» If you are curious about the latest Lechuguilla Cave news, please see below
» If you want to learn more about the cave and its metrics, please consult the fact sheet
» If you want to delve deeper into the wonders of Lechuguilla Cave, check out the new illustrated book
» If you like to enjoy a little portfolio of Lechuguilla Cave photos, please see here
» If you are interested in the wealth of literature on this cave, visit the bibliography
» If you'd like your own copy of the new book, you are welcome to visit the speleo-photo editions webshop
» If you like to get in touch, please contact us
The extraordinary gypsum crystals in the famous 'Chandelier Ballroom' of Lechuguilla Cave
Sky-blue celestine and barite cave minerals were the focus of a recent scientific expedition into Lechuguilla Cave. The team, including Aria Mildice, Derek Bristol, Ben Smith, Rainer Straub, and expedition leader Max Wisshak, revisited most of the known occurrences (and some spectacular new ones) of these fascinating minerals in all three branches of the cave for a detailed documentation and for sampling. Back in the lab, we’ll carry out various mineralogical and microbiological analyses, as well as geochemical fingerprinting, to better understand how these rare cave minerals form and what palaeo-environmental information they may reveal.
The week-long underground camp, the first after a three-year C19-hiatus, was kindly made possible by a major rope-replacement effort led by the Park’s cave specialist Erin Lynch and supported by many volunteer cavers (thank you all!), so we had the pleasure of rappelling hundreds of meters of shiny new rope and passing numerous shiny new rebelays!
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Carlsbad Caverns National Park, where Lechuguilla Cave is located. Centennial events and activities will occur throughout 2023 and will be announced on the park’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter channels.
Special Guest Speaker Presentations on Lechuguilla Cave include former cave specialist Ronal C. Kerbo (Friday, May 26, 6:30 PM at the National Cave and Karst Research Institute in Carlsbad), and Ronal C. Kerbo together with cave geomicrobiologist Hazel Barton (Saturday, May 27, 5:30 PM at the Carlsbad Caverns National Park Visitor Center).
We made it: production has been successfully completed and Lechuguilla Cave: Discoveries in a Hidden Splendor is now officially released :-)
What a milestone, at least for us – the editors and the whole team of writers and photographers dedicated to this passion project. A million thanks to everyone in this team – each one of you made the difference!
We are most grateful also to Jon Jarvis (18th Director of the National Park Service, 2009 to 2017) who wrote the opening statement, Rod Horrocks (Chief of Natural & Cultural Resources at Carlsbad Caverns National Park) for donating a foreword, Peter Bosted (Lechuguilla Cave Explorer involved in 50 expeditions, 1988 to 2017) for writing another great foreword, and Dale Pate (Cave Specialist at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, 1991 to 2012) for his concluding remarks.
More about the new book here ...
Finally, more than 30 years after the groundbreaking Lechuguilla Cave: Jewel of the Underground, we are pleased to announce the production of a brand new coffee-table book showcasing this remarkable place – Lechuguilla Cave: Discoveries in a Hidden Splendor. Told by the explorers themselves and shown through their stunning photographs, the book reveals the challenging exploration of more than 240 kilometers of passages and highlights recent discoveries in terms of beauty, scale, and science. The 240-page book, printed in first-class quality, was edited by Max Wisshak and Hazel Barton, relying on a great team of authors and photographers from among the most active explorers of the cave. It is published by the speleo-photo editions and available directly through this website.
Curious to learn more about the new book? Please see here ...
Here it is, the new website that provides information on Lechuguilla Cave and on the new coffee-table book featuring this remarkable cave - Lechuguilla Cave: Discoveries in a Hidden Splendor.
If you'd like to update this site with Lechuguilla news or have additional relevant information that should be covered on this website, please send me a message by e-mail or by using the contact form.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all exploration and research activities in Lechuguilla Cave are unfortunately suspended for the time being :-(
Celebrating the literal milestone of 150 miles of surveyed passageways in Lechuguilla Cave, an online symposium took place in November 2020, organized by Hazel Barton and team. All of the talks were recorded and can be viewed at the NSS YouTube channel:
The latest expedition (and last for a while) was led by Hazel Barton and took a team including Derek Bristol, Beth Cortright, Stephen Eginoire, James Hunter, Aria Mildice, and Max Wisshak into the Southwestern Branch of the cave. The team spent a week at the Big Sky Camp, with several goals, including two climbs and some scientific objectives, and made substantive efforts to completing the Voids map. The overall survey footage obtained was 7,059 ft and included 2,372 ft of new passages.
A new scientific study reveals two kinds of rare barite speleothems discovered in Lechuguilla Cave: bluish tabular crystals in a shallow pool and actively dripping greenish stalactites, which today form at surprisingly low temperatures in the non-hydrothermal and vadose environment of the cave. Based on mineralogical, geochemical, and geomicrobiological analyses, the possible modes of barite precipitation in this unusual setting are discussed.
The October expedition led a 6-person team, including Beth Cortright, Hazel Barton, Shawn Thomas, James Hunter, Andy Armstrong, and expedition leader Max Wisshak, for 8 days into the Western Branch of the cave. Based at Deep Seas Camp, the team surveyed a total of 6,910 ft, including 4,344 ft of new survey (including a major new passage named Barite Boulevard), in an effort to further explore and mop up the Nearwest area. Thereby, the total length of surveyed passageways of the cave passed the symbolic 150 miles mark (ca. 241 km)! With this length, Lechuguilla Cave currently ranks 8th on the list of the world's longest caves.