BLUE RIDGE GROTTO OF THE NSS
May 17, 2019
Susan Burr, Chair
Dave Socky, Vice Chair
Trish Geiger, Treasurer
Mary Sue Socky
Marian McConnell, Secretary
Bob Alderson (late)
Cyndi Hutchison (late)
3/16: Powell Mountain Cave, TN. Participants included David Socky, Bob Alderson, and Joe Zokaites. Biologist/Geologists: Terry Brown, Mathew Niemiller, Kirk Zigler, Nathaniel Mann, Vincent Leray, and Evin Carter. We got into the cave around 11:15am. We went to the back of the cave where Bob and crew had found going passage on their last trip and started surveying. We found more and more cave, finally calling it a day at around 11pm with still more cave to do. We finally exited the cave around 11:30pm. It was a good 12 hour trip with a little over 800 feet in the book.
3/23: Maxwelton Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Carl Amundson, and Chris Coates on team one. And Nick Socky, Nikki Fox, and Joe Calderon on team two. We entered the cave Friday evening around 6pm. On Saturday, Chris bolted up a 28 foot waterfall room and traversed over to the lead with two J hangs. We surveyed 655 feet of nice stream passage, but some crawling in the water. We were stopped by a 17 foot high waterfall with what looked like nice stoop walk passage at the top. We are headed north east. Nick's team bolted up the other side of Pretty Prison Pit and found going passage. After 700 feet, the cave got bigger. They had a really good breakout. They are headed south, but have passage that goes north and south. We exited the cave Sunday afternoon for a nice 47 hour camp trip.
3/30: Windy Mouth Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, David Smallwood, and Rob Wardell on team 1. And Nick Socky and Amy Skowronski on team 2. Entered the cave around 10:30pm and got to camp around midnight. On Saturday, we got up around 8:30am, had breakfast, and slowly got stuff ready for the day’s survey. We got off around 10:30am. Our team (Dave Smallwood, Rob Wardell, and I) were to go up the P survey and tie into the end of the PC survey. Nick and Amy were going up the shattered ladder and the Q survey and were going to survey toward our survey. We hoped to get over 2000 feet of survey and also connect from opposite ends. I made it through all the tight spots, with a little bit of my claustrophobia coming through. We surveyed a bunch, but didn’t make the connection with Nick and Amy in the Q survey – we just ran out of time. We did survey 1089 feet, though, which is why we didn’t get back to camp until 12:30am. It was a long day.
Sunday morning, we got up around 9am as there was no rush to get out. No fuel, no hot breakfast or coffee. We made due with granola bars and such. We were on our way out by 10:30am and made it to the entrance at noon. It was a partly sunny day, but cool – in the med 40s. When we got back to the cars, it actually snow and sleeted a bit - so much for spring. Maybe we ought to just go back into the cave! Regardless, it was a good 37 hour camp trip.
4/22: Carlsbad Cavern, NM. Participants included David Socky, John Lyles, and Tony Canike. Also on a separate team were Dwight Livingston and Tim Bilezikian. We entered through the elevator around 10am and made it up into the Mystery Room without incident. We took the tourist route to the King's Palace and then went off trail where there was a steel ladder, about 12 feet high. At the top, you had to crawl through some formations, at which point there was a narrow ledge with a belay rope. The footholds were tiny, as were the handholds, and the ledge at chest level pushed you out a little toward the 30 foot drop. But the holds were strong and we did have the traverse line, so no one was going to fall. It turned out a lot easier than it looked. After the 6th time, it was a piece of cake. After the traverse was a down-climb which did not have a safety rope, but again, the hand and footholds were really good. This was about a 15 feet climb. After that we just hiked through the huge Mystery Room until we got to our survey. It took 10 minutes. The place is huge with lots of huge formations all over. Our goal was to survey into some high side passages on the north wall which eventually came out to an overlook into the main Mystery Room. On our survey, we found lots of bat bones and many large and small formations. We saw one bat skeleton which was still hanging from a stalagmite. The large balcony area went up and over the top of our previous survey where there was a possible high lead. There were some really nice helectites in a small side passage. We surveyed until 5pm, our planned finish time. Dwight and Tim finished up their survey and we were on our way out by 5:15pm. We exited without incident at around 6pm, exiting out via the elevator! It was a good 8 hour day with 243 feet added to the book.
4/23: Lechuguilla, NM. Participants included Dave Socky, Dwight Livingston, Tim Bilezikian, and Tony Canike. The second team included John Lyles, Jamie Moon, Eric Weaver, and Austin McCrary. We entered the cave at 10.00am. Everyone made it down to the bottom of Glacier Bay without any problems. The new rebelay at Boulder Falls was not too bad at all. The little ledge to stand on to remove the cows tails made the switch over pretty easy. Just don’t look down. Our goal was to survey the gypsum encrusted lower level that is below the Left Hand Corridor and below the Right Hand Corridor. We decided to call this area “The Flower Garden” because of all the gypsum flowers. We left one lead at CB38, which we weren’t sure if we should go through because of the gypsum flowers and gypsum crust. The lead was heading west and underneath the Right Hand Corridor. It was at the south-eastern extent of our survey. There were lots and lots of white gypsum crust and gypsum flowers and needles. The walls in places were just covered with pure white crust. A couple of spots were like the inside of a crystal ball. We surveyed until about 6:30pm, at which point we headed on out. The other team was about 20 minutes behind us. It worked out well because we didn’t get jammed up at Boulder Falls. Everyone was out of the cave by 8:40pm. It was a good 11 hour trips with 551 feet surveyed.
4/24: Carlsbad Cavern, NM. Participants included David Socky, Jamie Moon, Katie Person, and John Lyles. The second team included Dwight Livingston, Tim Bilezikian, and Tony Canike. We entered through the elevator around 10 am and made it up into the Mystery Room without incident. Our goal for the day was to survey a lead down Cable Pit, and to better define the east and north profiles for Cable Pit. We rigged the pit with a 100 foot 9 mm rope that was brought into the cave. John Lyles went down first, then Jamie, then Katie, and Dave brought up rear. We dropped down about 70 feet (23 feet from the bottom) where there was a side lead on the east side of Cable Pit slot. The lead took off in an easterly direction, almost paralleling the slot of Cable Pit. The passage was true ‘bone yard’ type cave with little rooms separated by tight awkward tubes. The passage first went up and then down, then back up and then down again. But the general trend was upward. At the end of our survey, we were actually 24 feet higher then where we started. John determined that this section of the cave was virgin since there was no sign of travel or footprints. There was lots of gypsum, green clay, spar, aragonite bushes, calcite crusts, and a lot of gravel made up of rock and hard clay. There were also lots of popcorn formations. Where there wasn’t minerals the walls where rounded with light colored limestone with lots of swiss cheese type holes and voids. Because of all the hard green clay we called this section of the cave “Green Mountain”. The room at HBA9 was named the Green Room because of the green clumps of clay and the crawl which had a cracked mud floor of green clay which was 4 feet wide by 10 feet long. The crawl didn’t go. At the north-west end of the Green Room was a 7 foot climb up which led to a little tunnel heading north-west. The tunnel went 10 feet where the floor dropped out with a steep slope. The walls also widened out to a width of 15 feet or so. It was our last station because the steep slope ended in a drop off of about 10 feet. It would be possible to slide down and stem across the 3 to 4 foot wide canyon, but getting back up the slope could potentially be very difficult. It also looked like it would be difficult to climb down the canyon, let alone get back up. We decided a rope and vertical gear would be best for safety. After a little photography, everyone was up in the Mystery Room by 5:15pm. Soon thereafter we met up with the other team and headed out. Jamie took a nice photo from below of Katie going across the traverse. We were at the elevator at 6:00 pm and exited with no problems. It was a good 8 hour trip with 103 feet surveyed.
4/25: Lechuguilla, NM. Participants included David Socky, Jamie Moon, and Tony Canike. The second team included John Lyles, Katy Person, and Eric Weaver. We entered the cave at 9:35am and everyone made it down to the bottom of Glacier Bay without any problems. Our goal was to clean up the survey in the gypsum encrusted lower level that is below the Left Hand Corridor and below the Right Hand Corridor. Our first task was to recheck the lead at ‘CBA5!’ that we had left on Tuesday (4-23-2019) because of delicate formations. John thought it might be ok to push this lead. But once we got to it, we all decided that it really was too delicate to push into the little crawl lead. There were just too many gypsum flowers, curls, and crust that would have been destroyed. The decision was noted in the notes and we went back to our next task. There was a little bit of passage in a lower level just below CB9 (CB9 normally leads up to the Left Hand Corridor). So we continued our CB survey numbers with a shot from CB9 to CB39. This little ‘boneyard’ passage went down and curled around to the left and went right back under ourselves. After a few tight squeezes and awkward spots, the passage opened up into a nice room with a mini domed ceiling and a small natural bridge (CB42). There was gypsum all over, and the walls and ceiling were typical ‘boneyard’ rounded and light colored limestone. After this section was done, we checked two leads right off the main trail, close to CB12 and CB20. As it turned out, the leads didn’t do anything, just little spaces under breakdown – not really worth even doing a little sketch. At this point, it was 2:35pm and close to the time that Jamie Moon had to head out. So, Tony Canike went out with Jamie, and Dave Socky joined the other team of John Lyles, Eric Weaver, and Katy Person. We surveyed to the north, under the main Glacier Bay passage, unexpectedly tying back into our earlier survey. We continued in the opposite direction until we got to a lead that John Lyles had left a year ago. But by this time, it was 7:30pam and past the time we said we would head out. We exited the cave at 9:30pm with no problems. It was a good 12 hour trip with a total of 284 feet added to the book – some of it new survey.
4/26: Carlsbad Cavern, NM. Participants included David Socky and Tony Canike. The second team included Dwight Livingston and Tim Bilezikian. We entered Carlsbad via the elevators at 9:45am. Tony and I started surveying at 10:00am with a large profile/cross section at the extreme western end of the Mystery End. We started at the northern wall and headed across the room, following the trail, heading south. We used known survey stations when we could, but put in ‘sketcher’ points when necessary. This profile was about 280 feet wide, the width of the room! We finished the profile in a little under two hours, at which point we moved to east and did a new cross section where Dwight had instructed us. This time we went from the south to the north, ending at a point where there was a steep climb down which really required a rope as a handling. Our third profile was across the Cable Pit, again from south to north. This was a shorter profile, so it only took about an hour to complete. Dwight and Tim where surveying the north wall just down slope from where we were doing the profile. When we finished, Dwight asked if we could do the cross section from south to north at the Mystery Pool. We had about 45 minutes before our quitting time, so we completed that cross section too. By the time we finished, Dwight and Tim had completed their survey. So we packed up and headed out at 4:40pm. Our exit across the traverse was uneventful, and we were out of the cave by 5:10pm. It was a good 7 hour trip, with a total of 4 large profile/cross sections completed.
5/4: Cave Hollow Arbogast, WV. Participants included David Socky, Bob Hoke, and Dennis Melko. We surveyed from the Pebblehenge Room upstream towards Lake Susan. We stopped about 250 feet shy of the turn off for "The Crawl" which goes to the Golden Spike Room. We then made our way back to the Cave Hollow Entrance passage. It was close to 9:30pm, so there were no problems with the bats. They were all outside. So we finished the survey of the Cave Hollow Entrance passage, finishing at the gate. It was 11pm by the time we exited. It was a good 12 hour survey with 1225 feet added to the book.
5/11: Windy Mouth, WV. Participants included David Socky, Joe Zokaites, and Bill Koerschner. The second team was Brian Sakofsky and Evan Madill. We went to the upper levels and completed the loop between the PE survey and the QD survey. This is the loop we tried to complete in March 2019. We did it in 28 stations, plus a side lead. Joe was concerned, but he made it through all the tight spots. It's a good thing Brian and Evan didn't go with us, because they might not have fit through the tight spots. The survey we worked on was not walking, but was fairly easy. It was the travel to and from the survey that was a real beast. The travel time of our trip was 7 hours, leaving only 7 hours for survey. But at least it didn't rain going in or coming out. And the weather wasn't too hot. The other team cleaned up leads off the WC survey near the Waterfall Room. They got 395 feet and left a couple of tight leads. Our team surveyed 605 feet for a total for the day of 1000 feet! The current survey of Windy Mouth is now over 14 miles!
5/4/2019: Grand Caverns, VA: Mary Sue Socky and Jen Suggs drove up to Grand Caverns, Grottoes, VA to help with the monthly conservation trip. The guys re-wired the cave for an emergency phone line. Everyone else cleaned lampenflora and mud from formations and picked up trash.
4/20: Greenbrier Poor Farm, WV: April Grotto Trip- It was decided prior to the trip we weren’t going to be able to do the SSS entrance thru trip due to water levels. Had no idea the water levels could cause a major problem in Poor Farm. On the trip was: Doug Feller (leader), Huffman, Lauren Appel & myself (Susan Burr). We started out going to the left side of the cave. We did notice more water in the cave than normal in that section. The flowstone there, that is frequently very dry, was flowing nicely & looked really good. After doing the loop back to the entrance area, we took off to do the right side…getting to the beautiful formations in the back of this sections was our objective. After getting through the breakdown crawl, going through the pit bypass & mud slope afterwards we started noticing more water than we have ever seen. Not too far in we had to hug the left side for a lot of it, mainly crawling or belly crawling to avoid what looked like deep water. We didn’t get half through & we were exhausted & it was getting VERY difficult to continue without getting really wet. After a little discussion about how this is normally a big walking passage & why are we killing ourselves, we decided to turn around & leave. We can come back when the water levels are NOT so crazy!
2/23: Hell Hole: Bob Alderson – bat count with Tim Balizikian, Pete Penzer, and Chris Eichelberger.
3/16: Powell Mountain: Bob Alderson went in with some cave biologists.
5/10: Shoveleater Caver: Bob Alderson went with Mark, Yvonne, Steve, Aaron, and Jamie to push a fissure.
4/9-22: by Bob Alderson in Mexico:
4/9: Hell's Hammer Hole w/ Tommy Shifflet. survey
4/10: Hell's Hammer Hole w/ Tommy and Adam McLeod
4/12: Carrizo w/ Tommy, Isabel Grajales. Re-rigged the entrance drop and survey of entrance area
4/14: Carrizo w/ Tommy and Gregg Roamer. Entrance area survey
4/15: Tarantula Cave w/ Adam Mcleod. Relocated entrance of long lost cave. Drank sugar cane liquor with the owner.
4/16: w/ Scott Trescott. Went to talk with the owner of Tarantula with Scott as an interpreter
4/17:w/ Tarantula Cave w/ Tommy and Scott. Survey and connected to adjacent cave, Frog Cave which in turn was already connected to the Carrizo system
4/18: Carrizo w/ Tommy. Re-rigged the 90 miter main drop, with 7 rebelays and checked out a lead below the next 10m drop that we figured connected to the bottom of a drop in Hell's Hammer Hole
4/19: Carrizo w/ Tommy and Geraldo Guerreo. Re-rigged the 60 miter pitch down to the connection with Tag Hall in Nita Ntau (connection was made last year. On the way out further investigated the lead to Hell's Hammer Hole
4/21: Visited an outlying field house in the little village of Plan Escoba. A group there was making major discoveries I previously unexplored area
4/22: Tarantula w/ Tommy, Stephen Biggers, Kyle Lassiter, and Cuata Herandas. Surveying.
4/24: Spent a day sightseeing in Oaxaca.
5/18: Paxton’s Cave: This month’s Grotto trip. Beginner level, Doug Feller leading. Meet at HROM at 8:30a.
5/18: The Cricket Maze Cave Association, the conservancy that protects Cricket Maze Cave in Berkeley County, West Virginia, will hold an open house on Saturday, May 18, 2019, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cricket Maze Cave is the largest and most significant cave in the West Virginia Panhandle. There will be short tours of the cave, educational materials, and light refreshments. The public is welcome. Cricket Maze Cave is a muddy maze cave with about 8,500 feet of passage, the largest in the Panhandle. It has some beautiful speleothems, fossils, and what look like a few shield formations. The tours during the open house will be short and contained near the front of the cave. If you’ve never been to Cricket Maze, this is a good opportunity. Normally you must have a CMCA member leading the trip. Proper cave attire is required—helmet, boots, and three sources of light. You will get muddy! For more information and directions, contact Allan Weberg (firstname.lastname@example.org), Meredith Weberg (email@example.com), or CMCA President Jim McConkey (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Bob Gulden (email@example.com).
June trip TBA.
Treasurer’s Report – Trish Geiger
Cave Bucks 31.64
Newsletter – CARBIDE DUMP. Great issue. May combine some of the summer issues.
Membership – The Roland family of 6 paid up their membership.
ROCKS - May do some work in Lowmoor.
Safety & Techniques – Nothing new from Dano.
•BRG Bylaws Committee – Voting on changes to BRG Constitution and Bylaws. Final day for voting will be June 21, 2019. So far we have 25 yes and 3 no; Karen voted yes while at the meeting. Mary Sue is calling members who have not voted yet in person or via email.
•Roanoke Cave and Karst Day at Science Museum in Roanoke - Saturday, June 8. Please let Marian know if you are willing to help. She will go by the Museum to finalize logistics and make sure the theatre is up and running.
•CaveSim donation update (MSS) – We donated $50 from the BRG and Mary Sue added her personal donation of $25.
·Spring VAR updates (MSS) – Mary Sue reviewed notes from the Spring VAR; there were 183 attendees. Current officers are Chair: Craig Hindman; V. Chair: Mark Hodge; Sec: Blake Jordan; Treas: Carol Tiderman.
·NO BRG meeting in June.
Announcements (also see announcement packet & Caver Calendar on back)
· Please submit written cave trip reports to the secretary, preferably via email.
· June 28-30: Orientation to Cave Rescue (OCR) weekend class will be held in Williamsville, VA. All cavers should take an OCR class to see what is involved in a cave rescue.
· 2019 BRG Caver Calendar:
· 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.
· June 8 – Cave and Karst Day at Science Museum in Roanoke 10a-4p (RSVP to Marian McConnell)
· June 17-21, 2019: NSS Convention in Cookeville, TN. The 2019 NSS Convention pre-registration discount price of $199 ends on April 20. After that, the registration price goes up to $245. Get your registration in NOW!
· June 28-30: Orientation to Cave Rescue (OCR) weekend class will be held in Williamsville, VA. All cavers should take an OCR class to see what is involved in a cave rescue.
· Sept 7, 2019: Virginia Cave Board – next meeting will be at Luray Caverns, VA; the public is invited. [Marian will not be able to attend.]
· Oct 7-11, 2019: NCKMS meeting in Bristol, VA (see flyer)
· Nov 3, 2019: 11:30a, VSS Meeting, Natural Bridge State Park, VA
Video: 2nd half of the Thai Cave Rescue video.