A team of cavers have returned from a seven-week expedition to Sistema Huautla, a large deep cave system in Mexico. Using scuba equipment the team succeeded in exploring 1,444 feet further into Sump 9, the previous lowest explored point, and an additional depth of 266 feet, where the cave is entirely flooded. Sump 9 is reportedly the "most remote point yet reached inside the earth," according to renowned cave explorer Dr. William Stone in 1994, after he reached the sump but was unable to dive its depths.
The final dive, made by Jason Mallinson, also established Sistema Huautla as the deepest cave in the Western Hemisphere, with a total depth of 5,069 feet measured from the highest entrance to the deepest point reached by Mallinson during his dive.
A team of more than 30 cavers from the U.K., U.S., Canada, Poland and Mexico worked for many weeks hauling ropes, camping equipment and scuba gear down into the cave to a depth of 2,756 feet so that a team of five cave divers could carry on the exploration. The cave divers first had to swim 1,969 feet underwater through two flooded tunnels to reach their advance camp (Camp 6). Here they spent one week exploring Sump 9 and also looking for a way to bypass the flooded tunnel, which represents the current end of the system. In total, the cavers didn't see daylight for over 10 days while carrying out their exploration of the world famous cave.
The expedition, which took more than two years to plan, was led by British cave diver Chris Jewell who said "reaching this point was a mammoth task and I think it will be many years before someone is able to go further or deeper in this cave."
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