Cave Diving, Cave Exploration and Cave Mapping in Yucatan, Mexico
Coming ashore at Lizard Island Australia

Category — Sistema Ek Be

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.

boa-constricter-mexico.jpg

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!

May 3, 2011   4 Comments

Ek Be Rediscovered and Growing

We promised to keep you posted on the Ek Be exploration. Here comes the good news! We were finally able to dive Ek Be on April 8th and it was a very productive day with 3697 feet of the original lines resurveyed. We also added 244 feet of new exploration in just two dives!

The cenote we found and cut a trail to was named Cot Tunich. It is situated at the center of the cave system. It is a perfect starting point for our explorations. It has a wide cavern area that connects to cenote Ch’ul Nay. The distance between the two is around 200 feet. The cavern is a bit dark and has a ghostly hydrogen sulfide layer. Sunlight entering from a small window on the ceiling brightens the whole thing up and makes it really cool.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

The cave runs mainly west to east and we can say that it looks like a branch of Dos Ojos running parallel to its downstream. We decided to resurvey the whole cave to have a uniform database to work with. While resurveying Ek Be, we would mark possible leads and push the end of lines when possible. The historical survey from QRSS showed 7189 feet of existing lines. It took us a few more dives to finish it all and then we really started to have fun, trying to go west towards Dos Ojos and east towards X’cacelito and Xel-Ha.

Westbound upstream explorations resulted in a connection with another small cenote. This is probably the cave reported as Scorpion Cave by Simon and Donna Richards in 2004, We also discovered a deeper cave level (50 feet) made of white flaky limestone, completely different from the upper level with wide bedding plains filled with cream color formations.

Over 3500 feet of new cave passage was added to the upstream alone, bringing it very close to Dos Ojos. The negative aspect is that it is becoming difficult to explore in this section of cave. We are finding a maze of narrow and unstable passages that connect a series of large collapse chambers. It won’t be easy exploration, but we will keep trying.

Going east beyond cenote Cot Tunich (Ek Be), we found a lead at the end of the original line that opened into an incredibly wide bedding plain. Much of the passage is very low, even for side mount configuration. Thousands of tiny stalactites cover the ceiling giving you the feeling of moving through a glass shop!

In a few days we extended the cave 350 meters eastbound towards the ocean, exploring almost 4000 feet of new cave. During the last dives we arrived at the pre-historic Plasticine Ridge where the old coast line used to be. As expected, the cave divides and turns north and south. The possibility of going through the ridge at this point is not known. There are a few cave systems where the tunnel is big enough to swim beneath the ridge. We will soon find out if this is the case at Ek Be.

Thanks for reading, more news will follow! Quiet Diver Team.

April 24, 2011   Comments Off on Ek Be Rediscovered and Growing