“Let the Expedition Begin”
Sunday, April 14, 2002 –
Yesterday marked the beginning of the 2002 Sistema Camillo Survey expedition with the arrival of all but one of the first week’s participants. As usual the first day is the travel day and the usual fun going through all of the immigration and customs inspections upon arrival (2.5 hours for some of the team)! Once we arrived at Villa Derosa the team unloaded and then got together for a mission orientation and briefing for the new members of the team; Andy Henderson and Ciff Sifton. The evening closed with the team preparing the stage cylinders for the next days diving.
Today began with the never forgotten joy of taking all of the equipment down to Cenote Camillo the largest of the cenotes yet found on the system. For any new web-surfers joining us or even as a reminder to those who have been with us before the journey through the jungle is sixth / tenths of a mile over fairly rough and demanding terrain to arrive at the base camp at Cenote Camillo. George McCulley, the master mapper has labored hard over the past year to update the system map and come up with a daunting list of survey tasks yet to be accomplished. Team 1 consisted of Renee Power and Terrence. Their job was to swim downstream and verify survey data from the beginning of the big section at the junction of Cindy’s Passage and the Grand Canyon lines. In addition the team did some housekeeping tasks and did away with a junction downstream know as the “Death T”. Other data was collected and after a long swim out and 45 min of deco . . . the hike out!
Team 2 consisting of Andy Henderson and Cliff Sifton, surveyed starting at Camillo upstream to the first ‘T’ and downstream to the first ‘T’. Survey data was collected back from the ‘T’s; to the basin of Camillo. Although the survey data was incomplete, familiarization of the cave system was accomplished. This was Cliff and Andy’s first dive in the system and first cave dive in Mexico.
Team 3 (Mike St.Germain and George McCulley) headed upstream with several goals in mind (running a line up to Cenote “Carri’s Loft” and procuring GPS waypoints for the newly discovered Cenote). Taking at right at the first ‘T’ on the upstream line, Mike and George dropped their stage bottles on the large rock at the beginning on the Lemley room. After the stage bottles were secured to the main line, Mike and George took a right at the next ‘T’ which leads up into the caver area to “Carri’s Loft” (a Cenote that was discovered by Terrence and Mike during the 2001 expedition). As the team headed up towards Carri’s loft, Mike tied a new reel onto an existing survey station so that team could run a new line up to the Cenote and exit the water. The first attempt to reach the surface was unsuccessful as the team found themselves in an area where Mike could physically reach out and feel the surface; however, the opening was too small for a diver to get through wearing two tanks. After a more thorough search of the cavern area, George and Mike were able to locate another opening to the Cenote that was large enough to accommodate a diver in full cave gear. George and Mike exited the water, removed their gear, and procured the GPS coordinates that are critical to the accurate mapping of the caving system. Along with logging the GPS data (the team carried the GPS in a water tight compartment that George wore during the dive, a thorough recon of the area was completed to see if it was feasible to stage future dives out of “Carri’s Loft” (the answer was unequivocally YES)! As the assessment of the Cenote continued, Mike was verbally in contact (through yelling) to the “Muchachos” who quickly cut a trail from Cenote Camillo to “Carri’s Loft” (it takes 20 minutes to dive from Cenote Camillo to “Carri’s Loft”; however, it is less than 500ft straight line distance on land. After the activities in “Carri’s Loft” were completed, Mike and George had plenty of air remaining to check out another passage that Mike and Terrence had discovered during the 2001 Expedition. After another 40 minutes or so of poking around and marking what looks to be very promising leads to more tunnels, Mike and George turned the dive, stopped along the way to pick up their stage bottles and exited the cave after a very successful dive!
The team was invited to join the DeRosa’s in a party celebrating the birthday of their daughter Alaina. Happy 13th birthday from the Cambrian Foundation!
We miss you Andy Peterson. Wish you were here with us in the adventure!
Mike St. Germain