Monthly Meeting Minutes –  via Zoom

December 18, 2020


Marian McConnell – Chair                  Lauren Appel – Vice Chair      Dave Socky – Treasurer

Mary Sue Socky – Secretary               Bob Gulden                             Jen Suggs

Gene Harrison                                     *Odin and Orion Gulden         Alex Sproul

Lynn Ott                                              Meredith Weberg                   *Dave Jackson – guest speaker

Susan Burr                                          John Fox                                  *Brianna Bennett                   

Kevin Johnson                                      *Carrie Doupnik                      *Pat Banks                 

*Sharron Vass                                     *Chuck Vass                            (* denotes guest)


After introductions, Dave Jackson related to BRG his success with CaveSim, and his plans to build two new CaveSim trailers to visit sites in the USA to educate people about caves and the world under their feet.  So far, about 30,000 people in 18 states have been taught facts about caves and bats!   In addition, Dave is offering online science classes through CaveSim.  His hands-on activities involve geology, math, physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, and teamwork and communications via the caving tower and SRT/stretcher- handling skills.   Dave is working to build a generation of cave advocates, and get kids excited about science. 


CaveSim is in partnership with CRF so people can donate to CaveSim through CRF, which is a 501C3 organization.  These donations go towards FREE programs for schools! 

Another way you can donate to CaveSim is by purchasing a CaveSim mug, created by Peter Jones!

Finally, consider supporting CaveSims’s new, bigger, all aluminum frame trailers! 


For more info, see

Thanks to Dave Jackson for his wonderful presentation!  Dave thanks BRG for years of support and donations to CaveSim. 


Thank you, Dave Jackson, for an outstanding program! 

After Dave Jackson’s program concluded, the remainder of the BRG meeting was conducted.  




11/21/2020: Scott Hollow Cave, WV. BRG trip. Participants were Susan Burr, Lauren Appel, Doug Feller, Jeff Huffman.  They attempted to do the Omega Loop.  Susan reported:  I have done this loop several times over the years. I knew it was a bit strenuous BUT, I forgot how scary some of it could be!!! We got past the Omega Pit a ways, but then weren’t sure about the route. The guys scouted around for a while, but we decided it would be smarter to turn around & go back the way we came. Unfortunately, that meant redoing ALL the scary stuff again in reverse! We were in the cave for approx. 4 hours 45 minutes.


11/21/2020: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Chris Coates, Ashley Hitchcock, and Erik Nieman on Team 1. Bob Alderson, Bill Koerschner, and Kurt Waldron were on Team 2. Jake Lee, Alec Matheus, and Derek Von Nieda were on Team 3. The first two teams surveyed passages off Megalithia and Team 3 did the loop that tied into the main route between Megalithia and the Liberty Bell Passage. We got a total of 2792 feet on a nice 13-hour trip. Dave Socky switched over to Team 2 after Chris, Ashley, and Erik decided they were beat. He surveyed with Team 2 for about 1.5 hours. We met up with Team 3 as we were heading out toward the Liberty Bell Passage. Good trip!


11/24: Catawba Murder Hole, VA. This was a biology inventory trip led by Dave Socky with permission from cave owners Dan and Marian McConnell. We went in via the scree slope and then down to the middle level. We found the lower level to be flooded, so it was not checked for critters. The infamous beetle was not found, but a few millipeds and spiders were located.


11/27: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Bill Koerschner, and Bob Alderson (Team 1). Nick Socky, Eric Pelkey, and one other were Team 2. Total survey for the day was 2384 feet.


12/3: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Bill Koerschner, and Joe Zokaites. We surveyed from where we left off on 11/27/2020, heading toward the gate at First Breakdown. We got close - only a couple of hundred feet to go. There were lots of side leads going towards the north west, but they were all known cave. We surveyed 1265 feet.


12/5: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Nick Socky, and one other. We surveyed the start of the connector passage from just before the gate over to the first breakdown. The passage started out as a nice large breakdown trunk, but after 100 feet it devolved down to a cool 3-foot-wide by 2-foot-high tube. After 150 feet or so, it got really tight. It was about 11 inches high for 9 feet and then pinched down to 10 inches for a couple of feet. But it opened up to walking passage after that. Dave Socky barely fit. It got his adrenaline going. The other side lead was mostly walking passage, including a large dome with a high lead that will require some technical work, or at least throwing a rope up and over a natural bridge. We then surveyed a bunch of small mazey stuff. We did not get down into the lower level where the stream is located. It was a fun and productive 10-hour trip in which we surveyed 1061 feet with about 400 feet of new survey which adds to the length of McClungs.


12/9: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky and Bill Koerschner. They surveyed the Beetle Run passage, including the Beetle Run Room. Did not do any of the side leads to the north of Beetle Run but did do the whole side lead that heads down close to the historic entrance. However, they didn't finish, so one more trip will need to go to the end of that passage. They surveyed a total of 1029 feet with 130 feet being new to the survey. They were in the cave for 13 hours.


12/12: Maxwelton Cave, WV. David Socky, Casey Tucker, and Nikki Fox - Team 1. Nick Socky, Eric Pelkey, and Carl Amundson - Team 2. Team 1 surveyed 763 feet while Nick Socky’s team got 901 feet of survey for a total of the day of 1665 feet. We were underground for 45 hours. We killed the leads at the end of the Crawlmaster 900. The main canyon, the NordicTrack, ended in a sump, which, as it turns out, is probably connected to the Die Autobahn. It is only 94 feet and pretty much at the same elevation (7 feet). Nick, Carl, Nikki, and Dave entered Friday night at about 5:30pm. It took them 4 hours to get to camp. Nick carried a rope in for Cousin It Pit. Nick and Nikki also blasted some of the rock away from the top of Cousin It Pit to make it easier to get on and off. A redirect was also installed. Eric and Casey showed up around midnight. Since our lead ended in the NordicTrack, we got back to camp early, around 11pm. Carl and Dave led the way out Sunday morning. Dave more or less caved solo through the Cat Crawl, where everyone else caught up with him. They all caved together up until the climb out of Cove Creek. Dave let Carl go in front of him. Dave’s chest croll would not catch going up the last two drops which really slowed him up. Then his Sten Light dropped to medium power at the top of the last drop. Then Dave had to get his glasses out in order to take the lock off at the bottom of the entrance. Sigh. Everyone was out by 3:30pm Sunday. Good trip even though the lead ended.


·         December Grotto trip – NONE.  Enjoy the Holidays!

·         January 2021 BRG Trip – to be announced.





Cave Bucks         0.00 

Conservation             0.00

Equipment             133.87       

General                 3096.95            

  TOTAL                    $3230.82     (12/18/2020)



NEWSLETTER (Dave & MarySue Socky) – Several readers enjoyed the reprint of Curt Harler’s article “How Long Will You Be Stuck?” Thanks for your support; send in articles and reports, and we’ll print it!

MEMBERSHIP – Pay your dues.  BRG currently has 34 members and 5 subscribers for 2021.

ROCKS – (D. Socky) Nothing.

SAFETY & TECHNIQUES – (D. McConnell) Nothing.



·         All Grotto meetings will be held virtually via ZOOM until further notice.

·         Congratulations to the new BRG Officers!  Thank you, outgoing officers. 

·         72 Christmas cards (80 ordered) were mailed out two weeks ago.

·         Marian McConnell successfully updated BRG’s announcement on the Roanoke Outside webpage. 


·         Porter Cave Project – (Susan Burr was having video problems, so Dave Socky filled in) –

o   The best way to fix the culvert problem is to add on to the existing culvert & provide an access ladder. 

o   the cave site has been measured, and the original culvert dealer has been located.

o   Susan hopes to stop by the dealer’s shop after a cave trip to get an idea of what materials will be needed to fix the culvert/gate.

o   Anticipated project date: late spring, early summer 2021.  

o   Meredith Weberg requested that once Susan gets the specifications and prices for materials, please share with Meredith ASAP so she can help with writing up grants (and deadlines.). 

o   It is estimated that it will take a minimum of 6 or 7 strong cavers, along with block and tackle, to move the new culvert to the cave entrance.




·         Remember that some caves are closed in the winter for bats – please respect all cave closures.  VA -  Winter closure dates: Oct.15 - Apr.15.     WV -  Winter closure dates: Sept.1 – May 15.

NEW BUSINESS  (cont.) –


·         Joseph Caldwell dropped off a box of headlights for BRG to use with the loaner helmets.  Thanks for the donation, Joseph!




·        On Dec. 12, 1969, the first meeting of the newly formed Blue Ridge Grotto was called to order. Happy 51st Birthday, BRG!


·         Big Brothers, Big Sisters of SW Virginia has closed.  This was the organization that raised money for kids by offering rappelling off one of the tall buildings in downtown Roanoke through Over The Edge.  Sorry, no more rappels off Roanoke skyscrapers for OTE volunteers.


·         West Virginia Cave Conservancy (WVCC) has thanked many organizations, including BRG for their contribution in 2020.  WVCC bought Lost Cave and is managing Norman Cave and others.  New: WVCC is drawing up a management agreement with the owners of Patton Cave.  Requirements for visitation to these and other preserves can be found on the WVCC website


Meeting adjourned 8:12p.


Cold Beer!        



·         Al Stewart turns 91 years old on January 8, 2021

·         Next BRG meeting is January 15, 2021 via ZOOM.

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




Minutes Submitted by

Mary Sue Socky


Blue Ridge Grotto of the NSS