Blue Ridge Grotto of the NSS


June 21, 2013 - 7:30p – Vinton Firehouse


Meeting began 7:38p



Dave Socky –Vice                 Pat Sims                                 Bob Alderson                        Marian McConnell – Chair

Mary Sue Socky – Sec.        Dusty Gulden                        Zan Rose                                Stephanie Petri – Treas.

Al Stewart                              Carl Cornett                          David Rose                            *David Tudge                        * Adam Dorris *Heather Bostic                                *Bob Gulden                         *Heather Rose                     *Jevon Rose         

* denotes guest.


Trip Reports:

4/20: Greenbrier Poor Farm Cave, WV.  Report by Pat Sims.  “Nothing major; one helicopter ride is like any other”.  (This was the trip where Pat Sims had a heart attack.  Early treatment = 100% recovery.) Doug Feller, Susan Burr  Steph. Petri, Ihab Sadoon, Adam Dorris, etc. went back to explore the R hand side of the cave once Pat had been stabilized and airlifted back to Roanoke VA.


4/27:  Gap Cave VA Survey.  Dave Socky, Stephanie Petri, Joe Calderone, and Michael Rhinehart surveyed 460 ft. & tied into Surprise Canyon.18 hour trip.  Saw raccoon tracks in mud DEEP in the cave.  Bob Alderson, Joe Zokaites, and  JP McLendon were on a different survey trip.


5/4: Dave Socky, Stephanie Petri, Brian Williams Carlin Kartchner, David Duguid, Jason Lachniet and Tanya McLaughlin went to Horseshoe Pit, VA.  It was an 11-hour survey trip.  Brian was hit, maimed by a largish falling rock.  (He recovered after a few minutes.) Parts of this cave are vertical.  Entire cave was surveyed, except for one lead that was left for Sunday. 


5/5:  Stephanie Petri and Brian Williams returned to Horseshoe Pit to help with a bolt climb.  The climb was incomplete, so they will have to go back.  Virgin passage awaits.


5/11: Dave Socky, Stephanie Petri, Brian Williams Surveyed wet slimy passage between the waterfall and Cove Creek in Maxwelton Cave, WV.  9.5 hour trip, 370 ft. surveyed, everyone got cold.  


5/18: VAR – Sharp’s Cave, WV.  Dave Socky, Nick Socky, Sarah Crowder, Trish Geiger, Kim Fleischmann, and Heather Bostic went to play in Sharp’s Cave.  Very easy cave.  Dave played with his video camera and lights.  With Trish & Kim leading, they found the way back to the waterfall which was at a higher than usual water flow because of the rain. The way to the waterfall is upstream.  There were large trunk passages with nice mud floors.  Visited the Mud Sculpture Ledge.   


5/18: VAR.  Bob Alderson, Mark Minton, Vonnie Droms went to the “backdoor entrance” of Cass Cave, WV.  Bob said “it was muddier than the VAR campground.  Mark got slimed in a dig; I got stuck in a muddy crawlway and could not turn around… Mark helped dig me out.”


5/19: VAR – Bob Alderson, Mark Minton, Vonnie Droms visited Lost World Caverns, WV, and did the “very nice” 115’ Grapevine Pit drop. 


5/25: Gap Cave, VA Survey – Dave Socky reported that he, Bob Alderson, and Micah Davis entered through the Saltpeter Well Entrance.  The survey crew found virgin passage close to the vertical entrance; later the crew mutinied. 5 hour trip.


5/25-27: Bob and Dusty Gulden reported on the Baltimore Swine & Dine weekend at Friar’s Hole Cave Preserve, WV.  Jersey Grotto folks were there, tried to do a Friars Hole to Snedegar’s through trip.  However, the Snedegar Sump was flooded shut.  So they had a LONG trip back out. 


6/1: Breathing Cave, VA.  Bob Alderson, Zeb Lily, Phil Lucas, Mark Hodge tried to document saltpeter diggings and signatures in the historic section.  They did not find any tally marks; only lots of faggots and saltpeter spoils.  The identified signatures were from the 1930’s; some were possibly earlier.


Trip Reports (cont.) 


6/1: Cyclops Cave, VA – is a 6 mile cave system; the vertical entrance series is a bitch!  David Socky, Brian Williams, Stephanie Petri, and Scott McCrea surveyed for 15 ½ hours and were well thrashed by the cave.  It was worth it – they surveyed   750 ft. of virgin cave, half of which was nice dry walking trunk passage.  Survey ended when they reached a vertical drop - no rope.  There will be more trips in the future.  (There was another survey team & a surface survey team for the project weekend.)


5/4, 6/1: Mary Sue Socky continued with the historic trail project in Fountain Cave, VA.  More of the historic trail was identified.  NOTE:  Grand will be running “wild trips” into Fountain as of July 2013.


6/8: Piercy’s Cave, WV.  Mark Minton, Vonnie Droms, Bob Alderson used a scaling pole to check out high leads. 


6/8: Dave Socky, Larry Fisher and Joe Calderone went to survey the Airport Passage of Maxwelton Cave, WV. 


6/15: Marian McConnell reported on looking for lost sinkholes and caves near Luray, VA.  Marian, Pat Sims, Susan Burr, Doug Feller, Ivy Lidstone, Carl Cornett, Dave and Mary Sue Socky were accompanied by Jill Remer.  Group was directed to a sink by the farm manager, who said it was a pit “17 years ago”.  Well, it’s completely filled in now.  Digging did not open anything up.  We borrowed a farm truck, drove and hiked the property, looking for caves near the Shenandoah River.  Found lots of limestone, but no caves.  (June is a nasty time of year to ridgewalk.) Group accumulated several ticks, poison ivy, and a few big ass bruises when Doug hit that hole in the pasture. 


6/15: Bob Alderson went back to Cass Cave WV with Vonnie Droms & Mark Minton for more digging. 


6/21:  Marian McConnell and Carl Cornett took a group of Girl Scouts to Island Ford Cave, VA.  The old rope someone had placed to an upper level was gone; the cave was clean, and no other groups were encountered. 


Upcoming Trips:

·         6/22: BRG vertical trip planned to Lightner Ent. of McClung’s Cave, Greenbrier Co. WV.  A 7 to 12 hour trip is planned.  Dave Socky is leader. 

·         6/22: BRG beginner cave trip to Tawney’s Cave, VA.  A 3 -4 hour trip.  Pat Sims is leader.

·         7/6: Fountain Cave, Grand Caverns project.  Resurvey of Fountain Cave will begin.  Contact Mary Sue Socky if you want to carpool. 

·         7/21: (Sunday trip) BRG/Dixie Caverns Conservation Cleanup.  Mary Sue Socky will coordinate.


Program:  a nice slide show of recent cave trips.  One special slide was included, too. 




TREASURER’S REPORT (Stephanie Petri):

6/21/2013 Balance Sheet

Petty Cash                             110.00

General Fund                     3,853.09

Conservation                        266.59

Equipment                             250.36

Cave Bucks                            174.30

TOTAL BALANCE:     $4,653.98



NEWSLETTER –Thanks for the artwork and articles! Extra hardcopies of the DUMP are available at meetings.

MEMBERSHIP – membership lists are available at meetings.  Bring folks interested in caving to the BRG meetings. 

ROCKS –Brian Williams wants to finish surveying Turtle Shell Cave. 

SAFETY & TECHNIQUES – Dan will set up vertical sessions at Catawba Murder Hole if people want to practice. 


MEMBERSHIP PROPOSALS – Bob Gulden, NSS # 13188 RL, FE, sponsored by Mary Sue Socky.  Seconded by Dave Socky. Bob’s proposal was accepted, tabled until the July BRG meeting. 



·         Dixie Caverns Cleanup – see upcoming trips – Will be Sunday 7/21.

·         BRG “night at the movies” – “The Croods” – we will rent and watch this movie at the BRG Xmas Party.

·         Requests for Caving Presentations: Mary Sue and Marian continue to talk with school groups, scouts, & libraries.

·         Porter’s Tree:  project is tabled until Susan Burr gets more info.  RASS may have already cleaned up the downed tree.

·         NSS Fundraising –The NSS currently has 62% of their goal to pay off the new mortgage.  They are relying on caver support to cover the cost of the new property.  After discussing the various options (Sustaining Donor, Team 404, Buy-A-Brick, or Buy-A-Block), David Socky proposed that BRG buy a brick (for each $100 donation, your message will be lazer engraved on a brick that will be used for the patio area, walkways, or other ornamental features.).  Stephanie Petri seconded the motion.  Everyone voted YES, except for Al Stewart.  Motion passes, BRG will buy a brick.


·         BRG Cave Trip Guidelines – (written 1990, has been revised from time to time.) Good basic document, needs updating.

·         Motion (by MSSocky, seconded by Dave Socky) under ‘Grotto Gear’, “The user of any grotto gear provides their own batteries  or carbide.”  Delete “carbide” ,we no longer use it.    Motion passed.

o    Discussion of “Suggested grotto gear use donation:  $3.00”.  Mary Sue Socky had researched the NSS guidelines, found  recommendations Financial compensation - Any fees exchanged in return for using equipment and/or guiding trips, including "suggested donations", may place the owners of the equipment, the cave, and the cave guides at additional liability risk in case of incident.   (from Youth Group Caving, Legal Issues & General Information, p. 8)”


Discussion continued:  mention of “suggested donations” from any BRG member or trip leader to trip participants puts everyone, including cave owner,  in jeopardy.  However, If a participant thinks of it on their own, wants to make a donation, that would probably be OK. 


·         Motion by Mary Sue Socky, seconded by Stephanie Petri) to delete the “Suggested grotto gear use donation: $3.00 from the BRG Cave Trip Guidelines.  Motion passed.


Any further changes to the Cave Trip Guidelines were TABLED until the next meeting.  Bring proposals to the July meeting.


·         Celebrate Catawba Day 2013 – Marian McConnell has hosted an info booth at past Catawba Days; cave, groundwater and bat info has been well received.  This year’s Catawba Day is August 10, which conflicts with NSS Convention.  Does anyone want to host the Caver info booth?  No interest, so BRG will pass on this event. Maybe we’ll be back in 2014.

·         I-18 Cave, VA. -  Carl Cornett is interested in visiting I-81 Cave, Smyth Co. VA. This cave is on I-81N, between MM 42 and 43.   It is vertical, gated, VDOT has tried many times to fill it with gravel.  Dave Socky will check with Va Cave Board, or Karen Kastning, Wil Orndorff to see about getting access.

·         VDOT vs. Dixie Caverns -  VDOT is hosting a citizen information meeting on June 26, 2013.  This meeting is to gather public input on the environmental study being conducted to widen I-81 between mm118 and mm150; Dixie Caverns could be impacted.   People will try to attend.  Comments can also be sent to VDOT by July 6, 2013 via  Please reference “I-81 Tier 2 EA in the subject line.

·         Does BRG want a Summer Party/Cave Trip/Canoe trip?  If so, where?

o   Dan & Marian McConnell can host a party at their house on Sunday, Aug 18. 

o   We could have a cave trip, or a canoe trip (Brian Williams leads the best canoe trips! Perhaps Susan would ask him if he could set up a trip).

o   Last year (2012) the party was cancelled due to lack of interest. L

o   Do we want an August meeting?  The meeting  room is reserved - if we want it.

o   We could have a fun filled weekend of meeting, trip, cookout Aug 16-17-18.

o   Bring your ideas to the July BRG meeting.



·         Aaron Moses is doing much better.  Bob Alderson recently saw him.  Aaron’s broken femur is healing. 

·         WNS Decon protocols – HOT water (122 F) for 20 min. will kill WNS spores

·         A pissed off landowner has closed his caves to VAR.  Avoid Carpenter-Swago Cave, Roadside Pit, and nearby caves.



·         River Rock Climbing Wall opened in March 2013. It is small, nice, with reasonable rates.  Perhaps BRG can rent it for a vertical training session.

·         Let Dan McConnell know what you would like in vertical training.  Practice can be held at Catawba Murder Hole.

·         Dave Socky has made updates to the BRG webpage – yay!  Please let Dave know what changes, additions you would like to see on the webpage. 

·         Hardcopy of Ellison’s Cave, GA cave rescue (May 25-26, 2013) write up is available at front desk.

·         NSS Convention 2013 will be in Shippensburg, PA, Aug 5-9, 2013.  Forms on desk

·         MURDER HOLE book by Marian McConnell is available and is selling like hotcakes! 

o    NSS members can get discount if they order MURDER HOLE through the NSS Office.  


Meeting adjourned at 8:54p. 




Minutes Submitted by

Mary Sue Socky

BRG Secretary