Meeting Minutes – February 15, 2019

Jersey Lily’s; Roanoke, VA 7p



Susan Burr – Chair

David Socky – Vice Chair

Trish Geiger – Treasurer

Marian McConnell - Secretary

Keith Goggin

Doug Feller

Jen Suggs*

Mary Sue Socky

Lauren Appel

John Fox

Karen Kastning

Brandon Phibbs*

Lyn Ott

Gene Harrison

Cyndi Hutchinson

Jeff Huffman

Bill Walker

Dominique Dziadowicz*

Jason Delafield*




Trip Reports:


·         This month’s BRG Trip - 2/15/19Rapps Cave, led by Doug Feller. Easy horizontal cave, petroglyphs, meet at HROM at 9a.

·         March Grotto trip - TBA

·         1/19: Brants Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Greg Springer, and Silas Springer. At least it didn't rain going in. We started the day by surveying the two side passages near the entrance that we had left on the first trip. They were pretty short and ended decisively. We then traveled back to the cable ladder where we picked up where we had stopped last trip. Going through the pinch and down the ladder was not difficult. We surveyed across the top. The High Hurdle rimstone dams were really impressive - very aptly named. Our survey designation was HH for High Hurdles. After the rimstone dams, there were some nice echo rooms and then a room with a deep pool which we managed to stem across to avoid getting wet. We soon reached the room where we had to rappel in, and then climb back up the other side. They were both on sloped flowstone. Then there was a really nice walking canyon with a smooth dirt floor. Eventually we reached another flowstone blockage with a piece of webbing hanging down. We decided to call it a day so Greg and Silas could drive back on Saturday evening, trying to beat the snow/ice storm predicted. It had rained all day. We climbed out entrance in a waterfall. It was a good 7.5 hour trip in which we surveyed 1044 feet. 

·         1/20: Lowmoor Cave, VA. Participants included David Socky, Bob Alderson, Keith Goggin, and Jason Delafield. This trip was a bolt/nail climb in the mine. We tied in to EW8 and surveyed 200 feet of crawlway that re-intersected with the mine in two places. We then climbed up a high lead near the truck entrance where there was a left lead and a right lead. Bob got to the top of the right lead, which ended and did not connect with the left lead. It was late afternoon so we decided not to try for the left lead which would have required setting 2 to 4 bolts. Bob and I then took Jason and showed him the part of Lowmoor cave which intersected with the mine. It was a nice, easy 5 hour trip were we put 206 feet of survey in the book.   

·         1/25: Maxwelton Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, David Smallwood, Chris Coates, Nikki Fox, and Nick Socky. This was a Maxwelton/Sweetwater Camp Trip! We entered Maxwelton Sink Cave early Friday evening at 7:00pm. Nick and David Smallwood were late and entered at 8:30pm.  We camped at the upper level ‘Retreat’ and surveyed nearly 2500 feet of large virgin cave between two teams on Saturday. We exited on Sunday to daylight around 4pm which gave us a nice long 44 hour cave trip! It’s 4.5 hours between the entrance and the Retreat, but there was no water in the Foxhole. However, Ghost Camp had flooded since December and there was lots of water in the Pie Passage, plus the Sweetwater River was COLD.  

·         2/8: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky and Nick Socky. We went into the Lightner entrance around 3pm and headed to the downstream sump which is the water for the upstream sump in Maxwelton- Sweetwater. We were there to check the sump to see if the planned dive on Saturday would be feasible. There was a long low cobble crawl just before the sump and right at the end the crawl is a tight spot. I didn't fit! I couldn't get my chest through without my claustrophobia kicking in. If I had really pushed, I probably could have squeezed through, but the tight spot was a number of feet long. While I waited, Nick went on through and got to the sump. The water was moving pretty fast and was murky, which meant lousy visibility. I had brought a thermometer so Nick was able to measure the temperature. It was 42 degrees F, but since the thermometer reads about 1 to 2 degrees high, it was probably 40 to 41 degrees F, which is pretty cold. Nick came back and we headed out. We climbed out around 6:30pm after a nice 3.5 hours. We went to WVACS. We figured the dive on Saturday would be called off because of the visibility and cold.

·         2/9: McClungs Cave, WV. We had a four teams of three: David Socky, Mitch Berger, and Brian Young - team 3 (Freeman Ave). Kelly McCarthy, Joe Calderone, and Dave Smallwood - team 2 (entrance). Nick Socky, Bill Walker, and Chris Coates - Team 2   (Tufa Trail). Nikki Fox, Brian Williams, and Zeb Lilly - Team 4 (Sump). The dive trip was cancelled, but it was decided to let Brian Williams and Zeb Lilly do a recon to see what they were getting into, plus we decided to survey from the sump to the Lightner entrance. We had 4 teams - a total of 12 cavers.  The Tufa Trail had 1062 feet of nice rimstone passage, and my team surveyed 1210 feet of Freeman Ave and the start of the sump passage. Nikki surveyed 711 feet from the sump back towards my survey, and then Kelly's survey from the entrance was about 540 feet for a total of 3523 feet for the day. Not bad for one day.

·         1/19/19: Tawney’s Cave, VA – Leader, Susan Burr; with Jeff Huffman, Hillary Huffman, Bill Walker, Jennifer Suggs, Dominique Dziadowicz, Lauren Appel, Jason Delafield, and Brandon Phibbs. Carl Cornett went but when we got to the cave entrance he decided his back was hurting too much and he returned to the van to rest. We did the normal trip in to the back sinkhole entrance, out the passage by the dead cow, which doesn’t smell at all due to the enormous amount of lime on it, then retraced our route to the entrance area and then went to the mud sculpture room and I showed several the way through Fat Man’s squeeze. Several people tried but the only ones that made it through were Jason, Dominique, Bill, and myself. After that we all left the cave. Hillary was not happy with me getting to try the Birth Canal. She made it but wouldn’t go all the way through so she went out the escape hole [C section] ¾ of the way through. There were 2 other groups there that day.

·         2/2/19: Porter’s Cave and Crossroads Cave – Leader was going to be Susan Burr for Porter’s but we ended up in Crossroads in which Jeff Huffman and Bill Walker were the leaders. Also on the trip were Lauren Appel and Brandon Phibbs. We started at Porter’s Cave but there was no sign of the gate. We dug around until Lauren found a part of it and then we really began to dig using rocks and sticks. The ground was frozen and even with the use of Brandon’s wrench and lug wrench we couldn’t get very much uncovered and we were getting tired of trying and it was getting late. Jeff suggested Crossroads and we went in our cave suits. Crossroads was fun. We got to the Skinny Man’s shortcut and I wasn’t going to do it this time but told them how to attempt it. Several tried but no one made it all the way. Bill said he thought he could if we were going to go that way but we did not! I never had a clue where we were but Jeff and Bill did a great job getting us around and out. We did see another group of 8 people in there. We think they were setting out playing cards for [route] markers. I guess they made it out ok since their vehicle was gone when we got out.

·         2/4/19 – Fountain Cave at Grand Caverns, VA – Mary Sue and Dave Socky took a film crew from the Discovery Channel to work on a show they are going to put out around Shark Week. Carol Tiderman and Craig Hindman also assisted so BRG will receive and split a donation of $150 for their assistance.

·         1/26/19 – Boar Hole Cave, WV – John Fox – see article in February issue of the Carbide Dump.

·         2/9/19 (?) – New River Cave, VA – Jason Delafield reported that he went on a 9 hour trip to the back of the cave to the top of the supper room. (He didn’t say who went with him?!) While in the crawl he heard a horrible falling sound – at the top of the breakdown pile Phillip Moneyhun had been on top of a boulder that broke about 40 feet above the floor and miraculously he slid down between two boulders and was able to get out with only some bruises.


PROGRAM (Shown early so Dave Socky could leave for a caving trip): Slide show of Dave Socky’s cave trips from November 2018 – February 2019:  Lowmoor, Culverson Creek, Boar Hole, Helectite, Brants Cave, Maxwellton Sink, McClungs.




·         Treasurer’s Report (Trish Geiger)

Cave Bucks                    $31.64

Conservation                  $110.64

Equipment                     $169.65

General                          $3,328.90

TOTAL                            $3,640.83


·         Committees

o   Newsletter Carbide Dump – Postal Service rates have increased by $0.05.

o   Membership – Please pay your dues if you haven’t yet. Colin Beck paid his dues so we currently have 47 members and 4 subscribers.

o   ROCKS - See Dave Socky’s trip reports.

o   Safety & Techniques – Dano and Marian will see if we can use the River Rock Climbing Gym for a vertical training class in March on a Saturday or Sunday.


·         Membership Proposals: None


·         Old Business


o   BRG Constitution and Bylaws Subcommittee – Susan, Lyn, and Dave met and the motion was made by Mary Sue to modify the Blue Ridge Grotto Constitution and Bylaws to incorporate the following changes:

§  Constitution, Article V, Section 3: Changed from 5 to 7 regular members and removed the 30% of regular members for calling a special meeting.

§  Constitution, Article V, Section 4: Changed from 5 to 7 members and removed the 30% of regular members for making up a quorum.

§  Bylaws, Article III, Section 2, E: Added NSS Anti-Harassment Policy to the first bullet item.

§  Bylaws, After Article VIII: Delete “Order of business” section from the Bylaws. Also deleted extra text at the bottom of this document (duplicated order of business and duplicated updates).

§  Constitution & Bylaws: Minor formatting corrections and spelling corrections.

§  Note:  The “Order of Business” is NOT part of the Bylaws.

The motion was seconded by Trish and will be put in the newsletter/email for final vote by the next (March) meeting.


·         BRG On-Line Auction – is up and running; deadline for bidding is March 15th.


·         NEW BUSINESS


·         Cave and Karst Day – Has been rescheduled from April to Saturday, June 8th, to coincide with National Cave and Karst Day.  Marian is coordinating this with Christy Brooks at the Science Museum of Western Virginia (Center on the Square) from about 10a-4p. Please let Marian know if you are willing to help, we will be showing the Murder Hole movie in the Planetarium, have tables of books and movies for sale, tables of free handouts about caves, bats, sinkholes, and caving; and some Q&A show and tell.  We’ll set up shifts so you don’t have to be there all day.


·         Annual Newsletter Covers – Everyone gets 5 votes – vote for your favorite Carbide Dump Covers from 2018.


·         Conservation Stories – Let Janet Tinkham know of any conservation efforts since September 2018.  VAR and NSS would like to know. For example, Grand Caverns, Dixie Caverns, and the big Cave Safety & Conservation presentation we did with Gretch Boeren at Lynchburg High School last year.


·         Rock Climber on Foundation – Story on Facebook of a climbing gear company who had a photo of a rock climber in flip flops climbing on a formation in Spain. The company apologized.



Ø  Carl Cornett made it back safely from a bicycle trip on the Natchez Trace Parkway; too tired to come to the BRG meeting or the trip but says hi to all.

Ø  Karen announced there is a rafting company selling used wetsuits in all sizes for about $30-50.

Ø  Karen announced that Barnes & Noble has a book “The Boys of the Cave” about the rescue of the boys in Thailand on sale and it’s an excellent read. Also, PBS Nova has a video you can get which is very well done for about $20.

Ø  Please submit your cave trips written and preferably emailed to the Secretary!

Ø  Join the NSS by 2/28 and get a free book about caving techniques.

Ø  The Robertson Foundation (TRA) has grant money available for projects that can be accomplished for $500 or less. Deadline is March 1st to apply for the grant.

Ø  Karst Waters Institute banquet to honor Wil Orndorff is on Saturday, March 30th in Blacksburg. Tickets are $40 in advance.



Mar 15, 2019:  6:30p, Jersey Lily’s Roadhouse Salem, VA

Apr 6-7, 2019: Spring Restoration Weekend, Grand Caverns.  Contact Meredith Weberg.

Apr 25-28:  Spring VAR, Camp Powhatan, Radford, VA.  Hosted by JRG (tentative – final details still in the works)

May 3-5, 2019: PSC (Potomac Speleological Club) Spring Party, Upper Tract, WV 

May 11-18, 2019 – NCRC Weeklong Cordon, IN 

May 18 – Over the Edge (Big Brothers/Big Sisters benefit/rappelling event) in Roanoke

June 8 – Cave and Karst Day at Science Museum of Western Virginia in Roanoke

June 17-21, 2019:  NSS Convention in Cookeville, TN.

Oct 7-11, 2019:  NCKMS meeting in Bristol, VA

Nov 3, 2019: 11:30a, VSS Meeting, Natural Bridge State Park, VA