Meeting Minutes

Jersey Lily’s; Roanoke, VA

January 17, 2020



Susan Burr, Chair

David Socky, Vice Chair

Marian McConnell, Secretary

Trish Geiger, Treasurer

MarySue Socky

Carl Cornett

Lynn Ott

Jeff Huffman

Doug Feller

Karen Kastning

John Fox

Bill Walker

Kristy Sullivan*

Jason Delafield*

Dave Wickersham

Jen Suggs (Subscriber)






1.       TRIP REPORTS:

a.      11/16/2019: Maxwelton Cave, WV. This was a BRG Grotto trip which included David Socky, Jeff Huffman, Bill Walker, Lauren Appel, Doug Feller, Susan Burr, Jacob Whitlock, and Mystic Miller. We took the horizontal route down to Cover Creek.  At the big flowstone formation, some of us climbed up via the nails above the flowstone. We then went down the Kings Hall waterfall (slightly tricky climbs to get down), and then down Cover Creek stream passage. Climbed up into Room 21 where we had lunch. We then went a little further into the cave where the 12-foot nuisance climb is located.  Went back via the upper passage which is the trade route to Sweetwater. It was a good, fun 5.5-hour sport trip.

b.      11/19/2019: Lowmoor Cave, VA. Participants included David Socky, Ed Saugstad, Dave Collings, Bill Koerschner, and Joe Zokaites. After making it through Charlies Dig, we split up into two teams. Ed and I dragged Dave’s drill and straw stuff and made the climb up into the sandstone breakdown room. I had to rig some webbing so Ed could climb up. There were two tight spots on the climb up between questionable boulders, but nothing moved as we got up to the lead. As it turned out, we didn't need the drill or straws. We were able to dig out the floor which was rock and dirt. We used a pry bar, a spade, and our feet. It took about 2 hours before Ed was finally able to get through, headfirst. But, the first thing he said was "Oh, I just found a survey station". Damn. Then I knew exactly where we were. The second breakdown room which was close to the one we had dug in. Oh well. Ed and I then surveyed the way through, making the connection with 44 feet in the book. We then got our stuff and headed over to the other dig. This dig was at the end of a low passage. The other team had dug about 10 feet and where pulling out pucky, sticky mud. It was really hard digging, but good progress could be made. We got totally covered in the sticky mud. We dug for another 2 or 3 hours and headed out about 5:30pm. The total amount dug was about 15 to 20 feet. Still going with really good air. We could see down the passage a good 15 feet, but the space between the ceiling and floor was about 4 to 5 inches, the whole way. Lots to dig yet. We got out of the cave about 6:30pm and went to Penny's for dinner.

c.      11/23/2019: Windy Mouth, WV. Participants included David Socky, Rob Wardell, and Marissa Loftus - team 1. Nick Socky, Joe Calderone, and Silas Springer - team 2. We went into the cave on Friday evening, entering the cave about 8 pm. The water levels were low, but going the low route I did get my feet a little wet. It took us 2 hours to get to camp. Turned out there were only 5 sleeping pads, so Nick took the hit and slept on the 'misery pad' - a thin closed cell foam pad. We surveyed the stream passage under camp that evening while the other team did a short loop just before the Waterfall Room. After a snack, we finally crawled into bed around 1am.  We got up at 8am and were on our way to towards the Shattered Ladder climb and the upper levels by 10am. The way to our lead was challenging, with the long crawlway above the Shattered Ladder being the worst. All the leads were fairly close together. Nick took our team to the start of our lead, a continuation of the nice walking passage. We surveyed nearly 20 stations of nice passage before it finally ended. We then headed back to the other leads where we ran into Nick and his team. He told us which leads to do, so we chose what sounded like the best one. It was a hand and knees crawl with mud and water, but actually not bad. We got another 33 stations for around 53 stations total.  Our total footage for the day was 984 feet. With Nick's team, the total for the weekend was a little over 2000 feet! We got back to camp about 11pm where we had dinner. A lot of BS and finally to bed around 1am. Up around 8:30am, breakfast, pack up, and a quick trip out in 1.5 hours. We were out by noon to a nice sunny day. Good trip.

d.     12/7/2019: Lechuguilla Cave, NM. This was a weeklong camp trip in Lechuguilla to an area called the Far East. Participants: Nick Socky, David Socky, Irina Eftimie, John Lyles, Simeon Warner, David Lyons, and Aria Mildice. We entered the cave 12/7/2019 (Saturday) around 10:30am. We finally exited on Saturday, 12/14/2019, at about 4:30pm. We surveyed every day from Sunday through Friday - for six days in a row, with each day averaging around 12 hours (including 3 hours of travel time). We got a total of 6700 feet surveyed, about 2500 feet was new, and about 400 or so was virgin.

e.      12/23/2019: Windy Mouth, WV. Participants included David Socky and Bill Koerschner. Surveyed the upper level of First Canyon. Bill and I put the new survey of Windy Mouth over 15 miles by surveying 607 feet that day.

f.       1/11/2020: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Carl Amundson, Chris Coates, and Rob Wardell. We went into Lightner Entrance at about 10:30am using my rope for the entrance. It was cloudy, but not raining. It was supposed to rain a bunch in the afternoon or evening. We made it to the end of the SOD (Swing of Destiney) survey in Chocolate Ave and got started surveying about 12:30 pm. Our survey designation was WFD for Warm Freakin Day, since it was over 60 degrees outside, and this was January. We got to the climb up into 3rd Breakdown in about 9 shots but surveyed to the end of the stream passage. Into the 3rd breakdown, we climbed up high and then after a little bit of belly crawling, we surveyed a simple 6 to 8 foot wide tube with a mud floor for a looooong way. We ended up surveying 2275 feet in 50 stations. We still have a long way to go before getting to the Meat Grinder. Plus, we skipped a lot of the complicated stuff in 3rd breakdown. We finished up about 9pm, had a snack, packed up and headed out. We decided to try and find our way out via the Rimstone pool passage, Sandy Way, etc. But we kept running into dead ends. We finally decided to go out the way we had come in. It was a good thing, though, because when we got out at 11:00pm, it had quit raining. Apparently, it had only stopped at 10:45pm or so. When we got to the short climb where our vertical stuff was, we noticed that the water sounds were a lot louder. The short little crawl before the tight pop up hole was now a full-fledged stream, and the entrance room below the 2nd drop was now raining! We got soaking climbing up the flowstone. The climbs weren't too bad, just drippy. But outside was dry and warm. It was 60 degrees out at 11:00pm! Good 12.5-hour trip all around.

g.      12/7/2019:  Grand Caverns, VA – Jen, Trish, and MarySue went to the Caroling event.

h.     1/10/2020:  Windy Mouth, WV – Jason Delafield went with Nick Socky, Nikki Fox, for a photo trip; killed some leads 40’ under virgin passage.

i.        1/11/2020:  Jason Delafield missed a ride to McClung’s but got on a trip to Maxwellton, WV where he surveyed 400’ feet of virgin canyon passage.

j.        This month’s trip 1/18/2020 will be to Porter’s Cave, VA with Susan Burr (instead of Haynes Cave WV); meet at HROM at 8:30a. She was able to get permission from the landowner.





2.      TREASURER’S REPORT (Trish Geiger) –

Cave Bucks                31.64

Conservation            91.01

Equipment              133.87

General                3,426.94

            TOTAL               $3,683.46


3.      COMMITTEES  -

a.      Newsletter “Carbide Dump” – great issue! Keep sending in art, photos, articles.

b.      Membership – As of now we have 38 members and 5 subscribers. Dues are due to Trish Geiger, Treasurer.

c.      ROCKS – Working on Lowmoor.

d.     Safety & Techniques – Is there interest in Dano and Marian offering a Catawba Murder Hole Cave rappelling day in the daylight cave? Yes; perhaps in the Spring. Marian also wants to set up some solar panel lights in the daylight cave to see if they will glow at night.


4.      MEMBERSHIP PROPOSALS – Jason Delafield submitted his letter, indicating his interest in joining, commitment to cave safety and conservation, and desire to “lower the average age of Blue Ridge Grotto members.” Tabled until next month for vote.  David Socky is his sponsor and MarySue seconded it.


5.      OLD BUSINESS –

a.      All 2019 officers were voted in again for 2020.

b.      Bylaws – When Dave was doing the annual IO report for the NSS he discovered we had not updated and sent in our new Bylaws to Paul Willis; this has been taken care of.

c.      70 BRG Christmas cards were mailed out, 2 were returned.


6.      NEW BUSINESS –

a.      Al Steward “Fossil #1” is now living at Cave Spring Place (retirement community) on 3585 Brambleton Ave, Room 307. He appreciates visitors. He just celebrated his 90th birthday.

b.      We need to decide on our cave donations for 2020, such as to ACCA, MAKC, WVCC, NCRC, Virginia Cave Board, WVCCS, WVACS, etc. A list will be published in the Carbide Dump and we will vote on recipients and amounts next month.

c.      Our BRG website domain name costs $20/month which David Socky has been paying out of his pocket – we need to pay that with BRG funds.

d.     Cave Bucks was traditionally a way for us to donate $1 for each cave visited which could help us donate to non-profit caving organizations; but that seems to have fallen to the wayside – we need to remind everyone and educate the new folks about this opportunity.  The equipment fund traditionally was for people borrowing our helmets and lights and equipment to donate a suggested $3 each time to help replace equipment when needed.  This also needs to be shared with all.  Don Anderson started this back in the 1990’s.

e.      See email re Virginia karst and groundwater “call to action” for critical Virginia state budget amendments to fund new karst, cave, and water protection employees. Deadline is Monday January 20th!

f.       Jason asked if the sledgehammer he brought to the meeting belonged to anyone there?  Dave said he thinks it belongs to Martin DiLeggi.

g.      Jason reminded everyone that NCRC (National Cave Rescue) training Levels 1 and 2 will be in March; he has submitted his application; which costs $250. He asked if there were any scholarships available through BRG for this and similar training?  It was suggested he check with RASS (Richmond Grotto). BRG does not have this  but individuals are welcome to make private donations (which some did).



a.      Please submitted written cave trip reports to the Secretary; preferably via email to

b.      The next Virginia Cave Board meeting is February 1st at the Vinton Public Library at 11am. Marian is a member and will be attending. The public is welcome.

c.      The next BRG meeting is February 21st at Jersey Lily’s.

d.     There will be a Sinkhole Conference in Puerto Rico in April.


8.    PRESENTATION:  Excellent slideshow of Dave and Nick Socky’s trip to Lechuguilla Cave, NM.