14 th International Cave Rescue Conference. Spain June 2024

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The Alto Asón Valley is located in the Cantabria Region, Spain, known for its rich historical-cultural heritage, being the Altamira Cave complex and Paleolithic Cave Art of the Cantabrian Cornice, World Heritage by Unesco in 1985.

The region is made up of five municipalities: Arredondo, Ruega, Rasines, Ramales de la Victoria and Soba. More than 9,000 explored cavities and three underground systems of more than 120 km of dvelopment are currently located in this region. The Valley of the Asón presumes to be the capital of caving in Europe and its cave systems have been described as the «Himalayas of caving».

2.- Description of the Valley:

With an area of ​​424 km2 it has a mild oceanic climate. The altitude ranges from 30 meters above sea level to 1,500 meters. reason why the vegetation that we can find is a continuum between the hill floor, the subalpine passing through the mountain that is the most representative of our region.

It is dominated by two rivers, the Asón that gives its name to the region and its main tributary, the Gándara.

It is a territory with a karst landscape based on reef limestones that give a structural and landscape unity to the region, conferring a geological unit of great environmental and landscape value.

In this region is the Collados del Asón Natural Park.

The Alto Asón is an ideal destination for practicing nature sports. It has five ferrata routes, numerous climbing schools, among which the Ramales de la Victoria stands out, with more than 250 climbing routes.

You can also practice canyoning and it is undoubtedly one of the main destinations in Europe for the practice of Speleology.

Cueva de Covalanas:

The Covalanas Cave is a cavity located near Ramales de la Victoria. Its access is located about 700 m from the N-629 road, on a wall formed by the Calera river. It has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List since July 2008, within the site «Altamira Cave and Paleolithic Rock Art of Northern Spain»

Cueva de Cullalvera:

The Cueva de Cullalvera, located at the foot of Monte Pando, is part of a karst complex of 12 kilometers. Where the action of water on the rock, over time have formed a monumental cavity.

It is a large cavity as shown by its spectacular entrance mouth, with 14 m. wide by 28 m. High. From it emerges a strong and fresh current of air that warns the visitor of the cave before being viewed. The environment is a magical space. Its mouth is framed by a leafy Cantabrian oak forest of great ecological value

Its transit inside the cave is conditioned for people with reduced mobility, through a 400m walkway. The visit begins with an audiovisual, which explains to the visitor the landscape, heritage, economic and social features of the Asón region in general, and of Ramales de la Victoria in particular.

3.- Accesses and roads:

At 65 km. away are both Bilbao Airport and Santander Airport. These airports are accessed by the A-8 motorway and national highways.

The region is covered by good regional and local roads.

These roads rarely suffer closings due to adverse weather conditions, being able to be accessible all year round.

The most suitable urban nucleus to set the operational headquarters is that of Ramales de la Victoria, since it has all the basic services: bus and railway station, service station, police, supermarkets, shops, restaurants, accommodation, medical center, classrooms , climbing wall, speledrome, ferrata simulator etc.

The region has varied accommodation in terms of services, prices and qualities. In Ramales de la Victoria you will find the Ramales Hostel with popular prices and very good service. Camping La Barguilla with camping area and bungalows and, where appropriate, the Río Asón Hotel.

4.- Available premises:

Fundación Orense:

Public building owned by the City Council of Ramales de la Victoria, with which we have a collaboration agreement and assignment of premises. It has, among others, the following spaces:

Theatre: capacity 130 people

Exhibition area:

multipurpose classroom

classroom workshop:


Sports center/rocódromo:

The sanitary services are of very good quality. In Ramales de la Victoria there is the closest Medical Center with two complete medical teams, a medical ambulance……. The closest hospital is in Laredo, 22 km away. And just 15 minutes from Ramales de la Victoria.

In Ramales de la Victoria, both the Cantabria Espeleosocorro Service and the School of Speleology, the official regulated center, have their headquarters. This center has all the services and equipment necessary for the teaching and practice of caving, as well as qualified personnel.

The Espeleosocorro Cántabro Foundation, ESOCAN, head of the School of Speleology, has more than 170 volunteers and technicians willing to collaborate with this project.



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