Meeting Minutes

January 16, 2015


Dave Socky – Chair

Bob Gulden – Vice Chair

Marian McConnell – Secretary

Mary Sue Socky – Treasurer

Al Stewart

Carl Cornett

Stephanie Petri

Jeff Huffman*

Joseph Caldwell

Jen Perdue

Trish Geiger

Doug Feller

Colin Beck*

Luke Beck*

Pat Sims

Susan Burr

Bob Gulden

Odin Gulden*

Nicole Gulden

Dusty Gulden

Rose Kettering (sp?) *

Shaun Doherty*

Irma Gulden*

Carol Duval*





a.    New River Cave, VA – On 12/20/14, Doug, Susan, Carol Duvall, Ellen, Colin, Bill Walker went as far as the waterfall and were able to find the Forest Room.

b.    Grand Caverns, VA - On 12/6/14, Mary Sue Socky went to Grand, where they are letting cavers go off trail and have asked for assistance in cleaning off the green algae on the walls. Mary Sue, Bob Thren, Carol Tiderman, Red Schock, Charles Kahn, Bill & Sue Biggers identified on- and off-trail communities, and found areas of broken glass to clean.

c.    Snow Cone Cave, VA – On 1/3/15 – Stephanie, Brian, Carlin, Ken, and others went on a survey trip; spent 11 hours and surveyed 220’ and found some good leads, big rooms. It’s a deep canyon for Smyth County.

d.    11/22/2014 Lowmoor Cave, VA. Alleghany County. 7 hours. 1712 feet surveyed - Survey Team 1: David Socky, Brian Williams, and Stephanie Petri (567 feet). Survey Team 2:  Nick Socky, Joe Calderone, Amy Skowronski, and Rebecca Stewart (585 feet). Survey team 3: Bob Alderson, Joseph Caldwell, and Joe Zokaites (585 feet). Clean up: Susan Burr, Jen Perdue, Doug Feller, Carrol Duvall, Colin Beck, Luke Beck, and Logan Beck. Very good day surveying and cleanup.  Between the 3 survey teams, we got a total of 1712 feet surveyed, but there is plenty more.  The cleanup crew did a fantastic job of getting most of the rest of the obvious piles of trash out.  There is still a bit of cleanup to do, put it’s not much, with most of it in hard to reach spots.  We finished up around 6:30pm and had a great dinner at Penny’s diner.         

e.    11/29/2014 Lowmoor Cave, VA. Alleghany County. 10.5 hours. 838 feet surveyed - David Socky and Bob Alderson surveyed the rest of the main passage that has all the overlooks into the mine.  We also surveyed a connection from IR21 to the entrance (LM5), which was a tight crawl. For a two person survey, we did pretty good to survey 838 feet in 10.5 hours.

f.     12/3/2014 Un-Named Cave. 10 hours, about 500 feet surveyed - The crew for this trip was David Socky, Phil Lucas, Mark Hodge, Bob Alderson, Mark Minton, and Yvonne Droms.  Due to recent snow and rain, the near siphons were siphoned shut, so we concentrated on stuff on the entrance side of the siphons.  One team continued the survey of the historic section of the cave, while the other team worked on a close by dig, and managed to find a route around one of the siphons that doesn’t require vertical gear. We were all out of the cave by 10pm after surveying around 500 feet. (Due to land owner relations, this cave is CLOSED; the owner has permitted only these survey trips)

g.    12/5/2014 Backdoor Dig, VA. Bath County. 6.5 hour dig - The digging crew consisted of David Socky, Mark Hodge, Gregg Clemmer, Amos Mincin, Phil Lucas, and Bill Royster.  Phil and Bill were the outside team and even built a fire to stay warm.  We didn't get through, but we got far enough were you can see the passage getting larger. There is lots of air being sucked into the cave (which means this is an upper entrance).

h.   12/6/2014 Backdoor Dig, VA. Bath County. 7 hour dig B - The second day crew was Dave Socky, Bob Alderson, Gregg Clemmer, Tony Canike, Amos Mincin, Paul Winter, and Mark Hodge. 75 buckets of rock, mud, and glop.  We moved ahead another 6 to 8 feet and finally around 5:30pm we could see what looked like a small rain well within 18 inches or so.  This is really encouraging because it now looks like real cave. 

i.     12/13/2014 Maxwelton Cave, WV, Greenbrier County.  8 hours. Check high lead - Caving team was David Socky, Stephanie Petri, and Brian Williams.  This was supposed to be a quick trip to get up into the high lead at DEET1 and survey a little bit before getting out in time for the WVACS Christmas Party.  It took us nearly 3 hours to get to the lead.  Brian stood on my shoulder and head to get up into the high lead, but still had to use a biner as a mud piton to get all the way up.  But he did get up!  He rigged a rope which Stephanie climbed up, with much help from me.  I couldn’t get over the lip with the so called Texas system we had thrown together because no one was below me to help.  So – no survey was completed. We made it back to WVACS at 7:30pm, just in time for the Christmas dinner! 

j.     12/17/2014 Un-Named Cave. 12 hours, about 200 feet surveyed - This trip the crew consisted of David Socky, Zeb Lilly, Bob Alderson, Katlyn Mahoney, Mark Minton, Yvonne Droms, Phil Lucas, and Mark Hodge.  Our goal for this trip was the Concealed Canyon and the High Hope dig.   Concealed Canyon was rigged, but required nails to get back up once we were down.  The lead continued with many ups and downs, but again, we were stopped by a high lead.  The High Hopes dig was completed, with Katlyn squeezing through 2 tight spots to get into a high canyon.  These were opened up enough for everyone to get through, but it was getting late, and the way onwards is not obvious.  It was a good 12 trip, with about 200 feet of new passage surveyed. (Due to land owner relations, this cave is CLOSED; the owner has permitted only these survey trips)

k.    12/19/2014 Maxwelton Cave, WV, Greenbrier County.  8 hours. Camera Recovery - Brian Williams and David Socky did a quick trip to find Brian’s lost camera.  Brian thought he had left his camera at the top of the 12 foot drop on the way to downstream Cove Creek on the way out last Saturday.  As it turned out, he had left it in the Latte Room so it was a pretty short trip - only 1.5 hours.  We then went over to Bill Balfour's house to pick up Stephanie's pack, which she had left next to the car last Saturday.

l.     12/26/2014 Lowmoor Cave, VA. Alleghany County. 7 hours. 453 feet surveyed - Survey crew for this trip was Dave Socky, Nick Socky, and Ed Saugstad.  We started surveying from the IR21 survey, eventually tying back into AS3.  This section of the cave was more or less completed except for one high lead crawl.  We then completed the section to the south starting at AS25.  We did not get into the upper level, which Nick says is pretty large and extensive.  We got out just about 6pm after a good 7 hours of survey.  

m.  1/10/2015 Maxwelton Cave, WV, Greenbrier County.  12.5 hours. 903 feet surveyed – Survey Team 1: Dave Socky, Gordon Cole, Michael Blair, Kate Vancouver.  Team 2: Nikki Fox, Chris Coates, Brian Young.  Airport Entrance team: Nick Socky, Tommy Polson, and Dianna Orndorff.  We finished the high lead on the right in Downstream Cove Creek with a total of 903 feet.  There was an additional 80 foot long side passage just 50 feet downstream from where Brian put the rope up a month ago.  It was a good 12.5 hour trip.  No leads left.  Nick and team finished the Airport Entrance passage with a net survey of 360 feet or so.  So - the major passages of Maxwelton are now done!  Now, on to the lead list!! 

n.   1/11/2015 Botetourt County Cave, VA, Botetourt County.  0.25 hours. Exploration - Exploration crew was Mary Sue Socky and David Socky.  We checked out new unnamed cave owned by Timothy Agee just north of Fincastle.  It's about 50 feet long, gently sloping downhill to a 20 foot diameter room filled with trash. This is a single passage walking cave which is dry with a few old dried out formations.  The cave needs to be mapped.     

o.    1/12/2015 Jackson Cave, VA, Bath County. 1 hour. Exploration - This trip included Jeremy Allen (owner) and David Socky.  There is approximately 500 feet of cave.  It is mostly dry, but during rain events, it does flood.  The side passages and crawls are very muddy.  There are a couple of leads which need to be checked. I got the map of Jackson Cave from Phil Lucas, which was done in the 60's.  Jeremy would like to resurvey the cave.    

p.    12/6/14 Island Ford Cave, VA – Marian and Carl took a Roanoke City Parks & Rec group to Island Ford and had a great time. 


Upcoming Trips:


a.    1/17/15 Paxton’s Cave – Led by Doug Feller and Susan Burr – horizontal, mazey, meeting at HROM at 9am.  Will eat dinner afterwards at Swinging Bridge in Paint Bank.

b.    1/17/15 Lowmoor Cave – Survey trip led by Dave Socky.  Meet at Daleville Exit 150 Park & Ride at 9am.

c.    2/7/15 (rain date 2/14) Catawba Murder Hole – Led by Dan McConnell and Marian (although Marian may not be there if she has to work).  This is a video shoot for the Murder Hole video documentary – total focus will be on support for videographers (Dave Socky and Nathan Williams); not training or exploration.  Meet at 8a at the cave.  Must be BRG member and vertically competent with own vertical gear.  Others are welcome to come out and watch (from the top).  Please sign up with Marian McConnell at (540) 309-4707 or

d.    2/21/15 Maxwelton – Led by Dave Socky – survey trip.

e.    2/27-3/1/15 – Florida Cave Cavort in Williston, FL.

f.     4/4-5/15 – Easter Restoration at Grand Caverns.

g.    4/24-25/15 – Natural Bridge, Spring VAR.

h.   5/8-10/15 – SERA at Wolf River, TN.


2.   PROGRAM:  “Cricket Maze Cave:  Twenty Years” from 4/1/1986. An excellent slide show from Bob Gulden’s files.  Amazing fossils!


3.   TREASURER’S REPORT (Mary Sue Socky):

$110 cash

$0 cave bucks

$235.36 equipment fund

$186.64 conservation fund

$3,377.80 general fund

$3,909.80 TOTAL FUNDS


4.    NEWSLETTER:  Thanks for all the submissions, can always use more articles and photos and artwork.  The last issue was 2 pages short because we need to first get permission re Gap Cave info.


5.    MEMBERSHIP:  Pay your dues! 13 members have yet to pay.  Packets will go out next month with new membership cards.


6.   ROCKS: 

a.    Trip to Lowmoor on 2/17 to survey.

b.    Survey un-named cave for Tim Agee near Fincastle – should only take about an hour for this small cave.

c.    Survey Jackson Cave; does have some leads.

d.    Marian will arrange for date to check out other caves on Blue Ridge Vineyard property.


7.    SAFETY & TECHNIQUES: Marian has tentatively scheduled a vertical SRT (single rope techniques) day at the River Rock Climbing Gym on March 8; details to follow once confirmed.




a.    Michael Rowland and Family (total of 6) – were not at the Christmas party and are not at the meeting tonight.  Vote was taken at Susan Burr’s (sponsor) request and all were voted in unanimously.

b.    New:  Lisa Goggin (Keith’s wife) submitted her request on an origami flower.  Mary Sue and Dave Socky both vouch for her.  Mary Sue nominated her and Dave seconded.

c.    New:  Jeff Huffman – Susan Burr nominated and Stephanie Petri seconded.

d.    New:  Colin Beck – Susan Burr nominated and Mary Sue seconded.

New proposals are tabled until next month.



a.    Natural Bridge Commercial Cave – most guides were laid off during winter months, including Gretchen Boeren.  India Akers is still there. 

b.    72 Christmas Cards were sent out to land owners; 2 came back but Mary Sue since got updated addresses.


10.                NEW BUSINESS:

a.    Stephanie Petri shared information about the new BCRG – Blacksburg Cave Rescue Group – that is being formed.  They have met twice so far and are writing SOG’s and SOP’s and working on logistics.  More information to follow as details are developed.

b.    On February 21 the Virginia Cave Board meeting will be held at Luray Caverns; the 2:00 meeting is open to the public.


11.                 ANNOUNCEMENTS:

a.    New show on the Travel Channel starring Josh Gates is on Thursday nights from 9-10p and has some great photography and interesting stories, “Expedition Unknown.”  One of their episodes will include Catawba Murder Hole and it’s possible link to the Beale Treasure; probably in mid-February.  Will share info once we know what night, and may have a viewing party.  Dave Socky was one of the videographers; we will get a CD copy after it has aired.

b.    SECC reminded us to pay our membership annual dues of $25; it was agreed to go ahead and pay them.

c.    6th Annual Carter Cave event in KY will be January 23-25.

d.    SCCI – Buy more caves!  Donate if you wish.  Stephen’s Gap is one of the caves.

e.    Carol Tiderman reminds cavers to send in donations to pay for the NSS’s purchase of New River Cave.  Mark “for New River Cave” on your check, or it will go to the NSS General Operations fund.


Adjournment:  8:51pm