A 1855

At S verge of grass field where the Verdelluenga thrust re-emerges from the large boulder-filled Jou W of Top Camp and climbs upslope towards Ridge Cave. The snowplug noted in '85 was missing in '89 and the hole awaits re-inspection.


Location ? La Verdelluenga 083 Top Camp 310 Sphinx? 103 Ridge cave 296. A snowplug in a shakehole with a slot down one side down which boulders rattle.


E 41 814                N 87 858               A 1954

In pavement just E of a shallow depression in N flank of the hills SE of Top Camp. 2.5m by 1.6m shaft visible only from close quarters, draughting and sporting a 4 sec drop. The first 6m are free-climbable; there are ample naturals for rigging the pitch proper, which remains undescended. This is the first promising entrance in a previously blank area, about 120m east of the northernmost parts of Pozu Jorcada Blanca.


Doline   E 41 367                N 87 971               A 1881  
Shaft     E 41 639                N 87 966               A 1886  
Blind Rift              E 41 640                N 87 961               A 1891
Coffin-lid Entrance          E 41 642                N 87 962               A 1890

In pavement W and down from Top Camp, 50m S of F8. Undescended square-ish doline 8m wide and 6m deep with an arched entrance in the E corner; upslope on the S side a small rifty shaft immediately breaks into the doline. Following the same fracture further uphill, a 4m deep blind open rift can be entered. Two steps further north a slab the size and shape of a coffin lid conceals a body-sized rattling opening, possibly connecting to whatever lies beyond the rock arch...


F45A      E 41 652                N 87 937               A 1900  
F45B      E 41 597                N 87 956               A 1890

A group of entrances located upslope (SE) from F44, just below the first of the large karren-riddled 'shoulders' on the way from Top Camp to Perdices and F20; F45B is the fluted, hading crack at the uphill verge of the shoulder. F45A must have been looked down many times by passers-by who thought they saw a solid floor 10m down. The entrance is at a junction of two deeply incised vadose inlets spanned by a rock bridge and a large wedged boulder, a 15m SRT pitch (best rigged from the bridge) passes some ice flow ('89) at -10m and lands on the col of an extensive snowplug in a (2-4m wide) SE-NW rift. Descending the snow in the NW corner leads to a strongly draughting snow chute 5m further down, which was not descended. On the SE side, scrambling down leads to a point at which a possible way on past the snow is seen. Light entering above via F45B can be seen at this point.


E41 597 N 87 956   A 1890

Some 30m NE of F7D in obvious fracture trending 15 and hading NW. Rift in floor of surface meander; the snow sitting inside looks passable.


Shaft     E 41 552                N 88 014               A 1864

20m N and down from large doline N of F7A. Small doline climbable to entrance into chamber in its N side, with a 1.5m wide shaft breaking the roof of the chamber. Chamber has a dubious snow floor. From the roof bedding plane (strike 95 dip 55 N) a meandering passage has cut down on the NW side of the chamber; stones thrown across hit an invisible floor. A continuation might lie either along this or down a possible shaft under the snow.


Entrance              E 41 516.4            N87 971.6            A 1872
Skylight                E 41 513                N 87 966               A 1880

30m W along fault (trending 73 hading 85 S) from F7A is shelf broken by three shafts into underlying chamber 15m by 5m wide; easier entrance is by walking in from the large doline below, though the holes might provide convenient back-up belays. The caves draughts strongly and there are a number of possible ways on past the dodgy snow plug that forms the floor of the chamber, the best is probably against the W wall.


E 41 501                N 87 959               A 1882

Just a few metres further W along the F7A-F48 fault, in floor of 2m wide niche at the head of a shallow surface meander. Wedged boulders with enticing and draughting black holes between them. Requires extensive engineering to force an entrance as the boulders are rather large. May only provide another entrance to F48.

E 41 490                N 87 980               A 1865

Some 25m downhill (N) from F49, the F20 fault passes through a little doline (unmarked) on 68 strike, before crossing a bouldery grass field. Through gaps in the boulder floor of the doline, snow is seen and a draught emerges. Looks diggable.


Located behind FU56, not far from F14 on a bearing of 296 to Top Camp and 138 to the spike on the ridge.A slope down to a snow plug, choked.


Located near to F50 on bearing of 141 to the spike on the ridge, 227 to the right of the Jorcada Blanca pass.An 8m climb down to a choke, no way on.


Located high on the steep slope to the left (as you walk towards Top Camp) of the sandy/dolomity valley. The entrance is on a bearing of 144 to Verdelluenga and is marked with a cairn visible from the sandy valley (or was in 1988).

An impressive shaft belling out from a small unobvious entrance located part way up the steep rock slope to the left and above the path to Top Camp. The entrance is only visible from above. The first pitch (25m) is easiest rigged from a ladder, the rest of the shaft can be rigged with rope in three hangs (10m, 20m, 15m) all ways on from the bottom were choked.


Located lower down the slope and to the left of F52, a 2m climb followed by 30 descending rift which becomes too tight.


E 41 206.8            N 88 080.7           A 1942

Progressive collapse seems to have enlarged it sufficiently to make entry possible ('89). Aligned on the Ridge Cave entrance fracture, about half the way uphill towards 2/6 in a straight line. Exceptionally spiky manhole in W side leads down to crawl to head of  a 10-12m pitch (undescended). The head of Shit Creek pitch in 2/6 lies 200m vertically below therefore this may be a further entrance to this system.


E 41 164.5            N 88 084.0           A 1946

From Ridge Cave, walk up grassy slope to top of ridge, turn left and follow same until it rises again towards 2/6. Large shallow doline to the right contains 4/6 straight ahead in the S corner; 5/6A is in its W side a few steps away. 4/6 is 2m climb down very loose boulder pile to tiny chamber. Avoiding the obvious 4m pitch ahead, wriggle down small hole on left (looking into interesting cavity under the car-sized slab that supports most of the floor of the doline you've just walked across) and double back down another hole to step onto the gravel floor.   A 1m wide 3m high mature vadose passage closes off to two mere cracks after 5m.

5/6A-B Pozu Paseo Nevado

5/6A      E 41 156.6            N 88 090.6           A 1942
5/6B      E 41 138.9            N 88 088.2           A 1940

5/6A is in the W side of the doline containing 4/6 (see above); 5/6B is about 20m SW on the Polish side of the ridge but is easier to find from inside the 5/6A entrance (as it was originally). 5/6A is an obvious rift on strike 167 entered by scrambling down a loose overhang. Traverse forward along rift to a 10m pitch where the passage widens (2 bolts and natural). A pendule halfway down the rift pitch gains a blind 5m pot (Las Pilas) which may be diggable, whilst at the foot of the pitch a step under a roof arch leads to the main chamber, open to daylight on its W side — the 5/6B entrance, free-climbable with care, though better laddered due to the friable nature of the rock. In the S wall of the chamber a too tight meander leads off, but seems to widen below; pebbles aimed through gaps in the wedged gravel floor drop at least 3m. Might be worth digging. A planar fracture on strike 167 dipping 38 E controls some remarkable phreatic tubes both in the E wall of the chamber and on the surface above 5/6B.