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This Page contains information for cavers wanting to visit

La Cueva del Precipico

in Bustamante Canyon near Bustamante, NL, Mexico

You will find (eventually):

  • Two downloadable photographs with the route map from the road to the cave.

  • Two color photographs showing the route map from the road to the cave.

  • Information about the trail and what you need to plan for.

  • Suggested plans of attack.

  • Rigging the cave.

  • Downloadable Map pages.

  • Reprints of AMCS reports.

  • Information on "The Pulldown".

  • Dealing with Lechuguilla

For now, here is all there is:

A letter from Aimee about the February 1999 trip.

The date is pretty firm right now for February 26 through 28th with all the other caving events scheduled.

I am not planning on any pull downs from Prec and though I have been there once before I hope to get an experienced caver to rig the two drops in the cave as my memory on that is not too good. I expect to leave Austin early Friday morning in order to get to the park by early evening. I have been advising everyone to get well hydrated the day before and get a good nights sleep. The last time I went, there were those amongst us that drank a few beers too many the night before. They didn't fare too well. Also, the trip was in May, (way too hot).

I would like to be on the trail to the cave by at least 9:30 and take our time getting there so we all stick together. The last time we went we camped out in the entrance rooms, resting on Saturday evening and waking at midnight to do the drops. I am not particular about the time we get going but would like to hike out on Sunday. I may stay over in Bustamante for a Monday morning departure.

I have invited others wanting to do Palmito to join us for the weekend, so they can watch our cars.

Maps & Articles

AMCS Activities Newsletter No. 14, p. 56-60 (1984) has the article and map of Precipicio. To order: AMCS

There is also a brief description of it in The Caves and Karst of Texas, the 1994 NSS Convention Guidebook, on pages 333-225. To order: TSS

Some Incomplete Notes on

Rigging

by Mark Minton

The first drop requires a 60-m rope. It is best tied to a large rock near the lip and then rebelayed from a bolt on the wall right over the drop for a clean hang. It is also good to rebelay again at the ledge a third of the way down to avoid swinging into a narrow slot that can be very difficult to get back up out of. There is a convenient hole through the wall out on the end of the ledge for this purpose. It takes someone with long arms to reach the far end of the hole as I recall.

The second drop requires a 25-m rope and must be rigged some distance back from the crumbly lip. There is a rock in the floor we usually use.

Pull Down from the entrance to the canyon floor:

The pull down requires 100 meters of rope, so if you plan to do that, you must carry more rope than you need just for the drops in the cave. For instance a 60 and a 40 could be used in the cave, and then tied together for the pull down. The AMCS article also describes the pull down and includes maps of the two short caves along the way.

Cueva del Precipico

In Canyon Bustamante, Bustamante, NL, Mexico

Important Information
by Gill Ediger

The entrance to the cave is located high on the canyon wall. Access to the entrance is along a largely unmarked and uncertain route up a boulder floored arroyo, a long ridge of sharp karst, a veritable forest of lechuguilla, a short but rather sporting cliff, a hike along an animal trail with a beautiful view of all of that part of Mexico, a butt slide down some fearful looking scree and thorns in an arroyo that plunges off into the canyon several hundred meters above the floor, and a short traverse along a narrow ledge high up on the wall. It is a fun trip! But taxing and of from 2 to 4 hours duration.

Coming down in the dark is only slightly worse, so try for the day time if you can. That generally means the next day.

Most groups plan to sleep in the cave a few hours, both to rest and to wait till daylight. You will need a sleeping bag and ground sheet, at least, if you plan likewise.

Between October and March you will need to carry a gallon of water--or more--other times take 2 gallons.

Two gallons weigh 16 pounds! Tank up well the night and morning before you begin your hike. Your urine should be almost crystal clear when you begin your trip--it'll be almost orange when you return. Budget your water carefully! Make sure you still have half of it left halfway through the trip! Drink the last of it halfway down the mountain.

You will need to carry enough food for a 24 hour trip--think light weight, full of energy, no water needed to make it edible, food. Hot food and drink is a good thing to have. You may want to split up the toting chores, one caver carries the stove, another the fuel, and a third the pot to cook it in. Take a spoon and plenty of jalapeos.

You should be sure that your mental and physical condition are prepared for an extended, strenuous, and sometimes difficult trip of 24 or more hours. Many others have done it, so it isn't anything to be afraid of, but you should be prepared for it. If at any point on the climb you feel that you are going beyond your ability, you should consider going back to camp. If you break down, others may have to help you and carry your gear under conditions which are already trying for them. Try not to let that happen. Normally healthy and physically active cavers can make the trip with some sweat and effort and determination and without the need of fear or worry.

You will need to carry vertical gear for a 50 meter and a 10 meter rappel and climb, both well within the cave. Make sure someone else takes the ropes.

If you want to take pictures you should take your camera, at least.

You should carry sufficient cold and foul weather gear to survive wet and freezing weather if that is in the forecast. Very cold Northerns move into the area in February. If sleet or snow is forecast, do not go up the mountain, it's slick enough already.

You should be prepared to endure minor cuts and scrapes and cactus pricks without the need to go into full medical emergency mode. You will bleed at some point on the trip, perhaps at several points. Put up with it.

Start with sturdy boots in good condition. Some rocks are razor sharp on the climb, both up and down.

Do not fall!  Make up your mind now and stick with it.

To find out if it is a cave worth the effort, you must see it for yourself.

Have a good time.

Suggested Plan of Attack

by Gill Ediger

The hike up to the cave is strenuous and demanding. Unless you are a gluten for punishment, don't think about doing it in the summer. Take plenty of water--one gallon minimum, per person.

Most teams plan to sleep in the cave, so some sort of bivouac gear is required. Since the cave is warm, only a light weight sleeping bag is needed. A plastic ground sheet big enough to lay your gear out on would be nice. During winter months a jacket and shell garment should be carried. See notes above for other items you may need or want.

Two slightly different plans are commonly used:

  1. Camp when you get to the cave and try to sleep, then get up a go caving at night and hike down the hill in the morning dog-ass tired or

  2. go caving as soon as you get into the cave and get plenty tired and then sleep for sure when you get back to the entrance of the cave and hike down in the morning well rested.

The second scenario makes considerably more sense for those people who can't sleep at 2 o'clock in the afternoon.

The Hike in Pictures

photos & drawing & notes
by Gill Ediger

Lechuguilla Got You Down?

Here are a couple of photos showing the approved method for negotiating the
Zona de Lechuguilla.

  1. Approach the Lechuguilla boldly

  2. Put your foot beside it about 4 inches above the base

  3. Push it over with unwavering determination

  4. Step right in the center and continue on your merry way