Cave Of The Swallows in Mexico - Caving still permitted?

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Cave Of The Swallows in Mexico - Caving still permitted?

Postby SPL Tech » Feb 12, 2011 3:13 am

Is rappelling down into the Cave of The Swallows still permitted by Mexican authority? I was told they have banned BASE jumping, but I haven't heard anything about caving. Also, is there a place where one could hang their rope so its mostly hanging in free air? I am actually a rock climber not a caver and thus I don't have ridiculously long amounts of static rope, I only have one static rope actually. I do however have one 60m static line and six 60m dynamic ropes which I could easily join to reach the bottom. I could use the static rope at the top and join the dynamic lines below that one. However this could only be safely done if the dynamic ropes do not come into contact with anything. With nearly 1000' of dynamic rope, the bouncing and stretch will be extreme while jugging back up the rope, if the rope came into contact with the rock it could easily saw through.
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Re: Cave Of The Swallows in Mexico - Caving still permitted?

Postby NZcaver » Feb 12, 2011 4:43 am

:yikes: :hairpull:

Welcome to the forum. I can't answer your question about access, but I can offer you a little advice. First you might want to get together with people who have the right equipment and experience in rappelling/climbing deep pits. Then start training with that equipment. Sótano de las Golondrinas is not the place you want to wing it by joining dynamic ropes together. You'll need the right type of rope, the appropriate descender, and a good system for climbing - and know how to use it all. Be safe!
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Re: Cave Of The Swallows in Mexico - Caving still permitted?

Postby Squirrel Girl » Feb 12, 2011 7:09 am

Amen to what NZ said. He's spot on and if you're even considering going to Golondrinas with dyanamic line, it means you have more to learn about equipment and techniques. For a pit like that you have to worry about the weight of the rope at the top and how you will descend at all.

We very much welcome you to CaveChat. For virtually everyone who comes here we advocate finding a local group and get with them. Sometimes, in your case, it might not the be very closest group of cavers who have the experience for a pit the size of Golondrinas, so you might travel farther afield. Two suggestions. The NSS homepage, caves.org, has a link to local clubs. And also, there's the "Vertical Section" that will be useful to you. I'm on a netbook, so it's a pain for me to switch around pages and get the links for you.

Best wishes!
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Re: Cave Of The Swallows in Mexico - Caving still permitted?

Postby Cody JW » Feb 12, 2011 7:31 pm

I am assuming this rig point you are talking about is the"high" side. It has a tree right near the edge. This would be around to your right ( as if you were sitting facing the pit at the traditional low side rig point). If this is the rig point you are talking about you will need more than 1000 feet of rope. Also I could not imagine the stretch with dynamic rope over the length of a rope that long. We used regular PMI and I could not believe the amount of stretch even in a static line on a drop like that. We had 1250 feet of PMI and did not have enough for the" high" rig point. We did alot of practice for several weeks on a pulley hung from a tree to get ready for a long climb like that. Bring lots of water for the climb, we used hydration packs like bicycle riders use, glad we did I went through 50 ounces and could of used more , BUT I am a fat boy. The pit is HOT compared to pits in Alabama. Most cavers use the low side , it is just under 1100 feet. You sit on the edge and rig to bolts on the left of where you sit. A large boulder is behind this rig point to back up to. As far as I know it is still open , but no base jumping. I think you now have to pay to go. It has been several years since I was there.
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Re: Cave Of The Swallows in Mexico - Caving still permitted?

Postby JR-Orion » Feb 14, 2011 3:55 pm

I was just watching a youtube video of base jumpers diving into this cave. Did something bad happen that made them ban the activity?
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Re: Cave Of The Swallows in Mexico - Caving still permitted?

Postby Chads93GT » Feb 14, 2011 4:03 pm

I couldn't imagine doing 7 changeovers from rap to climb, downclimb pass the knots, then 7 changeovers from climb to rap. My god, my arms would fall off by time I got to the bottom.
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Re: Cave Of The Swallows in Mexico - Caving still permitted?

Postby Jeff Bartlett » Feb 14, 2011 6:05 pm

Pardon my candor... but rappelling into Golindrinas with several knotted ropes, most of which are dynamic, while having no idea what you're doing, inappropriate equipment and no experience with long drops sounds like the worst idea ever.
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Re: Cave Of The Swallows in Mexico - Caving still permitted?

Postby Amazingracer » Feb 14, 2011 6:17 pm

Jeff Bartlett wrote:Pardon my candor... but rappelling into Golindrinas with several knotted ropes, most of which are dynamic, while having no idea what you're doing, inappropriate equipment and no experience with long drops sounds like the worst idea ever.


I have to agree with Jeff on this one.

I understand you are looking for more information on Golondrinas, but judging from the statement above it is way out of your league at this moment. Find a grotto(caves.org), learn vertical work, practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more. After that consider finding a team thats gone before, practice even more with them, then go with them(odds are they have a 1200' rope).

The caving community saw two people die in a vertical cave over the weekend from inexperience. Do not add yourself to that list.
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Re: Cave Of The Swallows in Mexico - Caving still permitted?

Postby Cody JW » Feb 14, 2011 6:28 pm

JR-Orion wrote:I was just watching a youtube video of base jumpers diving into this cave. Did something bad happen that made them ban the activity?
It is my understanding that wildlife officials in Mexico do not allow base jumping anymore because of the possible impact it may have on the birds that nest on the ledges in the pit. It is the noise of the canopy when it opens ( the loud pop sound) that they are concerned about. They also discourage yelling when in the pit. They also do not want cavers to throw rope bags or anything else into the pit. There are several types of birds in the pit.The floor of the pit has a spongy feel to it because of all the droppings over time.
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Re: Cave Of The Swallows in Mexico - Caving still permitted?

Postby Downundercaver » Feb 17, 2011 3:18 am

Not really helpful (actually it isn't) but man I would do anything to go and do that cave/pit.
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Re: Cave Of The Swallows in Mexico - Caving still permitted?

Postby SPL Tech » Feb 17, 2011 4:44 am

Jeff Bartlett wrote:Pardon my candor... but rappelling into Golindrinas with several knotted ropes, most of which are dynamic, while having no idea what you're doing, inappropriate equipment and no experience with long drops sounds like the worst idea ever.


Amazingracer wrote:
Jeff Bartlett wrote:Pardon my candor... but rappelling into Golindrinas with several knotted ropes, most of which are dynamic, while having no idea what you're doing, inappropriate equipment and no experience with long drops sounds like the worst idea ever.


I have to agree with Jeff on this one.

I understand you are looking for more information on Golondrinas, but judging from the statement above it is way out of your league at this moment. Find a grotto(caves.org), learn vertical work, practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more. After that consider finding a team thats gone before, practice even more with them, then go with them(odds are they have a 1200' rope).

The caving community saw two people die in a vertical cave over the weekend from inexperience. Do not add yourself to that list.



I am not normally one to brag, but I will comment a bit on my previous experience. I have climbed El Cap in Yosemite, CA three times (its the largest cliff in North America, its 3000 feet tall). I have climbed 6,000 feet of fixed rope in three days on two separate occasions. I have conducted 23 separate rappells in less than two hours on Time Wave Zero in Mexico. I have been climbing ten years and I have been experienced in fixed line ascension for over five. And lastly I am employed as a professional climbing guide. So figuring things out is the least of my concern, I am well versed in climbing fixed ropes and anchor building. One person mentioned it would suck to pass a knot seven times, well I can pass a knot in less than 10 seconds while climbing and less than 30 on rap, its pretty elementary and common in rock climbing. Others mentioned the weight of 1200' of rope would cause issues and require an adjustable descending device, well if I am going to use six ropes I am obviously not going to tie them all together and throw them down, I will bring the ropes with me and tie them together as I go. Tying dynamic ropes together and rappelling down them is not that uncommon, on El Cap its very common to tie three 70 meter dynamic ropes together and rap down them and climb back up them in order to get a head start on the first few pitches of a climb. Climbers just do things a bit different than cavers. You guys use the ropewalker technique and such to climb lines, we dont because its not practical in our application. We use a different technique called jumaring. Now granted jumaring is a hell of a lot harder than the ropewalker technique you guys use in this application, but it works.

Anyway my question is weather there are objects on the way down that could come into contact with the rope as I climb up it. This is a very serious issue as dynamic ropes do stretch and if they are in constant contact with a rock, the rock can saw through the rope as your bouncing on it climbing back up. My other question is weather the area is closed or not. Thanks!
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Re: Cave Of The Swallows in Mexico - Caving still permitted?

Postby Cody JW » Feb 17, 2011 8:35 am

From what I remember on the low side rig I described earlier there really was not any rub points other than the parrallel rub right below the bolts. The pit bells out so the rope hangs free. The first few feet you are just a few feet from the wall then it bells out. Dude, you are more of a man than me if you can do that(tie dynamic ropes and cross knots there). I remember several points during the climb (with static line)where I was climbing stretch out of the rope at various points during the climb. Alot at the bottom then some about 100 feet up then again another few hundred feet up.I could not imagine that with a dynamic,but- to each his own.
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Re: Cave Of The Swallows in Mexico - Caving still permitted?

Postby Squirrel Girl » Feb 17, 2011 9:18 am

Thanks SPL, for your catalog of experience. You may know this already, but different people have different backgrounds and experience. We come up with ideas that seem to stand the test of time and work well. Sometimes it's hard to break out of our box of the right/only way to do anything. I think you can not deny that it is faster/easier/better to use a single, static rope for such an endeavor. While you *can* use knotted dyanmic, one would have to ask, "Why?" It may be good enough for someone of your experience, but I can't see the advantage.

I just asked someone who's done Golondrinas (I haven't). He says there are a couple well placed bolts that allow the drop to be a freefall. I didn't catch if it's the high side or the low side.

Anyway, best wishes to you.
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Re: Cave Of The Swallows in Mexico - Caving still permitted?

Postby BrianC » Feb 17, 2011 9:33 am

At that distance, it would eat up about 150' of rope before getting of the ground. Static rope is very susceptible to rope damage on rubbing as dynamic rope, so padding any rub point is just as important either rope. The bounce created (again due to the depth) by dynamic rope would be incredible. It is bad enough at 100'.
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Re: Cave Of The Swallows in Mexico - Caving still permitted?

Postby Amazingracer » Feb 17, 2011 9:57 am

Consider where you are, you are on caving forums saying you are using your rock climbing gear to go to a cave. I would catch just as much flack if I went to a rock climbing forum and posed a similar question with my cave gear, i would get laughed out too.

As you said to each his own. There is no right way to do, there is a more enjoyable way to do it, but not everyone likes that route. Definitely going to be a crappy climb and rappel versus a single static rope, but once again, to each his own.
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