Tresviso Caves Project

Tresviso Caves Project Gazetter

2.6: Sara

(Sistema Sara, Sistema de la Mina Sara, AN-9,AN-009, Sima Sara, Cueva Sara)

Area:Sara Depression
East, North:361437, 4785242 (nearby)
Coordinate Quality:GPS
Long, Lat:-4.7057123782387, 43.2072194992 (map)
Elevation (m):1820
Length (m):4000
Depth (m):-591
System:Sistema Sara
Active Lead:
Survey Available:


The entrance is on the west side of an extensively mined valley basin, situated between Samelar and the Picos de Mancondiu. Entrance


The partially collapsed entrance is directly above a large spoil heap. A very strong draught emanates from the entrance. The entrance is in a dangerous state of collapse. Entrance via T82 Karen is advisable. Entrance


Note: Sara is a deep and very strenuous cave system which should only be attempted by experienced and well organised groups.
A crawl in through collapsed boulders leads to walking size mine passage.  Follow the passage for 100m until a junction is reached.  Left leads to Sara II, right leads to Sara I and Sara III.
Sara I
The right-hand route continues as mine passage passing numerous mine workings. A turn on the right leads to Sara III.  Straight on leads through more mine workings to Sara I.  Pitches of 16m, 4m, 14m, 3m and 30m lead to a sump at (-120m)
Sara IV
Shortly before Sara I take the left hand turn into mined passage.  The passage forks and taking the left hand route reaches a shaft in the right hand wall. A P12 past obstacles raches a wooden platform, above a flooded shaft.  Across the planks, through a passag on the left reaches a high rift.  Past another flooded passage on the right, reaches an impressive passage full of stemples.  Passage descends to small hole and climb down into tight rift to enter above the P4 (second pitch) in Sara I
Sara III
The right-hand passage leads to a further junction, left leading up towards T82 Karen and numerous surface entrances (T79, T80, T81 T84 and T92).  Right leads to an alternative route (Sara III) down the Heinous Shaft (Pozo de los Culebrones) (with pitches of P34, P70 and P125) landing on the same boulder pile at the bottom of the shaft.  This route is not as wet!  
Sara II
Back at the main junction from the entrance, the left turn leads to a scramble over mine debris to the first pitch in Sara (Sara II) The bottom of this a 6m drop lands on a sloping boulder floor and the way on is via a 2m climb and a crawl.  Branching to the left the second pitch of 7m is reached. From the bottom of this, a slope of mine rubble leads to the next pitch of 12m, narrow at the top, but opening out straight away.  This lands part way up a narrow rift, which soon becomes low as well as tight.  It joins another inlet passage at a difficult 2m climb.  A short traverse leads to the head of the 180m "Heinous Shaft". This can be descended with rebelays at 28m, 32m, 35m and 88m.
The final 88m pitch lands on a sloping, boulder floor.  In the top most corner of the boulder choke a ladder climb down a loose boulder tube leads to a free hanging 52m pitch in an impressive rift.  
The pitch lands on a large boulder floor. The route on is up the boulder slope and then down to the right.  After a short distance the streamway is re-joined just before the next pitch of 12m, which is wet at the bottom.  The water soon sinks into boulders and the way on is up to the right.  At the top of a muddy boulder slope is an awkward 2m climb down to the head of a 24m drop.  Free hanging all the way the pitch lands on a large boulder ledge. Climbing down to the chamber floor the streamway is reached.  
A climb of 10m from here leads to Rio Mancondiu extensions.
The way on soon becomes low and a crawl for 10m leads to a 2m climb down into a large pool.  The way on is to traverse at various levels until an 8m pitch is reached. This lands in a pool in a moderately sized chamber, historically the site of underground camps. An unclimbed aven enters above this chamber.
Continuing on from the chamber soon leads to more traversing and climbs until, after 50m, the passage widens and a short duck is reached.  From the other side of the duck a series of short cascades and climbs lead to a muddy ledge which must be traversed to reach the head of the next pitch which is 10m long. This lands in large, water washed passage and the way on is down a series of sporting pitches the lengths of which are 5m, 10m, 6m, 16m, 5m, 14m and 12m, the last of which is particularly wet due to inlets entering from high in the roof.   A climb, followed by a short walk and traverse leads to the head of an impressive 43m pitch which again is wet at the bottom.  
From the 6m pitch a route over the top can bypass the next 3 pitches to a 27m pitch at the head of the 14m pitch.  The route can be followed further, at high level, under an unclimbed inlet to a P10 and P46, dropping in just after the P43.  There are further climbs in this high level that have not been attempted.
Pitches of 9m and 8m follow immediately.  From the bottom of the next 8m pitch the dry oxbow route is taken to the head of a dry 7m pitch.
A climb up boulders here leads to an unclimbed aven (probably part of higher level above the P43) and a passage looking down over the main route.
After only 10m the next drop of 23m is reached.  This lands amongst spray and boulders in a large chamber.
The way on is opposite the last pitch, along a narrow rift passage.  The floor soon drops away and a traverse for 10m leads to the head of the next pitch of 24m.  The pitch lands under the full force of the water on a small ledge.  Pitches of 11m, 9m and 4m follow rapidly.
At this point the cave takes a more horizontal line in impressive sporting meanders.  After about 80m a small chamber is reached.  The way on is up and over a large boulder.  At this point the passage narrows and the way on involves a series of traverses, climbs and tight squeezes.  Not far after the last climb of 5m the passage once again opens out into generous proportions.  
Several inlets enter the cave at this point contributing significantly to the size of the streamway.  Continuing on at stream level soon leads to the last pitch of 9m.  This lands in a spacious, mud floored chamber.  
A ramp / climb of 10m leads to pitches of 18m, 6m and 6m dropping back into the rift main passage below.
Walking to the far end of the chamber the streamway enters a huge rift passage, The Sara Depression.  After a short distance the passage is blocked by large fallen boulders.  The easiest way on is along a low wet crawl to the left of the passage, after 30m the crawl re-joins the main passage.  Only 10m on from this the Sara terminal sump is reached (at -591m)
A climb up leads to a 10m pitch that drops back to the sump.
Rio Mancondiu.
No translated description of the exploration from Belgian work in the 80’s is available.  There are a number of unclimbed avens and inlets in the area and the sump is reached at (-571m), 20m directly above the Sara II terminal sump.
Starting as a narrow rift it climbs up for approximately 30m before continuing down as a narrow rift. The extension is interesting as although it collects many inlets and has many fossil passages leading off, it never acts as a main drain as the waters quickly exit through the floor. The extension ends in a sump. This appears to be 20m directly above the Sara 2 sump. There may be a bypass but this may just drop into Sara 2


  • L.U.S.S. (1974-1977)
  • Caves and Caving no. 9,
  • Caves and Caving no. 39.
  • A.D.KAMI. (1996), Memorias Beges 1996
  • S.E.I.I. (1982). “Expediciones a Tresviso”. Cuadernos de Espeleología-9/10-183-214.
  • Anon. (1978). “List of Caves”. En “LUSS. Expeditions to Tresviso and the Picos de Europa in northern Spain 1974-1977”. Pp.34-66.
  • Riley, D. (1978). “Exploration of Sara”. En “Tresviso 78. An expedition to the Picos de Europa, Northern Spain - LUSS 1978”. Pp.26-33.
  • Anon. (1979). “Tresviso 1979. LUSS to the Picos de Europa”.
  • SEII. (1980). “Tresviso 1979” (trad. De LUSS, Tresviso 1979). Jumar-4:20-30.
  • L.U.S.S. (1987)
  • Sefton, M. (1984). “Cave explorations around Tresviso, Picos de Europa, Northern Spain”. Cave Science vol. 11-4:199-237.
  • Anon. (1985). “Sistema Sara”. En “Les Picos de Europa”. Spelunca supl. Du nº 19:54-55.
  • Beyens, J. (1986). “Sistema Sara, Santander, Noord Spanje (-648m)”. Persephone-2-3:58-62.
  • V.V.S. (1987). “Systema Sara”. Spelerpes-4:31-54.
  • Anon. (1987). “Tresviso ‘87. LUSS expedition to Andara, Picos de Europa, Northern Spain”.
  • Nichols, T. (1988). “Tresviso ‘87 - To Sara or bust?”. Caves & Caving-39:29-31.
  • I.K.T.F. “Memoria 97. Beges, Cantabria”.
  • Corrigan, Joel. Et. Al (1995). – Picos ’95 – Sistema Sara. SWCC Newsletter No 116 pp. 39-49


Alternate co-ordinates:
0361429 4785310,(MAS2000 )
0361578 4785292 1820 m
0361442 4785498 1875m (KAMI 1996)
0361550 4785450 1870 m Cant Sub (2010)

The sumps exist on a probably fault and a bypass is a distinct probability.


Entrance Entrance