Mexico mountain cavers go to great depths

21st Jun 2013

A British explorer has sunk to the lowest depths in Mexico's magnificent cave network.

Chris Jewell is celebrating after leading a team of 40 cavers to the lowest downward distance - 1,545 metres (5,068ft) - ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere.

Jewell, 31, and his group navigated the Sistema Huautla, one of the most remote places ever reached inside the earth, for seven weeks.

Located in the magnificent trekking holiday region of the Sierra Mazateca mountains, the cave system has 17 entrances and endless different routes into the centre.

Holidaymakers on group tours there can also enjoy the delights of mountain biking, horseback riding and hiking.

But it was no holiday for Jewell's team.

They had to dive, swim, climb and plunge through a labyrinth of pitch black tunnels, and swam underwater in darkness for 600 metres (1,968ft) in a 28 metre (91ft) deep river.

They spent up to 10 consecutive nights underground, sleeping in the cave, scuba diving flooded tunnels and having no idea where they were heading.

Team member Jason Mallinson reached the depth of 1,545 metres - the eighth deepest in history.

The group beat the previous Western Hemisphere record of 1,484 metres (4,868ft) set nearby in the Cheve caves.

Jewell said his team, also from USA, Canada, Poland and Mexico, traced the water's flow to a canyon seven miles away.

He added: "You don't feel the depth underground, but you're aware of the remoteness and that you're two days away from sunlight."

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