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(Kasia Biernacka, photo)

2022 Sistema Cheve Expedition

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In 2021, more than 21 kilometers of previously unknown cave were discovered in Cueva Cheve alone. For a predominantly vertical, deep caving expedition, this represents a stunning increase to the known extents of the cave system. The northern limit of Cheve has, after nearly 30 years of effort, finally been extended beyond the sumps as well as beyond the breakdown collapse at the end of Sump 2. The majority of the new cave discovered in 2021 was, in fact, north of the previous exploration limit, reached by divers on the 2017 expedition. These new tunnels are mostly horizontal in nature (although there are level changes of nearly 300 meters between some sections of the labyrinth). The vast majority of the tunnels averaged 40 x 40 meters in cross section and in places reached 60 m wide by 75 m high (notably at Harmony Hall). The exploration limit has progressed beyond the northern extent of the high karst plateau and is now directly below the town center of the village of San Miguel Santa Flor, at a depth of 600 m below the surface, and aligned with the axis of the valley that descends through Santa Flor. The current length of the Cueva Cheve – Peña Negra cave system is 76,735 meters. The system depth increased modestly to 1,536 meters.

Following the discoveries of 2021, our efforts in 2022 will have 2 main objectives. Half the team will search for a new entrance to the system near the community of San Miguel Santa Flor. The other half of the team will be based at the main Cheve entrance, searching for higher entrances and pushing leads in the Peña Negra section of Sistema Cheve. The expedition will take place from March 5-April 30, 2022.

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