Monday, March 21, 2011

Busy Caving Week - Rob Came for a Visit!

Our friend Rob came from Washington state for a visit. He was excited about the dry caves we took him to last year and had been taking some climbing classes to prepare for some different types of caves on this trip. We just had to take him to Cueva Infiernillo since this cave is quite extensive and still had some unexplored leads. This was trip 5 for us. We didn't do any surveying but we still were in the cave for 8 hours! The first section had some nice large shrimp in it.
Near the entrance, kind of, Bro checked out this previously unexplored lead that was a flat crawl. Here's some flowstone in the nozzle room. There wasn't as much water at the underground lake/waterfall/beach area or nozzle room but it was still impressive!

Of course we had to go to the end (sump) past the stinky methane mud pots. On the way out we had to stop at the "Katrina" passage that STILL has no end - lots of twists and turns meters and meters of unsurveyed territory. We all went for 35 minutes at least and I went another 15. I got so hot and tired (we did this on the way out) that I physically could not push it any further. I think we'll wait until the next dry season to map it. I still don't have a sense of where it will end up. Here the guys (Bro, Rob, and Jeff) are coming across the lake coming back from the sump. We did this cave on Thursday and had to take Friday off from caving to rest.
Saturday we had another adventure in store for us - a Tom adventure. Thankfully we were rested up for it! We started with a few hours in Perdida. Our group was a little large but still very speedy. Juan and Jose (Tom's students), Bro, Diana, Jeff, Rob and myself all went through the jungle and into Perdida first. Jeff and I had been into this cave before and loved it. It was a little different than I remembered it but no less spectacular. After the squeezy entrance it opens up and you drop into the river. Here Diana and Juan are making their way in the river.

There was some water but not a huge amount.Juan and Jose are moving like synchronized swimmers.

This pool has some islands of halcite (?) floating on the surface.

This is a small climb up to some spectacular and delicate rooms I won't show you. Bro is up top and Jeff is guiding his feet down.

We did some slithers underneath rocks and into a few white rooms where we had to be very very careful and thoughtful about where we walked and what touched. There were beautiful places we simply stayed out of since they were so untouched and delicate. So what could beat that? Cueva Perro of course. All Tom told us about Perro was that it was wet and cold and we would go until people couldn't stand it. Little did we know what that REALLY meant. Here is a photo of the entrance (I am in the entrance looking out). Water and lots of it. Our first step into the cave was..water.

 I was pleased to see some small areas that we needed to crawl into that were water free. Unfortunately the water reappeared shortly. If you hate water or don't like extremely low ceilings this is a freak-out cave. A couple people had a little trouble doing the duck unders since their feet couldn't touch bottom and you couldn't see where or if the low part ended. This seemed like a never ending swimming, ducking, suffocatingly low ceiling maze-with-no-end! It is one of those caves that a normal human wouldn't do. A normal human would look and believe that there was no way to pass through. We only went because we know Tom had done it before and therefor it did indeed go somewhere. The problem would be to get out on our own if something happened. It just seemed like a maze-with-no-end. That little bit of gold is Jeff disappearing into the passage. Yeah, we could keep our noses out of the water and had to go underwater a few times.

The low, water-logged maze did open up and there were some nice areas. I think the exciting parts were the I-can't-believe-I-am-doing-this low swimming parts. Diana and I got extremely cold and did not do the last couple duck unders to get to the open pit that you can rappel into. Nor did we get to the bat room. We figure we will be back again to map the watery grave section of the cave past the pit that no one did. Next time we will rappel into the pit and possibly attempt the nasty-even-lower-death trap section. Diana and I got a chance to look around while we waited for the others. I explored an upper passage but didn't want to get stuck without anyone around so I didn't go all the way even though it did keep going.Here Jose is giving the "we are going in here?" look.

On the way back the way out looks just as implausible as the way in. You have to submerge and peek around to see where you can fit and just hope it continues somewhere.I saw this natural sculpture sitting on a ledge. Thankfully the way out seemed shorter than the way in. The way in just seemed like it took forever and was full of the "are we really doing this?" thoughts. It seemed doubtful we would be finding our way out again. Coming out though it was just a matter of staying to the right and swimming fast to try to get warmer. I think everyone was happy to see daylight and a little sun after this one. I have to say this was super exciting because it kind of pushed you mentally and every turn was full of anticipation of the next. I don't know what the other half of the cave is like but I don't think I want to do it in the wet season. Any rain while we were in there would have been disastrous. At this point in the year I think finishing up the cave will to wait until next year...

1 comment:

Rob said...

Great writeup! Had a great time, thanks for having me!