So... here's an update on what has been going on down at the cave :
Update #1 July 2008
July I journeyed down to Aquismon to talk with local, state, and federal officials about the cave. At first I was met with
a great deal of negativity. I spent a week treck-ing back and forth thru some of the most difficult travel I have ever experienced
( torrential rainfall made just reaching Aquismon a task as the main roads were closed, and getting up the road to the cave
required hiring a boat to cross the valley, and a second vehicle to 4 by 4 up to the cave).
Upon finally getting
to the cave I sat down with the cave council and was informed that after the last series of trips run to the cave, the community
had gotten together and passed a law making decent by parachute, as well as use of motorized winches illegal at the cave.
It seems we managed to really really make the locals dislike jumpers. I was also informed that 4 other groups had come down
in the last year attempting to as they put it "Buy" there way back into the cave. They had up until this point told everyone
to go take a hike.... the cave is closed to jumpers.
So.....here's why: When I first went down to the cave, Mark
and Randy were running a very small (5-7 people) trip 7 days a year. Then I started running a trip. Then team Norway started
running a trip. Then we all started running trips back to back.... twice a year sometimes... All but suddenly we (basejumpers)
were at the cave 2-3 months out of the year. larger groups started coming. On some trips the winch was running from 9 am till
almost 4 pm every day. People started getting crazy.... booze....partying.... fireworks around the cave.
were also paying hefty fees to the local indian council for permits to jump, The rotating council was keeping the money for
themselves. The community was seeing certain individuals getting fat off of jumpers. On top of that.... for years people had
been promising to help the community out with potable H20 for the upper community.
Now the cave is probably the
coolest bird sanctuary / bird anything that I have ever seen. It truly is a treasure. Not just to jumpers. The local looked
at us and said : Fuck these guys....... they bring limited funds to a very few individuals(yes we were screwing with the natural
balance of the place----financially !!), their loud winch runs all day long echoing thru the community, jumpers are liers
and dangling water in front of our noses for many years has made them untrusting of their word, on top of that , not respecting
the birds by jumping in when organizers had been told to stop was pretty much the final straw. As Thomas told me .... the
rest of the community has seen no benefit from basejumpers . All they have gotten has been 2-3 months of noise, broken promises,
and difficult interactions .
I told them I would go back to San Luis and come back with some Ideas. I contacted
Bernard Amadei here in Boulder. He is the founder of Engineers Without Borders , a non profit organization that helps poor
communities with water, electric, and other engineering projects. This organization is worldwide , and very productive. I
am very lucky to live in Boulder,CO , where Mr. Amadei is a professor at CU. He agreed to help with organizing a project to
bring water to the community.
I contacted a few fellow jumpers that have been to the cave, as well as some other
potential donors about fundraising to make this H20 project happen (thanks Avery).
back up to the cave. I met with the community and told them that even though I didn't ever promise them anything, that I would
do my best with the help of EWB, and the Mexican government to help them with their H20 problem. I figure what the hell .....
these folks put up with us for many years, the least I can due is try and help out.
At this point they informed
me that to repeal the law against parachutes and winches, that it would require not only a 100 % community vote, but also
I would need to get approval from the dept. of Ecology and Tourism. A very uphill battle. Back to San Luis I go. I met with
the proper Govt. officials, and managed with the community support to involve myself with a current "Management" study that
is underway. I met with the professors in charge of the study. They informed me that the study was due to be finished by August
I plead my case. I explained that we have a long history at the cave. I explained that we had gotten a little
carried away , but were wanting to be included in the management plan. I offered technical assistance for the study. I asked
that they consider allowing us to come back once a year for 5-10 days , Small group, 1 jump per person per day, Limited winch
use of only 1.5-2 hours per day, and last an annual project to help the community as a whole.
They listened .I couldn't
believe my ears. They agreed to extend the study to allow us to take part. They agreed to allow me to bring a few people down
in Oct. to help with the study. If things go exceptionally well, they may issue a limited permit in April. If we behave.....
it may become an annual thing again. No promises ...... but there is a chance.....
why am I writing this??????? Because I will be asking for help from everyone. My goal is to affect the community of the cave
in a positive manner. I am meeting with EWB on the 14th of this month. They will be setting up a non-profit fund for the Cave.
Go-Fast has agreed to help with a fundraiser at the Annual Royal Gorge Go-Fast games. I have contacted a few local businesses
, and we are going to do some fundraisers thru my restaurant in the near future. Gear manufacturers have pledged to help with
gear donations , Hopefully with everyones support .... we will be able to change the perception of Basejumpers in Mexico.
want to thank a few folks who have been incredibly supportive : Avery , Marta and Jimmy, Kathy & Rob, Troy W., Manny and
Update # 2 Dec 2008
Soooo..... I am flying
down to the cave with a friend this week to meet with people about both the H20 project, as well as the folks we are working
with on the study/access issue.
As I mentioned at the GO-Fast Games.... I am psyched to announce that the School
of Mines in Golden CO has agreed to adopt the cave as their senior planning project for the next five years. They are going
to oversee as well as commit serious resources to helping bring potable water to the families around the cave. For those of
you who have never heard of the School of Mines...... they are a bad ass engineering school. They know all about drilling
holes. We probably couldn't have found smarter people to be involved with.
As far as progress on access..... we'll
have to wait and see. I am going to drive down there in March in conjunction with our El Gigante load this year. We will be
taking a few grad students from the S.O.M. . A very small group (2-3 of us) will be making very limited jumps into the cave
while we support the group of professors that are doing the study.
If things go well .... we will be a step closer
to coming back there. It really will be about working both with the Govt., Ecology, and the community to regain access to
I guess I hope to have more to report after next week. Wish me luck.