Meeting Minutes – August 19, 2022

At Jersey Lily’s; Roanoke, VA


Marian McConnell – Chair

Lauren Appel – Vice Chair

Dave Socky – Treasurer

Susan Burr

Larry Manning

Joy Manning

Lynn Ott

Kelly Perkins

Tom Beaman

Marylou Beaman

Stuart Candler*

Mike Payette*

Nick Schmalenberger





*Stuart Candler participated in the NCRC week-long in Level 1. He has also been caving with VPI in TN and WV.

*Mike Payette has been caving in Worleys in TN; and is going to Perkins tomorrow.


·         TRIP REPORTS –


7/20: Lowmoor Cave, VA. Participants included David Socky, Stephanie Petri, Scott McCrea, and 5 others. Helped NCRC instructors find a good place in Lowmoor to have their weeklong NCRC finale in-cave rescue class. The picked the mazy area with pits just past the Capital Room. They said it was perfect. They were planning on having 4 people needing rescue of one kind or another.


7/23: Maxwelton Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Nick Socky, Nikki Fox. This was a camp trip to the Retreat above Sweetwater. We were in the cave for 46 hours and surveyed a whopping 146 feet. We went to upstream Cove Creek, where we must climb up right from camp. We got to a place where Nick wanted to do a bolt climb. While he and Nikki worked on that, I solo surveyed to a side lead that got too tight. Nick’s bolt climb didn’t go. We then went further in, re-rigged some climbs, and drops and putting in an alternate route in another place. We eventually got back to the Dragon Breath passage. There were two tight crawls which I barely fit through. Then there was one 100-foot-long belly crawl with a sticky floor, which was not tight, but probably around 15 inches. It was a pain. Then there was some nice rectangular stoop way and crawlway with cobble floor. I had a problem with my left built-in knee pad. The Velcro got muddy and one of the pads kept slipping out. When I got to the dig, it was gone. I found it in the long belly crawl on the way out. (I lost the other on in the PIE passage on Sunday, but Nick recovered it for me). The dig at the end of the Dragon Breath passage was about 5 to 6 inches with a flowstone floor. Nick beat at it for a while, then drilled a hole, and Nikki place a short straw. It failed to go off due to muddy electrical cord. Our Saturday trip was 13 hours and we got 146 feet of survey. Rigged a bunch of drops and scoped out the dig at the end of Dragon Breath. The dig is exciting because it has air in the right direction (blowing into the lead in summer). Plus, it is really dry, there are nuts on the floor, and there were a bunch of flies. Indicative of an entrance. Plotting things out, there is only 20 to 40 feet of overburden.


8/6: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Bill Koerschner, and Bob Alderson. We went to Lt Dan’s Dome in the Junction Complex in order to lasso the natural bridge and climb up into the upper-level stream passage. I had forgotten how tight the “Squeeze Way” is. The last 10 to 12 feet is really tight, probably 10 or 11 inches. Once through we got to the dome without delay. While Bob got ready to climb, I successfully threw the cord over the Natural bridge on the 2nd try. Bob climbed up and rigged a Y hang for a nice free drop. Bob also rigged a traverse line for the wide stem across the drop to get to the stream passage. We surveyed until about 9:30pm. We finished everything except for one lead. Other leads were for really tiny cavers or just too tight. We got out at 10pm for a good 11.5-hour trip. 930 feet of survey completed.


8/13: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Nikki Fox, Silas Springer, Daniel Wilson. Other team – Nick Socky, Kelly McCarthy, and Cooper Pearson. We first surveyed the two leads in the northeastern section of Crystal

Canyon. Nikki sketched. I couldn’t fit through a tight spot for one of the leads, so I checked other stuff we had to do and took a nap. After they returned, we finished off that section. We then moved to the north western part that connects back to the main passage. I had forgotten about the squirrely, awkward tight stuff we had to do to get to our lead. Luckily it wasn’t a long survey. I did sketch since Nikki was burned out. We again came to the same conclusion that we couldn’t climb down from the overlook. I collected water samples for Tyler Huth - one in the Crystal Canyon area and

one in Liberty Bell passage. On the way out at the First Breakdown, I looked at my watch. It was 1:15am! Holy shit! My callback was 2am. At this point, I pretty much rushed out. Got out in 25 minutes. Called Mary Sue at 1:45am. After everyone else was out and we were changing, Nick drove up with Kelly and Hunter. We were late and they had come to save us! We were in the cave for 15.5 hours and surveyed 790 feet. Nick’s team didn’t make much progress on the dig, but they did find where the air goes. It’s a technical dig now.


8/6: Tawney's Cave, VA - Doug Feller, Susan Burr, Kelly Perkins, Kat Watson (Kelly's friend/newbie), Lauren Appel, Cheryl Isom (Lauren's friend/newbie). I originally set this cave trip up to take Erin Bejjani & her son, Nuriel, who missed it the last time.

Unfortunately, at the last minute they could not go. We did however have, first time in a wild cave, Cheryl Isom & newbie, Kat Watson on the trip. Doug Feller, Lauren Appel, Kelly Perkins & I successful got everyone through the cave & out safely in just under 3 hours. We went to the sinkhole entrance area and back out. We got to the Bat Ranch & changed before the rain hit. We did hear the thunder while we changed. Cheryl learned a few things today. One, that her boots sucked!!! She lost the sole to one boot on her way out of the cave & the other just before reaching the Bat Ranch. She also discovered that her pack was not very good because she couldn't secure it to her body & it kept sliding around in front of her. She did struggle a bit, but did great. I do feel she will be very sore the over next few days...or weeks. Blacksburg was having some event so we just headed back to Roanoke afterwards. We ended up driving through a monsoon just before getting on the interstate at Blacksburg. We did eventually drive out of it thank goodness!


7/16-21: NCRC Week-long held in Covington, VA. Nick Schmalenberger and Larry Manning both attended. Larry is an instructor and Nick was in Level 3. Other BRG members who participated were Mystik Miller and Steph Petri. Our guest Stuart Candler was in Level 1. Nick went in Paxtons, Crossroads, Lowmoor, and Catawba Murder Hole. [Nick later went to California and went into Devil’s Post Pile and Take It For Granted Cave.] Larry went into Island Ford, Lowmoor, and Crossroads. This year’s class had almost 100 students and 44 staff!


Upcoming Trip: Will be to Lowmoor (instead of Rimstone Falls). The September trip is TBA.




·          TREASURY REPORT (Dave Socky)

Fund Amounts

$ 40.96 Cave Bucks

$ 1.00 Conservation Fund

$ 104.12 Equipment Fund

$ 3956.96 General Fund

$ 4103.04 Total Funds

Asset Amounts

$ 301.00 Petty Cash

$ 3802.04 BRG Checking Account

$ 4103.04 Total Assets


·         COMMITTEES

·         Newsletter – Dave created the August Carbide Dump. Artwork, articles, photos, etc. are always welcome.

·         Membership – We currently have 56 members and 5 subscribers. Gordon Smith, long time NSS member, asked Dave Socky if he could subscribe; Dave said yes and to comply with our Bylaws, he moved to allow Gordon in, Lynn Ott seconded, and the votes were a unanimous yes.

·         ROCKS – nothing.

·         SAFETY & TECHNIQUES – Dano McConnell is recovering well from his shoulder replacement; although he probably won’t be going underground in the foreseeable future, he may be able to offer some training eventually.


·         OLD BUSINESS

·         We are always looking for volunteers to be the on the BRG call-down list; either as a telephone coordinator or available for actual cave rescues. Larry Manning said he is interested.

·         No updates yet on the John Fox Memorial Service in Radford.

·         Dave Socky collected some water samples for Tyler Huth for is scientific study.

·         No updates yet on a BRG/Greenbrier Grotto tour of the Beckley, WV Coal Mine. Susan Burr will check on this.


·         NEW BUSINESS

·         “Vertical Bill” Cuddington, an Honorary Life BRG member, passed away August 5th. A sympathy card for his wife Miriam was passed around for signatures.

·         VPI Cave Club and Nick Socky will be hosting the Fall VAR at the RASS property. Thanks, Nick!

·         The Fall October VAR will conflict with our BRG monthly meeting. So we agreed to cancel our October 14th meeting – Marian told the Jersey Lily’s management that we would not need the room that night.

·         WVCC bought some of Friar’s Hole Cave Preserve for cavers; do we want to donated some funds to replenish the Cave Acquisition Fund? Dave Socky made a motion to donate $50; Susan Burr seconded it. The votes passed it unanimously.

·         Larry Manning announced that the OCR (Orientation to Cave Rescue) that was cancelled due to the VAR will beheld in April 2023, tentatively.



·         Al Stewart’s Celebration of Life will be held at the McConnell’s Murder Hole property on Sunday August 21st at 4p. Please RSVP to Marian McConnell.  There will be an optional potluck. Lynn Ott, Bob Alderson, and Susan Burr are coming and need directions – Marian will give them the info.

·         Lynn Ott recommended watching “13 Lives” about the cave rescue in Thailand directed by Ron Howard; it’s on Amazon Prime.

·         Pandemic Caving – be healthy going underground, rules are posted in the Carbide Dump.

·         Closures for bat caves – WV open (May 15 – September 1); VA open (April 15 – October 15). Reminder – there are summer cave closures for maternity colonies too. The transition to Winter Closures begins September 1st for WV.




Aug 21 – Al Stewart Celebration of Life – Memorial

Sept 1-5 – OTR (Old Timer’s Reunion) in Dailey, WV

Sept 1-5 – CaveFest at Caver’s Paradise, by Sewanee Mountain Grotto, TN

Sept 3 – West Virginia Speleological Survey meeting – OTR site, 6:30p. Contact George Dasher

Sept 16 – BRG meeting

Oct 1-2 – VAR Fall Conservation Project weekend (tentative)

Oct 21-23 – Fall VAR

Nov 12 – WVCC Banquet, WV Fairgrounds, Fairlea, WV (tentative)

Nov 18 – BRG meeting, elections

Jun 26-30, 2023 – NSS Convention – Elkins, WV


PROGRAM: “2022 NSS PHOTO SALON” 21 minutes


Cold Beer! 8:35p


Minutes by Marian McConnell (Mary Sue’s cat bit her right hand!)