Ek Be: Cave Exploration with No End in Sight
Last week we returned to Ek Be for more cave exploration in Mexico. We decided to leave the west end for some time and focus more and more on the east end, trying to push it north and south.
At this point it was clear we needed one scooter per diver as the distance to the end of the line got bigger and bigger. The main issue though using a dpv is the restrictions and tight places that force us to stop and swim the dpv over and over again. Especially right after passing Cenote Ek Be, there is a restriction where the shroud of the scooter literally scrapes the ceiling and the bottom if you find the right place to pass.
But so far we continue to be lucky laying in average 2000ft+ per day. It is really an amazing place to dive as I hardly know any cave that is so intensely decorated. We need to move super slow and carefully to avoid damaging the cave. We cruise around at an average depth of 3ft and often end up in a dry cave and have to search for ways around it in very smallish cave. But its full of leads everywhere and often I feel like swimming through a sub level park garage in a huge supermarket. Using a compass while laying line is crucial in order not to swim in circles. The X1 dive computer is an incredible asset for this application.
Every once in a while we stumble upon massive flow riffles that are timeless indicators of the amount of water that used to run through these passages. It is a surreal and amazing trip though time.
Two days ago we did a double stage scooter dive with a two hour time laps between divers. The only way to pass the restrictions is to clip one stage between the legs while super-manning both the other stage as well as the scooter. Its a slow and painful process but beats the heck out of swimming for hours =)
The end of the line used to be 7000ft in, which took a bit more then an hour to travel. Once there two team members managed to lay together 2800ft of new line, not only adding this amount to the system but making important steps towards a connection with another system further north. The dives took a bit more then 4hours to complete but both explorers came to the surface with huge smiles, which were only slightly diminished by the thought of carrying 8 tanks and 2 scooter back out of the jungle.
Lastly yesterday an important discovery was made, a Cenote close to the end of line, a new starting point that would, at least for some time, save us the stages and dpvs and brought us to an arms reach close to a possible connection. Of course there is a little draw back, the Cenote is about 500mtrs away of anything that remotely resembles a road. So now we have to find it on land using our survey data and a GPS, then cutting a new 500mtr trail and start hauling our gear there for the first dives…We just can’t wait!!!
We will keep you posted!