Originally drafted 22 July 2008
Crawling out of a tight entrance. Credit: Pete Polsgrove.
Pete, John and I evaluated Cueva Lechuza de Campanario (Barn Owl Cave). We wanted to see if this feature would be a suitable candidate. We quickly realized that it would be. We entered this cave at the lower entrance which involves a scramble up a dry falls to enter the cave. This cave is characterized largely by one large mazy passage. Once we were about 20 meters into the cave, the cave became quite warm. This was quite a contrast from the cooler entrance we encountered at the box canyon. This temperature contrast suggested to me that the cave was maintaining a near constant temperature at the center point. In other words, this was a buffered environment, and would likely serve as an excellent study site.
Pete viewing the delicate salt formations.
A delicate salt helicite.
As we walked through this mazy cave we saw numerous incredibly impressive salt formations. We arrived at the other entrance, which opened into another box canyon. This canyon was a true “box canyon.” It was enclosed on either side with the piping cave draining to the lower elevations and off the Cordillera de los Andes.
The salt landscape of the Atacama.
At the end of the day, the entire team received quite an incredible treat. The Cordillera de la Sal and the mountains containing Licancabur (the largest shield volcano in the region and the one I’ll be climbing in October) were enshrouded in cirrus clouds.
A rare glimpse of a cloud-covered Licancabur.