Blue Ridge Grotto of the NSS


August 15, 2014 – Vinton Firehouse


Meeting began 7:28p

Marian McConnell - Chair             Al Stewart                           Karen Kastning                  Mary Sue Socky – Sec.

Doug Feller                                         Susan Burr                          Pat Sims                               Carl Cornett

Sharon Mohney                               Dusty Gulden                    Nicole Gulden                   Heather Bostic

Bob Gulden                                        Bob Alderson                     *Bill Keith                            *Jeff Huffman                  

*Mike Rowland                                                                                                * denotes guest              


Trip Reports:

6/21/2014:  Last month’s photo trip to Wishing Well Cave, VA. Susan Burr, Dave Socky, Pat Sims, Stephanie Petri and Bill Walker.  They went to Echo Junction. The entrance climb-downs through unstable breakdown were scary.   Susan said there was LOTS of crawling, not many formations.  The paths in the cave are amazing – Phil Lucas is making the cave accessible for the owner.


6/28:  Dave Socky, Bob Alderson, Stuart Daw, Charles Finney, Joe Settles, Emilio Ramirez entered the Soldier’s Entrance to Gap Cave, VA to check high leads, find a carved artifact in the cave, and continued locating and re-marking key survey stations along the tourist trail that are needed to located artifacts and historical signatures. 


June 2014:  Karen Kastning and John Fox took 5 newbies into James Cave, VA.


7/2: Dave and Mary Sue Socky continued surveying in Fountain Cave, VA.  Bill Biggers, Red Schock, John Pearson, and Ellie Florance worked on the dig. 


7/14:  Mary Sue Socky, Meredith Hall Weberg, and Allan Weberg helped with CaveSim at the NSS Convention.  Mary Sue went through CaveSim three times, and found interesting things people had dropped while they were in the cave.


7/16:  Bob Alderson and other cavers visited 191’  Natural Well, AL during the NSS Convention in Huntsville, AL.


7/19: Bob Alderson and friends stayed at the Post-Convention camp at Caver’s Paradise: Maureen Handler’s place in Sewanee TN.  They went to Conley Hole, TN.  This was a 156’ drop to a big room.  (Bob remembered being there 14 years ago.)  In the evening, Maureen took the cavers and some canoes down to Lake Nickajack (Tennessee River), and everyone paddled to the entrance of Nickajack Cave, TN to watch the evening flight of a huge colony of Gray Bats.  


7/19:  Doug Feller, Pat Sims, Susan Burr and Evan Robinson took a rare summer trip into Patton Cave, WV.  Pat said it was vey DRY – no water anywhere.  They took lots of photos.  It was fun!


7/25: Marian McConnell and Aaron Conover from Roanoke City Parks & Recreation led a summer camp kid’s trip  - ten 8 yr. to 10 yr. olds - to Island Ford Cave, VA.  At least one kid was very hyper.  Everyone enjoyed the trip.


7/26: Grassy Spring Cave, Lee Co. VA – Bob Alderson, Dave Socky, Micah Davis, Karen Willmes surveyed, found 366’ of new passage on a 10.5 hr. trip.


July 2014:  Bob Alderson, Vonnie Droms, Mark Minton, Dave Socky, Phil Lucas and Zeb Lily have been surveying in an Unnamed Cave.  (Due to land owner relations, this cave is CLOSED; the owner has permitted only these survey trips). They have surveyed one mile of passage (some of it virgin).  There are lots of duck-unders, dangerous loose breakdown, and weird limestone dips.   PLUS – there are baby attack vultures hissing at you at the steep slope below the climb-down. 


July 2014:  Bob Alderson, Mark Minton, Vonnie Droms, etc. continue working in the Warner Noisy Blower, WV.  They got into a massive breakdown section, “The Train Wreck”.  WNB is currently 428’ deep. 


July/August 2014:  Heather Bostic took an archaeological vacation, spending 5 ½ weeks in the ruins of Petra in Jordan, sites in Dubai and Greece.  She saw some cave entrances, but did not visit them. 


8/2: Fountain Cave Resurvey.  Dave Socky, Red Schock, and Carol Tiderman kept to the big passage and Nick Socky, Amy Skowronski, Joe Calderone surveyed through some of the tight stuff.  Nick eventually made a physical connection from the lower tight maze section, through a tight nasty slot canyon into the area marked “   “ on the old map.   Both teams joined up in the area named “    .  Mary Sue Socky helped haul mud and rock at Bigger’s Dig. 


8/9: Maxwelton Cave, WV – David Socky, Nick Socky and Tyrone Phillips surveyed to the end of the downstream Cove Creek, to where it sumped.  They bagged over 1000’ of passage. 


8/14: Local historian Ivan Sexton contacted Marian McConnell about his collection of memorabilia from the 1880’s – when Catawba Hospital was a genteel summer resort called Red Sulfur Springs, VA.  Ivan works at the Catawba Hospital.  He & Marian walked the hospital property, visited Sanitarium Cave.  (named when the property was called Catawba Sanitarium – from its earlier days as a TB hospital.)  It looks like someone has been digging in this cave. 



Tomorrow: 8/16 trip is to Breathing Cave, VA.  So far Doug Feller, Susan Burr and Sharon Mohney are the only ones on the trip. 


Upcoming Trips: 

o   Sept 13 – BRG trip to New River Cave, VA.  Pat Sims has volunteered to be trip leader.  Trip limit is 10 cavers. 

o   Sept 20 – Marian’s Birthday party!  Trips to Catawba Murder Hole, VA.

o   Oct 4 – last weekend for Fountain Cave projects before cave closes for winter.

o   Oct 25 – VPI Mock Rescue.  BRG is invited for all or part of weekend program.

o    Dec 13 – Drone Day @ CMH.


Program:  What to do With Those Pesky Spoils?” 2014 NSS Video Salon Best of Show winner!   Thank You Doug Feller for running the program!




TREASURER’S REPORT (submitted by Mary Sue Socky, in Stephanie Petri’s absence):

8/15/2014  Report

The BRG Treasurer has run off with the BRG Vice Chair and all the grotto funds. 


NEWSLETTER –Thanks for the articles and photos!  The CARBIDE DUMP won 3 Honorable Mentions in the NSS Cover Art Salon.  These winning covers were chosen by the BRG membership – Thank You! 

MEMBERSHIP –We have 54 members and 4 subscribers for 2014.  Please send in member updates.  Bring folks interested in caving to BRG meetings.  Newest version of BRG Membership list is at the front desk. 

ROCKS – no report.


 MEMBERSHIP PROPOSALS – there is one new proposal.  Bill Keith, NSS # 25025.  Bill is sponsored by Dave Socky and Marian McConnell.  2nd by Pat Sims.  Bill’s proposal is accepted and tabled until the next month.    



·         RSVP for the December 13th Murder Hole video trip to the lower level.  You must be a vertically competent BRG member.  Contact  for to sign up.

·         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.

·         Susan Burr reported that she sent cave conservation info to Hailey Doss, Outdoor Coordinator at Ohio University.  She did not receive a reply. 

·         The owner of Blue Ridge Vineyards wants BRG to check out more new caves on his property!  Marian will check out dates.

·         GoFest 2014 – BRG missed the Aug. 1 deadline to register.  Registration form was confusing – we would either have to pay $50 or $500 to have a kiosk for 3 days.  Two people manning that thing for three days, grotto weekend included, is a long haul.  After discussion, it was decided to sit out this year’s GoFest.  Pat Sims said that if for some reason we changed our minds and set up a kiosk at the last minute, he would help.  Other volunteers: Jen Perdue, Mary Sue Socky, Marian McConnell & Stephanie Petri.



·         Donation to the New River Cave Preserve. (Susan Burr)  After discussion, the membership voted to send $250.00 to the NSS for the purchase of New River Cave, with instructions to look for matching donations. 

·         “Cave” License Plate – proceeds would go to VCB for educational materials.  Would need a minimum of 350 people (statewide) to sign up – is anyone interested?  THERE IS INTEREST  (Marian McConnell).

·         Do we want to have a BRG Christmas Party?  If so, when and where.  (MSS).  Susan Burr, others asked that this be deferred to next month’s business.  TABLED 

·          CCV has grant money available – education, need a cave gate, sinkhole to clean up? please send in a grant proposal.   Pat Sims was interested in this for funding the New River Cave parking area, kiosk, and trail. 

·         RVSM: 2nd Annual Haunted Lab, October 24 & 25, 2014,  from 6-10pm both nights.  We have an excellent spot for a table between our Journey Underground exhibit & the first of the tree columns at our Living River exhibit.   MSS has signed up.  Marian McConnell, Bob Gulden will also help. 

·         Cave articles in Roanoke Times by Ralph Berrier – series is about Virginia commercial caves, but opportunity to provide info about NSS, BRG, Virginia Cave Board, etc. on cave safety and conservation.

·         New historical (1800’s) information from Ivan Sexton about Murder Hole/Catawba Hospital – Marian has 9-minute video from him from 1988 – Marian willing to share at a future BRG meeting; and has also received word from Tom Rea ok to do 2nd Edition of the Murder Hole book!



·         Sept 26-28, 2014:  SEKCI, at Crane Nest, KY.  See flyer for more info.

·         Oct. 10-12:  Fall VAR, hosted by Mon Grotto. 

·         11/8/2014: WVCC Banquet, Lewisburg, WV.  Guest speaker:  Bill Balfour, with “Culverson, Up the Creek”.

·         11/22/2014:  Virginia Cave Board Meeting @ Natural Bridge, VA. 

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

·         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 8:32p. 


Minutes Submitted by

Mary Sue Socky  BRG Secretary