AMCS Activities Letter

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AMCS Activities Letter

Material Information

Title:
AMCS Activities Letter
Series Title:
AMCS Activities Letter
Creator:
Association for Mexican Cave Studies
Publisher:
Association for Mexican Cave Studies
Publication Date:
Language:
English

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Regional Speleology ( local )
Genre:
serial ( sobekcm )
Location:
Mexico

Notes

General Note:
This forth issue of the Activities Letter is less timely, but we feel that it is more informative than previous issues. Peter Sprause's column in the NSS News has kept AMCS members informed of current activity in Mexico and thus relieved the Activities Letter of some of the necessity of publishing after each major trip. This issue of the Activities Letter is an attempt to meet the need for a place to publish maps and longer articles on Mexican caves. The NSS News cannot publish accounts of every trip to Mexico, and regional and grotto publications will not reach the widely dispersed membership of the AMCS. It is advantageous for the AMCS to use the NSS News for current information as this exposes many serious cavers to the potential of Mexico. The AMCS does not have the concentrated manpower to maintain a monthly publication. The Activities Letter was began to bring timely information to AMCS members and maintain the identity of the Association for Mexican Cave Studies as it was felt that the AMCS would not continue to function without an active publication. The need for information has shifted from timely reporting to longer articles and maps; but we will still publish issues on recent developments when necessary. The Association for Mexican Cave Studies is a non-profit, volunteer organization whose goals are the collection and dissemination of information concerning Mexican caves. The AMCS publishes a Newsletter, Bulletin, and Cave Report Series which are available to any sincerely interested, conservation-minded person.
Restriction:
Open Access - Permission by Publisher
Original Version:
No. 4 (1976)
General Note:
See Extended description for more information.

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Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
K26-00352 ( USFLDC DOI )
k26.352 ( USFLDC Handle )
4633 ( karstportal - original NodeID )

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1.Marion Smith10.BillStone19.AndyEavis28.MaureenCavanaugh 2.BillSteele11.MarkStock20.PeteStrickland29.TerriTreacy 3.RonRalph12.SteveZeman21.HenrySchneiker30.TerrySayther4.RobertHemper1y13.LoganMcNatt 22.DonBroussard31. Tracy Johnson 5.PamLynn14.MikeMcKee23.ShariLarason32.JohnStrickland6.Roy Jameson15.JimSmith 24.RobertWest 33. WaltPeters7.ThomasMoore16.PaulFambro 25.AlexiaCochrane 8.GillEdiger17.BlakeHarrison26. Andy\Grubbs 9.SteveWard18.JillDorman27.PeterSprauseArrivedtolateforphoto:KevinHcGillBarhRansomEricDonaldSpear

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AlfCSACTIVITIESLETTEREditedbyBillRussellTypingandEditorialAssistancebyPatA snesSpring1976LetterNo.4,May 1976ThisforthissueoftheActivitiesLetterislesstimely,butwefeelthatitismoreinformativethanpreviousissues.PeterSprause'scolumnintheN SSNewshaskeptmembersinformedofcurrentactivityinMexicoandthusrelievedtheActivitiesLetterofsomeofthenecessityofpublishingaftereachmajortrip.ThisissueoftheActivieiesLetterisanatempttomeettheneedforaplacetopublishmapsandlongprarticlesonMexicancaves.TheNSSNewscannotpublishaccountsofeverytriptoandregionalandgrottopublicationswillnotreachthewidelydispersedmembershipoftheAllCS.ItisadvantageousforthetousetheN SSNewsforcurrentinformationasthisexposesmanyseriouscaverstothepotentialofMexico.TheAMCSdoesnothavetheconcentratedmanpowertomaintainamonthlypublication.TheActivitiesLetterwasbegantotimelyinformationtoAMCSmembersandmaintaintheidenityoftheAssociationforMexicanCaveStudiesasitwasfeltthattheAMCSwouldnotcontinuetofunctionwithoutanactivepublication.Theneedforinformationhasshiftedfromtimelyreportingtolongerarticlesandmaps;butwewillstillpublishissuesonrecentdevelopmentswhennecessary.S$ $$$$$$$$S$$$$$S$$$$$S$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$***RESUnSCRIBE***It'sdollartimeagain--withthisissuetheAl!eSActivitiesLettercompletesitsfirstyear.theActivitiesLetterwasfirststarted,itwasfeltitwouldbeonly afewpages,mostlynewsofcurrentevents,butithasbecomelongerandmoreexpensive.However,wewillholdthesubscriptiontoonedollaralthoughatthisratewecannotguar3nteeafullyear.themoneyrunsoutwewillaskever-'onetoresubscribe.Thiswillkeepmembershiplistscurrentandifpeoplehavetosendinmoneytheycanalsosendinarticlesandinformationwiththeirmoney.Sosendyourdollar--itwillbewellspent--andwhenitisgonewewillaskformore.Dueto1.ighpostalrateswecannotcontinuetosendActivitiesLettersunlessyouresubscribe.Ifyouhaveresubscribedpriortothisnotice,pleaseletusknow,asrecordkeepingissometimesinformal.BillRussellCopyright197 6 by M ICSHembershipCommittee

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2AutopsyoftheGibbsAscenderbyA.GrignardCasuallytranslatedbythestaffoftheAMeSActivitiesLetterfromSpeleologiaBelgica,No.3,1975.AtthepresenttimethespeleologicalworldofBelgianisinfatuatedbytheGibbsascender.Thisisdueinmyopiniontoseveralfactors:inthemindofthepublic,thatwhichismadeintheU.S.A.isnecessarilybetter,morecarefullyconstructed;acleverpublicityblowhasdonetherest.99%ofBelgiancaversthechoiceoftheseascendershasnotdependedonpracticalobservationsonthegroundbuthasbeeninfluencedinatotallysubjectivemanner.Infact,whatistheGibbsall.about?Isitthesolutiontoourproblems?IanswernoandIwillgivemyreasons:ThisascenderISlightand moresturdythanothertypesandapparentlywellconceived.Itistrueitwillpermitextraordinarilyfastperformancesonlonglengthsofropeawayfromallwalls.ThusinthedeeppitsofCentralAmerica(200,300,400meterseven)thisequipmentisabsolutelywithoutequivalent.Thesegrandpitsarenothingbutholesinthegroundinwhichtheentranceisinmostcasesintheopenairandisnotfollowedbyanycavesystem.Iadmitthatthiskindofpitisfarfromabundantonouroldcontinent.WillalltheBelgianwhoboughtGibbsgotoCentralAmerica?LetusfirstlookattheclassicaspectofbigEuropeansystems:thesearesuccessionsofpitsseparatedbyhorizontalpassages,sometimeslong,difficult,and/ornarrow.Inotherwordscavesarecomplexandacrobaticsrequired.Thesecircumstancesareoftenaggravatedbythepresenceofwaterandalwaysmudwhichhandicapstheequipment.Havingsetthescene.letusturntotheascenderitselfandtoitsinconveniences.1.The methodofusingtheGibbstoascendimpliesbearingthem onthelegs.Those whoclimbwithjumarswillseeimmediatelythatthemanuversofunhookingandofwithGibbsinvolvemoreyogathanspeleology.2.Moreover.themanipulationofGibbsandderiggingoftheropes)isrenderedstillmorelaboriousbythefactthatitiscomposedofseveralindipendentparts.ThebuilderhavingthoughtaboutitandhavingsolidifiedtheMbycharminglittlepiecesoftwine(orflexiblemetal),Iinviteyoutoconsidertheunhappyuser:don't-lose-the-pieces,don't-make-knotswiththetwine,don't-twist-them-around-the-rope.etc.3.Wewilladdfurtherthepresenceofmud,alreadymentionedasveryimportantinthequestionofthefunctioningofthesenewinventions.OneofmyfriendshadabadexperienceinthechasmJeanNouveau (morethan10pits,-573m).ItisaQuestionofG.BadinoofTurinwho.interestedinthemethod.quicklypassedintothecampoftheenemy. Imyselfmademanyattempts(pitVincent.-480m,intheLoubens-Hennesystem).Ialmostjoinedthe4.Also.ifoneusesasusualforaDresslerandajumar,theycanduringthetripbeusedforamultitudeofotherpurposes.ConstructionofinthisareaIdon'twanttodoinjurytomyreaders,allexperiencedcavers.totomindthemanyandwelltriedpossibilitiesoftheDressler.However,inspiteofthewordsofthesellers,thepossibilitiesoftheGibbsarepracticallynothing(themorphologyoftheinstrumentwillteachyouthat).Andsafety?EveryoneknowsthesafetyoftheDressler.useit,some oweiteventhepleasureofelsewherethaninthelocalcemetary;inbrief,itworks!ButtheGibbs?Thesefanaticssay:itslidesbetterontheropethantheDressler.It'struebutIfindthatwhatisn'tsaidis-thatitslidesintwodirections.__....."......_...._....;I_,_......::I _'L.'z_'I.-1-__.....'1-.J ......

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35.IpersonallyhadthefollowingexperienceintheR.A.C.:ononeladderIhadseveralfalls(voluntary!)dependingontheGibbs:theseattemptsseemed morelikefreefallsthanlikeanyothersport.Iwasneversuccessfulinstoppingafall(notarrangedofcourse).Theseattemptsweredisplayedbeforereliablewitnesseswhoweretheretocareformymultiplecontusions.Conclusions:TheGibbsisincomparableinallgreatverticals.InEuropeonecanconceivetheiruseincertainsystems:pitsofAphanice(328m),firstdropsofcertainabysses:Pretta(130,110m),Juhue(302m),Rabanne1(130m),etc.TheGibbs1sinconvenientanddangerousforallotheruses.CommentGibbsascendersareapparentlybeingusedinEuropeforpruposesforwhichtheywerenotdesigned.EuropeansfrequentlyuseJumarsasaselfbelayonladderclimbs,andassumethatGibbsascenderscanbeusedinasimilarmanner.ThemanufacturersfailedtoadviseusersthatGibbsascenderswerenotsuitableforaself-belay,asfewAmericancaversuseladdersforlongdropsanditapparentlydidnotoccurtoanyonethataGibbswouldbereliedupontocatchanunexpectedfallfrom aladder.ThetestsbyA.GrignardshouldinformbothAmericanandEuropeancaversthatGibbsarenotsuitableforuseasaself-belay.*** ***SocialNotesFromAllOverAustinisthecrossroads0&YesterdayattheKirkwood ':averHouseMichelSiffrewastalkingtoBarbaraMichelwasonhisway fromFrancetocaveinGuatemalaandBarbarawasonherwayfromBelicetoasummerjobinAlaska.BarbaratoldMichelthatheshouldpickupthebooksheleftatherhouse.Michelsaidthathe wouldtrytocornethroughBeliceonhiswavhome.'achel'snewbookDanslesAbimesdelaTerreisworthhavingjustfor-thepicturesevenifyoureadFrench.t-lanted AhouseinlateAugustneartheUniversitytobefilledwithcaversoraspaceinsomecaverhouseneartheuniversity.IfigureI'lltryAustinlivingforawhile(like2years),beginningSeptember1.BillStoneEach mapofHoyadelasConchashasapersonalyhandicraftednortharrow.ThenortharrowwasomittedfromtheoriginalcopythatwassenttotheprintersoPeterSprousedraftedanoriginalnortharrowoneachof200copies.

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4SpringinChiapasPersons:BlakeHarrison,JillDorman,BillSteel,CindyCoeburn,Mike Boon,IrvGrahm,BobWest,GaryNapper,andCharlie.ThisgroupleftAustinApril5andarrivedatSanCristobal,Chiapas,onApril10.FromSanCristobaltheyheadedforthevillageofChenalobuttookthewrongroadinthedarksohadtospendanextranightontheroad.Thenextmorningtheyfinallyarrivedandtalkedtothepriestwhoinformedthecaversthatthevillagedumpeditssewageintotheriverthatflowsintothecave.Despitethisinformationthecaversdecidedtogoaheadwithexplorationandwentdowntothecavetothesewage-foamflakedwaterenterthe40by80footentrance.Attheendofthedryseasonthestreamwasverylow,about15feetwideand2feetdeep.TheymissedmeetingNormPaceandacarfromCanadaasthepriesttoldthemtheothershadleft.PeteThompsonwithLindaThompson,ChristopherSmart,andIanDrummonddroveouttoseethecavedespitethetalesofthepriestandmettheothergroup.Afterareconnaisanceonthefirstday,thecombinedgrouppushedtheChenaloSumaderotowhereitsumpedinadebrifilledlakeabout3500feetintothecaveandperhaps200feetbelowtheentrance.TheyhadexpectedPeterLordtojointhem,butlaterlearnedthatwhiletheywereinChenaloPeterwashavingappendicitisinOaxaca.AfteradayofR&RinSanCristobalthegroupdroveoutthenew16KmroadoverthemountaintoSumadero Yochab.Thisnewroadsavedthemafourhourwalkandeveryonearrivedatthe60X80footentrancerefreshedandready.TheyhadfoundNormPaceinSanCristobalsothegroupnow13strongstartedSumadero Yochab. Thefirstday9peoplemoved8duffelbagsofequipmentandriggedthefirst2000feettothebasecamp 450feetbelowtheentrance.Toreachbasecamp8dropshadtoberiggedincludinga60footdropintoalargelake,andfourshortladderdrops.Riggingwasdifficultasropesandladdersmustbecarefullyarrangedtokeeptheclimberaway fromtheforceofthefallingwater.Thenextfivedayswerespentinexploration--thepushcrewofBoon,Thompson,andSmartspenttheentirefivedaysunderground,resuppliedbytwosurfacetocamptrips.Theywereabletopushthecaveonly300feetfurtherhorizontallyand100feetdeeperasforalmosttheentiredistanceitwasnecessarytoplaceexpansionboltsinordertoavoidclimbinginwaterfalls.ThewasleftinthecaveafterthepushtripandthegroupreturnedtoSanCristobalforadayofrest.Atdarktheydrovebacktothecave,butnextmorningBillSteeland}1ikeBoondecidedtomakeafinalpushandspent21hoursinalastattempt,buttheywereonlyabletoexploreashortdistancefurther.TheafterBillandMikereturned,NormPace,GaryNapper,BlakeHarrison,BobWest,JillDorman, andIrvGrahmspent14hoursderiggingandcarryingoutthesixduffelbagsofequipment.Therewasatotalofeightbags,buttwohadbeenremoved bythepushcrew.However,thenextdaywhentheystartedtheycouldfindonlysevenduffelbap,s--onewasmissing.Thebagcontainedmoreequipmentthanthegroupcouldaffordtolose--sotheyagreedtopaytenperpersonforthreevolunteerstoreturnintothecaveandretrievetheduffelbag.BillSteel,GaryNapper,andJillDorman

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5volunteeredtorescuethebag.Theydidnotknowwherethemissingbaghadbeenleft,sotheyhadtocarryenoughequipmenttoreachthebasecamp.Afteraneasytripin,thebagwasfoundatthe200footlevelandthethreevolunteersbeganthereturntrip.Whentheyreachedthelargelakeatthebottomofthe60footdropthewaterwasmuddyandextremelyrough.Waterhadcoveredthelogthebelaylinewastiedtoandwasapparentlyrisingrapidly.BillgrabbedJillandtoldhertogetoutquick. She jumpedintotheswiftwaterwithhersidepackstillonhershoulder.Thewaterwasdeeperthanshethought,herlightwentout,andthepackslippeddownoverherarmsandtangledinthebelayline.Shegaveacry,butmanagedtomakeitacrossthelake.Billthencameacrossandtriedtorerigthebelaylineabovethelakelevelanddroppedtherope.Jillclimbedupandwentforhelp.Shereachedtheentrancetofindthesurfacecrewhadjustweatheredaseverestorm.Hailstonesstillcoveredthemountainbutthestormwasoverandtheriverwasbeginningtosubsideunderclearingskies.BoonandHarrisongatheredtheirequipmentandwentintoassistwiththelastsection.TheymetBilland Garyabout400feetintothecaveandstoppedonarocktodiscussthesituation.Asthesurfacecrewwasreassuringtherecoverycrewthattheworstwasover,thecoldwaterclosedovertheirrock.Theyweresurprisedastherewasnosignoffurtherrainwhentheylefttheentranceafewminutesbefore.Butthewaterwasundoubtedlyrisingrapidly.Thecaversandtheirthreeduffelbagsweresuddenlyinaprecariousposition.Thetwominutewalktotheentrancebecame anhour'seffortagainstthecurrent.FinallytheycouldnotpulltheduffelbagsagainsttheforceofthewaterevenwiththerescuepUlley,sotheytiedthebagsoffandranfortheentrance.Thestreamhadrisenalmostagainsttheverticalwall,leavingonlyanarrowpath--untiltheycametoaboulderwedgedagainstthewall.Theswiftcurrentpreventedpassageonthestreamside,butfortunately,thecaverswereabletosqueezethroughasmallholebetweentheboulderandthewalljustbeforewaterwashedthroughtheirescapehole.Uponreachingtheentrancetheydiscoveredthereasonforthesuddenrushofcoldwater--thehailleftbystormhadmeltedproducingaflashflood.Thenextdaytheyreturnedandretrievedtheequipment.Thevolunteershadearnedtheirtendollars--thoughJillagreedtotakefivedollarsandasubscriptiontotheCanadianCaver.JillDormanastoldtoBillRussellP.s.OnthefirstdayofrestinSanCristobaltheyhadreceivedapostcardfromAustinwiththenewsthatthelandlordwasgoingtoevictcaversfromtheKirkwoodCaverHouseattheendofthemonth SoafterYochabtheyfeltitwastimetostartbacktoAustin.BillStoneandIrvGrahmstayedinChiapastolookfornewcaveswiththeaidofadvancecopiesofthenewChiapastopographicmaps. Thereturntriptook49hoursfromSanCristobaltoAustinwheretheyfoundthelandlordhadrelentedandtheycouldstay.P.P.S.WhileYochabwasfloodingMarkShawcrossandcrewcampedattheentrancetoSumaderoChicjawerehitbythesamestorm.Waterroserapidlyintothecampandalltheequipmentcouldnotbegatheredintimeandasuntoandaltimeterwerelost.ThegroupalsometEianFinnandcrewatRancoNuevowheretheyfoundthatcamping wasnolongerpermittedatthecave.11............"'-_ .......r__........_,... ..

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6RandomNotesonMexicoCastofCharacters:Bi1lStone,TraceyJohnson,SheilaJohnson,HenrySnicker,JuliaJames,NealMontgomery, MarkStock,JimSmith,MarionSmith,PatWiedeman,andMartynFarr.On1000'PitLeadsFollowingourThanksRivinRtripstopattheSantaEulaliaMine,andbeingconvincedthatthe1000'pitwasactuallythere,IwrotealettertothesupervisorinSpanish,askingforpermissiontodescendtheshaft.NoreplyarrivedandwedrovetothemineonDec.18.Thistimeweweregreetedbyallthechiefhonchosofthemine.They showedusthereplyletter,statingthat,inessencethereweremanydeepshaftsinthemine,butunlikeH.A.Walkersuggestedinthearticle,therewerenotremendouslydeepfissures.Aftersomediscussionandscrutinyofthemine'smaps,welocatedwhatapparentlyusedtobethepitwhichWalkermentioned.AccordingtoSr.Kirshner,theGerentedeMinas,therepreviouslyexistedanaturalshaftfromthe600'levelofthemineextendingtoperhapsthe1000'levelwhereitpinchedoff.Anothersimilarfissureranupwardsfromthe1600'level,butapparentlymadenoconnection.AtanyratebothfissuresarenowpartoftheimmensePotosiChimney--allman made,withapproximately600mofverticalextentanddimensionsofsomethinglike150mX50mwide.Accordingtothemineblueprint,ifyouweretoenterthechimneyatlevel6,adropofapproximately1150'freecanberigged.Toobaditwasn'tnatural.FlyingOfgeneralinteresttoall,Isupposeeachofushasalwayswantedabird'seyeviewaftercrashingthroughtheElAbraforyearsonend.Well,anyways,BobStucklenfromMontrose,Colorado,flewinwithaCessina172likeadreamcornetrue.SoonDec.23weflewuptheElAbra--theMonoscornfieldismorethan3timesasbigasitpreviouslywas--somebodywasambitious!WethenflewupthewestcresttowardsTanchipalookingforholesonNealMorris'map.Everythingcheckedexceptforoneveryconspicuousflaw:wesawaverylargeblackhole,150'diameter,withundercutwallsabout4milessouthofTanchipa.WehavetriangulateditslocationandtheclosestchoprouteappearstobeginattheendofthePoncianoArriagaAirstrip.AnyonepsychedforanotherTanchipachop?WethenflewoverHovade 7.imapan anduptotheEstrellaSink.SixpassesoverEstrellaassuredanendtotheblackholemyth.Yes,Bill,Cuestaisriphtwhereitissupposedtobe!FromthefirstsinksouthofEstrellawelocatedtwopitsapproxinatelyonemiletotheeast.thenbombedastraightlineoffiverollsoftoiletpaperfromthenorthmostpitbacktothesink.Continuingnorth,welocatedSotanodeJIojasGuandes--abigpit,butonly200'deep,eastofthefirstbigsinksouthoftheOtatemine.Finishingup,wecruisedoverthemineandthenbackformorefuel.Thesecondtripofthedaywastobethelonr,one--scouttheElSoc avonridgeandtheXilitlaplateau.\":efirstflewtoAquismon andthenovertoGolondrinas.SotanodelaHuastecawasvervimpressivenearLaLaja,aswasGolondrinas.Flyinp.downtheridgeaboveDrinastoTamapatz,wesaw

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7onelargeblackholenearthetopoftheridgeonthesidefacingTamapatz.Weestimatedittobe100'+indiameterandatrailpassedreasonablycloseby.MikeShulteassuredmethisoneisnewtohim,sothere'sonegoodlead.WethenhoppedridgeovertotheLaParadavalley.TheEl Socavondolinaleapedoutaswecrestedthewestsideofthevalley.Thiswastheridgewewantedtoscout,thefirsttwopassesrevealedlittle,thethirdpassfoundwhatwewerefor:a150'diameterblackhole,directlyaboveLaParada.WetookbearingsonthelakeatLaParadaandmarkedthisoneforareturn.Goingwestwenotednothinglarge,withtheexceptionofahuge,hearwalleddolinanorthofTancoyolandatthebottomwasacornfield!WebuzzedElSotanoasMarionSmith'screwhikedup fromEl-arroandheadedforXilitla.Thehighplateauishigherthanmostwouldbelieve;weread12,500'offthealtimeterasweflewbyCerroSanJuan.Nothinglargeappearedforawhile--althoughthereisalargeclosedvalleyaboveXilitlawithalpinetypekarst--shouldbeworthahikeup.Thenasweroundedtheeastsideoftherange,wealmostfelloutoftheplaneaseveryoneleapedtogettheircamerasoutthesame window--atremendouspit--atleast300'indiameterwithshearwalls,facesCerroLaCieta.Wethoughtwemightbeabletoseethebottomofthelowside,butthehighsidedisappearedintoblackness.Thisthenisthebigpitwe'vebeenhearingaboutfromValledeGuadelupe,SanJuan,andTampaxac.Wehavenearings,butthepitiswellisolatedatabout9500'elevation.FinallywebuzzedourowncrewatGuaguasjustasthecloudsclosedin.OnBlackHolesUponreturningtoLosSabinoswithallthisgoodnews,ittooklittleconvincing(onegoodparty)toroundup11suckerstodothelonghikeintoLaParada.Tw0.dayslaterMarion'soverloaded4X4headedforTancoyol.IleftLosSabinosonedaylaterwithPatandAlexCochrane.Thehikeinwasgrimtosaytheleast.Wecarriedall1640'ofropeweplannedtouse(funnyhowthenumberalwayswaspushedhigheranticipatingadeephole!).BythetimemycrewarrivedinLaParadaTracey,Marion,andHenrywerebouncingdownthemountainsidetryingtobeatthefogafteraharddayofkarstwhackingontheplateau.Thegoodnewstheyhadfoundthehole-roughly100'X150'andafreedropfrommyside!Thebadnewsitwasonly130-150'deep!Apparentlythedeceptionofdepthwasaidedbyaverydarkgreenforestwhichcoveredthepitfloor.ThenextdayalmosteveryonedidSotanodeSanIsidrotofinishthesurvey.ThisimmediatelyturnedintoanundergroundswimmingpartywhenJimSmithfoundthatthelakesiphoned.LaterthatafternoonTraceyandJuliawereledtotwopitsnearSaucito(formerlyRanchoClavo).SotanodeSaucitowas160'deepandSotanodelPuercoMuertowas220'.ThefollowingdayTraceyandMarionreturnedtoSaucitoandtherestofthecrewcrashedupthemountainsidetoenterthebighole--SotanodelaHoyaVerde.Thedrop,asanticipated,wasISO'freefromthehigheroftworigpoints.Veryimpressivehole--forTennessee--well,youcan'twin'emall!AlmosteveryoneexceptPat,Tracey,Sheila,andIdidElSocavonthenextday.WediddledaroundLaParada,findingonepit:a150'freedropintoachamberwith3skylights;thisledanother100'verticaltoalake.Thelocalscalledit"HoyaHondo."

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8Well,everybodypackedoutthenextday,allthewayfromLaParadatoTancoyolinoneday!brieflycelebratedbirthdayandtheysplitfortheStates.JovadeLasConchas.AfterdroppingPatoffinValles,wehikeduptotheElQuirinoplateauahoveLaPurisima.TheobjectivewastofinishoffJoyadeLasConchas,whichTraceyandIhadpreviouslyenteredoverThanksgivingwithEriclteansandJimJacobs.Thefirstdayofexplorationwastobealightpushtrip,50Tracey,andIcarried1200'ofropeuptotheentrance.ThinpswentweIl,untilNealnoticedalimberrattlesnakeonaLedge11/2'aboveourheadsintheentrancecraw.l,Ratherthanmolestthemonster,pedroppedpasthimandintothefirstpit.Wequicklytothepointofpreviousexploration,5dropsdown.Afterthisthedropsgotbigger.Fourl'1oredropsannwelanciedinawaistdeeplake.ThecontinuedasasewerandapparentLvendedinasump100'furtheron.ThenNe<11foundatightholeintheceILdngwhichbypassedthesump.Thisledtoa25'serdh airyclimbdowntoafarmoreterminallookingsump.Ithad2"airspace,o utwasconvincedthepassagevenr,sounderhewent--backintoIvadinp,passar-e!Thiswent100'toa4seconddrop!Farout.Weranoutofropeatthatpointandreturnedtocamp.Thenextda yallei?htofusplannedtofinishConchas.W enabbedtherattlesnakeapoleandslipnoose,thusremovingthatdanger.Allaccordingtoplan,forawhILe,JustasNeaLwaspreparingtorappelthebigdrop,Jamesoncamethroughthesumpsavingthattherehadbeenanaccident.Sheilahadfallenmostofthedownthe25'climhabovethesump wben ahandholdbrokeandhadtobehauledoutatonce.DamagelJasuncertain,butwesuspectedaconcussionandfracturedribstostart.P ewereC)dropsClownfror.ltheentranceandthepicturelookedp.:rimindeed.Sheilawouldobviouslyhavetobehoistedoutall9drops.Afternegotiatingthesumpbacktothebaseofthe140'dropwegotdowntohusiness:3ropeswereriggedtileorop,onestaticlineforJuliatoguideSheilaupthedrop,onebelaylineandonehaullinewhichwerigr-edfromthetopofthedrop,onetoonepulleyswithadoublejumarsafety.TraceyandIdidtheauling;Nealbelayed.ThesystemworkedsowellthatJuliahadadifficulttimekeepinguptJith.heila.Thissystemworkedexcellentlyforthehi?drops.Thenarrownessoftherigpointsonthesmallpitchsdemanded adifferentsvsten,riggeda2:1pulleysystemwithautolockingjumarsafetydirectlyonSheila'sharnessandhoistedfromaboveusingoneman. BvthistimeSheilawascoldduetoinactivityandhadtobeplacedinawetsuit.Allwentsmoothlyfromthereon.Theentireoperationtookonly5hours.Sheilawastakentocampanditwasdecidedtowaittillmorningb eforeattemptinp.atripthemountain.ThefollowingmorninglvetothehospitalinValles,2 0hourshadelapsedfromthetimeoftheaccident.TheX-raysrevealednohreaks,justabadlybruisedheadandbody.Itisevidentthathadtherebeenanyseriousinternaldamageourrescueeffortwouldhavebeenfruitless.T wodavsIntervepicked up1'vfartvn FarrontherecommendationofandJuli,q( whoh adtoleave)totryonceal7aintoh ottomConchas.Sheilaw aswellenoughtoh ikeback unwithoutW etooktheafternoonoffinpreparationforw hat wek new w as toh ea h earofatripfor3people._____...._ _ ..JI_':l-_.....

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9ThenextdayweleftcampatdawnandTracey,Martyn,andIarrivedatthefoursecondpitby10a.m.Traceydescendedandreportedamud sump--theend.Notbelievingthispossible,MartynandItookdownsomerope.Sure1nuffatightsqueezethroughthebreakdownimmediatelyleadtoanotherdrop.Icontinueddownthisdroptoanother.Usingalltheropewehad,Martyncamedownandassuredmehecouldfreeclimbthedrop,soTraceydroppedtheropeandwentbackfortheother4sections.Martyndroppedthenextpitanddisappearedfor30minutes.Whenhereturnedhesaidhewasdownanother2001+toabigfrop.Farout.Traceydropped4ropesdo,vnthebigpitand"wentbackfora5thwhileMartynandIblastedondown.A1091dropledtoa331and130'drop.God,thismotherwas p,oing!Weranoutofropeagainandstartedfreeclimbingpitches--4ofthem.Thepassagewasnowdippingsteeply--quiteachangefromthe"drop-levelstretch"characteroftheuppercave."Thiswentontoa30'freepitch.Wecouldn'tclimbthisone,sowetiedallourslingstop,etherandMartyndescended.Hefollowedthisanother250',freeclimbinga20'and70'droptoasolutionboulderchoice.Uponmovingafewbouldersitopenedtoa401drop,theofpresentexploration.Allthedropsherehavewaterfalls,apparentlythecaveiscollectingtributariesthefartherdownweget.Thisnecessitatedtwocarbidesrunningatoncetoassurebothdidn'tgoout.Nicadpacksareadefiniteadvantagedownthere.Onthewayoutwestoppedeverytosketchthepassage,measureropedrops,andestimateclimbsdone.ByBillStone1976ConchasExpedition-ReturntoConchasOnFriday,March12,19caversfromTexas,Illinois,andEnglandleftAustin.InMexicotheyrendezvousedwith18othercaversfromTexas,Tennessee,Arizona,NewYork1andIndiana.advanceplanninghadbeenmade; twogroupmeetingshadbeenheldandvariousaspectsoftheexpeditionhadbeendiscussed.Theplanningwastopreparethegroupforanyeventualityandbivouackingincaveshadbeenoneofthemaintopicsofthediscussions.AnadvanceteamofDonBroussard,ShariLarason,PeterSprouse,BillSteele,BillStone,TerriTreacy,SteveWard, andSteveZemanleftAustinThursdayeveninganddrovetoFallsCityinSouthTexaswheretheyspentthenightatGillEdiger's.ThenextdaytheyleftTexas,drovethroughMexico,and campedthatnightattheRioSantaPaulPamLynn,andMikeMcKeeleftAustininPaul'struckandpickedupRonRalphattheSanAntonioairport.MaureenCavanaugh,AlexiaCochrane,AndyGrubbs,RobertHemperly,LoganMcNatt,andTerrySaytherleftinTerry'struckandJillDorman, AndyEavis,BlakeHarrison,RoyJameson,ThomasWaltPeters,PeterandJohnStrickland,andBob WhstleftinBlake's"HogofSteel."ThevariouspartiesspentthenightatdifferentcampingplacesinnorthernMexico.Saturday,March13:TheAustintruckscontinueddrivingandcampedjustthetownofLaPurisimaWheretheroadtowardConchastakesofffromthehighway.Earlyinthemorningtheadvanceteamarrivedattheendofthisroad.Theyhiredamuleforropeandcavinggear,hikedinandsetup camp.Sunday,March14:theAustin19hikedin,theadvanceteamstartedtorigthecave.

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[see the loose map of Hoya de las Conchas]

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EjidoSanJuan,Queretaro,MexicoHoyadelasConchaselev1310mmeters050SuuntosandTapeSurveybyextendedprofile100150200450500300250400350-508terminalsumptheBigRoomthe200504030meters20terminal......totaltraverselength:950mtotaldepth:508m10oTSaytherH.SchneikerJ.SmithM.SmithPSprouseWSteeleM.StockMarch1976D.BroussardM.CavanaughA.EavisG.EdigerR.HemperlyTJohnsonM.McKee15-17DraftedbyPeterS.SprouseApril1976Datareductionandplotting byEllipse1978PeterSprou.e

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11FirstExplorationofNogalThursdayafternoonAlexCochrane,DonBroussard,RoyJamison,andAndyGrubbsreturnedfromascouttriptoSanJosetwomilesnorthofConchas.Thelocalsshowed them aratherdeepholenamedSotanodeNogalneartown.Oneentranceisa260'freedropinverylargepassage.A 5X5footholeledoffthebottomtoa30footclimbdownanda30footdropwheretheyranoutofrope.(Theyhadtotieaknot60feetoffthefloorjusttodotheentrancedrop!)TheyreportedairblowingstrongenoughtoputoutacarbideSothenextday,withgreatdifficulty,we managedtorouse5people'fromthe37atcamptohikeoutagainwithroughly750feetofrope.Wearrivedaroundnoonatthedoubleentrance(60feetfromthe250footdropisanother200+footdropwhichsurelyconnectsbuthasyettobedescended.)SteveZeemandidmostoftheriggingwhileSteveWardandIshotthesurveyinbehindhim.RoykeptbookandAlexdidabiocollection.Thepassagewassopleasant,dry,andspaciousthatWardandIhadnoproblemkeepingthesurveyrightonZeeman'sheelsasheriggedeachvirgindrop.Beyondthe30footdropwasa60footpitch,followedbya 140footdropwithaknot30feetoffthefloor.TheroomabovethisdropwasthemoststrikingexampleofbeddingexposureinacaveI'veeverseen.Dippingalmostvertical,hugescabsjuststuckoutofthewallsandfloor.Slickensidesandanobviousfaultwallwerequiteimpressive.Beyondthe140footdropwasasteepclimbdownfor50-60feetthenanother100footdropintothe"GreccianColumn Room." A60footdropoffhereledacrossacrystallake,throughmoresinuouspassageandfinallyanother50footdropwhereweranoutofrope.Thiswasunfortunateasjust50feetawaywasanotherl50-foot-plusdrop.QueLastima!Thecavewasstillpushingalotofair,evenatthatdepth.Thesurveyshowedthatthetopofthe150'+dropwas 800feetbelowtheentrance.ThemostsignificantdifferencesinSotanodeNogalarewhatwillundoubtedlymakeitdeeperthanConchas.One,Nogalisa"Paleo-Floodwater"cave,apparentlytakinghugeamountsofdrainagelongbeforeSanJosewasestablished.ThiscircumventsthemaincorkinjustaboutalloftheSanJuanplateaucaves.Theadventoffarmingallowedtonsofsilttobesloughedoffbyarroyoseverytimeitrained.Sinceallonthecentralplateauisinternal,thatsiltonlyhadoneplacetogo--rightdownthetubes.Jamisonreportsausablelimestonedepthofabout2700feetfromtheplateautotheRioJalpan(altimeterreadings).AlmostalltheSanJuansystemsconsequentlysiltupatconstrictionpointsfarabovetheusablelimitoflimestone.Hence,sinceNogalhasnoneofthesiltproblemstheothercavesdo,itisquiteexpectedlyaclean,crycaveasfaraswepushed.Secondly,theevidenceofastrongairflowasdeepas-800feetindicatesconsiderablymorepassage--oralowerentrance--somethingnoneoftheothercavesshow--almostalltheothershavebadairandorganicdebrisnearthebottom.Withoutsteppingtoofarbeyondreason,IwouldsaythatsomeMaywhen wereturn,SanJuanwillhaveitssecondSOOm+system!BillStone

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[note that the presence in this issue of the following two pages that were not assigned page numbers causes the subsequent pages to be numbered differently in the PDF reader than in the original]

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entire passagehassolutional roof-'40'"flowstone walls100mpit earth blockages60DEVELOPED LONGITUDINAL SECTION80100120 140mCUEVA DELASCOLEMENAS QUINTERO, MANTE, S.L.P.map reference Quintero F-14-A-69 coordinates 4945-25060 SurveyByN.Montgomery.J.Parker 26Nov.75SuuntoKB14compass&PM5 clinometer DrawnbyN. Montgomery Dec.75

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magN-===-truemainpit,100min2or3pitches crawlwayPLANEntrance Pit with 6m pitch from porthole dominent joint direction(verticalornearvertical)CUEVA DELASCOLEMENAS QUINTERO, S.l.P .alldimensions in meterso10203040mI IJscaleIlI

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13Date:January,1975Destination:AcahuizotlaandGrutaCacahuamilpa,GuerreroPeople:DianaDaunt,IlyaAbolins,DonCoons,SkipandKathyRoy, andCarlDiana,Ilva,andIwerea monthinMexico.WehadmadetentativeplanstomeetCarlandtheRaysatAcahuizotla,asmallpueblaabout20milessouthofChilpancinpoonthemainroadbetweenMexico andAcapulco.SkipandKathyhadbeenthereacoupleofyearsbefore.Theyhadbeenshowntheentranceofalargerivercaveandsowereanxioustoreturn.Assuchplansgosouthoftheborder.Ihadonlytheslightesthopeofactuallythematthetimeandplaceagreedupon.Aswepulledinweweremorethandelightedtoseethreemangielookinggringoessippingtheirsangriasonthestepsoftheonlytiendaintown.GreetingsandwarshoopsandwesoonfoundaplacetocampjustoutsidetownunderanoverhangingroadcutintheoldAcapulcoroadjustoutsidetown.Strategiesofattackwerethenextevent.Skipknowoftwoentrancestothecave.Theuppersumiderowherethestreamdisappearedandthelowerbocawhereitemergednearly3kilometersaway. Theyhadtriedtoenterthebocathatday,butwereturnedbackbywaterfallsandSkip'scoldallergy.IthadbeenanearthingandtheRoyswereoptingtogoontoAcapulcotheday,butCarlhadhikedtothesumideroaftertheearlierabortion,andsoknewthewaytobothentrances.Hewaswilling.WeagreedtomeettheRoysinAcapulcotwodayshenceandbegansortinggear.Dianawassufferingfrom MontezumasRevengeandwouldnotbeabletogo Thetwoofussetoutforthesumiderothenextmorning.Wecarriedtworopessinceweknewtherewasatleastonedropattheentranceandprobablymoreinside.Iwouldhavelikedmore,butitwasallthatwasavailable.A30'handlinedropateourfirstlinegettingintotheentrancesink.A70'dropoutthebottomofthesinkputusintothecavedry.butoutofropealready.Weabout1000'ofpassageinwetsuitsandinnertubes.Itwasmostlywadinp.withanoccasionalshortswim. Aroaraheadtoldussomethingwashappening.Another70'drop,thisoneinawaterfall.Wesoonfoundanoverflowroutethatcouldberiggeddry,butwithnoropetherewasnothingtodobutthrowrocks.Theyhitindeepwater,butwecouldnotseebottomforthemist.Weweresoonoutandenjoyinganothersangria.Thedaywasyetyoungsowedecidedtohaveanothergoatthelowerentrance.DianaandIlyawantedtotakea swim.sowealltroopedofftogether.It'sabout2kmtotheentrance,butnearlylevelgoing.WeweresurprisedtomeettwomenandtheirchildrenfromCuernavacaattheentrance.Theywerebutterflycollectors.buthadventuredintothecaveaswell.Oneofthemwantedtoreturnwithus,soweallstartedtogether.Wemadeabout700'withoutmuchdifficulty.Thewaterisdeeperhereandswimmingisamustformuchoftheway.Several3-4footfallshadbeenlittletrouble,buta6footerwasalittlemoreofaItriedtolassoeanoverheadprojection,hutwithlittleluck.OurMexicanfriendtrieditnextandwasabletoupthechutetothetop.ThiswastoomuchforCarl.Thenoiseandfoamhadbeguntotakeitstollonhisner:esandhedecidedtnreturn.Iwasabletofollowupthefalls.whichturnedoutnottobethetigerwehadfeared.Another100'andwewerefacedwithafallofthesameasthelast,butthistime.Tryandtryagaincouldneitheroneofusup.Afterhalfanhourwewerenearlyreadytoleave,butthere'saIwavsthatonelasttry.II__________, .....'-...., ..,;,................_....

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14.struggleandthekeyholdwehadmissedbeforeputmeatthetop.rtriedtohaulmycompanionupbehindme,buttheforceofthewaterwastoomuch. TCere seemstobemuch morewaterherethanattheupperentrance.rmanagedanother100'overyetanotherfalls,butwasthenfacedwithal2-footerthatwastoomuch.Boltswouldbetheonlyway.ramconvincedthatthebestwaythroughthiscaveisfromthetop,withalotofrope.Downstream wasacinch!Thefallsonthewayinwerechutes,likeaslidingboard,onthewayout.Backoutinthesunlightrsoonfoundoutmynewfriendsnamewas MarcAntonioNarroandthathecouldspeakafairamountofEnglish,althoughhewas somewhathesitantaboutit.Heisabutterflycollector,mainly,andcavesonlyonoccasion.HeknewoftheMexicoCitycavingclubs,butwasnota member. Hedidnotthinktheyknewofthiscave.A weekorsoofbaskinginthesunatAcapulcowasnextinThesunandwaves seemedtoputcavingalongwayfromanybody'smind.Isoonlostallsupportforareturntriptotherivercave.Dianaandrburnedout(literally)beforetheothersanddecidedtoheadforGrutaCacahuamilpaandthemountains.WedidasidetriptoGrutasdeJuxtlahuacaandmettheothersacoupleofdayslater.rhadbeenhearingpersistantrumorsforsometimeaboutanexter.sionthroughaholeintheflowstonewallattheendofthecommercialroute.Oneoftheguidesassuredmethatitwasthere,pointedoutthewayandsaidtherewouldbenoproblemingoinganytimewewanted.The Revenge andabrightsunnydaytooktheirtollontheothers,butSkipandrdecidedtogo.Weweresoonattheendofthetrail,tookourleaveofthetourists,andclimbedupintotheformations.rhadlookedforthisholetheyearbeforeandsowas somewhatembarassedatwhatwefound.Therewerethreeholes,onelargeenoughtowalkthrough.Ahem,howwelldidyoucheckthatlead?Thewayopenedintoabreakdownjumblejustbehindtheflowstone.Alittlepokinggotusupandintoaroomabout75'indiameterandnearlyashigh,butfromthereeveryholeseemedtochokewithin50'.Finallytheonlywayleftwasup.Thewallwasguanocoveredbreakdown,butlookedlikeitmightbejustclimbable.Besidestherewasanotewrittenincarbideonthewalloftheroomthatreadnombresquincemetrosmasariba"withanarrowpointedup.iolehadbeenfollowingarrowsand namesmostofthewaysothisseemedtobetheplace.rstartedtheclimb,butwasalittlehesitant.Wehadnotbroughtaropesotherewasnobelay.Itturnedoutnottobeasbadasrthought.Therewasoneexposedmovenearthetopwith50'offallbelow,butitwassoonover.FromaledgeIcouldseeSkipbelowandwhatwas moreinteresting,onthewallbesidemewerethe" nombresmasarriba'.'Therewasacastironpitonrustinginthewallwithaloopofmanillalineit.rhadnoropetobelaywithevenifIhadtrustedtheprotectionpoint.Theonlyway onwasupaslipperychimney.ItisclimbablewithalittlemoresecurityandaboveIcouldseeonlvblackness.(Itwouldn'tbea goodcavingstorywithoutthatnowwouldit.)Iguessthere'salwaysnextyear.Boththeseareasseemtohavepotential.IfanyoneisinterestedintryingthemIwouldbegladtohelpwithmoreinformation.ImightevenbeconvincedtoactasapersonalguidewithalittlearmDropmealine.DonCoons

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15TripReport,Christmas-NewYears1975-76HaroldGoldstein,CadySoukup,JohnFerguson,RonTilkens,NealMorris,BarbVinson,RichardMinton,MarkMinton,LewFischer,andLindaByMarkMintonOurdiversegroupmetinAustinonDec.21andproceededtotheborder,whereforthefirsttimeinseveralyearswehadhassleswithlonghair.Alittlewaitingandatiportwoandwewereonourway,unshorn.Aftertheusualcartrouble(afire),wearrivedinValleswherewetookonsupplies,andthenheadedforMinaOtate.Thepermissionwehadobtainedatthecollectivewasnotchecked(norwasanyoneelse'sthistime),contrarytoreportsfromearlierintheyear.OurmaingoalwastomapandfinishexploringCueva deDiamante,firstenteredthepreviousChristmasandsubsequentlyshowntobeamajorcave.Tripswentintothecavealmosteverydayforaweek.TheroutedownfromtheCrystalRoomasfollowedbyA. Grubbsetal.lastMarchcouldnotbepushedfurtherwithoutblasting--allleadsdownpinchedouttootight,althoughdefinitelynotatthe"bottom"ofthecave. TheleadjustabovetheCrystalRoomnotedbyMintonturnedouttobeanalternateroutedown,intersectingtheGrubbsroutetwoorthreehundredfeetbelow.Thisroutenowcarriesallofthewaterenteringthissideofthecave,leavingtheCrystalRoomdry .Thisareaofthecaveisextremelysharpand--glovesaremandatory. Thetightcanyon,theothermajorpassagesinthecave,turnedouttobemoreexciting.Thepitwhichhaltedlastyear'sexplorationwasan87footdropwhichledinaboutahundredfeettoa70footpit(whichisdifficulttoreachduetothenecessityoflevelsinthecanyon).Contrarytoanythingelseinthecave,thisdropwascoveredwithalayerofmud.Scarcelyfiftyfeetfurtherafoursecondpitagainhaltedexploration.OnthewayoutofthecanyonseveralPleistoceneremainswerediscoveredinanerodinggravelfill.Bonefragments,horse-liketeeth,andamammothmolarwerefound,andsamplesweretakenbacktotheUniversityofTexasinAustin..AllknownpassageinthecavewaS mapped. TheCrystalRoomroutebottomedoutatabout-900feet;severalhundredfeetshortofpotential.TheCanyonlandsrouteremainstobeexplored:thetopofthefourseconddropisabout-500feet,blowsair,andtakeswater.Inallwespent289man-hoursinthecave,andhad1450feetofroperiggedinthecaveatonetime.AlthoughtripswentintoDiamantenearlyeveryday(andnight:),mostpeoplelayedouteveryotherdaytorest.DuringtheserestsBarbandNealdidasurfacesurveytyinginthemine,SotanodeOtate,Cueva delosIndios,Cueva deDiamante,andCasiMil.WealsochoppedaroundtheDiamantesinknearthecrest,butfoundonlyonesmall,blind60footpit.Mostsignificantly,wevisitedSotanodelosBozos(aliasCasiMil)anddecidedaresurveywasinorder.Totaldepthisactuallylessthan500feet(CasiMedioMil?).Duringthetimethiscavewasrigged,ourtotalamountofropeunderthesinkcameto2250feet:(outofabout3500 wehadalong).SomephotographywasalsodoneinIndios.Althoughwehadintendedtochoparoundthe

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16threelargesinksonthewaytoCuesta,itnevergotdone.NordidwecheckSotanodeOtateagain.Acareful,thoroughexplorationofthelargebottomdropiswarranted,butifitdoesn'tcomesoonitmaybetoolate:theminersaredumpingtheirtailingsintotheentrance:AftereightdaysinthejunglewereturnedtoWallesformuchneededbaths,food,andrest.AfterarefreshingdayatMicos,BarbandNealreturnedtotheUnitedStatesandtherestofuswenttoLosSabinostodecideonfurtherplans.HerewemetRoyJamisonandPattiMothes whohadjustcompletedseveraldaysofflyingovertheElAbraandhadsome goodsoundingchoppingleads.Thenextthreedayswerespenthikingandchopping,butnothingnewwasdiscovered.OneleadturnedouttobeMonos,unrecognizablefromtheairduetorecentexpansionofanearbycornfield.FromtherewealsovisitedHigueron.(The"road"toCuevaPintaisnowinhorriblerepair.makingitvirtuallyimpossibletodriveallthewayin.)WethenheadedsouthtoMexicoCityforsometourlstingandtoclimbnearbyIztaccihuatl.Wedidn'treachthesummit duetolackoficeclimbingequipment(andenthusiasm),butdidmakeittothelowerhutat16,000feet.Thatprettywelldidusin,duetolackofacclimation:wewentfromVallesnearsealeveltothehutat16,000feetinlessthanthirtyhours:Afterastopatthefamousanthropologymuseum,wereturnednorthward.ThenexttwodayswerespentatHuichihuayantryingtomakesomesenseoftheCuevadelAire-CuevadelBrujosystem(acoupleofyearsearlierTomRamseyandI hadfoundaconnectionbetweenthetwo).Afterseveralhours,wedeterminedthatthetwocavesaremerelylowerandupperentrancestowhatisessentiallyoneverylargeroomdividedby breakdownandformations,andsetonasteepangle.Inanefforttoreachthelevelofthelargespringwhichresurgesjustbelowthecaves,onlyaverymuddysiphonwasfound.ThecavesarestillveryactivelyusedforreligiouspurposesbythelocalIndians,althoughweencounterednoproblems.AbriefvisittotheNacimientodelRioHuichihuayan,aratherunusualSaturdayplayingpoolinalocaltavern,andadrivetoXi1itlaandSotanodeHuitzmolotitlaendedourtrip.AfterstoppingafinalswimatNacimientodelRioMante,wereturnedtotheUnitedStatesafter22daysinMexico--alreadyplansfornextyear.*** * *AHotCavingAreaSurpassesExpectationsArecenttriptoSotanode SauzjustsouthofBigBendbyGillEdiger,Dino Lowery.JohnOmnas,RonRalph,TerrySayther,PeterSprause,BethEverett,andSteveZeemanfoundthecavetobelargeranddeeperthanexpected.Thecaveis4000feetlongand722feetdeependinginalargeroom100feetindiameter.2500feetlong,withanairtemperatureof106F.Blocksoficewerepackedintohelpcombattheheat.DuringtheexplorationofSurnadero Yochab,IrvGrahmandIanDrummondwalkedtotherumoredresurgenceoftheriver4hoursdownthecanyon.TheyfoundalargebatcavecalledCruzPalalwithwaterflowingfromtheentrance."",-------__J".1,__........_..._,.._......e

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17THEOTATESMINEAREASIERRADEELABRA,TAMAULIPAS,MEXICOByNealMorrisLocationTheOtatesphosphatemineislocatedontheeasterncrestoftheElAbrajustnorthoftheSanLuisPotosi-Tamaulipasstateline.Withinashortdistanceoftheminearefourlarge,importantcaves:SotanodeOtates,Cueva delosIndios,SotanodeCasiMediaMil,andCueva deDiamante.AccesstotheareaisbythemineroadwhichbeginsnearElSalvador,Tamps.(Km49.2),ontheInter-AmericanHighway.Toenterthearea,writtenpermissionisrequiredfromtheauthoritiesattheEjidoCollectivo"LagunadelMante"(formerlythePoncianoArriagaRanch,Km25.3).ExplorationHistoryMexicanprospectorsfirstbeganworkingtheOtatesdepositsinearly1974.OriginallytheyreachedtheminefromtheEjidoOlimpicobyfollowingasmallvalleyorarroyouptheElAbra'seastface,however,thephosphatedepositsprovedextensiveenoughtojustifybuildingaroadinfromthePanAmHighway.Thisamazingroadhadnearlybeencompletedby December1974whencaversfirstbecameawareofitsexistence.Ourgroupwastryingtoreachapitknown fromairphotos(RojasGrandes)bychoppinguptheeastfaceoftherange.EffortstofindaMexicanguideontheEjidoOlimpicowerefutile.Thelocalpeoplesaidthatitwastoodangeroustoclimbrightnow--dynamiteblastsfromtheminewereunpredictableandcouldsendlargerockscrashingdownthemountainside.Theysuggestedthatwedrivearoundtotheothersideoftherangeandusethenewminingroad:Itdidnottakeuslongtotaketheiradvice.Theminersandroadcrewwereextremelyfriendlyandshowedustwocavesnearthemine,OtatesandIndios,whichtheyhadalreadyexploredinsearchofphosphatedeposits(toexploreapit,theMexicanswouldtiesomebraveindividualtotheendofaropeandlowerhimtothebottom).Wequicklysurveyedthetwocaves,exceptforthelastdropinOtateswhichhadtobeestimatedbyropelengths(seeTripReport,AMCSAct.News.1:1).LaterinDecember,twosubsequentgroupscombinedtheireffortstochop a5-Kmtrailsouthfromtheminetothe.star-shapeddepressionwhereitintersectedtheTanchipaTrailtoSotanodelaCuesta.TwodeepshaftswerediscoveredalongthistrailSotanodeSenderoandSotanodeArbol.Senderowasbottomedat712feet.OnthistripthesearchwasstartedforalegendaryblackholenearCuesta.DiamondCavewasalsodiscovered,anditsuppersectionwassurveyed(TripReportsinAMCSAct.News.1:3,5andD.C.Spe1eograph,Mar.75:12-15).AnothergrouparrivedinJanuary1975.TheyexploredArboltoadepthof540feetandconductedanotherfutilesearchfortheblackholenearCuesta.Theyalsochoppedtothreenewpitssouthofthemine:RoyadeRojasGrandes(-220'),SotanodeArbolSangre(-709'),andSotanodelTechoCrystal(-ISO').ThistripiswrittenupinAMCSAct.News.1:6andinThe RocCairn,Spring1975.

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18TheOtatesphosphatemineislocatedinasmallvalleywhichcutsbackintotheSierraforseveralhundredfeet.Miningoperationshaveintersectedasmallcavepassagewhichwasfilledbyphosphatedeposits.Justbelowthemineandthecave,asmallarroyoleadsdownthemountainside.Thearroyo,thecave,andtheminevalleyareinalignmentandseemtobestructurallyrelated.CuevadelosIndiosandSotanodeCasiMediaMilThesetwocaveswereoncejoinedonanintermediatelevel,buttheconnectionisnowsealedbymassiveflowstonedeposits.ItdoesnotappearthatthissystemwaseverintegratedwitheitherOtatesorDiamante.IndiosandCasiMediaMilarebothlargephreaticpassageswhichformedalongE-W, N-Sjoints.TherearenodistinctbeddingplanesvisibleinIndios,andbedrockobservationsarenearlyimpossibleinCasiMediaMilbecausetheentirecaveisdrapedinflowstone.TheIndiosSinkisrightonthecrestoftheElAbra,andtheminingroadbordersitonthesouthside.Thecollapseopeningis40feetwideand235feetlong,anditswallsarevertical,droppingapproximately40feetonthelowsideand60feetonthehighside.However,thesouthwalloffersaneasyclimbdownalongajoint.Attheeastendoftheentrancesinkisalow,wideroomcontainingtheremainsofseveralstonewallswhichwereprobablybuiltbyHuastecanIndians.Atthewestendofthesink,atalusslopeleadsdowntoaflat,silt-flooredpassagewheretherearemorearchaeologicalremains.Thispassageis20feetwide,40feethigh,andextendswestfor375feetbeforeitisintersectedbyanupperlevelcrawlway.Thiscrawlleadsnorthtoa60-footdrop(80'rope)intomorelargepassage.Thispassageheadswestandbecomespluggedwithflowstoneonly350feetfromCasiMediaMil.Thejointalongwhichthispassageisformedappearsonthesurfaceinthelargedolinawestofthemine,andthisisthelocationofthe3xlO-footentranceslottoCasiMediaMil.TheCasiMediaMilentrancepitbellsoutquicklyanddropsIIIfeettoarock-strewnfloor.TotheeastisashortpassagewhichmatchesupwiththelowerlevelinIndios.Afewfeettothewestisa43-footdrop(asingle180'ropecanrigtheentrancedropandthisone).Atthebottomisaflowstonesqueeze,followedbyaclimbdownwhichleadstothetopofthelastdrop.Thetotaldepthofthisdropis305feet(350'rope),butafterdescending50feetagainstonewall,alargenaturalbridgeisencounteredonwhichseveralpeoplecanworkcomfortably.Oncebelowthebridge,thereisa217-footfreerappel.Thissectionofthepitbellsoutintoalarge,impressivechamberwhichis120x70feetnearthebottom.Themudandgravelfloorofthischamberisperfectlyflat.Thereisasmallpoolinthecenteroftheroom,andadrainagechannelleadstoasumpagainstonewall.CasiMediaMiliswell-decoratedandhasonehighlyunusualformationatthetopofthelongdrop--theremnantsofalarge,hollowsphere.Itappearsthatflowstonewasdepositedoveramoundofsediment,andlaterthesedimenteroded,leavingonlytheflowstoneshell.Asmallersphereiscurrentlybeingformedbythisprocessatthebottomofthecave.CuevadeDiamanteCueva deDiamanteislocatedatthesoutheastendofthelargedolinatothewestofthemine.Thecavehastwosmallentrances.Themostobviousoneisinasumpattheendofthearroyowhichdrainsthedolina.During

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[foldout map of Otates Mine area followed this page]

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wNsE'e>G:lC9JC9ease \..e'lo\GJ'itC$)C.EIAbraLOImestone,Back-reefFceresd7-Y::'/,//,/r'MEXICOI($I-e><:::'!EIAbraLtmestone,ReefFaciesMendezShaleAREASANLUISPOTOSI8TAMAULIPAS,Exaggeration1.5xOTATES MINESIERRADEELABRA,BASEDON STEVETANCHIPAAREACLARKLILLIE'CRAIGBITTINGMAPANDFIERONTILKENS'MINTONDENISSURVEYSOFD FIELDDATANOTE',BY ISOMETRI ERIZEDBYDAVID'YSOUKUP,TEIN, CBLOCKDIAGRAMcKENZIEMCOMPILEDANDDRAFTEDBY NEALMORRIS.ScaleinFeet

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20butthehandholdsareunstablethatthedropshouldberigged(75'rope)forsafety.Thisisfollowedbya35-footchimney,aID-footclimbdown,a40-foot,offsettingdrop(50'rope),anda20-footdrop(3D'rope).Moreclimbdownsandashort,narrowpassagesoonencounteratightslotwhichopensinto a14-footclimbdownwheretheFloodwaterRouteisjoined.TheCrystalRoomRouteistheonenormallyrigged.AlthoughtheFloodwaterRouteismoredirect,itrequiresrigginglongerdropsthroughrazor-sharppassages.Fromthejunctionofthetworoutes,aclimbdownandashortpassageleadtothetopofa30-footdrop.Thisdropcanberigged,butitisusuallybypassedbydoinganexposedtraversealongtheleftwalltoa25-footchimney.Belowthisdrop,thepassagesplitswherethewatertakestwoparallelroutes.Ontheleftaclimbable,small-diametertubedrops40feetbeforeitbecomestootightandjaggedforcomfort(itcouldbepushed,however).Ontherightside,atube10feetindiameterdrops100feetvertically,viaaseriesofclimbdowns,toa25-foot-longcrawlway.Thiscrawlleadstoaholewhichopensintothetopofafissure.Itispossibletoslipthroughtheholedowntoaledgewhichprovidesariggingpoint.BelowisanBO-footdroptoapartition,andalthoughitis"climbable,"itisbettertorigitwithaISO-footropewhichwillreachpastthepartitiontothebottomofthefissure.Ontheleftsideofthepartition(unmapped),thefissuredropsabout20feettoalakewhereexplorationwasstoppedb y aconstricted,razor-edgedcrawl.Ontherightsideofthepartition,the3foot-widefissuredrops15feettoawindow.Throughthewindow,thefissuredrops25feettoaledgeandthen15feettothepresentdeeppointinDiamante,907feetbelowtheentranceand373feetabovetheestimatedbaselevel.Herethefissureis1.5feetwideand5feetlong.Itcontinues4incheswideatoneendanddropsthroughan8-inch-wideholeattheotherend.Rocksdroppedthroughthisholecanbeheardtorattledownwardforashortdistance.Thisholecouldonlybeenlargedbyexplosives,andeventhiswouldbeadifficulttask.ObservationsonCuevadeDiamanteandtheMineAreaDiamanteisacomplexcavewithaninterestinghistory.TheentrancepassageappearstobeanoldphreatictubewhichintersectedazoneofintenselyshatteredbedrockintheFrogFallsarea.TheShatterZonepassagesexhibitangularlimestoneblocksofgreatsizerangewhichhavebeenrecementedtogether.Resolutionofthezonehasproducedrazor-sharppassageswhichdemandthatexplorerswearglovesandcarryropepads.TheShatterZonepassagesliedirectlybeneaththedolina,whichsupportsthetheorythatfaultsandshatteredbedrockhavelocalizedtheformationofthelargesinkholesfoundalongthecrestoftheSierradeElAbra.Incontrast,theCanyonlandSectionisformedalongjointsandisbasicallyhorizontal,extendingcompletelyundertheDolinatothenorthbeforedipping60eastwardalongaverticaljoint.SuchadipinthislocationwouldsupportthetheorythattheElAbra'seasternscarpisananticlinalfeature.Canyonlandappearstobetheoldestsectionofthecave.Thefloorisdeeplyentrenchedinplaces.Pleistocenemammalremains(horse,bison,andmammoth)werediscoveredinanerodinggravelbankinonearea,however,mostoftheCanyonlandisscouredclean. Canyonlandstilltakessomefloodwater,butmostofthewaterisnowpiratedb ytheFractureZonepassages,allofwhichareactivelydevelopingexceptfortheabandonedCrystalRoomRoute.InthelowerleveloftbeFractureZone(oncereferredtoasHandburgerHill),thewaterbecomesdividedamongthreepassageswhichallpinchdowntorazor-sharpcrawls,endingexploration.

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21InMarch1975,atripwasmadetocontinueexplorationinDiamante.Anapproximatedepthof900feetwasreachedviaCrystalRoomroute.TherewasaminoraccidentbelowtheCrystalRoomwhen ahandholdbrokeloosecausingacavertofall15feet.Theminersalsoshowedthisgroupanewpit(CasiMil)betweentheDiamondentranceandtheminingcamp(SeeAMCSAct.News.2:7).InJune,a two-manteamreturnedtothemineandexploredthenewpit.Theyestimatedthedepthat735feetandthusnameditCasiMil(almost1000feet),reportedinAMCSAct.News.3:5.Mid-Julysawaspecialtriptotheareawiththepurposeoflocatingtheelusiveblackhole.ThisgrouprediscoveredCuestabyusinga"ParrotBearing"' asrecordedinAMCSAct.News.3:8,9(Air-recon.hasfinallydeterminedthenon-existenceofanyblackholesnearCuesta).ThemostrecenttriptotheareawasduringChristmas1975.Diamond wasextensivelyexploredandsurveyedtoadepthof907feet.CasiMilwasre-surveyedtoadepthof495feetandre-namedCasiMediaMil.Finally,asurfacesurveywasmadewhichconnectedthefourcavesnearthemine.Theblockdiagramwiththisarticlecombinesallofthesurveyworkwhichhasbeendoneinthisareatodate(SeeTripReportsinthisissueandinD.C.Speleograph,April76:3-5)..GeologicSettingTheeastfaceoftheElAbradropssteeplydowntothecoastalplainprovidingaspectacularviewfromtheOtatesMine.JohnFishhaspostulatedthattheeastfaceisafaultscarp,whileWilliamRussellhasarguedthatitisasteeplydiPRinganticline.Theblockdiagramdepictsitasananticlinewhichsinksbeneaththeshaleformationsofthecoastalplain.AlsoshownonthediagramarethetwofaciesofElAbralimestonewhichhavebeendescribedfromotherlocationsintheSierra.Themassive,unbeddedreeffaciesformsanarrowbandalongtheeasternmarginoftherange,whiletheback-reeffaciesisthick-beddedanddipsgentlytothewestformingtheplateausurface.Manycaves(mostwithphreaticorigins)havedevelopedinareasoffaultingandintensefracturingwhichresultedwhentherangewasfolded.AlldrainageontheElAbraisinternal.BaselevelforthemineareaistheNacimientodeRioTantoan,alargespringatthebaseoftherange.Thisgivescavesontheplateauamaximumverticalpotentialofabout1500feet.Caveelevationsonthediagramareelevationsabovethisprojectedbaselevel.SotanodeOtatesandtheMineValleyThe 125footentrancepit(150'rope)toSotanodeOtatesislocatedontheAbra'seastfacejustbelowtheOtatesMine.Infact,themineiscurrentlydumpingitstailingsintotheOtatesentrance,andthecavemayeventuallybeplugged.Atthebottomoftheentrancedropisalargeroom,fromwhichawaterchannelfollowsasteeplyslopingpassageeastseveralhundredfeettoahandlinedrop(40'rope).Thisisimmediatelyfollowedby anarrow600-footshaft(625'rope)whichdividesseveralhundredfeetfromthebottom.Explorationofthisdrophasbeendifficult,andbothroutescurrentlyendinsumps. Thelowersumpis800feetbelowtheentrance.JohnFish(1975)hastypedmanyofthecavesontheE1Abra'seastfaceas"paleo-phreaticresurgences"--caveswhichweresprings' whenbaselevelfortheareawasatamuchhigherlevelthantoday.Otateswouldfitthiscategoryquitewell.Itisofphreaticorigin,andthedeepverticaltubesorshaftswouldhaveservedtocirculatewaterupfromgreatdepths.

PAGE 28

22Diamantereceiveditsnamefromthenumerousquartzcrystals(HerkimerDiamonds)whicharefoundinthearroyodrainingthedolinaandthroughoutthecaveitself.ThesecrystalsareprobablyresidualfromshaleformationswhichpreviouslycoveredtheElAbrabutnowhavebeenerodedtothepresentlevelofthecoastalplain.TheElAbrafacieschangedepictedonthediagramissupportedbyobservationsinthefield.BeddingplanesareabsentinOtatesandIndiosbutbecometraceableintheDiamantedolinaandintheCanyonlandsectionofDiamante.FurtherexplorationandstudyintheOtatesMineAreashouldbeveryrewarding.GeologyReferencesFish,John.1975,KarstGeomorphologyandHydrologyoftheSierradeElAbra,S.L.P.andTamps.,Mexico.(tentativetitle),PhDdissertation,Dept.ofGeology,McMasterUniversity,Ontario.Russell,WilliamH.andRaines,TerryW.1967,CavesoftheInterAmericanHighway.BulletinIoftheAssociationforMexicanCaveStudies,Austin,Texas.NotefromPrestonAnyoneplanningondoingCuevadeElChorreaderoinChiapasshouldhavethefollowingequipment:aselectionofpitons,pitonhammer,boltkit,andatleast30feetofoneinchwebbing.Reason:WhenourgroupwentthroughthecaveinJanuary,1976,wedidnothavemostoftheequipmentasweknewthecavewasrigged.However,asafetyfactorisinvolvedsincemanyofthepitonplacementsaremarginalandadditionalbackuppitonsandinsomecasesboltsareneeded,especiallyinthelowerpartofthecave.PrestonForsytheBiologyPreliminarystudyofpseudoscorpionscollectedthissummerinYucatanbyGrubbs,Reddell,andW ileyhasrevealedanewgenusfromacaveinQuintanaRoo. AnewTroglibiticHomopteran(planthopper)wasfoundthisChristmasatAcatlan,Oaxaca,byHi keM cEachernofthe"SchoolBus."Thisisthe6thTroglobiticHomopteranintheworld.Twoareknown fromtwo from H awaii,an donefroll!Au stralia.AnewspeciesandpossiblvofScolopendramorphcentipedewasfoundinConchas.Itisprobablyoneofthedeepestanimalscollectedfromitcamefro mth ebottonoftt,e200'drop.fuC.Grubbs

PAGE 29

23.ChristmasinAcatlanOverChristmas,TerrySayther,ShariLarason,DennisBarnes,MarciaCossey,AndyGrubbs,andTomByrd madeaspur-of-the-momentallnightdrivetoAcatlan,Oaxaca,inhopesofheadingofftheschool-buscrowd enroutetoGuatemala.Weneverranintothemthough,butwehadplentyofcavingtodowhileweweredownthere.Wepaidaguidetoshowusasmanycaveentrancesaswecouldseeinoneafternoon.Wesawfivecavesthatafternoon,allofthemclosetotheroadsandwithaspreadoutdistributionfromtenmilesnorthofthetowntotenmilessouthoftown.TheywereLa Cueva deJuanSanchez,La Cueva delaJunta,La CuevadeBuenosAires,La CuevadePiedraFria,andLa CuevadeRioSanAntonio.Inadditiontothesecaves,wealsosawandcheckedouta3-Dmazecaveatourcampsite.Itwasexposedbytheexcavationoflimestoneata Mogoteinthemiddleofacanefield.Thecaveisslowlysuccumbingtoquarryingoperations,sowenamedit"DisappearingCave."OurmainactivitywasconcentratedonthesurveyingofLa CuevadeJuanSanchez.ThecaveislocatedattheNacimientodeelRioJuanSanchezandhasalarge,impressiveentranceatthebaseofa40mcliff.Immediatelyinsidethecave,thereisalargepileofbrokenpotteryandmanyobsidianbladesscatteredaboutontheclayslope.Fromherethereisagentlymeanderingstreampassagewhichis20-30mwideand 8-lOmhigh.Soonafterleavingthelasttracesofdaylightbehind,thereisalargebreakdownroomwithahighwidepassageofftotheleftforashortdistance,withpotteryandformations.Oppositethispassageisanarrowsidepassageleadingoffthemainpassagetotheright.Thispassagewascalled"CuevaOculta"takingitsnamefromthewritingsofearlierexplorerswhowrotethewordsonaboulderattheentrance.Itendedinbreakdownwheretreerootsgrewinfromabove.Throughoutthemainpassage,thereareterracesofconglomeratedroundcobblesofigneousrockranp.inginsizefrompeasizetograpefruitsize,andonthewallsinmanyplacesarescallopsofvariedsizes.Thereareseverallargebreakdownroomswithhighceilingsthroughoutthecave,andonlyinthehighplacesarethereanyformations.Ittookustwodaystosurveythecaveandwedidnotfinish.Lateontheseconddayofthesurvey,wecarnetoalarge,steepbreakdownslopeextendingupwardtoanupperentrance.Fromthislargesloperoomisasidepassageleadingdowntoseverallargerooms.Aftersome13hoursofthatday,wedecidedtocallitquitsforawhileafterpeeringintothedarknessofahugebatroomwithgiantbreakdownblocks.Wehaveindicatedthisasthe"BigRoom"onthemap.T,JedonItknowhowfarthecaveextendsteyondthisandwedidn'thavetimetocontinue.Thetave,accordingtothelocalresidents,isbytwonames:La Cueva deJuanSanchez(aftertheriver)andLa Cueva de Almolonga(afteranearbycommunity).Thepeoplesavthattodalacuevaessecaenabril,butthatinagosto,greatcuantitiesofwatercomeoutcarryinglogsandotherdehris.ThisareaaroundAcatlanisverypromising.Therearenumerousroadsamongthelowrolling.hillsofsugarcanefieldsandsmallanticlinalridgesandareasofhaystackhills.dolinascanbeseenfromtheroads.Thelocalsofmanvsotanosinthehills.Thereisnotmuchdepthpotentialhere,butthedeepest'cavesarenotfarawayontheHuatlaPlateau.Therearegoingtobesomelonghorizontalsystensandsotanosenterinp.them fromaboveinthisarea.hopetoreturnnextdryseasontofinishJuanSanchezandcheckoutothercavesinthevicinity.byTomByrd

PAGE 30

LACUEVADEJUANSANCHEZ(LACUEVADEALMOLONGA)ACATLAN,OAXACASUUNTOaTAPESURVEY,JANUARY6-7,1976.DENNISBARNES,TOMBYRD.MARCIACOSSEY, ANDYGRU88S SHARIURASON,TERRYSAYTNER DRAFTEDBYTOMBYRD CEIUNGHEIGHTSINMETERS.o1 00, ,,,,'U"f1Ir":II)CIRCLEROOM

PAGE 31

otrlUl>-'Jc::tJHtrlUlC::OtTlUlUl::<::O:UlrltpoH-...Jt'T10Z"':>:lH-...JUl>rlN;:I::rlMHH::

Description
This forth issue of
the Activities Letter is less timely, but we feel that it is
more informative than previous issues. Peter Sprause's column
in the NSS News has kept AMCS members informed of current
activity in Mexico and thus relieved the Activities Letter of
some of the necessity of publishing after each major trip. This
issue of the Activities Letter is an attempt to meet the need
for a place to publish maps and longer articles on Mexican
caves. The NSS News cannot publish accounts of every trip to
Mexico, and regional and grotto publications will not reach the
widely dispersed membership of the AMCS. It is advantageous for
the AMCS to use the NSS News for current information as this
exposes many serious cavers to the potential of Mexico. The
AMCS does not have the concentrated manpower to maintain a
monthly publication. The Activities Letter was began to bring
timely information to AMCS members and maintain the identity of
the Association for Mexican Cave Studies as it was felt that
the AMCS would not continue to function without an active
publication. The need for information has shifted from timely
reporting to longer articles and maps; but we will still
publish issues on recent developments when necessary.
The Association for Mexican Cave Studies is a
non-profit, volunteer organization whose goals are the
collection and dissemination of information concerning Mexican
caves. The AMCS publishes a Newsletter, Bulletin, and Cave
Report Series which are available to any sincerely interested,
conservation-minded person.


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