As many of you know, I recently participated in another expedition in Lechuguilla Cave. The expedition included participants from all over the US and 3 cavers from France. One of our main objectives was to do a series of exploratory climbs, in a recently discovered area called Emerald City, in order to see if they led to more passage. This year, our team had two climbers, James Hunter and myself. This allowed us to make quick work of the climbs by switching off when one of us got too tired or freaked out by the route. Two of the three climbs netted some new passage, but only a few hundred feet.
I also go the opportunity to make trips to two far-flung locations in the cave which have hardly been visited at all: Dire Straits and Here Be Dragons. These locations are very high up in the cave at nearly the same elevation as the entrance and therefore require a lot of climbing up ropes in order to reach them from camp. Neither area had been visited for about 15 years. Both areas had leads that could possibly connect into the top of a large shaft discovered last year in Emerald City. Climbing this shaft will possibly be the objective of a future trip, but we first wanted to see if there was some easier way to get there. Perhaps the most noteworthy accomplishment of the expedition is that we surveyed 4,800 feet of new passage and this brought the total length of the cave to just over 200 kilometers. We all thought that this was an important “metric milestone.”
-Matt, the elder brother
P.S. I haven’t had much time to sort through my photos, but here are a few. I’ll eventually put the whole lot up on my website. Actually, I just got a new camera right before this trip, a Canon G9. It has fully manual capabilities and has 12 mega pixels of resolution. It was fun to finally have a decent camera.
P.P.S. I now have the other photos up on my website. You can see them here.
Here is a self-portrait of my camp spot.
Here James is climbing up to a lead while I belay. I’m balled up in a small alcove in order to get out of rock fall.
James and I are preparing for a climb.
A large gypsum rim in the Western Borehole. We walked through this area of the cave every day between camp and the areas we were exploring.