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Localization of Picos de Europa

The Picos de Europa

Marek Jedrzejczak
Speleoklub Wroclaw

Polish cavers coming to the western massif (El Cornion) of the Picos de Europa since 1978 were assigned for exploration by Parque Nacional de la Montana de Covadonga, through Federacion Asturiana de Espeleologia, an extensive area in the Asturian part of the massif. It includes the northern slopes of the Torre Santa Maria and Torre de los Traviesos and occupies an area of about 4.5 km2. The highest point in this zone is the summit of the Torre de los Traviesos with altitude 2390 m, and the lowest is the bottom of the cirque Joos de Reseco at about 1460 m. The beginning of the exploration in this part of the El Cornion may be accepted in 1961, when cavers from Grupo de Espeleologia Polifemo (GEP) made the first reconnaissance and confirmed the speleological attractiveness of the area. A year later Cueva de la Fragua was explored to the depth of 165 m. At the beginning of 1970s the area attracted the attention of French cavers from Speleo Club Orsay de Faculte (SCOF) who explored it systematically in years 1972-75. A team near F-17 cave entrance, ph. M. Chlipala A team near F-17 cave entrance, photo M. Chlipala
Map of exploration area, click for bigger one Because of the large extent of the area their activity concentrated in the western and southwestern parts. The deepest caves explored then include:
  • Sistema de la Torre de los Traviesos o de los Organos (A-1), - 416 m,
  • Red de los Barrastrosas (G-7/G-4), - 315 m,
  • Sima de los Desvios (F-3), -280 m.
Another cave discovered at that time was H-11 (beyond the present limit of the area), explored in 1972 to the depth of -73 m. Two years later, in 1974, members of GEP surpassed the depth of -350 m. In the same year cavers from Grupo de Montana Torreblanca (GMT) had discovered Sima de Cembavieja (Cem.) in an adjacent area, south of Barrastosas and near the limit of the zone; in it they attained -310 m in 1977. In total, the members of SCOF have discovered about 50 caves by then. At the same time they began to explore another area (Ozania), more promising as they believed, and abandoned their activity in this zone. 1978 The first Polish expedition was the reconnaissance by Speleoklub Warszawski (SW) in 1978, whose participants visited, among others, Red de los Barrastrosas (G-7/G-4) and Sima de los Desvios (F-3). They also prospected on the surface and marked about 30 new entrances. 1979 Since that year has began the regular
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