Blue Ridge Grotto of the NSS


November 16, 2012 - 7:30p – Vinton Firehouse


1.       Attendance:

Pat Sims – Chair                                                                Dave Socky                                         Al Stewart

Joseph Caldwell                                                                Alan Staton                                         Mary Sue Socky – Vice

Marian McConnell – Secty                           Trish Geiger – Treasurer                               Nicole Gulden

Stephanie Petri                                                 Doug Feller                                         Dusty Gulden

Cyndi Hutchison                                               Thomas Mitchell*




2.       Trip Reports:

·         10/13 – Dave Socky, Errol Glidden, Vanessa Krabacher, George Dasher surveyed in Savannah Cave, WV.  George was too big to go through the tight spot.

·         10/20 – Dave & Mary Sue Socky, Bob Alderson, Carol and Joe Zokaites, Ray Sira, and Tanya McLaughlin stopped at Island Ford Cave, VA, toured the entrance room, and restocked the WVCC info kiosk.  Earlier in the day, many of these same folks climbed a volcano (old volcanic plug) in Monterey VA before the VSS meeting. 

·         10/21 – Friar’s Hole Cave Preserve, WV: Snedegar’s Saltpeter Cave and North Entrance.  Doug Feller, Susan Burr, Jordon Masters, Dave Socky, Ed Swepston, Cliff Lindsay.  Fun-filled 4-hour cave trip exploring every nook and cranny of the Saltpeter Maze (saw 3 saltpeter vats) and the Druid Passage: a narrow stream canyon that was about half walking and half crawling in the water; interesting passage with lots of scallops and some nice orange flowstone.  Cliff and Ed did photography in the Saltpeter Entrance. 

·         11/4 – Dave Socky, Phil Lucas, Mark Hodge, Zeb Lilly worked on the ‘Super Sweet Dig” in Helectite Cave, VA. Easy digging in the 80’ passage, with help of a wagon.    Hopefully Helectite Cave and Wishing Well Cave will connect through this dig (proven air connection). The end of the dig in Helectite is about 400 horizontal feet from Wishing Well Cave and around 70 vertical feet (Helectite is lower than Wishing Well). Lots more work to do.  8.5 hours. 

·         11/10 –Savannah Cave, Greenbrier Co. WV   (4 hr. trip)    David Socky, Errol Glidden, Vanessa Krabacher, Ed Saugstad, Gordon Cole, Larry Fisher.  Dave, Vanessa, and Ed first surveyed the short cut near the junction room just down from the entrance.  Errol, Larry, and Gordon headed to the end of the B survey to put bolts in for the 15 foot ladder.  Gordon couldn't get through the tight spot, so both Gordon and Larry turned around while Errol drug all the heavy stuff to the end of the B survey.  Ed, Vanessa, and Dave met Gordon and Larry at the first room in the B survey as they were coming out.  Larry and Vanessa pushed a lead that went for a little ways, but got tight.  Larry and Gordon headed toward the A survey and the 80 foot drop while Vanessa, Ed, and Dave squeezed our way through the tight spots and mud and finally found Errol just finishing with the ladder.  We decided to survey out. The ladder climb was only 10 feet. At the bottom, the stream canyon went around the corner past a low spot, and then opened back up to a high canyon with another drop just 15 feet further in.  This one was a sloping water cascade and could be done with a handline.  Ed sacrificed his 30 foot webbing while Errol put two more bolts in.  Errol and Dave went down to check it out.  At the bottom of the drop was another 8 foot climb down, then 10 feet later, the passage turned into a high, narrow slot canyon with a trickle of water at the bottom. The slot canyon was about 2 feet wide, but undulations in the walls effectively made it about 6 to 12 inches wide.  However, a lot of the knobs and undulations where mud and/or shale and could be broken off easily.  Errol tried climbing high, but got worried about his foot and hand holds breaking off.  Dave went down to the stream, but would have had to climb up and in about 4 feet, and drop back down into a slightly wider spot.  Then it got narrow again.  We both concluded that a big sledge would be needed to continue.  Once back up the handline, we got ready to survey, but Ed said he was getting cold. We decided to exit.  Ed, Dave, and Vanessa carried the extra heavy pack out so Errol could have a break.  It was extremely muddy. We were slimed.  Erroll took pictures once we were out.

·         10/20 – Stephanie Petri, Brian Williams, Ken Walsh, Jacob Jackson, Carlin Kartchner, and Buford Pruitt went surveying in Cold Sink Cave, VA.  This was Stephanie’s “learn how to survey’ trip.  They started in a crawl, and ended in screaming borehole passage, which still goes.  They surveyed 750’, of which 500’ was virgin passage!  14 hour trip.

·         Stephanie Petri, Brian Williams, Ken Walsh, Jacob Jackson, Carlin Kartchner, and Buford Pruitt ridge walked some promising land in far SW VA.

·         11/11 – Paxton’s Cave, VA.  Doug Feller, Susan Burr, Stephanie Petri, Thomas Mitchell, Jessica Jones, Ben Hester.  They went everywhere!  Doug led the trip.  Went to First Formation Room, Christmas Room, then Doug took them into high passage, looking for the Worm Garden. Good 4 hour trip.

·         10/21 – Bridge Day, WV.  Pat Sims, Jeramy Sims, Alan Staton, Cyndi Hutchison, Carl Cornett, Ivy Lidstone, Alan Staton.  Good day, everyone dropped the 900’ bridge at least once; some got in multiple drops.  Shuttle service was

horrible – paying tourists are now allowed on the rappeller bus & catwalk under the bridge ($).  Rappellers need their own shuttle, like the BASE Jumpers.  Alan thinks the rappel will disappear within a decade, because paying tourists bring in more revenue than rappellers.

·         11/10 – Mary Sue Socky talked with owner Steve Silverberg, visited Lost World Caverns, WV, enjoyed a nice self-paced tour along the commercial route.  Some of the formations need a good cleaning.  Trish Geiger suggested that BRG offer their volunteer services to help clean the cave.


Upcoming Trips:

·         Nov 30-Dec 2: Practice Rescue module with VPI Cave Club.  Possibly Tawney’s Cave, VA.  BRG will attend the Dec. 1 Practice Rescue.  See Mary Sue Socky to sign up.

·         Dec. 16 – Rappel in Catawba Murder Hole, “Daylight Cave”.  10a -2p.  RSVP with Marian McConnell.

·         Possible trip to Crossroads Cave, VA.  Susan Burr will coordinate.


3.        Program:  We could not see the video of Blanchard Springs Cave, AR due to technical difficulties.  This video will be shown at the Dec. 16 BRG Christmas Party. 




4.        TREASURER’S REPORT (Trish Geiger):

11/15/2012 Balance Sheet

Petty Cash                             110.00

General Fund                   3,581.26

Conservation                        266.59

Equipment                             225.36

Cave Bucks                            164.30

TOTAL BALANCE:     $4,408.33



5.        NEWSLETTER – print shop is still honoring $.05 per-page agreement.  Postage will go up $.01/stamp in 2013.


6.        MEMBERSHIP – Pay your dues!  Thanks to all who have already paid.


7.        ROCKS – nothing new.


8.        SAFETY & TECHNIQUES – nothing new. 


9.        MEMBERSHIP PROPOSALS – none.



·         Roanoke City GO-FEST: No one from BRG attended.  Media exposure looked positive; perhaps we should try to have a booth next year (2013).

·         BRG has an open invite to ridgewalk Sharon Money’s property (Botetourt Co. VA), and Sharon can possibly get us permission to visit her neighbor’s land, too.  Marian McConnell has not had time to inquire as to ridgewalking/caving on the Botetourt Vineyard property. 

·         There will be a contingent from BRG to attend the VPI Practice rescue on Dec. 1.  Please Sign up!

·         BRG Christmas Cards – got 75 printed.  Good photo, with a few shadows.  Cards will be sent out in early December. 

·         BRG Christmas Party – 2p-5p, potluck at McConnell’s house.  Please RSVP Marian (call, email, or sign the list).


11.     ELECTIONS:

The following people were nominated:

Chair:                     Marian McConnell               NSS # 37358

Vice Chair:            David Socky                           NSS # 16334

Secretary:             Mary Sue Socky                    NSS # 24206

Treasurer:            Stephanie Petri                    NSS # 62805


Nominations were closed.  Al Stewart moved that the slate be accepted by acclimation.  Mary Sue Socky seconded.


All voted FOR the new officers.  The new officers were installed.  There was dancing in the streets.   Pat Sims passd the gavel to Marian McConnell, and business resumed.



·         Goodwins – Alan Staton offered to repair the Goodwin Gate.  Dave and Mary Sue Socky will take him over to the property to look at the gate tomorrow (Sat. 11/17/2012).

·         Alan Staton and Glen Hugus are working with Alleghany HS (Covington VA) students on a cave presentation.  They would really appreciate it if anyone can help them, especially with the geology part.  Mary Sue Socky volunteered to come up with the educational stuff and help them Nov. 30.

·         Mary Sue Socky informed BRG about the recent brouhaha at Island Ford Cave, VA.  A commercial outfitter, Wilderness Adventure (WA), based in New Castle, VA has used Island Ford Cave for years without permission.  On 11/9/2012, WA put out a GROUPON advertising their cave trips, and West Va Cave Conservancy (WVCC) (who owns Island Ford Cave, specifies No Commercial Trips) sent them a cease and desist letter telling them to stay off the property. WA is now trying to get permission to use the cave, which they claim they used “infrequently in the past”.  WA has also contacted BRG members for caves, cave owner info they can use in their operation (they were told NO, most of the caves are closed due to WNS; cave owners do not want to deal with commercial outfitters.  Dan and Marian McConnell are working with them on one trip into CMH).  WVCC has suggested that WA employees attend BRG meetings, learn how to cave with landowner permission, respect landowner wishes and NOT overuse any cave (all wild caves are fragile natural resources and cannot handle daily traffic.) This is not the first cave that WA has overused, used on a daily basis and run ruts in the cave until the owners said “NO MORE”.  On the positive side, WA’s presence at Island Ford has helped to ‘run off the riff-raff’ who would misuse, vandalize the cave.  WA also helps the property by picking up litter in the cave entrance. It was discussed.  If WVCC were to allow WA’s use of Island Ford Cave in the future, they should be limited to X number of trips per week/month, etc. – but that is for the WVCC Board to decide.   In the meantime, don’t give anyone cave names, owner info, or take them to your favorite wild cave unless you know them really well and know they will not return on their own, begin a chain of vandalism or overuse.



·         New NSS website is great!  Take a look at it! 

·         NEW WNS Decon protocols – HOT water (122 F) for 15 min. will kill WNS spores!

·         River Rock Climbing Gym – have heard nothing about their opening.  Maybe soon. 

·         NSS Members Manual needs photos for the cover.

·         NSS Convention 2013 will be in Shippensburg, PA, Aug 5-9, 2013.  Forms on desk.  Mail in your registration with a check today to save the NSS money.  (Online is OK, too but costs the NSS)

·         MURDER HOLE book by Marian McConnell will be available soon – it ought to be a NSS Bookstore by Dec.3!

·         NO December BRG meeting.  See you at the rappel and the party, then the January 18, 2013 meeting!



Retired caver Liz McGowan has moved to Seattle, WA.  Before she left, she gave Mary Sue Socky all of her old caving stuff, with instructions to find it a good home.  So, folks, step up and see what Liz left you – it’s Christmas one month early!


At this point, the meeting adjourned.  Time not recorded, but it was near 8:45p.



Minutes Submitted by

Mary Sue Socky

BRG Secretary