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C. William Steele, FE’79

Internationally-renowned expert caver Bill Steele has been actively exploring caves since he was a teenager. At age 19, Bill participated in the exploration and mapping of Flint Ridge Cave, Kentucky, establishing Mammoth Cave as the longest cave in the world. Bill also participated in the exploration and mapping of Ellison’s Cave, Georgia, the deepest cave in the eastern United States.

Bill Steele served as primary explorer and mapper of Grutas de Juxtlahuaca, home to the oldest known cave paintings in the New World. In the last three decades, he has been a primary explorer for the team that has extended the Sistema Huautla in Mexico, establishing this as the deepest cave in the Western Hemisphere, eighth deepest cave in the world, and the longest of the world’s sixteen deepest caves. Among his many speleological accolades, he has received the prestigious Lew Bicking Award from the National Speleological Society (NSS) for his leadership in the exploration of Sumidero Yochib and Sistema Huautla. His books Yochib: The River Cave and Huautla: Thirty Years in One of the World’s Deepest Caves depict his experiences on multiple expeditions to these caverns.

Bill retired in August 2014 from over thirty years of service with the Boy Scouts of America, where he was National Director of both Alumni Relations and the National Eagle Scout Association.

Currently, with co-lead Thomas Shifflett, Bill has begun a long-term exploration, mapping, and analysis project revisiting Sistema Huautla. Projecto Espeleologico Sistema Huautla (PESH) is an official project of both the National Speleological Society and the U.S. Deep Caving Team. The expedition was granted The Explorers Club Flag. Bill serves as Chairman of the Board of the U.S. Deep Caving Team.

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Background image photography courtesy of members Christoph Baumer, Neil Laughton, Matt Harris and Don Walsh's image of the Bathyscape Trieste