Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro HERO3

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Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro HERO3

Post by BDub » Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:50 am

We just got back from 2 amazing weeks of cave diving in Mexico over the Thanksgiving holiday with Austin (KitsapDiver) and Nick (LimeyX).

We had a total of 11 days of diving and got in ~36 hours of bottom time in a very nice mix of caves we’d already done, as well as new to us caves, including one that’s been at the top my “to do list” for 2 years.

I’ll spare you all the details. Those interested in a list of dives and profiles, I posted them at http://www.frogkickdiving.com/FKD_-_Cav ... g_2012.php. I'll get individual dive reports up as time allows.

This was Austin’s first time cave diving in Mexico. For our first dive, we took him to Nohoch. Nohoch was the reason I wanted to learn to cave dive, and should be on every cave diver’s to do list, imo. It’s almost sensory overload due to how incredibly decorated it is. It’s also shallow, expansive and wide, making for a nice dive to get acclimated to diving in Mexico. Though extremely delicate, Austin and I have dived together often, and I was well aware of his skill level, and I know the cave well. My only concern was spoiling him on day 1!

Over the next few days, we dived in a fairly diverse range of caves, ranging from white to dark, wide to fairly tight, large tunnels to delicate. Most of them were dives Jeanna and I had done in some of our favorites, or in caves we had done, but new to us areas of the caves. It was really fun to revisit some of them, and we found some very intriguing possibilities for future return visits. We also did a cave I'd been wanting to do for a while, but just hadn't gotten to (Calvera/Temple).

Austin was in town for 5 days of diving at the beginning of our trip, and Nick flew in for 7 days on the second part of the trip, with the both of them overlapping on Saturday.

We said goodbye to Austin, and hit the second week of diving. After our last trip last November, we had compiled a fairly large list of dives we wanted to do. Now it was just a matter of whittling down the list to 6 days of diving!

None of the dives disappointed, but my personal highlights were Hostage Hall in Mayan Blue…an enormous, airplane hangar sized room which took 10 minutes to swim end to end.

We also did a dive in Gran Cenote, one of my favorite caves. You can dive there a week and not repeat the same dive. This trip, we decided we’d try to traverse to Cenote Pabilanny, about a 4200’ swim, each way. There’s noticeable flow in Gran, so we’d swim into the flow to Pabilanny, and get spat out on the way back. This included multiple jumps and T’s (8 total, IIRC) and required double stages. We turned ~:15 before making it to Pabilanny, but it was an incredibly beautiful dive. To date, one of my favorite dives was the Lithium Sunset section of Sac Actun, and this rated very close in my book. Though we didn’t make it all the way to Pabilanny, we came up with a pretty good plan for a future visit.

The “To Do List” cave was Tux Kupaxa. We were unable to do this dive our last 2 trips, and ended up doing Lithium instead, so it was tough to complain. However, it still remained at the top of my list and I was determined to do it. Ends up, it took a lot of determination, as finding the landowner, making the trek in small rental cars on a brutally rough road tested our commitment to doing this dive. Nick had done this dive once back in 2010, and this way high on his list to try again as well. It certainly didn’t disappoint. We had an unreal 4 hour double stage dive, featuring some (very large) bones, highly decorated passage and some speleothems unlike any I’ve seen before.

Now, on to the GoPro HERO3 Black Edition. I got my hands on one just before we left and I was super excited to try it out in low light situations, and you can’t get much more low light than caves! I’d been using a HERO2, which I really liked, provided there was ample ambient light, as it simply wasn’t optimal in lower light. I wanted a camera that worked better in low light, but I also just don’t want the bulk of a larger camera and large lighting system. If the HERO3 worked well, it’d be the perfect camera for me, due to how small and compact it is.

I used it for several hours on several of our dives and I was very impressed and pleasantly surprised. I used 2 UTD Vision 24W video lights and was happy with the video I got.

It does have an occasional, annoying lock up problem, but my understanding is it is known and being addressed in the next firmware update.

The first video I edited was Tux Kupaxa. This was about midway through the trip, and I was still playing with the lighting, as well as the camera, so this isn’t the best video from the trip, but it was one of my favorite dives, which is why I opted to post this first. I plan to put up 1 or 2 more videos, which will show its performance with better adjusted lighting, but this provides a good idea of its capabilities and performance.

This was shot in 1080/30fps/Wide. I did not have the camera set to Protune, RAW White Balance on this trip, electing to just start with the basics and get used to the camera and lighting.



http://vimeo.com/54943507
Last edited by BDub on Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by spatman » Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:04 am

Awesome video and great write up, Brian! Glad you guys had a good trip and looking forward to more videos.
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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by Grateful Diver » Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:46 am

Thanks for the treat, Brian ... I just scheduled my first-ever trip to the MX caves. I'll be heading down in early April ...

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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by Joshua Smith » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:09 am

Neat. Great video and write up!
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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by LCF » Thu Dec 06, 2012 3:17 pm

That video is going to cost us a lot of money, Brian . . . That cave is so gorgeous, I think we are going to HAVE to hire a guide for a day and go in and dive it (let the guide's vehicle get beat up, instead of ours!)

Looking forward to more. Dark, dreary days like this NEED cave videos to brighten them!
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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by Mortuus » Thu Dec 06, 2012 4:41 pm

Amazing

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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by BDub » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:24 pm

Thanks, everyone!

Bob, glad to hear you're heading down there. I think you'll really like it. We're hoping to get back down in February or March, so we'll probably just miss you.

Lynne, from what I understand, the road is better than it used to be, but I'd definitely suggest leaving the stress to a guide. There were a few moments of getting out of the car, looking at the next obstacle and saying "how do we do this?...and more importantly, how do we get back out if we make it in?"
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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by limeyx » Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:46 am

BDub wrote:
Lynne, from what I understand, the road is better than it used to be, but I'd definitely suggest leaving the stress to a guide. There were a few moments of getting out of the car, looking at the next obstacle and saying "how do we do this?...and more importantly, how do we get back out if we make it in?"


Wusses, I had to walk the last 300M last time .....this was pure luxury

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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by BDub » Fri Dec 07, 2012 12:08 pm

limeyx wrote:Wusses, I had to walk the last 300M last time .....


Barefoot in the snow, I'm sure
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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by Tom Nic » Fri Dec 07, 2012 12:33 pm

Dang cave bug. :axe:

Dang dang dang.... :angry:

Now, where did I put that cave bug repellent?! :bored:
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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by limeyx » Fri Dec 07, 2012 3:52 pm

BDub wrote:
limeyx wrote:Wusses, I had to walk the last 300M last time .....


Barefoot in the snow, I'm sure


How did you know ? And yes, it was uphill both ways.

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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by Paulicarp » Fri Dec 07, 2012 5:19 pm

Very nice Brian! Thanks for the report. It's giving me the same strange wallet thinning feeling I had the first time I tried a scooter. :)

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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by BDub » Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:14 am

limeyx wrote:
BDub wrote:
limeyx wrote:Wusses, I had to walk the last 300M last time .....


Barefoot in the snow, I'm sure


How did you know ? And yes, it was uphill both ways.


:dramaqueen:


Tom Nic wrote:Now, where did I put that cave bug repellent?! :bored:


Tom, I don't think such a thing exists. However, if you invented something like that, you'd probably be a rich man!

Paulicarp wrote:Very nice Brian! Thanks for the report. It's giving me the same strange wallet thinning feeling I had the first time I tried a scooter. :)


Thanks, Pauli. However, what you're feeling isn't your wallet thinning, it's your wallet disappearing.
Last edited by BDub on Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by Dusty2 » Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:24 am

Nice video but I am totally cave proof! not a single cave on my wish list :neener:

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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by kdupreez » Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:52 am

Kick ass video Brian!!! Thank a lot for sharing!
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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by LCF » Sat Dec 08, 2012 1:27 pm

Dusty, you can just thank goodness that you can feed YOUR addiction locally. Some of us aren't that lucky . . . :)
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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by ORDiver » Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:13 am

Awesome video Brian. Did Jeanna do any filming or did she get to just dive this time?

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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by BDub » Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:36 am

Thanks Dusty, Koos and Dave!

Dave, we took turns for the most part, but Jeanna was pretty focused on taking stills on this trip and she got some good ones. We're uploading them to the website today. I'll let you know as soon as they're up. We each had a pretty good mix of shooting and just diving.
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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by BDub » Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:45 am

Next up is Calimba and Pabilanny! Both are in the Sac Actun System.

We did Calimba for the first time the last time we went to Mexico and it quickly became one of my favorites. It’s a white, highly decorated and very ornate cave. It’s also a bit challenging as it’s fairly tight in areas, along with lots of unusual bends, turns and ups and downs.

Austin was leaving the next day and Nick had just arrived the evening prior. Since this was Austin’s first trip to Mexico, and Nick hadn’t done Calimba yet, this seemed like a perfect dive to do on the day their trips overlapped.

For the first dive, we headed down the mainline to the Lagarto T. Taking the T left would put you on the Paso de Lagarto line which would eventually take you down toward Grande Cenote which is across the Coba Road from Calimba. Having done that dive only once prior, it was every bit as gorgeous as I remembered it, and would be a nice shakedown for the next dive.

Dive 2 we did a jump that took us to some dramatic vertical drops that led to some absolutely stunning cave. The further we went, the more jawdropping the formations. It certainly reminded me why this is one of my favorites!

The video I took was mostly on our exit, just after turning, prior to returning to the jump. I led this dive and didn’t have much time to video, and Jeanna and Nick had their cameras, so in the interest of only one person shooting/videoing at a time, I limited my video’ing to that area. Thankfully, it was absolutely beautiful!

For our last dive on our last trip, we did a double stage dive to the Lithium Section of Grande Cenote, which was unreal. It was certainly aptly named, with highly decorated, psychedelic, white formations that looked like they were burned and fused together.

For our last dive of this trip we decided we’d go past the Lithium jump and see what was beyond that area, toward Cenote Pabilanny. This was a bit of a tough decision for me….do we go back to the known amazing section (Lithium) again, or try something new? The spirit of exploration won and the new-to-us section was almost as stunning as, and quite similar to, Lithium!

This dive would require double stages and several jumps and T’s. And, since we’d be swimming up the Lagarto line, we’d also be swimming against considerable flow. It was an exhausting dive, and our bottom time ~3:20. It was completely worth the swim, however, as it featured the same beautiful, indescribable cave that Grande always seems to offer. We’ve dived in Grande every time we’ve gone to Mexico to cave dive and it not only never disappoints, there’s always an area we haven’t yet done.

We didn’t quite make it to Pabilanny Cenote. After talking to one of the guides at Grande after our dive, it sounds like we made it within :15 of the cenote. Oh well, just another reason to go back!

The video from this dive was footage I took just after we turned up until our arrival back at our first stage pickup. Nick had his camera, and I led this dive, so for reasons similar to above, I limited videoing to this area of the dive.

I really like the Hero3. I’m impressed with the footage, and I really like how small and compact it is.

Enjoy!



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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by Jan K » Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:03 pm

Beautiful. Thank you.

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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by LCF » Thu Jan 17, 2013 3:34 pm

I need to sit down with the Grand map and figure out exactly where you guys went. That's a section of the cave we haven't explored yet.
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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by BDub » Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:57 pm

Thanks, Jan!

Lynne, jump off Lagarto like you're going to Lithium. Go past the Lithium jump and continue on way past the Lithium jump, through Trap Door and Chicklet Highway. We decided to bypass Pabilanny Passage and took the upper route, which is right around where we turned, IIRC. About an hour past Lithium.

On the map, Pabilanny Cenote is far far left.
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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by BASSMAN » Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:33 am

Dusty2 wrote:Nice video but I am totally cave proof! not a single cave on my wish list :neener:

I'm with Dusty on this one! :supz:
I thoroughly enjoyed the great video, but I too, do not have "The Cave Bug", in my system. Looks complicated and there are no critters.
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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by Tom Nic » Fri Jan 18, 2013 6:28 am

BASSMAN wrote:
Dusty2 wrote:Nice video but I am totally cave proof! not a single cave on my wish list :neener:

I'm with Dusty on this one! :supz:
I thoroughly enjoyed the great video, but I too, do not have "The Cave Bug", in my system. Looks complicated and there are no critters.


Gorgeous video. And very enticing as I have mentioned before, that cave bug is definitely chewing on my ankles.

Gotta ignore these bozos posting in a cave diving thread how they aren't interested in cave diving.... :smt064
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Re: Cave Diving in Mexico Over Thanksgiving with the GoPro H

Post by LCF » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:46 am

That's fine. I'm glad there are people who aren't interested in cave diving -- more caves for us! My guess is that they're happy I'm not interested in wreck diving or bottle collecting or spearfishing, too :)
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