photo: David Bardi and Sandy Varin heading off into sump 1 of the Huautla Resurgence. Photo by Chris Jewell.

After a hiatus of 15 years, an international team of cavers returned to continue exploration of the resurgence of Sistema Huautla. In 2001, Jason Mallinson and Rick Stanton did several dives in the resurgence until Jason, on the last dive, surfaced in an air chamber with a large tunnel seen heading off 10 vertical metres above water level without any way of exiting the water wearing dive gear. The goal of this expedition was to continue where Jason surfaced and find the way on.

The team used Santa Ana Cuahtemoc on the south side of the Santo Domingo canyon as a base camp from where they could make use of a newly built road into the Santo Domingo Canyon. They managed to reline the first two sumps, separated by a small water fall, and find the way on where Jason stopped in 2001. This led to a small rift which soon after surfaced in a dry chamber. Approximately 900 meters of dry passage was surveyed, but this dry passage did not carry the main stream and the continuation of the underwater river remained elusive. Nevertheless, two promising looking sumps north of the last point where the stream was seen where found in the dry passage which will hopefully lead to the way on towards Sistema Huautla. Continuing exploration in these sumps will be the main goal of an expedition in 2017.

Andreas Klocker in sump 1 in the Huautla resurgence. Photo by Chris Jewell.

In total 1.2 kilometres of cave was found, taking the total cave length to 2.33 kilometres. Fifteen dives were conducted to a depth of 65 metres and a duration of four hours. If the Cueva de la Pena Colorada, as hypothesized, is Sistema Huautla's overflow resurgence, then the cave must gain approximately 120 metres vertically over the next three kilometres, leading to the exciting conclusion that the cave will soon turn from a sump into a streamway with possibly vertical drops and spectacular water falls as found in San Agustin.