March 16, 2012 Meeting Minutes

Vinton Fire Department – 7:30p


Mary Sue Socky – Vice Chair

Dusty Gulden*

Nicole Smith*

Trish Geiger – Treasurer

Cyndi Hutchison

Carl Alls

Susan Burr

Stephanie Petri

Al Stewart

David Socky

Marian McConnell (Secretary)

Jessica Jones*

Ben Hester*

Hannah Doss*

Donna Doss*

Doug Feller






a.    On February 18, Susan Burr, Doug Feller, and Stephanie Petri lead a group of 6 Roanoke College Outdoor Club students on a cave trip into Porters Cave, VA.  They went through the Keyhole and did the loop through the breakdown to the Natural Bridge where they took a break and took a group picture.  They then went back through the Keyhole to the Big Room to explore.  They then went to the Formation room, to the Big Slit, and then out.

b.    On March 3, Susan Burr, Mary Sue Socky, Cyndi Hutchison, Tommy Tracy, Stephanie Petri, Danny Ledger, Jessica Jones, and Ben Hester went to Porters Cave, VA.  They did the main normal route, some of the group wanted to go through the Keyhole and back so they did.  The exciting part of the trip was seeing and hearing all the water due to flooding from heavy rains.  They took lots of pictures.  (Note:  They saw definite evidence of WNS, which Mary Sue reported to Wil Orndorff.)

c.    On March 3, David Socky went with Phil Lucas, Brad Blaise, and Dave Collings (it was his 50th birthday) to work on the Tweedle-Dee Dig, VA.  They hauled about 4 tons of rock and dirt.  There is a 40’ vertical culvert at the entrance, with lots of shoring, rebar, and a system to haul buckets of dirt out.  There is about 200’ of passage; they had 7 people working, and who pulled 104 buckets of dirt and rock out in 5 hours. 

d.    On March 10, David Socky went to a WVACS Tuckwiler Pond Dig, WV, and moved lots of big rocks. David pulled a muscle in his back trying to lift one big rock.  He also went with Jeff Bray and John Pearson to look at Piercy’s Mill Cave (where a movie was recently filmed), Piercy’s Cave, and Piercy’s Mill Annex Cave.  There are incredible rimstone dams in Piercy’s Mill Cave; and this might be a great BRG trip when the water level is low.

e.     On February 18, Mary Sue Socky, Pat Sims, Bob Thren and other VAR Project folk participated in the Melrose Cave Project, VA, AKA “Chia Pet” Cave due to the amount of fungus in it.  (Wear a respirator!)  There are historic signatures in the cave; if you are interested in helping, contact Carol Tiderman.

f.     In November 2011, Dusty Gulden went in Cricket Maze Cave, WV; the owners have changed the number of people allowed in the cave from 3 to 5 people per trip, and Dusty has a key.  The cave is all crawling, but has neat fossils on the walls.

g.    On March 10, Susan Burr and Doug Feller went hiking on Fore Mountain Trail, and saw an abandoned iron ore mine.

h.    The March 17 BRG trip will be to Haynes Cave, WV.  A caver owns the cave.  It is very dry, and about 1400’ of passage with old saltpeter workings.  Haynes Cave was also the source of some Pleistocene ground sloth bones which were found by Saltpeter miners and given to Thomas Jefferson.  The cave also contains old mining artifacts and gypsum. They may also look at the entrance to Windy Mouth Cave, WV.  Meet at 9am at HROM.

i.      Annual McClung’s Trip will be on May 19.

j.     April BRG Trip – to be determined; possibly Windy Mouth or Higginbothams.

k.    Mary Sue Socky will be presenting on cave geology, conservation, and safety at Cave Spring High School March 20-22 between 8:30a-3:30p. Please contact Mary Sue if you can help.


2.     PROGRAM:  “Inner Earth” video by Greg Passmore. (Merit Award Winner, 2011 NSS Convention.



Petty Cash               100.00

General                 3,922.03

Conservation             266.59

Equipment                216.36

Cave Bucks               153.30

TOTAL                  $4,658.28



NEWSLETTER – Great issue; thanks for photos and articles.  Articles, art, photos welcome!

MEMBERSHIP – Currently have 54 members.

ROCKS – Will eventually reschedule ridge-walking at Blue Ridge Vineyard in Eagle Rock.

SAFETY & TECNIQUES – Let Dan McConnell know of any topics you’d like training in.


5.     MEMBERSHIP PROPOSALS:  Tom Tracy submitted his letter; David Socky, his sponsor, read the letter and moved we consider his request.  Susan Burr seconded the motion.  Tabled until next month for a vote.



a.    Checks have been sent out to various cave-related organizations.

b.    Wikipedia publication of cave locations is a dead issue (for now anyway).

c.    Discussion regarding Blue Ridge Grotto trips, waivers, and non-BRG trips:

Information was gathered prior to the meeting by Pat Sims and Mary Sue Socky from the NSS, VAR, and other Grottos on how they handle waivers.  We discussed how to define a BRG versus non-BRG trip, and who should use BRG waivers and BRG gear.  Information was submitted also from Sharon Bruce and Meredith Hall Weberg. We discussed the possibility of incorporating BRG. NSS states we cannot put anything in the waiver about “suggested donations” for the use of BRG gear. 

Whatever we decide should be posted on our website so everyone knows the policies and procedures; we may need to revise the Bylaws as well.

One Possible Idea:  A BRG trip could be proposed by any BRG member, and must include all the logistics:  cave, date and time, permission, leader and co-leader, level (beginner, intermediate, vertical), basic route/purpose of the trip, and maximum number of participants.  If a majority of BRG members vote “yes” then it would be a BRG trip.  The trip leader would be responsible for notifying the BRG if any significant changes are made (e.g. change in cave, change in level, etc.)  All BRG members have a waiver on file; guests would sign a BRG waiver and could use BRG gear.  Any trip not approved by BRG would be a non-BRG trip and the leader would have to use a generic (non-BRG) waiver and could not use BRG gear.

Once we decide on how we want to do things, we need to have our BRG waivers checked over by a Virginia Attorney, and our process for using them, and if they recommended becoming incorporated.  Training on Cave Leadership is available through our Safety & Techniques Officer and can be requested as needed. We agreed to put this discussion in the Carbide Dump for everyone to review and think about for next month’s meeting.

Addendum:  Recommendations from Dan McConnell who was unable to be at the meeting:  Due to liability issues, any BRG member can plan a caving trip (which should include the logistics discussed above such as cave, date, permission, etc.); all BRG members already have a BRG waiver on file. If any BRG member sponsors a GUEST, then that guest should sign a GENERIC waiver, and will be the responsibility of that sponsoring BRG member.  If a group (e.g. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, college, etc.) approaches BRG for cave leadership, it is up to individual BRG members to offer to voluntarily lead the group; and it will be their individual responsibility and they should use the group’s waivers.  If the group or non-BRG members do not have their own waivers, a generic (not BRG) waiver should be used.  BRG equipment could be used for any caving trips as long as approved by a majority of the BRG members.  Dan is willing to do a talk on Cave Leadership as the program for our April meeting; he said be prepared for a thorough presentation about the responsibilities of being a trip leader.



a.    NSS Members can vote for BOG (Board of Governors) online.

b.    Marian will check with David Rose about his contact who may let us explore the cave at the Eagle Rock Quarry.



·         Orientation to Cave Rescue (OCR) in Harrisonburg, VA March 30-April 1.

·         Spring VAR April 27-29 at Greenbrier Poor Farm; hosted by Tri-State Grotto.  Pre-registration price break ends April 1.

·         SERA Cave Carnival at Estill Fork, AL May 2-6.

·         Grand Caverns Reenactment June 16.

·         NSS Convention “Mayacon 2012” in Lewisburg, WV June 25-29.


9.     Adjournment – 9:30p.