Monday, March 11, 2013

Cueva Zumbo - The Best Cave Ever!

Wow - internet has been out for a bunch of days (thank you Claro) so I haven't been able to make any posts. We have done a few days of caving so now I can get to it! Rob was visiting from Washington State so he joined Richard (photo on the left), Bro, Jeff, Brett and I on a trip to Cueva Zumbo which is my all-time favorite cave! Why is it a favorite? Well, there is a rappel at the beginning...lots of climbing...lots of water...and mainly a really cool, sculptural landscape of neat looking rock! This is a Dr. Seuss-type landscape of whip-cream curls and magical entryways and keyhole looking "doors" in the rock that lead on to the next part of the cave. On the way back it all looks new as you try to navigate your way back...up! You forget how big the drops were that you climbed and sometimes can't seem to find the hole that leads back where you came from. On this trip the cave seemed shorter than I remembered and involved more swimming than I remembered even though the sump was semi-open. We did stop at the sump since the cave is physical and it was day one of four back-to-back days of caving (only 3 for me and that was a lot).

These "whip cream curls" are really super hard and sharp rock. It is hard to explain the dimensionality of this cave. It looks like we are standing on rock tops a couple feet tall, when in reality we are balanced on rock tops with an 8 foot drop below to running water and the cave sculpture continues 20 or 30 or more feet above us! The design looks like swiss cheese with really neat curves and waves and openings reminiscent of wood carvings or maybe metalwork. On this trip we found someone had installed some well placed hand lines that made our journey through the cave a little less treacherous in areas that were difficult to have three points of contact (2 hands and a foot or 2 feet and a hand). If you did slip it would be a very involved rescue to get out of the cave- not something any one wants. The cave does take a couple hours each way even when you are moving at a good clip. When you get out there is an hour of walking as well and daylight has always been an issue on previous trips. With this in mind you do want to keep moving but have to be careful not to get sloppy (which is hard when you are doing strenuous climbing on the way out).
The water was clear and very cold. I had a wetsuit top, fleecy wetsuit-like bottoms and new paintball knee and shin and elbow pads on. I had forgotten how much swimming was involved and how cold it was. If I had remembered I may have worn a life vest. We climbed and swam and climbed and swam. Since this was the third or fourth time in this section of Zumbo we were able to take more time to look around and try to get photos. The photo thing is hard with water and humidity and no free hands!
This cave is amazing. The walls look like wood and the shapes are truly magical. It is like an amusement park for adults. You have to decide whether to try to stay in the river or go up...if you climb up you have to go back down can climb in and out little have to pass packs up and down too. This is kind of hard on some of the muscles the next day or two or three! Besides the appearance there is also the sound of running, gurgling water and drippy ceilings. This was our top pick for Rob to see and we are pretty sure he enjoyed it! Richard hadn't been there before and he had a good time too. For the rest of us the cave is always interesting and there are new things to see no matter how many times you travel in this one. Who can believe we get to do this stuff? Before we moved here we had never been inside a cave and now we've been to around 80 different ones! Still, out of all the beautiful things we see this cave is The Best Cave Ever!

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