May 28, 2014

 When Scott returned from discovering a third cave I was eager to descend the volcano to see what he had found.  He explained to me that there is some steep sloping volcanic scree like material with some areas more talus than others.  Scott also mentioned that I should be back within a half hour so we can make out ascent off the volcano before bad weather rolls in.  The cloud conditions changed and made the visibility go from perfectly sunny to less than 30ft of visibility so I started climbing down sliding a bit as I knew that I had a half hour to photo document and continue my search inside this cave so I wanted to make the best use of time for the sake of the team.  I made it to a bend around a cliff and as the clouds drifted past my vision I started to see this dark silhouette in the distance become more defined as I got closer and as the clouds cleared this eerie cliff of loose volcanic rock with the potential to go at any moment.

Entrance to Cueva Espanado, Irazu Volcano, Costa Rica
The clouds continued to roll in so it was a bit hard to see yet as I entered the cave the viz changed and I could see for a few hundred feet inside.  The cave was not as big as the mineral cave but it had an obvious larger passage that went for between 250-350 feet.

Inside Cueva Espando, Irazu Volcano, Costa Rica
Being the second person to enter the cave I took my time to carefully document the features of this cave that caught my attention. One of these was the heat at the back of the cave that fogged my camera lens with an estimated air temperature in the mid 90s. It felt like a sauna!

wet Sulfur material with an unknown orange outline where an unknown liquid was dripping and creating a hole through the sulfur leaving an orange residue in Cueva Espando, Irazu Volcano, Costa Rica. 

The breakdown rocks at the back of this cave were a cream white color which went with a slightly darker almost grayish color on the walls and ceiling.  I looked right and I saw a couple of leads that I proceeded to investigate.   I followed these two side passage leads up into some more breakdown and into a couple of rooms that had dark amber and yellow formations that decorated the ceiling.  This mineral I am describing might be Romerita but I can not confirm that.
Possible Romerita mineral crystal Stalactite Cueva Espanado, Irazu Volcano Costa Rica

Cueva Espanado

 Furthermore, there were some dark burgundy soda straws with translucent gypsum like crystals growing over the straws like a infestation of some sort.  I don't think these crystals were gypsum due to the conditions but they appeared to be similar in their nature.
The last piece that I noticed were some mysterious web like designs that looked like a spider attempted to set a web but I can't imagine any organisms surviving in this hot and sulfur rich environment let alone why a spider would want to set a web here when I didn't not notice any identifiable organisms flying around..

Unknown sulfur like formation with snottite or spider webbing material retaining an unknown liquid Irazu Volcano Costa Rica

Time was running out for me to be in this cave and I had to get back to the group so we could start our ascent out of the volcano by nightfall. I climbed up the talus and scree slopping route I made my descent on and every handhold crumbled in my hands as well as every foot hold slid me half way down every step revolution I made but I was able to make it back yet everyone else was still in the Mineral Cave finishing up their respective tasks.  The clouds started to engulf us and we found ourselves imersed in cloud cover as we were all starting to re group at the handline base camp.  It  I made it up over the ledge and as the last person exited out of mineral cave we heard a huge thunderous crash..twice!!!!!

Read what happened in the cueva Mineral cave blog:

Sunset over Irazu Volcano Costa Rica


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