Monthly Meeting Minutes – via Zoom

February 19, 2021


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

Mary Sue Socky – Secretary                         Jen Suggs                                             Bob Gulden & *Orion Gulden     

Cyndi Hutchison                                               Lynn Ott                                               Nick Schmalenberger                   

*Robin Bruns (manager Island Ford cave)            Susan Burr                                           Jeff Huffman                     

Kevin Johnson                                                   *Carrie Doupnik                                *Pat (Joe) Banks                              

Meredith Weberg                                            John Fox                                              * Renee Rowland

*Michael Rowland                                           *Chris Rowland                                 *Sarah Rowland

Laura Rowland                                                  *Paul T. Rowland                             (* denotes guest)


Meeting called to order 7:03p by Chair Marian McConnell.

After introductions, there was a short run through of recent cave trips:

1/17/2021: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Nick Socky, and Alex Faunce. We started where the Batbone Crawl Survey had left off. Did the lower extension passage first which got too tight and then made the sharp right turn into the larger room. We continued on and surveyed into the start of where the WVACS Room is located but didn't get into its actual passage. Then completed the route to the edge of Freeman Ave. Instead of starting on Freeman Ave, we decided to clean up some of the leads left in Batbone Crawl. We ended up getting a hundred or so feet in Dante’s Inferno, even getting into some virgin cave!  We were out in an hour and changed clothes in the cave.

1/20: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Bill Koerschner, and Bob Alderson. We started right in Freeman Ave with Bill sketching at 50 ft/inch on an 8.5 x 11-inch graph paper. It was slow, but Bill's sketches are really good. We surveyed until we got to a spot where there was a funky mud traverse. It was a good 12-hour trip. It was cold outside, about 21 F. Got home at 1am.

1/23: Maxwelton Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Nick Socky, and Alex Faunce. We surveyed small canyon side leads off the R Canyon, just a little past the 50-foot pit. The footage number is a guess.

1/23/2021:  BRG trip to James Cave, VA:  Susan Burr, Doug Feller, Jeff Huffman, Lauren Appel, Mystik Miller, and Briana Bennett.   Report in Feb. 2021 CARBIDE DUMP. 

1/30: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Bob Alderson, and Bill Koerschner on team one. Nick Socky, Alex Faunce, and Jonny Prouty on team two. And Stephanie Petri, Brian Williams, and Amy Skowronski on team three. We completed the Freeman Ave loop between Batbone Crawl and Freeman Ave. Steph and team did the access route to the WVACS Room from Batbone Crawl and dug at the tight spot for a while. We finished up right around 6pm and were out of the cave by 8pm. Plenty of time to get back home to beat the snowstorm. It snowed about 4 inches that night and Sunday morning.

2/8: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Joe Zokaites, and Bill Koerschner. We surveyed 3 short loops in the 'Breakdown Borehole' (passage between the First and Second Breakdown) plus surveyed the near sump that the 'Bypass Crawl' bypasses. We then started the parallel passage to the Junction Complex Connector but reached a point where the passage was only 9" high. The floor was that pucky, sticky mud which acts like glue, so even Bill couldn't get through. Good 10.7-hour day with 833 feet of survey in the book.

2/10: Maxwelton Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky and Nick Socky. Nick did a bolt climb/traverse to a lead at the top of the 40 foot 'Hanging Rock of Death Pit' that is the 2nd drop on the way to Cove Creek. It's only 20 minutes into the cave. The traverse Nick put in wasn't really difficult, but there was a pucker factor. But the lead went! It was a key shaped canyon, about 15 feet high, but you had to stem mid-way up on steep slippery walls to keep from sliding into the narrow floor. = We surveyed a total of just under 300 feet and turned around in going canyon. Nick scooped ahead about 50 feet to confirm it still goes. There were lots of formation - soda straws, helictites, and splays. Kind of like Heaven.

2/17: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Joe Zokaites, and Bill Koerschner on team 1. Nick Socky and Bob Alderson on team 2. Nick and Bob surveyed 698 feet total with 219 being new cave. We probably had about 600 feet of new cave. Both teams worked on Liberty Bell leads that had been left. We found the Aragonite Room. Nick and Bob did the good high lead just past the Liberty Bell, but it only went for 5 stations (about 80 feet). It was a short trip as a snowstorm was expected that evening and we wanted to get out early.



·         Sat. 2/20/2021: Paxton Cave, VA. Email Susan Burr  to sign up.

·         March 2021 Grotto trip – to be announced.





Cave Bucks    -                       0         

            Conservation -                        0         

            Equipment –                    133.87       

            General -                     $3,521.38

            TOTAL                                            $3,655.25            (2/19/2021) 


Cave Bucks:  Meredith Weberg asked how does BRG do Cave Bucks? (BATS asks active cavers to contribute $1 per cave trip; they disperse their Cave Bucks funds annually.) Lynn Ott suggested we submit $ from ZOOM BUCKs - she has added up close to 76 zoom meetings in the past year.  Nothing was decided during the comment time, except that donations should be voluntary.  

John Fox cleared up some history concerning Cave Bucks.  Cave Bucks was conceived by Don Anderson as a VAR project that individual grottos could participate in.  J.C. Fisher of Tri-State Grotto embraced the Cave Bucks concept.  He and his grotto are promoters and donors to Cave Bucks – collect and donate a small amount to different conservation organization each month.   



NEWSLETTER (Dave & MarySue Socky) Got out the Feb. Carbide Dump.  We are printing 15 copies to mail to the NSS and BRG members who do not have (working) computers.  Thanks for your support; send in articles, photos, and reports, and we’ll try to print it.  AND – if we misspell a word, we will attempt to misspell it consistently.

MEMBERSHIP – Hopefully the 2021 BRG Membership packets will be mailed soon.  BRG currently has 54 members and 5 subscribers (total of 59)  for 2021.

ROCKS – No report because D. Socky has been surveying in West Virginia.

SAFETY & TECHNIQUES – (D. McConnell) Nothing.





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

·         Porter Cave Project (Susan Burr).  Things will be on hold until Spring/Summer. 

·         BRG has sent a $50.00 donation to CaveSim.

·         BRG Call-down list – currently Mary Sue Socky, Marian McConnell, and Dan McConnell are the only grotto contacts in case of cave rescue.  There are two openings on the list if you wish to be a grotto contact. No one volunteered to be on the list.    



·         Pandemic Caving – short discussion on the rules of Pandemic Caving. Let’s be healthy going underground and back home.  See Feb. 2021 Carbide Dump for rules (and at bottom of this document.)

·         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. and Feb. 2021 Carbide Dumps.  Send votes to Vote well & often! (this should have been under Old Business. Oh well…)



·         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.

·         Keep Ed Sira and his wife (cavers, parents of Ray Sira, VPI) in your thoughts – they have been hospitalized due to COVID.

·         Thank You to Alex Sproul, Jim McConkey, and Dave Socky for creating a bunch (20+) slide shows for the NSS Archives.  The old slide shows were digitized by David Caudle.  These PPT programs are designed for people and grottos to view at Zoom meetings.  They are available through the NSS website. 



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

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

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

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


Meeting adjourned 7:25p.  Followed by the program, “Exploration of Overholt Blowing Cave, WV”.  Great ‘remastered’ slide show from Pittsburg Grotto in the 196s, available from the NSS.  


Cold Beer!        

Minutes Submitted by

Mary Sue Socky, Secretary,

Blue Ridge Grotto of the NSS