June 19. 2016
Traverse of Xulo to Caterpillar
One of the coolest dives in Xulo is to make the third double arrow jump to the left toward Caterpillar. The passage is smallish through low bedding planes punctuated by highly stalactited swim throughs. After about 40 minutes on this line the diver will arrive at a T. If you make a left turn eventually you will reach Caterpillar at a jump within 8 minutes of the cavern zone.
Zsolt, Mark, and I had made dives from both cenotes in the classic style leaving cookies at our thirds which overlapped perhaps ten minutes beyond the left hand turn at the Xulo T. The natural thing to do was to link up the dives into a traverse or circuit.
When we asked about the line that connects the two cenotes we were told about a restriction that used to be blocked by a large stalactite which has since been broken. I am bringing this up because initially when Zsolt and I made a dive from Caterpillar we had actually passed through this restriction and didn’t realize it because we were expecting something smaller. We were expecting a hole that would require the removal of one tank which we never encountered on the dive. This actually led us to believe we were on the wrong line for a while which turned out not to be true.
This traverse is a must do and here is the beta: I staged the Xulo side and dropped the tank 30 minutes after making the Caterpillar jump (third double arrow on Xulo side) because I intended to do the traverse as a circuit. Swim to the T and go left. The passages are low and broken with fissures that eventually squeeze you into a canyon that drops to approximately 30 feet for some distance.
It is in here that you will pass through two side-ways restrictions that require some finesse not to damage cave. I believe that the second restriction is the one spoken about on some blogs where “two divers could shake hands.” This is the tight spot where the stalactite was broken and the passage is now passable without removing a tank.
After this restriction the route opens up more though the passages are still low. The line zig-zags and makes 90 degree turns eventually spitting you out at the Caterpillar jump which is at the base of a very steep slope approximately 8 minutes (less even) from the cavern zone.
Gas-wise the circuit was easily done on thirds using a stage though others with better gas consumption may not need the stage (The day before my dive we encountered a pair of divers who did the Cenote circuit without a stage).
On the map shown above, ignore the notes about making a right at the T. Going right ends in a highly decorated restriction that required the removal of at least one tank and may be no-mount–there is no way through it without breaking cave so we never passed through.