On Saturday evening, March 21st, Bill Steele received a Citation of Merit from The Explorers Club for his work over the course of 38 years in the deepest and longest cave in the Americas – Sistema Huautla. A new chapter is about to be written in this on-going deep cave exploration, and Whole Earth Provision Co. is proud to be among the supporters of the 2015 expedition that begins on March 24th and runs through May 2nd.
Proyecto Espeleológico Sistema Huautla or PESH is an international group of deep cave explorers, primarily from the United States and Mexico, devoted to the exploration and scientific documentation of Sistema Huautla, the deepest cave in the Western Hemisphere, located in the Sierra Mazateca in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Their quest is to leave no question marks on Sistema Huautla’s map.
First explored in the 1960s, Sistema Huautla is now known to have 20 entrances and over 40 miles of interconnecting passageways reaching a depth of 5,069 feet. This year’s expedition plans to push on into unexplored portions of the cave system and hopefully add to its record depth. But there is more to the expedition than the quest for new records. PESH has undertaken a ten year program of exploration that will expand and refine the map of Sistema Huautla as well as study the geology, hydrology, archaeology and paleontology of the caverns and the biology of creatures and organisms living deep within the earth.
Bill Steele, the expedition co-leader, described Sistema Huautla in Men’s Journal last year as “probably the greatest cave on Earth. It’s already the 8th deepest cave on the planet, and it’s longer than the top 16 deepest caves, which means it’s huge. And there’s so much more we haven’t discovered. This is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Whole Earth has had an abiding interest in caving for many years. A member of our Whole Earth family was part of Huautla expeditions in 1966 and 1967. This year Whole Earth is providing the expedition with two GoPro Cameras, batteries and mounts, fuel for camp stoves, and small items, both useful and fun, for children in the communities near the cave system. In the coming weeks, we’ll be posting stories, videos and updates about Sistema Huautla, taking a look at the history of its exploration, sharing an interview with the expedition co-leader Bill Steele and more. Stay tuned!