Monthly Meeting Minutes – via Zoom

January 15, 2021


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

Mary Sue Socky – Secretary               Bob Gulden                             Jen Suggs

Gene Harrison                                     Lynn Ott                                  Bill Walker     

*Mystik Miller                                     Susan Burr                              *Brianna Bennett                   

Kevin Johnson                                      *Carrie Doupnik                      *Pat Banks                 

*Sharron Vass                                     *Blake Jorden                          (* denotes guest)


Meeting called to order 7:01p by Chair Marian McConnell.


After introductions, guest speaker Bill Walker told us of his recent adventures in Columbia, South America.  Using PowerPoint and video, Bill told of the El Penon, Columbia karst area he visited in December 2020.  The area has been little explored, is covered, and contains huge sinkholes, pits, and caves.  Bill hiked all over the high-altitude cloud forest with friends Jesus Fernandez Auderset, director of Espeleo-Colombia, and cave diver Dan Staley (Tampa Bay Area Grotto).  They found and explored Phantom Cave - a huge 300’ deep heart-shaped sinkhole pit. (See video ), and Cave of the Winds, which features a 400’ deep pit and 9000’ of cave.  All sort of neat things, including paleo art and fossils were discovered in this cave.  An upcoming article in the NSS News will detail their findings.    Thanks for sharing your incredible adventure with BRG, Bill!


12/9: McClung Cave, WV. David Socky and Bill Koerschner. 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, we didn't finish, so one more trip will need to go to the end of that passage. We surveyed a total of 1029 feet with 130 feet being new to the survey. We 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. Nicks team got 901 feet of survey for a total of the day of 1665 feet. We killed the leads at the end of the Crawlmaster 900. The main canyon, the NordicTrack, ended in a slump, 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 I entered Friday night at about 5:30pm. It took us 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 rope. 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 I led the way-out Sunday morning.


12/19: McClung Cave, WV. Participants: David Socky, Bill Koerschner, Philip Balister, & Bob Alderson. Surveyed from Second Breakdown toward the First Breakdown where we tied into Nick's survey team that went from the Gate toward us with the ADH survey.  It was a 12-hour trip with 1621 feet surveyed.


12/27: McClung Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Greg Springer, Bill Koerschner, and Bob Alderson. Surveyed the main connector between the passage after the First Breakdown and the Junction Complex (DAN survey). Nick, Alex, and Jonny surveyed in the First Breakdown. Our survey designation was GDS for Geezer Deluxe Survey. It was a 12-hour trip with 1413 feet surveyed.


1/3/2021: McClung Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Greg Springer, Bill Koerschner. Lower level of breezeway from turnoff to Junction Complex toward the gate. We also did the stream bypass between the Breezeway and the passage after the First Breakdown. Both Greg and I sketched. Nick Socky, Alex Faunce, and Jonny Prouty surveyed in the First Breakdown, but we never saw them. Also, Shawn Hogbin and Coleman McHose surveyed beyond the Muddy's on Saturday and got 1181 feet of survey. It was a productive weekend.


1/9/2021: McClung Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Chris Coates, David Smallwood-team 1. Nikki Fox, Bill Koerschner, and Carl Amundson-team 2. Nick Socky and Alex Faunce-team 3. Between all three teams we surveyed 2000 feet. Nick and Alex started Bat bone Crawl. Nikki and team surveyed the lead south of the Junction Complex, and we surveyed the downstream side lead off the Breezeway that carries the Cupola Canyon water, plus we did the lead off the Beetle Room. Our survey was wet in belly crawl with lots of mud tossed in. Nikki's survey passage was dry.


1/10/2021: Porter Cave, VA.  Susan Burr, Lauren Appel, Jeff & Hillary Huffman, and Mystik Miller did a 3 ½ hour trip into Porter Cave.  Susan and Hillary toured the Big Room while the others squirmed through the Keyhole to parts beyond and back. 



·         January  Grotto trip – James Cave, VA.  Next Saturday, 1/23/2021. Meet 9am @ HROM.    Email Susan Burr  to sign up.  

·         February 2021 Grotto trip – to be announced.





Cave Bucks                0.00       

Conservation             0.00

Equipment             133.87       

General                 3289.67            

  TOTAL                    $3423.54     (1/15/2021)



NEWSLETTER (Dave & MarySue Socky) Thanks for your support; send in articles, photos, and reports, and we’ll print it or use it as a newsletter cover!

MEMBERSHIP – Pay your dues!  There are only a few stragglers.  BRG currently has 45 members and 5 subscribers for 2021.

ROCKS – (D. Socky) been surveying in West Virginia.

SAFETY & TECHNIQUES – (D. McConnell) Nothing.



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


OLD BUSINESS  (cont.) –

·         Porter Cave Project (Susan Burr).  Susan recently met with Alan Stanton, a former BRG member from Covington.  Alan has offered to make the ladder for free and may possibly supply parts for free.

o   There is a question on the culvert about its shape. It may be an ‘arched’ culvert instead of oval. The ‘arched’ culvert may be flat on one side. If that is the case, it may need to be larger in size than what was originally specified.

o   A budget for the project has yet to be drawn up.  The cost is estimated to be less than $500.

o   It was suggested that since 2021 Fall VAR is supposed to be at the RASS site in Bath Co. VA, maybe we do the Porters Gate project then as a VAR conservation project, headed by the BRG.

o   One of the points made was that we are really in no hurry because of COVID. A summertime/fall timeframe would be better because more people should be vaccinated by then and COVID should be less of an issue.


·         Does BRG wish to make a single-time donation to CaveSim?   After a short discussion, the amount of $50.00 was suggested, and the YES vote was by acclimation.   PASSED.

·         New Home for BRG in 2022?  Once we can hold in-person meetings, where do we meet?  We could go back to Jersey Lily’s if the space is available.  Or we could go somewhere new.  If you are out and about and find yourself in a restaurant you like, inquire about meeting rooms.  We need a convenient place a private meeting room with Wi-Fi, TV, food service for 20 or so, and no rental charge for the room if everyone orders food.   Report any suggestions to the grotto officers.

·         Vote for Your Favorite Five!  Each year, CARBIDE DUMP covers win awards in the NSS Convention.  BRG cavers know how to select the winners!  Vote for your favorite five covers (or one cover five times).  Covers are in the Jan. 2021 DUMP.  Send votes to   Vote well & often!   


·         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.

·         Spring VAR 2021 has officially been cancelled rescheduled to Spring 2022.

·         2021 Grand Caverns Cleanup has officially been cancelled, rescheduled in 2022.



·         Next BRG meeting is February 19, 2021 via ZOOM.

·         Jun 28 – Jul 2, 2021 NSS Convention in Weed, CA. 

·         Aug 13-15, 2021 Karst O Rama @ Great Saltpetre Cave Preserve, Mt. Vernon KY

·         2021 Fall VAR @ RASS Fieldstation in Bath Co., VA


Meeting adjourned 8:06p.


Cold Beer!        


Minutes Submitted by

Mary Sue Socky


Blue Ridge Grotto of the NSS