May 192015

Backroll boat entry by Dad

While I was pootling around underground in Mexico, this website passed its fourth anniversary. Four years since I spent a weekend setting up web hosting and nervously publishing my first photo and article. I didn’t tell anyone what I’d done for fear of early criticism sinking the whole grand idea. As I said two years ago I was afraid of having one of those two-post blogs, where the second post was about not having much to say “but be sure to check back soon!”. To avoid this I wrote my first dozen articles well before I posted the first one. For most of 2011 I had a 10 article buffer that slowly became a 6 article buffer followed shortly after by feeling good about life if I was a week ahead. By mid-2012 I’d discovered that writing about a dive that had just happened and posting it the next morning was much more satisfying. It wasn’t until 2013 that last minute procrastination caused me to miss my self-imposed deadline.

Four years later and with 200+ articles posted, I’ve gotten used to the idea of having a website that people might actually look at and an email list of (?eager) readers. Despite a few small lapses early this year I have mostly kept to my once-a-week posting schedule. Happily I’m still underwater most weekends and generating more than enough photos to fill the space. There’s certainly been fun periods where I’ve had more photos I wanted to talk about than weekly spots to talk about them in, a good sign of lots of diving being undertaken. The photo above was from a fun little dive off Phillip Island two month ago that somehow missed the posting schedule. Bright sunlight let me bump the shutter to 1/500 and catch Dad splashing in using natural light only.

On the technical side various plugins have crashed a few times but generally speaking the website itself has kept trotting along with very little maintenance. I’ve taken the time recently to make a few small tweaks to the layout and the sidebar, compressing the expansive archives and hopefully improving the readability on small screens. I’ve also updated the Index page so those looking for something in particular can browse through easily. Minor updates to the content delivery and code should improve loading speeds on slower connections. A friendly wave also to those reading this in their inbox who shouldn’t notice any difference at all. If you’d like to sign up for a weekly email delivery, stick your email address in the box to the right and hit Subscribe.

I’ve also discovered that WordPress now supports integrated, tiled galleries. I know this discovery puts me a little behind the times, but I thought I’d celebrate four years of life on the web with a mish-mash of my favourite shots from along the way. I have no idea if this gallery will work on email or RSS, so you might need to click through to the site itself. Thanks for reading – here’s to the next four years!

May 122015
A midnight ramble in Cueva de Eduardo

Besides the fun of the main game in San Agustin and La Grieta on the PESH 2015 expedition, there was also some surface activity and trips to smaller objectives. Corey spent a day wandering the jungle and covered a huge distance from our lodgings. The universe being what it is, he found a highly prospective cave entrance on the way home, less than 200m from where we were staying. He came back with this news late in the day and made it sound enticing. Sometime after dark we decided to go and have a look. After sliding down the hill from the road through some particularly spiky vegetation, Corey relocated the entrance. I was expecting a small hole in the [read more…]

May 052015
PESH 2015 - Diving Red Ball Canyon Sump Part II

In Part I I talked about the Huautla System, the trip into the San Agustin entrance and the first dives of Red Ball Canyon sump. So now we were past the two short sumps and into the expected dry cave behind. The cave was heading away upstream and while climbs were expected, the assumption was that the gradient would be relatively flat and the lead would eventually join up with another known cave system kilometres away. The next underground morning, Dave, Sandy and Andreas headed off to Red Ball Canyon to ferry three divers through sumps 1 and 2 with two sets of dive gear. They took a dry bag of drill and batteries, rigging bolts and rope with intentions [read more…]

May 022015
PESH 2015 - diving Red Ball Canyon Part I

After crossing the world twice and two weeks of hard work, I’m back from the wilds of the Mexican mountains. This trip report is long enough that I have split it in half. Stay tuned next week for part 2. The PESH 2015 expedition is now complete with the two main cave entrances used de-rigged and returned to their natural state. 2015 was the second annual expedition with trips planned each April until 2023. Over the course of 10 years the PESH team aims to expand the known depth of the Huautla System beyond a mile, and the surveyed horizontal passage to over 100kms. This year’s expedition cracked the 70km mark and with the total depth at 1545m, a mile can’t [read more…]

Apr 072015

Life has been a little bit quiet on the website of late, because life has been incredibly busy in the real world. Since our last successful exploration weekend in Elk River I’ve spoken at Oztek, done a couple of lovely ocean dives, a weekend in Gambier and packed three overstuffed bags for Mexico. I fly out of Melbourne next weekend for two weeks of caving, diving and exploration with the PESH (Proyecto Espeleologico Sistema Huautla) expedition. The PESH mission is to run ten annual expeditions to the Huautla System. This April is the second one and continues on with the aims of pushing the known cave past 100kms in length and one mile in depth. There are more than two dozen [read more…]

Mar 092015
Pushing upstream and downstream Elk River

I know I’ve skipped a couple of trips on here, including some nice photos from Scrubby Creek and Shade of Death. However the excitement of the Elk push dives this weekend is going to post first and I will have to get back to the Scrubby Creek shots for you at a later date. The Elk project has been going on for just over two years now and it seems that at times we’ve been making a lot of effort for very little progress. This weekend we put in a lot of effort and got great new cave in return. It was a three day weekend in Victoria so we planned for an easy day Saturday, a downstream push on [read more…]