Meeting Minutes - November 20, 2020


Order of Business

7:00p                           BRG Meeting begins (via ZOOM)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 812 6760 9234, Passcode: 517985


Introductions & Trip Reports: 



Susan Burr – President

Meredith Weberg

Marian McConnell – Secty

Lynn Ott

Lauren Appel

Jeff Huffman

John Fox

Dave Socky - Vice

MarySue Socky

Trish Geiger - Treasurer

Bob Gulden & Orion Gulden


Sharron Vass

Gene Harrison



10/17 - Porter’s Cave, VA. Susan Burr, Dustin Womack (Susan son-in-law), Braven Womack (Susan's 7 yr. old grandson), Doug Feller, Jeff Huffman, Nick Schmalenberger, Brandon Phibbs, Kandyce Phibbs (Brandon's 13 yr. old daughter), Kevin Johnson, Carrie Doupnik.  The entire group went in together & headed back to the room just before the “Keyhole.” After taking a break, Doug took half of the group through the keyhole & did the loop back there. I took Dustin, Braven, Kevin & Carrie to what I call the “Big Room.” In this room I took Dustin & Braven around to explore different sections, while Kevin & Carrie relaxed a bit. Once Doug's group was done they met up with us in the ”Big Room.” I had Jeff take some pics of Dustin, Braven & me up on the “Natural Bridge” in there. Braven did tell me while I was trying to get him on the bridge that it was terrifying! I laughed because that was my exact thought the first time I went out on it. Basically Braven had no issues with doing anything in there other than the bridge. After everyone had a chance to explore a bit in the “Big Room” we moved on to the formation room & then headed over to the slit. On the way out from the slit I sent Jeff, Dustin, Braven, Brandon, Kandyce & Nick through what I call the newbie torture passage. Everyone successfully made it through! Then we proceeded to head out via the waterfall exit. I cannot report on the other groups trip past the “Keyhole”


Dave Socky trips:


10/19: Warm River, VA. Participants included David Socky, Bob Alderson, Yvonne Droms, Mark Minton. Mark and Bob bolted while Vonnie belayed. Bob and I surveyed while Mark bolted. This was in the Air Acclivity Dig. It was an 8.5-hour trip with 157 feet surveyed. The bolt climb didn’t go .   


10/24: McClungs Cave, WV. Team 1 was David Socky, Bob Alderson, and Wayne Perkins. Team 2 was Nick Socky, Chris Coates, Eric Steinberg. Team 3 was Jake Cramer and Tommy Cleckner. Team 4 was Nikki Fox, Alex Faunce, and David Smallwood. We surveyed a total of 3660 feet between the 4 teams. We surveyed and finished most of Big Muddy/Little Muddy. There are a few small leads left - mostly digs.


10/29: Butler Cave, VA. Participants included David Socky, Mark Hodge, Amos Mincin, and Keith Sweeny. We moved 47 bucket loads from dig face. It was a rainy drive up and when we went in, but it was partly cloudy when coming out. Fun, short trip of 4.6 hours.


11/3: Lowmoor Cave, VA. Participants included David Socky, Bob Alderson, and Bill Koerschner. We surveyed an isolated mine section plus three small nearby caves. We named the caves "Election  Day Cave #1, #2, and #3". We then surveyed a lead in Lowmoor that was off the mine. The lead was accessed by putting in nails to get across a pit. The lead only went an extra 40 feet or so before it ended decisively in a narrow slot that was only 4 inches wide. It was a great 8-hour day with a total survey of 684 feet.


11/7: Maxwelton Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Nikki Fox, and Carl Amundson on Team 1. Nick Socky, Eric Pelkey, and Irina Tăbărană on Team 2. This was a camp trip where we went in Friday evening and came out Sunday afternoon. It was a 12 to 14 hour day on Saturday with a lot accomplished. Our team did clean up around the Giants Playground in upstream Sweetwater. But the other team had a lot more exciting trip. The Crawl Master went from a 500 foot long crawl to a 900 foot long crawl, but it broke out into large trunk passage, well above Sweetwater. They found three large passages with good air. They only scooped 400 feet or so to make sure the passages went. Team two surveyed over 1420 feet. Our team got 680 feet for a total of 2100 feet of survey.


11/14: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky and Bill Koerschner. Surveyed the Liberty Bell Ave. Got a lot surveyed. Took a bunch of photos because of nice formations in area.             Surveyed 984 feet on a good 13-hour trip.


11/15: Blowing Hole Cave, VA. Participants included David Socky, Bob Alderson, Nick Schmalenberger (and Marian McConnell). This was an entrance near Percolator Pit on Dan and Marian McConnell's property. The small crack going down always blows lots of air. We dug it out a bit since a lot of dirt and debris had fallen in. Bob drilled holes for two sets of straws. One of 3 and the other of 2. His drill broke on the last hole. But we took off enough rock to enter the cave. After squeezing into the crack, the cave was the top of a long narrow canyon. There was one spot to climb down further, but then the canyon, going down, got narrower as you go down. you could see where dirt and rocks had fallen through. It will take further digging to continue.


11/18: Porters Cave, VA. Participants included David Socky, Susan Burr, Doug Feller, and Mark Hodge. Susan drove Doug and I to Porters where we met Mark Hodge at 2pm. We inspected the gate and determined that the best course of action was to install an extender. We took measurements. Doug and Mark also inspected the drain tubes from the bottom. They are clogged and probably won't be used.


11/19: Windy Mouth, WV. Participants included David and Nick Socky. Surveyed in the G and D survey areas - lower levels just beyond the Half Mile Crawl. I actually fit through the 'tight spot' to get to the last 3 leads we surveyed. We surveyed a bunch of leads with 422 feet on an 8 hour trip.


10/31: Jeff Huffman – New River Cave, WV – Attendees were Jeff Huffman, Susan Burr, Lauren Appel, Nick Schmalenberger, Brandon Phibbs and Kandyce Phibbs.  We entered the cave and proceeded to make our way back to the waterfall.  Jeff counted 14 bats and did not notice any sign of WNS. Somehow, we bypassed the China Slide but we ascended it on the way back.  On the way back, Susan and Jeff attempted to find the passage that led to the Forest Room.  Eventually, Jeff found the passage and we made our way to the Forest Room.  We tied a handline at the steep slope to ensure an easier climb up on the way out.  Several cavers took pictures in the Forest Room and rested.  We returned to the entrance for a trip that totaled a time of 4.75 hours.


11/18:  Porter’s Cave, VA – Susan Burr, Doug Feller, Dave Socky, Mark Hodge, to check out the entrance gate. (See below in new business.)


This Month’s trip – Saturday November 21 to Scott Hollow Cave, WV. You must be an NSS or BRG member to go on this trip. Mike (Dore) knows. Meet HROM at 8:30am. December TBA.




Treasury Report – Trish Geiger, Treasurer  

Cave Bucks    -                                                  0                              

            Conservation -                                                   0                 

            Equipment –                                             133.97              

            General -                                                2,948.29

            TOTAL                                                 $3,082.16



·         Newsletter – CARBIDE DUMP – November issue went out. Thanks Dave and MarySue.

·         Membership – Dues are due – mail to Dave Socky, 6572 Woodbrook; Roanoke, VA 24018. MarySue sent out list of who has paid and some people who may owe a family rate.

·         ROCKS – Dave:  Blowing Hole Cave (Murder Hole property). Lowmoor too.

·         Safety & Techniques – None at this time.


Membership Proposals: None at this time.


Old Business

·         Christmas cards (80) are done and will be mailed out by MarySue. Thanks to Marian for getting them done.

·         Grotto Christmas party – 5 people showed up at the McConnell’s/Murder Hole for fellowship and ridge walking. Dave, Nick Sch. and Bob Alderson did some excavating on Blowing Hole entrance pit, across the driveway from Percolator Pit.

·         Grotto Elections in November – Slate was Marian McConnell (Chair), Lauren Appel (Vice), MarySue Socky (Secty), Dave Socky (Treasurer). Susan moved and Dave seconded that slate be accepted and voted upon. All members present voted in favor – passed.

·         All Grotto meetings will be held virtually via ZOOM until further notice. Due to time restrictions (40 minutes to be free) we probably will not be doing cave trip reports – so please submit your written cave trip reports to the secretary for the minutes, and to for the Carbide Dump.


New Business

·         Cave-Sim is wishing to expand, and wants to know if we can continue to support them. Dave Jackson is building a 2nd Cave Sim trailer so there will be two. TX, MO, CO, very successful. Has a video to share with us. About 12 minutes. And would like to be the program for December BRG meeting. Mary Sue will send out the clip/link to look at.

·         Dave Socky updated our BRG website to show Zoom meetings (not in person), etc.

·         Porter’s Cave Gate Project – Susan suggested project to improve gate. Dave and MSS presented to VAR; then Mark Hodge, Doug, Susan, and Dave went out on Weds 11/18 to assess the situation and take measurements. The landowner (Mrs. Simmons) has given us the ok.  Dave suggested we get other cavers involved to get help from more than just BRG. Susan has a key to the gate. Meredith said at VAR may be able to help get funding (through grant request) once there is a plan. In order to fix the gate must extend the culvert out 5-6’; digging out will be temporary and has filled up much more than originally thought. Will check out oval culvert, cost of materials, etc. can write up proposal/grant/other Grottos to get funding for it. Probably a couple thousand dollars. Once get money, purchase materials, schedule work date(s) for Region to fix the gate. Susan willing to contact RASS. Meredith: RASS is a good place to get money for the culvert, but they do have a grant request process; not sure how strictly they adhere to it now. The same with the VAR process; but VAR is not going to pay more than several hundred dollars. May be able to get a Conservation grant through the NSS. Also TRA (The Robertson Association). Dave has some inquiries out on getting materials.

·         “Roanoke Outside” weekly postings: BRG’s meeting info was out of date. Mary Sue contacted Pete Eshelman, the point of contact; he deleted the event for us and said we will have to resubmit our event online at Marian made the changes to advertise it as follows: “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, BRG meetings will take place virtually. Announcements and links will be sent via email. BRG Virtual meetings are on the 3rd Friday of every month at 7:00 pm.  Click here for details.”




Program:  12-minute video on topless caving – slot canyons in UT by Dave Socky. “Cheesebox Slot” [video showed up in Zoom like a slideshow, jerky shots]. They were in Utah for about 35 days. Mid-September to Mid-October. Did a total of 4 technical slot canyons. All on BLM land. The weather was great; it only rained 1 day. Definitely do not want to do slot canyons when rain is forecast. You can watch it on Youtube on Dave’s timeline.


Cold Beer!      




·         Next BRG meeting is December 18 at 7p via ZOOM.

·         Spring 2021:  MAR/VAR at Grand Caverns, VA.