Blue Ridge Grotto of the NSS


September 19, 2014 – Vinton Firehouse


Meeting began 7:30p

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

Dave Socky  - VChair                       Susan Burr                          Carl Cornett                        Bob Alderson

Joseph Caldwell                                                Jen Perdue                         * Ivan Sexton                   

                                                                                                                                                                * denotes guest              

Trip Reports:

8/16/2014:  Last month’s trip to Breathing Cave, VA.  Susan Burr, Doug Feller, Pat Sims, Sharon Mohney. First off, the orange trail markings are worn out.  Fortunately, someone has tied clothesline cord on trees to mark the trail.  They went to the Serpentine Way, etc.  Sharon had lots of trouble getting through the Nutcracker (her knees don’t bend well).  It was easier on the return trip on the way out.  Sharon liked Breathing Cave, but has had her fill of it.   


8/23:  Gap Cave Survey – Bob Alderson, Matt Tomlinson, Joe Zokaites, Mike Rhinehart ventured 4 ½ miles from the entrance to the “Big Dork” area of canyon passage.  One of them climbed up into ceiling meanders to check for high leads, and found a 600’ long upper level canyon that ended. 


8/25:  Unnamed Cave – Bob Alderson, Phil Lucas, Mark Minton, Vonny Droms, Mark Hodges, Katelyn Mahoney surveyed 800’ in a long straight canyon passage, ending with a BFR and a drainage dome.  Over a mile of new cave has been discovered; (Due to land owner relations, this cave is CLOSED; the owner has permitted only these survey trips.) 


8/31:  Butler Cave Survey – Bob Alderson related how he, Tony Canoke, Hope Brooks, Eric NLN went to the “Fools Gold” section of the cave to get cross sections and data for the map.  They had to cross Penn State Lake, and pass folded chevrons to get to the 40’ high canyon maze area. 


August 2014:  Dave Socky, Stephanie Petri, Rickey Shortt and Bill Walker went backpacking in Rocky Mt. NP and other high altitude areas of Colorado.


September 2014:  Bob Alderson went backpacking in the Sierra Mts. of CA with his sister and friends.  The saw a lot of lakes, and hiked 39 ½ miles in the Evolution Basin, CA.


9/3: Dave Socky, Bob Alderson Phil Lucas, Vonny Droms, Mark Minton, Zeb Lily, Katelyn Mahoney continued to survey in Unnamed Cave.  It was very wet.  There were two survey teams, and they set dye traps.  In 11 hours, they surveyed 1483 ft. of virgin cave.  They were stopped going upstream by a too-tight crack down near the “over your head’ water.  (NOTE: the Sept. 15 trip got through!)  Plenty of leads left.  The new section of the cave is now longer than the original historic section. (Due to land owner relations, this cave is CLOSED; the owner has permitted only these survey trips.) 


9/14:  Marian & Dan McConnell, Ivan Sexton, Mike and Erin Flint took a trip into the Catawba Murder Hole “Daylight Cave ”area.  The went as far as Fat Man’s Squeeze, before returning topside. 


The planned 9/13 BRG trip to New River Cave was cancelled due to bad weather – it is no fun climbing a mountain to the cave entrance in pouring rain, or finding the river has risen to the parking area after the cave trip.  Since New River Cave is now owned by the NSS, this trip should be rescheduled in the future. 


Tomorrow: 9/20 rappel to the Daylight Cave entrance area of Catawba Murder Hole, VA.  3-5p.


Oct. 18: date of next BRG trip.  No cave was suggested; Susan Burr promised she would have a cave and a trip leader to announce soon. 


Upcoming Trips: 

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

o   Oct. 11-12 – Fall VAR, near Elkins, WV.

o   Oct. 18 – BRG trip TBA.

o   Oct 24-25 – Haunted Lab, RVSM.  6-10p.

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

o    Dec 13 – Drone Day @ CMH. Must be vertically competent and a BRG member to help out. 


Program:  Spelunking in Catawba Murder Hole, 1988“. Thanks to Ivan Sexton for sharing his footage.

Program: “NSS 2014 Photo Salon” – PPS of the outstanding Photo Salon shown in Huntsville, AL




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

9/19/2014  Balance Sheet

Petty Cash                             110.00

General Fund                     3,309.71

Conservation                        227.34

Equipment                             235.36

Cave Bucks                            203.30

TOTAL BALANCE:     $4085.71


NEWSLETTER –Thanks for the articles and photos!  We will use extra articles for the Oct. DUMP.  We are now printing 25 hard copies to hand out at meetings and for archives (instead of the usual 30).

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

ROCKS – no report.  See New Business

SAFETY & TECHNIQUES – BRG will be offering winter vertical training at River Rock Climbing Wall.


MEMBERSHIP PROPOSALS – Bill Keith, NSS # 25025.  Bill is sponsored by Dave Socky and Marian McConnell.  2nd by Pat Sims.  Bill could not be at BRG meeting due to work.  Dave Socky mentioned working with Bill on the VA Cave Board, etc. and recommended his membership.  Bill Keith was voted in by acclimation.  Welcome, Bill!  Pay your dues!



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

·         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. ( Tabled, don’t think Steph has sent anything out yet.)

·         “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). (TBA)

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

·         CCV has grant money available – education, need a cave gate, sinkhole to clean up? please send in a grant proposal.  

·         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.  (no new volunteers)

·         The owner of Blue Ridge Vineyards wants BRG to check out more new caves on his property!  Marian will check out dates for a ridgewalk in the winter months.



·         Do we want to send landowner Christmas Cards this year? YES.  Bring card designs to the Oct. BRG meeting. (We sent 72 cards in 2013.)

·         Upcoming Vinton Firehouse renovations – we don’t know how much, when and if it will affect our meetings or make the meeting room inaccessible.  Chris Heptinstall will keep us updated. 

·         BRG Officer nominations next month.  All current officers must vacate their positions.

·         Bill Keith Sinkhole Conservation Project:  There is a trash-filled sinkhole in the Timber Ridge area of Botetourt Co. VA that needs cleaning out.  Bill Keith, with the District Natural Resources Conservation Service, is working with the landowner to share equipment costs.  Bill is looking to have a one day volunteer project providing the hand labor (along with the contracted machine portion) could complete it. Bill can enter the BRG members and all the participant as Earth Team Volunteers through my agency.  I have also used volunteer groups in the past (local fire department) where the landowner makes a donation to the group if that is needed.   If BRG helps with this project, it will help A LOT to keep costs “under the cap”, and also do good PR for BRG, maybe get other karst properties open to ridgewalk and cave.  YES There is interest.  Dave Socky put up the dates of Nov 1 or Nov 2, and requested that volunteers contact him to sign up, and he will give the info to Bill Keith.  (Note: dates were finalized to be Nov. 22, with a rain date of Nov. 23, 2014.)

·         Karen Kastning/Help the 2016 NSS Convention.  Matt Bowen and Paul Damon are putting together an exhibit and a book.  They desperately need photos of past conventions and convention cave trips from the past 75 years.    If you have old slides, photos, memorabilia, let Karen Kastning know, she will get the info on who to send it to, and what format it needs to be in.



·         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”.  Also banquet registrants may attend a Rapp’s Cave trip earlier in the afternoon, before the meeting. 

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


Meeting adjourned at 9:00p? 


Minutes Submitted by

Mary Sue Socky BRG Secretary