AMCS Activities Newsletter

Citation
AMCS Activities Newsletter

Material Information

Title:
AMCS Activities Newsletter
Series Title:
AMCS Activities Newsletter
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:
Edited by Bill Mixon, 102 pagesContents: Mexico News, compiled by William Russell -- Long and Deep Cave Lists, compiled by Peter Sprouse - History of Huautla Exploration / Bill Stone -- Peña de Salazar, Oscar Berrones and Raúl Puente -- Zacatón / Ann Kristovich and Jim Bowden -- The 1994 San Agustín Expedition / Bill Stone and Barbara am Ende -- Caverns and Peoples of Northern Yucatán (reprint) / Leon Cole -- Sótano de Alfredo / Jim Smith -- Brillante / Jim Smith -- 93 -- Sierra Mixteca Alta / Louise Hose -- Underwater Discoveries in Quintana Roo / Steve Gerrard -- Obituary: Sheck Exley / Jim Bowden -- Obituary: Ian Rolland / Bill Stone. 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. 21 (1995)
General Note:
See Extended description for more information.

Record Information

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:
K26-00370 ( USFLDC DOI )
k26.370 ( USFLDC Handle )
17950 ( karstportal - original NodeID )

USFLDC Membership

Aggregations:
Added automatically
Karst Information Portal

Postcard Information

Format:
serial

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:


Full Text

PAGE 4

AMesACTIVITIESNEWSLETTERNumber21May 1995TheAMeSActivities NewsletterispublishedbytheAssociationforMexicanCaveStudies,withassistancefromWilliamRussell.ThisissuewaseditedbyBill Mixon,withhelpfromKatieArens,OscarBerrones,Susie Lasko,MarkMinton,GaryNapper,TerryRaines,andPeterSprouse.TheActivities Newsletterseeksarticlesandnewsitemsonallsignificantexplorationandresearchactivitiesinthecavesof Mexico.Photographssuitableforthecoversandotherfullpageapplicationsarealsosought.Theyneednotrelatetoanarticleintheissue,buttheoriginalslideornegativemustbeavailableonrequestforprintingfull-pagephotos.AllmaterialmaybesenttotheAMCSaddress.ThoseplanninganarticlemaycontacttheAMCS forthenameoftheeditorandthescheduleforthenextissue.Better yet,justsenditnow.TheAssociationforMexicanCaveStudiesisaninformal,nonprofitorganizationdedicatedtotheexploration,study,andconservationofthecavesof Mexico. AllpreviousissuesoftheActivitiesNewsletterareavailable,asarevariousotherpublicationsoncavesandcave lifeinMexico.Writefor a listofpublications.ASSOCIATIONFORMEXICANCAVESTUDIESBOX7672AUSTIN,TEXAS78713 AMCS Membership Committee All rights reserved Printedinthe United StatesofAmericaFront cover Francie Tucker isabout500meters into Sac Acrun, Quintana Roo, from theHoTul Cenote entrance.PhotobyBillTucker.Back coverCyndiWalk watchesDawnReed climbinS6tano de la Cuchilla, Tamaulipas.PhotobySusieLasko.Frontispiece FormationsinGrutadel Palmito, Bustamante, Nuevo Le6n.PhotobyBillMixon.Page15CuevadelaFOljeII, Nuevo Le6n.PhotobySusieLasko.

PAGE 5

CONTENTS4 MexicoNewsWilliam Russell12LongandDeepCavesListsPeterSprouse14DeepPitsofMexico ListPeterSprouse17HistoryofHuautlaExplorationBill Stone31PefiadeSalazarOscarBerronesandRaul Puente38Zacat6nAnnKristovichandJimBowden44 The 1994SanAgustinExpeditionBillStoneandBarbaraamEnde65CavernsandPeoples ofNorthernYucatan (history)LeonCole71S6tanodeAlfredoJimSmith76S6tanoBrillanteJimSmith79M'Expe9388Sierra Mixteca AltaLouiseHose93UnderwaterDiscoveriesinQuintanaRooSteveGerrard99Obituaries: Sheck ExleyandIanRolland 102Authors'Addresses

PAGE 6

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21MEXICO NEWSCompiledbyWilliam RussellCHIAPASAnItalian expedition took place in1993,centeredaroundLasMargaritas near the Guatemala border. Cueva Pierluis FiordeImWldoisa short, multi level vertical cave 80 meters deep. Cueva Loregito Zappaluerto contains a singleinclinedpassage that was in completely exploreddueto high levels of CO2encounteredat-110 meters.Source:Spelrologia29,1993.OnApril 6,1995, apartyof rafterswasfireduponbybanditsonthe Guatemalan side of the Usumacinta River, which forms the borderbetween ChiapasandGuatemala,andforced to shore. Three cavers wellknownfor theirworkin Mexico, Ursi Sommer of SwitzerlandandKarlin MeyersandGill Ediger of the United States, werewounded.The bandits were frightened back into the junglebythe chance appearance of a Mexi canArmyhelicopter,andthe rafters hastily fled down-river through the nightintheirnowleaky rafts. Twenty parties of raftershaddescended the riverinthe previous several months unmolested, despite the wellknownunrest in the area,andthe tripwasregarded as safe.Source:Gill Ediger.COAHUILATexas cavers explored a remote pit in northwestern CoahuilaatRancho la Piramide. Pozodela Peftahada 61-meter entrancedropinto a large borehole floored with dust-eovered breakdown. Thisendedafter 100 metersatadepthof 83 meters.Source:Peter Sprouse.MarkMintonandPeterSprousehelped gather information for this feature.4NUEVOLE6NInNovember 1994, cavers of the Proyecto Espeleol6gico Purificaci6ncontinuedprospectingforcavesaroundCerro el Viejo, Zaragoza. Fourteennewcaves weremappedaroundLaEscondidaandAgua del Toro. The deepest of thesewasPozodeMas Cable, whichwentdowna series of drops toendatadepthof154meters. A multi-day effortwasrequired to reach a cave highonthe east face ofViejo.Cueva del Ma chete Volandowasreached via lead climbingandturnedouttobeadrygallery severalhundredmeters long.Source:Peter Sprouse.OAXACATheChilchotla '94expedition,fourth Australian expedition to the Zongolica-Cl1.ilchotla area, lasted only five weeksandturnedouttobetheir least productive. They beganbylook ing fornewcaves where theywantedthem to be, higherupthe hill in a series of monster dolines filled with nasty spiky bushesandstinging in sects,butno caves. Two weeks into the trip theybeganto rig in Sonconga, the second deepest cave in the area.Ithada nice lookingsumpatthe bottom that theyhopedmight have drainedenoughduring thisdryseason to be passed. A swim by Greg Tunnock,withSteve Carrick in support, showed thesumpstill closed,butlessmuddybecause of lowerflow.Greg thought a dive with a small bottle might be worth while,butwasn'tenthusiastic about trying a free dive. The strong air flow just before thesumpwasnotpur sued; trying to follow it remains a possibility. Theswimmusthave in creased thedepthof the cavebyall of a meter, to 947 meters. Deriggingwasevenslowerandmorelaborious than the usual epic, as severalwereoutof actionwithailments ranging from a broken ankle to turistasandothersweren'twilling togobelow-400meters.Aboutaweekbefore theendof the trip, a shortburstof enthusiasm got agroupgoinginto NiaQuienNita (DeadDogCave). Unlike most otherdeepcavesaroundZongolica, DeadDoghitssomemajor horizon tal passagesatabout-500 meters,andthese are intersectedbyseveral streams.In1987oneof thesewentto-750 meters. Shane WilcoxandSteve Carrick foundanotherintersection this trip,butwithso little timeandequipmentavailable,itwasleft for next time, theendof 1995.Source:Alan Warild.CruzRoja-Daxaca caversandtwo cavers from Colorado continued their allianceinthesummerof 1994, ex ploring caves in the Sierra Mixtecawestofthecity of Oaxaca.[Seealso the articleinthis issueontheSierra Mixteca Alta.] Theonlycommerical caveinthe state, LasGrutasinthetownof San Sebastiandelas Grutas,wasthe focus ofmostof their attention.Theymappedabout1300 meters,butdeclined to finish surveyingtheriverpassageduringtheheight of the rainy season. Theyhopeto continueduringadriertime of year. Thegroupalso started amapof a remote, quasi-commercial cave in the village of San Pedro Totomacapan. A one-day trip yielded 409 meters ofmappedstream passage, about half theknowncave.Themostexciting exploration occurredinthevillageofSanAndresChicahuaxtlainacavewiththe

PAGE 7

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTER NUMBER21.----.2-----SOONJANSOm-o10.JI:-:_cL=__=_CerroRabon,Oaxaca,MexiqueP.Schenker,K.Meyers.R.Hnpka, P.-Y.JeanninProyectoCerroRnbonVers m(jonction avec Kijahe Xontjoa)Fortsetzung auf m (Verbindung mit Kijahe Xontjoal?-275/vIR210'021I22mars1992 Dessin:R.Hapka5

PAGE 8

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTERNUMBER21SpanishnamePozodelViento.TheCruzRojateamhadrecovered abodyfrom three pitchesdowntwoanda half years before. Welearnedfromthelocalsduringourvisitthatshehadbeenthefourthwomaninmemoryto "fall"intotheholeontheedgeofacomfieldneartown.Despiteadeaththreatissuedbyaborrachototheteamwhentheonlyfemalestartedherrappel,thegroupofthreeOaxaquenosandtwoColoradanssafelydescendedandmappeddownsix pitches.Theirretreatwasforcedwhentheyencountereda seven-second(withonebounce)pitforwhichtheydidnothaveenoughrope.Theyintendtoreturnsoon.TheNovember1994 issueofNationalGeographicmentionsthe villageandits "well."Source:Louise Hose. ThedeeppitsoftheCerroRab6narea justeastofHuautlaaredescribed inanextensive articleinStalactitebyRomanHapka.Thearticle isinbothFrench("LesgrandespuitsduCerroRabon")andGerman("Die gro15en SchachtedesCerroRabon")anddescribesmorethanjustthepitsofthe Cerro Rab6n.Italso discusses the historyoftheexplorationofthedeeppits of Mexico, fromthefirst tripsbyTexans totheSierradeElAbraandS6tanodeHuitzmolotitlatotheex plorations ofS6tanodeGolondrinasandEIS6tanodeEl Barro.Thehis toryofexplorationinthe Cerro Rab6n includes adetaileddescriptionofSoOnJan,thedeepestpitintheCerro Rab6nat210 meters.In1993, thispitwaspushedto aconnectionwithKijahe Xontjoaatadepthof550 meters.Source:Stalactite,vol. 43, no. 2,1993.The1995CuevaCheveexpeditionmadeprogress inanunusualdirection-straightup.AbouttwentycaverscampedinthellanoneartheentranceinMarch.Thegroupincludedcavers fromtheUnited States, Switzerland, Britain,andevena Rus sian.Themaineffortwasa twelvedaypushfromCamp3, 1006metersbelowthemainentranceandnearthe presentendofthecave. The cavers followedtheairupa 5-meter-diam eter breakdown-filled shaft. WiththejudicioususeofKinepak,theywereable toworktheirwayupthrough6massivebreakdownfor 100metersto aroomabout50by25metersand5 meters high.Fromthis room, theycontinuedupwardthroughbreakdownto a formationroomandthenupthroughmorebreakdownto aholejusttoo small topasswithgoodairflowandanapparentroombeyond.Theywereoutoftime; areturntrip isplannedin three years.Source:Charlie Savvas.PUEBLAThe1994CuetzalanExpedition,ajointventureoftheNorthernCavingClubfromEnglandandtheSociedadMexicanadeExploracionesSubterraneas,involvedseventeenBritishandsevenMexicancavers.BetweenMarch22andApril21,11kilometersofcaveweresurveyed,bringingthetotalsurveyedpassageintheareato79.1kilometers.TheexpeditionmadetheconnectionbetweentheChichicasapanpartoftheCuetzalanSystemtoAtepolihuitdeSanMiguel,producingacave34.4kilometerslongand650metersdeep.Theexpeditionwasseverelyimpactedbyfloodsthattrappedfivecaversdeepinthesystemfortwenty-fourhours,butallsurvived.BritishcaversreturnedtotheCuetzalanarea for threeandahalfweeksinJanuary1995. TheypushedtheAlpazatresurgenceto11,903 metersinlength,nowonly200 metersfromtheSanMiguelsectionofSistemaCuetzalan.SistemaCuetzalan itselfgrewslightly to 34,345 meters. AnewcaveeastofSistemaSanAndres,SimaTalcomitl,wassurveyedfor 5.58 kilometers. ThismaytumouttobepartoftheSanAndressystem. Caves in theCuetzalanareaover2 kilometerslongare:CuetzalanSystem 34.3CuevadeAlpazat11.9 AtepolhuitdeSanAndres10.7ZoquiapanSystem 6.5 Sima Talc6mitl 5.0 Tasalopan 2.9 Sima GrandedeCuauhtamazalco 2.8 Tacomitl2.1Source:Descent,no. 120, October-November1994;InternationnlCaver12,1994;Ram6nEspinasa.QUERETAROSincethepreparationofthearticleonpage93ofAMCS ActivitiesNewsletter20,caversfromthesoutheasternUnitedStates,ledbyGerald Moni,havecontinuedtheirsearchfor cavessouthofHighway120nearXilitla,SLP.Thetotalnumberofcavesnowontheirlistis 169.MostoftheaddedcavesareinQueretaro,butsomeareinHidalgo. SeealsothearticlesonSotanoBrillanteandSotanodeAlfredointhis issue.Startingwitha tripinJanuary1995,theyhaveturnedtheirattentiontotheTamapatz, SLp, area.Source:GeraldMoni.SANLUIS POTOSIAnewtypeofspeleothemresem blingsubaqueoushelictiteshasbeenidentifiedinCuevadelaPuente.Theseunusualformations,dubbedlarvites,growbyprecipitationofcal citearoundthemucoustubesofflylarvaeattachedtotravertinedams.Thesetubesarequitedelicateandarefrequentlydestroyedbyfloods,buttheygrowbackeasily, reaching 10 to 15 centimetersinlengthandupto 1centimeterindiameterwithina fewmonths.InMarch 1995, MikeWartonfoundtheroadtoCuevadelaPuenteblockedbyagatewitha"privateproperty"sign. Amassivestonewallextendedinbothdirections.Source: GE02, vol. 18, no. 2, fall 1991,andMikeWarton.SotanodeTrueno,a 146-metershaftlocatednearSanFrancisco (seeAMCSActivitiesNewsletter14) is beingfilledwithrubblefromanearbylimestone quarry.Unexploredleadsnearthebottomhavebeenfilled,andblastingcapsandotherexplosivematerialswereseeninthedebris. This once-finepitisnowextremelydangerousandshouldbeavoided.Source:George Veni.TheAsociaci6nPotosinadeMon tai\ismo y Espeleologfahaspublished a locationmapandbrief descriptionsofforty-threecavesfoundbytheir SierradeAlvarez projectinthevicinityofthetownofSanFranciscoandtheValledelosFantasmas.ThedeepestisSotanodeSanFranciscoat214meters;secondisSotanodePuertos

PAGE 9

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21CUETZALEN AREAPUEBLA, MEXICOlEPJZAlAKEY. (AVB--?'lOISUIlVEYED_ ......ENTRANCEFLOWHGHLEVUCAVEINTAMAUUPAS--CHURCHIDRAfTtD8TJ.THall'JULY"'.CAVE SYSTEMS OF CUETZALEN COMPILED FROM N.C.C. AND S.M.E.S. EXPEDITION SURVEYS 1991-1994. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FROM JOINT SERVICES EXPEDITION 93-94. MAIN ENTRANCES FIXED BY G.P.S. KILOMETRE GRID MAP F14D851:50000 SURVEYED LENGTH 79045mCUETZALEN SYSTEM 34354m:SAN ANDRES 10903m:ALPAZAT 7480m:ZOQUIAPAN 6489mI.M(TRiCSCJU.171000.ZOOUllAISIMAIX1"'C"lICUEVAlARANLAr'\t""'.______-'-+1__IirJ..,mno...l:ITOPSINKCHVOSTOCOW.,\SIMABAGSKIWSSSYSTEMA"'i,T,CCA>JATCHAN/SINNOHBR153COYQXQOfTII'i::'CUEVAOfAW,ZATII""11"127

PAGE 10

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTERNUMBER21PROFILE: 2100VIEW'02030405060P24PIOII 70ELEV 2575 M0/,/I",,I,,III,IIP23 P5.;.......<.."-..'j__\,LOWER LEVELPOZOJESUPLASTICOLAS CHINAS, EJIDO REVILLA TAMAULIPAS, MEXICOPEP 269 SUUNTOS AND TAPE SURVEY 17-18 FEBRUARY 1993 BY CHARLEYSAWAS,DAVID MCKENZIE, PETER SPROUSE DRAFTED BY PETER SPROUSE LENGTH: 184 METERS DEPTH 78 METERS UTM COORDINATES: E454.140 N2,641.54051015I,1.....L_!.. ... _J-METERS"METERS 788

PAGE 11

o10 20 30 40 50 607080160 meters 162 China Well P154\l\!--I\\11Level1-entranceLevel1planmeters PEPstandardcavemapsymbolso5 1015,,,,,I ILASCHINAS, EJIDO REVILLA TAMAULIPAS, MEXICOsinkPEP 200Suuntosandtapesurvey2 September 1989 Val Ellis, John Fogarty, Susie Lasko, PeterSprouseDraftedbyPeterSprouseLength:190meters Depth: 162metersUTM coordinates E:454,650 N:2,638,276PROYECTOESPELEOLOGICOPURIFICACIONPOZO DELASCHINAS'0;-0.SLevel 2-(III-90.o.a:-..........Level 2planPlan""1;0"',otaled248d",,,,,,flJ100 Profile: 270 degree viewNm----I110I\IIII\\-/'\120II-\\\\\\\\ \,\\\\130\\\,\\\JF1"\7)\\\\\\Level 3plan\I140III150 Level3-1IIIIIIIfIIf,"--...I-r---.......

PAGE 13

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21delosLobos,202meters.Source:Tsaval3,July 1993. In February1990,a group of caversfromtheAsociaci6ndeExcursionismo del Instituto Politecnico Nacional visited SotanodeSoyate, a deep pit justnorthof Cd. Valles that leads to a large lake room. Several cavershadfearedthatSoyatewaslostinthe jungleandwouldbe diffi cult to relocate, eventhoughit is just off the road to Cueva Pinta.Ifcavers visit the sOtano every few years, the locals will remember the location.Source:ExcursionismoPolitecnico,epoca4,no. 3,August1993.TAMAULIPASAppropriatelynamedBee Cave, a 74-meter pit near GOmez Farias, con tainsanextensivebeepopulation. The localpeopleconstructscaffoldswithin the pitinordertocollect honey from the hives. TAG (southeastern United States) cavershadvisited the pit in the pastwithoutincidentbyrigging a freedropwellawayfrom the wallsandmaking the descentatnight. However,ona return visit over Thanksgiving of 1994, cavers were attackedbythebees,bothonropeaswell asonthe surfacenearthe lip, evenatnightwiththe same rigging point. This raisesthespecterofAfricanized "killer" beesandindi cates that extreme caution shouldbeobservedwheneverbees are seen around cave entrances.Source:Alan Cressler. A full reportonthe 1993 expedi tions to CuevadeTecoloteandCueva del Paraiso Diffcil (see Mexico News,AMCSActivitiesNewsletter20)has been publishedinthe third Proyecto Espeleol6gico Puri6caci6n newsletter. Also included are a listoftheinvertebratefaunaofCuevadelTecolote, trip reports,anddescrip tions of several area caves, including Pozodelas Chinas, with a 154-meter entrance shaft, longestinthearea, 78-meter-deep Pozo JesupIastico,andllD-meter-deep PozodeRancho Viejo.Source:DeathCoralCaver3,October1993.VERACRUZIn March1995,a large international expedition investigatednewkarstareassoutheastof Tequila,nearOrizaba. About thirty cavers from Mexico, the United States, Britain,andGermany participated. They explored fiftynewcaves around TlaquilpaandAtlahuilco. The deepest of thesewasSotano delHombreMiedoso, whichwentdownanumberof pitches to adepthof218meters. Itwasatthis cave that four cavershadtheir rope sabotagedbysome hostile locals,resultingina 7-hour entrapment until fellow cavers came to investigate. Other expedition finds included two entrance pitches in the 100-meter range.Source:Peter Sprouse.YUCATANA group ofU.S.cavers continuedmappingefforts in CuevadeKaua in December1994,after a 2D-year hia tus in activity there. Over half of the encircled North Mazewassurveyed in ninety stations. In all, 746 meters of passage were mapped, making the cave7446meters long. Plenty of maze remainsunmappedandunexplored.Source:Peter Sprouse.BIOLOGYThe cricket fauna of caves in southernMexico from OaxacaandChiapas through the Yucatan Peninsula is describedandanalyzedinalongar ticlebyLaure Desutter-GrandcolasoftheMuseumNationald'HistoireNaturelle, Laboratoried'Entomologie,inParis. (Thesearetruecrick ets,notthe"cavecrickets"oftheUnited States.) Sixnewgeneraaredefined,andtwenty-threeofthe twenty-six speciesconsideredarenewspeciesdescribedinthearticle. Afundamentalproblemofcave bi ology iswhetherremoval ofthean cestral surfacepopulationis necessarybefore a relictpopulationinthecavecanadapttothecave envi ronment.Thecave cricketsofsouthernMexico indicatethatremoval ofthesurfacepopulationisnotneces sary.Source:InternationalJournalofSpeleology,vol. 22,pp.1-82, 1993.NOTEONSOUTHERN MEXICOSeethearticleontheSierraMixteca AltainOaxacainthis issue foranexamplewheregovernmentpermissionandeventhepresenceofagovernmentrepresentativedidnotsuffice for localpermissionto cave. Inthehighkars tnearTequila,southernVeracruz (see Veracruz, above),PeterSprouseandothersweredeniedlocalpermissiondespitehavingaletterfromthepresidenteofthemunicipio, a PRJ official.Ifyouplana cavetriptothepopulatedareas of southern Mexico, particularlytheIndianareas, expect localproblemsandhaveabackupdestination.TheinstabilityofthePRIandthefightinginChiapasmakethingsevenmoreconfusingthanusual,butthensomeof the firstcavingtrips to Mexico,almostthirtyyearsago,hadsimilarprob lems.WilliamRussell.11

PAGE 14

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21LONGCAVES OF MEXICOPeterSprouse April 1995Lengthinmeters1 Sistema Purificaci6n 2 SistemaHuautla3 NohochNahChich 4 SistemaCuetzalan5 Cueva del Tecolote 6 Sistema Cheve 7 Coyalatl 8 Kihaje Xontjoa 9 Sistema Naranjal (Najaron-Maya Blue)10Sistema Ojos (Ojos, Palmas,Tic-Te-Ha)11Cueva del Alpazat12Atlixicalla13Sistema SanAndres14Grutas de RanchoNuevo(San Crist6bal)15EIChorroGrande16 SistemaPondazul17Cueva del ArroyoGrande18CuevaQuebrada19SistemadeNiebla20SistemadeAngel (Ehocoklh)21Sumidero Santa Elena22Cueva Yohualapa23CuevadelaPenaColorada24CuevadeComalapa25S6tanodeLasCalenturas26Actun Kaua 27 S6tano del Arroyo28Cueva delMano29Xongo Dwi Ni30SistemaZoquiapan31SumiderodeJonotla32Grutadel Rio Chontalcoathin33Sistema H31-H32-H3534Grutadel Rio San Jer6nimo35Los Bordos36CuevadeAgua Blanca37GrutasdeJuxtlahuaca38Sima Talc6mitl39Sac Actun40Veshtucoc41Sistema Ocotempa42SistemaHuayateno43Cenote Zapote44Cueva del Nac. delRioSan Antonio45Sistema Atlalaquia46S6tanodelaTinaja47S6tanodeJapones48Cueva Escalera49S6tanodeAguadeCarrizo50SumiderodePecho BlancoNo.212Tamaulipas OaxacaQuintanaRoo Puebla Tamaulipas Oaxaca Puebla OaxacaQuintanaRoo Quintana Roo Puebla Puebla Puebla Chiapas ChiapasQuintanaRoo Chiapas Quintana Roo Puebla Puebla Puebla Puebla Oaxaca Veracruz Tamaulipas Yucatan San Luis Potosi Oaxaca Oaxaca Puebla Puebla Guerrero Puebla Guerrero Chiapas Tabasco Guerrero PueblaQuintanaRoo Chiapas Puebla PueblaQuintanaRoo Oaxaca Veracruz San Luis Potosi San Luis Potosi Oaxaca Oaxaca Chiapas 81950 55953 39624 343453203123300 19000 18500 18472 12073 11903 11700 10903 10218 9650 9254 9154 90008511800078847820 7793 7750 7730 7446 7200 6798 6500641263815827 5745 560052115200 5098 5058 5013 4930 4720 4710 4604 4570 453045024500 4500 4477 4435

PAGE 15

Peter Sprouse April 1995DepthinmetersAMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTERNUMBER21DEEP CAVES OF MEXICO1 SistemaHuautla2 Sistema Cheve 3 Akemati 4 Kijahe Xontjoa 5 Sistema Ocotempa 6 Akemabis 7 Sistema Purificaci6n 8 Sonconga 9 GuizaniNdiaGuinjao10NitaCho11S6tanodeAguadeCarrizo12S6tanodeElBerro 13 S6tanodeTrinidad 14 X'oyTixa 15 SistemadeNiebla 16 NiaQuienNita 17 Nita Ka18Sistema H31-H32-H3519Sonyance20Nita Xonga21YuNita22Aztotempa23S6tano de los PIanos24Resumidero el Borbo1l6n 25 S6tano de Alfredo26Sistema Cuetzalan 27 S6tanodeTilaco28Nita N ashi29Sistema Atlalaquia30CuevadeDiamante31R'jaManKijao32NitaHe33CH54 (Meandre-Qui-Traverse)34S6tanodelas Coyotas35S6tano Arriba Suyo36Sistema de Angel (Ehecoklh)37S6tano del Rio Iglesia38S6tano de Nogal39GrutasdeRanchoNuevo40S6tano de Ahuihuitzcapa41S6tanodelas Golondrinas42Hoyadelas Conchas43S6tano del Buque44S6tano de TepetlaxtliNo.145PozodeMontemayor46Nita Chaki 47 HoyadelasGuaguas48Sistema SanAndres49Cuevadela Canoa 50 CuevadeSan Agustin Oaxaca Oaxaca Puebla Oaxaca Puebla PueblaTamaulipasOaxaca Oaxaca Oaxaca Oaxaca Veracruz San Luis Potosi Oaxaca Puebla Oaxaca Oaxaca Puebla Oaxaca Oaxaca Oaxaca Puebla Puebla San Luis PotosiQueretaroPueblaQueretaroOaxaca VeracruzTamaulipasOaxaca Oaxaca PueblaGuanajuatoSan Luis Potosi Puebla OaxacaQueretaroChiapasVeracruz San Luis PotosiQueretaro QueretaroPueblaNuevoLe6n Oaxaca San Luis Potosi Puebla San Luis Potosi Oaxaca14751386 120011851070 1015 955 947940894 843 838 834 813778767760753 745740704 700 694678673658649641623621613594588581563 533531529 520 515 512 508 506 502501493 478 47446646113

PAGE 16

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTERNUMBER21DEEPPITSOFMEXICOPeterSprouseApril1995Depthinmeters156tanodeElBarro(El56tano) entrancedropQueretaro410 256tanodelasGolondrinasentrancedrop5anLuisPOtOSI376 356tanodeTomasaKiahua entrancedropVeracruz 330 4 S6tanodeAlhuastleP'titQuebecPuebla329 5 Zacat6n entrancedropTamaulipas329 6 Nita Xonga Psycho Killer Oaxaca 310 7 50tanitodeAhuacathln seconddropQueretaro288 856tanodelArroyoGrandeentrancedropChiapas283 95imaDonJuanentrancedropChiapas27810Resumiderodel Pozo Blanco entrancedropJalisco 2331156tanodel Aire entrancedrop5anLuisPOtOSI233125istemaOcotempaPozo Verde Puebla2211356tanodelos Pianos seconddropPuebla22014S6tanodeEladio Martinez entrancedropVeracruz 2201556tanodeCoatimundientrancedropSan LuisPOtOSI219 16 S6tanodeSenderoentrancedropSan LuisPOtOSI217 17Resumideroel Borbollon firstdropSan LuisPOtOSI217185ima del Chikinibal entrancedropChiapas21419Cuevadel Tizar thirddrop5anLuisPOtOSI21220Kijahe Xontjoa SonOnJon Oaxaca 21021Nacimiento del RioManteMacho PitTamaulipas20622HoyadelasGuaguasentrancedrop5anLuisPOtOSI20223Sistemadela Lucha entrancedropChiapas200 24 5istema H3-H4Puebla20025Kijahe Xontjoa Lajao Se Oaxaca 19926SimaLaFundaentrancedropChiapas198 27 S6tanodeSoyate entrancedrop5anLuisPOtOSI19528S6tanodeAlpupulucaentrancedropVeracruz 19029CuaubtempaPozo con CarnePuebla190 3056tanodeTepetlaxtli #1 entrancedropPuebla 1903156tanodePuertode los Lobos entrancedrop5anLuisPOtOSI1893256tanodeHermanosPeligrosos seconddropVeracruz 186 33Hoyadela Luz entrancedrop5anLuisPOtOSI180 34AhuihuitzcapaentrancedropVeracruz 180355imadeVeinte Casas entrancedropChiapas180365imadelCedroentrancedropChiapas175 3756tanodela Cuesta entrancedropSan LuisPOtOSI174 385imaDosPuentesentrancedropChiapas1723956tanodelosMonosentrancedrop5anLuisPOtOSI1714056tanodeOtatesthirddropTamaulipas17141El50cav6nentrancedropQueretaro1714256tanodelos Ladrones entrancedropOaxaca 17043Nita Diplodicus entrancedropOaxaca 1704456tanodeTepetlaxtli #2 entrancedropPuebla 170 4556tanodeAguadeCarrizo Flip Pit Oaxaca 164 46 OC8 entrancedropPuebla160 47 OC4 entrancedropPuebla 16048Nita 5akfaii Oaxaca 16049Kijahe Xontjoa Void Drop Oaxaca 155 50 Pozo de LasChinasChina WellTamaulipas15414

PAGE 19

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21HISTORY OF EXPLORATIONINSISTEMAHUAUTLABill StoneUntil the early 1980s, Mexicowasknown to the speleological world chiefly for its spectacular open-air pits, SOtanodelas Golondrinas in San Luis Potosi, considered bymanyto be theworld'smostawesome pit, with its 333-meter free low-side drop,andthe giganticElSOtano del Barro in Queretaro,withits 41D-meterdrop. These pits were discovered by cavers in1968and1972, respectively. They attracted primarily curiosity seekers,notexplorers.Aneventinthe spring of 1980 changed theworld'sview of Mexican caves.LiNita (Mazatec for Flashlight Cave)andthe SOtanodeSan AgustinontheHuautlaPlateauinOaxacawerelinkedtoformSistema Huautla, the first cave in the Western Hemisphere to break the one-kilometerdepthbarrier. News of this discoveryspreadnotonly through the country of Mexico, where a smallbutgrowingnumberof ex plorationgroupswere developing,butaroundthe world. Thereafter, increasing numbers of speleologicalexpeditionsvisitedMexico, each intending to go deeper beneath the surface. For instance,inthe spring of 1991,duringthedryseason from February through May, more than adozenmajor expeditions were being fieldedinwidely scat tered regions throughout the country.The growth of caving in Mexicoisshownby the increaseinknowndeep caves that surpass the world class five-hundred-meter mark. In1968there were onlytwosuch caves, SOtanodeSan Agustin(612meters deep)andSOtano del Rio Iglesia(535meters).Bythe spring of 1991, there were thirty-four caves deeperthanWilliamC.Stone, except the bibliography. fivehundredmeters; five of theseweredeeperthanonethousandmeters. Today, Mexico is recognized as one of the premier sites in the world for deep cave exploration,andthere are manywhobelieve that the world's first 17OD-meter-deep cave willbeexplored in the southem Sierra Madre Oriental within the next ten years.Onecavethatcouldachieve thisdepthisSistema Huautla, locatedinthe Sierra Mazateca in the northeastcomerof the state of Oaxaca.Ifn the early19605,agroupof spele lLologists,largely from Texas, began investigating thedeepcaves of the Sierra Madre Oriental of Mexico. Ini tially, these were reconnaissance trips that found excitement in descending the entrance shafts ofwhatin some cases proved tobevery large cave systems. Given the startlingdepthsof these entrance pits,upto200meters in some cases, in1964William Russell begananextensive search of topo graphic mapsatthe University ofTexasatAustin for locations in Mexico where water wasshownsinkingathigh elevationsandemerging from springsatmuch lower altitude. The specific intent of this effortwasto locate a potential site for the world's deepest cave. Russell concluded, con servatively, that the potential existed for a thousand-meter-deep caveinthe vicinity of HuautladeJimenez, Oaxaca.InJuly 1965,heandtwoothers setoutfor Huautla,butturned northatthe Puente Fieroatthe sug gestion of local Mazatecs,whosaid that large caves existedonthe road to Santa Maria Chilchotla.Althoughthey discovered several large hori zontal caves, they concludedthat thedeepcavesmustlie somewhere to the east. In June 1966, Ed Alexander,BobBurnett, John Fish, John Kreidler, Charlie Jennings,TommyMcGar rigle,andBillRussell proceeded east from HuautladeJimenez toward the limestone regionwherethe topo graphicmapsindicated the presence of immense sinkholes.Whatfollowedwasone of the greatest speleological discoveries ofalltime.Inoneafter noon, they located the entrances to SOtano del Rio Iglesia, SOtanodeSan Agustin, CuevadeSan Agustin,andCuevadeAgua Carlota. The explo ration of the caves discovered that afternoonwillalmost certainly con tinue well into the twenty-first cen tury.OnJune6, Burnett, Jennings, Alexander,andMcGarrigle visited SOtanodeSan Agustin. They explored thetwoentrancedropsinto the Sala Grande, a chamberat-114meters measuring 50 meters wide,25meters tall,and200 meters long,andcontinueddowna series of small drops. Alexander acquired the distinction of being the first person to descend into SOtanodeSan Agustin. Then,duringthe lastdaysof1966,AlexanderandMcGarrigle, accompaniedbyTom TracyandTerry Raines, returned to San Agustinandbegan the survey, reaching adepthof281metersatthe top of adeepshaft taking water.Itisof some historical interest to note thatatthe same timeT.R.Evans, Charles Borland,andRonald Steams werepushinginto anewareanorthof Xilitlaandwestof Aquism6n, San Luis Potosi,andwere led to the entrances to SOtanodelas GolondrinasandHoyadelas Gua guas. The stagewasset for the first two large-scale cave-exploration expedi tions to Mexico,withdestinations17

PAGE 20

I _THEGAL.<"OHy.00AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER215OTANODERIO/CLE5IA/...."I..',..'...EarlymapofS6tanodelRio Iglesia from articlebyIanDrummondinSpeleologist,December 1968.N-1,7$S'S6tanosdeSanAgustinanddelas Golondrinas. Both tripswereinthefirstdaysofApril 1967. The twelve membersoftheSanAguStinteamquickly riggeddowntotheendofprevious explorationandfoundwater levels toohightocontinue.Thecavewasderigged,andtheywenthome. In contrast,theteamoftwelve cavers ledbyT.R.EvanshadgreatsuccessinriggingGolondrinasandputtingthefirstpeopleonthefloor ofthecave.Thedropwasmeasuredto be 333 meters,andduringthecourseoftheexpeditioneightcavers descendedandreturnedtothesurface.Tothisday,S6tanodelasGolondrinas is consideredbymanythemostmagnificentpitontheplanet.DuringChristmasof1967,Canadiancavers joined forceswiththeTexansintheHuautlaarea,pushingdeeperinto SanAgustinandS6tano del Rio Iglesia,whichuntil this timehadremained unentered. Rio Iglesiawassurveyedtoadepthof535 meters,makingitthedeepestcaveinthe Americasandthefirst Mexican cave tosurpassfivehundredmetersindepth.Thisteam,ledbyIanDrummondandPeterThompson,established asubterraneancampfor nearly aweekatadepthof400 meters 18duringtheir efforts to reachthebot tom. In Decemberof1968, a three-week expeditionwasdirectedatS6tanodeSanAgustin. Unlikepreviousefforts, thisonewashighlyorganized; itwasa joint Canadian-American effortundertheleadershipofJohnFish. Nearly sixmonthsofplanningwentintotheeffort,whichwasunheard-ofinthose days.Theyused wetsuits, electricminer'slamps,anda combi nationofBritishwireladdersandAmerican single-rope techniques. A subterranean camp,Camp1,wassetinSanAgustinatadepthof250 meters,atthe topofa 300-meter se riesofshafts thathadhaltedearlier exploration. They eventually reached adepthof606 metersatasump,for anewWesternHemispheredepthrecord.JFollowing the 1968 joint Canadian American expedition to S6tanodeSan Agustin, political relationsontheHuautlaPlateaubeganto dete riorate. Thishadnothingtodowithcaving.Theancient MazatecIndiancustomofusingpsilocybinmushroomsincuring ceremonieshadbeen, shortly before Russell's discoveryofHuautlaonthe topographicmap,dis coveredbytheAmericanTnnothyLeary,whosehippiemovementbroughthoardsofcounter-eulture types toHuautlatopartakeinthedrug.By the late 19605, resentmentoftheseindividualsbythelocal Indiansgrewtothepointwhereallextranjeroswereviewedashippies. A particularlynotoriousincidentoccurredneartheendofthe1968 expe dition,whena small scoutingteamwasconductingtheinitial explora tionofa cavenamedLaGrieta,whichhadbeendiscoveredbyT.R.Evanssome4kilometersnorthofSanAgustinnearthevillageofPlanCarlota.Theteamleftoneofitsmembers,DonBroussard,attheentrance toguardtherope, asthe6O-meterentrancepitwaswithinsightofanearbytrail. Ten friendly MazatecsjoinedBroussard,andeventuallythreearrogantonesappeared.Shortly thereafter,whenBroussardwasdis tractedcheckingonMeri Fish, wifeofexpeditionleaderJohnFish,whowasascending the ropeandwasmorethan50 meters offthefloor, justabovea small ledge,theropewascut,andalltheIndians fledthroughthefields. Surethatamurderhadjustbeencom mitted, Broussardscrambledtotheedgeofthepitto find,tohisutteramazement,thatFishhadmanagedtostopherfallonthesmall ledge.

PAGE 21

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21With a replacement ropeandrein forcementsfromexpeditionbasecamp,theteamwasrescued fromLaGrieta. Bytheendof1970,whenCueva(not S6tano)deSan Agustinwasbot tomedat-461 metersandCuevadeSantaCruz,westofSanAndresHidalgo,wasexplored to -320 meters, several explorationteamsreturningafterdarkhadrocksthrownatthem,andinonecasenearthevillageofSan MiguelHuautepec,localshadrolled bouldersdowna shaftwhilethe caverswereinside. Military road blockswerealsobeginningtoappearonthemainfour-wheel-drive road to Huautla. Thesehadspecific instructionstostemtheflowofnorteamericanostoHuautla,regard less of their missions. Similar instruc tionswereissued to all agenciesinthe Sierra Mazateca. The actual source of theseordershasbeendisputed,buttheyappeartohaveresulted fromanagreementbetweentheMexican governmentandtheNixonadministration'sDrugEnforcementAgency. After 1970,anunofficialmoratoriumoncaveexplorationinHuautlawentinto effect,andwitheachpassingyearthestoriesofwhathadoccurredtherebecamemorethesubstanceoflegend.Richard Schreiber,thediscovererofEllison'sCaveinthestateofGeorgiawithits 190-meter Fantastic Pit,hadbeenoneofa three-member team,withMikeLemonandJulian Coward,thatreachedtheendofRoute '68, a kilometer-long horizon tal galleryatthe-540-meter level,duringthe 1968 expedition toSanAgustin. Theyhadbeenstoppedata vertical wall,buttherewasa sub stantialwindflowingdownthe pas sage. Since thiswasnotthedeepestParticipantsintheApril1967expeditiontoS6tanodeSanAgustin.Fromleft,standing:DaveBrison,JohnFish,RobertThren,RuniBurnett,EdAlexander,OrionKnox.Seated:TerryRaines,LaurieCameron,TomTracy,BillBell,JonathanDavis,TommyMcGarrigle.TerryRaines.passageinthecaveandtheirsupplylineshadbeenstretched thininreachingthe-606-metersump,further ef forts to explore Route '68hadnotbeenmadethen. Followingthereturnofthatexpedition, Schreiber en listedintheAir Force, ameasureforceduponmanyyoungAmericansinthatera,whenthealternativewasbeingdraftedbytheArmyandsentto VietNam.SchreiberspentfouryearsinMinot,NorthDakota, far fromanycavingarea. Eight years later,however,memoriesofSanAgustinwerestillhauntinghim,andrumorshadrecentlyspreadthataFrench-eanadianteamhadtouredtheupperpartofSan Agustinandthatthe political climateappearedtobeimproving. Furthermore,equipmentandtechniqueshadimprovedsignificantly.InJuly 1976, Schreiber quietly beganpreparingfor areturnto S6tanodeSan Agustin. Adualassaultwasplannedfor early December. First, Schreiber, alongwithMarkStockandJim Smith,bypassedtheclimbthathadstoppedSchreiberin1968,andthethreereachedanewWesternHemispheredepthrecordof628 meters. Then Schreiber'steamwasreplacedbyoneledbyBill StoneofTexas,whichincludedFrankBinneyandRoy Jameson,withsupportfrom Alexia Cochran,PattyMothes,andJeff Horowitz. Thisnewgroup,alongwithJim Smith,whohadstayedonto serve as a guide, establishedCamp2at-536 metersandpushedonfor fourdaysto -745 meters before beingstoppedbyhighwater.Duringthis same expedition, La Grietawasrevisited,andexploration therewasextendedto-410meters, despite anearrepeatofthe1968 rope-choppingincident.Oneofthemostsignificant techni calexpeditionsof1977wasthereturntoSumideroYochib,inthesouthernstateofChiapas. This mag nificent river swallet,nearthecityofSanCristobaldelas Casas,hadbeendiscoveredinJanuaryof1974byCanadiansJoan BeckettandMikeBoon,althoughnumerousgroupshadheardofits existenceupto three years earlier. Yochib's principal distinguishingfeature istheamountofwater,morethana cubicmeterpersecond,thatthundersdownitssinuouspas sages. By 1977,thestoriesofendless"boltladders"traversingthesmoothcanyonwalls,hundredsofmeters of canal lines,andnoise soloudthatitwasnearlyimpossible tocommunicatehaddrawntheattentionofBill Steele, BlakeHarrison,MikeVan Note,andJimSmith,amongothers,whojoinedBooninhismadscheme tobottomYochib. Ultimately, Yochibwaspushedtoa 6O-meter-diameterchamberwheretheriver disappearedintoasumpatadepthof206 meters. More than a kilometerofropehadbeenriggedtoreach thisdepth,makingYochib meter-for-meteroneofthemosttechnical cavesintheworld.Theresurgence to Yochib is presumed to lieatCruzPilal,some2 kilometersdistantand100metersverticallylowerthanthesump.Thecomplete traverseoftheYochibsystemliesinwaitforambitiouscavedivers.InMarch1977, afterthetriumphatYochib,mostmembersoftheexpeditiondrovenorthtoHuautlato join 19

PAGE 22

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21Richard Schreiber for areturnpushatSanAgustin. Thisgroupquicklyriggedtothelimitofexplorationand,workingfromnewCamp2A,nearCamp2at-536meters,bottomedtheriverpassageatasumpat-790meters.Onememberoftheteam,WarrenHeller, left forthesurfaceaheadoftheotherssothathecould taketimetoattachhisduffel tothebottomoftheropesandhoist itupeachpitch. Aftereachsuchmaneu ver, Heller tossedtherope backdowntheshaft.Othersontheteamwereaccustomedtotetheringtheir duffelsona 2-meterlengthofwebbingastheyascended.Thesubstantial wisdomofthis latter techniquewasabout tobedemonstrated.Onthelongest shaftthenknowninSanAgustin, The 318 (a 97-meter pit), Heller's rope tossnevermadeittothebottom;theendoftheropewashungonthewallinagiantloopsome50 meters offthefloor. Hellercontinuedout,unawareofhiserror. Thosebelowsoonrealizedtheyweretrapped,a conditionthatwasnotresolved until fivedayslater,whenJoe Lieberz, amemberofthesurface team,enteredto ascertainwhytheothershadnotleftthecave. Following their rescue,theCamp2Ateamwasjoinedbyreinforcementswhoconvincedthemtostayonforanotherpushatthebottom.Theysoondiscovered,inachambernamedthe SalaGrandedela Sierra Mazateca, 50 meterswide,250 meters long,and60 meters high, abypasstothesumpat-790meters. Amulti-dropcanyonwithwaterflownearlyequaltoYochibledfromoneendoftheroom.Ultimately,Steele,Smith,JeanJancewicz,SteveZeman,andDinoLowreyreachedanothersumpat-840meters,thebottomofS6tanodeSan Agustin. (Thiswasknownasthe-861sump,before calculatingnewloop closuresreducedthedepth.Fig uresinthis article reflectthecurrentbestnumbers.) LessthansixweeksafterthereturnoftheYochib-SanAgustinexpe dition,mostofthesameteam,withtheadditionofBillStoneandTracy Johnson,returnedtotheHuautlaarea topushLaGrieta. Sufficient public relationsworkhadbeendoneto alle viatetheproblems there. Acampwassetatthe-300-meter level for a periodoftendays,duringwhichnearlyi_L_7:CO,..YJNUIlt.T,O NI.THE:/tIFTVIl"4OFSH,AS:'T.lPITCHL.EQG.40'70'OAX.AGAMEXICOSOTANOdeSANAUG-usriNFromSpeleologist,summer1969.0'_'800':z...ooo'BASECAMP-870'_ goo'_1600'_{,oo'-4-00'20

PAGE 23

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTERNUMBER21SteveZeman(left), TracyJohnson/ Bill Stone, Gary Stiles, Bill Steele,andErnie Garza leaving for campinLaGrieta, May1977.JeffHorawitz.6 kilometersofpassagewasmapped,reaching adepthof665 meters.Thecavewasheadingsouth/forSanAgustin. By this time,therainyseasonwasimminent,andtheteamretreated. Sixmonthslater,inDecember 1977/aninternationalteamincluding Aus tralians Julia James,AlanWarild,andNeil HicksonandmostoftheMay1977 Association for MexicanCaveStudies expeditionmembersreturned tosetCamp2inLaGrietaat-500meters.Duringthis twelve-
PAGE 24

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21Jim Smith (left)andBill Stone ready to dive thesumpat-1030 metersinLiNita, 1980.RonSimmons.commemoratetheevent,theyre treated tobeginworkinKinepak Kanyon,atthe-600-meter level. Two serious accidents subsequently oc curred. Jerzy Musiol broke his leg while traversing acanyonsometwokilometers fromCamp2 whileenroute to theLaGrieta collapse area. While JosephCuberwasheadingto assistwiththerescueofMusiol, a rope brokeatthe 25-meter shaftattheendofRoute'68,halfwayto Musiol.Inthe resulting fall,Cuber'sspinal columnwassevered.Aninter national rescuesoonensued. First to reach the scenewasa BelgianandAmericanteamfrom Cuetzalan,inaddition to nearly fifty MexicanCruzRoja personnel. The Belgian doctor Ettienne Degrave savedCuber'slifeat-620 meters.Bythe time theyhadreachedthe-350-meterlevel, the HuautIa Project expeditionhadar rived, hastenedbynewsoftheres cue,andthey completed the opera tion. Both MusiolandCuberweresafelyoutof the cavewithinseven days of the accident,butCUber re mains paralyzed as a resultofhis injuries. While the Poles packed their base camp, explorationswerebegunin a cave thathadbeen discovered in 1979 by Steele, Zeman,andLowreynamedLiNita, Mazatec for Flashlight Cave,onahighridge 2 kilometersnorthofSan Andres Hidalgo,atanelevation361metershigherthanSan Agustin.Duringthenextthreemonths,LiNitawaspushedwithoutsignificantdifficulty to -1020 meters, becoming the firstkilometer-deepcaveinMexico. A major effort, in volving a total of twenty sevendayscampedatthe-620-meter level ofLiNita,wassubsequently launchedto achieve a connectionwithSan Agustin. Field re duction of thesurveydatahadshownthatthe bottomofLiNitawaswithin100 metersofanupstreampassagediscovered fromCamp3 in San Agustinduring thespringof1979. Bothendedin sumps. The 1020metersumpinLiNitawasdived by StoneandJim Smith, using lightweight scuba. It continuedbeyondthe rangeoftheir tanks.Anairyclimbupa 6O-meteroverhangingdomebyclimber Bob Jefferys led to the discoveryofaneven deepersumpatthe-1030-meter level, thisoneonly60 meters from San Agustin. OnMay9,withfoodandcarbide supplies stretched to their limits, a concerted effortwasmadetoputonediver in the -1030sumpas a last effortatthe connection. After penetrating three short, shallowsumps,Stone, the lead diver, later wrote,"Iconsulted the primary pressuregauge-1350psistill plentyofair for shallow dives like this. So I decided toatleastrunoutthe line before throwing in the towel; there were barely ten meters left asitwas. Following a brief de scent todearthe roof, Iwasback into the blackguIfbelow...stillnovisible bottomandthe walls stretched a good six meters apart.Ateight meters into the dive, I was havingsomediffi cultywiththe spoolandhappenedto glanceupto see the reflectionofanother airbell,orsoitseemed.Aswiththe previousthreesumps,myfirst actionuponsurfacingwasto tie off the line. Thiswastimely, for therewerebuttwo meters leftonthe spoolatthis point.Inmypreoccupationwiththis procedure,ittooksometime-wetsuithoods tend to blocksound-beforeIbecameawarethatsomethingwasrumblingbehindme. Iturnedaround,andsuddenlyithitme. Thiswasnoairbell. ItwasEast RedballCanyoninSOtanodeSan Agustin. Istoodthere stunned. Wehadjust linkeduptheworld'sthirddeepestcave!"Atthis time, SistemaHuautlagrewto 23 kilometersinlengthand1222 metersindepth.As the 1980Huautlaexpeditionwaswindingdown,twomoresig nificant caveswerediscovered. NitaHe(Mazatec for Deep Cave)beganwitha 130-meterentranceshaftandwasultimatelybottomedatasumpat-595meters. Its entrancewasfoundbyDino Lowrey, Janet Steele,andJillDormanatthesouthernbaseofa karst knoll,oneofthehighestpointsintheAguadeCerros area, a kilome ternorthofLiNita. Some 105 metersevenhigheronthe knollandonthenorthernsidewasNitaNanta(Cavebythe Spring).Itwasironicthatthe discovererofthis cavewasMarkMinton,thechief architectofthe ex plorationofCuevadeDiarnanteinnorthernMexico, forthecavesweredistressingly similarincharacter, ex ceedingly tightandjagged. Zeman, Steele,andSmith ultimately reached adepthof445 metersinNantabefore the expedition packedupafter 123daysin Huautla.Fromthetattered stateoftheir attirewhenthey returned to base camp,itwasnotapparentwhohadwon,caveorexplorers.Whenthedatafor NitaNantawasentered intothecomputer,itbecame immediatelyevidentthatitwasheadingtowardLiNitainSistemaHuautla.Thatextra105 meters ofdepthwould,ifNantacouldbeconnected,puttheoverall systemonly65 metersshortoftheReseau Jean Bernard in France, theworld'sdeepest cave,whichwas1402 metersdeepin1980. Stonesoonproposedthat the extradepthcouldbeachievedbymeansofadeepdiveinthe San Agustinsump,andplansweresoondrawnupfor atwo-prongedassaultinthespringof1981.Duringthe monthsofFebruaryandMarch, some fifteendayswerespentworkingfromthecrampedquartersofCamp1atadepthof410metersinNanta.Thishappenedtobetheonlyplaceinwhatwasotherwiseaninclined22

PAGE 25

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTER NUMBER21rift averaging40centimeters wide that was large enough to place ham mocks for sleeping. From this base, Zeman, Stone, Shifflett, Chris Kerr, Bob Jefferys,andNeilHicksonpushed relentlessly to a depth of927meters, where the crack narrowed to 2 centimeters wide. This was only100meters fromLiNita, unfortu nately through solid rock. Mean while, Mark Minton, Alan Warild, and companions pushed from-SOmeters inanobscure side passage near the entrance ofLiNita to a phenomenal-9
PAGE 26

tv....ASSOCIATION fOH MEXICANCAVESTUDIES/ /SOTANODESANAGUSTINS::nt/)n::!-:::::-::!tT1t/)ZtT1t/)t'""'tT1::jtT1ZIJ::ItT1N.....tOO400200:ro5000<1()700llWMLH:HSQ..j!LJ\:IProjectedProfileS6tano deSanAgustin after the Christmas1977trip.AMeSActivitiesNewsletternumber8,May1978,following page32.ThtGUild'-__TbtImp.llli"lPlI,uC'Tolallr.werscIcOoJlh;59(X)mTotal Depth :859mDataandpbUingbyEIIIJ!bgSuunlO$,BruntonandtapesurwywndlLtoi!dbytheAMesudMUCCC1966,67.68.J6.ardn.Sketch10-612madapledfrom Oligtnal map which....'ASpubliskdInC/Ilrll'dian Caver\obI.I00.1Skel.:hIIUlIlRouleb810byR.SchreiberandB.A full U,l;lol povllclp.Jnt:r.Inthe 1976 -77 sul\.eycanbefoundonp27ro.6Of,;ahedbyBillSloneJanuary.Apfil 1978SanAgustinZaragoza.MunicipiodeHuautladeJimenez Oaxaca,Mexico

PAGE 27

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21the FootballStadiumat-640meters in the Naranja Passage. Despite a me thodical survey, theywereunable to surpass the previousdepthof734metersinloose breakdown, before beginningthelaborious ascentwithduffel bagsupforty-eight pitches through thenarrowfissure. Mean while, a secondpartofthe team setanotherweek-longundergroundcampinanewcave, Nita Nashi,onekilometer eastofNanta. This cavewasultimatelybottomedat-641 meters. Meanwhile, Stonehadnotforgot ten theCuevadela Pei\a Colorada.ByApril 1982,hehadassembled a teamofthree cave divers,indudingPatWiedemanandJohn Zumrick,andmadea preliminary reconnais sanceatthesumpthere. Equippedwithfour pairsofcomposite scuba tanksanda compressor, the three suc cessfully crackedSump1,a 524-meter dive at20meters depth,andemerged to discover a 15-meter-ruameter boreholeheadingnorthtowardsSan Agustin. They followed this for nearly a kilometer before being stopped bySump2.Between thereandthe San Agustinsumplay 9 kilometers of the unexploredheartoftheHuautlaPla teau.Progress in NitaNantawascon siderably betterinJanuary1983.InApril 1982,workingfromCamp2intheFootballStadium,Doug"Kaliman" Powellhadscaled a30meter sheer faceonthewestwall of the giant chamber to reachanob scureandimpenetrable fissure.Nowblasted open, this fissure leddownwardthroughseveral extremely tight squeezes before intersecting a stair stepping seriesofshafts.Onthe lastpushoftheexpedition,Smith,Minton, Ron Simmons, Dave Black, Jeb Blakely,andEd Holladay found that the final shaftdroppedinto a 10 meter-diameter streamwayatadepthof 970 metersthatwentbothup-anddownstream. Minton later described theeuphoriaof the moment:'Wefound ourselvesdroppingrapidlyinclean-polished, horizontallybeddedblack limestone.Aftertwomorepitches, thereweretelltale signs of the shaly layer.Wepracticallyrandown500 metersofNantaGorge to aronfluencewithanevenlargerstream.Itwasunbelievable. After all these years, Nantahadfinally opened up." They left with considerably more leadsthantheyhadstartedwithandMexico's secondthousand-meterdeepcave. But the link to SistemaHuautlawasstill elusive.ByDecember 1983,anunusualtwisthadbeenaddedto the Nanta story.Anentrance,namedNita Zan,wasrediscovered inanovergrown sink just 100 meters from U Nita.Ithadearlier been written off as a sure connection to U Nita,butexplora tion proved otherwise.Atonepoint it camewith15metersofU Nita, thendippedunderneath,andit ulti mately intersected another cave dis covered that year, NitaSa,which it self connected to NitaNantathrough a hole in the ceiling of the Football Stadium,atadepthof 510 meters. Althoughnotsignificantly largerthanthe sinuous Naranja Passage, thisnewcave shortened the travel timebya factor of twoandquickly became thestandardroute toCamp2inNanta. Thedownstreamriver passageatthe -1000-meter levelwasrapidly ex tended for nearly a kilometer to the southeast,towhere asumpwasen countered.Nantareached a lengthof10.7 kilometers,anamazing size for a cave somuchof which is lessthana meter wide.Whenthe surveydatawasreducedandplotted, it becameapparentthattheNantasumpwaswithin 50 meters of thegiantcollapseknownasQuadrant18thatmarked the terminusofnotonly S6tanodeSan Agustin, but also AguadeCarrizoandLaGrieta. Agiantrubble pilewasblocking thegrandfour-way junction. Itwasmaddening. While the December1983pushonNantawasunderway, the Australian explorer Alan Warild visited the areaandcarriedoutamaneuverthatwasto makehima legend in the vertical caving community, the first solo de scent of a thousand-meter-deep cave thatwasnotalready rigged. The site chosen was U Nita, largely because Warild was familiarwiththe route, having been to its -1020sumpin the spring of1981duringa forty-hourthroughtrip fromLiNita to SanAgustincarriedoutthatyearbyStone, Shifflett,andBelgian caver Etienne Degrave. Althoughmanyofthe deepest routes inHuautlawere"stage derigged,"thatis, the main tacklewaspulledto the topofeach shaftandleft there for future pushes, all ropehadbeenremoved fromthehistoric route in U Nitain1981to provide tackle for Nanta. Warild thususedthe "cordelete" techniqueofdescending each shaft with a 5O-meter length of ropeandthenpulling itthrougha carefully placed slingorchockwitha length of 2-millimeter parachute cord,whichwasleft in place to reverse the operationonthe ascent.Duringthe courseofa 42hourmarathon,Warildreachedthe-1020-metersumpandascendedsafely, derigging ashewent,inwhatmustbeconsideredoneofthe bold est operations in speleological his tory. It need scarcelybesaidwhatthe consectuencesofa singlefouled re rigonthe ascentwouldhavebeen.Duringthetwoyears followingthereconnaissancedivesinCuevadelaPernColorada, Stoneandco-leader Bob Jefferys assembledaneleven-person international team forwhatwasto beoneofthemosttechnically complex speleological ex peditions ever fielded, a four-monthattempttodivethroughthesumpsofthePernColoradaandultimately reach the San AgustinSumpfrom below. The team included Rob Parker from Britain, SergioZambranoandAngel Soto from Mexico,andPatWiedeman,GaryStorrick,JohnZumrick, John Evans, Clark Pitcairn,andNoelSloanfromtheUnitedStates. Theteamrehearsed cave-divingdrills for fortydaysduringthe eighteen months prior to the expedi tion in the clear-water springsofnorth Florida. Special techniquesweredevelopedforsettinglong-durationundergroundcampsbeyondsumps,somethingthathadneverbeendonebefore.Inadditiontobeingcave divers, all expeditionmemberswere skilledinvertical caving.ParkerandJefferys,whosefortewasrock climbingunderground,hadbeenspecifi cally selected to scaleanyvertical shafts encounteredonthewayupthroughthemountain.Thescaleofthe expeditionwasevidentfrom its logistics. Mostofthe healthymen(197)andburros(60)within hiking distanceofSanMiguel Huautepecwerehired forthethreedaysneeded25

PAGE 28

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21HuauU.FromBill Stone'sreportonthe1984 PeflaColoradadivingexpedition....IIWDpw....ItILoMIL"rERS'-----".......'111""..Ito transporteighttonsofdivingandotherequipmentfromthetopoftheHuautlaPlateau tothebasecampatthePei'l.aColoradacanyon, allunderthe securityofaplatoonofMexicaninfantry.Anadditional 39mencleared a 5O-by-l00-meterswathofjungle,inwhichtwo5-by-ID-metermaintentsandadozenpersonaltentswereerected. Finally, generators, dive-light recharging stations, compressors, sev enty-two composite tanks,andpilesofother gearprovidedbyforty-three corporate sponsorsweresetupandready. Technicaladvanceshadbeenmadethatenabledthetanksandregulators tobeoperatedat5500 psi. Thisgaveadiver3000 liters (104 cu bic feet)ofgasina cylinderweighingonly12kilograms fully charged. With thismomentum,thediveatSump2wasanticlimactic. StorrickandPitcairnfoundit tobeonly14meterslongbefore itemergedintoIS-meter-diameterborehole.Thisnewdiscovery ledonly250 meters before hittingSump3, amoreserious 22D-meterdivereaching 20 meters depth.WhenParkerandStone first surfacedonthefarsideofSump3 into a lakechamber60metersindi ameter, thereappearedtobenowayon. Parker subsequentlya sheer 2D-meter wall,withthesafetynetofwaterbeneath, to reachthecontinuation of themain trunk,whichhefollowed 500 meters to a"whacking great chamber."Pushesfromthesurface,asexpected,soonextendedbeyond24hoursduration,andCamp1wasset a kilometerbeyondSump3.Duringthe firstlo-daypushfromCamp1, theteamliterallyranthroughtwokilometersof2D-meter-diameter borehule beforethestratabeganto26signalanotherdip. A 2D-meter shaftattheendleddowntoSump4. This 55-metersumpandthe130-meterSump5thatwasfoundjust100 metersbeyondwereexplored solobyPitcairn inordertoreducethelogisticsoftransporting compressedairtothatpoint. Pitcairn,whileoneofthe best cave diversontheexpedi tion,wasnotvery proficientatrock climbingandwassoonstoppedata vertical climb. JefferysandParkersubsequently exploredanadditionalkilometer,scalingfour20-meterpitchesintheprocess, beforecomingto apitgoingdown.Sixty metersbelowwasSump7,andtherewasnodryland,onlysheer wallsenteringthewater. (Sump 6turnedouttobeanalternate routethatisbypassedbythedrypassagebetweenSumps5and7.)A secondpushwasfielded fromCamp1 specifically for thepurposeofinvestigatingSump7.Stone laterwrote:"TwodaysafterreachingCamp1, JefferysandI, assistedbyZurnrickandWiedeman, set off forwhatwastobea nineteen-hourtriptoSump7.Ipreparedmydivingequipmentatthe top of the 6D-meter shaftandrappeledinwiththe tanksslungfrom a 2-meter tether attached tomyharness. Jefferyshelpedwiththefinal adjustmentsinthewater.Inthe courseoftwodives, Iworkeddownthrougha seriesofbouldersthatwerewedgedbetweenthewallsoftheshaftAtadepthof40 meters,thepassage took off as a large hori zontal tunnelmeasuring10 metersby13 meters.Itwasthestrangest geologicalquirkIhadeverseen: a l00-meter-deep vertical cylinder,halffilled with water, connectingtwohorizontal passages." Severalweekslater a final ten-dayundergroundpushwasmadeinthePenaColorada.Theplanhadbeenworkedoutinminutedetail. ThistimeCamp2,setatthetopoftheshaftleadingtoSump7,wasusedinordertoallowZumrickandPitcairn,theteam'sbestdivers,tobefullyrestedbefore setting off. SloanandJefferyswouldserveastheprimarysherpasbeyondSump5.Ifa linewassuccessfully laid to airspace beyond, StoneandParkerwouldthenfollow for a 4D-hour bivouaconthe upstreamsidetopushthelimits as far as pos sible.Onthefourthdayinthecave, ZurnrickandPitcairndidthedive, reaching apenetrationof125 metersbeyondtheendofStone's lineatadepthof55 meters. Pitcairn saidhewassuffering from nitrogen narco sis,andhedroppedthe spoolintheprocessoftyingofftheline.Itplummetedtothefloorandstill remains there. Theyspent1.5hoursunderwaterandstillhadnotreached apointwherethetunnelbeganto ascend toair-filledpassage.ZumrickandPitcairnwerereplacedatCamp2byStoneandParker,andthey, with SloanandJefferys,spentthebetterpartofaweekscalingdomeslooking for abypassaboveSump7.Nonewasever found. A totalofforty-five scuba tankshadbeenexpended,and1,360 kilogramsofdivinghardware,including 340 kilogramsofleadballast,hadbeenusedinthepushfromCamp2.AreturnpushinSump7withstage bottleswouldhaverequiredmoretanksthanwereavailableinbasecamp.Deriggingoperationswerebegun.ThePefiaColoradahad

PAGE 29

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21sectionoftheopenScimitar Passage,butitende::lin a terminal-looking breakdown.Jim letouta hoot,andreceived a resounding echo! With renewed vigor,theydugopenasmallholeandlookedoutintobigpassage.Jimimmediatelyrecognizedwherehewas:notNitaNanta,buttheFractureoftheDeepinLaGrieta!OnApril 24, 1985,caversweretriumphantlyrunningdownpassagesnotseensincethefirstdaysof1978."Theconnec tionofLa Grietaadded9 kilometersoflengthtoSistemaHuautla,butnodepth.Nantawasneededfor that,anditremainedaselusiveasever.Despiteanadditionalweek'seffort frombothsidesoftheLoggerheadHallbreakdown,noconnectionwasforthcoming.reachedalengthof9 kilometers, 2.16 kilometersofwhichwasunderwater.ThegaptoSanAgustinhadbeenreducedto6.5kilometers.Itwasclear, however,thatnewlife-supporttech nology,withsignificantlygreaterrangethanhigh-pressurecompositescuba,wouldberequiredto close thisgap.Bythespringof1985, littlehadchangedregardingthelinkingofHuautla's"supersystem"inthefive years sincetheLiNita-SanAgustinconnection.WhenoneconsidersthatnofewerthanseventeenofMexico'sdeepestknownverticalrouteshadbeenexploredwithina 4-by-2-kilometerrectanglecenteredaroundtheS6tanodeSanAgustin,itseemedalmostimpossiblethattheyshouldallcomeso closeandnevertouch.Just40metersseparatedfourofthedeepestroutes,andyetnonehadbeenconnected,despiteintenseeffort.TheLoggerheadHallareaattheendofKinepakKanyonat-600metersinSanAgustinhadseennolessthansixweeksofundergroundcampingmis sions, allbasedoutofCamp2Aat-536meters,tryingto cracktheriddle.Intentonalteringthis stalemate,aneighteen-personteamheadedbySteele, Minton,andSmithsetupbasecampinthevillageofSanAgustinZaragozainlateMarchof1985 forwhatwastobeatwo-monthefforttolinkNitaNantatotheS6tanodeSanAgustin. Sincetherewasanuncommonlylargecomplimentofpersonnelandamassivesupplyofclimbingequipment,atwo-prongedassaultwaslaunched.NitaNantawasriggedthroughthenewNitaZanentrance,whichconnectsquicklytoNitaSaandthefast route,andCamp2wasreestab lishedintheFootballStadium.Mean while, S6tanodeSanAgustinwasriggedtoCamp2A. Steele, Holladay, Blakely,Schreiber,Simmons,JimSmith,MarionSmith,andScott DavismovedintotheNantacamp,fromwhichtheysurveyedto -1005 meters,nearthesumpdiscoveredin1983. Asustainedpush,however,nettednobypass.Furthermore,whatappearedtobea freshbreakdownblocked ac cess totheactualsumppool,thusbarringascubadiveatthis point.Thedecisionwasmadetoderigtheroute. However,atthe-900-meterlevel, a parallel shaftwasfoundleadingoffinthedirectionofAguadeCarrizo.Theyfollowed this untilrunningoutofropeatashafttakingastrongwind.Shortlyaftertheir returntoCamp2,theywerestunnedtohearathunderouscrash.Suddenlythewindpickedup,andspraywaswhippedintotheairfromthewaterfallmorethan100metersawaythatpouredintothecenteroftheFootballStadiumfromtheNitaZanentrance. A flash floodonthesurfacehadswollentheotherwisequiet7D-meter fallstonearly2 cubicmeterspersecond,andtheteamsoberlyponderedwhatwouldhavehappenedhadtheybeeninthenarrowconfinesofthelowercave.Theysatoutthehighwaterfortwodaysbeforeitwassafetoascend.Fourkilometersaway,inSanDuringthefollowingtwoyears, Agustin, ateamledbyMintonhadSmithcorrespondedfrequentlyattemptedto reachLoggerheadHallwithStoneregardingnewplansfor a fromthesurfaceandpossibly suc-connectiontoNanta.In1979,duringceedina voice connectionthroughthefinalnine-daypushfromCampthebreakdown.Dueto excessively2A,Stonehaddiscoveredanupheavybivouac packs,theyonlymadestreamsumpattheendof a 6-meter ithalfwayoutKinepakKanyonbe-crawlalongthewestwallofLogger foreabortingforthesurface,onlytoheadHall.Eventhoughtheyhadbemetbyawallofwater.ThreeofscubatanksatCamp2A,thesitewastheteamweretrappedneartheCampnotconsideredahighpriorityatthe1 level (-250 meters) forninehourstime.Now,eightyearslater,withthebefore itwassafe tocontinueupandrealizationthatNantaalsoendedin a out.sumponly10metersaway,andwithDeterminedtopushthenewlead allotherleadsexhausted,SmithwasacrosstheCorkscrew Shaftat-900lookingforadviceandlight-weightmetersinNanta,mostofthecamp-divinghardware.StoneandZumrickingcrewdecidedtoattemptonelastpreparedfourofthecompositescubapushfromthesurface.InthecoursesetsusedinthePefiaColoradaforofa thirty-nine-hour mara-...thontheydiscoveredtoAmencanandSWISScaverscelebratemtheir'dismaythatthenewSanAgustin'sCamp4aftertheconnec-routeconnected to apointtionwithNitaNantain1987.JimSmith.upstreamintheConfluencePassageat-1030meters. Severalweekslater, ateamledbySmiththatincludedHolladay, Blakely,AndyGrubbs,Paul Wojt kowski, Keith Goggin,andLisaWllksetupoperationsatCamp2AinSanAgustin.Mintonlaterwrote:"ThenextdaythecampcrewwasinLoggerheadHallprobingtheubiqui tousbreakdown.Followingthebestdraft, JimandPaul crawled into a short27

PAGE 30

+12750010001252METERSAMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21SISTEMAHUAUTLAOAXACA,MEXICO-1983SOTANOSANAGUSTINAMesActivitiesNewsletternumber13,September1983,page32.GLASmith'suseinSanAgustin.InMarch1987,Smith, Steele,DougPowell,andmost of the1985La Grieta connection crew setCamp4 in Loggerhead Hall,preparingfor aten-daypush.Minton'slogdescribeswhatfollowed: "Thedayaf ter arriving in camp, they carried the dive gear through the crawl to the nearby sump,andJim suited up. It was8P.M.,26March1987,when all was ready,andJim disappeared be neath the water. He surfaced less than a minute later, only10meters away in the terminal sump chamber of Nita Nanta,1098meters below its en trance.Ittook a moment to recog nize,butthat wasit:the connection we had worked so hard for ever since the discovery of Nanta back in1980.It was the connection of a lifetime and the first-ever joining of two caves eachoveronethousandmeters deep." A survey was subsequently conducted, during which it was dis covered that there was, in fact, nonewbreakdowncollapseonthe Nanta side. The1985survey crewhadbeen overextendedandhadmissed the route. One mightthinkthat the remain der of this expedition would have been anticlimactic,butyet another surprise was waiting.Withinsight of theSanAgustin entrance, Minton and Steele discovered a small crawlway taking a tremendous amount of air.28When this was enlarged, they found, to their amazement, a completely in dependent route inSanAgustin. Over the next month, more than a kilome ter of rope was rigged down the Fool's Day Extension to where it ultimatelyconnectedbackintolowerSanAgustinattheheadof the Gorgeat-620meters. The significance to fu ture explorerswasthatthe travel time to Camp 3, the camp nearest the--84D-metersump, was cut in halfbythenewroute. More than7.5kilometers ofnewsurveys were cond uctedduringthis expedition, including 2 kilometers of true vertical traverse. Sistema Huautla,withseventeen entrances, reached adepthof1353metersanda length of52.7kilometers. The sys temhadmore independent deep routes thananyother cave system in the world: two over 1000 meters deep, two over900meters, two over 800 meters, one over700meters,andtwo over600meters. As Mintonlaterpointedout,a spectacular through trip could be made,1225metersdownfrom NitaNanta'shighest entrance, through the best of San Agustin,and1100meters backupLiNita,withoutever re tracing a step.(Itwould require div ing twosumpsatthe deepest parts of the traverse.) At this time,SistemaHuautlawasthe fourthdeepestcave in the world.1Tn January of1988,the nature oflLHuautla caving changed dramati cally when Jim Smith began what was to be a five-month continuous stayonthe plateau in pursuit of hy drology studies for a master's thesisonthe Sierra Mazateca.Bythe end of this expedition, Smithhadlogged a lifetime total of ninety-nine trips from the surface to depths exceeding fivehundredmeters.Onlyamanof Smith's driveandphysique could have accomplished the extensive in ternal dye-tracingnetthat ultimately provided clues tomanyof the miss ing pieces of the Huautla puzzle. It was through this effort that a posi tivedyetrace was finallymadeto the Huautla Resurgence,locatedatthe confluence ofthe Pena Colorada and Santo Domingo canyons. During this same time, SmithandHolladay also explored NitaKa,onthe AguadeCarrizo ridge,to-760meters. Jim Smith, Laura Campbell,andBillStorage returned ayearlater torevisitCuevadeAguaCarlota,which Canadianshad"bottomed"in1969at-152meters.Anobscure continuationwasdiscovered that led 5 kilometers to the southwest from the entranceandto adepthof510meters,wherethe caveendedin breakdown. This was the nineteenth route in the Huautla karst drainage area to surpass fivehundredmeters in depth. No further work was done

PAGE 31

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTER NUMBER21Mark Minton in the entrance to Fool's Day Extension, S6tanodeSan Agustin,1987.JimSmith.inthe Huautla area until the arrival of the1994San Agustin expedition, the principal objective of which wastopass through theSanAgustinsumpandexplore air-filled galleries be lieved to exist beyondinthe direc tion of CuevadelaPei'i.aColorada. An articleonthat expedition appears elsewhereinthis issue.Selected Bibliography CompiledbyBill MixonI have tried to include the most usefuloraccessible referencesonev ery Significant trip to the Sistema Huautla area. They are arranged hereinorder of the expeditions they re port.John FishandBill Russell. "Preliminary Reportonthe Caves of HuautladeJimenez."AssociationforMexicanCaveStudiesNewsletter2(3)59-fJ7(May-June 1966). The June 1966 trip. Terry RainesandBillRussell. Trip re port.AssociationforMexicanCaveStudiesNewsletter2(6)156-163 (November December 1966). December1966trip. John Fish. Trip report.Association forMexicanCaveStudies Newsletter3(1)3-f,Oanuary-February 1967). The Feb ruary 1967 trip. OrionKnox,.Jr. Trip report.AssociationforMexcianCaveStudies Newsletter3(2)22-24 (December 1969). The April 1967 trip.I.Drummond."Howto Capture a Depth Record in Three Weeks."Speleologist2(16)2-3 (December 1968). The De cember 1967 Rio Iglesia expedition.MacMasterUniversityCavingandClimbing Club.A DescriptionofSotanodelRioIglesia.{1968111ppplusmapplates. MUCCC PublicationNo.1.Michael Boon. "Caving in Mexico."Canadian Caver(1)32-40(December1969).The 1967and1968 Christmas trips. IanDrummond."Mexico Revisited." Speleologist 3(18)5-6 (summer 1969). 1968 Christmas trip. John Fish. "Exploration ofS6tanodeSan Agustin, Oaxaca, Mexico."CanadianCaver(3)3-7,mapplate (November1970).1968 Christmas trip. Julian Coward. "Agua Carlota, Mexico."CanadianCaver(2)52-53 Oune 1970).1969and1970 winter trips. Steve Knutson. "SotanodeSanAgustinFlatrock Blues."UndergroundExpress3(2)15-19 (spring 1977). ReprintedSpeleoDigest1977177-179(1983).December 1976 trip.BillStone. "The ForbiddenLand-Returnto Huautla."UTGNews8(2)7-10(1977).ReprintedSpeleoDigest1977384-385(1983).December1976trip. Bill Stone."NewYear'sDayin San Agustin."AMCS Activities Newsletter(6)16-18 (May 1977). December 1976 trip.BillSteele. "The ForbiddenLand-ReturntoHuautla."AMCS ActivitiesNewsletter(6)19-26 (May1977).March 1977 trip. Bill Steele. "Mexico's SotanodeSan Agustin."NSSNews35(7) 136-137 Ouly 1977). March 1977 trip.BillStone. "AMCS Huautla Expedition, May 1977."AMCS Activities Newsletter(7)8-17 (November 1977). Neil Hickson. "Seven Seventy Eight MetresandStill Going."JournaloftheSydneySpeleologicalSociety 22(10)223-234(1978).December 1977 trip. Bill Stone."Christmas1977HuautlaProject."AMCS Activities Newsletter(8)24-35 (May 1978).BillStone. "La Grieta, Mexico."NSSNews36(4)67-74,78-79 (April1978).Decem ber 1977 trip. Alan Warild. "The First Push. SotanodeAguadeCarrim."AMCS Activities Newsletter(8)16-20 (May 1978). De cember 1977 trip.BillStone. "The AguadeCarrizo Expe dition."AMCS Activities Newsletter(9)32-52 (winter 1979). The May 1978 expedition. Bill Stone. "Huautla 1979. The Almost Triple Connection."NSSNews37 (7)151-154 (July 1979).BillStone. "The Sacred CavesofHuautla."Mariah/Outside4(5)16-24,70 (OctoberNovember1979).The1979 expedition. Bill Stone. "The 1979 SanAgustinExpedition."AMCS Activities Newsletter(10)33-58 (July 1979). ReprintedSpeleoDigest1979181-191(1981).BillStone. "HuautlaCave-San Agustin1979Expedi tion."Explorers Journal57(4)146-153 (December 1979).BillSteele."Huautla-tothe Eighties. A DecadeandaHalfofCavingontheHuautlaPlateau,Mexico."CavingInternational(5)3-13 (October 1979). History through 1979.J.M.Boon.TheGreatSanAgustinRescue.Stalactite Press, Edmonton.(1980)22pp. Etienne Degrave.AccidenteauSotanodeSanAgustin. Deuxpolonaisblessesa-550m.[198O?]17pp.Jose Montiel C. "Accidente en el S6tanodeSanAgustin, Oaxaca."Draco(3)21-24 (November 1983). Gerald Atkinson. "SistemaHuautla."AMCS Activities Newsletter (11)13-17(December 1980). The 1980 expedi tion. BillStone."LiNitaJoinedtoSanAgustin-World'sThird Deepest."NSSNews40(9)201-208 (September 1980). The 1980 expedition.BillStone. "1980Expedition-LiNita."Explorers Journal59(2)68-73 (June 1981). Mark Minton. "Huautla 1981."AMCS Activities Newsletter(12)10-12 (April 1982).BillSteele."AnApril in Huautla."TexasCaver27(1)4-9 (February 1982). Re printed inSpeleoDigest1982244-248 (1986). The1981Expedition.BillStone. "285 MetersandGoing: The San Agustin Sump."AMCS Activities Newsletter(12)81-86 (April 1982). The1981Expeditionsumpdive.BillSteele. "1981 AguadeCerro Expedi tion."NSS News41(6)168-169 Oune 1983). The1981and1982 expeditions. Bill Stone."ABreakthroughattheHuautlaResurgence."NSS News41(6)169-172,175 Oune 1983). The1982Pena Colorada dives.29

PAGE 32

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTER NUMBER21Bill Stone."MysteriesofthePefta Colorada."ExplorersJournal62(3)112119(September1984).The1982dives. Bill Stone."ReconnaissancetotheHuautla Resurgence."AMCS ActivitiesNewsletter(13)42-46 (September1983).The1982dives. Mark Minton. "Mexico's Second Kilo meter Deep Cave:Huautla82-83."AMCS Activities Newsletter (13)24-31(September 1983). Mark Minton. "1983HuautlaVertical Cave Expedition."ExplorersJournal64(2)58--61Gune 1986). Jim Smith. "The 1983 Expedition."NSSNews41(6)172-174,176 Gune 1983). Mark Minton. "Christmas in Huautla."AMCS Activities Newsletter (14)66-72(September 1984). Christmas 1983. JamesH.Smith."NitaNanta Expedi tion."NSSNews42(10)306-312 (Octo ber 1984). Christmas 1983. Rob Parker. "Lightless Abseil into a Vir ginLake-andOtherMoments in a Classic DiVing Expedition."Descent(64)28-31 Gune 1985). The 1984 Pefta Colorada expedition. Noel Sloan. "Explorationofla Pefta Colorada."NSS News 43(10)300-310(October 1985).1984 expedition.BillStone. "The 1984 Pefta Colorada Cave Expedition."ExplorersJournal63(2)58--69Gune 1985).BillStone. "Vine CaveandOthers Tales from the Pefta Colorada Canyon."AMCS Activities Newsletter (17)50-58(December 1988).Othercaves ex ploredduringthe 1984 diVing expe dition. Mark Minton. "Huautla Connection."AMCS ActivitiesNewsletter(15)54-62(December 1985). The 1985 expedi tion. JamesH.Smith,Jr."1985 Huautla Expe dition."NSSNews45(12)405-409 (De cember 1987). Jim Smith. "The 1985 Nita Nanta Expe dition."GeorgiaUnderground23(4)8-22(1986).ReprintedSpeleoDigest1986289-294(1990).Mark Minton. "The Nanta Connection: Huautla's Super System Comes To gether."AMCS Activities Newsletter(17)26-30 (December 1988). The 1987 expedition. Mark Minton. "Knitting Together the Fabric of the Mexican Giant."Descent(79)26-29 (December 1987-January1988).The 1987 expedition. JamesH.Smith. "The 1987 Huautla Ex pedition."GeorgiaUnderground24(4)(1987).Reprinted inSpeleoDigest1987303-305(1991).James H. Smith. "1987 Huautla Expedi tion."NSSNews45(12)406-415 (De cember1987).JamesH.Smith andC.William Steele. "Huautla."ExplorersJournal66(2)72-77HistoriadelSistemaHuautla(June1988).The 1987 expedition. Jim Smith. "The 1988HuautlaExpedition."AMCSActivities Newsletter(17)31-39 (December 1988). Jim Smith. "Nita Ka."AMCS Activities Newsletter(17)43--49(December 1988). The 1988 expedition. JamesH.Smith. "Hydrogeology of the Sierra Juarez, Oaxaca, Mexico."AMCS Activities Newsletter(18)82-86 Ganuary1991).ToddWarren."Downto the EdgeofNight."Rocky MountainCaving6(2)22-26 (spring 1989). ReprintedSpeleoDigest1989315-320(1990).The 1988 expedition. JamesH.Smith. "Nita Ka Expedition1988-89." AMCS Activities Newsletter(18)70-76 (January 1991). JamesH.SmithandC. William Steele."Huautla'88and'89: Studying theHydrogeologyandMakingtheMovie."ExplorersJournal68(1)14-21(March 1990). JamesH.Smith, Jr. "The 1988-89 NitaKaExpedition."GeorgiaUnderground26(4)(1989).ReprintedinSpeleoDigest1989289-297 (1990). JamesH.Smith. "1990 CuevadeAgua Carlota Expedition."AMCS Activities Newsletter(18)77-81 Ganuary 1991). JamesH.Smith. "1990 CuevadeAgua Carlota Expedition."ExplorersJournal69(3)79-85 (fall 1991).Esta es la historia del Sistema Huautla anterior a la expedici6nde1994. Los primeros cueveros visitaron el areaen1966.Para 1968, dos cuevasprofundasfueron conocidas: S6tano de San Agustin con612metros y S6tanodelRio Iglesia con 535 metrosdeprofundidad. Para .finalesdelos 80's,muchasentradashansido conectadas dentro del sistema de1353metrosdeprofundidady 52.7 kil6metros de longitud, con mas independientes y profundos caminos que cualquier otra cuevaenel mundo: dos de ellos arribadelos 1000 metros, dos mas sobre los900metros, otros dos sobre los800metros,unosobre los 700 metros, y dos sobre los600metros de profundidad. Otrasdelas cuevasprofundasenel area incluyen NitaKa(-760metros) y CuevadeAguaCarlota(-510metros). En 1984, buzos exploren de la Cueva de la Pena Colorada,unaresurgencia localizadaenel CaftondeSanto Domingo. Esta cuevaconunalongitud totalde9 ki16metros (de los cuales dos de ellos son inundados) esunaresurgenciaparalas cuevas localizadasenla meseta.30

PAGE 33

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21-PENA DE SALAZAREXPLORATION OF CUEVA DELACANOAANDANEWAREAINTHE MUNICIPIO DE CERRITOS,SANLUIS POTOSIOscar Berrones and Raul PuenteOn themommgofJanuary 9,1993, Miguel A. Jones, VictorNungaray, Teresa Williams,andRawPuente, members oftheAsociaci6n PotosinadeMontafiismo y Espeleologia, ar rivedatthe village ofPenadeSalazar afterwanderingaroundCerritos lost,thankstoerroneousdirections re ceived from Antonio Ramirez (Tofio), theonlyAPMEmemberwhohadvisitedthearea before.UponarrivalinPenadeSalazar,wemadethe ac quaintanceofseveral residents,whoshowedustosomeof theknowncaves. We visitedtheentrancesofCuevadelaCanoa,whereweclimbeddownthe firsttwodrops,andofSOtanodeRosadeCastilla. Wethendecidedtoreturntothevil lage toprepareourequipmentandwaitfortheotherteammembers.Around4:00thatafternoon, Oscar Berrones, Juan Vargas, Silvia Vela,MarthaGonzales,ClaudioEspinoza,GuillermoMartinez,AurelianoTenorio,JesusArias,andSergioSilnchez-Arrnass arrived. Oncewewereall reunited,wearrangedfor fourmoreburros, in addi tion to theonewealreadyhad,to carryourequipmentto the entrance ofCuevadela Canoa, themostinter esting cave, basedonreports from Tofioandourobservationofthe ini tial passages. Just aswewereabouttobeginourwalktothecave,BardomianoRodriguez,assistantjudge,andJose Rodriguez arrivedanddemandedourpermitto enter the cave. Sincewedidn'thavea per-TheSpanishoriginalappearedinTsaval,newsletteroftheAPME,Number4, February 1994. TranslatedbyGaryNapper. mitand,aswelearned, thesetwomenrepresented the authoritiesinthe village,weexplained tothemthepurposeofourvisitandourplansfor exploration.Inresponse,theyagreedtoallowusto explorethecave,butinsistedthatfor subsequentvisitswewouldneed apermitfromthepresidenteof the MunicipiodeCerritos. The entrance toCuevadelaCanoaisatanelevation of2105 meters,about30 minutes'walkalongthehillside northeast of the village. Two steep climbs along thewaymake transportofequipmentbyburros convenient.Themostinteresting thingabouttheentrance isthatit takes the drainage from three small, intermittent arroyos,whichpresented the excitingpossi bilityoffinding a large cave.Atthe entrance,wereadiedourequipmentanddecidedthatJuan, Victor,andOscarwouldform the leadgroup.They then entered the cavewithfour teen ropes for the first drops.Aboutanhourlater, Aureliano, Claudio,andJesus entered the cavewithnine more ropes to continue the rigging. A thirdgroup,thesurveying teamofTeresa, Miguel, Raw, Sergio,andGuillermo followed, after allowing some time for rigging. The leadgroupdecided to save ropebyfree-climbing the first two drops,of4and5 meters, respectively. The 4-meter thirddropcouldn'tbefree-elimbed,anditwasfollowedimmediatelybya 40-meterdrop,whichwasnamedTIrodelos Troncos after several tree trunksthathadbeenwashedpartwaydownthepitbywaterfrom the three arroyos. From here, the passage continuespasta constriction formedbyagreatstalactiteatleast 20meterslong. Belowanotherdrop,of10 meters,thepassagesplits. Adifficultfree-climbthrougha crack leadstoa lower pas sagewitha low,wetduckthroughpondedwater, whileanupperpas sage leadstotheSal6ndeSergio, aroomdecoratedwithstalagmitesandsomearagonite crystals. This room connectstothelowerpassagebyalo-meterdrop. While thesurveypartymappedin asidepassageneartheentrance, Guillermo climbeddowna passage that connectedwiththemainpassageandthencontinuedthrougha seriesofpitchesandarrivedatthe Sal6n del Bloquon6n, aroomalmost completely filledbya single block of stone 8 meters long, 5 meters wide,and3 meters high. A climbing leadonthewestwallofthisroomwasleft unexplored. A little later,thesurveypartymetthemembersofthe second rigging party,whohadhadsome light problemsthatcausedthemtotumback, leaving several ropes further into the cave. After ashortwhile,thefirst riggingteamranoutofropes,whichhalted their advance,andthey de cided towaitforthesecond team,whichwastobringmoreropes.Whentheydidn'tshowup,thefirstteamdecidedtostartout,leaving the cave rigged forcontinuedexplora tion later.Ontheir return, theyweresurprisedtofindthatthe ropeona 4 meter pitchwaswedgedbetween two large rocks, blockingtheclimb. After agoodbitofstrugglingbythe three people present, including forming a three-person pyrarnid, Oscarwasable to climbpasttheblockageandchange the rigging sothatthe restofthe31

PAGE 34

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21APMEOscarBerrones,VictorNungarayy RaulPuenteR. Puente '93 PERFIL-95m-@--oSOTANITO DE LASPALMASPeiiadeSalazar,Mpio.deCerritos,S.L.P.Suuntosycinta21deenerode1993group could climbup.A little further along, theymetSergio sanchez,whohadcome to tellthemthatthe second riggingteamhadturnedback. A little while later, theymetthemappingteam,andsinceapproximatelytwenty-fourhourshadnowpassed since they'd entered the cave, itwasagreed to leave the cave riggedwiththe fourteen ropesandreturnlater.'1f'lhenextmorning,Guillermo11Martinez,RaulPuente,andTeresa WilliamsmappedS6tanodeRosadeCastilla,whichis locatedinthe RosadeCastilla pasture,southof Cuevadela Canoa.Theirregularly shaped 3-by-5-meter entranceat2177 meters elevationopensonto a 25 meter free drop. The cave is devel oped along a north-south fault.Atthe bottomofthedrop,the flooriscoveredwitha largenumberofrocksandbreakdownblocks.Twelvemetersupthesouthwall isanopen ing intoanascending passage.Tothenorth,thefloordescendsuntilitreaches a 5-meter drop,andthe cave endsatanimpassableopening in flows tone. Twenty-five meters southwestofthemainen tranceisa small hole blowing airandheaGing in the directionofthe cave. Although it's smallandimpassable, it almost certainly connects. After completing themappingofthis cave, thegroupreturned tocampanddepartedforSanLuis Potosi.On Thursday afternoon, January 21,wereturnedtoPefiadeSalazar.Ourobjectivewasto finishtheexplorationandmappingofCuevadela Canoa,andweallowed ourselves a period of fourdaystoaccomplishit.Thistime,OscarBemmes, Victor Nungaray,andRaul Puente, in Oscar's car,mademanystops along thewayto lookatsomesinkholesthatwere markedonourmapinEIDuraznoandin the contact zone between the rhyolitic rocksandthe limestoneonwhich the villageofPefiadeSalazar is located.Whenwearrived,wewentto the storeandtried to find thecommisariadoejidalto ask permission to explore caves.Wewere informedthathewasn'tinthe villageandthatheworkedin the cityofSanLuis Potosi. Hearing this,webegan to talkwithseveralofthe resi dents, showingthemcopies of themapofS6tanodeRosadeCastillaandthe topographicmapof the area. Several ofthemagreed toshowussomeentrances to nearby caves.Inthe village,wemetdonCiro, a local resident,andintalkingwithushementioned the existence of averywellknownhole, often visitedbypeople from the region. "It's called Three Mouths, because ithasexactly three mouths,"donCiro told us. We decided toaskhimto takeusto the place,andhereadily agreed. Two of thecommunityschool teachers de cided to comealongaswell.Itwasabout8:30 p.m.whenwestartedwalking,andthoughweexperienced a little difficulty,wemanagedto find the s6tano afterabouttwohours.DonCiroshowedusoneoftheentrances,wheremanypeoplehadgonein usingpulleys,andwepromptlyrigged a 3O-meter rope.Cuevadelas Tres Bocas consistsofadomeaccessedbythree vertical entrances, the shortestofwhich,14meters,wehadrigged.Nopassage leads off from the bot tom,andthereareonlya few signs of where thewatersinks.Dueto the cave's locationona hillside, all the entrance dropshavedifferent lengths, the longest beingabout30 meters. The cave is circularinshape,witha diameter ofabout50 metersandaslopingfloorofgravelandlarge breakdown blocks.Numerousforma tions cover the wallsandceiling.We32

PAGE 35

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21CUEVA DE LAS TRES SOCASPeiiadeSalazar,MpiodeCerritos,S.L.P.APMECroquisaproximado21deenero1993';':"30mendedinasumpamongflowstoneandmicrogours. This is probably aperchedsump,butsincewe'djust started exploring,noonewantedtogetsoakedchecking it,andwedecidedto letitwaitfor asubsequenttrip. Aftermappingthissidepassage,wecontinueddescendingthroughnarrow,meanderingpassage,andshortlyweheardbehindusthevoicesofSergioSanchez-Armass,ToNto Ramirez,andJavierZermeno,whowerecomingtohelpus.AtthispointJavier saidthathehadtogoback because"youall toldmeitwasjust a little cave,"whichpromptedustonamethispassageAdi6sdeJavier.Fromtheendofthis passage, a sinuousphreatic passageandan18-meterdropleadtotheSal6ndelSecreto. Twomuddypassagesleadingfrom thisroomwereleft unexploredandunmapped.Nowthattheothershadjoined us,wehadtwopeopleto explore ahead, rig,andhelpwiththepacks, so as to1020-@-oE1pHping,andwecarried a largenumberofropes for descendingtheremainingpits.Anadditionalsupportgroupwasexpected to joinuslater. We reachedthepointwherethemappinghadstoppedonthepreviousvisit,pasttheSal6ndelBloquo n6n,andcontinueddescendingandmappingthe pitsthatwerealreadyrigged. The majorityofthemappingwasthroughspaciouspassageaveraging5 meterswidethatcrossedsomepoolswithlowceilings. OscarandRaulwentto great lengths to skillfully cross thesewithoutgetting wet,huggingthe wallsorcrossingwithoneleginthewaterandtheotheragainst the wall, while Victordidn'tthink twiceaboutplungingright through the cold water. The easiestpartofthemappingwastheAPME Passage,whichis 5to10 meterswideandrunsnorth-southalonga fault for 120 meters. After this,westoppedto explore apassagewediscoveredontherightwall. Oscarclimbedupto itandfoundthatitbeganmapping,butsincethecavewasmuchlargerthanwehadbeenledto believeandthehourwasquitelate,almostmidnight,wedecidedto leaveandreturnlater.Asa result,onlyaroughmapwasproduced.We leftthecave to finddonCiroandtheteachers shivering fromthecold. We set offatonceinthedirectionoftheothernearbycaves.DonCiroshowedustwomoresotanitos locatednexttotheroad to Tres Bocas,thoughthelatenessofthehourandthedensevegetationmadefindingthema little difficult. Finally,welocated SotanitodelasPalmasandElHoyodedonCiro.Thefirstoftheseconsistsofa verticalchamberwithtwo1-meter-diameterentrancesandtwo7-meterclimbabledropsconnectedbya 30-centimeter-widefissure.Fromoneoftheen trances, a 2-meter climbdownleads to aroom3 metersindiameter, fromwhichalowpassage 4 meterslongendsina for-now impassable con striction.SomeBraheaduIcispalmsaroundtheentrance givethecave itsnameandalso serveasa reference for findingtheentrance. The cavewasenteredandmappedwithSuuntoandtapebyOscarBerrones, Victor GOmez,andRaUl Puente.Webaptizedthesecondsotanito ElHoyodeDonCiro,whichprovokedanattackoflaughterfromourguide. Wedidn'tevenenterthecave becauseofthelatenessofthehourandthe2.5-kilometerwalkback tothevillagethatwasstillaheadofus. Weonlystoppedtothrowseveral rocks intothepit, fromwhichweestimated itsdepthtobesome12 meters. It'snotknownwhetherithadbeen previously explored,andweare contemplating areturnsomedayto explore it. Wereturnedtothevillage,andtheteacherswhohadaccompaniedusinvitedustosleepinoneoftheschool's classrooms,whichweac ceptedwithouthesitation.OnthemorningofJanuary23,thethreeofus,OscarBerrones, Victor GOmez,andRaUlPuente,beganourpreparations toreturntoCuevadela Canoa,andwiththehel pofdonOroandhisburrowecarriedourequipmenttothecave entrance. Wewerea singleteamforbothriggingandmap-33

PAGE 36

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21speedupthe mapping.Inspite of this, we soon realized that the mappingwastakinganinordinateamount of time, andwedecided to send Victor ahead to catchupwith the lead party and tell them to leave the mappers' packs, sincewe'dbe needing them to rest in the cave. Whenwesaw Victor again,hetold us that he had told themandthat the packs were just ahead.Wewere sur prised, however, to find only Raul's and Victor's. Theyhadmost likely taken Oscar's ahead to make his map ping progress a little easier, since there were many very narrow passages in the area. In fact, theyhadcaused him one of the most "unforgettable" biv ouacs of his caving career, trying to sleeponthe bare, rocky floor. After our brief four-hour rest,wecontinued mapping. Several climbs and short rope drops ledusto the Saladelas Pefias, a room notable for its large number of economy-size breakdown blocks, whereweob servedanarea of fan-shaped myce lium growingonsome decomposing tree trunks. Beyond this room,wereached the Arrastradero del Comi sarlo, a 3O-centimeter-high crawlway with a gravel floor that is not much fun to traverse. Raul pushedanequally low side passage that leads off fromtherightsideofthiscrawlway for about 5 meters, beyond which it continues unexplored. A few meters beyond thearrastraderoisthe SalondeDerrumbe, a 3O-meter-Iong room25meters wide and over 30 meters high with a lQ-meter-wide horizontal passage leading off to the north. High, wide, and inviting as that passage was,wenevertheless left it unexplored inourdetermina tion to follow the general downward trend of the cave.Weplan to return toit.Another series of rope drops took us to the Regadera, a large room with awaterfall coming from a dome and some impressive formations. After a few more climb-downsandrope drops,wecaughtupwith Sergio and ToNto, who told us that the cave was all rigged and that it ended in two sumps. This raisedourspirits, whichhaddroppedsomewhat,aswethought wehadjust usedupthe last page ofoursketch book. Fortunately this was just teasingonRaul's part, sincehehad anticipated the need andhadanother "extra thick" book with him, with whichwecontinued our mapping. Toward the end, themainpassage iscanyon-shapedand5 meters wide, with a ceiling that isoutof sight.Itdivides into twomuddypassages, each of which leads to a sump...theendof the cave.Welooked for awayaround the sumps,butonly found a windowonthe wall of the passage behindusthat would require bolts and technical climbing to reach. Sinceourexplorationhadnowreached the forty-eight-hour mark,wedecided totumback and begin the saddest part of all explora tions, deriggingandcarryingoutthe gear. Althoughwewere a little dis appointed that the cavehadended,ourhunger, tiredness, and lack of sleepdidmake us glad to beatthe end. After a horrible gringo military-2934RP'93SOT ANO DE ROSA DE CASTILLAPenadeSalazar. MunIciPiodeCerrItos. S.L.P. Longitud:52mProfundidad: -29m Suuntosyanta10Enerode1993TClp09"afiadopCIf:GuillermoMnnez.Teresa WilliamsyRaul PuenteAPME

PAGE 37

150,-431m100,METROS50;o1020b;;;J-----!SalOndelOerrurnbe4/..S.'6ndelDerrurnbeISal.de'asPen.-400APMEPefia de Salazar, Municipio de Cerritos, San LuisPOtOSI,Mexico.Longitud topografiada: 1794m Profundidad topografiada:-431m Topograffa realizaja con Suuntosycinta 9y22 a 24 de enero de 1993CUEVA DELACANOAEISlfonctto-300PasateAPMEPaujeAPMEPLANTADlbuj6: Raul Puente 1993.-200Topograffa par: Oscar Berrones Claudio Espinoza Martha Gonzales, Victor Gomez, MiguelA.Jones, Guillermo Martinez,RaulPuente, Sergio Sanchez-Armass, Juan Vargas, Silvia VelayTeresa Williams.pC1PERFIL-100Stf6nChico

PAGE 39

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21meal(MRE)of dubious originsandunknownexpiration date,wegot startedonthe derigging. The derigging was accomplished with no problems otherthananincipientcaseofhypothermiaonSergio's part, whichwasalleviated by a change into drier clothes,andalmost poisoning ourselves through Oscar's idea of burning the garbage sowe'dhave less weight tocarryoutand. Almost backatthe entrance,atthe bottom of the 4D-meter drop,wemetupwith Alejandro "El Pollo," SilviaVela,andGuillermo Martinez, who helped us carry the rest of the ropes from the cave. At lastwewereonthe surface after a fifty-six-hour excursion,during whichwehadslept fourhoursandmapped1500 meters of pas sage to a totaldepthof431metersanda total length ofthe cave of1794meters. The cave has twenty six dropsthatrequire ropes to de scendanda greatnumberof climb downs. Some of the drops can be rigged to natural rigging points,butthe majority require artificial an chors,6-or8-millimeterbarrenanclasPefladeSalazar, San Luis Potosibolts. Much usewasalsomadeof chocksandstoppers.Wecan gener alizeandsaythatthe cave is techni cally rather easy,thoughitrequires the efforts of a large team to move all the equipment. It's also neces sary toaddthat, in spite of this, the exploration ofthe cave is far from finished. Twelve leads remain to be checked, including horizontal pas sages, climbs,andasumpthat can likely be drained. Also, reports ofotherentrances above the Canoa entrance promise a truly interestingcave.Miembrosdela Asociaci6n PotosinadeMontafrismoyEspeleologia,hanestado explorando cuevas cercadeel areadePenadeSalazar,SLP.LaCuevadeCanoas tiene26tiros, alcanzandounaprofundidad totalde431metrosyunalongitudde1794 metros. Este articulo es reimpreso de la revistaTsavalNo.4.37

PAGE 40

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21ZACAT6NAnnKristovich and JimBowden71acaton is the deepest of five cen!LAotes locatedona large ranch,ElRancho Asufrosa,innortheasternMexico. MembersoftheProyectodeBuceo Espeleologico Mexico y America Central first visited itona reconnaissance tripmadeatthe end of two weeks of exploration divingandsurveying in the Nacimiento Santa Clara, a cave systematthe base of theEIAbra near the Nacimiento delRioMante. There, the team led by Jim Bowdenhadlaid more than1400feet of line,buthadstoppedatthat point because of the depths encoun tered in the far reaches of the cave. Beyond1100feet back, depths ex ceeded 250 feet. At that time,in1989,the teamwasnotroutinely employ ing mixed-gas techniques in Mexico,andthedoorfurther into the Santa Clarawasthus temporarily closed to them. Jimhadstudied geologicalandtopographicalmapsthat revealed the possibility of inland cenotes in the karst terrain foundatthe southernendof the SierradeTamaulipas.Ona ranch near the small town of Aldama, Tamaulipas, five cenotes were lo cated. Exclusive permission to visitanddive was grantedbythe owner,andin late April 1990 exploration began. The cenotes proved to be ex tremely unusual. They are aligned generallyeasttowestwithin a radius of approximately two miles. They are highly sulfurousinodor.InoneThis material appeared in slightly dif ferent form in the August and No vember1994issuesoftheIANTDJournal(vol.94,nos. 3and4).Ananalysis of Sheck Exley's last dive appears in the November1994andJanuary1995issues ofPressure(vol.23no. 6andvol.24no.1);no definitecaus(:'of the accident was discovered.38namedPoza Asufrosa, the sulfur pre cipitatesandfloatsonthe surface in raft-like formations. The waters tar nish metalsandseem to leach the surface of galvanized tanks. The sys tems are surprisingly warm:93de grees Fahrenheit in PozaLaPilita, 87 degreesin Zacat6n,86 degrees in Poza Caracol,87 degrees in Poza Asufrosa,anda cooler83degrees in thehugeoasis-like Poza Verde. The waters inPozaVerde, unlike the others, are layeredinthermoclines,andtheybehavemorelike alakeduringtimesoffloodanddrought,apparentlyrespondingless to changes in thewatertable. The first systematic exploration concentratedonPozaLaPilita, the warmest of the five. The walls sur rounding the 68-by-12D-foot water surface have tufa formations like those often seenatwarmsprings. Underwater, the walls are coated with dense algae thathanglike curious stalactites. Measurementsmadeus ing the Scubapro personal sonar de vice revealed that the pit enlarges significantly with increasing depth. At150feet,LaPilitaisabout 396 feet from north to southand239feet from east towestThe team initiated a search for a connection to the cenotes located immediately to the eastorwest,butno going passage was found in these early explorations. ThedepthofLaPilita was plumbed to 360 feet,anddives were made to250feet.OnMay 2,1990, divers Jim BowdenandGary Walten enteredElNacimientoatthe western boundary of the ranch. A typical boilwasnotedonthe surface of the water near a limestone outcrop. Pursuing this cur rent, the divers located a small caveandfollowed it northeast until theyhadexhausted the lineontheir reel. With passage obviously continuing, theyturnedthe dive, obtainedanadditional exploration reel, returned to their tie-off,andresumedlaying line.Nowin the lead,Garysoon no ticed a bottle-greenglowahead.Hecovered his lightandverified that the lightwasnatural, which could onlymeanthat theyhadmadea con nection tothesurface.Theexuberant divers emerged into Zacat6natadepthof 26 feetandsurfaced in the beautiful cenote, which takes its name from the islands of tallzacate(grass) that float across its surface. The suc ceedingdayswerespentsurveying the nearly 600 feet of passage, named PasajedeTortuga Muerte for thefrequentturtle skeletons, connecting the nacimiento to Zacaton, the water from which forms the river. The water sur face in Zacaton is approximately70feet below thesurroundingland.Itis 380 feetindiameterandroughly cir cular. Its wallsundulatevertically,andthe dimensions increase with in creasing depth. Aroughsurvey by personal sonar from the center of the cenotehasbeencompleted to175feet of depth. The project hopes that side scanning sonar techniques canbeapplied in the future tostudythe full extent of this great pit. Divers Gary WaltonandAnnKristovich plumbed thepitto 250feetExploration continued in August 1990withdivesbyKaren HohleandAnnKristovichinPozaVerde. This tropical oasis is morethan600 feet across,somewhatcoolerthanthe other cenotes,andsurprisingly shal low, a mere 140 feetbyourmeasure ments in the four quarters of the area. Also, BowdenandWalten pushed a passage in Poza Asufrosa with side mounts,butthe tight passage choked after 30 feet.

PAGE 41

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTER NUMBER21Caracol, like its immediate neigh bor Zacat6n, sits beneathcliffs.A large tunnel goes off beneath the cliffonanazimuth that would lead to Zacat6n.In1990,Bowden's dive reached a depth of72feet; the maximum depthisnotknown, because the passage leads back under the roofandcould notbeadequately plumbed. Subse quently, a penetration of 300 feet to a depth of218feet has been made. After these exciting early trips, members of the ProyectodeBuceo Espeleol6gico Mexico y America Cen tral spent the next twoanda half years exploring cave systems associ ated with the inland Blue Hole of Belize.The project resumed the explora tion of the five cenotesonthe ranch in April1993,fully equipped with mixed-gas capabilities to allow the safer exploration of the deeper systems. Sheck Exley joined the team for a weekanddove with Bowden the previously unexplored depths.LaPilita revealed a going passage to the southwestatadepthof 358 feet. Zacat6n, however,providedthegreatest surprise. Air dives to258feetbyBowdenand407feetbyExley failed to find a bottom. The divers dove beyond the ledge thathadcap tured the measuring line in1990.The following day, Bowden,Exley,andKristovich returned to Zacat6n to at tempt a more accurate plumb. The line spun off the reel, past 500 feet, past800feet, past1000feet!The line finally stopped after some1080feethadrun out. The line was secured to the north wall of the cenote,andthe divers completed plans to make a deep mixed-gas dive the following day.InApril1993,Bowden dove to504feet of fresh-water depth,andExley to721feet. Tables for both dives were prepared using Exley'sDr.X software. Neither diver experienced performance difficulties or physi ological complications during orafter the dives. These two would be the first of seven dives to deeper than 500 feetmadeinZacat6n in a twelve month period. As the week of diving came toanend, ExleyandBowden agreed to return together to Zacat6n and, like HillaryandNorgay, pursue the exploration of this upside-down Everest. The perfect site foranopen circuit dive to1000feetandbeyondhadatleast been found.!twaswarm, therewasnoperceptible current, the natives were friendly,andaccess tothesystemwasuncomplicated.BowdenandExley declared the goal of reaching the bottom of Zacat6n within the year. Members ofthe projectmadesix trips to Mexicoduringthe follow ing twelve months. Witheach retumto the cenote, Bowdendovedeeper,inorder to prepare himself for the 100(}footattempt. Exley mean while pursued the exploration of ahugeunderwatercaveatBush mansgat, South Africa, diving to863feet in this system. During this dive, Sheck experienced visual, somatic,andneurological symptoms of high-Zacaton. The cliffs completelysurroundthe cenote. Wind blows the floating islands of grass across the surface.AnnKristovich.39

PAGE 42

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21pressurenervoussyndrome.Thesymptomsresolvedduringhis as cent to his firstdecompressionstopat400 feet,andtherewerenopersis tent effects.InSeptember,Bowdendoveto774 feet.TeammemberKristovichdoveto554feet(169 meters), setting anewwomen'sdepthrecordwiththis effort.OnDecember2,1993,Bowdenmadeadivetobelow800 feet.Theexactdepthofthedivecouldnotbedocumented,because allthreeofthedigitaldepthgaugeshewaswearingceased to functionatvariousdepthsrangingfrom 684 to 756 feet. Bowden,however,hadvisuallynotedthe 825-foot markeronthedescentline before reversingthedirectionofhisdive. Bowden experienced multiple-jointdecompressionillnessuponthecompletionofhisdecompression ob ligation.Symptomsresolved followingaggressive rehydration,oxygentherapy,andin-water recompression. Therewerenopersistentsymptoms.The lOoo-footattempthadbeenslated for December 25,butitwasthe consensusoftheteaminearlyDecemberthattheconditions im posedbytheunusuallywetrainy seasonwereunfavorable forsuchaneffort.ThecurrentinthePasajedeTortugaMuertewasfierceandimposedaheavyexertion,veryunfa vorablepriortoanydeepdive.Itwasnecessary to traverse thiscavepas sage,nearly600 feet long,priortoanydiveinZacaton. Forthesafetyofthe divers,thedivewasrescheduled for April 1994.InApril,theProyecto, including ExleyandMaryEllen Eckhoff, assembledontheRancho Asufrosa. Twodayswerespentstagingtherequireddecompression bottlesattheir requireddepthsinZacatonandinthenacimiento,wheretheshallowdecompressionstopswouldbemade.Thedivewouldbeaccomplishedonindependentdescentlines, a conditionbothdivers favored to avoid contactandpotential inter ferenceduringthe veryrapiddescent. Each effortwouldbesolo,byneces sity. Exleywoulduseheliair 6 (airdilutedwithheliumto give 6 percent oxygen);Bowdenwoulduseheliair 6.4. Their decompression tablesweresimilarandhadbeenformulated usingthe Dr. Xprogram.Bothdiverscarriedanassortmentoftables, since thebottomtimeandthemaximumdepthofthedivewerenotknown.BothBowdenandExleymademultipledeepairdives for acclimation topreparethemselves forthe100D-foot attempt. EarlyinthemorningofApril 6, 1994, allwasfelt tobeready,andthediversandtheirsupportteamas sembledonthebanksofEl Naci miento.BowdenandExleygearedupandswamtogetherthroughEl Pasajeandinto Zacaton.Thepre-divemoodwaspositiveandoptimistic. Themenbegantheirdescentatapproximately9:50A.M.U.S.centralstandardtime.Bowdendoveto 925 feet (282 meters)andwouldspendoverninehoursdecompressing.Exley, for reasonswewillprobablyneverknow, failedtoreturnfromhisdive.Hiscomputer,recovered unex pectedlywhenhisbodycameupwithhisdivelinewhenitwaspulleddayslater,showedamaximumdepthof906 feet.Duringthetwelvemonthsspentintrainingandpreparationforthedeepdives,thefollowingdivesweremadebymembersoftheProyectodeBuceo Espeleol6gico Mexico y America Central:50to100 feetindepth,onehundredninety seven; 101to200 feet, twenty-two;201to 300 feet, thirty-nine; 301to400 feet, forty-eight; 401 to 500 feet, three;andover500 feet, seven.Itis significantthatthese 316diveswereaccomplishedinonlyfifty-onedivingdays.Bowdenmademorethanonehundredofthesedives,includingfourofthedivestobelow500 feetandadiveonairto411feet (125 meters, fresh water).Theproject willcontinueits effortsinMexico after a briefpausefortherainyseason.Bowdenfeels certain, afterhisdiveto 925 feet,thatadiveto 1000 feet freshwateris possible,andhewillpursuehisplansto see thebottomofZacaton. Withtheuseofheliair,thesurveyofthelongpassageintheNacimiento SantaClarawillberesumed.Theteamalsoplansto aggressively explorethemagnificentdeepcavesoftheSierraMadreOriental,includingtheRio Choy, Rio Frio, Rio Sabinas,NacimientodelRioMante,NacimientodelRio Huichihuayan,andmanyothers.-AnnKristovich40Afterdaysofcoolmorningsandeveningsandpleasantlywarmmiddays,Iawoketoblusterywindsswirlingaroundthedolinethatwasourcampsite.Theweatherseemedchargedwiththesameexcitement I feltasIbeganmylastpreparations foranattempttodivebelow1000 feetoffreshwaterinZacat6n, perhapstheworld'sdeepestwater-filled pit. Thiswasit. All Ihadworkedforoverthepastyearcamedownto this day, April 6, 1994. Ihadalreadymadethreedivestobelow500 feetinthis system. The first,to504 feet,wasJimBowden displays theequipmentneededfor a deep dive.AnnKristovich.

PAGE 43

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTER NUMBER21madein April 1993whiledivingwithmyfriend Sheck Exley. We discov eredthenthatwehadthepossibilityofanupside-downEverestinZacat6n.ItwasalsoatthistimethatSheck suggestedwemakethe attempt for the bottom,plumbedat1080 feet, together, asheputit, like HillaryandNorgaydidEverest. In 1993, Iwasjustreturningtodeepdiving.Fortheprevioustwoyears, explorationinBelizehadin volved big river cavesandsumpsseldomdeeperthan60 feet. Prior to that,myprojectinthe Rio Santa Clarahadprovidedmewiththemosttime that couldbeconsidered deep, 250 feetorso.Thatsystemandisolated excursions below 250 feet elsewhere were the extentofmydeepdiving. The ideaofdivingto 1000 feetandbeyondinZacat6n intrigued me.After all,itwasprecisely this system thathadmotivatedmeto seek the traininginmixed-gasdivingfrom Sheck in early 1989.Ourplans to dive this systemhadbeenputonhold becauseofayearofillnessonSheck'spartandtwoyearsofBelize projectonmine. Finally itwascom ing together. I was,ofcourse, soberedbymylackofdeepexperience com pared to Sheck.Mydeepestdives in the previous ten years, tosome250 feet, althoughdeepbysomestan dards, certainlydidnotputmeinthe extremedepthgroup. Sheck,however, believed in me,and,after all,withmixedgasadivercalculates his acceptable air-equivalent narcosisdepthandpartial pressureofoxygen.ThemainthingwasthatIdidfeelthatIhadmoreexperience inwildcavedivingthanmost.I'vebeenknockingaroundCentral AmericaandMexico foralmostadecadeanda half,andIhavearrangedmylifesothatIcanspendmonthsofeachyeardivingvirginsystems.Ifa disciplinedheadandtheexperienceofthoseyearsmakea difference,itwaswortha shot. Isetaboutanefforttoworkuptothetargetdepthandcreate a deep-divingequipmentsetthatwasasmuchapartofmeasmyexploratory setandmyside-mountshadbecome.My1993diveto504 feet filledmewithprideatbeingoneofonlysix individualsatthattime tohavemadeanopen-eircuit scuba divebelow500 feet,andin a cave,noless.However,itis alongwayfrom 504 feet to 1080 feet, somyeffortsweredirectedtodivingdeeperin a series ofatleasttwomoredives.Thefirst,onSeptember 2, 1993,wentto744 feet.Myconfidence increased,andIplannedforonemoredivebe low 500 feet before the big attempt,whichwasscheduled for theendof1993.Mynextdivewasmadewiththe intentionofdivingasdeepasmycomfort level allowed.MymixwasthesameoneIplannedto use latertodiveto the bottom.Inotherwords,IwantedtobreakSheck's existing recordorgetascloseasI could.InlateNovember1993, IreturnedtoMexicoand,withthehelpofKaren Hohle,AnnKristovich,andAllan Jackson, stagedmydecompressionJimBowdenpreparingforadeepdiveinoneofthecenotes.AnnKristovich.bottles.ThenIgotsick.Goodold fashioned coldorflu. Iextendedourstayanotherweekandshiveredandsneezedinmytent,hopingtorecoverenoughtogetmydivein. Even tually, Idecidedtomaketheattemptin spiteofmycompromisedhealth.Asa result, I suffered a sever decom pression-sickness incidentuponsur facing. The divewentwell otherwise. Idoveto 800 feet plus. Ipassedthe800-footmarkonameasuredline,butmygaugesstoppedreadingafter 756 feet.I'mnotsureto thisdaywhyIturnedthedive.Perhapsconfusionoverthegauges'crateringorjustthatlittle voicethathaskeptmealive all these years.Atadepthbetween750and800 feet, Ihadexperiencedsomehigh-pressure nervous syndrome,butnottotheextentthatSheckdidinBushmansgat.Mysymptomsmanifestedthemselvesastightnessorslighttremorofthelatissimus dorsiorparaspinalmuscles.AtnotimedidI feel impaired.AlthoughitwasfoolishofmetodivewhenIwassick, in spiteoftheOCShitI convinced myselfthatadivetothebottomcouldbedoneandthatIwasreadytodoit. BecauseoftheDeShit,wedidpostponethebigdiveuntil April 1994,whentherewouldbeless flow in the access tunnel. Exertion there beforethedeepdivemighthavecontributedtomydecompression problem.Thetime until Aprilpassedrap idly,withpreparationsandplanningconsumingeverydayandnight.Inaddition tothreedives below 500 feet, Ihadmadeoverthirtydivesbelow300 feet.Someweredoneonairtoacclimateandbuildupmynarcosis tolerance.Manyofthese dives includedskills testingatdepth,prima rilyproblemsolvingortasks posedbyDr. Kristovich,whowasonmixwhileIwasonair. Thisprovidedatleastoneclearheadtodealwithproblemsthatmightarise. Frankly, Ibecameveryconfidentofmyskillsandlessworried,becauseofmydisciplined avoidanceofanycarbon dioxidebuildup,aboutoxygen toxic ityandnarcosis blackout. I became theultimate"easydiver," aterm41

PAGE 44

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21coined by Lou Fead in his bookbythe same title.Itwas essential that Ibecomfortable withanequivalent narcosis depth of 330 feet, as my planned bottommixofheliair6.4 (695 percent helium,24.1percent nitro gen,and6.4percent oxygen) pro duced an END of300feetat1000feet true depth. The bottom would de mand thatandmore.Imadeone dive to411feetonair, a possible recordonairina cave,butit was soon eclipsedbySheck, with his dive to420feetonApril 4, two daysbefore our attempt for the bottom.AIIof this history came rushing back to meonthis day, the day of the dive. "Addressingourfears," as Sheckputit, was a constant compan ion morning, noon,andnight over the last year.Iamsure the intensity of my commitmenttothis dive was dif ficultonallthose around me.Iwas obsessed, driven,andsensitive as hell.Ican't think of ever wanting any thing more than this. Now was the time to fish or cut bait.Thefinalprepa rations were made,andthe first sup port team left camp toputdownthe decompression oxygenandDive comm full-face mask thatIplanned to switch toat20feet. Shortly there after,weall left for the spring.Ourteam thatdayconsisted of Sheck, me, Mary Ellen Eckhoff, Karen Hohle,AnnKristovich,andMarcos Gary. Also present were a writerandpho tographer fromSportsillustrated,a photographer fromDestinationDiscovery,a television crew from Chan nel7 in Tampico, the land-ownerandhis family,andthe local residents of the area. Sheck andIgearedupandswam through the 600-foot cave passage,EIPasaje de Tortuga Muerte, to reach our dive site. Surfacing in Zacat6n, we swam slowly over toourdescent lines.Wecommented on the beautifuldayand wished each other luck.Weseparatedatthat timeandwenttoour respective down-lines. Tune passed in silence aswecalmed our breathing and focusedourminds forSheck Exley (left)andJimBowdeninEINacimientoatthe startoftheir deep dive, April6,1994.AnnKristovich.42what was ahead. After a time,Ifeltallwas right and glanced overatSheck.Heseemed to sense my glanceandnoddedaf firmation.Isubmerged and hesitatedat10feetfora minuteorsoandthen went into freefall.Ihad planned a descent rate of one hundred feet per minute to300feetonair, then the same rate to600feet breathing heliair10.5,then switching tomybottommix,heIiair6.4.Iplanned to slowmydescent around750to800feet, whereIhad first noticed HPNS symptoms onmyprevious dive. All went ac cording to plan. AsIpassed the8ODfoot mark,Iwas conscious of veryIittle tremor;Ifelt even better thanonmy previous dive. Butat900feet,Iwas shocked to find thatIhadal ready used my bottommixdownto a pressure only slightly greater than1000psi. At that depth, a regulator will not deliver if the pressureinatankismuch less than500psi, as the ambient pressureisso great.Iin flated mywingsandmanaged to stopmydescentatthe 925-foot mark. My Aladdin Pro gauges read915feetand924feet.Iswitched to the 8
PAGE 45

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTER NUMBER21topure oxygen delivered by the fullfacemask.Wehad constructed a ball-valve system that allowed metoswitch from oxygen backtoair for five-minute air breaks every twenty-five minutes. At least one ofmysupport divers was with medur ing the four hours I spent at20to10feet.They were preparedtoassistmeshould I convulse or to manage my air breaks should I forget. I surfaced after almost ten hours of decompression to aOCShitinmyleft shoulder. I passed my neurologicalsurvey and had stable vitalsigns,sowe managed my hit onsite.I have no noticeable impaired function. I awoke the next morning with arecordI never thought I'd possess and thelossof my friend andteacher.-JimBowdenZacat6nHaycinco cenotesprofundosenranchoAzufrosa, cercadeAldama, Tamaulipas.EIaguaestempladay sulfurosa.EImasprofundoesZacaton,llamadoas!porlas islasde"zacaton"queflotanenlasuperficie.Hasidosondeadohasta330 metrosdeprofundidad.En Abrilde1994, espeleobuzosintentaronalcanzarelfondo.JimBowdenfue forzado a regresar alaprofundidadde280metros.Esteeselrecordmundialenprofundidadparaespeleobuceo. Sheck Exleymuriodespuesdehaberalcanzado laprofundidadde275 metros.43

PAGE 46

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21THE 1994SANAGUSTIN EXPEDITIONBill Stone and BarbaraamEndeThis is a narrative of the expedi tioninthespringof 1994 to dive thesumpatthebottomof Sistema Huautla, which, before the trip,wasthe second-deepest caveinMexicoandtwelfthinthe world.Anaccom panying articleinthis newsletter tells the thirty-year history oftheexplora tion of this systemandthemotiva tion for seeking passagebeyondthesump.Thedevelopmentoftherebreatherdivingapparatusemployed is describedinanarticleinAMeSActivitiesNewsletternumber20.JFinal expedition organizationbeganonJanuary15, 1994,inGaithersburg, Maryland. During the next four weeks, nine MK4 rebreather units were assembledandtested. Thiswasnecessary because substantial changes to theapparatushadbeenmadeinresponse to requestsbyteammembersduringthe 1993 training exercises.OnFebruary 15,theteam moved to Ginnie Springs, Florida, for a weekonin-water testing,duringwhich theapparatusandonboard software wereputthrough controlled maneuvers. Thefinalassembly of the team took placeinSan Antonio, Texas, February24and25.We left TexasonSaturday, February26.Theteamcon sisted of Jim Brown, Bill Farr, Bar baraamEnde, Kenny Broad, Noel Sloan, Steve Porter, James York,DonWilliam C. StoneandBarbaraAnnamEnde. This expedition nar rative has been extractedandrevised, with the help of the authors, from the longer expedition report prepared for the Mexican government. The ma jority of the materialinitalics is cop ied, lightly edited, from logs written during the expedition.44Broussard, Ian Rolland,andBillStone in a five-truck caravan.Ittookthreedays to drive toHuautladeJimenez. Along the way, potholesinthe east coast road broke springsontwoof the trucks. While these two plus a backup truck were delayedbyre pairsinPoza Rica,nearTuxpan, Sloan, Porter, Stone,amEnde,andAngel Soto,whojoined theteaminTehuacan,wentoninthe remaining two trucks to gain permission from the authoritiesinHuautla. By March2,wehadarranged for local permis sioninthe village of San Agustin Zaragoza as well. Four houses were rented from the villagers,twofor sleeping, one forequipmentmainte nance,andonefor cookingandteammeetings.Withintwodays ofourarrival,wehadbasecamporganizedinthe rented buildings,andwebeganrigging S6tanodeSan Agustin.Ittook anotherweekto reach the -620 meter level. Morethana kilometer of ropewasriggedonfifty pitchesinthis section alone.Theentrance to S6tanodeSan Agustin is a gigantic funnelinthe jungle that descends.120meters verticallybymeans of two sloping 9Q-meter shafts. Verdant fernsandnative begonias line the walls of the first shaft. A 40-meter climbatthebase of the second pitch leadsupandto thewesttoanimpressive balcony overlooking both the Sala Grande, a large hallatthe base of the second shaft,andthe entrance pitch.Atthe southwestern edge of this balcony begins the Fool's Day Extension, a passage discoveredonApril1,1987. This isanobscure routeatfirst, re quiring passing through two tight placesanda lOD-meter-Iongsandcrawl. Beyond the long crawl, a series of twenty-threeshortdrops con nectedbylargewalkingpassages leads to the -325-meter level. From thispointthere are six large shafts, somedeeperthan100 metersandwalledwithsmooth, tan-eoloredtravertineandknobbypopcorn,downwhichthe cave stream flows. The total descentinthis section is 305 meters. Fortunately,thestream flowingthroughthis passage isnottheoneseenatthe entrance,andthe route remains passableeveninhigh-water conditions. Still,onecanexpect to get totally soaked to the waist,andthere is a substantialwindthrough the con necting fissuresbetweenthe vertical shafts. By March 10, anumberofsupportpersonnelhadarrived,andthe equipmentforthefirst reconnaissance diveatthebottomof the cavewasrapidly beingmovedfurther in. Soon, sevenhundredkilograms of sleeping, div ing,andcookingequipmenthadbeen transported to adepotatthe -620 meter level. Thedepotwaslocatedatthe base of a 77 -meter shaftinthemiddleof a large tunnel15meterswideand50 meters tallknownas Tommy's Borehole.Camp3 is an other 90 metersdeeperandmorethana kilometerdistantfromthe620 de pot.FromCamp3, it is another 130 meters vertically totheSan Agustinsump,along a kilometer ofthemosttechnical passageinthecave system,dueto itshighvolumeof water. Two rebreathers, five 368-literoxygenbottles, five 850-liter bottles of86/14helioxdiluentgas, three 2950-liter bailout bottles ofthesamemix,andoneemergency1700-liter oxygen bottlewerestagedatthe -620-meter depot,inadditiontomoretraditional cavingandcampingequipment. The rebreatherswerebrokendowninto

PAGE 47

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21componentsfortransportontheropes; the heaviest componentwasthe core electronicsandgas-process ing module, which weighed 19.5 ki lograms. Eightothercavers fromaroundtheworld(as farawayas Germany) supported this phase of the operation,inadditionto the eleven members of thediveteam.OnMarch16,six ofusrigged toCamp3atthe-nO-meterlevel.Itwouldbesixteendaysbeforewesawthe surface again.Wethen carried equipmentdowntoCamp3.About half of this materialwassleeping bags, foam pads, freeze-dried food, cooking stoves, fuel,andcalcium car bide forourlamps. The remainder was diving gear.OnMarch19,webegan rigging thefinal130 vertical metersdowntothesump.Over the next three days,weas sembled a lightweight platform ofaluminumpolesandnylon fabric. This 4-by-12-foot deckwasCamp5, the dive base. Hammocks, rigged to rock boltsinthe walls, allowedupto three individuals to sleepatCamp5.Another deck, 4 feet square,wascon structedatthewaterlevel for depart ingandreturning divers. Otherwise, therewasnodrylanddownthere. The water-level never changedduringourinitial stayinMarch. AtCamp5,wereassembledoneof the rebreathers thathadbeenbroughtdowninpieces. The three lead divers, Ian Rolland, Noel Sloan,andSteve Porter, thenbeganthe exploration of theunderwatertunnel, whilethere maining membersoftheteamatCamp3,BillStone, Kenny Broad,andBarbaraamEnde, continued to haul supplies, mostly small diving tanks, from the -62o-meter level toCamp5.The first divingpushwasonMarch23,thedayafter Sloan, Porter,andRolland reachedCamp5.Rolland was the first person to dive. Follow ing the roof,hesurfaced into a large airbellatapproximately 60 meters penetration,hopingto find adryby pass to the remainder of the sump. Therewasnocontinuation in that direction,unfortunately.Furtherprogress was hamperedbysilt stirred upinthe vicinity of the airbellwhenhebroke the surface; this significantly reduced visibility.SoRolland re turned toCamp5,andlater that morning Sloanmadea dive.Hefollowed Ian's line to its finaltie-<>ffpoint, clippedonanewreel,andspooled out. Soon the passage wid ened intowhatapparently was a large breakdown chamber. The visibilitywaspoor to begin with,butbecame worsewhenSloanhadto struggle to disentangle one of his fins from the line. Porter made the thirddiveof the day,butagain poor visibilitymadehimcallthe dive beforehecould make significant progress. The nextdayRolland followed the line to where Porterhadleft his reel.Hetried to follow the passageupwards. Ultimatelyhesurfacedina small airbellina narrow fissure,butthe passage ended. Explorationunderwater was again difficultdueto extremely limited visibility,andIan called his dive. PorterandSloan alsodovethat day,buthadlittle luckinfinding thewayoninthe breakdown chamber. The limit of exploration wasnow230 meters from dive baseatawaterdepthof20meters.OnMarch 25, Rolland once again returned to theendof the lineandpickedupPorter'sreel. Unfortu nately, soon after he began explor ing, his breathing became labored,andhedeveloped a headache.Heaborted the missionandsafely re turned to dive baseonclosed-drcuit rebreatherbyperiodically purging the system with heliox, stillmuchmore efficientthanswitching toopencircuit. Apparently, after sixhoursof diving theCO2absorbent, anhydrous lithium hydroxide,inthe rigwasspent. Thiswassomewhatunex pected, sinceweusually got seven to eight hours for each chargeduringourFlorida training missions.Bynow, the enthusiasm of these explorershadbeen taxed. The dives were techni cally difficult. Worst of all were the conditionsatCamp5.The constant loud roar of a nearby waterfall, the inconvenience ofthetoilet facilities (a trash bag), the lack of immediate success,andall the other stress-<:reat ing factors, including the awareness of their locationatthe bottom of three kilometersof rope, convinced the three to return toCamp3 to unwindandto discuss the situation with the other members of the team. The next day, after a more comfortable nightatCamp3, they talkedaboutthe con figuration of the flooded tunnel,andStonedrewamapbasedonthereports of all the diversandhisownrecollections from diving there thir teen years before. That morning, RollandandKenny Broad leftCamp3 forCamp5.The missionplanwasfor Broad to makeanexplorationdiveinthe hopes of findingthesoutherncontinuation that apparentlyhadbeenlostinthelargebreakdownchamber.NoelSloanandSteve Porterheadedfor the surface to get more suppliesandto rest. They gave a message to three British visitors, Paul Whybro, Rick Stanton,andMike Madden, to bring Stone's diving kitanddrysuitclothes toCamp3.These three arrived the following aftemoon. Stone intended to descend toCamp5 the following morningandmakethenext explor atorydiveafter Broad.On March 26, after rechargingtheCO2absorbent canister, Broad laid 85 meters of lineonaduesouth bearing. The meetingatCamp3musthave helped, because Broad felthehadgoing passage, estimated to be 10 to15meters wide,witha height of14metersanda floordepthof 34meters.Thefollowingmorning,emboldenedbyBroad's significant advance,IancontinuedonwhereKennyhadtied offandlaid another 85 meters of line.Thefloor of the tunnelwasnowrising,andRollandhadtied offatadepthof only 10meters.Hewascertainabreakthroughwasimminent. Broaddoveagain early in the afternoon,andaf ter a little morethananadditional 40 meters,hesurfacedina large air filled passage.Inhis log, Broad wrote:Ceilingslopedupwardsforabout40metersuntilitbrokeintoopenwater,andthemercury-likereflectionofthesurfacesentashiverdoummyalreadyshiveringspine.Whileunderwater,Idisabledtheoxygeninjector(insoftware),shutoffthemanualcontrolboxvalve,andsurfaced.Iremovedtheregulatorandsatonmykneesinthemud,breathedthewarmhumidair,andwasinawe.Thepassagewas12to15meterswide,12metershigh.Seuerallow(0.3to1.0meters)sandbarsbrokethestillsurface.Therewasnoperceptiblewaterorairmovement,andIheardnonoise.Becausehewasn'tas experiencedatdrycaving, Broad returned to base,45

PAGE 48

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21andRollandwentto checkoutthenewtunnel. Unfortunately, Rollandneverreturned. According to a prearrangedplan, Broad leftthesumpto "calloutthecavalry"at10P.M.Stone subsequentlywroteinhislog:At11:49P.M.,wewereawakenedbyafamiliarclankingofverticalgeJ1r.IawoketoseealightC1VerneJ1rIan'sbed,thenheJ1rdKenny'svoicesay,"Where'sBill.IsBillhere?"Ifiguredhewascomingovertotellustheyhadcrackedthesump,sinceDonBroussardhadreturnedaround4P.M.tosaythattheyhadrunouttwolinereelsanditlookedliketheywereheJ1dingup.Kennycameovertoourcampsite,andBarbandIsatup.Kennyhadsurfacedina15-meter-wideby12meter-hightunnelwithsandbars...apparentlyinahugeairbell.At4P.M.,Ianhadgonebackin(fulltanks,aboutthreehourscumulativeuseonthescrubber).Theyhadstagedanoxygenbottleat120metersin,andahelioxbottleat230metersin.BeforeleJ1vingtoexplorethenewair-ftlledtunnel,IanhadtoldKenny,"IfI'mnotbackby10P.M.,calloutthecavalry."At10P.M.,Ianhadnotreturned.Punctual,andextremelyconcerned,KennygearedupandclimbedtoCamp3.Atmybedsidehewashyperandwantedtoorganizeareturndiveimmediately.DonBroussardhadnawjoinedthegathering,alongwithBrown;Kennyhadawakenedbothonthewaytocamp.Iwasstillfuzzyfromonlytwohourssleep.Kenny'sconcernwasthatIanmightbebeyondthesumpwithinsulinshock.(Rolland had, some eighteen months prior totheexpedition, been diagnosed with diabetes. Thishadbeen openly discussedwiththe team,anditwasfelt thatIanwouldbeable tomanagethisinthefaceofthetaskshewouldberequired todoontheexpedition.)AccordingtoDon,thiswouldoccurifIanhadnoteatenenoughinthefaceofheavyexertion.Thesymptomswerelightheadedness,followedbyconvulsionsorunconsciousnessorboth.DonfeltsureIanwouldbeawareofsuchasituationand,ifonthefarsideofthesump,sitpatientlyforsomeonetobringinfood.KennywasconcernedoverthetwohighcarbohydratePowerBarsIanhadtakeninthisbeltpouch.Hadheeatenthem?Wewentthroughmanyscenariosandconcluded,largelybasedonBroussard'sknowledgeofdiabetes,thattherescuecouldwaittill5A.M.whileweallgotsomeneededsleep.Ididnotsleepwell.46At5A.M.RickStantonleftforthe620-meterdepottoretrievethefirst-aidkit,anextensivetraumakitpreparedbyNoelthat.filledanentire40-literdrybagandwouldpresumablyhaveinjectableglucagon.Broussard'srecommendationwastousethisasthemosteffectivetoolforovercominginsulinshock.BarbandDonstayedincamp,awaitingwordwhethertomakearuntothesurfacetoinformNoelandSteve.(Anearlier ef fort to rig a fiber-optic communica tion link from surfacebasecamptoCamp3hadfailed,apparentlybecauseanirate Mazatecchoppedthesurface portionofthelink several times.Thusmessengershadtobeused.)Mark,Paul,Jim,andIheadedforthesumpwithenoughgeartobuildupthesecondrebreather.Wearrivedaround7A.M.Ittooktill11A.M.tohaveittogetherandcheckedout.Bythistime,KennyhadarrivedwithRickandwaslayingflatontheupperdecktryingtocomposehimselfforthedive.Aftercompletelycalibratingtherig,IletJimhaveanindependentdoublecheckoftheplumbing.DuringthistimeIspoketoKennyaboutthediveplan.HehadoneofthewaterproofCO2-canistercarriersfilledwithcandybars,carbide,acaplamp,injectableglucagon(foundinIan'skitatCamp3),andaspace-blanketsleepingbag.Aftera10-minuteprebreathetocheckthecanisterIhadrepackedandanin-waterleJ1kcheck,hegavemethe"OK"circlewithhislightanddisappeJ1red.Itwas12:15P.M.Istartedaten-hourcountdawntimeronmywatch.Jimwenttosleep.Therestofusstoodwithasolitarycarbidelampalmostavigil-,madesomebullionbroth,suckedonJollyRogershardcandy,butingeneralsaidlittle.Atonepointwetalkedaboutincidentsofsumpstrandedbeyonddives.At1:45P.MPaulsawlightsreturning,90minutesout.Kennyhadsaiditwouldbea35-to40-minutediveeJ1chway.Iimmediatelysaid,"Thisisnotgood."Brownwasdawnonthelawerdeck.Isawtheunmistakablewords,"Iandrowned,"formedonKenny'slips,butcouldnotheJ1rhimsayingitduetotheroarofthefalls.Myheartsank.Ihadbeensteelingmyselfalldayforthis,butitstillmademedizzy.Thefirstthoughtwas,"Ohhell,Ian,notIan.Hawcouldthishavehappened?"Andthesecondwas,"Andnowwhatarewegoingtodoaboutit?"ThiswentinaviciouscircleuntilitwasapparentthatKennyneededassistance.Afterhelpinghimontotheplatform,I silentlyputmyhandonhisshoulder.Hegrabbeditandheldit.Ofallthoseontheexpedition,hewastheclosesttoIan.Ianhadtakenhimunderhiswing,madehimhisapprentice.TheyweresomatchedasapairthatIoftenslippedandcalledKenny"Ian."BythistimeWhybroandStantonweregettingcold.WemadeadecisiontosendthemtoCamp3,whileBrown,Kenny,andIspentthenightatthesump.Wewerealltoowiredtodiveatthispoint,butitwaspainfullyobvioustomethatwehadtobringIan'sbodyout.ItwasalsocleJ1rthatKennyshouldnotbethepersondoingthat.Brownwasstillhavingearproblems,sothatleftme.Ifigureditwouldtaketwodivesatleast.Aftertheothersleft,wegotintocampclothesandstrungthehammocks.KennyandItalkedforwhatseemedhoursaboutthewholething.Bothofuswerenumb.Bothdazed.ThateveningamEndeandMaddenleftCamp3toalertmembersoftheteamonthesurfacethata recoveryeffortwasonandtoinformtheauthorities. Sloan, Porter,andMaddenmadeplanstodescendthefollowingafternoon. Rolland'sbodywastransportedthroughtheSanAgustinsumponthemorningofMarch 29byBillStone.ThatsamedayPaulWhybro, Rick Stanton,andKennyBroad joinedtherecovery effort,andbylateeveningthefourhadreachedCamp3withthebody.TheywerethenjoinedbyMarkMadden,Noel Sloan, Steve Por ter,andAlex Wade. This team,overthecourseofthefollowingthreedays,transportedthebodytothe-250meterlevel,threepitchesabovethe110MeterShaft.Duringthenexttwodays,a reliefteamfromBritain, con sistingofJohnPalmer,JohnThorpe, Dick Ballantine,PeteWard,andPete Hall,continuedtheoperationtotheentrance.Inthemeantime,RobParker,Tony Finnegan, BarbaraamEnde, SergioZambrano,andAngel Sotoworkedwithauthoritiesonthe surface.Whentheteamreachedthesur facewiththebodyonAprill,awaveofemotionsweptovereveryone.Nearlytwohundredvillagers linedthepathfromtheentrance.Thewomenboreflowersandburnedin cense.Themen,whohadcometo

PAGE 49

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTERNUMBER21guidelineandaknowntraverse dis tance of 430 meters totheairbellattheendofSump1nowenabledusto estimate amaximumtransit time of forty minutes. For these conditions, wetsuits are sufficient, provided you keep moving underwater. The use of wetsuits also permittedusto elimi nateanextratankofgas, aswehadbeenusingargontoinflatethedrysuits. After leavingthedive platform,Stonesubmergedandswam100 meters into the sump, whereheheard strange gurgling sounds.Heaborted thediveandreturnedtoCamp5,since rebreathers arenotsupposed to makeanysounds. ThereheandamEndespentanhourexamining the rig, without findinganyleaksorprob lems.Soat10:30A.M.,Stone set offona second attempt. This timehegot 150 meters into thesumpbefore hear ingmoreoftheirregulargurgling noise.Hesatthereunderwaterfor a few minutes trying to determine the origin of thesoundandthenaborted again to dive base. StoneandamEnde tooktherigapartandultimately found a small leak in the buoyancycompensatorjacket.Ittook threehoursto repair this,andby3P.M.Stonewasbackinthe water. This time everythingwentwell,andStonedove430 meters throughthesump,reachingamaximumdepthof25meters. Thesumpwasmostly a canyon passage measuring approximately14metershighand6 to 8 meters wide,butinmostplaces onecouldnotsee the floororthe east wall. A bluish-white haze, createdbysuspendedcalcium carbonateinthe water, reduced the visibility to ap proximately15metersinmost places. In a few placesthevisibility reached amaximumof5meters. The white diving guidelinehadbeentied to small solution-holesnearthe roof of the tunnel to minimize thedepthof the dives. This iswhyoneusually couldnotsee the floor. The tempera ture of thewaterwas17C (63F), fairly cold water. Along thewa}"Stone placedwhitearrows,numberedto indicate the distance back to base,onthe line. These line arrows are a use ful referenceonthewayout, similar to mile markersontheinterstate. Af ter thirtyminutes, Stone surfaced into the air-filled chamberthatwehaveTherewasa group meetingonEaster Sunday, and, basedonthe preponderance of evidence that the fatalitywasmedically related, the decision wasmadeto continue the expedition. After the meeting,someof the team members left the area for a few days of restandrelaxation. Several individuals stayed on, how ever,includingthephotographicteam fromNationalGeographicmaga zine, Wes Skiles, Tom Morris,andPaul Smith. They were slowly accli matizing themselves to the elevationandthe rigors of ropeworkbymakingsuccessively deeper trips into the cave.OnWednesda}" April 6, BarbaraamEndeandBill StonedescendedtoCamp3 with equipment for a re connaissance dive beyond the sump.OnThursday, April7,they continueddowntoCamp5atthesumpandpreparedoneoftherebreathers forusethe following day.OnFridaymorning, April8,theygotupat6A.M.andhada breakfast of freeze dried foodandpowdered potatoes. Stone was ready to diveby9A.M.Although much hasbeenwrittenaboutthemechanics ofestablishingCamp5, little hasbeensaid about its ambience.Mostindividualswhohavebeenthere describe it as spooky.Itwassuspended3 meters above thesumppool,andthereisa waterfall lessthan20 metersawaythat makes a continuous loud roar. One has to shout tobeheard. Ear plugs willnotabate the noise.Itis a low frequency pulsethatvi brates the walls of the tun nel. Initiallywehadused drysuits for the explor atory dives.Ourduration underwaterduringthose first diveswasa completeunknownatthe start ofanymission,andcoldwaterwasanticipated. The presence of the fixed StoneappearsintheJanuary-February1995 issue ofUnderwaterSpeleology.]Ian Rolland workingona MK4 rebreather in Maryland, January 20,1994. Bill Stone.help bring Ianupthe final hillandover to the church for a memorial serviceinMazatec,haddugscores of stepsinthe steep trailoutof the en trance.Hewasthentakenbythe Oaxacan authoritiesandultimatelybythe RAF to Scotland. Rob Parker accompanied thebodybacktoGreat Britain.Heandtwoof the British support-team members,PaulWhy broandRick Stanton,whowerewithusduringthe recovery, represented the teamatthe memorial service.BillStone wrote a eulogy for Parker to read on behalf of the team. Ian Rollandhadbeen foundinopenwaterinthelarge passage be yond the sump. Investigationatthe timeandafter the returnof the expe dition, including examining thedataloggedbythe rebreatherunithehadbeen using, led to the conclusion that Rollandhaddrownedfor some medi cal reasonnotrelated to the equipmentinuseduringthe dive. A blackoutdueto diabetes-related hypo glycemia is regarded as the most likely medical explanation, although thereisnoevidence bearing directlyonthis question. Circumstancesdidnot, of course, permit apromptandthoroughautopsy.[Adetailedaccident analysisbyKennyBroadandBill47

PAGE 50

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21nownamedRollandAirbell,inmemory ofourcolleague. Thischamber measures 100 meters long, 15 meters wide,and12meters tall. Ex cept for two small sandbarsinthe middleofthe room, the entire floor is beneath a large lake. Stoneswamto theendofthe lakeandpickedupthe line reelthathadbeendroppedbyRolland. Therehesubmerged to find a largeunderwater tunnel leadingdownwardandto the east.Itlooked like a longwaydown,butthe visibilitywasnotgreat. Stone tried to maintain a southerly bearingandto stayonthe roof.Hehadgood luck, for the roof neverdippedbelow 10 meters.Hecon nected a second spool of line midwaythrough thesump.Bythis time it wasapparentthatthe tunnelwasrising. At 170 meters into the dive, Stone surfaced into a large tunnelmeasuring20meterswideandaround 10 meters tall. Therewasa gravel beachinthe distance,andhecouldhearthesoundof a powerful waterfall. Stone's writes:Thisiswhatwehadbeenworkingtenyearstoachieve:Tofindanair-filledcontinuationofthemainriverpassagebeyondtheSanAgustinsump.Ittookawhileforthattoregister,givenwhereIwasandtheamountofgearIwasembeddedin.Iraisedbyhandsinsilentprayer.ByGod,wehaddoneit!Itookoffthebackpackandclimbedoutofthewater.Thegravelbeachquicklyledintoafieldofpolishedbreakdownwiththestreamrunningalongthewestwall.Ihadstarteddownthisinmywetsuitbootieswithabackupdivelight,butsoongotagriponmyselfandreturnedtoretrieveacarbidecaplampfrommydaypack,alongwithapairofboots.Ifollowedthebigtunnel100meterstowhereitsplit.Thelarger,easternbranchcontinued100metersuntilitbegantodescendtothewest.Withinwhatseemedaveryshortdistance,Ifoundalargelake,withtheriverpouringintoit.ApparentlythiswasSump3.IcontinuedarounditsedgeandfollowedtheincomingtunneltothenorthandeasttowhereitjoinedthemainpassagecomingfromSump2.Ireturnedtothedivegear,thinkingthatthiswasit.ThenIthoughtbetterofitandbegantocarefullyfollowtheeastwallagain.Thistime,withtheaidofadivelight,Isawablacknessatthetopofaboulderslopejustbeforethedescentto48Sump3.Iclimbedupthisandfoundmyselfin25-meter-wideby15-metertallborehole.Thenewtunnelled100meterstowhereitsplit.Themainpassagecontinuedsouthupasteeplyinclinedbreakdownslope.However,tothewest,shortlybeyondthebeginningoftheslope,wasa3-by-5-meterwater-scouredcanyon.IchosetofollowthisinhopesofbypassingSump3.Thecanyonquicklyopeneduptothewestandintoadescendingsandslope,200metersfromwhereIhadenteredit.ThereIconnectedbackintotheriverpassage.IntheupstreamdirectiontherewereseverallonglakesleadingoffthatpresumablycontinuedtothedownstreamsideofSump3.Ineverdidgoupthere.Tothesouth,however,therewasagainalargelake,20meterslongby10meterswide,intoSump4.RoutefindingbecamediJjicult.Asteepclimbtothesoutheastledintoanascendingfissure.Thereweredeeppotholesinthefloor,anditappearedtobeaninfeeder.Istoppedataplacethatwouldhaverequiredanexposedtraverseof a6-meterdeeppothole.BackatSump4Inoticedablackalcovedirectlyabovethesump.IcouldnotgetaclenrviewofitduetothesteamIwasgenerating.Ihad,inmyexcitement,neverbotheredtotakeoffmywetsuittoporhoodandwasnowoverheating.Ilookedattheblacknessupthereforsometime,tryingtoscopeoutaclimbingroute.Reasonthengotthebetterofme,andIdecidedthatthiswasnoplacetobeconductingexposedclimbswithoutapartner.IretreatedtoSump2.Ihadbeenonthefarsideofthesumpsfortwohoursnowandhadseenroughly500metersofvirgintunnel.Withthreeleadsheadingsouthinair-filledpassage,Ifelttherewassufficientreasontoreturnwithasurveypartyandrope.Ittook close toanhourto get back into the rebreatherandcheckoutallthe systems. StonethensurveyedbothSump2andSump1onthediveoutandarrived safely backatdivebaseat8P.M.By10P.M.,heandamEndehadthings packedup,andthey ascended toCamp3,wheretheyfound Tom Morris, Paul Smith, Neal Messler, JimBrown,andKennyBroad. These five,withBroad servingas guide,hadmadea reconnais sance of the cave toCamp3 for thepurposeof planning the subsequent photographicworkforNationalGeo-graphic.Thefollowing morning, Sat urday, April 9,everyoneascended to the surface.On Sunday, April 10, Stonegavea public slideshowinHuautla. Nearly fivehundredpeoplecl'Owded the central plaza.Helatergavea spe cial private lecture totownofficialsata localrestaurant.Thefollowingmorningtheteamdroveto CarnarronHuautepeconthesouthsideofthe mountain,whereahorseandthreeburroswerewaitingto carry equipmentdownintothedeepSantoDomingo Canyon.Thepurposeof this tripwastotaketheNationalGeographicphotographerstotheresur gencewherethewateremerges from SistemaHuautlainthe formofa large spring. As itturnedout, the tripwasmore interesting than anticipated.Wehadtakentworebreathersandsomeotherdivinggearforunderwaterphotos. However,wefoundthevis ibilityinthewateratthespringtobebetterthanithadeverbeen. We dis coveredthattheunderwatertunnel continuedasa large galleryat19meters depth.In1984, Noel Sloanhaddivedhereinbadvisibilityandconcludedthatthespringcouldnotbeeffectively explored. After the ph
PAGE 51

AMCS ACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21canyon to scale 110metersupthenorthwalltogainaccess to a large cavethatcouldbeseenfromthecanyonfloorabout100meterssouthofNarrowsCave.Itledonly120metersintothemountainbeforepinchingshut,buttheviewwasspectacularandoffered a revealing perspectiveontheHuautlaspringwhereitmergedwiththeRioSantoDomingo; the cavewateris adark,clear blue,andtheriverwateralighterturquoise.Intheentranceofthecavetherewerelaidstonewallsthatindi catedthatancientMazatecshaduseditasaburialsite. This isamazing,sincewehadtousemodemrock climbingequipmenttogainaccess to this cliff cave. WenamedthecaveCuevaLagardoGrandeaftera largeiguanathatlivedneartheentrance.OnApril15,sevenmembersoftheteam,includingtheNationalGeographicphotographers,descendedtoCamp3intheSOtanodeSanAgustintobegintheirfinalphotoshootofthelower cave. Adaylatertheweatherchanged dramaticallyfromhotanddustyto a torrentialthunderstormthatdumped10centimetersofwaterin a single afternoon. Twodayslater,amEndeandStoneenteredthecavewith suppliesthathadbeenrequestedbythe film team.Theyonlyreachedthelevel,wellaboveCamp3andabouta kilometer away, beforebeingstoppedbyaragingwhitewater river. Therewere2-meter-highstandingwaveswherepreviouslytherehadbeencobblesshowinginthestreambed.StoneandamEndebivouackedjustabovethispoint,andseventeenhourslaterthewaterlevel stillhadnotdropped.Theyretreated tothesurfaceontheafternoonofApril 19.OnWednesday, April 20, a rescuepackageincluding foodandropewasassembled.StoneandamEndeplannedonenteringthecaveonThursdaytorigadrybypasstothenow-floodedgorgebymeansofa little-knownroutethatStoneandJimSmithhaddiscoveredin1979attheeastendofTommy'sBorehole.However,earlyWednesdaynightlightsappearedcomingupthedolinetowardbasecamp.Thewater-levelhaddroppedenoughforthemto leave.Infact, Skileshadconsidered thehighwateraprimephotoopportunity,andtheyhadspentmostofthedayshootingoff roll after rolloffilminrarehigh-waterconditions.Theywereallpleasedwiththeir results. By this time, therehadbeennomorerainfor fourdays,andthelo calswereadamantthatthestormwasnothingmorethana freak occurrenceandnotanearlyadventoftherainyseason. Wehadapproximately three weeks,atmost, available tomakeanotherattemptatexploration beyondtheSanAgustinsump.Planswereformulated for placing atwopersonreconnaissanceteamonthefarsideofthesumpfor aperiodofLoading expedition equipmentatBillandJanet Steele's houseinSan Antonio.DonBroussard.aboutaweektotendaystosurveywhatwasbeyond,and,withsomeluck, to significantlyextendknowledgeofthecoreoftheplateau. Thisdata,intheend,woulddeterminethesuccessoffailureoftheexpedi tion.AsofApril 20,itappearedcertainthattheteamgoingbeyondthesumptosetCamp6wouldbeNoelSloanandBill Stone.OnApril23,theNationalGeographicphotographersleft fortheUnited States. By this timetwomoremembersofthedivingcrewhadalsodecidedtoleavetheexpedition. Bothwereovercomewithmonumentalself-doubt.KennyBroad,whoseef fortshadbeencrucialincracking theSanAgustinSump,hadneverrecoveredfromthedeathofhiscavingpartnerIan.HehadstayedonlybecausetheNationalGeographicpeoplewerepersonal friends.Whentheyleft,hisenthusiasmplummeted,andwithinadayhewasonabusheadednorth.Theother, Steve Porter,wasalso anewrecruitinthelastyear. BothheandBroadhadbeentothetrainingsessionin1993,butneitherhadanysignificantexpeditioncavingexperience. Shortly aftertheflood,onApril 19 Skilesandcrewhadventuredupstreamtotakedramaticphotosofpeopletraversingdangerouscascades.Porterslippedtwice,onceduringtheascentandonceduringtheretreat toCamp3.Onbothoccasionshedisappearedintoboilingplungepools.Atthesecond one, Noel SloancountedtofourteensecondsbeforePorterreachedthesurfaceofthepool.Thiswasa close call.FromthisincidentandthesituationwithIan Rolland,Porter'sconfidence col lapsed.Althoughhestayedonwiththeexpeditionforelevenmoredays,hisdepressiongrewwitheachpassingday,andheultimatelyleftshortlyafterthefinalpushtoestablishCamp6began.OnApril 26, after threesupplytripstotakeindivinggasandotherconsumables,BarbaraamEndeandBillStonedescendedtoCamp3 forwhateveryoneknewwouldbealongstaydown,thefinalpushofthe49

PAGE 52

c.noNITA NASHINITANANTA[0m)o5001000IIIIIIIIIIIMETERSSISTEMA HUAUTLAOAXACA.MEXICO1994 Profilerotated135degrees westsOTANODELRIO IGLESIANEWDISCOVERIES 1994r---------------------------,II ,, , ,I[-1475m]SUMP 9,L.!)..nVl)..n::j:s::jtT1VlZtT1:EVlt'""'tT1::jtT1Ztl::ItT1N....

PAGE 53

SISTEMA HUAUTLAnCJ)n:::l::s:::ltT1CJ):..:::tT1::ECJ)t'""'tT1tT1:..:::I:l:::ItT1N.....sOTANODELRIO IGLESIAsOTANODESANAGUSTINIIII I II IISUMP9II I----------------------------LAGRIETA NITANANTA.....NmOAXACA,MEXICO-1994NITANASHINEWDISCOVERIES 199420001000o3000IIIIIIIMETERSc.n.....

PAGE 54

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21expedition. Twodayslater theywerejoinedbyNoel Sloan,JimBrown,andSteve Porterduringhis final daysonthe expedition. Stonewrites:OntheeveningojApril28,BarbandIreturnedfromthefirstresupplytriptoCamp5,theendofourthirdcontinuousdayunderground.TheremainingmembersoftheteamhadreachedCamp3earlierintheafternoon.NoelSloantookmeasideafterdinnertosaythathewashavingsecondthoughtsaboutthedive.Hewasobviouslytornandunderagreatdealojstress.Hewasatonceworriedandembarrassed.AmonthearlierhehadpersonallythankedmeatCamp5forselectinghimtobeontheleadteamforthefirstpushontheSanAgustinsump.Heknewhewanted,no,needed,tobeoutthereatthefrontier.IhaveknownNoel,ourexpeditionphysician,formorethanadozenyears.Wehadfirstmetduringtrainingexercisesin1983forthePenaColoradaexpedition.IhadbeentoldinexplicittermsbyJohnZumrick,thechiefmedicalofficerojtheNavyExperimentalDivingUnit,followingareconnaissancedivingefforttothePenaColoradainthespringojthatyearthat"youneedthismanonyourteam."Sloanwasthehyperactive,grinning,can't-get-enough-of-thisleadphysicianfortheNationalCaveRescueCommission,whichcoordinatescaverescueandtrainingintheUnitedStates.AftercompletingmedicalschoolinDallas,Texas,hewasanemergency-roomphysicianbeforetakingresidencyinanesthesiology.Sincethenwehavebeenonnumerousexpeditionstogetherunderextremelycommittingconditions.QuitesometimeagoIhadobservedthattherewasacertaincachettothosewhodidwellondeep-cavingexpeditions:thesmilesontheirfacesgrewwiderthemoreremoteanddeeptheygot.Noelwasthearchetypeofthisimage.HeoncelefttheoperatingroominIndianapolisonaphonecall'snotice,drovestraighttotheairport,andjettedtoOaxacatoattendtoaninjuredcaverdeepinCuevaCheve.Noelwastheonlyotherremainingmemberofthe1984PettaColoradateamtohavestuckitoutthosetenlongyears.Insomanyways,wewereonthesamewavelength,heand1.NowIsawsomethingutterlyalieninhim.Hehadalookofresignation.TherewereafewcharacterdifferencesbetweenNoelandme.Heheldgreatfaithinhisinnercompass,totheextentthathe52oftenperceivedsubtlesignsaspremonitions.HehadtoldmeafterIan'sdeaththatfollowingthefirstreconnaissancediveshehada"badfeeling"thatsomethingwasgoingtohappen.AnotherfacetofNoel'sinnerpsychewasthathewasanemotionalamplifier.Ifthingsweregood,orperceivedtobegood,thenNoelbecamethecheerleader,pushingthingsforward.Ifthingswerebad,wen,itwouldtakealottoconvinceNoelthatthingswerebad.Ian'sdeathandthefloodwereinsufficienttoshakehim,andhehadvotedonApril3fortheexpeditiontocontinue.ButhehadbeenworkingdailywithPorter,whohadslippedintodeepeningdepressionfollowinghisnear-drowningduringtheflood.Porterwasoneoftworookies(theotherbeingBroad)whowerediversfirstandhadbeendraftedfortheproject.Theyhadlearnedverticalcavingonacrash-eoursebasis.AndsoitwassomewhatunderstandablethatPorterwasshakenbytheeventsofthepastmonth.Itwashisinsistencethattherewas"ablackcloud"overtheexpeditionthatfinallybegantogettoNoel'ssubconsciousbeliefinthesuperstitious.HowelsecouldoneexplaintheeventsofApri124?Under the cover of "curiosity," Noelhadsecretly contacted Marcos Escudero,ourlandlord's son,andmadearrangements to travel to Rio Santiago,twovillagesawayanddowntowards the coastal lowlands. There,onanobscure trail leading off into the dense jungle, theymetwithMarcos's uncle,whowasacurandero(traditional medicine man),andcon ducted a Mazatec spiritual curing cer emony. In a darkly lit chamber of a dirt-flooredhut,thecuranderocast com,burnedcopal,andprayed to the god of the sierra for forgivenessandpermission for the team to con tinue its mission safely. Stone continues:Thoseofusontheteamknewnothingofthisuntilthefollowingafternoon,whenNoelaskedmetocometothecookshedalongwithMarcosandhim.HeaskedmetotranslateasMarcosrecountedtheeventsoftheceremony.Otherthingshadtranspired.ThecuranderohadgivenNoeltwostemsoftheHerb of San Pedro,oneofwhichwastobeplantedattheentranceofthecaveandtheothercarried"withinthedepths."NoelconcludedCamp3wouldbedeepenough.Marcoswasinsistentonthis.Healsosaid,"Eachmemberojyourteamistocarrygarliconyourperson."ThelastmorningwewentintothetownofHuautlabeforethefinalpush,Barbboughtabulbofgarlic.AsfarasIamaware,allmembersojtheteamgoingdeepthatweekhadclovesofgarlicintheirpacks.Noelhadplantedtheherbthehealerhadgivenhimatthebaseojtheentranceshaft,withinsightojdaylight.Now,atCamp3,heinformedmethathehad,theeveningafterseeingthecurandero,gonetoHuautlatophonefirsthisparents,hisin-laws,thenhiswife.Hewassayinggoodbyetothem.ThiswasnottheNoelojtenyearsago.Butthen,amItheBillStoneoftenyearsago?"Noel,"Isaidcautiously,"youdon'thavetomakeadecisionjustyet.Whydon'tyousleeponitandlet'stalkinthemorning.""You'reright,"hesaid,"therearealotofweirdvibesgoingonrightnow."ImentallycountedmyoptionsifNoeldroppedout.RobParker,theyoung,athleticBritishsuperstarofthe1984PettaColoradaexpedition,hadleftimmedintelyfollowingIan'sdeath.SohadCal-TechwhizkidBillFarr.TomMorris,thebarrel-ehestedcigar-smokingbiologistfromFlorida,hadleftwiththefilmteam,ashadKennyBroad,thewise-erackingprofessionaldiverturnedPhDstudentinanthropology,whohadplayedapivotalroleincrackingSump1.BrownandPorterwerecategoricallyagainstsettingacampbeyondthesumpandwitheachpassingdaywerebecomingmoreintimidatedbythecave.AndIanRollandwasdead.Thatlefttwo:amEndeandme.Thenextmorning,wedescendedthroughtheLowerGorgetothedivebaseatCamp5.Itwasasomberjourney.Theendlessropedrillswentonmechanically,asweonceagainhauledheavypacksdownthepassagewheretheragingwatercoursedbelowus.Mymindwasoccupiedbyotherthings.Twohoursearlier,Noelhadmadehisdecisionandhadquietlyinformedmeofitathiscampsite."1can'tdoit,"hesaid."I'velostmyedge.You'veseenthecrazythingsI'vebeendoing.I'mnotreadytomakethedivethisgoaround." Ihadbeenpreparingmyselfforthis.Itriedtoforceasmile."WillyousupportBarbara,then?"Iasked."Yes,"hesaid.Inodded."Willyoustayasdeep-levelbackup?"Isaid."Youknowthat,"heresponded.Ineededtohearthat.Intheeventofamoreseriousflood,therewastheremote

PAGE 55

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21offdespiteit.Butnow,Icouldfeelit.Thatlow-frequencyresonance.Itwaslikestandingbesidearowofbigdiesellocomotivesthathadjustpushedthethrottlesfullforwardtryingtopullamile-longhauloutoftheswitchyard.Earplugswereuseless.Itcutthrougheverythingandshookthewalls.Kennyhadcomeupwiththebestsolutionsofar:Rollyourbalaclavasixtimesoveronitself,thenyanktheresultingringofclothdownoverbothears.Itwasnotexactlycomfortable,butitappearedtosignificantlycutthenoise.Itwasnotsimplythenoisethatgaveyouthewilliesatthisplace.Itwasthenumbingknowledgeofwhathadtranspiredhere,theinkycoldblacknessoftheunderwatertunnelleadingoff,bespeakingabsolutecommitment,andthesubconsciousknowledgethatwewereatthebottomofthreekilometersofrapeinastormdrainthat,withinweeks,wasgoingtofilltotheroofhereandgeneratetorrentialmaelstromsintheverticalshaftssopOWerfulthattherewouldbenoescape.Noonewasimmunetothisknowledge.Followingahotbreakfastofpowderedfreeze-driedfoodandhotlemonade,wewereanxioustogetstartedonourdive.Butonethingafteranotherwentwrong.Typicaldinnersceneinthe cook shackinSan Agustin, March 1994. Left to right: Jim Brown, Noel Sloan, Ian Rolland, BarbaraamEnde, Karlin Meyers, Steve Porter, Jim Smith, Ron Simmons,DonBroussard.BillStone.tocutthroughtothemechanicsofthematter,whileothershadbecomeconsumedinfear.Toalayperson,andtosomemembersoftheteam,whatwewereabouttodosmackedofexcessivedanger.Wedidnotseeitthatway.OnecriticalelementwasamEnde'snon-divingbackground.ShehadgrownupexploringcavesinIowaattheageoffourteen.Withtwentyyearsofexperienceinallaspectsofspeleology,shewasathomehere;manyofthosewhoweremostconcernedaboutthedivehadlittleornoexperienceinexploringdeepverticalcavesuntilveryrecently."IfeellikeI'vetrainedforthisallmylife,"shereflected."IknowIcandothis.Thelineisthere.Icanhandlethebuoyancy.Canyouhandlethegear?""Yeah,"Isaid."It'sgoingtobeamotherof apack.Aslongaswecangetitneutral,I'mprettycertainIcandoit." Iwasrelievedbythisdiscussion.ButIalsoknewthatitplacedaseriousburdenonme.Givenherrelativelackofcave-divingexperience,Iwasgoingtohavetobeextraordinarilyalert,lookingforpatentialproblemsthatshemightrunintoandcontinuouslyplanningtheabortmaneuverateachnewturn,allthewhilecarryingwhatwouldamounttoanimmenseinertialmasssus-pendedfrommyharness.Thatevening, Sloan,amEnde,andStone remainedatCamp5, whileBrownandPorter,whohadhelpedtohaulsomedivingsuppliesthatday, re treated toCamp3.Twodayslater, afterspendingadaytransportingequipmentthatwasnolongerneededtothe62D-meterdepot,theybothleftthecave. April30wastobethedaythatCamp6wouldbesetbeyondthesump.Stone writes:Thenextmorning,Iawoketotheroarofthefalls.Iswungslowlyinmyhammock,suspendedfromrockbolts3metersabovetheSanAgustinsump.Itwaspitchblack.Noonehadyetfiredalamp.Itriedtodoze,butitwasuseless.Itwasthesound.wtnightIhadsimplybeentooexhaustedtodomuchaboutitandhaddozedpossibilityof abrokenguidelineinthesump.Someoneontheupstreamside,wheresuppliescouldbebroughtin,wouldhavetotraceitdownandbridgethegapiftheCamp6teamdidnotreturn.Ofthoseremainingatthislatedate,Noelwastheonlyonewhocouldbereliedupontodothis.That leftitupto Barbara.Couldshedoit? Noelstoppedto talk toherjustoutsideofcamp.Hetoldherhewasn'tgoingtodothedive. ''YouandBillhavebeenworkingtogether well as ateamthiswholeexpedition.Ithinkyoutwoshouldgo,"hesaid. Sheknewhewasthebetterdiverfor the mission.Knowingthathewouldlater regretnothavinggone,sheresponded,"Wait tomakeyourfinal decision untilwe'reatthesump."Thiswasnotasimplehandingoff of the baton.AlthoughamEndewasa certifiedcavediverandhadtrained extensivelyontherebreather,shehadnoserious exploration cave-diving experience. Allherunderwaterworkhadbeenunderverycontrolled cir cumstances.Aheadlay600metersofbitingly cold,low-visibilityunderwatercanyonthatrequiredprecision buoyancy controlandabsolutecon centration. Thiswasnoexercise.Itwasthereal thing.Othersfarmoreexperiencedindivinghaddecidedagainstgoingthrough. Stone continues:AfewminutesafterspeakingtoNoel,shecameovertothecookcirclewhereIwasworkingonapotoftea."Let'sdoit,"shesaid."IfNoelstilldoesn'twanttodothedivewhenwe'redownatCamp5,I'llgoforit."Inashallowpotholeinthewallhalfwaydownthe500metersofrapeleadingtoCamp5,Ispoketoheraboutthedecision.Watersprayboiledintotheairasweleanedintothewall,ascendersclippedintothesafetylines.Jet-blackrockwithwhitestreaksofrecrystallizedcalcitedivedintotheshaftbelow,wherewhitewaterboiledfuriouslyinaplungepool.Wehadbeendownthisroutesomanytimesitwaslikeacommutetowork.Abenchinthepark,waitingforthebus.Shewasatonceenthusiasticovertheprospectoffinallygettingashotatthefrontier,yetinresolutegraspoftheseriousnessofit.Perhapsitwasthisabilitytofocusdespiteenormousdistractions,somethingwebothsharedasaresultofourday-todaylivesasresearchers,thatenabledher53

PAGE 56

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21At11A.M.,whileinthewater,wediscoveredaleakinoneofthefivegasregulatorsinBarb'srig.Itwastheonboardfirst-stagediluentunit.Itwasnotrepairable.Thedivewasaborted.Ithenascendednearly300metersvertically,threekilometersdistant,upthroughthecavetotheCamp3andTommy'sBoreholedepots.Therewasonesparefirststageregulatorateachlocation.Bothwerecollectedsothatonecouldbetakenbeyondthesumpasaspare.NoelsetaboutrepladngtheerrantregulatorwhileIrested.Thesecondregulatorwaspackedasaspareunittogobeyondthesump. ..justincase.Thatmaneuvercostusfivehours.Aftersomeconsidereddiscussionandafewhotdrinks,Barbindicatedshewasreadyforanothertrytoday.At6P.M.shewasinthewater,takingshortrunsdownthedivelinetorehearsebuoyancycontrol,whileIgotintomyrigonthedivedeck.Shereturnedshortlyandindicatedtherewasapparentlyaproblemwithherdepthsensor.Iaskedhertodescendto3metersandcheckitagain.Whenshereturned,sheindicatedthatthedepthdisplayhadneverchangedduringthismaneuver.Iimmediatelyrealizedwhathadhappened.DuringtheApril8reconnaissancedive,Ihadremovedthe"blackbox"computerboardfromRolland'srigtotakebacktothesurfacefordown-loading.TheboardIhadreplaceditwithapparentlyrequiredadepth-sensorcalibration,andsoInowsetaboutdoingthat.Unfortunately,workingindimlight,Iconnected54ahigh-pressurehosetothecalibrationportinsteadofthenecessarylow-pressurelineanddestroyedthesensor.Thecomputerrequiredacompletedisassemblyrightthereatthesumptoreplacethedepthsensor.Itwas6:45P.M,anditwasadesperatemoment.Sloanwasurgingthatthemissionbeaborted.AmEndeandIinsistedthatweexhaustallpossibilitiesfirst.Fortunately,thankstotheforesightofIanRolland,thespareelectronicskitatCamp5containedthenecessarysensor.By10P.M.therebuildwascomplete.Theunitworked,andwewerebackinbusiness.Itwas, however, too late foranyfurther work,anditwasdecided tospendanother nightatCamp5.Thisledto further complications.AmEnde later wrote:Therigswerenowworkingproperly,butwehadoneotherproblem.Allthegearweplannedtotaketothefarsideofthesumpwaspackedinagiantduffelbag.Billhadpackedittightlyandhadcarefullyaddedleadtomakeitneutralbeforekittingup.WehadtounpacktheduffeltoretrieveoursleepingbagsforonemorenightatCamp5.OneoftheNalgenebottlescontainingourbagsdidn'thavethelidscrewedonproperlyandleaked!Itriedcrawlingintothesleepingbaganddryingitwithmybodyheat,butthebagwasjusttoowet.Iwastired,cold,andsoaked.Stone continues:Barbwas,bythistime,sackedoutandshiveringinawetsleepingbag.TheNalgenebottlehadleakedwhentheduffelwasunderwater.Fortunatelythesecondbagwasdry.Shewasexhaustedandnothappy.Butwhowouldbe,sleepinginasoakedsleepingbagatCamp5!Wegotheroutofitandsetthestoveonthedeckandfiredit.Wethentookturns,withtwopeopleholdingthebaguprightwhiletheotherinsuredthatthebottomopeningdidnotdirectlycontacttheflame.Itwaskindofliketryingtoturnthebagintoahot-airballoon.Duringthistimeouroneremaininglitcarbidelampwaned,andsotherewerethethreeofus,standinginthedarkbrokenonlybythepale-blueflameofthebutanestovesuspendedovertheSanAgustinsump.Ittookquiteawhile,butitactuallyworked;thebagdriedout.WethenletBarbhopintomyhammockwiththenewlydrybagsothatNoelandIcouldattempttodrythehammockshehadbeeninwhenitwaswet...ithadbeenthatsoppingwet.NoelandIwereupforanotherhalfhourdoingthistask.Wetalkedaboutoldexpeditions.Icouldsensehewasreturningtothe"realNoel." Iwasgladhewashere.May1wasunquestionably the piv otaldayoftheexpedition.Itis fair to saythata great deal of stress still existedatCamp5. Everyone ac cepted the fact that thoseatthesumprepresentedwhatwasleftofthe divingteamandthattherewouldbenobackup for those going toCamp6.Each individual dealtwiththisreal ization differently.AmEnde:BillandIwokeupearlyonthemorningofthefirst.Wesatinourhammocksinthefaintglowof acarbidelampanddiscussedthedive.Thedaybefore,IwasreallylookingforwardtogoingbeyondthesumpandsettingCamp6.Butafterthetwodelaysingettingtherigrunning,apoornight'ssleep,andthepenetratingchill,myenthusiasmhadtakenanosedive.Themotivation,orperhapsmoreaccuratelythedemotivating,factorswerealittledifferentforBillandme,andtherewasadistinctpossibilitywewouldn'tmakethedive.Butthefactsofthematterwerethattenyearsofdesignandconstructionhadgoneintotherebreatherspedficallyforthisproject,we'djustspentthreemonthsofintenseeffortunderverydifficultconditions,andIandiedgivinghisallforthesuccessoftheproject.NeitheroneofusNoel Sloan climbingthroughthe Washing Machineinthe Lower Gorge.DonBroussard.

PAGE 57

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTER NUMBER21couldthrowitallaway.Toomuchhadgoneintomakingthisexpeditionsuccessful.Intheend,neitherBillnorIcouldacceptdefeat.Wewouldmakethedive."Ston.e:Themorningdidnotstartoffwell.Barbwasstillcoldfromlastnight'sstintinthewetbag.Shehadwokeupat4a.m.tolightthestovesowecoulddryoutthefootofthebag,whichhadnotgottencompletelydry,andshehadcoldfeet.Weweresittingnexttoeachotherinthehammocks,muchasBroadandIhadbeen,andIsaid,"Howdoyoufeel?"Shesaid,"I'mnotasenthusinsticasyesterdayaboutdoingthedive."Isaid,"Look,ifyoudon'tfeelgoodaboutit,let'sabortnow."Shesaidmaybethingswouldbebetterasthingsprogressed.Iwasnowapprehensive.Ididnotwanttodothisthingwithsomeonewhomighttakemedownwithher.Ithoughtaboutthis.Weweretalkingaboutfailure.Topackupandgohomeafterhavingcomesofar.Itburnedharderthanthefearofdeaththatthisplaceseemedtogenerate.Inallhonesty,Camp5shouldberenamedCampFear.Finally,IheldBarb'shandandsaid,"Look,let'sgiveitonelasttry.Ifwegetinthewaterandthingsarenotworkingcompletelyright,thenwecanbailout."Sheagreed.Inthe face of this stress betweenamEndeandStone, itwasclear that Sloanhadbegunto recover fromtheeffects of Porter's pessimism. Stone continues:Havingmadehisdecisionnottodive,Noelgave110percentsupporttotheoperation,thekindofthingthatthosewhoknewhimwellnormallyexpectedofhim.Itfeltliketherewasacoreteamagain.By late morning,bothdivers wereinthe water,andthe 7S-kilogram duffelbagthat Stonewouldcarryhadbeencarefully weighted for neutralbouyaney underwater. Stone con tinues:Idouble-elippedtheduffelbagtomywaistandchestO-ringsandgrabbedNoel'shand."Seeyouinafewdays,brother,"Isaid.Hegavemealookthatbespokemanyyearsoffriendshipandexpeditionstogetherandsaid,"Comebackalive."IheldBarb'shandandsaid,"Wearecomingback.Abortthisatanypointifyoudon'tfeelgood."ShethenheldNoel'shand,andhesaid,"Besafe.Goodluck."Shethendroppedunderandheadeddowntheline.Ifollowedthen,pullingtheorangeduffel.Thevisibilitywasdownto1.5meters.Shefadedinandoutofviewaheadofme.Therewereseveralstretchesthroughtheinitiallargebreakdownchamberwherethewallsdisappearedfromviewandwewerefollowingnothingbutthewhiteparachutecordthroughagreywhitevoid.IbrieflythoughtofNoel,Ian,Steve,andKennypioneeringthisrouteandwasimpressed.ThenIwasbacktomonitoringoxygencontent,managingbuoyancy,keepingtheequipmentbagawayfromtheline,keepingtrackofgaspressures.AllthewhilemyeyeswererivetedtotherearwardfacingdisplayanLEDarray-mountedtothebackofBarb'srig.Itgaveoffaneeriegreenglow."Staygreen,baby,"Iutteredtomyself.Itwastellingmetheoxygencontentofhersystem.Greenmeantnormaloperation.Nosweat.Unemarkers,whichIhadplacedevery30meterstomarkthedistancetodivebase,slowlywentby.Thewesterncanyonwallcamebackintoview400metersin.Barb'sfingrazedthewall.Icouldhearthefinscrapetherock.Therebreatherswerefunctioningflawlessly.Nobubblesescaped...andtherewasthereforenosound,absolutestealthoBarb'sfingrazingthewallwasthefirstthingIcouldrecallhearinginmorethanahalfhour.Wesoonbegantofollowthelineupahugedepositofcoarsesand,andwithin30metersIspottedthemirroredsurface.WearrivedatRollandAirbell.Itwasquietthere.Verystill.Echoesofwaterlappingatthewallsreverberateddownthe1DO-meterlengthofthebigchamber.Thewaterhadrisenahalf-meterhereduringtheflood,enoughtocoveralldrylandandfloatanemptyhelioxbottleandIan'sbootsoffthesandbaranddownthelengthofthelake.Hisfootprintsstillremainedinthesand,amutetestimonytohisfinalpassage.Onecannotbehereandnotfeelhispresence."IseverythinggoingOK?"Iasked."Extremelywell,"shereplied,"noproblemswiththerig.Oxygenlevelwasonthemoneytheentireway."Attheendofthelake,wewentoverourgearoncemore,checkinggasusage.Wehadusedlessthenonetwelfthofoursuppliestogetthere.Thesecond,170-metersumpwentsmoothly,andat12:30P.M.wesuifacedatthedownstreamendofSump2.IheldBarb'shandandsaid,"Verynicelydone."Ithentookoffmyfins,whileshebeganunclippingthingsinthewater,andhikedmyrigagood8metersverticallyabovethewaterline,sincemyone-litercarbidebottlethatIhadleftonthebeachduringtheApril8reconwasnowgonewiththeflood.NextIgotBarbumfoneandcarriedthetwoAcurexbailouts,whileshehikedup.Lastcametheorangeduffel.IcutloosetheropesandgavethosetoBarb.Wethenunpackeditandtookcampgeardownthetunnel,afterfiringtwocarbidecaplamps.UpbeyondtheSump3bypasswefoundaniceflat,sandyspotontheeastwalljustbigenoughfortwoandestablishedCamp6there.Welaidoutthewetsuitsinsidefourtrashbagsandcheckedtoseethatthestoveworked;wehadbeenconcernedthatthefuelcanistersmightfloodat28metersunderwater.Camp6wassetup14meters aboveand250meterssouthofSump2.Therewere sufficient provisions there for a stay of approximatelyoneweek. Stone continues:LateintheafternoonofMay1,afterthreeandonehalfmonths,wefinallygottothebusinessofthisexpedition:chartingnewterritory.Afterunpackingthesurveygear,weexcitedlybegantheBeyondSanAgustinsurvey.Wehadnotshottensurveystationsbeforethingswenttohellinahandbasket.Barbhadremovedthedivinghelmetshewasalsousingfordrycavingtoreadjusttheuncomfortablesuspension.Thebracketholdingthelampontoherhelmetwasloose,andthelampsuddenlyfelloff,bouncingintoacrackbetweentherocks."Ithinkwehaveaproblemhere,"shecalledout.Usingmybackupelectriclight,Icouldseeitatthebottomofthecrack,morethan3metersdown,buttherewasnowaytoreachit."Thisisnotgood,"Isaid,wishingnowthatwehadnotdecidedtoleaveourbigPetzlgeneratorsbackatCamp5.Theywouldnothavefallenintosomegodforsakencrackinthebreakdown!Butspaceintheduffelbagwasatapremium,andusingcaplampsmeantwecouldcarrylesscarbide.AsIattemptedtolassoherlampwiththesurveytape,Barbtookmylampaparttodryoutthefelt,whichwasstilldampfromthedive.Duringthereassembly,thecap,spring,andflint ofthestrikerassemblyflewoffintoanotherdeepcrackintherocks.Iwasnotpleased.Withinahalfhourourwholeeffortmayhavebeenscuttled.Thiswasseriousbusiness.Weeachhadtwobackupelectriclightswiththreehourseachofburntime.Theremainderoftheelectrics
PAGE 58

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21SiteCamp1BCamp2BCamp3CampSCamp6Sump9 Some Key Locationsinthe 1994 ExpeditionDepth1Depth2Distance3DaysComment(meters) (meters) (meters)Used430 894 1236 2 deriggingcamp620 1094 1532 5 riggingandderiggingcamp725 1174 273541stagingbaseforsump840 1325 348511divebase830 1314 4320 6 advance basebeyondSump2 990 1475 6080 limitofexploration19941.Depthrelative to SOtanodeSanAgustin entrance.2.Depthrelative to SistemaHuautIadatum(NitaNantaentrance). 3. Traversedistancefrom nearest(SanAgustin) entrance.Theywouldn'tdousanygood,anyway,forinordertoexploreweneededaweek'sworthoflightfortwopeople.Theonlythingefficientenoughtodothat,evenin1994,isanold{ashionedcarbidelamp.Justsixlitersofcalciumcarbidegravelwasenough.Ahandfulofthat,plusanequalamountofwater,drippedinslowly,andvoila...acetylenegasforthreehours.Verybrightwhenitburnsinfrontofapolishedreflector.Thetrickis,youhavetolightit.Althoughwehadasparelampincamp,itssingleflint-wheelstrikernowrepresentedtheonlywaywehadoffiringthetworemaininglamps...andourcookstove.A"flameout"severalhoursfromcampcouldeasilyhaveleftusinpennanentdarkness.Wesimplycouldnotgoonexploringundersuchcircumstances.''I'msorryIscrewedup,"Barbsaid,genuinelydistressed."1didn'tdoitonpurpose."Icouldtellshewasgropingforwords,knowingIwassoconcernedoverthematter."Ithappens,"Isaid,andwentbacktofishingforthelamp.Wemovedseveralimmensebouldersenroutetothelamp;IwouldpullonaropethatwetiedaroundeachrockasBarbpushedwithbothherfeet.Onceallthemovablerocksweregone,Itriedfishingforthelampagain.Finally,afteranhouroftrying,Icaughtthereflectorwithaknotinapieceofparachutecordandgingerlypulleditup,centimeterbycentimeter,untilIcouldsafelygrabitwiththeotherhand.Itwas7P.M.,andtherewasindescn'bablerelief56"Weneedtoputtheselampsonleashes,"Isaid.Barbsortedoutsomeparachutecord,originallyusedtostrapourclimbingropetotheduffelbag.Shehandedmeseverallengthsofcord.Wetiedbothlampson1-meterlanyardsattachedtoourhelmets,andwewerebackinbusiness.AfterabreakatCamp6tomunchonsometrailmix,wecontinuedtosurveythecavernbeyondforafewhours.Neitherofuswasreadyforsleepyet.Itwasexhilaratingtobethere.WechosetofollowtheascendingboreholetothesouththatIhaddeclinedtoinvestigateonApril8.Itshotupsteeplyandcontinued120metersbeforeabruptlystopping.ThepassagewassoquietthatwenamedittheSilentBorehole.BackatCamp6,wehadsomefreezedrieddinner,thensackedout,usingourfleecejumpsuitsforpillows.Despiteitsminimalcomforts,Camp6waswarmerandmuchquieterthanthediveplatformhadbeenlastnight.Ithadbeenarollercoasterofaday.May2 was the first fulldayof exploration based fromCamp6.Stone's log continues:Wewereupat7A.M.andhastilyatealargecupofhotoatmealwhilesortingequipment.Despitethelimitationsoftheorangeduffel,wewerewellequippedwithropeandrigginghardware.IwaslookingforwardtoexploringareasIsawbrieflyduringmyinitialexplorationonApril8.Wouldwediscoveranylargeshafts?Orjustmoresumps?Wewere,forthefirsttimeineightdays,notburdenedbydivingequipment.TherebreathersremainedstoredontheirledgehighaboveSump2.Givenourremotenessandlackofbackup,wemadeaconsciousdecisiontodonofurtherdiving.Onesimplyhadtoenvisionanirreplaceablecomponentononeoftherigsbeingdamagedduringtransporttoknowwheretodrawthelineonsafety.Asitstood,ourlife-supportlinestoknownterritoryweresolidandconservative.WehadonlyusedatenthofourconsumabledivingresourcestoreachCamp6.Astowhatlayahead,well,thatwasgoingtobearollofthedice.Ihadthegoodfortuneofdiscoveringalarge,drytunnelonApril8thathadbypassedSump3,wheretheriveragaindoveunderaverticalwalloflimestone.Camp6hadbeensetinthisbypass.Threehundredmetersfartheron,theriverreappeared,butjustasquicklyemptiedintoadeepgreenheadpoolmarkingthebeginningofSump4.ItwasthereIhadturnedaround.Therewasnogeologicalguaranteethatanotherbypasswouldexist.All Icouldrecallwasseeingwhatappearedtobeadarkalcoveneartheceiling,10metersabovethesump.WehikedbacktothepoolatSump4.Hopingtofindawayaroundthesump,Iclimbedupintothealcove.Itwasmorethana littleunnervingtofindaSnickerscandy-barwrapperstucktothewallSmetersabovethewaterlevel.Theonlywayitcouldhavegottenthere

PAGE 59

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21wasduringthefloodonApril16.IcontinuedupwardjustfarenoughandthenyelledtoBarb,"Yes!"Asmalltunnelofclean-scouredbedrockledsouth.Ahundredmetersfarther,thepassagedroppeddownagain.Success!IwentbacktoloweraropeforBarb,whowascarryingtheduffel.Atthesouthernend,Iriggeda15-meterropedownintowhatappearedtobeSump5.Itsgreenwaterwasverydeepandcoveredtheentirefloorofthetunnel.Wesearchedalongtheeastwallandfoundasteeplyascendingledgesystem.Iscaledthewall12metersuptotheroofandfoundacontinuationoftheupperstream-scouredconduit.Thenewtunnelledtowhatappearedtobeyetanothersump.Westeppedacrossalargeopeninginthefloorthatdropped20meterstothewater.Ahead,wefoundaclimbdowntotheapexof apinnacleofpittedbedrocktowering12metersabovethewater.Theexpanseofblack,stillwaterextendinginalldirectionsappearedevenmoreominousthanthelastsump.Anythingthisbigandfilledwithwaterseemedunlikelytocontinueindrypassage.Weclimbeddowntothebaseofthepinnacle.Thewaterextendedoffinfourdistinctdirections,andtherewasnoquestionthatwehadtoswim.Itookthisin,rotatinginacompletecircle,searching,hopingI'dmissedsomethingobvious."WelcometoFourCornersSump,"Iconcluded.Barblookedhard."Whoa.Thisdoesnotlookgood."Wewerebothwearingonlyourfleecejumpsuits.Thiswasgoingtobeacoldswim.Igotthehonorofthefirstdip.Iswam40metersthoughthechillingwatertodiscoverthatthesoutheastbranchwasanogo.Thenortheastonesimilarlyendedinaflowstone-decoratedchamber;thebranchtothenorthwestledtowhatapparentlywasthedownstreamsideofSump5.Thatleftthesouthwestbranchthelongest,deepest-lookingpassage.Itookadeepbreathandswamlikemad.Twenty-fivemeterslater,Iwashappytoseethewatergettingshallowenoughformetowalkout.Ahead,itbecameclearthatthiswasnosump.Thelowceilinghadrestrictedourviewfromourperchonthepinnacle.Irandown100metersofgravelflatstowherethetunnel,already15meterswide,expandedintoblackness.Iletoutseveralwaryells.Theechoescarriedoff untiltheyweredrownedoutbythesoftrushofwaterinthedistance.Whatwehadseenbeforewasameasureofsuccess.Butthis,thiswasvictory!Thiswastheopenroad,headedsouthtotheresurgence.Onlylater,withsurveydatainhand,didwelearnjusthowvastanopenspacewewereabouttoenter,wherewallsstoodseparatedbyagravity-defyingspanof180metersandtheceilingarchedupoutofsightinblackness.Barbquicklyfollowed,andsoonwewereclimbingdownthroughhuge,polishedboulders,some12metersacross.Weheardtheroaroftheriverbelow.WenamedthisplacePerseveranceHall,sohardwonwasthisprize.Thepredictionthattherewouldbelargecavernsbeyondthesumphadbeenborneout.TotheeastIspottedalO-metertallstalagmite,standinglikeacitadel.Upbeyonditwasahighledgeleadingoutofsight.Withasmall,intenseflashlight,Icouldseethechamberfocusingfarbelowintoafunnel.Thefloorwaslitteredwithhuge,roundedbreakdownblocks.AtfirstIthoughtthesemightfillthelowerportionofthechambertotheceilingandblockprogress.Whenwegotthere,however,wediscoveredaholeinthefloorbetweentheboulders.Tworockboltslater,wehadaroperigged,andwerappelled12meterstothebedrockfloor.AheadwasthecontinuationoftheriverpassagebeneaththefloorofPerseveranceHall.Severalhundredmeterslater,wehitaseriesofthreelonglakes.Thefirsttwowereonlywaist-deepnearthewalls.Thelastoneappearedtohavenoexit.Itlookedlikeasump.Buttherewassomethingoddaboutit.Itwasdifficulttobesure,sincetheplacewheretheceilingcamedownwas30metersdistantdownthelake.Therewasthissmallhorizontalslitaboutameterwidewheretheceilingcametowithin20centimetersofthewater.Maybeitwasonlyareflection.Butthenagain,itcouldbeairspace,apossiblerouteon.Bothofuswerecold,andwewerelookingatalotofsurveydistancetocoveronourreturntrip.Wedeclinedtheswimandbrokeouttheinstrumentsandtape.Itwasaslow,wet,coldretreatasBarbreadoffthenumbersandIsketchedwhatwehadseen.EighthourslaterweabandonedthesurveyduetofatigueandretreatedtoCamp6at12:15A.M.Weatebigcupsoffreeze-driedstroganoff.Barbhadthoughtfullypackedspicesinthetopofthisfreezedrybottle,sowehadcayenneandseasonedsalt,too.Nice.As Ifadedofftosleep,theday'seventswentthroughmymind:threesumpsthatappearedtobedeadendsturnedouttohavebackdoors,agiantcavern,andthreelargelakes,allheadingsouthtowardtheresurgence.Itwasthebestsleep1'dhadinweeks.Thefollowingday,May3,wetookiteasyandclosedthesurveybetweentheSilentBoreholeandFourCornersSump.Without question, May 4wasthemostmemorabledayofthe ex pedition.AmOdeandStonegotoff toanearlystartwiththeintention ofmakinga final investigationofthelakewheretheyhadpreviouslystopped. Theyhadnogreat expecta tionsthatthiswouldbeanythingotherthanthe finalsumpthatwouldstop progress.Ittooktwoanda halfhoursoffast hiking togetthere. Stone continues:Weleftinourwetsuitbottomsandcarriedtheremainderofthe7millimeterrope,theIkelitestrobeandPentaxcamerawithtworollsoffilm.Ialsohada2-literbottlewithmostofourremainingtrailmixandabout1.3litersofcarbide,whichweseemedtousemuchmorerapidlytoday.Beenonlygetting1.5-hourburns,probablybecauseyoucan'tseeanythingwithoutanearblowoutflame.Damnbigpassagewehavefound.WewerequitehotbyFourCornersSump,andsotheswimwasnotparticularlybothersome,thewayithadbeenwhenwewereonlyinourunderwear.By10A.M.,wewereatthelowairspacelake.Barbwasfeelingquitespunkytoday,Sheswamoutintothelakeanddisappearedundertheroofwithbarelyenoughroomabovethewaterforherhead.Shetookwithherthefreeendof a65-meterrope.Accordingtoourplan,shewastogiveittwoormorehardtugswhenshewasreadytoreturn.ThenIwouldholdthelineasshepulledherselfback.Tenminutespassed.Thentwenty.Nothing.IwasjustabouttojumpintothewatertolookforherwhenIfinallyfeltthepulls.Soonreflectionsofherlampappearedonthewater.Onthefarsideofthislake,60metersdistant,Iinstalledaboltintherocktoanchortherope.lfafloodshouldoccurwhilewewereexploringahead,thatwouldhavebeenourlifelinebacktoCamp6.Wewould,intheory,beabletopullourselvesthroughthatshortpieceofwhatwouldthenbeunderwatertunnelatthemiddleofthelake.WhileIwasdoingthat,Barbtookoffintothedistancetoseeifthe57

PAGE 60

en00SOT ANO DESANAUGUSTINOaxaca, MexicoProfile Rotated 240 Degrees EastofMagnetic NorthentranceAnthodite Halls::nVln:sl'T1Vl:z:l'T1t-'l'T1::jl'T1:;>;:l:z:tl::Il'T1:;>;:lN.....AdamsRioIglesia AvenueSump9 Perseverance Hall Four Corners Sump Silent BoreholeI I1-ISump2170mlong10mdeepRolland AirbcllCamp6ILSump1(San Agustin Sump)430m long,30mdeepFool's Day Extension Kinepak Kanyon connectionstoLaGrietaandNitaNantaa1000Metersa5001000 1500IIIIIIIIIIIIIIII

PAGE 61

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTER NUMBER21passagecontinued.IbecameconcernedwhenIhadn'theardfromherforafewminutesandgaveashout.Shereturnedtheshoutandcamebackalittlewhilelater."Doyouwantthegoodnewsorthebad?"sheasked."Uh-oh,givemethegoodnews,"Isaid."Thestreamcontinuesbeyondthenextlake,whereit'sdammedupbysomeboulders.""That'sthegoodnews?""No,itgetsbetter.Aboutahundredmetersbeyondtheboulderfieldisahugerivercominginfromtheleft.Itmusthavefourtimestheflowofthisone!""RioIglesia!"Isaid."Yffih."The Rio IglesiawaslostbyIan Drummond, Peter Thompson, Mike Boon,andthe Canadians in1967at--(3()()meters in the S6tano delRioIglesia,whatwas then the deepest cave in the Western Hemisphere. The river filtered down into the boulder strewn floor of the impressive Pent house chamber, never tobeseen again. Several dedicated efforts in later yearshadfailed to followit.Stone continues:In1968,JohnFish,karsthydrogeologistandleaderofthejointCanadian-Americanexpeditionthatreached-612metersinS6tanodeSanAgustin,wroteofthegoaloftheirproject:togetdeepenoughtoaccessthe"MainDrain,"themastersubterraneanriverintheHuautlaPlateau.Ofcourse,theyneverdidreachit.Andnow,beforeBarbandme,withFish'swordsechoinginmyhead,wasthefabledriverjunction,theMainDrain.TheflowintheconfluencelookedveryclosetowhatIhadseenattheresurgencespringatthebeginningofApril.Sowehadfounditatlast."Okay,what'sthebadnews?"IaskedBarb."Youreallywanttoknow?""Shoot.""Justbeyondtheriverconfluence,thepassagesumpsout.There'snowaytogetaroundit.Iswamthewholeperimeter.woksliketheendoftheroad.Iwasnotyetreadytobuythatanswer.Weswamtogethertotheconfluence,aTintersection.Downstream,totheright,therewasnoquestionregardingthesump.Upstream,however,wasadifferentstory.TheRioIglesiagallerywassolargewehadtosurveyit.After80meters,wefeltmistonourfacesandheardarumblingupahead.Another40meterslater,wecameuponadeafeningwaterfall-withoutquestionthelargestamountoffallingwaterIhaveeverseenunderground.Thepassagewehadbeenfollowingendedatasheer,verticalwall.There,12metersstraightup,wasa6-meter-highby6meter-widerectangularpassagewithanenormousriverarcingoutintospace.WenameditRioFalls.Isetabolthereforapermanentsurveymarker.Someday,someway,someonewasgoingtocomedownthatshaftandfindthebolt.Meanwhile,webeganthesurveyout.Westoppedafteronlyfivestationswherethepassagetookanabruptturntothewest.Ihadgivenacursoryglanceatthesoutherncorneronthewayin,notingthattheremightbeafissurethere.ItoldBarbtotakeabreakwhileIinvestigated.SoonIrealizeditwasarealpassageheadedsouth.Butitwasalsofilledwithboulders.IcalledforBarbtocomeinandhelpfindaroutethrough.Thepassagewasgoingup.Isoonbrokeoutintoa5-meter-widecanyonandcouldheartheRioIglesiafallsinthedistance.Wehadspottedapassagenearthetopofthesouthside,buthadconsidereditinaccessible,giventhevolumeofwater.Thismustbeit.Meanwhile,Barbwasmakingprogressgoingupandtothewest.Shesooncamebacksayingshehadclimbedupsome30metersthroughthebreakdownandbrokenintoalargeroomatrooflevel.Wewentthatway,withoutpackandcarbide,whichforherwasofconcernsinceherelampleakedwaterbadly.Ididn'trealizejusthowbigitwasuntilmuchlater,andalsothatitwasnotaroombutratheranimmensepassagewithaparticulardirection.(Survey data later showed that Adams Avenue was50meters wide,363meters long, and15meterstall.)Giventhethousandsoftonsofdirtdepositedhere,itbecameapparentwherethesoilthathadbeenerodedfromhundredsofyearsofintensefarmingonthe45-degreeslopesoftheRioIglesiadolinahadultimatelyendedup.Barbquicklydescendedtothelowpointandfollowedtheobviousdrainagetothesouth.Itendedinasmaller,meter-widepassagethateventuallydumpedintoamiserable,muddybouldercrawl.Nowind,nowater,nogo.Backatthemainchamber,weagreeditshouldbemappedandthatweneededtogetthepack.However,Inotedablacknessofftothewestsideandtoldher1wouldscoutaroundthatdirectionandmeetherbackatthebreakdown.Verylowatfirst,almostlikeplayingtricksonmyears,Iheardthelowrumblingroar.Themudpassagecontinued,descendingnowat20meterswidth.Theroargotlouder,andwithin100meters1brokeoutintoa20-meter-wide,clean,cobblearroyo.Inanother100meters,1wasbackatthemaindrainriver,beyondthesump!Inthedistance,acrossa25-meterlake,1couldseeanimmenseboulderfield.IwentbacktoBarbwiththenews.Wepickedupthepackandropes,andwithinanhourweweresurveyingintothisnewtunnel.Itrosegraduallyontheothersideofthelakeina40-metercobblepilethatcontinuedseveralhundredmeters.Theriver,strangely,haddisappeared,nodoubtfilteringunderthispile.WhileIcaughtuponthesketch,Barbagainboltedahead.Shereturned,excited,indicatingtherewasavastvoidahead.Herexactwordswere,"Itgetsreallybigoverthenextrise.""Youdon'tcallthisbig?"Isaidas1wavedbyarmsacrossthepassage.Shelaughed."Youdon'tunderstand,"shecontinued."1meanitgetsHUMONGOUS!"Soonenoughwecrestedthecobblefieldriseandwerelookingatanimmensefunnelgoingdown,perhaps100metersacross,butthefarwallswereonlyguesses,evenwithourkryptondivelights.Within100meters,wesurveyeddowntotheedgeofwhat,fromabove,firstappearedtobetheblacknessof alowertunnel.Butthenwerealizeditwasalake.Abiglake.OnlywhenIreachedBarb'sfinalsurveystationdidIseeitsfullextent.Itwasatleast25metersacrosstothefarwallandquitelikelytwicethatinlength.Thereweresteep(30-degree)sandpilescomingdowntoitfromallsidesexceptthesouthandwestwalls,whichwere40-metersheerbuttressesrisingupintothegloom.wteritoccurredtome,giventhesurvey,thatthiswasnolake,butrathertheMotherof AllSumps,andthatthisimmensecobbletunneljustcontinueddownrightthere,underwater.Sump9.Rats!WhileIcaughtupthesketch,Barbclimbeduptotheright(north)sideofthetunneltowhatappearedtobeanincomingtunnel30to50metershigherup.Theceilin$waswelloverthat,butthefeelofthISplacewasoneofsimplyabigfunnelwherethemain,immensepassageboredintothesupersump.Barbfoundasmallincomingdometothenorthwest.BythistimeIhadalsoclimbedupandcouldseeashelftothenortheast.Thereshefoundacontinuingtunnel4metershighby2.5meterswideheadingeast-northeast.She59

PAGE 62

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTER NUMBER21thoughtshefeltairflow.Givenitssmallsizeandheading,weabandoneditinfavarofsearchingthesouthsideofthebigpassage,whichwelaternamedRockin''nRollandinhonorofIan.Untilthismoment,wehadresistedthinkingabouttheremotenessofthisplace.Butnow,aswesearchedforwaystocontinuealongthenorthsideofthefunnel,wefoundlittlebitsofman-madedebris,includinglollipopsticksandatoothbrush,thatremindedusoftheworldabove.Ripplemarksinthesandyfloor,moreover,warnedusthattheclockwasstilltickingfortheonsetoftherainyseason,whentherushofthesubterraneanriverformedawhirlpoolwherewestood.Iimagineda100-meter-widevortex,likeawateryblackhole,suckingeverythingdeepintotheearth-and Ifelthumble.WhileBarbrested,Itracedthesouthwallfromthepointwheretherushingstreamsanktothefunnel.Nojoy.Wehadresignedourselvestosurveyingout,whenIspottedafissure10metersabovethesumpwherethewatersank.Itlookedlikeyoucouldgettoitviaanextendedoverhangledgethatcamewithin2metersofthefloor.Tookabolttogetupthere,andanotherforabelayanchorasIranthe9-millimeterthroughmyJumars.Verymuddy,anditdidnotgo.Iburnednearlytwohoursupthere,sodesperatewereweforabypass.Around8P.M.,webegansurveyingupintoAdamsAvenue,andIbeganthinkingabouthowthiswholepas-60sagewassouthofthemaindrain.Beforeheadingbackdownthebreakdowncrawl,Iwantedonelastlookatthesoutheastside(atthetimeIthoughtitwasthesouthwestside).Itled120meterstoabreakdownandmud-flooredendsome30metersabovethemainlevelofthetunnel.Inckinganyfurtherprospects,wesurveyedoutfromtherebacktotheRioIglesiaandthenupstreamintoSanAgustin.HadtoshootthelowairspaceintwoshotswithBarbinthemiddleoneachshot.Shewasarealtrooperaboutit.Wethen,withwhatenergywecouldmusterat3A.M.,headedout.AttheformationsatthetopofPerseveranceHall,Ilookedupatthevastupperlevel,thenoveratBarbandsaid,"Howmasochisticareyoufeeling?/IShehadthisglazedlookoverhereyesthatindicatedshewas"onautomatic./INonetheless,weweresoonshootingaperimetersurveyupintothechamber.Thistookanothertwohours,anditwasagloomy,muddytimeupthere.Unlikethescouredactivestreamcanyon,thisappendagehadmoreincommonwithAdamsAvenue,withdeepdirtdepositscoveringthemassivebreakdownslabs.Theredidappeartobeasubstantialpassagedowninadeepsinkcollapseonthesoutheastsideofthechamber,agood8meterswideand10meterstall,butneitherofusfeltlikegoingdowntocheckit.Wehadbeenoutnearly22hoursatthispointandstaggeredhome.Mywetsuit,asofthelastsevenhours,hadacquiredamassiveripinthebutt,andDinnerinCamp3,SanAgustin, March 26,1994.Leftto right:JimBrown,IanRolland,KennyBroad, Steve Porter.BillStone.theswimshadbeencold.WearrivedinCamp6around5:45A.M.e!urnp 9 represented the limit ofuexploration in 1994andthe most remote pointyetreachedbyspele ologists inside theHuautlaPlateau.Ithadbeen estimatedthatatleast two weekswouldberequired to derig the cave. Itwasalso likelythatthe rainy seasonwouldarrivebythethirdweekofMay.Becauseofthis, ithadbeen agreedwithSloanthatthe teamwouldreturn toCamp5nolaterthanMay7.StoneandamEndeslept mostofMay 5. Considering thatitwasalreadylateintheeveningwhentheyawoke, a decisionwasmadeto retreat toCamp5thefollowingmorning,ratherthanattemptfurtherexplorationbeyondCamp6.Several leads,suchastheoneinPerseverance Hall,remained,butallwerelocated wellabovethelimitofexploration. Stone's log fromCamp6 contin ues:OnFriday,May6,aftersixdaysatCamp6,webeganpackingupourequipment.Wefinishedoffthelastoftheinstantoatmeal.Beforeshehadenteredthecave,Barbhadpackedmostofthebottleofoatmealwithfruitflavors,butincluded

PAGE 63

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21abagofmaple.AtthattimeshehadthoughtNoelwasgoingtodothedive,andsheknewmaplewashisfavoriteflavor.Butherewewerejustthetwoofus.Sincesheloathedmaple,Ivolunteeredtohaveitforbreakfast.Afterwolfingdownfourouncesofthestuff,Ihadtoagree."Barb,you'reright.Thisstufftasteslikeglue."Itmademestopandthink"Noelshouldhavebeenhere."Sheresponded,"Ianshouldhavebeenhere."Isilentlynodded.Theybothshouldhave.Wesuitedupforourreturndivethroughthefirsttwosumps.Ittookusnearlyanhourandahalftodoallthepredivechecksandtogetintotherigsandourbailoutequipment.Everythingwentwelluntilwewereinthewaterandjustabouttosubmerge.Normalprocedureatthisstageistogointothemenusystemontherebreather'sonboardcomputerandtellittostartthedive.Actually,itautomaticallystartsatadepthof1.5meters,butforsafetyreasonswedoitmanually,inordertoverifythatallsystemsareworkingcorrectlypriortogoingunderwater.DuetothesubstantialabusewehadgiventheserigsintheirtransporttoSump1,thecableleadingtothemaindisplayonmyrighadunscrewed,andafewdropsofwaterhadgottenintothedisplay.Thesewaterdropletswereenoughtocausethecomputertofail,andthedisplaywentblankGiventheeffortofkiltingup,Icursedthisturnofevents.ThenIrelaxedandbrokeintoagrin.ThecomputerontheMK4actuallyconsistsofthreeseparateunits,eachofwhichcanrunthesystemautomatically.Iflippedupthehead-updisplay,andtheremainderoftheelectronicswereworkingproperly.Webeganthedive,andthesystemtookoverautomaticallyat1.5metersasexpected.Ineverhadtodealwithitfortheremainderofthetrip.ThefinaltripthroughSump1wassurrealistic.Thevisibility,duetoalongstretchofdryweatheronthesurface,wasthebestithadeverbeen,about15meters.WithBarbarainthelead,Icould,forthefirsttime,seetheentiredimensionsofthecorridor.Itwasasolitarycanyon,6metersinwidthby10metershighwithasandfloor.Thewholevoyagewastotallysilent.Therebreatherswereworkingflawlessly,sotherewerenobubbles,andthereforetherewasnonoise.ItwasaboutasclosetobeinginspaceasIcanimagine.After sixtyminuteswesafelysurfacedatCamp5.Wehadshotfourrollsoffilmandsurveyed3.3metersofvirgintunnelbeyondtheSanAgustinSump.Thisandourwrittenpersonallogsallfitintoasingletwo-literbottle.Ilaterrtiflectedthatthiswasprettyamazing:fourmonthsofback-breakingefforthadbeendistilledintothisbottle,theproductofoursweat.Butwehaddoneit.WehadDONEIT!ArrivingbackatCamp5was,ofcourse,nottheendofthetrip. Forthefollowing sevendaystheteamworkedtenhoursadayhaulingequipmentandropeupward.AtCamp3theyfoundNoel SloanandDonBroussard. Stone continues:Ittookuntil8:30P.M.toreturntoCamp3.Wedidn'texpectanyonetobethere,butwhenIsawlightsaheadIgaveahoot.Noelhurrieddowntogreetus.Iextendedmyhand,butinsteadhegavemeabighug."Ican'tbegintotellyouhowrelievedIamtoseeyou,"hesaid.ThenhegaveBarbaraahug,too.Everyonewassmiling."Well?"hesaid."WedidOKman.WelcometothedeepestcaveinMexico,"Isaid,afterwhichweeagerlyrelatedthestorytobothhimandDon.ThetwoofthemhadbeenmanningCamp3aloneforthepastweek,haulingequipmentthatwasnolongerneededtopointshigherinthecave.Itwasanemotionalreunion.Atthatinstant,wenolongerfeltremote.Inthepast,Camp3hadbeenconsideredextremelydistantfromthesurface,andperhapsitstillwas.TheNational Geographicfilmteamwasconstantlyconcernedaboutbeingthere.Theywerealwaysworriedaboutwhethertheywouldbeabletoclimbout.ButcomparedtoSump9,itwaslikebeinginyourlivingroom.Likebeinghome.These four, Broussard, Sloan,amEnde,andStone, carriedoutthedeeplevel deriggingofthecavealone for the following five days.OnMay12,helparrivedfromthesurfaceintheformofJim BrownandBev Shade. With ateamofsix, thederigcontinued.Campwassuccessivelymovedto pointshigherin the cave, first to the -62o-meter level(Camp2B),thentothe-430-meter level(Camp1B)atthebaseofthelongestshaftinthecave, anO-metersheerdrop. Prob lemsweredeveloping, however. Both SloanandStonehaddevelopedstaphinfectionsonseveral fingersofeachhandduetoconstanthaulingwithwetgloveswithground-infine siltandsand.Itgottothepointwheretheycouldnolongersleepatnight,sopenetratingandcontinuouswasthepain.Othershadseverechafefromworkingintheirharnessesall day.UponreachingthetopofthenOMeterShaft, a decisionwasmadeto rest for severaldaysonthesurface.Stone'slogcontinues:Aftereighteendaysunderground,weleftthecaveinthedarktothesoundof athunderstorm.Icouldsmellthevegetation,andIcouldheartherainhundredsofmetersbeforeIgottoit.WhenIreachedthefieldhouse,my firstactwasnottogoforsomecherishedfoodsubjectofconstantconversationinthecamps,sincewewerenowdowntoamonotonousdietofnothingbutpowderedfreeze-driedchickenstew--buttoscrubmyhandsandfingersinwarm,soapywater.Others,includingSergioZambranoandAngel Soto, joinedtheteamatSanAgustinbasecamp.Duringthecourseofthefollowingweek,threefurthertripsweremadetoderigthecave.OnTuesday,May17,sometwenty-threepackswerehoistedupthe110MeterShaftandthentransportedupfiveadditionalpitches tothe-280-meterlevelduringa fifteenhourtrip.OnMay19, allequipmentwastransportedtothebaseoftheentranceshaftduringatwelve-hourtrip.OnSaturday,May21, a tyroleanbridgewasriggedattheentrance,andtheloadsweresentupthediagonallineonpulleys.Arrangementsweremadewiththelocal villagers tohaultheequipmentfromtheentrance tobasecamp.Thiswasnotanincon sequential task, sincetheentranceto SOtanodeSanAgustinliesnearlya kilometerawayand120metersver ticallybelowcamp.OnMay22, apressconferencewasheldinHuautIadeJimenez.TheUnited StatescontingentoftheexpeditionreturnedtotheUnitedStatesonMay25.ThesurveydatafrombeyondtheSanAgustinSumphavenowbeenprocessed.Asa result,thegeographyoftheknowncavehaschangeddramatically.Thenewtunnelsclearlydemonstratethepresenceofa large riverpassageleadingsouthandwestfrom SistemaHuautlainthedirec tionoftheCuevadela Pei'ia Colorada.61

PAGE 64

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTER NUMBER21ThelengthofSistemaHuautlahasincreasedby3.3 kilometers to 56 kilometers.Whenthe finaldepthof the cavewasdetermined, therewasconsider able surprise. TherehadbeensomespeculationthatSistemaHuautlamight barely surpass Sistema Chevetobecome the deepest caveinMexico. Butwehadsignificantly underesti matedhowfarwehaddescendedinPerseverance Hall. Thenewdepth,1475meters,movedSistemaHuautlafrom twelfthintheworldto fifth. The table shows a listofthetendeep est caves in theworldasofAugust1994.Thesenumberssaylittlecon cerning the relative effortthatwasinvolvedinthe 1994 expedition to San Agustin.Thelimit of Sistema Huautla isnowatanimmenseunex ploredunderwatertunnel,Sump9, a point thatmaybeconsidered the most remoteyetreached insidetheearth. Aswithanyclaim to a superlative, onemustqualifywhatismeantby"remote"inthe contextofcave ex ploration.Onemightbetemptedto equate remotenesswithdistance from the nearest entrance.Underthis defi nition,the-1386-metersumpinSistema Cheve, Oaxaca,atninekilo meters from the entrance,wouldsurpassHuautla,sinceSump9inHuautlaisonlyslightly morethansix kilometers from the entrance to SOtanodeSan Agustin. However, asatanyfrontier,onemustconsider physical effort, the levelofenabling technology required,andthe degreeofpsychological commitment neededinorderto extendthatfrontier.Itis the presenceof655 metersofunder water tunnelsatthe-1353-meter levelandthe significantly more serious rig ging requirements in Sistema Huautla,withmorethanthreekilometersofrope rigged in1994,that place a jour ney to Sump 9 in a classbyitself.Bycomparison, the most remote pointsintheJeanBernard,Panjukhina,andLamprechtsofencanallbereachedona three-week expedition. Over the coming years,manywill visit the -1602-metersumpintheReseau Jean Bernardandthe -1386 metersumpinSistema Cheve. It is highly unlikelythathumaneyes will again set sightonSump9inSistemaHuautlawithin the next decade. Another measureoftheenergy in volvedinreachingSump9 is thenumberofdaysspentworkingincomplete darkness. Aftermanydaysofriggingandgear hauling basedinsurface camp, there were four majorundergroundeffortsin1994,ofsix teen, six, four,andeighteendays.These accounted for forty-fourdaysspentintotaldarknessindeepsubterraneancampslocatedatfive differentsitesinSotanodeSanAgustin; see the table.Onmanyoc casions, several camps were occupied simultaneouslybydifferent elements of the team.Thishasbeenatremendousodysseyfor allofus. For many,itwasthe culminationofa ten-year missionthatdominatedourlives.likemanythingsinreal life,theendingwasnotblackorwhite.Thesuccessthatwasachieved,thecrackingoftheSanAgustinsump,oneofthemostfor midable challengesinspeleological history,washardwon.Althoughwedidnotreach the ultimate goaloftheworld'sdeepestcave, there is strong satisfactionintheknowledgethatthelimitsofhumanendeavorwerepushedfurtherandharderonthis expeditionthaneverbefore,andthatthechallenge still continuesdeepin sidethatremote plateau. Morethanthree kilometersofgalleriesthatled into completelyunknownterritorysouthofSistemaHuautlawereex ploredonthis expedition.Inthe pro cess, severalofthelargest chambersandtunnels beneaththeHuautlaPlateauwerefirstenteredbyhumans.But the priceofourprogresswashigh. Twomembersofthe originalteamthatbeganformal training for the projectin1992, RolfAdamsofAustraliaandIanRollandofScot land,bothyoung,vital, intelligent,anddrivenmen,perishedinaccidentsrelated totheexpedition. The exploration frontier,asitwasfivehundredyears ago, isanunforgiving place. Allofusacceptedthatrisk for the sakeoftherewardofgoing wherenoonehasgonebefore, a privilegeWorld'sTen Deepest Caves,August1994 RankNameCountryDepthLength(meters) (meters) 1 Reseau Jean Bernard France 1602 17,900 2 Gouffre Mirolda France 1520 9,000 3 Shakta Vjacheslav Panjukhina Georgia 1508 4,000 4 Lamprechtsofen Austria 1483 14,657 5 SistemaHuautlaMexico 1475 55,953 6 Sistema del Trave Spain 1441 7,300 7 Boj-Bulok Uzbekistan 1415 15,000 8 Laminako Ateak (BU56) Spain 1408 11,893 9 Sistema Cheve Mexico 1386 22,499 10 Sniezhnaja-Mezhonnogo Georgia 1370 19,00062

PAGE 65

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTER NUMBER21known tobutahandfulofindividu als inourage.Asexplorershavedonefor millennia,wetook the preroga tive ofnamingnewterritoryinhonorof fallen friends. Rolland Airbellandthetwolargest single passagesyetdiscovered beneaththeHuautlaPla teau,AdamsAvenueandRockin''nRolland, willbelandmarksfor future explorers.PersonnelPersonnelrequirementsona project such as thisarecomplex.Thefocusofthe projectwasondivingthe San Agustinsump.The dive-team memberswerefully certified cave diverswhowerespecializedinthe use of rebreathers. However,itmustbe emphasizedthattheactual time spentdivingwasonly a small frac tionofthe timespentunderground. Most of the effort involved the trans port of suppliesandequipment. This leftopentheopportunityto involve additional peoplewithexpertiseinvertical rope techniquesanda desire to see the goalsofthe expedition ac complished.Oneofthenon-diving members attendedmostoftheexpe ditionwiththe intentionofhaulinggearorwhatever elsewasnecessary. Most other non-diverswerecaverswhowerein the area toworkonother projectsandstoppedinbriefly tobeofassistanceonjustoneortwotrips. It shouldbenotedthatthiswasanespecially difficult project.Thedurationwasmuchlongerthanmostpeople could find the timeorenthu siasmfor.Ofall the personnel associatedwiththe project, only fourwerepresent for the entire duration. The expeditionwasledbyBill Stone.ItwascoordinatedbyBillStoneandBarbaraamEndeintheUnited States, Sergio ZambranoandAngel SotoinMexico,andIan RollandinScotland. Dive Team BarbaraamEnde (USA) Kenny Broad (USA) James Brown (USA)BillFarr (USA) Rob Parker (UK) Steve Porter (USA) Ian Rolland (UK) Noel Sloan (USA) Angel Soto (Mexico)BillStone (USA) Sergio Zambrano (Mexico)SupportTeam Dick Ballentine (UK)DonBroussard (USA)HarryBurgess (USA)LeonardoAltamiranoCasimiro (Mexico) Mike Cicheski (USA)DonCoons (USA) Renato Garcia Durantes (Mexico) Jaime Escudero (Mexico) Tony Finnegan (UK) Pete Hall (UK) Joe Ivy (USA)PatKambesis (USA) TedLee(USA) MikeMadden(UK) Karlin Meyers (USA)DonMorley (USA) MattOliphant(USA) John Palmer (UK)NancyPistole (USA)BevShade (USA) Chris Sobin (USA) Shirly Sotona (USA) Carleton Spears (USA) Rick Stanton (UK) Bill Steele (USA) John Thorpe (UK) Alex Wade (UK) Pete Ward (UK)YvoWiedman (Germany) Paul Whybro (UK) NGS Photo Team Neal Messler Tom Morris WesSkilesPaulSmith James YorkThe Camp 5 dive platformsuspendedabout the wateratSump 1, San Agustin. The camp platform is above.DonBroussard.63

PAGE 66

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTERNUMBER21Camp6 SuppliesThe duffelbaggoingthroughthesumpstoCamp6 containedthefol lowing items.6liters calcium carbide three carbidecaplampstwosleeping bags (in 4-liter Nal gene bottles) complete verticalgearfortwobolt kitwithtwelve sets,andhammerSuunto divecomputerandcompass forunderwatersurveying3O-meter KesonsurveytapetwosetsSuuntosurveyinginstru-ments one Pentaxwaterproofcameraone Ikelite 225 strobeandslave one pot, one stove, three isobutane cans, twousedMRE wrappers for apotlid, two cups,twospoons one 2-liter bottlewithtworollsoftoiletpaperandsixtrashbags (forputtingwetsuitsinfor sleepingpads)80 meters of 8-millimeter PMI rope 4 liters freezedriedstroganoff(powderedandcompressed) 4 liters instant oatmeal (com pressed) 1 liter trailmixflagging tapeonehundredpagessurveypaperfive rollsoffilm four 4-liter Ziploc bags six mechanical pencils Stone's logbookonespare regulator 100 metersof7-millimeter PMI line (lashed to outsideofduffel)10kilograms lead ballastAcknowledgementsThe expedition expresses sincere appreciationtothe following Mexicanauthoritiesandfriends:Lic.DiodoroCarrascoAltamirano,Gobemadordel EstadodeOaxaca; Ing. Juan Lobo Zertuche, Instituto NacionaldeEstadistica, Geografia e InfOllll3tica; Min. Jorge Castro Valle, SecretariadeRelacionesExteriores; Lic. Agustin Ballina Garza, SecretariadeTurismo (Mexico, D.E); RivieloBazan,SecretariadelaDefensaNacional; Arq. Martin Ruiz Camino, SecretariadeDesarrollo Turistico (Oaxaca); Presidencia MunicipaldeHuautladeJimenez, Oaxaca; Ing.AngelSotoPorrua,Presidente,Asociaci6n MexicanadeBuceoenCuevas;SergioZambrano,Presidente, Asociaci6nAlpinadeMexico. We alsothanksthefollowing cor-poratesponsors: Rolex Watch U.S.A.;TheExplorers Club; Autodesk, Inc.; Teledyne Analytical Instruments; SierraPrecision;R.D.WernerCo.; Haskel. Inc.; Visionics Corp.; Mass tech, Inc.;CanyonIndustries, Inc.; AT&T;Panasonic;FloridaPublicUtilities;CumberlandTool & Die Co.; NiteRider; Professional Sports, Inc.;DogwoodCityGrotto; Luxfer USA;RichmondArea Spel. Society; Deep Breathing Systems, Inc.;UnderwaterKinetics;DudasDivingDuds;ScubaPro;RasnaCorp.;OregonFreeze Dried Foods, Inc.; Skedco, Inc.; National Geographic Society; Ginnie Springs, Inc.; Patagonia, Inc.; Force, Inc.; Air Products & Chemicals, Inc.; LibertyMountainSports, Inc.; Haley, Bader, & Potts, Inc.;CascadeDesigns, Inc.;NOKIA/ArnronInternational, Inc.;WarmWind,Inc.;DiveRite Manufacturing, Inc.; Delaware UnderwaterSwimClub; Forty Fathom Grotto; NSSCaveDiving Section, Inc.; Oceanic USA; Royal GeographicSociety; TIlos, Inc.; Duracell Incorpo rated; Keson Industries;Sherwood/Harsco Corp.; Johnson Camping, Inc.; Forestry Suppliers, Inc.; Sea Quest, Inc.; Star Foods, Inc.; Machining Ser vices, Inc.; PigeonMountainIndus tries, Inc.Expedici6nenSanAgustinde1994 En la Primaverade1994,unagranexpedici6n buce6 el sif6n terminal del Sistema Huautla, abajodelos840metrosdela entrada del S6tanodeSan Agustin.Nuevoequipodebuceo, fue proporcionado a la expedici6n (con sistema de aire reciclable).Elcampo 5 se instal6enunaplataforma suspendidadelasparedessobre el sif6n.Serequirieron10ocaciones para los espeleobuzosenlograrbucearunacantidadde1450metrosyencontrarunpasaje con aire. Ian Rolland,unEscoses, se ahog6enunpasajenoinundadoporcompleto, despuesdehaberpasadoel sif6n 1envias al segundo sif6n. Despues, Bill StoneyBarbaraamEnde establecieron el campo 6 al otro ladodelos primeros dos sifonesyexploraron arribade2 kil6metros a10largodepasajes secos, traspasando varios sifones mas. Finalmente, ellos se detubieronenel noveno sif6ndandoal sistemaunanuevaprofundidadtotal de1475metros.Unagrancascada entra al nuevo pasaje; probablemente es elaguadel S6tano del Rio Iglesia.64

PAGE 67

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21Historical ReprintTHE CAVERNSANDPEOPLE OF NORTHERN YUCATANLeonJ. ColeThenorthernpartofthe Yucatan Peninsula, insteadofhaving the luxuriant tropical vegetation often foundincountries of low latitude, is in reality a great semi-arid plain. The forests,nowheredense,dwindleawayinparts to astunted"brush"barelysupportedbythe scanty soil which only partially covers the un derlying limestone rock.Itis, indeed, totheporouscharacterofthis rockandthe absenceofpronounced re lief, ratherthanto a deficiencyinthe rainfall,thattheariditymustbechiefly ascribed. The porous, fissured limestone rock is like a thirsty sponge which soaksinthewaterwithonly less aviditythanthehotsandsof a desert.Underthese circumstances,itisof interest tonotethat, before the Discovery,thisregionsupportedprobably the highest civilization of the western hemisphere,andthatthe conditionsofhumanoccupancyatthe present time arenotwholly unfa vorable.1The great plain of northern Yucatan extendssouthwardfrom the Gulf of Mexico as a gentle,evenslope,atanaverage increase in elevation ofaboutone footpermile.Tothenorthwarditsinks almost as graduallyunderthe surfaceofthe sea, forming the great Yucatan Bankwithawidthofsome100miles,beyondwhich it sinks rap idly tothegreatdepthsof the Gulf. There arenoharborsonthe coastandthe shoalwateroftheBankmakes it Reprinted from theBulletinoftheAmercianGeographimlSociety,volume42,number5, pages321-336, 1910.The footnotes originallyatthe bot tomsofthe pageshavebeennumberedandmovedtotheend.Ithasnotbeenpossible to reproduce pho tographic figures 9though14.necessary for large steamers to an chor some miles off shore,whencefreightandpassengers are carried backandforthbylighters. Steamersmustbeever in readiness to seek deeperwateruponthe approachofoneofthedreaded"northers,"those fierce stormsthatsweep fromoursouthern states across the Gulfanddownuponthe unprotected coast. The coast itself is low,and,for170miles, skirtedbyanarrowsand reef,behindwhich liesanextensive lagoonofbrackish water,whichis called "el rio"and"la cienaga,"andwhich opens to the seaatthe west.Atonlytwoorthree places alonpthe entire reefdotidal inlets occur.Tothe southwardofMerida,about50 miles from the sea, thelandrisesinthe formofa series oflowhills, locallyknownas the "sierra,"whichhave a general trend fromnorthwestto southeast. Their average height is400to 500 feet. According to Mr.E.H.Thompson,inthe neighborhoodofXul, they reach a greater elevation of nearly900feet (Heilprin,1892,p.136).The extent of this range of"mountains" to the southeastward isnotaccurately known.AtSan Ignacio,abouthalfwaybe tween Meridaandthe coast, the gen eral surfaceappearstobealmost as flatandlevel as a floor;andhereonemaylook for miles,withalmostunobstructed view, across the enor mous plantations of henequen, theplantwhich supplies the "sisal" fiberofcommerce,andwhich constitutesoneofthe greatest sourcesofwealth in Yucatan. SouthofMerida,however, the dissection of the plainhasprogressed further,andthe surface topography ismuchmore irregular.Onaccountofthe porosityandfis sured surface of the limestonethatconstitutesthecountryrock,theheavyrainsofthewetseasoncutirregularchannelsor"arroyas,"whosepositionsaredependentuponthe local conditions;butnowhereare theseofanygreatlengthorperma nency. Foritshouldbeunderstoodthatnowhereinthewholenorthernhalfofthisgreatpeninsula are there riversorpermanentsurface streams,withthe exceptionofa few short onesontheeastern coast;andthese, as willbeshownlater, were probablyundergroundstreamswhoseroofshavefallen in. Butincertain parts of thecountrythere are moreorlesspermanentpoolsor"aguadas,"andwateris also tobefoundindeepcavernsandsink holes.Manyofthe latterareofa peculiar chimney-like structure,andareknownas"cen otes."Itiswiththenatureofthisundergrounddrainagethatthe remainderofthispaperwillbechiefly concerned. The rainy season in Yucatan is fromaboutJuly to October.Duringthe rest of the year the rainfall is small, though theremaybeoccasionalheavythundershowers.Inallpartsofthe country,the surfacewaterquickly finds itswayunderground,andinthe hillregionithasformedmanycavernsandsubterranean passages, which, ifwemayjudgefromthedescriptions of thosewhohaveexplored them, are similarinmostrespects to the cav ernsofanyelevated limestone re gion. There isonepeculiarity, how ever,whichappearstoberather char acteristicofthe Yucatankarst,andthatis the prevailing vertical charac teroftheundergroundcaverns.Inthe lowernorthcountryhorizontal tunnelsappeartobeentirely absent,oratleastveryunusual;inthe cav ernsofthe hill regiontheydooccur,65

PAGE 68

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21PENINSULA.,YlIl!"ATAN,.,.rnNbutareverylimitedincomparisonwithsuchcavernsastheMammothCave in Kentucky. IntheneighborhoodofSanIgnacio,betweenMeridaandthecoast,aretobefoundnumerous small,round,vertical, shaft-like holeswhichremindoneforciblyofglacial moulins.The Cenotes"Cenote"wasthenamegivenbytheancientMayastothedeepwaterholesorsinksofYucatan;andsincethecharacterofthese peculiar sinksappearstobedistinctive,itmaybewell to retainthename,especially for thedeep,circular, vertical-walled holes, withoutlateral passages,whichmaybeconsWered asthetypeofthemature form. Varieties are tobefoundinthetopographicallyyoungerdome-shapedcaverns,withroofs in tact,andthemature"aguadas"withsloping sides. In presentingwhatthewriterbe lieves tobethemostplausible expla nationofthesomewhatunusualfea turesofYucatan hydrography,itmaybe well firsttodescribewhatmaybetaken asthetypical cenote,andthenbyotherexamples to illustrate their probably cycleofdevelopment.Thetwowell-knowncenotesatChichen-Itzamaybetakenas ex amplesofwhatwemayconsiderastypical. Butalthoughthesehavebeensolongknown,andsooftendescribed, it issurprisinghowinaccu rate aremostofthedimensionsthatFig.1.Bythe courtesy of theMuseumof Comparative Zoology, Cambridge .sloping walls.Thewallsare,however, exceptononeside, practicallyperpendicularfor a considerable dis tance fromthewater,abovewhichtheyslopebackuntiltheyattain thegroundlevel (Fig. 5).Ononeside thereareremainsofaruinedstairway;foritwasthis cenotewhichsuppliedtheinhabitantsoftheancient cityofChichen-Itzawithwater.AnexaminationofsomeoftheothercenotesinthevicinityofChichen-Itzaandelsewhere,furnishesanexplanationofthemodeoforigin.AtPiste, asmallIndianvillagebutashortdistancefromChichen-Itza,thevillage well, aftergoinga few feetthroughsolid rock,opensoutinto a largecavernwithwateratthebottom.ThedepthofwaterappearstobeaboutthesameasinthecenotesatChichen,and,asnearlyascouldbejudged,thediameteralsoapproachedsimilardimensions. Here, then,weapparentlyhavea cenotewhichis entirely roofed over,thewellabovementionedbeingarti ficial. Thisconditionmayberepre sentedbythediagraminFigure2.Aboutthree mileseastofChichenis a cenoteknownastheIkil. Thiswasapparently,atonetime, likethatatPiste,buttheroofoverthegreaterportionofithasfallen in,leavingatpresenta partial roofovertwosides.Hereagainadvantagehasbeentakenoftheoverhangingrooftoconstruct a well fordrawingwater. Figure 3maybetaken torepresenta sectionoftheIkil cenote asinanintermediatestageofdevelopmentinwhichonlythecentralpartoftheroof,thetopofthedome,hascollapsed. There is a storythatintheplazaofa certain Yucatantownahorseandrideroncedisappearedsuddenlyfromsightbythebreakinginoftheroofofoneofthesesubterraneancaverns.Whetherornotthatstorycanbecredited, Dr. Gaumer,longresidentatIzamal, isauthorityofthefactthatworkmen,indigginga wellatMotul, brokethroughthetopofagreatdomeshapedcavernandlost their tools.ManywellsinYucatanarethussituatedoverundergroundcaverns...havebeengiven.Thelargerofthese isknownastheSacredorSacrificial Cenote becauseofthefact that, ac cordingtolegend,andashasrecentlybeenconfirmedbydredgings, itwasapartoftheMayanreligious cer emonies to cast into thisdeeppoolhumansacrificeswhowereto intercedewiththegodsofwaterfor a plentifulsupplyofthatmuch-needed element. This cenote is nearly circu larinoutline,withadiameterof190 feet,whileits walls,whichareinplaces vertical,andlocally overhang ing,are65 feethighfromthelevelofthewatertothe general surfaceofthegroundabove.Itisthuslike agreatcircular shaftorstonequarrywithapoolofwateratthebottom. This water,whichis fresh, is 36 feetdeepandoccupies thewholediameteroftheshaft exceptatonepointwherethere is anarrowbeach. Itsdarkgreenish color isnotdue,asstatedbymany,toitsdepth,nortotheoverhangingvegetation,butrather tothemicroscopic algaewhichgrowinit. While the side wallshavebeenspokenofasvertical, theyarenotstraightandsmooth,butare composedratherofa seriesofprojecting ledgesapparentlyduetothevaryinghardnessoftheslightlynorthwarddippingstrata. Figure 4 is adiagrammatic sectionofsucha cenote. The so-called Great Cenotehasinreality asomewhatsmallerdiameteratthewatersurfacethantheother,butitappearslarger becauseofits..........,,,, !'....66

PAGE 69

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21OnthenortherncoastofYucatan,atthemouthoftheRio Lagartos, 400 meters from the shore,springsoffreshwaterspoutupfromamidstthe salt water.Itis probablethatfromsomestrong,hydrostaticalpressionthefresh water, afterburstingthroughthebanksofcalcareous rocksbetweenthe cleftsofwhichithasflowed, fourthmiletothenorth. Izamal is probablysituatedoveragreatsub terranean river; a lineofimportanttownscanbepickedoutwhichmarkits course fromthesouthemhills to the Gulf.4Furtherevidenceofsubterranean streamsisfurnishedbythenumerous"boiling" springsalongthenorthcoast.Manyoftheseopeninto the coastal lagoonwhileothersopenoutin the saltwatersoftheGulfitself. Thiswaterbubblesupfrom the bottomofthe"cienaga"throughholes from 6 to 15 feet in diameter, inwhichthesandisconstantlyagitated.Ober(1884) statesthata freshwaterspring in the Atlantichaslongbeenknownoff St. Augustine, Florida,andquotesHumboldtasfollows, regarding their occurrenceontheYucatancoastsinks into the rock gathers into well defined subterranean rivers,whichinfumemptyinto the sea. The rea sonsbroughtforward insupportofthisviewmaybebrieflysummarized.3In the first place, it is to be noted that thewaterinthe cenotes is freshandsweet as a rule,anditisarguedthatiftheywerenotinsomewayconnectedwithundergroundstreamsitwouldbecome stagnantandfoul. Itshouldbe borne in mind, however, that inmanycountries, even in the tropics,wateris often stored in cisterns forlongperiodsandremains reasonably sweet. Anotherargumentisthatthewaterlevelinthe cenotes remains fairly constant,havingonlyminorfluctuationscorrespondingwithperiodsofrainfallanddrought,showingthatthe watersmusthaveareadyescape. Cases areknowninwhichneighboring cenotes are actu ally connected, the connection beinginsomecases (asatMotuI)belowthesurfaceofthe water. Boyshavesometimesthrowningourdsandhats,whichhavelaterbeenrecovered from another well.In1900 a domesticduckfell into a well (which opens into a subterraneancavem)atIzamal,andthe followingdaywastakenoutof a well some one-Fig.2.Dome-shaped cavern, the roof ofwhichhasnotyet fallen in;3.A later stage in which the middle of the roofhasgiven way;4.Most of the roof has given way,butaportionstill remains;5.The typical cenotewithvertical walls;6.A later stage in which the walls are beingwornback;7.A topographically old cenote or" agua da"resembling a kettle-holewithapoolatthe bottom. The Underground DrainageThereappearstobeacommonbe lief in Yucatan thatthewaterwhichThere can apparentlybelittledoubtthatthese peculiarwaterholeswereformed,inthefirst place,bythesolu tionoftherock, soastomakegreatundergrounddome-shapedcavems. The surface rock,asiscommonin limestone regions, ismuchharderthanthatbelow.Thewatertherefore makes itswaydownthroughcrev icesintheresistantupperlayer causingcomparatively little solution;butwhenit encounters the softer strata below, its solventpoweris exercisedandlargecavemswithroofs intact are the result. InthewallsoftheSa cred CenoteatChichensomeof the lower strata are so softthattherockcanbecrumbledinthehandalmost like dust. The essentially horizontal positionofthestratamaybeanotherimportantfactoringivingthecen otes their vertical wallsandfew hori zontal passages. Thedipofthestrataisso slight thatithas probablybeeneasier for thewatertoworkitswaydirectlydownthantorunoff later ally. Eitherbythe toogreatextension of thecavemorbythegradualsappingoftheroof,thelatter eventually collapses,andthe cenotes,suchashavebeendescribed, aretheresult.Onehasbutto witnesstheeffectsofaheavytropicalthunderstormuponthe steep wallsofoneof these cen otes torealizehowimportantanagent is erosionintheirsubsequentdevel opment;andconsideringthenumber of stonesthatgorollingdownevenduringa brief storm,itseems strangethatthe walls arenotwornback faster. Theywearback firstatthe top, the lowerpartof the wall remaining vertical (Fig.6);butthe processofweariscontinueduntil the cenote consistsofa pool ofwateratthebottomofa funnel-orbasin-like depression (Fig. 7).ThetwincenotesofShkolak (Xcolac)andSkashek,abouttwo-thirdsofthewayfrom Izamal to Tunkas,wouldappear, ac cording to the descriptionsofBaker (1895)andChamay(1887), to belong to this stage.Insomecases the bottomsappeartohavebecomeentirely filled in,andsuch depressionsthenholdwateronlytemporarily afterrains.67

PAGE 70

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21risesabovethelevelofthesaltwater.AsObensays, FloridaandYucatan areofsimilar geological formation,whichmayaccountfortheappearanceofthesespringsonthecoastsofbothpeninsulas. sThecoastalspringsmarkthemouthsofundergroundrivers,andthe villagesintheir vicinityaretheterminalonesofthelinesthatmarkthe coursesofthestreams fromthehills tothesea.Theinhabitantsofthese coastal villages,insomecases, placehollowtreetrunksintheholesofthe sea floorthroughwhichthewatergushes,thusleadingitto the surfaceoftheGulfwithoutcomminglingwiththesaltwater.They,inthis way,obtaintheirsupplyoffreshwaterbygoingoutontheGulfinca noes!Duringtimesofstorm,whenthe Gulf is tooroughfor canoes,itis necessary togoinlanda mileormoreacrossthe"cienaga" togetfreshwater. Allthetownsalongthenorthcoast, except Progreso,aresaid tobelocatedwherethesesubterraneanstreams open.AtAscension Bay,ontheeastcoast oftheYucatan peninsula,oneoftheserivers, 30 feetwide,hasits roof bro keninforabouta mile inland,and,for this distance,runsbetweenverti cal wallsnotoverthree feet high. This probably representsthetypeofdrainageinallthepeninsula,merelydifferinginthefactthattheroofofthe once subterranean streamhasheregiven way. Another noticeable fact isthatinmostandpossibly allofthe cenotes inthemorenorthernpartofthepeninsulathewaterstandsatacommonlevel.Theavailabledataasto alti tudesanddepthsofthecenotes towaterlevel are so incompleteandinaccuratethata consistent table cannotatpresentbeprepared;butthebulkofthe evidence seems to indi cate that, in allofthose cenotesnorthof the "sierra,"thewaterstandsata levelonlya littleabovethatofthe Gulf. Thelandsurface risesonanaverageofabouta foot tothemile and,makingallowance for local ir regularities,thedistance in feet from the surface tothewaterlevel,atanyparticular point, is approximatelythedistanceofthatplace fromtheGulf68inmiles.Thuswefindthatclosetothecoastthewaterliesverynearthesurface. Merida is25miles fromthecoast; according to Schott (1866)andHeilprin (1892), its altitude is28to 30 feet,and,onthetestimony of thesameauthors,thewaterinthecenotes issome26 to 30 feetbelowthe surface.Otherstriking casesofagreementmightbeadduced,butthesewillsuf fice to illustratethepoint. There aretwowaysinwhichwemayaccount forthemaintenanceofsucha conditionofthekarst water. Either thereareconnecting passagesbetweenthedifferent cenotesbelowthelevelofthesea,orelsetherockatthatlevel is soporousthatthewatercantraverse it easily,ortheremaybea combinationofthesetwocondi tions. Someoftheevidence forbelieving that these are real subterraneanstreamshasbeengiven above. Againstsuchaviewmustbeputthefactthatintwocenotesonlysomethree milesorso apart, entirely dif ferent speciesofcatfisheswerefound living,althoughthegeneral condi tionsseemedmuchthesame.Inoneofthecenotes,however(the Sacred Cenote),thewaterwasonly36 feetdeep,whileintheother(theIkil)asoundinglinewaslowered to 95 feetbelowthewatersurface! Suchbeingthecase, therecanbenodoubtthatextensive subsidencehastaken placeinthe Yucatan peninsula since its prin cipal drainage featureswereformed; forinnootherwaycanweaccount forthegreatdepthofthis cenote belowthelevelofthesea.Atonetimethelandmusthavestoodatleast 95 feethigherthanitdoesto-day.Atthattime, thedrainageconditionswereprobably similar to those foundinanyordinarylimestone region,withlong horizontal tunnelsandcav erns,somedistance above sea level,andvertical shafts leadingdownto them. Subsequent subsidence carriedthehorizontal passages below sea level,thusgraduallyraisingthelevelofthewaterinthe vertical shafts,butmaintainingpracticallythesameheightalloverthepeninsula. Whileitis possible, then,thatthere exist actualundergroundrivers, theyareinmostcases morethanthat, fortheyareactuallybelowthelevelofthe sea as well,andare tobelookeduponasconnectingtunnelscompletely filledwithwaterratherthanas real streams.Therewere, however,undoubtedlyinsomecases, horizon tal passagesathigherlevels,whichmightnotyetbeentirely"drowned,"andwhichwouldaccountforthetransportationoffloating objectssuchashats, etc.,asalreadydescribed.Inothercasesnodoubtthecavinginoftheroofsandtheaccumulationofdebrishasblockedthepassagesfrommanyofthecenotes,thewaternowhavingtomakeitswayoutbyseep age. Thiswouldaccountforthecomparatively shallowwaterinsomeofthem,andalsotherestricted distributionofcertain speciesoffishes.Inthehill regionthedrainagesystemis still largelyabovethesea level,anditherepresentsthefeaturesmorecommonlyassociatedwithlimestone caverns.Heretherearemorelateral passagesthatcanbetraversed,butthough, hereandthere,watermaystandinimperviouspools,thelowerlevelsappeartobepractically coincidentwiththatofthesea.InFigure 8anattempthasbeenmade,bya sche maticnorth-and-southcross-section fromthehill regions totheGulf, to representtheprincipal featuresoftheYucatankarstwhichhavebeensobriefly outlined.RelationofHydrographicConditionstoPeopleThenaturalsemi-aridityofnorthernYucatan isaccentuatedbythefactthatthe soil coveringtherock isinmanyplacesveryscanty.Thesemiaridquality is especiallymarkedduringthedryseason,whenmanyofthetrees lose their leavesandthegeneralappearanceoftheforests remindsonestronglyofourownfor estsinearlyspringorlate fall;andmanyofthenativebirdsmigratetothesouthwardfromthepeninsula, just asmanyofourbirdsgosouth(someofthemto Yucatan)duringthewintermonths.6Thefailureofthesoil to retainmoisturealso limitsverycloselythekindsofcropsthatcanbecultivated successfully.Itistruethatduringtherainyseasonmanygardencropsmaybegrownsuccess fully,butthetwomostimportantproductsofthecountryarecornandhenequen.Sugarcaneis cultivated tosomeextent.Theraisingofcattle is limitedbythescarcityofforage, while

PAGE 71

AMCS ACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21Fig.8.Schematic North-south section from the "sierra" to the coast illustrating types of cenotesandcaverns, relations of water level, subterranean connections, etc.a.Hill cavern,withlong passagesandpools of waterheldinimpervious depressions;b.Anold age cenote ("holla") holdingwateronly temporary after rains;c.Typical cenote (seeFigs. 5and9);dande.Young cenotes or dome-shaped caverns (see Figs. 2and3) connectedbya pas sageatwater level;fOldage cenotewithpermanentpool of water ("aguada," see Fig.7);g.Water-holenearthe coast,whenwater level is very near the surface;h.Fresh-waterspringina brackish lagoon or "cienaga";i.Coastalsandreefonwhichcostal towns are located;j.Fresh-water spring ashortdistance from shore;k.Gulf of Mexico;1.Sea level.the leaves of certain trees have tobegathered for the horses in place of hay.? As to thecomandhenequen, the former is all consumed in the country,the latter is practically all exported as the crude fiber. The method of raisingcomemployedbythe natives isdependentuponthe weather con ditions,andis very impoverishing to the soil.Atthe close of thedrysea son, the Indian prepares his "milpa"orcornfieldbyburning the timber from a tract of land, which is then planted incomwhenthe rainsbegin.Agoodcropisdependentuponplenty of rain.Comis the staple foodanda scarcity of this cereal,duetoa bad season, is a serious mattertothose livingata distance from the towns. Henequen isgrownonthedry,deforested plains, especially of the northwestern section.Itis the staple product of the country,andthe demandfor it, createdbythe shutting off of the supply of manila fiber from the Philippinesduringthe Spanish American war, returned princely for tunes to the class of Yucatecanswhoownthe enormous henequen planta tions. As a consequence Merida is a city of lifeandgaiety,andhas been referred to as the Paris of America. There seems tobenoevidence for believing that the climatic conditions in Yucatan wereanydifferentatthe time the Maya civilization wasatits heightthanthey are to-day,andit seems remarkable that so high a state of cultureandcivilization should have arisenunderconditions which seem inmanyways so unfavorable. Although it is believed that the ancient Mayas built reservoirs for the storage of water, they apparentlydidnot knowhowto dig wells to obtainit.Itis accordingly found that all their important cities were situated where there was access to the aguadasandcenotes,orto the caverns of the hills, the floors of some of which have beenwornsmooth by the generations of bare feet that have gonedowninto their depthsandtoiled back with the day's supply of water. Mention has been made of the fact that,onthe northern coast, the villages were lo cated in intimate relation to the sup plies of fresh water. With the advent of the Spaniard came a knowledge of well digging.Itissaid that good water maybeobtainedbysinking a well almost anywhere. In ancient times the water was broughtupbyhand; lateritwasdrawnfrom the wellsbyropesandbuckets,andsometimes,atthe deeper wells mules were em pleyed for hauling it up;butnowwindmills have been introduced,andas thereisusually plenty of wind, these do the work economicallyandwell. The city of Meridaandvicinity is,whenviewed from a slight eleva tion, a veritable forest of steel wind mills of American make. Thedryclimate of Yucatan, with its cool nights,hasa decided influ enceontheconditions affecting health.Itismuch healthier than most countries lying so well within the tropics,andlacks almost entirely the terrorsofthe "tierra caliente"ofMexico proper. Yellow fewerisen demic, it is true,butapparently has seldom or never been very preva lent,andCasares(1906)isauthority for the statement that it hasnow"been almost completely expelled." The fishes in the cenotesandlarger pools keep the mosquito larvce largely exterminated there,anda little sys tematic effort woulddomuchtoex terminatethemin thetemporarypools of water which are held in hol lows in the rock for a few days after a rain, and which are quickly taken advantage of as breeding sites by the mosquitoes. In certain regions, where there areopenaguadas, malariaanddenguefever are a serious menace, especially to foreigners;buthere, also, a consistent crusade against the mos quitoeswouldundoubtedlybetter conditions. This shouldbecompara tively easy in a karst country where the greaterpartof the water quickly disappears underground.LiteratureBaker, FrankC.1895.-ANaturalist in Mexico, being a visit to Cuba,NorthernYucatan,andMexico. Chicago,145pp. Ballou,MaturinM.1885.-DueSouth,orCubaPastandPresent. Houghton, MifflinandCo.,BostonandNewYork, 8, ix+316 pp. Charnay, Desire.1887.-The Ancient Cities of theNewWorld. BeingvoyagesandexplorationsinMexicoandCentralAmerican from 1857-1882. Translated from the French.NewYork, xiv+514 pp. Casares. David.1906.-ANotice of Yucatan,withsome remarksonitswatersupply.Proc.Amer. Anti quarian Soc. for 1905,newser., vol.17,pp.207-230.Cole,LeonJ.1906.-Aves.In"Vertebrata from Yucatan," by LeonJ.Cole, Glover M. Allen, and Thomas Barbour.Bull.Mus. Com.Z061.,vol. 50,No.5,pp.101-159,69

PAGE 72

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTERNUMBER21pis. 1 &2. Heilprin, Angelo. 1892.-Geological Researches in Yucatan. Proc.Phil.Acad. Nat. Sci. for 1891,pp.136-158.Hitchcock,C.H.1905.-Freshwater Springs intheOcean.Pap.Sa.Mon.,vol.57,No.8, pp.673-683.Ober, FrederickA.1884.-Travels in MexicoandLife Among the Mexicans. Boston,672pp. Schott,Arthur.1866.-DieKiisten bildung des nordlichen Yucatan.Pet.Grog.Mitt.,vol.12,pp.127-130.Notes1.The writer's personal knowledge of the country hasbeengained from a trip made early in1904,the princi pal object being the collection of zoological materials and data. The work was in the interests of the Mu-70seumof Comparative ZoOlogyatCambridge, and consisted of a stay of several weeksatProgreso, a fewdaysatMeridaandIzamal,andnearly two monthsatChichen-Itza.2.The method of formation of this coastal strip of sand and the conse quentlagoon hasbeenably discussed by Schott(1866).3.Many of the facts and ideas here expressed areonthe authority ofDr.G.F.Gaumer, an American physi cian who has for many years resided inIzarnal.4.Onthe authority ofDr.Gaumer.5.Ballou ("Due South, or Cuba past and present") wrote in1885that much of the drinking water, and cer tainly the best in useatNassau, as well asatsome of the neighboring islands, was procured from fresh water springs bubblingupthrough the salt water. He says the sameistrue alsoonthe shores of the Persian Gulf.Inthe former case, the water was broughttothesurface through barrels filled with sand, whileinthePersian Gulf divers godownwith leather bags which theyopenover the bubbling fresh water springsatthe bottom. Hitchcock(1905)mentions fresh water springs in the oceanonthe volcanic shores of the Hawai ian Islands.6.Some evidence for such a migra tion has been presentedbythe au thor (Cole,1906,p.112)inthe intro duction to a paperonthe birds of Yucatan.7.The stock canbeturned loose and does not have tobeherded dur ing the day.Itcannot get to the water in the cenotes,andconsequentlyhas to return to the tanks in the corral.

PAGE 73

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTER NUMBER21THE EXPLORATION OFSOTANODE ALFREDO, QUERETAROJames H. SmithJFrustratedwiththefourth 4to 6 meterdropina row, Iwheeledmyduffelbagladenwith130 metersofropeoutofthepoolandambledto theedgeofthenextprecipice. Lookingdowntheshaft,Imoroselyguessedthedroptobe15 meters deep,witha poolatthebottom.Toverifymysuspicion, I tossed a rock,andfivesecondspassedbefore a voluminous echo came.C6tanodeAlfredowasdiscoveredOonNovember26,1992,byGerald Moni, Teresa Williams,andChrisHudsonduringthefifth Xilitla Project expedition. The cave isnearthecommunityofAguaZarca.OnthedayS6tanodeAlfredowasfound,onlyChrisdescendedthe19-meter en trancepitto a ledge. Sincetheexpe ditionwasprimarily for ridge-walk ing, the cavewasleftasaleadforthespring 1993 expedition. The cavehadits firsttwopushtripsonApril 5and8, 1993.Myac countofthis exploration is taken from Paul AUghey's cave journal. The firstpushtripwasbyPaulAughey, Gerald Moni, Chris Hudson, Cecil James,andPete Hall. Theydescendedtheen trancepitona 6O-meter rope to a spacious ledgeat19meters.Anatural tie-offwasusedtorigthefollow ing 17-meter pit.Onthebottom,theonlyleadwasatightcrawlfrom which a strongdraftcame.PaulandPete squeezed through,andGeralddugthe crawloutlargeenoughfor him. A few metersofpassageled to a 22-meter pit. With a 6O-meter rope, they riggedthe22-meter pit, a 3.5 meter pit,andanotherdropof22meters.PeteandPaulcontinueddowneleven climbswithdepthsofupto 6 meters. Finally,theycameto apitthatlookedabout10 metersdeepandcouldnotbeclimbed free.Theyderigged,vowingtoreturnontheninth.BernardoMozalesandCarlosGonzalez from Mexico City joinedPeteandPauladayearlierthanplannedtoresumeexplorationinAlfredo.Theteamwasheavilyladenwithrope.Theycarried rope lengthsof180, 60, 30,30,20,and6metersandassortedpiecesofwebbing.Theyrigged elevendropsandclimbednumeroussporting free climbs.Theyadmittedthathandlineswouldhavebeenappropriateonsomeoftheclimbs. Their explorationterminatedbelowa 28-meter shaft,atthetopofa 5.7 -meter pit.Theyclaimedtheyhadlosttheair,buthada promisinglead10 metersdownthe28-meter pit.Itwasa chamberwith3-metercolumns,wheretheyatelunch.Havingrunoutofrope,theyderigged,andleftthecaveafter twelvehours.TheXilitla Project fielded its seventhweek-long expeditionNovember22to 26, 1993.Theexpedi tionwasmannedbyGerald Moni, leader,MarkRichardson, Shari Lydy,andMarionO.Smith from Tennes see, Alan Cressler,AndyPorter, Jeff Dilcher,JohnStembel,andJames Smith from Georgia,PatSmith, Roger Haley,PaulDever, Bob llges, ChrisHudson,andGregArmstrongfromAlabama,LisaFrickandKerryRolandfrom Missouri,GaryBurwasserfrom Florida, Chris Stine from Oregon,andTed Wilson from Indi ana. Our sponsor, PigeonMountainIndustries, participatedinspirit. PMIsupplied75percentoftheropeuti lizedonthe expedition. The expeditionhadthree goals: to look fornewcaves, to explore S6tanodeAlfredo,andtosurveyS6tanodeLutevio.[SeeAMeSActivitiesNewsletter19for areportontheinitial explorationofLutevio.]Theexpeditionachievedthefirsttwogoalsandpartially accomplishedthethird. ThemainthrustofthetripwastowardS6tanodeAlfredo.OnNovember22,thefirstgrouptoenterthecavewasa rigging crewofAlan, Jeff, Ted, Marion, Shari, ChrisHudson,andme.Thesecond crewwasasurveyteamconsistingofJohn, Gary,ChrisStine,andMark.Thesurveyteambeganattheentrance.Whentheriggingteamranoutofrope, theyweretobeginsurveyingbacktowardtheotherteam.AlanandI carriedintworopebagswithPMI ropes 217and137metersinlength. Startingattheen trance,Alanriggedeachdrop,cuttingandtapingthepiece fromtheChrisHudsoninone of the entrance-series pits.MarionO.Smith.71

PAGE 74

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21Jeff Dilcheratthe top of thethird pit.MarionO.Smith.217atthebottomofeachdropuntil his bagwasempty.Hedidhis best to rebelay as necessary topreventrubsonthe rope.Onthe fifthdrop,Alan setan8-millimeterbolt5metersdown, rebelaying the 22-meter pit. Two more boltsweresetatthe topofa 6.4-meter-deep pit. The cave pas sage was essentially anarrowcan yon from vertical to the inclination of the beddingandwasquitecomfort able, averaging 1 to 5 meterswideinthe canyonandpits.Thepassage trend is quite steep, following the beds, whichdipbetween40and70 degrees. Consequently, thedropsare for the mostpartsteeply sloping wall drops, ideal for the Texas climbing system. The distancebetweenpitsorclimbs rarely exceeded 60 meters; usually theycameoneright after an other. The nextpitwasonly 10 meters from the bottomofthe 6.4-meterdropand consistedoftwodropsof5.5and5 meters.Weencountered several25meterclimbsoverpotholesandthrough drips. The nextpithadadepthof 7.9 meters,anditwasfol lowed byoneof5.2 meters. Alanranoutof ropeonthetenthpit. With 137 meters of rope, I rigged twelve drops. Most of thedropsweresmall, con sisting of pitsof3.3,2.8(to crotch deep water), 3.3, 3.2, 7.0,and5.272meters. Isetan8-rnillime ter bolt to rig the5.2-meter pit. The topofthedropwasnarrowandawkwardto negotiate, as weremanyofthe short drops.AnU.5 meterpitledto a 21.7meterpitthatrequiredanother bolt to rig.Itwasourlast boltofthe day, asweforgot the other five hangers for the remaining anchorswe'dbrought intothecave.Fortunately,those five anchorswerenotessential, sinceweweresoon torunoutof rope. I continued to rigfromstalagmitesandflakesandthrough solu tion holes. The steep slopeofthebeddingmaderiggingfree from abrasion impossibleorunreasonable,andrebelaying a5meterpitwouldbe a wasteoftime anyway. The nextdropof6.5 meterswasfollowedbya 1.5-meter handline to assistata nuisance climboverslick chert.Aroundthe corner,werigged a 6.9-meterpitto adeeppool.Ihadonly 10 metersofrope leftandsawtheendswinging in the air inwhatmeasured tobea 28-meter pit.Wehadrigged five more pitsorclimbsthanthe original explorationteamhadto get thisfar.Theyhaddescended the 28-meter pit.Outofrope,wesurveyed thirteen stations to linkupwith Stembel's surveyteam,whohadsurveyed forty-ninesta tions. Wehadrigged to adepthof250 meters.Thelast cavers left the caveat6 p.m., after nine hours. The next day, November 23, thesameteam, except for Shari, returned to continue explorationinAlfredo. ChrisHudsonhauled a 189-meter PMI in a duffelbagto the topofthe 28-meter pit,whichwenamedPurgePlunge.Additionalropeswithlengths of 60,60,and91meterswerealso taken into the cave.Inaddition, twenty3/8-inchbolts, twenty rapidlinks,seven slings,andsevenwiredstopperswereinthe rigging list.Inthe entrance pit, a boltwassetatthe topofthe seconddropto eliminate arubpoint.AtPurgePlunge,I set a3/8-inchbolt to rigmostofthepitfree. From there, I took the 189-meter rope tothenextpit. Wewerefinally lookingdowna virgin pit, 5.7 meters.Anotherboltwasset to rig the little pit, as therewasnoreliablenaturalrigging point. Thecanyonnarrowedto lessthan0.3meters wide,andashortcrawlwasrequiredto anarrowwalkwayandthe nextdropsof3.8and85meters. A boltwasnecessary to rigtheoffset shaft.ThelastpartofthispitremindedmesomuchofNitaNantainHuautla, as thepitis actually a 45 degree slope parallel tothedipofthe bedding. Whileitis actually a free climb, theropewasmostappreci ated. A 4.5-meter climb led to a 3.7 meterpitthatwasrigged from a for mationandabreakdownblock. The nextpitwas2.7 meters freeandre quired a bolt. Iwasbeginning to think thatifthis cavewereto go 1000 metersdeep,theremightbehundredsofpits 5 meters deep.Whata drag!Thenextpitwasalmostimmediate. Ilookeddownandthoughtitwas15metersorso.Ittooktherock 5 seconds to hit,andthesoundindicatedthatthepitwaslargeindiameter.Theotherswerestillatthetopofthelittle shaft,andtheyyelled excitedlyattheechoesfromthedeeppit. Finally,wewereinexciting cave. Alan set a bolt for a traverse line. I rigged inandsteppedaroundthecomerofthedeepshaftandsettwobolts to rigthepitfreeandoutofthe water. Eventhoughthe cave iswarmandcomfortableina tee shirt, the crewwantedadryrig. However,whatyouwantandwhatyougetarenotalways the same. Thebagwiththe remainderoftheropewaslow ered,andtheendwasdroppedinto the shaft. I carriedanextraropeandpreparedto changeoverifnecessary.Halfwaydown,Iencountereda tangleinthe rope,andseveral min uteswererequired to untangle the mess. Ihadattemptedto rigoutofthe water,buttheropehunginthemiddleoftheshower30 metersbelowthe rigging point.Thedropwassheer to free.Onthe bottom, Ilandedin ankle-deep water.Theshaft turnedouttobe97metersdeepand30 metersindiameter. Icuttheendofthe rope as Alan touched bottom. InamedthepitRolf Well,inmemoryofRolf Adams.

PAGE 75

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21Lessthan50 meters from the bot tom of the shaft,weencountered a 24.5-meterpitthat was redirected 7 metersdownfrom a large, rounded pendant. A short free climb of25meters led to a 2.7-meter drop. Alan stepped across adeeppoolatthe bottom of the little shaft to peerdownthe deepest shaft in the cave. The rock soundings were comparable to those of the 97-meter pit.Wefed in 91-meterand25-meter ropes tied to gether to insure Alan would reach the floor. Alan set a boltata ledge 2 meters below the topanda rebelay from another bolt10metersdownandthen disappeared.Heyelledupthatwewould have to cross the knotandthat I should bringdowna30meter rope. I could hearhimtapping another bolt into the rock as I de scended into blackness. Frommylofty position, I could see that this shaft was very large,atleast 40 meters in diameter. From the bolt, the drop was a sheer 80 meters. I encountered the knot 7 meters above a large ledge.Wehadto tie another short rope onto the remainder of the 25-meter piece to reach the bottom. Alan descended, passing the last knot 5 meters from thefloor.From the ledge, thedropwas28meters. Including thedropfrom the ledge, the shaft tapedoutto be113.2meters deep. Alannamedthis pit AndgyWell.When I touched down, Alan re portedhehadfound a further deep pit,butcouldn't get to the edge. In stead of retracing his steps over ahugeflows tone,wefollowed thewaterroutedowna canyon. We rigged a 4-meterdropthat Ted Wil son later bypassed by a climbable route through breakdown. This rope has beendroppedfrom the rigging list. AlanandI traverseddowna short, 2-meter climb to a 5.3-meter pit.Werigged to some formations,andAlandescendedtheclean washed drop. Almost immediately,wecame to the deep pit Alanhadfound.Wetossed another rock,andthe report sounded like it might be60meters deep.Wewereoutof rope.Wedumpedthe boltsandsurvey gearatthe bottom of the 113-meter pit. Marion descended Andgy Wellandtoured to the undescended pit.Weestimatedwehadreached adepthof about567meters.Noone else camedownthe big pit. The survey team left a hanging survey, since theydidnotmapthe 97-meter pit. They set aroundthirtystations. The rigging crewdidnosur veying.Onthe next trip, a l00-meter tapewouldbe brought into the cave to measure RolfWelland AndgyWell.Wehadrigged ten additional drops, for a total of thirty-two drops,notincluding rebelays. We left the cave after13.5hours.OnNovember25,the same crew entered the cave.ChrisHudson, Shari Lydy, Kerry Roland,andLisa Frickwouldtour the cave to the top of the 113-meter pit. The rigging crew car ried inPMI ropes of99,83,60,28,and28meters topushthe cave. We rerigged the 113-meter drop to elimi nate the knots. I drilled a bolt at the top of the virgin pit and a second one 8 meters down. The top of the pit is like a high-angle chute. The walls are as smooth as glass.Onthe left-hand side of the pit is a massive flowstone that ascendsonupthe shaft.Itprob ably links this shaft with AndgyWell.A third bolt was needed to rig the drop free,butthe driver broke. For tunately, the lip was smooth. I looked across the shaftandcould barely makeoutthe opposite wall, which I estimated to be as farawayas the floor. I descended the48meters of wall drop and encountered a slight ledge20meters from the floor.Onthe bottom, I could see that the pit wasatleast 40 meters in diameter. Ihadlandedatthe top of a steep slope. I immediately noticedthatgiantmuddomes ringed the walls of the chamber and slopedtowardthebottom.Itlookedverymuchlike Ocotempa. I realized thatwemight be near a sump.Toobad! I climbeddownthe slope over precarious breakdown,awayfrom the bottom of the shaftandinto a borehole10meters wideand6 meters high.Alancaughtupwith me,andwefoundanotherdrop, of 4.5 meters. How ever, therewasnothinghandytorig to.Wetried to set a bolt with the broken driver,butfailed.Wewounduprigging a 6O-meter rope to ahugebreakdown block 30 meters away.Itdidn'tmatter, becauseitwas to be the last rope needed.JeffDilcher, Marion,andTed joined uswiththe remainder of thepushropes. Jeff de scended thepitfirstandreported a slimy free-climbatthe bottom.Hedescended the climbandwas gone. The rest of us followedJeffandde scended a squeeze in breakdown and a short climb to a mud-sump chamber.JeffandMarion pushed a 6-meter long slime crawl to a 2-meter-deep pocket, thedeeppoint. Alan, Ted,andI surveyed toward the entrance, while Jeff and Marion, weighteddownby5 kilos of mud, headed toward the big pit. Chris Stine joined usandderigged the 45-meter drop.Welinkedupwith the other survey crewatthe bottom of the 57.4 meter pit. From the top of Purge Plunge, theyhadset 50 stations.Inall,wehadset a total of126stations. The total surveyed length of the caveis1049 meters.Wehadrigged34genuine pits,or39 pitches, including rebelays, to bottom the caveatadepthJimSmithatthe top of the secondpit.Marion0.Smith.73

PAGE 76

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTER NUMBER21Scale In MetersGaryBurwasser Alan CresslerJeffDilcher Mark Richardson Jim Smith Marion Smith John StembelCllrisStineTedWilson Surveyed11-25-93By:Plan Viewo102030405075100---------SolanodeAlfredoQueretaro, MexicoQO-7Created On Interleaf5.2SoftwareBy:David ParrSuryevDataSurveyed Length---1.049 MetersTrueHorizontal Length -566Meters Vertical Extent673MetersGOLDEN SHOWERSMarionO.Smithina narrow passage between pitsinthe entrance series.JeffDilcher.of673meters. The hardestpartof exploringanycaveisthe derig. Therewasnoise about pulling the ropes tothetop of Rolf Wellandreturning after a few hoursofsleep todothe final derig. I knew thatwouldbegrimmerthanjust derigging the cave inonehaul. The cavehadbeenbottomedwithabouttwohundredmeters moreropethanweneeded.Inall, therewereelevenhundredmetersofropeinthe cave. TedandIdecidedthatwewouldbringupthe rear.Wepulled all the hangersandrigging linksandorganized snaking the ropes, tied to gether,upallofthe drops. Jeff, Chris, Marion,andGaryclimbedwiththe extra rope. Iwaslastandleft the bottomat7P.M.,sevenhoursandforty-five minutes after entering the cave.Atthe topofthe 57-meter pit, ropes were tied togetherandsnakedto the topofthe113-and97 -meter pits.WhenTedandI reached the top of Rolf Well, the lower ropesweregone, movingtowardthe entrance.WesoonmetMark,whotook the nO-meter ropewehadjust coiled.TedandI snaked alloftheIittle ropesupto Purge Plunge, wherewemetMarion.Hehadhungback tomakesurethatthe cavewouldbecom pletely derigged. Wecaughtupto JohnandGary,whowerecarrying 140 metersofrope each.At7:07A.M.,I climbedoutofthe entrancepitinto thepre-dawnair,whichwascoldanddensewithfog. MarionandI pulledandcoiled the last rope.Wehadin vestedinall 43hoursinrigging, sur veying,andderigging this cave.Itwas a magnificent effortbyTAG cavers.74

PAGE 77

AMCS ACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21-600Meters..........................................................::::'3..!..3...MetersrUNDERGROUND / MURFREESBOROTHEDEVILS WATERSLIDE::3.3M..2.81.1. 3.31.1, 3.201:J:':M............lJ.5..M....-400Metersm..........................................................-200Meters......................................THEMARBLE CASCADES""'\ROLF WELL 9701Survey Datann_"_m __-.,-,o Datum19MCreated On Interleaf5.2SoftwareBy: David ParrSatonodeAlfredoQueretaro, MexicoQO-7Surveyed Length 1,049 Meters True Horizontal Length--566Meters Vertical Extent673MetersProfileDrawnLookingNorthSurveYed1125-93Bv.Gal}'Burwasser Alan CresslerJeffDilcher Mark Richardson Jim Smith Marion Smith John StembelChris Stine Ted Wilson2.701S6tano de Alfredo, QueretaroEsta cueva estaenlas cercanias de Xilitla,SLP.Fue explorada y topografiadain1993.Lacuevaenmuyverti cal alcanzando los673metros. Entre los muchos tiros, dos deellos se distinguenporsu dimenci6n97y113metros de profundidad.75

PAGE 78

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21S6TANOBRILLANTE, QUERETAROJames H. SmithDuringtheThanksgiving 1993 ex peditiontotheAguaZarca area,nearXilitla,SanLuis Potosi, cavehuntingyieldedmanynewcavesandpits.OnNovember25, 1993, Gerald Moni, Paul Dever,andBob Ilges discoveredtheentrancetoS6tanoBriDante in Queretaro.Thenextday, ateamconsistingofthethreediscov erers, ChrisHudson,andShari Lydy riggedanddescendedthe35-meterdeepentrance shaft. Inside the en trance, they discovered abatcolony inhabiting the alcoves. A few meters from thebottomof the entrance shaft, anotherdrop,estimatedat60 meters,wasfound.PaulandBob riggedanddescended this shaft towhatthey referred toasalandbridge. From here, shaftsplummetedateither side. Theyattemptedto descend the shal lower of the two,andthe ropehungfreeabovethebottom.They estimatedthe floor tobeatleast 25 meters below the bridge.Thecrew tossed a rockdownthepitontheothersideofthe bridge,andit fell for twelve sec onds. The rockwasreported tohavehit the wall acoupleoftimes.Oneofthemainobjectives of the Easter expedition in 1994wasto returnto S6tano Brillanteanddescendthe Twelve Second Pit. Gerald Moni was drivenbythe reportoftheTwelve Second PitandinsistedthatIshouldrig it for him, sohecouldhavethehonorof the first descentofthis presumednewMexican 300-meter pit. I agreed thatheshoulddoitfirst,butsince Iownedthe virgin 400-meter PMI rope, I insistedthatitberigged free.Ifthere were rub points, then Iwouldneed todescendfirst to rig rebelays. Gerald insistedthatIwasrobbinghimof his birthright todoMexico'snewest300-meter pit,andhesaid Icouldrig the pitanywayI76wantedto afterhewasonthebot torn.Ifyouknowthisgroupof people,youcanimagine the comical interac tions this caused. Finally, I insisted thatifGeraldwastobethe firstdown,hehadtoearnthe right todosobycarrying the ropeupthe mountain.Hewas quick to grab a 6O-meter rope, sayingthatwouldfulfill his obliga tion.Atleast it dispelledthemythhepropagatesthatheis too old to carryanyrope longerthan10 meters.Hecarried the rope for the entrance shaft, while I carried a 9O-meter rope for the second drop.SoonMarch 28, Gerald, ChrisHudson,whobeatusto the pitbythe direct, straight-up route,andI hiked to Brillante, gain ing 150 metersofelevation fromtheroad.Itwasa hot,sunnyday,ourlast for the entire week.Ourgoal for thisdaywasto rig to thetopof the Twelve Second Pit. As itwasneardusk,largebrownbats, which Iatfirst took for pigeons, flew from the entranceofthe cave. We rigged the 6O-meter rope for the en trancedrop,andI descended thepitfirst, totherushingsoundof wings. I expectedatanymomenttobeen gulfed in ahugecolony of flying mammals,butitneverhappened.Atthe bottomofthe entrance pit, I set two3/8-inchbolts to rig the next drop, 60 meters. As I backeddownthis drop, I could seethatitwasnarrowandcanyon-like.Theacousticsweresuch that the flutteringofa few batssoundedlike a large flight.Itwasevidentthatrebelaysandredi rectionswouldbenecessary to preventabrasion of the rope in the narrowshaft. Iwashopingthatwewouldbemakingmanytrips to ex plore adeepcave,and,ifso, therewouldbeheavytraffic.Ata ledge19meters below the rig point, Ipoundedina3/8-inchboltandinstalled a rebelay. Idescendedtothenextrub point, 12 meters lower,andinstalled a sling rebelayaroundanaturalriggingpoint.Theshaftwasincreasinginlengthandwidth.Thenextpartofthe shaftplummeted25 meters to thelandbridge, thecurrentendofexplo ration.Inthis stretch,thepitnarrowedagain,andarubhalfwaydownrequireda redirectiontopullthe ropeawayfrom the abrasive flowstone wall. Gerald joinedmeatthetopofthe Twelve Second Pit,anxioustoknowwhatIthoughtofthedepth.Hehadheardmedroppingrocks. I kicked a rock into thenarrowabyss,andithitthe wallatleasttentimes. I laughedatthe prospectoftheTwelve Second Pit being 300metersdeep.Geraldwassullen, hishopesdashed.I estimatedthatthepitwas130 to 150 metersdeep.Nevertheless, itwasbootytome,andthispitmighthavebeenoneofmanymoreshaftsinadeepcave. After setting a bolt,webothclimbedtowardthesurface. Ifoundanotherplace for a redirection 10 meters belowthetopofthe60metershaft. We left the cave after threehoursofcaving.Thenext day,ChrisandI, accompaniedbyJack Thomison,returnedtothecave. Ifurtherimprovedthe riggingwithalongredirection sling attached to a stalagmiteonthewall halfwaydownthe entrance drop. Thiswouldkeep theropeoutofa bat guano-eoated slot.Anotherimprovementwasmadebelowtheslingrebelayontheseconddrop.Iwedgedadubiouschockstoneina crackontheoppositewall for alongredirec tion sling,againtokeeptherope off the flows tone.Itheldbriefly, beforepoppingoutonJack.Hebashedthe

PAGE 79

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTER NUMBER21chockbackintothecrackwitha rockhepulledfromthewall,makingitmuchmoresecure.GeraldMoni,TreyWhite,ShariLydy,andMarkRichardsonalsoenteredthecave,buttheygotjammedupatthebottomoftheentrancedrop,since therewasn'troomforthewholecrewonthebridge. ChrisandIhadhauled200-and130-meter ropes intothecave. Jackbroughtinseveralshortropes.Otherthanmy400-meterropeinthetruck,thatwasalltheropewehad.Therestoftheexpedition'sropewaswithAlanCresslerandhis group,whowereexploringanothercave,nearLeon.Mostofthegroupatthebottomoftheentrancedropgottiredofwaitingandwentridge-walking.OnlyTreyremainedandjoinedusonthe bridge. FortheTwelve Second Pit,thelongPMI ropesweretiedtogetherandfed intotheabyss. Icouldsee a redirectionwouldbeneeded10metersdowntheshaft. Since therewouldbenocontestwithGeraldoverwhowoulddothepitfirst, Idescendedthefirst 10 metersandinstalled a bolt, fromwhichI redirectedtheropefor a free drop. While fumblingwithmybrand-newboltkit, I accidentallydroppedthewholethingdowntheshaft. Ihadto finger-tightenthebolt. Idescendedforwhatseemedlike 70or80 meters to ahugepileofropeatthebottomoftheshaft.Inthe240 metersofspaghetti, Ifoundmyboltkit intact. Thebottomoftheshaftwasactuallyjustanoffsetinthepit. Rock-fall indicatedthatatleastanother50 meters remained tobedescended. Thenextpitwasslightly offsetagainbya small ledge 3 metersdown.I requestedthattheothers stayonthebridgeto avoid "flat-rocking" me. Iplacedasecondanchorandrigged a freedrop.Thisdropwasdifferent fromthecanyon-like pitsaboveus.Itwasmorecircular,anditwasdecoratedwithmassive flowstonethatspannedthefullheightoftheshaft. Idescendedtheglitteringpit25metersto a sta lagmite,whereI rebelayedthedrop.The last 18 meterswereona flow stone slope. Therewere160 metersofropeonthebottom,andthecavedecisivelyendedlessthan15 meters away. Chris, Jack,andTrey descended tohavetheirhopesformorecavedashed,too. Webegantosurveyandderigtheextrarope. Treywasthefirsttoclimb, sohehauleduptheendoftheextraropeandthenpulledituptothetopoftheshaft. Since thiswasa nice cave,weleftitrigged.Whileclimbinguptheshafts,welookedforwindowsinto possibleRDSS6TANOBRILLANTE Queretaro, MexicoXilitla ProjectPIT"mtsENTRANCE34.72mts40.95mtsRDSRBBo1530III??DFIL::Sc.:.LEmetersRBSRDSRBBRBB69.45mtsRBS RBSWESTPROFILE -EASTmtsENTRANCEPLANSURVEYBYJackThomisonJamesSmithChrisHudsonTreyWhite17.00mtsVertical:213.74metersLSD:255.85metersTHC:52.97RDB:RedirectionboltRDS:RedirectionslingRBB:RebelayboltsRBS:RebelayslingLEGENDDraftedby:JamesSmith1994213.74meterso5IIIPLANSCALEmeters"12SECONDPIT"77

PAGE 80

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTER NUMBER21parallel shafts.Itwaswindyatthe top of the Twelve Second Pit,butnotatthe bottom of the cave. Not finding any windows to swing into,wecon tinuedourexploration from the top of the Twelve Second Pit, where I set a boltanddescended thepitonthe other side of the bridge. Thedropwas17meters,anda narrow passage led back to the Twelve Second Pit. Convincedwehadfinished explora tionandsurvey,wesurfaced to a cool, drizzlydayafter eight hoursofcaving. From the bottom out, the pits mea sure (not including rebelays) 41,69,57,and35meters deep. The total depth of the cave is214meters, and the mapped horizontal componentis53meters. The next day, Shari, Mark,andTrey derigged the cave. From the standpoint of Mexican deep caves, Brillantewouldbeclassifiedasmerely one for the record. ButbyUnitedStatescavingstandards,Brillantewouldbe a sought-after classic. Exploration of this cave wasmadepossiblebydonations from Pigeon Mountain Industries to the Xilitla Project.S6tano Brillante, QueretaroS6tanoBrillantefueencontradoporcueverosenNoviembrede1993.Entusiasmadosporelreportedeuntirode12segundoseninterior,regresaronalacuevaenlasemanadepascuadel94.Los12segundosdetiro,resultaronserUnicamente70metrosdeprofundidad.Laspiedrasrebotaronenlasparedesalmenosdiezveces.Laprofundidadtotaldelacuevaesde214metros.T"KENOT"INGBUTPICTURESKILLNOT"INGBUTTIME78

PAGE 81

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21M'EXPE 9393-19 sima delacovardeLong:93"11'49,8" La!:16'29' 50,9" Den: -154m Dev: 22m Degre 4 M'EXPE 931\\APExpe 93wasthe second speleoH'l1logicalexpedition to Chiapas, Mexico organizedbytheClub Alpin Franc;ais-Nice. The first expedition took placein1987.Duringthatexpe dition, thegroupdiscovered 17 kilo metersofpassage, including a cave 328 metersdeepandanunderground river 5 kilometers long locatedatthe Riodela Venta canyon.The1993expeditionlastedfor three months,withateamof eleven reinforced from time to timebyanItalian, a Mexican,anda brief collabo rationwithanAmerican. Thirteen ki lometersofpassagewereexplored.Ourtwomostimportantdiscoveries were the archaeological caveElTapes co del Diabloandthe 96SD-meter re surgence caveElChorro Grande.Theprimarygoal of this expedi tionwasa large shaft, first lo catedin1987,intheheartofthe Selva del Ocote area. The absence of a guideanddisagreementamongthe mem bers of the expedition preventedusfrom reaching this objective.Wedidmake three foraysoffourdayseach, as well as several prospecting trips in the vicinityofourbase camp, whichwaslocatedneartheguardhousethatmarks the beginningofthe Selva del Ocote national reserve. For caving, the areawasa failure.Weexplored several shafts, includ ing S6tanodeAbejillas (Cave of the Bees, 93-1), 100 metersindiameterand85 meters deep. A lot of the caves were unimportant; themostinterestingwasCueva San Angel (93-13), This materialisreprinted from the reportofthe February-April 1993 ex peditionbythe Club Alpin Franc;ais Nice to Chiapas. The text is from the Englishsummaryin the report. which is 270 meters long. Therearelarge karst areas in this vicinity,butthe approachisdifficult.Wewerewarmly welcomedbythe localpopulation. In the valley of the Riodela Venta, which crosses the forest,animportantdiscoverywasmade. Although El Tapesco del Diablo (93-A1) is asmallcave,itisveryimportantarchaeologically. The cavewaswell protected from vandalsbyits posi tioninthe middle of a cliff, 40 meters from the bottom. This cave served as a burial ground,andartifactswerefound exactlyhastheyhadbeenleft eighthundredyears ago. Offerings of grain, onyx vases, awoodenax, textiles,anda skeletonina fetal posi tion wereamongthe things found. The teamthatdiscovered the sitewasgiven technical assistancebyarchaeologists from the Instituto NacionaldeAntropologia. All the objectswereremovedbyhelicopter to themuseumin Tuxtla Guttierez, the capitalofChiapas.TheRoblada Grandecoloniaissitu atedsouthof Tuxtla Guttierezandiseasily accessiblebycar. There are fieldsofcomas far as the eye can see. Prospecting ismucheasierthanin the Selva del Ocote. The Cueva del Agua (93-10) is 800 meters long.Atthe bottomofthe cave isanundergroundriverwitha flow of approximately 10 literspersecond. The riverisreached after crossing a room 90 metersindiam eter. The entire routehadbeen im provedbythe Maya to ease carryingwaterjars.Wediscoveredtwosten ciledhandsonone wallanda large earthenware jar.Itis in this area that the expedition explored vertical systems,buttheyP65pozedeleselvidesp22P28P28P9R4o25Om-52m-65m-83m-111m -138m -154m79

PAGE 82

00c>()V>>():j:s:jl'TjV>Zl'Tjt'""l'Tjl'Tj;:>;:lZttll'Tj;:>;:lN.....\"II\C).ID(.y.19'"/-)f.,,'.',c'tv"VEINTECASAS!\.''\"..,.,f11"0o\'"\............., 0r--,--......O --.......':'<...,,'".......j.,--......'--......aSolonod.I...'--...... .rAVISPAS_93-2.1l1Vn"/\--1"---__,,\-----610114SOT ANOINEXPlOflE-'''-JIllnCu.... oROild'\(>.SANANGELl'MViPP!!;!!1-.........---9...-I'MILIORABASSA'---l>'"'n/"93-0'2n.,O,.-L@)------.---.......I[;.501'11'101"..pIOf.V..t1IZONEOELASELVADELOCOTEIf-.---.....P,romld.RQftcho.!Il!!l"o-----..u-)9).7'"nJLImW!tluHI[I. "..-.......;.9)'qIJSAN-JUAN[Solonod)"11C')/ f',.n"l.'/12///I._.._..1----17n)Rn-.'.m.d..:.....!:V84\\'--";29"BA$.: .'":/'I....,o.---w /b,0.0",0.':.:r--....,"H.: .;'..''-JCI,D-Koncho,/'":..i0.',':/."'-\..o'hllhX\0fJr4.!cu.i---:.."',A-_1_/r.-,"Q.--,--.(;I',.-...\";0..().{ ..h ..1-.,0.1-,....--...A"t'.'_'_:..''.:'',,:108.1:.........>/:\ELTAPESCO :j{:OE.....t,.:.....r.Il.....".MAYAR'".:;:---X..:n!..,.'. ..::....',,:,\".0..'::..,>)r..:..'...':i..'.:::,::!"..0I23456km.,.,;;.....:,'/)..\;l"\:'-.. 0LII1....-....J."'-t>':!:..::.......;..'..,nY\.I."<;:,. 0m

PAGE 83

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER2193-7CUEVADELASRUINASLonQ:93'42'10"Lot:16"57'30"Alt:760mDen:-12mDe,,:90mDeQre4M'EXPE93COUPEchauvesourtsResonanceperlewere modest. The SimadelaCovarde (93-19)hasadepthof154 meters. But there isbetterpotential,anda con nectionbetweenthehighlandpla teauandtheresurgencewouldallow asystem500 metersdeep.Thehigh lands are dividedbythe Rio Suchiapa. Thezonewestoftheriver seems tohavethesamepotential,butithasyettobecheckedbyanyexpedition. It isinthevalleyoftheSuchiapa[that the expedition'sbiggest discoverylies.ElChorroGrande(93-31), 9650 meters longandreaching 175 meters abovetheentrance, consistsoftwoundergroundriversthatjoin 800 meters before the resurgenceontheedgeofthe Suchiapa. Rooms mea sure from 10 to 40 metersindiam eter. The largest foundwas200by80by40 meters,buttheimpressionofits size is diminishedbyfallen blocksM'Expe93?dividingtheroomin two. A lot ofclimbingleadsstillneedtobechecked.Theflow from the cave is estimatedat50 literspersecond.Oneofthestreamspresumablyoriginates from astreamsinklocatedonthehighlandnearEIPortillo.Thesecond river isanenigma. Itspassagecarries adraftthatvariesinintensityduringthe day. A searchofthesoutheast of theplateaumayfind a large entrance.De Febrero a Abril, cueveros franceses visitaron dos areasenChiapas.Untotal de13kilometrosdepasaje fueron explorados. Enlaselvadeel areadelOcote, enos encontraronunimportantecampoarqueo16gicoenElTepasco del Diablo. En el areadeRoblada Grande, elios topografiaron la resulgenciadeElChorro Grande, 9650 metrosdelongitud.81

PAGE 84

00i'.>nVln::l:s::lrT1VlZrT1Vlt-'rT1::jrT1Ztl::lrT1i'.>....Surplombavecmainsk9350100m1IaI93-10 cueva del agua!Long:93'13'14" Lat:1627'OS"All: 1100m Den: 6Sm Dev:acOrnDegre 4 M'EXPE 93Entreena1Entreen'"2Entreen'3Entreen'4GrandecoteriePertePLANAffluent boueux (arret sur laminoir apres20m)10../,etesichonnanlejoUlemouillante7pariescylindrlQuesossamantsOmPI493-26SOTANOLong:93'14'01"Lol:16'30'48"All:IOOSmDen:-52mDev:2C9mDagro2M'EXPE93P14\20PI21IP7!-43m,I30mR4I?PLAN10oCOUPE

PAGE 85

:tS::()(n:t()::j:s::jtTl(ntTlt'""tTltTl::0tl::ItTl::0N.....G"",,OOIt..Echell...Go",.,n.7./ICOUPEbb1Julsllll.llllli.a:Ph. CASOlItIJTtiIAION(20.19931(..;-----------wdb''-"'jPLAN..11...10mb..1... 5...EL TAPESCO DEL DIABLO93A'.11...,II"'''''.,..V....,.i..rGo"....,..,.....0,:,:J(,.,\falaht_UlI.nd.@O,ou.Ja".vu.on00,1(aJill'ouPOI"I.0VI"InA..aklaMUallH-Mllndl1,4&1111&EnelnlOI,.AIII.1I1llI.T..III.o.OnlmlnllHumllnl*T Imbourd.boisAVueCioisonniIJIguliWeclo,,1In0"VVa,.P.lnl--Mu'Tap.,eode bol,Municipio de Oeoloeoaulla .des Chlapas MexiqueX:93'32'35" ;Y: 15'52'41" ;Z: 470m;0: 115m.....00w

PAGE 86

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTER NUMBER21to -\...!..!!Ipenetrr::cteZONEDER06LADAGRANDE4kmV93-17CueyodelAGUA'1193-10... ...t/I/r---I---,\...,o084

PAGE 87

ARRIVEES O'EAUX IMPENETRABLES TREMIE'"farmG"qu.:DAVID.INFORMA TlONS TOPOGRAPHIOUESTopogrGphn:HAAS.rlcMICHLPalrldFRISONCalhyAYADG.rGrdDAVIDErIcSIAUDPhl1lppMANGIAGALLICnGr , FREDDY 0...,,, :MICHL,PAppGr.l1.11"".":TOPOFILVULCAINSUUNTOICllno,CompG.'.DCAMTRNombr.d."I.h.:76$LongueurM"yenne: 12.6mOnu'.n./on:3200mCASCADEDELALENTILLE'RRETo:'oLER"OEL'DU18-03-93ARAGONITE BOIS1.2.0.25PERTE CASCADE2.3mPASSAGEENBAIONNETTE CASCADES CANYON CASCADE3mALT:560mMunicipioVILLA_FLORESCHIAPASLA T : 16-31'13DEN:./75m!IPHONGRANDE.33mColoniaR09LADAGRANDEMEXIQUE.23mEXPEDITION M'EXPE93CLUBALPINFRANCAIS-NICELONG:93-/4'39DEV:9650mIMPENETRABLEI9OHORROEL200mSIPHON IMPENETRABLE100oIbI/-'E:.::S'-"C:.:::A""L""AD:.:E::...::;5:.:.:m'--J/VOUTE MOUI LLANTEIARRET EXPLO1---------.DU30-03-93. LUCARNEAUSOL TREMIE.13:lm....STALAGMITEDECALEEJl.____A!!'-9!!!. _200mISO50100CANYON2505001000m0....._""===-_...1::==LARIVIEREINATTENDUE PASSAGEDUVENTSCA-? .,,,--......:-.18mAAMINOIRLABOUTEILLElELCHORROGRANDECOUPEDEVELOPPEEVOUTE MOUILLANTEOmo!

PAGE 89

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTERNUMBER21NIDenominationIDen.IDev.Lonq.lat.Alt.93-1!SoronodesAbeillesI-85ml.I93"33'25'16"27'11135m93-2,SOlonodelosAvisoos,-70ml-I93"36'0016'00' 1200m93-3ICueva de ioProviciencioII55mlI-23mr93'03'16'41' 615m 93-.11 Cueva deiosApostresI:=13mi80ml93'46' 16'01'l000mICoordonnHsincertaines93-5ISoronode10UuvloI-17ml17ml 93'36'I16'4'2' 900m93-6ISoreno AcuoiitoII54ml93'43'16'404' 920m.10mt93-71CuevodelosKuinasII90ml93'10'16'30'760m-12ml93-8I CuevaSonJuan N 1I16ml730ml93"29'27'16'47,5'660mICoordonneesincertaines93-9I CuevaSonJuanN'2I-18m,130mj93'29'27'16'47,5'660mIIICoordonneesincerrainesIII8COmi93-10iCuevade!Aaua,-65193'14'16'09' 1100m,ISctC:'lOIiI93'00'I16'01'I93-11-22ml30mt 660m93-12ICueveII62ml93'38.6'16'46.5'760m-lml93 -13ICueveScnAnaelII270mlI.7m:93'41'16'45' 750m93-1AICuevaiiI-1Ami'S5m,93'05.3'16'00' 750m 93-A 1lEITapescodelDiablo,I115 miI+l1ml93'36" 16'41' 470m 93 16!SereneeelPeriteIIiI-31mi-i93'00'16'00' 885m93-17!SimaIiII11145mo4Om,-I93'40'16'28'14'IiII11140m93ILes-25ml-!93'29'16"29'43',;iII93iSimade10Covarce-154m'93'49.8'6'29'50.9"I!Ii93-20-1ISimadeiRamoia dei Mais-200mi-i93'48'16'37' 980mIIi:30miI93-20-2ISimade10Roc::Perdid::-80mi93'57'16'47'900mIIII93-20-.1ICuevedelosBanenos!-6miSCm;93 '36" 16'59' 600m93-23!SorenoiosAnaeiesI I:11000m,.i2mi67ml2'48'16'28"IIii93-24I Sima Grande-65m;-2'57'i6'12'47"1000m93-25, SorenoIeConelloIi140ml93'22'-8ml16'29'06" 1100m93-26ISotonoIi209ml-52ml93'01"16'30'48'1005mIIi20m!93-27!Sima.101mt93 :3'28.6' 16'48,5' 1100m93-281SimaI-21ml-I93'16.7'16'29'58,4' 1060m93-29ICuevaII18ml93'00.16'45'-7ml1060m93ISima de108asuraIII-21ml.93'28.4'16'34,3" 1100m 93-31IElChorro GrandeII9650ml93'39" +o175ml 16'13'560m93-32ISolanoI-25ml.I93'27'16"28'46'1020m93-33ISolanoI-15ml-I93'54'16'16' 1100m93IFincaLosAnaelesI-35ml80ml93'10'16'55' 1000m87

PAGE 90

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTERNUMBER21FEARANDLOATHING INTHESIERRAMIXTECAALTALouise D.HoseTheSierra Mixteca AltainOaxaca holdsabundantlimestone,buthadbeenenteredbyonlya few cavers prior to 1994.Aboutadecadeago, Steve Knutsonhadvisitedtheremotetownofltundujia,wherehehadseen spectacular karst,buthadbeendenied permission to stayandexplore. Jim Pisarowiczhadmadetworeturnvisits tothearea since then,buthehadthesameresults.WhenImentioned to Jiminthefallof1993thatIhadaninterestinganduseful friend in the Oaxacan stategovernment,heimmediatelysuggestedthatwetrytoreturntotheSierra Mixteca Alta.Wesetthedatefor Christmas 1993.Dr.GermanCruzMartinez, Direc tor oftheOfficeofCivil Protection, wrote a letterofintroduction forusandarrangedforonepersonfrom his office, Luis Javier Valeriano,andamemberofCruzRoja, Luis Gabriel (Wicho) Diaz, toaccompanyus. I knewbothmenandknewtheywouldaccompanyusas fellow caversand88friendsmorethanas liaison officers. Luis Valerianohadhelpednegotiatetheaccess totheCheveresurgence areaandhasimpressive diplomatic skills. Aswelefttheoffice,Dr.Cruztoldusthatwewereentering a"verydangerousareawherepeopletryto solve their problemsbykilling each other." JimandIknewthatcity folks oftenwarnedusaboutthedangerouswaysoftheircountrycousins, asourfriendsinthevillagesalwayscau tionedusaboutourstaysinthecit ies,butI alsohadlearned togiveourbenefactor'swordsmoreweightthanthoseofothers. The road to ltundujiahadconsistedofabout100 kilometersofdirtwhenJimhadlast visited, soweweresur prised to intersect apavedroadforabout30 kilometersofthetrip. Buttheroadreturnedto dirt,andwebouncedourwaytowardsltundujia.Atonepoint, Jimstoppedto confirmthatwewereonthecorrect road. "Is thistheroadto ltundujia?" JimaskedinhisawkwardSpanish."No,"camethesimplereply.Surprisedbytheanswerandthelackoffurtherexpla nation, Jimrepeatedhisquestionandwasgiventhesameabruptanswer. Dismayed,heturnedtoLuis Vale riano,whotookthehintandaskedagainifitwasn'ttheroadto ltundujia.HearingthefluentSpanishofa Mexi can,themansoftenedhisexpressionandassuredusthatwewereonthecorrect road.Aswedroveaway, Luistoldustheobvious:theroaddoesnotgotoltundujiafor gringos,onlyfor Mexicans. Afterwereachedthetown,Jim, Luis,andWichowentinsearchofthepresidente,andIpulledoutourmapsandGPSequipmenttotryto identifythelocationofthetown,whichwasnotonthemap.Istarteda conversa tionwithtwopleasantyoungmenwhotoldmethatthereweremanycavesinthearea,butweweresooninterruptedbyaborracho.Experiencehadtaughtmethatthecombinationofarnbiaandborrachoscanquicklytumto trouble, so Iputmyequipmentandmapsaway,excusedmy self,andwenttojointheothers. Thepresidentewasnotavailable,andLuiswastalkingwithothertownofficials.Theyconfirmedthattherearelotsofcavesintheregion,butadvisedustostayatthehotelinanothertownaboutonehouraway.Theywerecordial,buttheatmospheredidnotseemencouraging. Asweleftthemunicipaloffice, threeborrachosaccosted us.Theirtonewasnotfriendly,andIcouldonlyunderstanda littleofwhattheysaid. As Luis tried tocalmtheirconcerns, I realizedthattheborrachowhohadThe karstnearItundujia.LouiseD.Hose.

PAGE 91

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21Pit).Itispossible to climbdownthe first two entrance pitches,andwedecided topursuethecave. LuisandI returned to town, while JimandWicho started exploration. Luis told the village elders ofourintentions,andtheir reactionwasoneof amuse ment. Itwasthen after dark,andthe ideathatpeoplewoulddrive from the United States,oreventhecapital city, toentertheirsaGOafterdarkseemed to strikethemas charmingly ludicrous. LuisandI returned to the caveandjoined the others. Unfortu nately,thecaveendedatthe bottom of the third pitch. The four of us sur veyed the caveonourwayout. The people ofGuadalupeVictoria tookusto Soco Vaja (Macaw Pit)onthe next day.Itisanimpressive, large open-air pit,butourinitial excitementfadedwhenwefoundwecould hiketothe bottom, whichhada small lake.Itwasbecomingapparentthat Sierra Mixteca Alta suffers from se vere soil erosionandthatthe eroded soilwasnowpluggingupcaves thatmusthave been extensiveinthepastOurtimewasup,andwehadto returnourcompanions to Oaxaca for family obligationsandNewYear'sThompsonGuineaatthebottomof TunchiCruzfiu Teyuu.LouiseD.Hose......"...thers thought, because caves are good places to hide bodies. With somuchother unexplored karst in Oaxaca,nowdoesnotseem like a good time totrytoworkinthe ltundujia area,andweagreed towithdrawourin terest for the next few years.We returned to the townwiththe hotel, San Miguel el Grande,andsoughtpermission to explore caves in that region. AsiscustomaryinOaxaca, all the town leaders weresummonedto meetwithus. Luismadethe formal request,andwedis playedAMeSActivitiesNewsletters,business cards,andourformal letter of introduction. A contractwasdrawnupassuring the town thatwewouldsendmapsandreportsonanycaves thatweexplored.Wewere toldthatthere werenocaves near town, so they took us to a very small cave near a village called Benito Juarez. The local folks there told us that itwaspreviously much longer,andanimals were frequently lostinit, so theyhadintentionally diverted drainage into the cave in order toplugit with silt. Obviously theyhadsucceeded. There were apparently no other caves,butthereweresacos.Welearned thatsacos is the Mixtecwordfor pits, soweurgedournewfriends toshowus theirsacos.Guadalupe Victoria, a nearby vil lage within the municipio,wasthe site of some reputedsacos,soweonce againdidourdog-and-ponyshowfor the community leaders there. Fi nally, in the late afternoon,wewere ready to go caving. The first cavewasSoco Shau(RainGuadalupeVictoria,OaxacaExploradopar:approachedmeearlierhada large knife shoveddownthe back of his pants.Hethen pulled a second knife with a 25-centimeter-Iong bladeoutfrom the front of his pants, placing it only a few centimeters from Luis'sface.I felt apangof guilt thatourcuriosityaboutcaveshadputLuis in such a dangerous situation. After a minuteortwo, theborrachoreturned the knife to his pantsandturned his attention to Wicho.Atonepoint,hereached for one of the knives,butthought betterofitandreleased the handle.Weleft ltundujiawitha sigh of relief. All four of us returned the next dayandmet with the presidente. Luis made a quick statementaboutourinterest, whichwasfollowedbya half-hour monologuebythe presi dente. Thetownleader seemed re spectful,butheusednoneof the words that JimandI expected to hear. Therewasnothing of caves, pits,oreven gringos. The usual concerns of antiquitiesorgoldwerenotevenmentioned. Instead, there were men tions of murders,aninability to pro tect us,andfrustration. Luis listened respectfully,andweleftwithnoat tempt to change their opinion. Outside, LuisandWichoexplained the situation to us. Therehadbeen twelve murdersin1993, threeinthe previous month. Peoplehadbeen shotinthe street.Onewomanhadbeen killed for picking a flower. The townwasviolentandlawless,andtheydidn'twanttheaddedresponsi bility of outsiders wandering around.Inaddition,thepeople were very possessive of the caves, thetownfa-89

PAGE 92

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21Longilud:71.0mProtundldad:31.2mL"ft.JrJ__IC.T_MiguelHidalgo,OaxacaSUMIDERO de MIGUEL HIDALGOExploradopor:/11N.04J"IT"O_Ifhadobserved some interesting JLkarstfeaturesonthe topomapnear a village called Miguel Hidalgo, which is also within the jurisdiction of San Miguel el Grande. Jim, Luis "Thompson" Guinea,J.Javier Perez (another CruzRojacaver), and I drove to this areaandstartedoursearch for caves.Onourfirst afternoon,wefound several holeswherewaterdrained two large dolines,butonly one was very encouraging. As the sun setandThompson and I returned to the truck, several men approached wanting to knowourpurpose.Itbecame clear that this community also wanted a formal meeting.Wejoined JimandJavier, all the town elders,anda number of other townsfolk in the community building,andJavier made the presentation. The one dif ferencewasthatoneof the three peoplesittingatthe head table ap peared to be a woman. Although shehadshort hair, wore pants,andhadanunusual confidence for a rural Mixteca,hervoiceandsome of her mannerisms seemed to be those of a woman. I found her presenceonthe council very intriguing. Allowed access to their caves,wereturned in the morning to the best lead.Itwas a pit that the locals say takes large amountsofwaterduringtherainy season. Severalpeoplewatched, softly chatting in their beau tiful Mixtec language, asweset bolts for the first pitch. It was Thompson's twenty-fourth birthday, soweprom isedhimallfirst descents for the day. Descending the short entrance pitch,wefound that the cave boomed offdowna second drop.Itlooked like it was going to go,butitlacked air flow. Unfortunately, SurniderodeMiguel Hidalgo ended with a siltfillsoon after the second drop. All leads Eve partying. Jim decided to follow the paved road out, assuming that it remained paved to the main high way. But the paved road led to a horrible dirt road that passed through the most devastated landscape I have ever seen. Deforestation, overgraz ing, overcultivating, high relief, tropi cal rains,andwindhadcombined to cause erosion as bad asanytextbook example I have seen. Every plantandbuilding was coated with a thick layer of fine dust.90

PAGE 93

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTERNUMBER21YOSONICAJE,OAXACA-:::::"'Q....--JAP/94CASAdeLLUVIAExploradoporJPisarowicl1NmI3mlocal man,whoconfirmed that thereweremanycaves in the area. Al though theagentewasnotavailable, another village official assured us that there aremanycavesandwewere welcome to visit them. Justoneques tion:"Doyouwantto only visitourcuevas?Wouldn'tyouliketoseeours6tanostoo?" The next morning,wemappeda pit, S6tanodeLlanodeTriunfo, im mediately next to the road.Inthe early aftemoon,wemettheagente,whowasvery friendlyandstruck us as very sharp.HetoldusthatanAustralian couple visited the area a couple of years agoontheirwayto the Sierra Mazateca. I asked their names,andhetoldmeitwas"Rolfo y Anna,"whomI recognized tobeRolf AdamsandAnne Gray. The story thenmadesense. Rolfhadjustfinished a master's degreeatBerkeleyaboutthat timeandmayhave beendrivinga California vehicle.Theagenteassured usthatthey welcomedourinterest in theirmanycuevasands6tanosandthattheywill look forwardtoourreturn. Some localmenshowedusan other pit, Pozo LomadePino, whichwedidnotenter,anda small cave, CasadeLluvia, which Jim enteredandsketched. But Jim's truck was making strange noises,andwefelt compelled to leave. Thompson,whoinsists that the number-one rule of life should be to never abandon your partner, remainedwithusuntil he6-83METROSo5EnefO1994lHoseThompsonExploradopor:A-once more for the mountains.Ourfirst stop was thetownofNunuma,wherethe peoplewerestandoffish. They told us that there are cavesinthe area,butthatwemustfirst seel.JlAgente,whowasnot availableonthis weekend. There is also a cave in Benito Juarez(adifferentvillagethannear San Miguel el Grande) that two people from Cali fomiaexploredaboutthreeyearsago,butthat village's leaderwasnotthere, either.Wespeculatedonthe Califor nians. Many people cave in Mexico,butthere are really very fewwhowill undertake initial contact, espe cially as a group of only two,andespecially in Oaxaca. Stifled in that area,wedrove fur ther into the mountains to the next village. Aswedrove throughYosonicaje, Jim and Iknewcaves were nearby.Westopped the truckandencouraged Thompsontoquestion aTUNCHI CRUZ NU TEYUUSANMIGUELELGRANDE,OAXACAIS6tanodelaCruzdelPueblodeAslentol-------'-23.5mJAP/94were checked,andthe cave was sur veyed.Ourobservers toldmethat thereisno local source of waterandthey have to pipe it in. Therefore they were anxious foranyinformation about water. They were disappointed to learn that the cavehadonly a small pool. The localmenledusto another pit, Tunchi Cruz fiu Teyuu, which proved tobe24meters deep. The floor is dirt-filled. Thompson, Javier, and I made amapwhile Jim guarded the rope. Then illness forcedanearly retreat to Oaxaca.While lookingattopomapsof the Sierra Mixteca Alta, Luis Valeriano pointedouta promising area much closer to the main high way. Luis was unable to joinusfor our last excursion,butThompson did.Wesaidourgoodbyes toourmanyfriends in Oaxaca cityandheaded91

PAGE 94

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21Nt5mC?SOTANO DE LLANODETRIUNFOEXPLORADOPOR:Thompson Guinea Louise Hose 9 enero199<4ProfileYOSONICAJE.OAXACA6-28-522E 18-88-635Nm1994, Louiseb.HoseThompson Guinea making the first descent into S6tanodeLlanodeTriunfo near Yosonicaje.LouiseD.Hose.was confidentthatthetruck's brakes were fixed.Wefilled the timebyplottingoutourcontinuing alliancewiththe Oaxaca caversinthe exploration of the promising areaatYosonicaje.SierraMixtecaAltaDos cueveros americanos, acompanadosporcueverosdeOaxaca, visitaron la Sierra Mixteca AltaenOaxaca a finalesde1993.Hayvarias cuevas alrededordeltundujia, pero nopudieronquedarseamporqueenel pueblo no habia quien hiciera valer laley.Otras areas visitadashansufridodesevera eroci6n terrestre y cuevas queerandepequenaentradahansido cuviertasporel sedimento arrastrado. De las areas que fueron visitadas, la quemaspromete, es ladela VilladeYosonicaje,dondegente amigable les mostr6 numerosas cuevas.Elautory los cueverosdeOaxaca planean regresar a esa area.92

PAGE 95

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21RECENT UNDERWATER DISCOVERIESINQUINTANAROOSteve Gerrardwitha contributionbyGary WaltenThecoast of the Yucatan Penin sula between Playa delCarmenandTulum, Quintana Roo, ispartof a low-relief limestone platformwithminimalsoil coverandrapid infiltra tion of rain water. The rainy season is from JunethroughDecember; little rainfall occursduringthe rest of the year. Most of the rainfall becomes groundwater. Thisandthe porous limestone create a topographypopulatedwithnumerouscenotes (sink holewindowsinto thewatertable) that are generally found along frac tures reflecting regional northeast southwest-trendingnormalfaults. The coast contains crescent-shaped inlets(caletas)andbeacheswherefreshwateremerges as springs into the Caribbean Sea. The phreaticwatercolumn con sists of a fresh-water lens resulting from the infiltration of rain water. Below it is salt water; thereissome times a zone of brackish waterinbetween. Ahaloclineistheboundarybetween these layers, where there is a rapid changeinsalinityanda small change in temperature, from77de grees Fahrenheit in the fresh water to79degreesinthe saltwater. The following descriptions are from a cavediver'spoint of view. The great majority of cave diving in the Yucatan is performed strictly for recreationalpurposesbyqualified divers fromaroundthe world. This diving has led to numerous discov eries of archaeological, biological,andhydrological value. These finds have the potential to influence the future managementandprotection of the groundwater supply, the cenotes,andthe development of this beautifulandenvironmentally sensitive area.1be lieve that the more people are ex posedandeducatedaboutthese incredible underground cave systems, particularly the people of Mexico, the greater the awarenessthatwillbegenerated of this beautiful natural resource.Cenote 27 StepsCenote 27 Steps isanunusualnamefor a cenote locatedintheMayaworldoftheYucatan.Itwasfirstdivedduringthe firstweekof August1986.Emesto Sainz, formerly of AkumalbutnowlivinginCancoo,andDr.Les WIllis, of Paamul, a tiny campground resort nestled sixteen kilometers north of Akumal, were en rolledina week-long intensive cavedivingcoursetaughtbySteveGerrard.Atthattime, cave divinginQuintana Roowasjustinits infancy, as only two cave systemshadbeenfound for training, CenoteCarwashandCenoteNahar6n.ThiswasGerrard's first cave coursetaughtoutside Floridaandonly the second courseinthe Yucatan. (The firstwastaughtbyJeff Bozanic of Huntington Beach, Califomia, during March1985.Hector Indriago of Venezuela, Parker Turner, Mike Madden,andJohanna DeGroot were his students.) Every thing was new, logistics were ex tremely challenging,andstresswasa constant factorinhopingthatequip ment,air,andvehicleswouldfall into place for a productiveandsafe course. Luckily, both of Gerrard's students were excellent diversandadapted to the cave environment quicklyandcomfortably.ItwasonthefourthdaythatEmesto suggested that the class checkouta cenoteona piece of propertyhewastrying to make into a snorkelingandpicnic area for his dive store's customers.Itwas across the highwayfrom the entrance to Akumalandreachedbyfollowing adirtroadupa hillandpastawatertower.Oneanda half kilometers farther, Emestohadconstructedtwostone pillars asanentrance to anewvehicle trail. Thishadbeendifficult to make be cause of the rugged topography,butit led straight to a beautiful cenotewithcliffsthatdropped5 meters to adrybasin,withclearwaterunderneathanoverhangthatranhalfwayaroundthe circumference. Densely vegetatedwithjungle growth, thiswasa classic depression where one could easily seewhathadprompted Emesto's plans.Hehadalready built concrete steps into the cenote. The twenty-seven steps slantedinvariousdirections,withnouniformheightorwidth.Hehadalso built,onpilescutfrom the jungle, a pier ex tending 5 meters into the water. A virgin cenoteandthe opportunity fortheclass to experiencetrueexplo ration.Greatcave-divingtrainingperhaps.Standingona large, flat rock, theteamperformedthe ritual bubble checkandS,orsafety, drill. Gerrardwouldrunthe reelwithknotted line. Behindtherock, a shaftplummetedt05meters, where itwentonthrough a slight restrictionandthe haloclineandright into a jumbo passagewaywithvividwhitewalls. Laying line along the hallway,wereached a maximumdepthof25meters,and,ata penetration of75meters, the passage began to get smallenoughthat,inview of thetremendouspercolation of litter disturbed from the ceilingbyourbubblesandtheexperience level ofthegroup,wecalled the dive,anda relaxed exitwasmade. Though the divewasshort, theteamwasexcitedwiththediscovery.Nosurvey wasdonebecause of the percolationand93

PAGE 96

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTERNUMBER21theshortdistance.Onthesurface, theteamdecidedtotrytheothersideofthebasinto see if adownstreampassage existed.Itdid.Following a steep,muddybank,thebasinmergedinto a low,butnavigable passage way. After18meters,itemergedinto a nice-sized room. Carefullylayingline,thegroupswam30 metersandfound a vertical crack. Passing back into fresh water,theteamslowly as cended to shallowerdepths.Twelve metersbeyonda 9O-degreeturnto the left, a pleasant surprisewasfound,anair-filled room.Theairwasdefi nitely breathable,buttherewasnoevidenceofdaylightorawaytothesurface. Therewereveryfew speleo thems,buttheroomwasa nice chance to talkandrest. Beyondtheroom, the passageendedafter18meters.During the trip out, astheywereswimmingbackthroughthehaloclineinthe crack, a massive silt-out evolved, making visibility zero.Itwasatthis pointthatGerrarddecidedthattakingstudentsinto virgin caveswasprobablynotthewisestidea,butthestudentshandledthesituationadmirablyand gained valuable experience, whiletheinstructor losttenyearsofhairgrowthandlearnedanewdefi nitionofstress.ByMay1993,timehadchangedthings.Emestonolonger livedinAkumal,andthecenoteneverreached his goaloftouristdevelop ment.Itwasabandonedandforgot ten.GerrardwasnowlivinginAventuras Akurnalandtakingadvantageoftheopportunityto dis coverandexplore.Hadanycavediversbeenback to explorewhathadbeen left in 1986?Couldthecenote evenbefound again?During1990, the Mexicangovemmenthadconstructedahigh-towerpowerlinealongHighway307atvaryingdis tances intothejungle.Asluckwouldhaveit,therouteofthis line actually creatednewaccess toatleast twenty-five cenotesinseven dif ferent cave systems.AmongthemwasCenote 27 Steps,whichGerrard foundrightnexttothepowerline,witheasy access.Theconcrete stepswerestill there,butthepierhadrot tedandsunkinthewater. Gerrard invitedGermanMendoza,a recentlygraduatedcave-divingstudentwhoworkedattheAkumalDive Center,94andLeo SastreofPlayadelCarmen,anotherformer student. BothwereoriginallyfromMexico City. Thiswouldbeagreatopportunitytogoback, checkoutthecavemorethor oughly,andgainexperience.Onceinthe water,theteamfoundtheoriginalshaftandbeganlayingline. Gerrard recognized everything.Thistime,theconfidentandmoreexperi encedteamcontinuedalonginthemainpassagewhereitbecamesmaller,andafteranother45 meterstheybrokeoutinto amuchlarger tunnel,wheretheywereshockedtofindsomeoneelse'sknottedguideline.Totheleft,thelineendedinahugeball-shapedroomafter90meters. After retracing theirwayback totheintersection, theteamcontinuedonalongtheotherline,wonderingwhereit went. After75meters, theyswamupasteepbankandinto Cenote 27 Steps. Surprise.Thoughthis entrancehadbeen missedin1986, someonehadfounditandlaid line. Theteamthencheckedthedownstreamline from 1986andfounditstillinplace.GermanandLeowereimpressedbythe air-filled room.Whentheywerebreakingdowntheequipmentafterthedive, Gerrard foundtheanswertothequestionofthemysteriousnewlinelayinginthedirtbesidethegroundtarp.Hespottedawhiteline arrow.OnonesidewaswritteninpermanentinkthenameIrving.ItfinallydawnedonGerrardthathehadtold GeorgeIrvingofBoca Raton, Florida,aboutthecenotetwoyears earlier.Onseveral later tripswithvarious cave divers, thepermanentlinewasextended another 90 meters upstreamthrougha tight restriction,anda few side passageswerefoundandsurveyeddownstream.DuringDecember1993, Frans VandermolenandTomFlynnaddedanother200 metersoflinethatterminatedina small, prettyroomontheback sideoftheair-filled room. Totalsurveyedlineinthis beautiful cavesystemis close toninehundredmeters. Themaximumdepthis 26 meters, with the averagebeing16 meters, mostly inthesaltwaterzone,withlimestonehighlycrystallizedandmuchevidenceofcollapse. All cave diverswhohavevisited this cavehavebeenpleasedwithbothits large passagesandits fewmoretechnically challenging sec tions.CenoteAkTulumCaveSystemReachedbydrivingtwokilome tersthroughthe back streetsofPuebloTulumandeastintothejungle, CenoteAkTulumwasfirstdivedin1987.TheteamofHilarioHilerandNoel Sloan,withthelateParkerTurnerassurfacesupport,madeashortdiveupstream,installingapproximately100 metersofguideline.Itpinchedout,andtheyneverreturned.DuringFebruary1993,SteveGerrardperformeda single-tank exploratorydiveandwasableto findthedownstreampassagebysqueezingthrougha restrictionincollapsed limestone.ReturningonApril1withShelley Baker,hewasableto installandsurvey360 metersofline.Duringthis dive,theyfoundahugefos silized sea-turtle shellandbones.Thecave, becauseitisthesiphonsideofthecenote, contains a thicklayeroffudge(clayey silt),anditbeginstopinchdownto too small fordoubletanks 300metersdownstream.Additionaldivesbyvariouscavediversrevealed a totaloffive turtle skel etons,mostlyjustboneswithshell fragments.Theobvious questions are,howdidtheturtlesgetintothecave,andwhen?Theoceanisapproximately three kilometers away.Didtheyswiminwhentheoceanwasperhapshigherorclosertothecave? The cenotehasbecomeapopularsite forbathingandrecreationbytheMayanvillagers.Mostcavediversfeelthatthis surfaceintrusionhasaffectedthewaterqualityandmadethissystemlessappealingfor diving.CenoteEkBeCaveSystemThis shallow cavesystemis located parallel tothehigh-towerpowerlinesapproximatelytwokilometersnorthofCenoteHighVoltage,whichispartofthehugeCenoteDosOjos system. EkBemeans"starway"intheMayanlanguage;thenamewaschosenbecauseofabeamofsunlightthatwaswitnessedduringtheinitial explora tion.CavediversfirstheardaboutthecavefrommembersoftheMayanejidoSanJacintoPat,andFransVandermolen,TomFlynn,SteveGerrard,andBuddyQuattlebaumsetoutonDecember1,1993,withMayan

PAGE 97

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21PONDEROSASYSTEMQuintana1<.00hasbeendisappointing,hopesfor a connectionhavenotended,andexplorationstillcontinues,checkingeverysquarefootofthecavefortherightkeytoDosOjos.InlateNovember1994,Frans Vandermolen, TomFlynn,BuddyQuattlebaum,andKimCochranewereworkinginthecave.TheCenotePonderosaCaveSystemTheCenotePonderosaisoneofthelarger cave systemsintheYucatan Peninsula.Currentlyitranksnumberfourinourlocal area,withmorethan10,000 metersofsurveyedpassageandeighteen entrances. Initial exploration fromthemainPonderosaentrancewasbegunin1990.NancyandTony DeRosaandSteveGerrardfirstdovethecenoteandquicklyrealizedtheyhadabonanzaontheirhands;PonderosaisbothapunontheDeRosas'nameanda reference totheclassic1VseriesBonanza.Major lineswereinstalledonthedownstreamsidetoprominentareasoftheSilOIcave,producingsomefine circuitsandtraverses toothercenotes.Oneofthebestcaverndivesinthearea isthe9O-metertraversefromtheCenotePonderosaentrancetotheCorral Cenote.Thetunnelisapproximately24meterswideby6metershighandleads toanareaoftheCorralCenotewithnumerousshardsofMayanpotteryonthebasinfloor. Several cavetunnelsleadoutofCorralCenote.Onesuchpassageeventuallycarves itswayto a large,oblongfresh-waterroomapproximately30meterswideand60meterslong,namedthePool Hall.Towardtherearofthisroomisanair-filleddomecontainingthousandsoflive stalactites.Sincebatsareoccasionallyseeninthisdome,diversareassuredtheairis safe to breathe,andtheytakethetimeto fullyappreciatethisspectaculardisplay.ThedomeisnamedtheChapelbecauseofitstendencytoconfirmone'sbeliefinahigherpower.AnotherlinefromtheCorral Cenotemakesitswayto adoublecenote/-.-/-I.--}250ImetersoIguidesinsearchofthecenote. After a forty-minute hike,theycameupona large, shallow depression,witha crystal-dearbodyofwaterbeneathanoverhangonthenorth. side.Gerrardmadetheinitial dive,swimmingupstreamagainsttheflowofwater.Afterdroppingthrougha vertical fracturefrom 5 to 10metersofdepth,hefoundanobviouslargepassagegoingintwodirections. This cenotewaslaternamedO1.'ul Nay,whichmeans"wetdreams."Thenext day, Vandermolen,Flynn,andHilarioHilerhadtheirequipmentanddoubletankstransportedbyMayansherpasouttothesite. Their initial explorationdiveyielded360 metersofsurveyedguidelineandthediscoveriesofCenotesEkBe,whichgaveitsnametotheentire system,andCotTunich,"wallofstone,"namedfor wallsusedbytheancientMayatotrapanimalsthatfell intodrycenotes.TheyalsofoundCenoteLukHole,"mudhole," 30metersoffthemain line,notfar from O1.'ulNay. Excitedbytheirprogress,theteamtookstagebottlesthenextdaytoextendtheirpenetrationupstreamfromCenoteEkBe.Theyaddedanother800metersoflineandsurvey, finding a fifth entrance,CenoteHepHoles,"tightspots,"from itsdownstreamside. (TheupstreamsideofthisbasinwasfoundbyGaryWaltenduringAugust1994.)Athirddayofexplorationaddedlittle,butthetotalof1201meters fortheinitial explora tionwasexciting. Thissystemwasnotpursuedagainuntil]uly1994.Thesurveydata,plottedonthetopographicmap,showedthata connectionbetweenEkBeandDosOjoswasa possibility.Horseswereusedtocarryequipmentthis time,andthedifficult logisticsofmovingequipmenttothecenotes led totheuseofsolodivingfor efficiency.SteveGerrardbeganthissecondphaseofexplorationinEkBe.After threedaysofdiving,hehadaddedanother450metersofline.Upstreamonly90metersfromtheendoftheoriginalVandermolen,Flynn,andHilermainline,thepassagerequiredside-mountedtanks.BuddyQuattlebaumpushedita little further, tomakethiscavesystemover1800meterslong.Whilesofarthecave95

PAGE 98

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21formedina large collapse area. This dive, Alaina's Garden, is a bit siltier,andthere are acoupleofTsinthe guideline. Very few peoplegoto this area,andit remainsinvirtuallythesame conditionasthedayitwasdis covered.Inaddition to these, there is a linedpassagethatcircumnavigatestheCorral Cenoteandeventually returns to themainPonderosa Cenote. It'snotunusualto see severalblindfish in a largedomeroomonthis particu lar route. This isanotherpartofthecave systemthatveryfew people fre quent.Anentirely different area lies to thenorthandwestofthePonderosa Cenote. Thisupstreamsideis also quite extensiveandconnects to sev eral cenotes. The guideline to Little Joe Cenote continuesnorththrougha variety of passages. There are frag ile speleothems insomesmall zig zagging tunnelandsomebig bore hole passagewaythroughwhichtheprimary flowoffreshwaterpasses. Stage divescaneventually reach theendof the line approximately 1200 metersupstreamatanenormouscen otenamedX'tabay afteranancient Mayan god. Non-stage dives are usu allyturnedatorbeforetheRepair Shop Cenote,wheredoublearrowsmarkaTintheguideline. This cen otegotitsnamebecauseitis a conve nientspotto repairoradjust gearduringthe dive. Between the Repair ShopandX'tabay is a spectacular room calledtheWizard'sDenthat has sizable speleothems.Oneappears to be aroundtableroughly3 meters in diameteronstalagmite stilts. By this point, linearrowsare pointing upstreamtowardX'tabay. The original routeupstreamwasfound off a line in a tunnel thatpumpsfreshwaterinto the Ponderosa Cen ote. This linehasnowbeenchangedto create a circuitdivewithoneshortline jump. Aguideisrecommendedfor this circuit, since visual distor tions are causedbythe haloclineinanarea called the River Run.Thecooler, flowing freshwaterrunningoverthewarmer, stationary saltwater looks like a flowing stream. Both saltandfresh waters are extremely clearwhenundisturbed,butwhendiversswimthrough, the visibility behindthemcan quicklydropto nil96becauseofthehalocline. Since this areaandmuchoftheupstreampartofthe system are fairlynewto cavediving,diverscanexpecttheirbubbles to disturb debrisonthe ceiling,whichwillpercolatedownthroughthe water. These arejustsomeofthe high lightsofthe Cenote Ponderosa Cave System.Themainentrance is located twelve kilometers north of Aventuras Akumal; a key to the property gateandsigning in for thelandownerarerequired.-GaryWaltenCenote AlhambraLocated acrossHighway307 from Playa Aventurasnextto the high towerpowerline, this cenotewasshownbylocal Mayan guides to Steve Gerrard, Shellay Baker,andLuaraandC.A.Ernst in early March 1993.Theoriginalnamewasthe ScreamingCenote, for Luara'shavinglostherbalanceona logtofall into five feetofthick, sloppymud,screaming in laughter thewholetime. GerrardandBakerdidthe initial explorationdivewithsingle tanksandfound a largeroomwithin natural lightthatwasover21meters deep,withsaltwaterbelow10 meters. Gerrard returnedonMonday,May23,withRobbieOsmanintending to confirm that this cenotewentnofurther.Totheir surprise, theywereable to lay 300 meters of guidelineandfind ahugeroom,theMonolith,whichcontains a shrineofspeleo thems. The next day, they were able toaddanother 300 meters of sur veyed line, for a total distanceof420metersupstreamand180metersdownstream.Onthis dive they found a picturesque fresh-waterdomeroom thatthendropsinto abeddingplaneatthe halocline level, creating the imageofthe Mirror Room. Thedownstreamsection carves itswaythroughsoft limestoneandendsupin aroomwitha lotofevidence ofcollapse-nota confidence-inspiring place to be.Onelead reaches adepthof27 meters,withlotsofpercolation. Access to this cenotehasbeen dif ficult becauseofa veryruggedroadwayandtrail.ThedivingcenterAquatech/Villas DeRosa in Aven turas Akurnal has clearedthetrailandis workingontheroadwaytomake is smoother. The large upstream passage is mostly insaltwater,but95 percentofthecaveis 15 metersorlessindepth.Cenote Dos Ojos Cave SystemDuring1994 several cave diverswereabletoexploreandsurveyenoughunderwatercavepassageinCenote Dos Ojos (Two Eyes)CaveSystem topushitpast30kilometers (100,000 feet)ofsurvey,anditcontinuestogrow.Dos Ojoswasfirst discoveredandexploredbycavediversJimCokeandJohanna DeGrootin1986. This double-collapse cenote is several ki lometers into the semi-tropical junglewestoftheXel-HaMayanruinsonHighway307. Accesswasgainedbya roadthatcouldonlybetraversedina four-wheel-drive jeepthatdiedduringearly 1988,causingexploration tobedormantfor several years.Inearly 1992,BuddyQuattlebaum, originally from Miami, Florida,andMarcos RotzingerofMexico City es tablished adivingbusinesscalled DiversoftheHiddenWorld.TheymadeanagreementwiththeejidoSanJacintoPatthatcontrols ahugetractof9700 hectaressurroundingCenoteDosOjosandmanymore.Thecompanyis responsible formaintainingtheroadandenforcing safety regulationsoncaveandcaverndiversandsnorkelers. A fee ispaidto theejidobyeachrecreational diver. Thishasreopenedaccess tothecave systemandallowedcontinuedexplora tion.Manynewcenoteshavebeendis coveredandconnectedtothesystemduringthepasttwoyears,anditisnowknownasthe Dos OjosCaveSystem. Upstream, connected cenotesareTOOmChiandKentucky Castle,whiledownsteam, allofthefollowingcenote entrancesareknown:MotMot, Dos Pal mas,HighVoltage(TIcTeHa), Tapir'sEnd,MonolithRoom,DonHilario's Well, The Crack,WhereAre We?,andEstaban's.Manycave divers fromaroundtheworldhavecontributed totheexplorationandsurveyofthishighlydecoratedandmagnificentunderwatercave system.Theprincipal explorershavebeenJirn Coke,JohannaDeGroot, Lori BethConlin,ChuckStevens,BuddyQuattlebaum,SteveGerrard,DanLins,GaryWalten,andKayPozda

PAGE 99

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21oICENOTE DOS OJOS CAVE SYSTEMQuintanaRoo, MexicokilomehersWalten,thelast fivebeingcurrently activeinthesystem.Anothertwenty five divershavecontributedtotheexploration. The most popular recreational diveisthe 1800-meter traverse from Dos Ojosdownstream through Dos Palmas, High Voltage,andTapir'sEndto the Monolith RoomCenote. Sincethemaximumdepthis11metersandthe aver agedepthis5 meters,theentire dive canbesafelydonewithinthethirdsairrulefromanentrancewithoutstaging tanks,andthere is a single continuousguidelinefromstartto finish. Cenote Dos Ojos itself is consid ered the best caverndiveinthe world. Thesetwogiganticopeningsareapproximately 60 metersapartfrom air toair,sothediverisnevermorethan30 meters fromtheair surface. Maximumdepthis7.5meters. All dives are ledbya fullyguide,andtheteamnevernumbersmorethanfour. The crystal-clear 77 -degreewateroffersunlimitedvisibility. [Cavediversmakea distinctionbetween"cavern" divesandfull "cave" dives,withthe former limitedtoshortpenetrationswithinsightoftheentrance.] Diversplanto continuepushingupstreamtothewestthroughboreholepassagesandtomakeconnec tions to three majorunderwatercaves nearby,CenoteEkBe,CenoteElMundoEscondido,andtheXelHaRuins Cenote area.TheMayahavediscoveredonthesurface several other,unnamedcenotesthathavenotbeenexplored yet,butarewithinstriking distanceoftheDos OjosCaveSystem.Inthe firstweekofNovember 1994, cave divers KayPozdaWaltenandDonLinsmadeahugediscoveryinthe Dos Ojos system. Theyhadbeenpushinga lead from the CenoteTtkimChi,2kilometerswestofCenote Dos Ojos,usingstage bottlesandscoot ers,whentheystumbledacross apitthatdropstoover80 meters (265 feet)indepth,withhorizontal passage con-tinuingfromthebottom.Thetopofthepitisatleast 60 metersincircum ference.Whatistrulyamazingisthattheentirebodyofwaterinthepitappearstobefreshwaterwithflow.Ifso, this willbethefirst discoveryofadeep-waterspringventinallthecavesalongtheCaribbeancoastoftheYucatan peninsula.CenoteNohochNahChichCaveSystemDuringOctoberandNovember,the1994NohochExploration Projecttookplace. Thisannualexploration project isspearheadedbyMikeMadden,ownerofCedamDiveCenterinPuertoAventuras.Thesystemhadapproximately25 kilometersofpas sageatthebeginningofOctober,andtheprojecthadthreegoals. The firstwastocontinuethesuperbartisticcartographybyEricHutchesonofOcala, Florida.Thesecondwasto connectNohochwithCenoteBala kanche,whichwaslocated tothesoutheastandcontainedmorethan397

PAGE 100

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTER NUMBER21kilometers of passage. The third was to push Nohoch to the west toward a cave system appropriatelynamedOutland.Inaddition, the project planned to continue the videoandphotographic documentation of this beautiful systembyphotographerBillCarlson of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The teamwascampinginthe jungle near Cenote Femdock, with palapa huts, portable compressor, generator for charging lightsanddiver-propulsion vehicles,anddaily food supplies eliminating long hikes and portage of tanks. The projecthadlittle success in extending the system during the first five weeks,butthe last week proved fruitful, as Madden and Hutcheson were able to find new, big passage heading northwest from the PabloDiaz-XLine areaandmake a connection to a hugenewcenote, the name of whichisnotknown.OnThursday,November17, Chuck StevensandEricHutcheson finally succeeded in connecting to Balakanche, after two years of effort with side-mounts. This significant connection has pushed Nohoch con siderably over 30 kilometers of pas sage, with Stevens and Hutcheson adding more lineinhugenewpas sage in Balakanche. Dos OjosandNohoch Nah Chich both have over 30 kilometers ofexplored, surveyed passage,anincred ible wealth of underwater cave in a small area. These two huge under ground river systems are located lessthanthreekilometers apart andtestifyto the massive underground drainage fromtheinterior of the Yucatan Penin sula totheCaribbean coast.Thesenew discoveries continue to demonstrate that the northeast coast of the Yucatan Peninsula offers the best cave and cav ern diving in the world.Cuevas bajo el aguaenQuintana RooMuchosrecientesdescubrimientosdecuevasbajoagua(lamayoriadepocaprofundidad),hansidoenlatempladacostadelCaribedelaPeninsuladeYucatan;cercadeTulum,QuintanaRoo.Lasdoscuevasconmayorlongitudendichaarea,ambasconmuchoscenotescomoentradas,sonelSistemaDosOjos,conalrededorde30kilometrosdepasajeyelSistemaNahochNahChich,con39kilometros.EnNoviembrede1994,untirobajoagua,quealcanzolaprofundidadde80metros,fueencontradoenelcenoteTikimChiqueespartedeelSistemaDosOjos.QuintanaRootienelasmaslargasymejorescuevasbajoelaguaenelmundo.98

PAGE 101

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21Sheck ExleyEverybattlewithdeathislostbeforeitbegins.Thesplendorofthebattlecannotlieinitsoutcome,butonlyinthedignity oftheact.-PaulLouisLandsbergIthasbeen twomonthsnowsince that fatefuldayin Mexico.Ithasn'tbeenaneasytime, probablyduetomyinherentnaturetowithdrawanddrawlinesthatplacemeonthe other side ofanyinquiry intowhatIdeemsacred. I alternate between attempts to ignore,ontheonehand,andto reininmymercurial temperonthe other. I've been angeredbyunkind nessandidle speculationbyarm chair quarterbacks,andI have been touchedbythosewhoseem to un derstandandgenuinely express sympathywithouttrying to pull some thingoutofmysoul. Much hasbeenwritteninpraise of Sheck,andmore will come. Ulti mately,hewillmeaneven more to us, as history, its eyes blind to the emotions of the moment, seeshimas the pioneerhetruly was. With the help of fellow Texans Drs.BillHamiltonandGordonwewill seek a causeorreason for his death. Iknowthatweallseek that. Reason hasanenormous weight for us,andwecan'timagine living withoutthe unrelenting pull of its gravity.Itis awayof conquering the fear that accompanies the inexplicable. As for myself,I'mnotsure that I believe there'sananswerto every question, a reasonatthe core of every actorthought. Idounderstandwhyweall seek the answers.Wehave to seek the answersorfind ourselvesatthe mercy ofthequestions. My seekingisalso intimately entwinedwithmyintention to again attempt to reach the bottomofZacat6n. After all,webothfailed in that attempt. I possess a record I neverthoughtI'd possess,butit is still short of Sheck'sandmygoal.WhatdoIhopeto seeoraccom plishwhenIdoreach the bottom?I'msure that I will view a barren, frightening landscapemuchlike the top of Everest. As for the accomplish ment, I think fewwouldunderstand,butmyformercomradeinarmswouldbeamongthem.Infact, to even attempt to explainwouldbe as distasteful as sharinganintimacy about this most dangerous ofladiesZacat6n. I first met Sheck in Mexico in 1988,whenhewas there making his world record dive to 780 feet in Mante. I droveupto the spring whilehewasinthe cave.Atthattime I felt abondthat was, I believe, tobethe basis forourfriendship.Hewasaloneinthat great beautiful system. Hissupportstaff of only three,NedDeLoach, Sergiozambrano,andAngel Soto, were awaiting his return.Inthis ego maniacal discipline (sport?) of cave diving, it was refreshing to see amanaccomplishing the impossible withoutthe fanfareandentouragethatwesee so often inmuchlesser en deavors. Sheck soughtmyfriendship as Ididhis for the same reason:wewere loners for themostpart.Hewastheonlyoneofthenorthern Floridagroupthatrespectedmywork, ashedidtheworkof other explorersinallpartsof the world.I'msurethatCharles Maxwell in South Africa, Jochen HasenmayerinEurope,andZambranoandSotoinMexicowouldagree thathewasin terested, humble,andsupportive of projectsthatmanycave diversdidn'tevenknowexisted. SheckandI were friendsbyacommonbond.Itis diffi cult to form close friendshipsatourage. SheckandIdidn'thave the foundationofgrowinguptogether, shar ing a background of youthful follies, adventures,andloves. Wehadonlyourobsession,ourpassion,ourlove of exploration. Explorationwasademandingmistress that,I'msure,gotinthewayofourrelationshipswithothers,andIknowit caused a great deal ofpainto thosewholoved us. We couldspendmostof adayatZacat6nwithouteventalking to each other.Ourpersonalities were direct opposites.Hewaseasily the most disciplinedmanI have even met.Sheckhadacalmintellectandstrengththatheoften cloakedinthe"good01'boy"image seenbyothers. A reluctant hero,ifyouwill.Onthe otherhand,I'mfifty-two years old, still get in fights,drinktoomuchattimes,andamcompetitive to thepointof always being in a world alone.Yetwegotalong great. Perhapsweweremostalikeinourchild like excitementonourquestfor the impossible.KarenandAnnhave both saidthatwehadlooked like little boyswhohadfound the greatesttrea sureonearthwhenwediscovered thatzacatonwasthe world's deep est cave-dive site.Pemapsit shows in the photo thathangsovermydeskandwaspublishedinOutsidemaga zine. Idobelievethatweboth were99

PAGE 102

AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21nevermorealivethaninthose mo mentsoftrialinvirgin space. Mexicolovedhim.Hetrulyrespectedthecultureandwaysofmyadoptedhome,Mexico.TheruralpoorofMexicohavea remarkable ability tojudgecourage, honesty,andsincerity. TheonlytimeIallowedmyself to succumbtoemotionduringthosedaysofourlosswaswhenIwalkedalone totheedgeofZacat6nandsawthesimple crossandflowers ImetIanduringmyfirst trip to England,in1985. Wehadbothcomeatthe requestofRobParkertoworkontheexplorationofWookeyHoleinthe Mendips.Ianwasbarelytwentyyearsold.Parkerhadtoldmehowluckyhehadbeento findatthelastminutethisyoung,enthusiasticladwhowouldhaulloadstoandfromChamber24everyday,andalwayswitha smile.Hewasverygood,andhehadthatrouteso well rehearsedthathewasable todivetenlow visibilitysumps(five in, five out)withpacks nearlythesizeofhimself,yetreliablyarriveattheQueenVicInnuptheroadby6P.M.each day, like clockwork, for apintofButcums.Nowtherewasamanworthknowing!Duringthemainpush,wespentfivedayscampedoutinChamber24supportingParkerinhiseffort to crackSump26.Ianhadcheerfully played asupportingrole untilthefinal afternoon,atwhichpointhequietlyaskedRob,"Mindif Ihavea look?"Heleftcampbyhimselfwiththree tanksoftrimixanda bottleofoxygenanddescendednearlyto Parker's limit.Itwashisfirst mixed gas dive. Ineverrealized itatthetime,butthesewerealltrademarksof Ian: initiative, modesty,andbeingtotallyateaseworkingsoloatthefrontier.Inthefollowingnineyears,IanandI became close friendswitha 100puttherebythepeopleofEl NacimientoandHigeron. Mexico is still a placewhereamancanbeamanandaffectioncanbemorebindingthanceremoniesandwords. Sheckmetlifeheadon,withfewmisconcep tions.Onlydeathdeceived him,takinghimbysurprise.ProjectZacat6nwillcontinue.Therewasneveranyquestionaboutthat. Ihavebeenquotedassayingthatitwouldbeaninsult to Sheck toIan Rollandcommongoal, fieldinganexpedition totheS6tanodeSan AgustininsouthernMexico. Thenatureofthis expe dition particularlyappealedto amanofIan's professional talents, as wellasto hisunabashedlustfor explora tion.Itinvolvedthedevelopmentofexperimentalclosed-circuitbackpacks for cave diving.From1989until1994, IanwaspresentintheUnited States formorethanfourmonthsofdevelopment, testing,andtrainingshutitdown,anditwould,butit willcontinuebecauseitis essential tomynature. This iswhereIammostaliveandwhereIammosthappy. Ifoundthissystemsomefiveyearsagoandputitonholdtoobtainthetechnicaltrainingandsupporttomakeits explorationpossible. Sheckgavemethat. I will misshimverymuch,butthenwealwaysdovealone.Perhapsnowhewillbewithmemorethanever.-JimBowden,June1994.withtheever-ehangingapparatus.Itwashis precise feedbackand"test pilot"commentarythathelpedguidethedevelopmenttowardapparatustailored totheneedsoftheteam.Hisunrelentingenthusiasmservedtopushusallonwardinthefaceofdespairwhensomenewideafailed towork.Ona coldJanuary16 this year,IancametomyhouseinMarylandtohelpwiththefinal organizationoftheexpedition.Duringthetwoweeksthatwelivedandworkedtogether beforethemainteamarrived, Isawthesamedriveanddedication,butinanolder,moreworldlyman.Hewasnowa familyman,too,andhelovedhiswifeandchildren,notonlyhisownthreeaboutwhomhespokeof ten,butotherchildrenwhowouldvisitusduringourmonth-longeffort tomakesurethateverythingwasreadyforthetripto Mexico.Hecar riedphotosofhisfamilyinhiscavinghelmetand,quiteoften,hada smallteddybearuptheretoo,lashedtotheoutside.Thatteddybearhadprobablybeenonmoreexpeditionsthanmostindividualswouldbeprivi legedtoparticipateinovera lifetime.Itwas, apparently, also cave-diving certified, for Ihadcertainly seenitanumberoftimeslashedtothemanifoldofopen-eircuitdivinghardwarewhenIanwasonsafetydutyforsomeonedivingtherebreather,and

PAGE 103

AMCSACTIVITIESNEWSLETTER NUMBER21lateronthe rebreathersIanused. Ian often joked,"Ifhegets bent, that'swhenIknowI'mreally in trouble."Inthe expedition world, leadershipis recognizedandrespect isearnedbyactions,notwords. Ian meritedbothattributesonanyproject hewasinvolved in.AtSan Agustinhewasalwaysinthe lead, rigging, hauling equipment, planning the next mission. TherewasnotadaythatwentbythatIandidnotbring a listofsome sort to the breakfast table for discussion.Atfirstitwasa listofrigging requirements, later provisions forCamp3,andfinally auxiliary de compression tables, whichhehadgenerated himself, for the initial dives in theSanAgustinSump.His RAF managerial skills shinedwhenit came to helping maintain the operationonanefficient track.Hepopularized the old RAFphrase"chocksaway"to indicate tothewholeteamitwastimefor action,usuallyfollowed whimsically by, "Be backintime for teaandmedals."Hehadateamspiritanda senseofmissionthatwereunstoppable. I dis tinctly recallonelate evening in early Marchofthis year.HeandKenny Broad, the wise-cracking professional diver turnedPhDstudentwhohadbecomeIan'sinseparableapprenticeindeepcaving,weredownatthe -300-meter levelinSan Agustin, rigging. The planwasforthemto rig to a certain location, afterwhichIandBarbaraamEndewouldtake over. Theywereusinganelectricimpact drill to set rock bolts. The bat teryhad,sometime earlier,beendrained.Undaunted,Ianhadtakenoutthe drill bitand,holdingitwithhis bare fingers,useda rockhammerto set the bolts.WhenI reached the rope abovethemataround10P.M.,I yelled, "The cavalryhasarrived."Hegrinnedandsaid, "Ah,Mr.Stone. Rightonschedule."Andsowashe. Theyhadpainstakingly set thosefinal boltsbyhand,withnodrill holder, to keep thingsontrack. OnlymuchlaterdidI learnthatwhenheset off,onMarch 27, to explore the chamber thatnowbears his name, the lastwordshe said to Kenny were,"IfI'mnotbackby10P.M.,calloutthe cav-alry."Two years ago Ianwasdiagnosedwithdiabetes. His responsewastypi cally Ian Rolland: to tackle the tech nical problems that this change in hisbodywouldentailandthen to pressonatfull power.Hisexpeditionschedule never skipped a beat.Hehadaskedmedirectlywhetherthis conditionwouldaffect his positiononthe team. He, of course,knewthatnone of us could stand in hiswayafternineyears of his lifehadbeen dedi catedtothe project.Itwas just his po litewayofputtingthe issue to rest.Inlate March,twomonthsinto the expedition,wewere finallyattheobstaclethathadbroughtusto Mexico, the San Agustin Sump.IanandI wereinthe leadonthis particu lar day, rigging the final stretchofthe Lower Gorge.Whenwereached the bottom of the last pitch, I recognized the beginning of thesump,took offmyvertical gear,andswamto the staging point used in 1981, a little infeeder passage to the rightwitha one-square-meter flat space.WhenIan arrived, I said, "Welcome to the San Agustin Sump, Mr. Rolland."Hereplied, ashealwaysdid,inhis cor dial fashion,"Thankyou,Mr.Stone,anditisvery good tobehere ... finally."I,for one,wasawfullygladIanwasthere.Onthe basis of his driveandhis proficiencywiththe rebreathers,Ianwasa natural selection tobeonthe initial explorationdivingteam, alongwithNoel SloanandSteve Porter. Working,living,andsleepingatCamp5,suspendedoverthe sump, theybeganexplorationofoneof themostchallenging obstacles in modemhistory.Althoughnolead diverhadbeen designated, itwasagreedamongthoseatCamp5thatIanwouldmakethefirst dive. Within three days, thisteamhadexplored 250metersofunderwatertunnelwhileoperatinginextremelypoorvisibility. Theythentook a rest breakandretreated toCamp3.Atthattime,KennyBroad expressedinterestinmovingontoCamp5andhavingagoatcracking thesump.Ianpromptlyoffered to go in asupportingrole. Kenny immedi ately succeededinextending the line a significant distance to the south. Thedepthwasdecreasing. Firedbythis breakthrough,IanandKennybegantaking alternate leads towardwhattheywerenowsurewouldbe the long-sought far sideofthe SanAgustinSump.WhenKennyreturnedondiveeleven sayinghehadbrokenthroughata distanceof430 meters, Ian immediatelymadeplans for a solo reconnaissance of thenewterritory beyond.Hewasexploring virginlandatthe limitsofhumanendeavorwhenhedied.ForIanRolland there couldbenomorebefit ting epitaph. For thoseofuswhoremain, there isanunfathomable senseofloss,notonlyofanirreplaceableteammate,husband,andfather,butofa per sonal friendwhosharedsomeorourbest memories. I shall remember his drive, wit, senseofmission,andun selfishteamspirit. Ultimately,wemustpickupandcarry on, ashewouldhave. Chocks away,Ian.-BillStone,September1994101

PAGE 104

102AMCSACTIVITIES NEWSLETTER NUMBER21AUTHORSINTHIS ISSUEBarbaraamEndeBox851ChapelHill,NorthCarolina 27514 Oscar BerronesShubertllACol.HimnoHacional San Luis Potosi, SLP 78280 Mexico Jim Bowden Box 49461 Austin, Texas 78765 SteveGerrardPostal25Tulum,QuintanaRoo 77780 Mexico Louise Hose Dept. of GeologyandGeographyUniversityofColorado Colorado Springs, Colorado 80933AnnKristovich 3101 Bonnie Road Austin, Texas 78703 RaulPuenteApartment1132 945WestBroadway Mesa, Arizona 85210 Jim Smith 5947 Farmbrook Lane Rex, Georgia 30273 Bill Stone 18912GlendowerRoadGaithersburg,Maryland20879


Description
Edited by Bill Mixon, 102 pagesContents: Mexico
News, compiled by William Russell --
Long and Deep Cave Lists, compiled by Peter Sprouse -
History of Huautla Exploration / Bill Stone --
Pea de Salazar, Oscar Berrones and Ral Puente --
Zacatn / Ann Kristovich and Jim Bowden --
The 1994 San Agustn Expedition / Bill Stone and Barbara
am Ende --
Caverns and Peoples of Northern Yucatn (reprint) / Leon
Cole --
Stano de Alfredo / Jim Smith --
Brillante / Jim Smith --
93 --
Sierra Mixteca Alta / Louise Hose --
Underwater Discoveries in Quintana Roo / Steve Gerrard --
Obituary: Sheck Exley / Jim Bowden --
Obituary: Ian Rolland / Bill Stone.
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.


printinsert_linkshareget_appmore_horiz

Download Options

close
Choose Size
Choose file type
Cite this item close

APA

Cras ut cursus ante, a fringilla nunc. Mauris lorem nunc, cursus sit amet enim ac, vehicula vestibulum mi. Mauris viverra nisl vel enim faucibus porta. Praesent sit amet ornare diam, non finibus nulla.

MLA

Cras efficitur magna et sapien varius, luctus ullamcorper dolor convallis. Orci varius natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Fusce sit amet justo ut erat laoreet congue sed a ante.

CHICAGO

Phasellus ornare in augue eu imperdiet. Donec malesuada sapien ante, at vehicula orci tempor molestie. Proin vitae urna elit. Pellentesque vitae nisi et diam euismod malesuada aliquet non erat.

WIKIPEDIA

Nunc fringilla dolor ut dictum placerat. Proin ac neque rutrum, consectetur ligula id, laoreet ligula. Nulla lorem massa, consectetur vitae consequat in, lobortis at dolor. Nunc sed leo odio.