26 July 2008

Mapping Cueva Lechuza de Campanario and Evaluating Cave and Non-cave Feature for Study

Originally drafted 24 July 2008

The start of the day. Hiking into the canyon containing Cueva Lechuza de Campanario. Credit: Pete Polsgrove.

Yesterday, the entire team went to Cueva Lechuza de Campanario. Knutt’s team began mapping, while Pete, Dan and I were deploying sensors. The sensor deployment team placed sensors on the surface and the main entrance of the cave, and within the cave dark zone, and within the second and third entrances. Knutt’s team went directly to the other end of the cave and began mapping back towards the main entrance.

Hiking through a small saddle to get a better look at another cave lead. Credit: Pete Polsgrove.

As the sensor deployment team was working our way towards the cartography team, we quickly learned that Dan was desperately needed on the cartography team. It took Knutt, John and Christina 2.5 hrs to map the cave exterior and one of the entrances, when I asked how they were doing, they indicated that it was going slow because they needed Dan. Pete and I decided we could do sensor deployment with two people and Dan returned to the cartography team.

Deploying sensors outside Cueva Lechuza de Campanario. Credit: Pete Polsgrove.

Once Pete and I deployed sensors in Cueva Lechuza de Campanario, we reconned two areas that Knutt’s team went to a few days ago. We first went to a cave the cartography team discovered. We have not named this cave yet. This cave is characteristic of a small lava tube or vent. It has incredibly smooth walls and is a classic cylindrical pipe feature.

Scouting out new caves. Credit: Pete Polsgrove.

Pete and I had to scramble up a small dry fall within this cave. We then encountered another dry fall. This one was about 8 meters high. Neither one of us was going to attempt this climb without protection. Pete and I spent about twenty minutes discussing how to set up this section of the cave with protection so we can ascend this dry fall. We don’t know if there will be additional dry falls, but we know we will be able to set some bolts and aiders for this first pitch. We’ll deal with the next pitch when we encounter it. Tentatively, we have concluded this will be another study cave.

A shot of me scampering up the first pitch of the new cave. The second pitch will require ropes and aide gear. Credit: Pete Polsgrove.

We quickly departed this cave, and inspected a sinkhole feature that will serve as a non-cave feature for this study. Thereafter, we went to Cueva Paisaje de Sal (Salt Landscape Cave). We determined this will also be one of our study caves. This feature is quite crawly with low ceilings and very mazy. It will take a while to fully explore this cave. The cartography team indicated this will be rather difficult to map, and they are not looking forward to mapping this feature. The good thing is the cave has low ceilings and we should be able to derive a good estimate of cave volume.

Pete and I then left Cueva Paisaje de Sal and we headed back for the truck. Our day was done. We looked across the Cordillera de los Andes and saw the cartography team had departed. We’ll meet them back at the casa.

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