Using Fruitcake as Fuel to Explore One of the World’s Deepest Caves
PESH is back! After being forced to take a two-year hiatus due to the global pandemic, PESH has returned to Oaxaca, Mexico to explore one of the deepest cave systems in the world—Sistema Huautla. Sponsored by Collin Street Bakery, and with plenty of fruitcakes to use as adventure fuel, PESH explorers hope to go farther into the caves than ever before. Keep reading to learn more about this year’s adventure!
Watch our Interview with Bill Steele, Co-Leader of the PESH Caving Organization
In anticipation of their 2022 expedition, Bill Steele penned this brief letter to all of us here at Collin Street Bakery. In his own words, he details the intended duration of the expedition, the individuals involved, and this year’s objectives.
Our work exploring, mapping, studying, and publishing details about Sistema Huautla is about to resume. After having to skip our 2020 and 2021 expeditions due to the Covid pandemic, we're picking back up! We’ll be traveling down at the end of March and we’ll be there until the end of April.
This year, we have a solid team, boasting individuals from across seven countries. They are among the best cave explorers in the world.
I recently traveled down to Huautla de Jimenez, Oaxaca, Mexico with a small group of colleagues to secure our operations headquarters buildings and nail down various logistics. While down there, we saw the newly elected head of the local government who gave his blessing for our endeavors.
This year, our expedition objectives include exploring more of Sistema Huautla’s vast system of interconnected caves. We feel confident we’ll make a connection between a tangented cave we discovered in 2019, and the main cave system. If we succeed, Sistema Huautla will stand as only the second cave in the world that's both 1500+ meters deep and 100 kilometers long. The other one is located in Austria.
We also really look forward to practicing Fruitcake Diplomacy, as it truly works!
Bill Steele | PESH Co-Leader
Watch PESH’s Pre-Expedition Highlight Reel
Preparing for this year's expedition is lots of hard work but also, lots of fun! Watch as Bill Steele gathers supplies at our Collin Street Bakery Waco Café location before traveling to Austin for the organization's launch party!
Read our 2022 Pre-Trip Interview with Bill Steele
Collin Street Bakery (CSB): For those members of our audience who haven’t met you yet, can you please introduce yourself?
Bill Steele: Of course! My name's Bill Steele and I'm Co-Leader of Proyecto Espeleológico Sistema Huautla (PESH), the speleological project exploring Sistema Huautla. Sistema Huautla is a complex integration of caves in the far Southern Mexico state of Oaxaca.
CSB: And, why have you stopped here at our Café location in Waco?
Bill Steele: For the past couple of years, PESH has been lucky enough to be sponsored by Collin Street Bakery. We’ve received bags of your signature Cinchona® Coffee, boxes of your DeLuxe® Fruitcakes, and also Petite fruitcake bites, all of which we use during our expedition.
We especially love the Petites because they are high calories, delicious, and they travel well into the underground caves.
CSB: For how many years have cavers been exploring Sistema Huautla?
Bill Steele: Well, the first explorers went there in 1965. I started exploring in 1977 and I've been going for most years ever since.
CSB: Wow! How long have you been leading the expedition?
Bill Steele: I led my first expedition in 1977, the year after I moved to Texas to do exactly that.
CSB: That’s amazing! What are your hopes for this year?
Bill Steele: In this expedition, we expect to make a major link between two caves. Three years ago, we found a new cave system. There’s currently a gap between that system and the main system. But, we hope to find a connection. If we find that connection, Sistema Huautla will stand as the second deepest cave in the world!
CSB: That’ll be a huge accomplishment.
Bill Steele: Indeed!
CSB: Share with our audience, a little about a term you coined: “Fruitcake Diplomacy.” What is it exactly?
Bill Steele: Well, it turns out the indigenous people who live in the Sierra Mazateca region, have huge sweet tooths and they love fruitcake! So, while we try our best not to disturb the local people, sometimes it’s unavoidable. So, we use your DeLuxe® Fruitcakes as a way of apologizing and making amends. We also use it as a way of making inroads with new villages and as a way of showing our respect for their homeland. No matter the language we speak, everyone speaks fruitcake!
CSB: Fruitcake—not only bringing families together, but uniting countries as well, right?
Bill Steele: So right. So right.
CSB: So tell us, what does Collin Street Bakery’s partnership mean to PESH?
Bill Steele: The partnership with the bakery is just the tops. Personally, I love to stop by your Cafés—it’s a great place to have lunch and baked goods. But, what’s most amazing is Collin Street Bakery sees the significance of what we're doing. They really back our mission and vision.
CSB: Well, we are so excited to be a part of your adventure. Be certain to keep us updated as you explore!
Bill Steele: We sure will!
Collin Street Bakery's Continued Annual Support
Collin Street is honored to be able to support PESH in its world-class original explorations and plans to continue providing annual support for their excursions. Here at the Bakery, we love sharing unique stories about our fruitcakes—especially those which place our products in a new and exciting light. Fruitcake is often confined as a once-a-year holiday tradition. However, the PESH exploration team saw unchartered potential in our quintessential seasonal treat. We hope their story inspires others to see fruitcake as they did—the ideal treat for on-the-go explorers!
Interested in learning more about PESH?
Check out our previous blogs detailing PESH’s adventures:
Or, donate to their adventures: PESHCaving.org/donate
Want to Eat Like a PESH Explorer?
Order from Collin Street Bakery and you could! Our DeLuxe® Fruitcake is the perfect fuel for explorers and adventures alike. Shop our selection of sizes and varieties and you'll be well on your way to discovering snacking greatness.