Thermal isolation equipment has been developed to cope with the adverse conditions in the Crystal cave: ice-based jackets and suits and cold-air respirators. The first italian-made  suits, with complex designs and materials, which cover the entire body and weight 20 kilos have been adapted in Mexico to the working conditions of photography and filming in the caves, by creating lighter jackets and incorporating specialized cooling equipment.


Giuseppe Casagrande, a member of the La Venta group
putting bottles from the respirator into the fridge
in the base camp’s cold area.

Tullio Bernabei and Franceso Lo Mastro
donning cold vests and special suits for
going into the Crystal Cave.

To counteract the adverse conditions of the Crystals' Cave, several types of thermal insulation equipment have been developed. These are vests and suits lined with ice, and cold air respirators of various models according to the activity to be carried out; the product of experience and needs of the working teams.

Their origin is a suit created by Giovanni Badinno for La Venta Exploring Team, which he called “Ptolomea” made with complex designs and specialized materials lined with ice tubes that cover the whole body. These suits developed in Italy with the sponsorship of the trade name Ferrino; weigh more than 20 kilos, limiting movement inside the cave. They are used for works of exploration and research, which do not require the lifting or use of heavy or complex equipment.

Suits developed in Italy and sponsored by Ferrrino, which weigh over 20 kilos, which restricts movement.


Their use allows a stay in the cave’s interior for about one hour, making slow movements, trying not to spend much energy. To protect the body and breathe fresh air, the use of respirators is also necessary; hot air circulates through a spiral made of ice. The suits combined with the respirators, weigh approximately 22 kilos making the movements in the cave a complex procedure. The present model is the result of permanent adjustments.

El equipo mexicano, aprovechando la iniciativa y experiencia, se dio a la tarea de adaptar a The Mexican team, taking advantage of La Venta’s initiative and experience, adapted to their special needs the same technical principles, designing a light short vest with small flat gel bags, which compared to the heavier model facilitated mobility within the cave and made the camera and lighting easier for the work of photography and film. They are manufactured with resistant low cost materials for daily use. Several smaller respirators have been tried and in this manner the team could stay in the cave for periods of 30 minutes. In this case the total weight is 8 kilos.


The Mexican team designed a short, light jacket with small flat bags of ice and gel which weigh 8 kilos, facilitating mobility in the cave, which is made from low-cost materials and proves extremely resistant for everyday use.

Giuseppe Casagrande preparing the "Ptolomy" cold suit.


In any case, the time of stay in the cave is limited. It must be avoided at all costs to leave the cave without cold reserves in the suit and respirator. The very moment the ice melts, the body temperature rises rapidly and the effort required to return without reserves particularly while carrying equipment, increases the risks and limits physical resistance to dangerous levels.

The solution based on the ice suits and respirators was to have enough suits available close at hand near the cave and devices to freeze them rapidly. The first suits were frozen in the hotel’s kitchen in the city of Delicias; now, after two years, a device to bring down the temperature provided by Electrolux, a freezer for storage and two devices to make popsicles co-exist in our camp at the entrance of the cave after a transformer provided by Peñoles was installed.