PROJECT EL SÓTANO DE LAS CALENTURAS
El Sótano de Las Calenturas is a part of the magnificent Sistema Purificacion, an expansive network of caves which by sheer mass of limestone, more than 2500 square km, rivals the area of the Mammoth Cave System in the United States. Perhaps more than any of the other sites explored by Bowden and his team, the mountainous area of this massive cave reflects the diversity of terrain, fauna, and flora of México's "Cloud Forest [El Cielo]." At an altitude greater than 6000 feet [1829 meters], the primary entrance for Calenturas is an impressive pit, with a 140 foot [43 meter] vertical drop. The upstream passages have been extensively explored and surveyed since 1987, and more than 2500 feet [762 meters] of line have been laid through five sumps. The last tie made by Bowden and Kristovich was at a depth of 45 feet [14 meters] in a distant sump, the waters of which were clear and deep. Exploration in this cave is physically challenging, and involves significant dry caving as well as diving. The caver/diver must first rappel, and then climb through rigorous dry sections of cave for nearly one mile [nearly 1.6 kilometers] before reaching the first sump. Beyond the sump, the caver encounters a treacherous region of breakdown, covered in silt and oily cave mud. All of the equipment needed to push the distant passages must be laboriously transported through and over these obstacles before the second and longest sump, Percolation Passage, is dived. At this point the push diving team is separated from surface support by several miles [kilometers] of cave, both dry and wet. The Proyecto's goal is to find air filled, walking passage at the end of the most distant sump and/or find a connection to the surface or adjacent caves. In order to accomplish this, the diving team plans to establish a base camp inside of the cave. Support divers could then shuttle unused tanks through the third and fourth sumps so that the push divers could begin the exploration of the fifth sump with full tanks, enabling them to pursue its end, and with luck, emerge in air filled, dry passage.