Roanoke, VA

Monthly Meeting Minutes 3-15-19

Jersey Lily’s



Susan Burr, Chair

Marian McConnell, Secretary

Trish Geiger, Treasurer

Mary Sue Socky

Carl Cornett

Bill Walker

Dusty Gulden

Nicole Gulden

Odin Gulden*

Bob Gulden

Brandon Phibbs*

Lynn Ott

Keith Goggin

Jason Delafield*

Joe Fagan

Joseph Caldwell

Doug Feller





a.    [Susan Burr:] 2/16/19 BRG Grotto trip to Rapps Cave, WV – Doug Feller (leader), Trish Geiger, Jeff Huffman, Lauren Appel, Bill Walker, John Fox, Brandon Phibbs, Dominique Dziadowicz, and Susan went. Of course we had a little trouble opening the gate. Explored all over. Trish was our WVACS person and it was very nice changing at the WVACS Station.

b.    [Susan Burr:] 3/2/19 Organ Cave, WV – Doug Feller and Susan joined the Greenbier Grotto – Ed Swepston (leader), Ed Saugstad, Mystik Miller, and newbie James. Ed of course knows that cave. We got to go in and out the commercial entrance. Not sure what area we went to, but the Octopus Room or area was one of the places. We did have to climb up and onto a scary ledge, which wasn’t really that scare once you got on it. We mainly did a loop in the cave so we didn’t have to come back across the ledge. We got to see a waterfall that I don’t think is normally active near the tourist trail.

c.    [Susan Burr:] 3/5/19 Porter’s Cave, VA – Jeff Huffman and Susan went to dig open the gate that we couldn’t get open back in January. When we got there it looked like someone had tried and mostly did get the gate dug open. Only is that they apparently put a bunch of really large/heavy rocks over the gate. After Jeff and I got the rocks off we finished chiseling the packed mud and debris from around the gate. Jeff had trouble with the lock but finally got it off and the gate did open. We both went in to help refresh my memory of the route I want to take a group of Scouts later in the month. I also was teaching the cave to Jeff. We did the normal tourist route, NOT going through but to the Keyhole, then back to Grand Avenue and the Natural Bridge where we explored around a bunch and practiced taking pictures with and without the flash. Then off to the Formation Room that also has fossils in the ceiling, then on to see the Big Slit, which has a lake right before you get to it. After this we explored several passages we normally don’t take. It was fun guessing where we would end up and I was usually right or at the very least, I knew where we were when we got to a junction. After that we headed out the dry waterfall exit.

d.    [Dave Socky:] 2/15: Maxwelton Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Nick Socky, Keely Owens, Corey Hackley, Nikki Fox, and Chris Coates. This was to be another camp trip to the Retreat to pick up where we had left off in January. Nikki and Chris had gone in earlier and when Nick and I showed up at 9:15pm, Keely and Corey were ready to go in. Nick and I got geared up at the upper parking area because of potential snow and ice over the weekend. Nick parked his Honda Fit up by the road. We were in the cave by 9:50pm. I led the way until the first drop, at which point I let Nick take the lead so I could cool off. After we did the second drop and started into the narrow, muddy, crawly canyon, I started to slow down. I had indigestion and I felt a little nauseous. My energy levels seemed low. We got through the stemming section when I told Nick to go on a head because I really had to use the bathroom. Well, god, it was diarrhea! I actually took care of business at the top of a 15 foot deep canyon with a stream flowing below. I had hoped that it wouldn’t stink too much when we come out. I finally caught up with Nick at the drop into Cove Creek. It was 11:00pm – it had taken me over an hour to get there. I felt bad and didn’t seem to have any energy. I had to make a decision. After a brief discussion with Nick, I decided to turn around and go back. I was worried about ruining the trip for everyone else, and if I was sick, the trip in, but especially the trip out would be hell. And the diarrhea had me worried. Nick said that he had caught up with Keely and Corey, so he rappelled down and disappeared down Cove Creek. I waited a bit in order to cool down and try a regain some strength, then headed out. The trip out was long and slow. I was being really careful because I was solo (If I hurt myself down in the bypass canyon, my earliest rescue would have been Sunday afternoon), but also because of my lack of energy. The more I went, the more I agreed that I head reached the proper decision – I was in fact sick. The two pits I had to climb out where not that hard, just slow. I finally made it out around 12:20pm. I got home around 3:15am, took a shower and went to bed. All night long, I had watery diarrhea every 10 to 20 minutes. So that pretty much confirmed that I had made the right decision.

e.    [Dave Socky:] 2/23: Lost World Caverns, WV.  Participants included Dave Socky, Ed Swepston, Mystic Miller, plus 10 students or so. We took the students on a wild tour of the back end of Lost World Caverns to give them a little real world experience in what can be involved in a cave rescue.

f.     [Dave Socky:] 2/24: Uvala Sink above Max, WV. Participants included David Socky, Carroll Bassett, Nancy (?), Bill Balfour, Pam Marth, Cliff Lindsay, and David Scott. We searched the large sink above the Retreat camp off of Sweetwater in Maxwelton. We found an insurgence in the north end of the sink which will be a really good dig when things are dry. We also found two small caves that where only 10 feet deep or so and didn't do anything. 

g.    [Dave Socky:] 3/2: Cave Hollow Arbogast, WV. Team one: David Socky, Bob Hoke, Wayne Perkins, and Coleman McHose. Team two: Hope Brooks, Eric Pelkey, Jay Balakirsky, and Dennis Melko. Team one surveyed 680 feet in the middle southern passage towards the Golden Spike Room, starting from the ‘K’ survey. Team two planned on picking up in the Serpentine Way, but one of the members didn’t fit through a pinch near the start, so they met up with team one and we leap frogged toward the Golden Spike Room. Team two surveyed a total of 423 feet. We finished up our survey where the canyon passage opened up into a maze of large rooms and passages, just shy of the Golden Spike Room. We finished the survey at 7:30pm, exiting the cave at 8:45pm for a very productive 9 hour trip with a total of 1103 feet.

h.   [Dave Socky:] 3/7: Maxwelton Cave, McClungs Cave, and Ludingtons Cave, WV. Participants included Dave Socky, Nick Schaer, and two West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) employees. We got high accuracy GPS locations for Maxwelton Scott entrance, Maxwelton Cove Creek collapsed entrance, McClungs Lightner Entrance, and Ludington Yates entrance. Nick used a $10,000 GPS unit to acquire the locations. It took 1.5 hours each at the Scott Entrance and at the Lightners entrance. The accuracy is supposed to be good to 2 cm!

i.     [Dave Socky:] 3/9: Brants Cave, WV. Participants included Dave Socky, Chris Coates, Aaron Clair, Brian Young, Mountain Dave, and Larry Fisher for a total of 6 cavers. The plan was for two to do the dig at the bottom of the ladder drop and 4 to survey from the end of our last survey. It was cold, but at least not raining or snowing. It had snowed about 4 to 5 inches on Friday, but all the roads where just wet. We got in without incident. At the ladder climb, Mountain Dave and Brian Young went on ahead to work on the dig while Chris worked on putting in bolts to replace the cable ladder with a rope. Dave and Brian went ahead to explore because the dig was right below where Chris was working and so would have been in the rock fall zone. We got the rope in place in an hour or so and went on into the cave. Dave and Brian went back to work on the dig. The rest of us soon got to the next drop, where we discovered that the room with the ropes was filled with water! And the water was deep. At the bottom of the rope, the water looked to be about 5 to 6 feet deep but it looked like it got deeper further into the room. Aaron Clair rappelled down to the edge of the water to confirm the suspected depth, and to see how cold it was. It was cold - snow melt. We talked about bolting a traverse along a slanty ledge, but we only had 6 bolts left. We considered bolting as far as we could and sending Aaron Clair across with no clothes so he could pull the end from the traverse to the other side to make a J hang. We would then all cross doing the traverse and the J hang.  We decided it would be too much effort, not enough climbing gear, and would take too long, so we aborted the trip. The trip out was uneventful. We were out by 3:30pm.

j.     [Dave Socky:] 3/9:  Persistence Cave, WV. Participants included Dave Socky, Chris Coates, Aaron Clair, Brian Young, and Mountain Dave. There was still time left in the day, so we decided to check out a collapse in Persistence Cave which is just up the hill from Carroll Bassett's house. The cave was dug open about 10 years ago and surveyed to around 2500 feet. But then about 5 years ago after a big rain, a collapse occurred near the bottom of the pit which is close to the entrance. The entrance is nearly in the creek (which had been diverted and is normally dry). The entrance is a short 7 foot vertical culvert with a small crack at the bottom which you have to squeeze down. It's about 7 feet deep. At the bottom it opens up a little where there is the 40 foot pit. The top of a pit is a narrow slot which is somewhat awkward to get through, but after 6 to 8 feet, it opens up. The bottom is bigger, about 15 feet in diameter. There is a slot that goes down and around to the left. It was a tight squeeze which Chris did. We didn't get to the collapse because no one wanted to get wet. So we climbed back up the pit and out the cave. We were essentially tag pit bopping in WV.

k.    [Dave Socky:] 3/10: Boarhole Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Nick Socky, Kelly McCarthy (teachers), Chris Coates, Brian Young, Rob Wardell, Wyatt Hall, Silas Springer, and Casey Tucker. We surveyed in the Boarhole Boulevard as one big survey class. Nick and Kelly roamed around to help the sketchers while I did the ‘reference’ sketch which the students used to compare against what they were doing. Everyone did very well. We surveyed for about two hours for 6 stations and about 200 feet of survey. We would have done more, but half the crew went to Windy Mouth the day before for a 13 hour survey and didn't get back to the field station until nearly 4am, so there were a lot of tired cavers.

l.     [Jason Delafield:] 2/16: Giant Caverns, Narrows, VA. Went with Nathan Carney (sp?) and 5 other VPI cavers and explored the two main rooms. Permission is supposedly that as long as you have a bat sticker on your car and you park off the driveway you can go into this vertical cave. Landowner was a retired Dentist; assuming he is still the owners.

m.  [Jason Delafield:] 2/23: Pig Hole, VA. Did the normal drops and climbed out (did not exit via the culvert).Very muddy.

n.   [Jason Delafield:] (3/2): WVACS, McClung’s, WV (Lightner Entrance) and Tufa Trail.

o.    [Jason Delafield:] 3/10: New River Cave, VA with Lauren Appel, Jeff Huffman, and Nick Schmalenberger. They entered the cave around 10:45 and exited around 4:45p. Objective was to make it to the Supper Room where Jason’s friend fell during a previous trip. They believe the fall was close to 20 feet. They did not stop at the Forest Room. Instead they proceeded and went down the China Slide, through the Blow Hole and up the waterfall. Jeff and Lauren decided to stop at Tuxedo Junction. The area was tight and one needed to be flexible to be able to maneuver the Junction. Jeff and Lauren told Jason and Nick to proceed to the Supper Room while they waited in the area before the Junction. Jason estimated a time of one hour before his return. Jason and Nick returned shortly after an hour. We exited to a beautiful view of the New River on a warm afternoon.

p.    This month’s trip 3/16/19 to Rimstone Falls Cave in Greenbrier County, WV led by Mystik Miller. Meet at HROM at 9am. Limit of 10 cavers.

q.    3/17/19 VERTICAL PRACTICE: Practice will be held Sunday, March 17th from 2-6p at the Socky’s house on their backyard tree/deck. Jason Delafield and Carl Cornett will be offering the training.

r.    3/23/19 there will be a trip to Giant Caverns in Narrows, VA with Jason Delafield.


2.    TREASURER’S REPORT (Trish Geiger):

Cave Bucks           $        31.64

Conservation                           110.64

Equipment                      169.95

General                        3,535.01

TOTAL                          3,846.94




NEWSLETTER: Carbide Dump is out; kudos to the editors! Send photos, art, articles!


MEMBERSHIP: We have 38 regular members, 10 associate members, and 4 subscribers for a total of 52.  Get your packet from Mary Sue that has current membership listing, cards, cave rescue call-down list, and BRG Trip Guidelines.


ROCKS: Nothing to report.


SAFETY & TECHNIQUES: The only date Marian was able to get from River Rock Climbing Gym for a vertical practice is Sunday, April 28th, which is during VAR.  If we don’t get enough (minimum of 6) interested, we will wait until the winter to try to schedule another class.  Mary Sue will send out an email asking anyone to contact Marian by Friday, March 22nd if they are interested in the class, and helping set up/take down. 







Lengthy discussion about the proposed amendments. The quorum minimum may be unrealistic.  The amendment was dropped for now. Since there was no agreement, we will re-address it and re-propose. Keith Goggin will work on some potential wording. 

The addition of the NSS Sexual Harassment policy is required, but apparently still requires a vote. Susan made the motion and Joey Fagan seconded it that the policy be adopted, as required by the NSS. All members present voted yes.


BRG AUCTION ON-LINE: No one bid on anything, so the items will be donated to VAR for door prizes. 


ROANOKE CAVE AND KARST DAY: Scheduled for the Science Museum of Western Virginia (Center in the Square) on Saturday, June 8th. Anyone interested in helping should contact Marian McConnell. Details to follow.


VOTE FOR CARBIDE DUMP COVERS: Be sure to use your 5 votes to vote for your favorite covers for the 2019 Convention Salon.


DISCOVERY CHANNEL DONATION: We received the $150 donation for helping with their filming; we will share half ($75) with VAR (Carol and Craig) who assisted.




BRG June 21 Meeting? This will be during the NSS Convention; it was decided enough BRG officers/members will be here to hold our regular monthly meeting.




·         THAI RESCUE CD: Lynn Ott donated a copy of Gene’s CD to BRG so you can check out and view.

·         CRICKET MAZE CAVE: Open House will be held in Hedgeville, WV. For more info contact Lynn Ott, Meredith Weberg, or the Gulden’s.

·         Apr 6, 2019: Spring Restoration Weekend, Grand Caverns.  Contact Meredith Weberg by 3/24 so she can plan for Saturday dinner.

·         Apr 13: Celebrate Cliff Lindsey’s 50th! 50 years of caving, hanging around Bill Balfour, etc. 1-5p at Organ Cave, WV.

·         Apr 19: BRG Meeting at Jersey Lily’s

·         Apr 20: VIRGINA CAVE BOARD: The next meeting will be on Saturday, April 20th at 11a at the Virginia Deaf & Blind office in Staunton.

·         Apr 25-28:  Spring VAR, Camp Powhatan, Draper/Radford, VA.  Hosted by JRG

·         May 3-5, 2019: PSC Spring Party, Upper Tract, WV  (See flyer)

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

·         May 18: Over the Edge downtown Roanoke. Volunteer to help the rappellers. 2-day commitment; volunteers get to rappel for free. Benefits Big Brothers/Big Sisters. The building used will be the higher education building. More info TBA.

·         June 8 – Cave and Karst Day at Science Museum in Roanoke

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

·         Oct 7-11, 2019:  NCKMS meeting in Bristol, VA (see flyer)

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


7:  PROGRAM: Photos of Lynn and Gene’s trip to Australia for the International Caving Convention in 2017.