Blue Ridge Grotto of the NSS


June 20, 2014 – Vinton Firehouse


Meeting began 7:33p

Marian McConnell - Chair             Al Stewart           Stephanie Petri – Treas.                                Mary Sue Socky – Sec.*

Dave Socky – Vice Chair                                Pat Sims              Dusty Gulden                                    Nicole Gulden

Bob Gulden                                        *Bill Walker                                                        * denotes guest                                                                                                                              

Trip Reports:  4/19/2014: Dave Socky and a bunch of other cavers did conservation work in Grand Caverns, VA and Fountain Cave, VA while Meredith Weberg and Mary Sue Socky did outdoor stuff for the Easter Conservacation.


4/26: Susan Burr, Doug Feller, Randy Michael, and Bill Walker journeyed to Staunton, VA to ridgewalk.  Susan’s friend had recently bought property, and had been told there were caves on it.  They walked, dug, but could find no caves. 


5/3:  David & Mary Sue Socky worked on the Fountain Cave, VA re-survey.  It took a while to decipher what the other survey team had accomplished before the winter closure.


5/18:  David and Nick Socky took their relatives Peter and Ben Udall to Tawney’s Cave, VA.  Nice trip.


5/21:  Dave Socky went to Omega Cave, VA to help install the “long term” science stuff and environment monitors.


5/23-25: Stephanie Petri attended Speleofest 2014.  Roger Brucker was the event guest speaker. 

o   5/24: Steph did (130’) Frenchman’s Knob and (80’) Cornett Pit, which was the site of a recent massive trash cleanup. 

o   5/25: Sport trip to Roppel Cave KY via the Weller Entrance; she photographed pretty stuff in the “Lexington Ave.” area.


5/24: Dave Socky went to Mammoth Cave, KY with CRF for a survey weekend.  The survey team went to Carlos’ Way area.  Surveying with a Disto X was great! 


5/25:  Dave Socky joined a survey team going into Mammoth Cave, KY.  They surveyed about 1200   ft.


5/24-25: Dusty, Nicole and Bob Gulden attended the DC Grotto “Swine and Dine” at   Friars Hole Cave Preserve, WV.  71 people attended!  The Guldens did not visit the cave. 


5/30-31:  Dan and Marian McConnell, Pat Sims, Trish Geiger, Stephanie Petri, Dave and Mary Sue Socky, Glen Hugus and Ken NLN helped “Over the Edge fundraiser at the 132’ Patrick Henry Hotel in downtown Roanoke, VA. OTE supplied equipment and experience, Big Brothers/Big Sisters raised money by having their supporters raise $1000.00 per person to rappel the 132’ hotel.  BRG helped the victims  participants “gear up”,  get on rope and safely rappel to the street below.  Only one participant refused to do the rappel.  There were costumed characters rappelling, too. (Spiderman did awful, kept locking up his safety, and finally had to be lowered after wasting 20 min.)

6/6:  Marian McConnel and Randy NLN discovered the “Voices of Virginia”, a state-wide project to document neat backyard places throughout VA.  Marian submitted “Murder Hole” - from her backyard, and received a nice video camera to record the project.  Blue NLN, Dave and Mary Sue Socky met them at the cave.  Marian, Randy and Blue went down the talus slope, and videoed Dave Socky rappelling in from the Daylight Cave.  Then they took in-cave footage of Catawba Murder Hole, VA to the top of the Ski Slope area.  Mary Sue Socky and Marian’s Mom were surface support.  Note: The video was accepted (supposedly it blew Voices of Virginia’s socks off!) and will be part of a montage to be shown in Richmond VA sometime in Fall 2014.


6/7:  Dave Socky, Stephanie Petri and Brian Williams went to Cyclops Cave, VA to work on a potential connection.  No breakthrough, no success with a new entrance – yet.


6/10:  Stephanie Petri, Alan Staton, Glen Hugus went to Clover Hollow Cave, VA.  They did the 60’ entrance rappel, the nuisance drop, then they did the 100’ drop and played around for a while before leaving. (They did not make it to the Library). They had rigged their rope in the “not correct area” and had to climb out in a waterfall.


6/13-14: Stephanie Petri accompanied Carl Amundson to Memorial Day Cave, WV, to retrieve camping gear from one of the bivouacs in the cave.  Memorial Day Cave is a challenging multi drop, major rebelay cave.  This was supposed to be an “easy 4 hour trip” until Danish Nagy and his girlfriend Vanessa NLN joined them at the last minute. Danish is vertically competent, but Vanessa was wearing tennis shoes, and did not have the necessary skills and strength for the cave.  The “easy trip” became a slow, teeth grinding exercise in making sure Vanessa didn’t kill herself or cause a cave rescue.  Despite the slow pace of the trip, they did visit the “Plaid Area”, the “Flying Archangel of Death” area, and the “Puppet Buster”.  Afterwards, Steph drove to WVACS, got there late, but DID get voted in to WVACS on Sunday.


6/13:  Mary Sue, Dave, and Nick Socky journeyed to the “Big Island” of Hawaii and toured Thurston Lava Tube in Hawaii Volcanoes NP.  The yellow lighting the NPS are using in the walk-through lava tube are working in keeping down lampenflora.


6/14:  Nick, Dave and Mary Sue Socky accompanied Peter Bosted, Veda NLN and Jim? NLN to Surprise Lava Tube, HI.  What an incredible, newly discovered lava tube!  Nick and Dave got to see snottitites. 


6/20: Marian McConnell and Aaron Conover took nine Girl Scouts and their leaders into Island Ford Cave, VA.  They did great!  They did find vandalism and damage to the cave’s info kiosk. 


Tomorrow: 6/21:  Wishing Well Cave, VA.  Dave Socky is leader.  Meet @ 8a, HROM.  Photo trip.


Up Coming:

Sept. 13 – New River Cave, VA.  Marian & Carl will be leaders.  The trip is one week early, because…

Sept. 20 – NO BRG trip; this is Marian’s 60th Birthday party!  Catawba Murder Hole will be open!

Oct. 25 – VPI Mock Cave Rescue.  Cave TBD.  Wil Orndorff is coordinating.

Nov 29?- Murder Hole video.  The guy working with Marian will have a camera drone. (Note: Date finalized as 12/13.)

FALL 2014  - Owner of Blue Ridge Vineyards wants BRG to check out more new caves on his property. 


Program: PPS of Wishing Well Cave, VA.   Nice slide show, in preparation for tomorrow’s trip.




TREASURER’S REPORT (submitted by Stephanie Petri):

6/20/2014  Balance Sheet

Petty Cash                             110.00

General Fund                     3,345.33

Conservation                        227.34

Equipment                             235.36

Cave Bucks                            199.30

TOTAL BALANCE:     $4117.33



NEWSLETTER –Thanks for the articles and photos!  The DUMP will be taking a vacation in July. Extra DUMP hardcopies are available at meetings. 


MEMBERSHIP –We have 54 members and 4 subscribers for 2014.  Please send in member updates.  Bring folks interested in caving to BRG meetings.

ROCKS – Is alive and well in Botetourt Co. VA  BRG survey  folk appreciate the new Disto and other survey gear.  We will be glad to train more people to survey.  



SAFETY & TECHNIQUES –SRT and vertical practices can be scheduled at River Rock Climbing Wall or Hanging Rock. In addition, Marian McConnell and Dave Socky offer “tree practice” at their houses. Just let the cavers know if you want to drop by and “hang out”. 


MEMBERSHIP PROPOSALS –no proposals this month. 




·         There will be NO JULY BRG meeting. 

·         BRG WILL have an Aug. 15 meeting @ Vinton Firehouse. 

·         New River Cave Preserve is now an NSS Cave Preserve!  Let Wil Orndoff know if you are going to visit the property.   

·         The US Forest Service has extended a “blanket closure” of all caves &mines on their land for the next 5 YEARS.

·         Phil Lucas can open Wishing Well Cave, Owl Cave, Helectite Cave, and Water Sinks for BRG trips.  Mark Hodge can get permission for a BRG trip to Butler Cave, VA, too.  (There are 6 or 7 digs available in Butler, too.)



·         Scientists have found UV lights illuminate the WNS fungus on bats!  Even the UV flashlights will make the WNS lesions show up as white on bats.  This is a great, non-invasive way to detect affected bats. 

·         Hailey NLN, formerly from the Roanoke area, is now Outdoor Coordinatior at Ohio Universty, and has contacted Susan Burr about the possibility of  BRG offering a “conservation project” for students.  Hailey would bring them from OH to Roanoke area.  After discussion, BRG decided to pass the offer for a Conservation project to the VAR, or get Hailey in contact with NSS Grottos closer to her college.    



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

·         June 7 – “Grand Caverns Heritage Day”.  Come out, play Civil War dress-up, attend the historic dance in the cave. 

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

·         S&T – let Dan McConnell know what you would like in vertical training. 

·         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 9p. 


Minutes Submitted by

Mary Sue Socky  BRG Secretary