Monday, February 8, 2010

Cueva YuYu - an Adventure

Tom Miller invited us to do some surveying in Cueva YuYu on Sunday. There has been a flurry of cave activity because it is the dry season. Like a lot of our adventures it did not turn out how I had imagined. The first part of the adventure was hiking through the jungle to find the hole. We passed many holes including the hole that was the dry part of YuYu. Tom used his machete to forge a new way to the hole we would be going down and I stayed in the back placing survey tape on our "trail" so if there was a problem I could find the way out. We arrived at the deep pit. There was already a rope thrown in but we decided to hang our own so it would drop more vertical instead of going over the ledge - usually an easier rappel that way. Tom tied our 100 foot rope to a tree and dropped it in. It landed on a ledge and we would then drop it down the other part to get into the cave. One by one we rappelled down into the hole.

From the ledge we could see that our 100 foot rope wasn't long enough to get us to the bottom so Tom did some knot work and connected ours to the one that was there that did go to the bottom.

Here Diana is on the ledge and the ball of light below is Tom at the bottom.

Jeff makes his way down.

This ladder has some historical interest (not sure what) and it is right where you have to come over the ledge. We tried our best to avoid it but every one of us ended up straddling it at some point.

This part of the cave was the only part with shallow water. Here I am across the water taking a photo of them near the drop zone. There were some beautiful formations, but we didn't get to look much since this was a survey mission. Immediately we head into the very cold water. Jeff is using the Disto (is that how you spell it?) thing to take distances and inclinations. Diana is taking the compass readings and I am holding the white card with my light on it at the "station" we are taking readings to. All of us are in deep water and it was very difficult.

This water feature was at the beginning of the wet the beginning of the day. We are all submerged. I am floating and trying to grasp the edge while holding nail polish (to mark the station) and survey tape in one hand and the white card in another all day. My rack (no not boobs-rappelling gear) is swinging between my legs, my harness is pinching and my life vest and pack are floating up around my head. It is not comfortable. The Disto thing is fucking up and not recording so it takes forever and my little fingers are getting fatigued and I am cold. I HATE being cold. Then I start shaking and that just makes it worse. We get to a tall formation we climb onto because under it is a steep waterfall we can't go over even with ropes. From up top Tom rigs some rope so we can slip into a tight crack and rappel down around 25-30 feet into the river below the falls.

Here Diana and Tom and rigging the ropes so we can go into the crack they are standing on the edge of. Meanwhile Jeff goes further from our up-top perch and finds a rope already in place with a carabeener in the wall. It goes straight down and into water a little further downstream. Someone else is maybe surveying or exploring. Here Tom makes his way part of the way down to the waterfall base. After this point we can't see him.

Down below the water is freezing and over my head the whole time except for a tiny ledge I can balance on at the bottom of the rope. We float around trying to make the dam Disto thing work for what seems like forever before I just have to stop because I am frozen. Jeff was cold too. Diana and I decide to climb up the little hole we had all come down and Jeff and Tom float over to the bottom of the other rope and ascend there. No way did I want to connect everything up in the water.

Here's a view of Diana in the water getting ready to come up. I just want out at this point because I am so cold. We were in the cave maybe 4-5 hours but somehow the return trip was short! We looked around a little, but now it was after 4 and we still had two ropes to ascend and a hike out.

Coming up wasn't a problem for me or Jeff or Tom, but since Diana was last no one was there to hold the end of the rope and she was having trouble coming up. Tom went back down, she went up and then he came up with a pack on the bottom of the rope for weight.

The cave was beautiful with Zumbo-like formations but much wider passages and a lot more water. I do not want to see this cave in the wet season - I'm pretty sure you don't even attempt a trip here if there has been any rain in a week or more.

Beautiful walls and flowstone. Then we are headed up the ropes. For some reason (probably coldness and tiredness) we were all a little snippy. Jeff went up the rope to the ledge so he could help Diana up the overhang if needed. Diana made it just fine and then I came up. I had a mini melt-down because my equipment just wasn't rigged right. Pissed me off! It was fine for the other ups and downs and now for some reason my Croll was up around my boobs instead of near my bellybutton....I couldn't get good extension to work my way up the rope but I was already on the rope. The &*$#%@% straps for my feet are simply annoying (way too long and a tangle problem) and I am pissed because this is the part I am usually really good at. And I am COLD. I do get up, then Tom comes up and Jeff starts his way up. Oops....Diana doesn't have her pack. Where is it? Well, Jeff looks around on the ledge and it isn't there, which guessed is all the way at the bottom. She forgot it there, Tom assumed she had it on and Jeff and I just kept track of our own stuff. So back down he goes, having to go over the knot to retrieve it. Now he is on the very bottom and no one is there to hold the rope. Climbing up as the last person is always a little harder. So he gets to the ledge (it is getting dark now), takes a rest and then makes his way back up. Hooray! We gather up all the gear and head into the jungle.

On the way out we pass by the dry part of the cave and don't get to see it since it is now getting dark. We get back to the cars and no one has taken tires or batteries or anything so we are good to go. We stop for food at Sizzler and then make the long journey home. Jeff is probably dozing at work and I am rinsing rope and gear and doing laundry. I'd like to see more of this cave and now know I need to wear more than just my 2mm wetsuit if we are totally submerged in water. If the water is waist high and you can get out of it I do fine -- but I get bitchy when I am really really cold and am not an enjoyable person. I probably just shouldn't go into over-my-head-for-long-distances caves. We all did get out and Tom did get some data. Hopefully we can see more of this cave at some point. Maybe the dry part.


LoriMMNJ said...

Great Pictures!! I look forward in reading your blog everyweek just to see what adventure your up to next. I am not familiar with all the caves in PR, so can you include the name of the town where they are located? I am originally from Guayanilla, (living in a very cold NJ) have you ever been to any caves there (if any)?
Thanks for sharing your adventures, it amazes me to see all the places and things to do in PR.

Maurizio Sebastian said...

Hey, tell Tom to stop bugging my bats! ha! ;)