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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Real life 'hobbit holes' of Mexico: Deepest open air pits in the world where the 330-metre drop has claimed dozens of climbers' lives

By JILL REILLY

Film scene: These are the incredible images of dauntingly deep caves looking like something out of a scene in The Hobbit - a climber can be seen scaling down a line here

A secret garden nestles 300 metres beneath the surface of the Earth at the bottom of Mexico's 'hobbit holes.'
The dauntingly deep caves showcases the deepest open air pits in the world.
Photographer Amy Hinkle shot the spectacular images in January while on a week-long expedition to Mexico's atmospheric caves.

Adrenaline: Rappeling into the Huasteca cave. Ms Hinkle says these huge pits should only be tackled by the most experienced of cavers

The cave's Spanish name Sótano de las Golondrinas means Basement of the Swallows owing to the many birds which live in holes on the cave walls.
The cave floor which is the size of three football pitches, is covered in millipedes, insects, snakes, and scorpions.
It is deep enough to fit the Statue of Liberty standing on her own shoulders, the Eiffel tower, or the Chrysler building, according to Atlasobscura.
Ms Hinkle says these huge pits in the Aquismon region in Mexico should only be tackled by the most experienced of cavers.

Deep down: Photographer Amy Hinkle shot the spectacular images in January while on a week-long expedition to the caves of the Aquismon region in Mexico

Ms Hinkle, 26, said: 'With proper knowledge and training it is very safe.
'As cavers we use Single Rope Technique (SRT) to rappel and climb the rope unlike in normal rock climbing where you climb the wall.
'At times, especially with pits such as these which bell out from tiny openings, you are easily 30-50 meters from the wall!

'The rope is your way in and your way out, hence cavers often refer to the rope as the 'Nylon Highway'.'
Amy says she works as part of the VBATS. team which is simply a group of cavers who like to hang out on rope together.
VBATS. founder Mike 'TinY' Manke started the group to provide a way for people with a similar interest in SRT to get together.

Climbers at the bottom of the Golondrinas cave. The cave floor which is the size of three football pitches, is covered in millipedes, insects, snakes, and scorpions

Ms Hinkle from Alabama, said: ' Together we train, learn and explore.
'We all pitch in to make these trips possible simply because we love it that much. It truly is a wonderful group of people.'
After travelling down some people build tents at the bottom and stay the night in the sinkhole to watch the sun come up in the morning.

Stunning scene: The view from the bottom of Huasteca cave, 225ft below the surface

It has become popular with BASE jumpers - while it would take about ten seconds to hit the bottom, the ascent back up is slower taking between 40 minutes and 2 hours.

Exploring: People inside the Cepillos cave .After travelling down some people build tents at the bottom and stay the night in the sinkhole

Depths: The cave is 300 metres deep - there is a narrow continuation which leads through several steps up to 512 metre depth

Pose for a photo: Photographer Amy Hinkle inside the Cepillos cave

Don't look down: Amy Hinkle seconds before rappeling into Golondrinas

Film: The Fellowship proceeds with caution in the Mines of Moria, in this scene from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The Mexican caves have a similar quality to the film



source: dailymail



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