National Geographic : 1991 Mar
behind all the effort. Hard-core cavers literally live for that chal lenge. Fifty-two-year-old Don ald Davis, a beekeeper from Colorado, calls caving an obses sion and has made more than a dozen forays into Lechuguilla. "Caving," he says, "is the only activity in which a person of modest means can actually explore the unknown." Cavers are impelled by "borehole lust," "virgin passage fever," the passion for discovery. Talking later with Ronal Kerbo, a National Park Service cave specialist, I remarked that the exploration of the cave reminded me of the Lewis and Clark expedition. "You know," Kerbo replied, "I used to use that analogy myself. But then I realized that everywhere Lewis and Clark went, there were people. Exploring Lechuguilla is en tirely different. No one's ever been in those virgin passages. It's Neil Armstrong stuff." Toseeanewpartofacave for the first time is called "scooping booty," and I have done it. I am climbing with Pat Kambesis, who is the LCP's chief cartographer, and we are trying to see how far a new Squeezing through a gap, Chris Stine explores an arm of Lake Castrovalva (above). To avoid fouling the water with dirty clothing, he wore nothing but his helmet. The team never used cave water for bathing, instead settling for occasional sponge baths with premoistened paper towels. Diver-photographer David Bunnell illuminates and explores the Lake of the Blue Giants, which he found to be 90 feet deep. Delicate helictites growing in a pool in the Pellucidar Room of Lechuguilla are astonishing aformation never seen before.