Pena Colorada 2018 Expedition

Sistema Huautla is an approximately 75 km long, 1560m deep, cave system located in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. It is currently the deepest cave in the Western Hemisphere and the 8th deepest cave in the world. The the current deep point of the system is a sump, a large sump, described as "The Mother of All Sumps" by Bill Stone who lead the famous 1994 expedition, and later dove in 2013 by British cave diver Jason Mallinson organized an expedition which to push the Sump at the bottom -81m. The sump continues. One of the great mysteries of Sistema Huautla is the connection to the active resurgence some 10km away in the remote Santo Domingo canyon. This has been confirmed by dye tracing, but a physical connection has never been made despite many expeditions.

The Pena Colorada is an enormous fossil resurgence, hypothesized to be the overflow resurgence to Sistema Huautla. Preparations are now underway for a return to the Cueva de la Pena Colorada in Spring of 2018.


Canyon entrance of the Pena Colorada from the 1984 expedition  - photo courtesy of the USDCT.

First chamber of the Pena Colorada from a 2017 reconnaissance - photo courtesy of Maxwell Fisher


The last expedition to push the Pena Colorada
 was in 1984, oranized by Bill Stone and the USDCT. The current end of exploration is in sump 7, which starts at the bottom of a 55 metres deep vertical shaft and quickly goes to a depth of 50 metres. In 1984 the team stopped exploration when they hit the logistical limits of open-circuit dive gear; Stone described sump 7 the "ultimate speleological obstacle". It was after this expedition that Stone started to develop the famous CIS-Lunar rebreather, to overcome the logistical limits of open-circuit gear.  http://www.usdct.org/pena_colorada84.php 

Open circuit dive gear from the 1984 expedition emphesisis the great advantages of using rebreathers in 2018 - photo courtesy of the USDCT. 

Portion of the Pena Colorada map post the 1984 expedition, showing the limit of exploration - photo courtesy of the USDCT.

Over the last couple of years the next generation of cave divers has resurrected exploration in Sistema Huautla. Read more on our webpage:
https://www.beyondthesump.org/

In particular recent expeditions have focused on the active Huautla Resurgence. Video from the 2017  Expedition: 
https://vimeo.com/232924489

Now, 34 years later, cavers will return to the lead at the limit of exploration of the Pena Colorada, which is a wide open 10 meter diameter tunnel heading northward towards Sistema Huautla. 2018 will be the first time divers return to push this lead equipped with closed circuit rebreathers, and other advancements allowing for long and deep penetrations.

Reconnaissance dive of Sump 3 in Pena Colarado during the 2017 Huautla Resurgence Cave Diving Expedition - photo courtesy of Matt Vinzant.


A cave diving expedition of this magnitude is not cheap. Expedition members pay for expenses out of pocket (not to mention expensive personal dive gear). This campaign is our humble attempt at raising funds to soften this financial burden. Funds raised here will go towards expedition food, and travel expenses to transport a very large quantity of gear to a very remote place.

Thank you very much!
- The Pena Colorada 2018 Team

Donations ()

  • Scott Watkins 
    • $50 
    • 20 mos
  • Judah Kuper 
    • $200 
    • 23 mos
  • Nick Ellerington 
    • $120 
    • 23 mos
  • Barbara Klocker 
    • $500 
    • 23 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 23 mos
See all

Organizer

Gilly Elor 
Organizer
Eugene, OR
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