Blue Ridge Grotto of the NSS


February 21, 2014 – Vinton Firehouse


Meeting began 7:36p

Marian McConnell - Chair                  Susan Burr                             Bob Alderson                        Pat Sims                

Mary Sue Socky – Sec.                        Bob Gulden                           Nicole Gulden                       Doug Feller

Dave Socky – Vice Chair                     Trish Geiger                          Dusty Gulden                        Cyndi Hutchison

Stephanie Petri – Treas.                     Carl Cornett                          Ivy Lidstone                           *Sharon Mohney

*Jeff Huffman                                       *Colin Beck                           *Michael Rowland               *Christopher Rowland

*Laura Rowland (12)                           *Sarah Rowland (19)                           * denotes guest.


Trip Reports:

11/16: Doug Feller, Heather Bostic, Trish Geiger, Susan Burr visited Paxton Cave, VA.  They went way in the back, and got lost in (and found their way out of) the Western Maze. 


11/16/2013: Cyclops Cave, Russell County, VA.  David Socky, Brian Williams, Bill Walker, Stephanie Petri, Scott McCrea, Mike Waldon, Caleb Heimlich, Lori Wilkins, Jeff Stilber, Mudpuppy (Peter Michaud), and Wes Combs.   This was a 17 hour cave trip with multiple survey teams, netting 558 ft. of passage.


11/23/2013: Gap Cave, Lee County, VA: Team 1: David Socky, Joe Zokaites, Joe Calderone, Stephanie Petri.  Team 2: Bob Alderson, Nick Socky, Rebecca Stewart, Bill Koerschner.  Team 3: Dave West, Karen Wilmer, JD Burnette, Matt Tomlinson.  Team 4: Mike Crockett, Carol Zokaites, Stuart Daw, Charles Finnney.  Team 1’s goal was to survey leads left upstream of waterfall stream passage before Surprise Canyon and leads around the Blue Monolith.  It was a good 18 hour trip with 744 feet surveyed in two different areas.  Joe Calderone found a pseudoscorpion and Stephanie identified and photographed it.  We got out of the cave at 4:45am.


12/14/2013:  Maxwelton Cave, Greenbrier County, WV.  David Socky, Brian Williams, Stephanie Petri, and Bill Walker.  Start re-survey of the lost JC Survey – new designation – JCN.  We were underground for 8.5 hours, and got 581 feet of passage surveyed. After the cave trip, we made it to the WVACS Christmas party by 6:10pm, in plenty of time for dinner.  It was, as usual, a most exceptional dinner and party.


12/17/2013:  Bob Alderson, Vonnie Droms and Mark Minton visited the Tardis Dome area of Hellhole, WV.  They did a traverse around a pit to a dig, and netted 250’ of survey.  (Note:  Hellhole is CLOSED.  Surveyors entered through another cave entrance.) 


12/21/2013:  Botetourt County, VA Grotto Trip.   This was an “intro to cave survey” in several small caves in the Timber Ridge area.  David Socky, Stephanie Petri, Brian Williams, Susan Burr, Nick Socky, Tommy Polson, Trish Geiger, Cyndi Hutchison, and Doug Feller. Checked a high lead in Gingerbread House Cave, found Cave A, Hillside Cave, and Boney Hole, explored Black Forest Shaft, and surveyed most of Mariah Cave.


12/22/2013:  Bob Alderson, Dave & Karen West, Bill Kirchner climbed the mountain to New River Cave, VA to do mop-up work from the old 1998 survey of the cave.  (Note: New River Cave is LIMITED ACCESS.  Permission was acquired for survey work.)


12/28/2013: Stephanie Petri & Bill Walker brought a canoe and joined Ed McCarthy, Errol Glidden and Phil Murray  in a very wet Piercy’s Mill Cave, WV.  (Yes, they needed the canoe to access the whitewater emerging from the flooded cave entrance).  Is this a new sport – Canaving?  They ventured into the upper levels with the huge rimstone dams for a very nice photo session. 


1/4/2014: Stephanie Petri and Brian Williams joined the NC cavers to continue the survey of Cyclops Cave, VA. There was nothing solid on this trip - it was all MUD.  They spent 4 hours on a muddy dig. 


1/11/2014:  Maxwelton Cave, Greenbrier County, WV.  Team 1: David Socky, Nick Socky, and Joe Calderone (703 feet surveyed). Team 2: Larry Fisher, Gordon Cole, and Rebecca Stewart (435 feet surveyed). Team 3: Jonah Kidder, Alita Kidder, and R.J. Skok (925 feet surveyed):  Total of 12 hours underground, with 2064 ft. of surveyed passage. 


1/11/2014:  Bob Alderson returned to Warner Noisy Blower Cave, WV with for survey work with Tim Balazake, Mark Minton and Vonnie Droms.  WNB has lots of potential; they have done bolt climbs and pits into a big room.


1/11/2014:  Stephanie Petri, Ed McCarthy, Phil Murray, Bill Walker went on a Middle Earth photo trip in this Rader’s Valley WV cave.   


1/18/2014: Bony Hole and Hillside Cave, Botetourt County, VA: 4 hours, 103 feet surveyed.  David Socky, Brian Williams, Stephanie Petri, and Bill Walker.  Surveyed Bony Hole on Mark England’s property at the end of Black Forest Lane.  This was a vertical cave with a depth of 73 feet which ended in a mud dig.  There was a large sleeping raccoon in the second room from the entrance, which moved to a more private location after we disturbed it.  After surveying Bony Hole, we explored Hillside Cave, but figured it was too late in the day to survey it.


1/24-25/2014:  Powell Mountain Blowhole, TN:  11 hours and 485 feet surveyed (Reported by Bob Alderson and Dave Socky).  David Socky, Bob Alderson, Micah Davis, Matt Tomlinson.   Big snow storm; it had snowed 2” and it was a nice hike in the snow up the mountainside.  They had to search for the entrance; when they finally found it, it was blowing steam. Surveyed this multi-drop cave, which was about 70 feet deep.  The final drop left them knee-deep in mud.  The cave survey is DONE.  Dave Socky nearly got stuck going in, and whilst exiting the tight entrance.


January 2014? (need date!) Bob Alderson joined BCCS Cavers to get 6-8 ft. of passage on “Wind Dig” in Butler Cave, VA.


2/1/2014:  David Socky, Stephanie Petri, Brian Williams, Bill Walker surveyed Hillside Cave (114 feet), sketched Chicken Cave, and finished the survey of Mariah Cave. (7 hours, 180 feet surveyed.)


2/8/2014:  Maxwelton Cave, Greenbrier County, WV: 11 hours and 855 feet surveyed.  Team 1: David Socky, Denes Nagy, and Tommy Polson.  Team 2: Vanessa Krabacher, Dayton Boyd, and Kyle McMillan. While Vanessa's team cleaned up parallel passages around JA41 to JA46, Dave’s team cleaned up leads starting at JCN8.  Dave’s team got 544 feet while Vanessa got 311 feet.  Vanessa's team ended up tying into the JH survey.  Team 1 did the lead that goes from the old JC survey to Cove Creek which was on the old map hadn't been surveyed yet.  It required going through a really tight canyon, which spooked Dave, but he made it through.


2/8/2014:  Warner Noisy Blower, WV.  Bob Alderson reported that he, Mark Minton and Vonnie Droms connected their dig to the bottom of a big room.  On the way home, two blocks from his house, Bob encountered 4 Roanoke City Police officers with a lot of time on their hands… those “tests” are hard for sober people!  Moral: Stay between the lines, and use your turn signal. 


2/7-16/2014:  Stephanie Petri drove to TN to do photo work with Ed McCarthy, Errol Glidden, Phil Murray, Frank Abbato in “Five Little Caves in TN”Blowhole, Blue Springs Cave, Cash Cow Cave, China Cave, & Nunley Mountain Cave”.  Awesome photos were shown in the Feb. meeting slideshow.  


Upcoming Trips:

2/22/14:  BRG trip to Porter’s Cave, VA.  Doug Feller and Dave Socky are leaders.

3/22/2014:  March BRG trip.  Dave Socky will lead a vertical trip to New Dixie Cave, VA.

3/22/2014:  March BRG trip.  Mary Sue Socky will coordinate a cave cleanup in Dixie Caverns, VA.

3/28-30/2014: NCRC Weekend cave rescue class in Harrisonburg & Fountain Cave, VA.

3/28-30/2014:  Florida Cave Cavort, in central Fla.


 Program:  Stephanie Petri’s slide show of her and Ed McCarthy’s photo trip journey into “5 Little Caves in TN”- Blowhole, Blue Springs Cave, Cash Cow Cave, China Cave, & Nunley Mountain Cave”.  Great program, Stephanie! 


Also had “Vote for Yer Favorite 5” newsletter covers.  Some people left early, others arrived. 


NOTE: NO Dec. BRG meeting; Christmas Party.  NO Jan. 17, 2014 BRG meeting – officers were out of town.



TREASURER’S REPORT (submitted by Stephanie Petri):

2/21/2014 Balance Sheet

Petty Cash                             110.00

General Fund                     3,683.78

Conservation                        266.55

Equipment                             235.36

Cave Bucks                            199.30

TOTAL BALANCE:     $4,449.99

(2/21/2014 Business Meeting – cont.)


NEWSLETTER –Thanks for the articles! Printing prices have gone up. Thanks to members who have gone “totally electronic” to keep prices down.  Extra DUMP hardcopies are available at meetings.

MEMBERSHIP –We have 51*  members and 4 subscribers for 2014. Membership packets will be at the march meeting.  Please send in membership updates.  Bring folks interested in caving to BRG meetings. (*updated 2/27)

ROCKS – BRG cavers finished surveying Botetourt Co. 2 caves; they need better survey gear and more surveyor trainees.  Maps have been sent to the cave owner in Catawba, VA.

SAFETY & TECHNIQUES – excellent STR session by Dan & Marian @ River Rock Climbing Wall on 1/23/2014!  Class was full.  Next SRT at River Rock will be 3/23/2014.


MEMBERSHIP PROPOSALS – Sharon Mohney, sponsored by Dave Socky, 2nd by Stephanie Petri. Proposal accepted, tabled, vote March 21.  No other new membership proposals. 


Old Business

·         BRG Cave Owner Christmas Cards:  70 sent out, 1 returned, will hand deliver at VA Cave Board meeting.

·         BRG Xmas Party: held 12/21/2013 at Dave & Mary Sue Socky’s house, was great!  Thank You everyone who attended. 

·         Natural Bridge of Virginia has been bought by the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund (a conservation group headed by Tom Clarke); the Bridge will reopen March 1, and will eventually become a state park.   The hotel, cottages and caverns will remain in VCLF control.

·         Dan & Marian McConnell have been talking with the River Rock Climbing Wall folks.  Dan will offer a second SRT class on March 23, 2014. 10a -5p, max. of 8 participants (BRG gets preference).  Contact Marian to sign up.    



·         Dec. 15- March 15: Please record what kind of bats, and how many you see underground, and send your info to Wil Orndorff & Ellen Koertge!  Scientists can use this info to keep caves open for cavers. 

·         2014 BRG Membership List, Rescue Roster – any updates or changes?  Send them in soon – list will be printed in March.

·         The NSS wants COG issues for the Convention.  Deadline is 4/15/2014.  If you have an item, send it to them.

·         2014 NSS Convention wants sponsor $$$.  (You pay $$$ to get mentioned in the program, display a banner, have banquet with the NSS Officers.) Levels run from $99 to $1000.  No one in BRG seemed interested.

·         (Dave Socky) Would BRG be interested in purchasing new survey equipment?  Dave mentioned some gear prices – a Disto = $150 to $250.  Compass, Clinometer, or Tandem =   .  Sketch Book =   .  After discussion, Mary Sue Socky proposed that Dave do research on prices, etc. and report his findings at the next BRG meeting.  Susan Burr Seconded.   

·         B&C Wunderwear – owner Cecile James died 2/12/2014.  Several BRG members attended the memorial service, talked with workers.  It is not known what will happen to B&C.  The employees are interested in carrying on the business, if possible.   BRG signed a sympathy card to send to Cecile’s family.




·         Trish Geiger has accepted a new job, will be moving to Richmond in March.  ‘Bye, Trish!  See you at WVACS, VARs and OTR!

·         The VPI Mock Rescue has been rescheduled, moved from May to October 25, 2014.  Contact Wil Orndorff for more info.

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

·         8,200 gal. of GASOLINE spilled, has seeped into Sloan’s Valley Cave and Neely Cave, KY on Feb. 1.  AVOID THESE CAVES!

·         March 28-30, 2014 Weekend Beginner Cave Rescue class.  Mock will be in Fountain Cave.  $55.00; you must pre-register.

·         Spring VA April 11-13, 2014.  See VAR Webpage or CARBIDE DUMP for registration form. 

·         NSS Convention, July 14-18, 2014 will be in Huntsville, AL     it’s going to be a GOOD ONE!!

·         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 8:55p. 


Minutes Submitted by

Mary Sue Socky  BRG Secretary