bplist00__WebMainResource_ _WebResourceTextEncodingName_WebResourceData^WebResourceURL_WebResourceMIMETypeUUTF-8O%_Near Normal Grotto

May 1995 Near NormalNews


Jim Jacobs


ATTENTION! ATTENTION! The dates of the next TWO meetings have been moved.The next meeting will be postponed to JUNE 2nd to avoid the Memorial Dayweekend. The JUNE meeting will take place on JUNE 30th! So all of you who aregoing to Kentucky Speleofest, go on and have a ball, and come to the meetingwith tall tales to tell, and pictures to show.

I write this column with a bit of sadness. Due to a series of out-of-statebowling tournaments, I'm about to miss my first-ever NNG meeting. And mysecond. I know that the grotto will get along just fine without me for themonth of June, but it's going to be a little tough for me to not be there. Ohwell, I guess you can't have everything. Where would you put it?

The BIG news is that for the first time in my knowledge, there will be aBasic Cave Rescue Orientation Course in OUR BACK YARD! The National Cave RescueCommission and the Windy City Grotto will be hosting a cave rescue trainingJune 9, 10, & 11 in Waterloo, Illinois and Illinois Caverns. This is anexperience that no caver should miss. Usually, they are given in West Virginia,Kentucky, Georgia or some other far-flung place that's difficult for us toreach. As far as I know, of NNG members, only John Marquart and Don Coons havedone this. I have extra forms. It may be a long time before an NCRC course isgiven this close to us. Take advantage of it! Registration is only $25.00, andif you want to camp, you can do it free on Armin Krueger's land. Lunch onSaturday and Sunday is also included.


NCRC Central Region (MO, IL, IN): 800-851-3051

Indiana State Police (Bloomington): (812) 332-4411

Well, the Smittle trip has come and gone, and as usual, we had a fine timein spite of the crappy weather. Rain and cold dampened our spirits at the end,but what would a camping trip be without soggy underwear? Details and pictureslater in this issue.

Our permit for the Blackball Mine has been obtained by John Marquart. I'msure that some trips will be planned soon, so contact either John or Don Coons.Yes, Don is back from a long, hard winter of caving, this time in Borneo. Whilethere, he was able to visit the Sarawak (Good Luck) cave and the largest knowncave room in the world. Being a farmer, he describes the Sarawak chamber as"40 acres, all under one roof". Sports-minded people note that thischamber could enclose something like 17 football fields. Near the center ofthis room, he was unable to see a wall or the roof, even though he had broughta powerful light because of the room's size. BIG!

For the InterNet'rs in the group, the NSS now has an email address;NSS@caves.org.


*Should you use fabric softener when you wash your rope? LOUI CLEM, of PMIgives us the straight scoop!

*Two simultaneous rescues at Bloomington, Indiana are described by therescue coordinator, ANMAR MIRZA. Follow-up on the media's handling of theincidents is provided by BRUCE BOWMAN.

*We've all heard this question from non-cavers. "What happens if thereis an earthquake while you're in a cave?" First-hand accounts are providedby DAVID MCCLURG, HAL LOVE, and SCOTT LINN.

*MARK MCGIMSEY, of the Missouri Department of Conservation discusses lastyear's gray bat count. (reprinted from FORESIGHT, newsletter of the ChouteauGrotto, MO)

*Correspondence from BCI's DAN TAYLOR illustrate how agency cooperationbrought about by JOHN MARQUART has brought the Blackball Mine project to fullspeed ahead.

*STEVE HOLMES's account of the world's longest rappell from Mt. Thor, onBaffin Island, Canada, is herein reprinted from the 1983 CANADIAN CAVER, issue15.

*On the lighter side, FRANK REID tells us how to "get our picture onthe cover of the NNS News", instead of the Rolling Stone.

*Should we remove old wood from caves? It appears that WILLIAM R. ELLIOTwould take issue with one of our Mammoth Cave projects.

*JIM JACOBS describes the fun at our cave-in/camp-out at Smittle Cave.(Includes the world's largest carbide cap lamp.)

*Ordering information on the new WILDERNESS MEDICAL SOCIETY PRACTICEGUIDELINES is made available by Keith Conover, M.D.

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In the past few months, NNN Science Editor, John Marquart has beenpracticing his own brand of "shuttle diplomacy" by opening upcommunications with and fostering cooperation between the NNG and agencies suchas Bat Conservation International, Illinois AML, and the Illinois Department ofConservation with the aim of protecting the endangered Indiana Bats at theBlackball Mine. As you may remember, our permit to visit the mine was delayedfor a little while last year, because of misunderstandings regarding our roleand intentions regarding the site. Figuring in this crazy quilt of rules andstate regulations were recommendations contained in the "Recovery Plan Forthe Indiana Bat", which was authored in large part by bat experts who alsohappen to be members of BCI. Fortunately for us, John possesses theprofessional credentials, and the diplomatic skills to open up lines ofcommunication and cooperation with these agencies, and we now have alliesinstead of adversaries in this project, as evidenced by this reprintedcorrespondence from Dan Taylor, North American Bats & Mines ProjectDirector of Bat Conservation International. Prior to John's efforts, theseagencies had little to no communication and neither knew the NNG "from ahole in the ground". [pun intended] These three letters provide a clearpicture of splendid agency cooperation in a worthwhile project, and that thereputation of the NNG has soared in very important and influential circles.


John R. Marquart

Department of Chemistry

Eastern Illinois University

Charleston, IL


Dear John,

Thanks for sending the information from the Illinois Natural History Survey.It is certainly good news that additional hibernacula have been identified forthe Indiana bat. I am sure that the best measures to protect these sites willbe determined by the local conservation organizations responsible for theirmanagement, and of course Bat Conservation International is always willing toprovide whatever assistance we can.

At this time, we will continue to focus our efforts on the Blackball, giventhe potential for disturbance to its bats, and the overall number and diversityof bats. However, it certainly seems that there are several additional sitesthat may need protection (and perhaps other yet to be discovered), and I willtry to contact the federal and state agencies involved in the management oflands with both abandoned mines and caves to check on the status of theirprotection efforts (see enclosed letter). Perhaps there will be need for a morecoordinated statewide effort on mine assessment and bat conservation. Pleasekeep me informed of any additional information you obtain in Illinois' bathibernacula that may help with our conservation efforts.

As requested, I have enclosed an additional copy of our "Bats andMines" Resource Publication, let me know if you need any additionalcopies. I will wait to hear back from Bill Glass before taking any additionalaction regarding the Blackball Mine. Thanks again to you and the Near NormalGrotto for bringing the Blackball Mine project to the forefront of batconservation efforts, and we look forward to working with you to conserveIllinois bats.



Dan Taylor




William D. Glass

Natural Heritage Biologist

Division of Natural Heritage

100 First National Bank Plaza

Suite 10, Chicago Heights, IL 60411


Dear Bill,

Thank you for the letter and information you provided on theBlackball/Pecumsaugan Mines Nature Preserve and hibernaculum. This informationand the previous information and photos provided by John Marquart of the NearNormal Grotto provide a clear picture of the importance of the site, and thesteps necessary to ensure its protection. In addition to the threat of directvandalism, even unintentional human disturbance can greatly impact hibernatingbat populations. In almost every case that we know of where large hibernaculahave been gated, properly, bat numbers have increased significantly.

BCI agrees with your assessment that the initial protection efforts shouldbe directed at the lower level of the North Blackball Mine, as that wouldensure immediate protection for the majority of the site's bats, including allof the endangered Indiana bats. Of course, it would be desirable to eventuallysecure the upper entrances as well, and this could be evaluated as part of theoverall protection plan. Depending on bat use and airflow, some of the upperentrances may be able to be closed by means other than bat gates.

As requested, I have enclosed two copies of our "Bats and Mines"Resource Publication, and the information on remote temperature recordingdevices. The Resource Publication will provide a good overview on theenvironmental dynamics that make the Blackball Mine such an excellenthibernation site. It also contains excellent information on gatingconsiderations and designs. Let me know if you need any additional copies. Imentioned the Blackball Mine situation to Roy Powers of the American CaveConservation Association. Roy is the country's leading gate designer andbuilder, and indicated that he would be interested in assisting in protectionefforts for the Blackball if the opportunity arises.

BCI commends the Illinois Department of Conservation for its foresight indesignating the Blackball/Pecumsaugan as a Nature Preserve, and looks forwardto assisting the Department and its partners in providing additional protectionfor this important site.

(signed) Dan Taylor




Bob Gibson

Illinois AML

102 W. High

Edwardsville, IL 62025


Dear Bob,

After last fall's AML meeting in Utah, and before the "Bats andMines" Resource Publication was printed, I was contacted by a cavingorganization ("grotto") from Illinois regarding the old BlackballMine near La Salle. In addition to being an important cultural resource, theBlackball Mine is also the largest bat hibernating site in the state, housingover 24,000 bats representing at least 5 different species (including theendangered Indiana bat). Fortunately, the site is on land the state hasprotected as a nature preserve, however, its proximity to a National ParkService recreational corridor and human inhabitation make it highly vulnerableto disturbance.

We have recently begun exploring the possibility of a cooperative effort toincrease protection for the bats at the mine (see enclosed), and wanted toinform your agency, given their role and responsibility for abandoned minemanagement in Illinois. At this point, Mr. Bill Glass from the State Divisionof Natural Heritage is exploring the best possible way to proceed with aprotection project, and would be a good contact for more information. Givenyour department's expertise' and jurisdiction in mine land management, I wouldassume that they would be interested in being informed of or cooperating in anyproject involving Illinois' abandoned mine lands.

From information I have obtained from the Inactive and Abandoned NoncoalMines Scoping study (for the Western Governors' Association Mine Waste TaskForce), the Illinois Natural History Survey, the Shawnee National Forest, andthe United Stated Bureau of Mines, it appears that there are several additionalabandoned mine sites in Illinois that are extremely important to bats.

As stated in the enclosed letter to participants at the Utah AML meeting,Bat Conservation International can provide additional information on mineclosure methods that protect both bats and people, and training on assessingabandoned mines for their importance to bats.

Let me know if there is any additional information we can provide yourdepartment. I imagine your office will be contacted by the appropriate stateagency regarding plans for protecting the Blackball Mine, and I will keep youinformed of any additional developments regarding abandoned mine reclamationand bat conservation that we hear of or are planning in your state (we haveactive M.O.U.'s with the USFS and the USBM).

We would be interested in knowing more about your departments AML programrelative to abandoned mine closures and bat conservation, and about anyreclamation projects you have planned that could allow for the integration ofbat conservation measures. Thank you for your interest in and support of batconservation, we look forward to hearing from you.

(signed) Dan Taylor

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There has been quite a bit of conflicting information in respectablepublications regarding the question: "When you wash your rope, should youuse fabric softener?" Different editions of "On Rope" have comedown on both sides of this question, while other sources I have consulted seempretty well evenly divided. Alex Sproul of Inner Mountain Outfitters decided toask a representative of one of the caving rope manufacturers, and was kindenough to forward the reply to the Caver's Digest.


"My name is Loui Clem and I work for Steve Hudson [CEO] at PMI [PigeonMountain Industries]. At PMI, my primary function is Standards and TechnicalDevelopment. I work closely with NFPA, ASTM, ANSI, and the other organizationswhich plague us with requirements on how to do things, and I try to keep us(and our customers!) out of trouble in that regard. I come from a climbingbackground, with 12 years of mountain rescue experience and five years ofrunning Alpine Center for Rescue Studies, a non-profit research and testing labin Colorado. With that said, the short answer to your question is: YES. You'reabsolutely right. A little fabric softener added to the water when you'relaundering your ropes is a good thing and will help. Bruce Smith did the mostdefinitive work on this some years ago (like 10 or 15!) but our work shows thathis premise still holds true. However, a little is much more desirable than alot! "It's best to follow the directions on the fabric softener and justtreat it as a load of laundry. If you want to fudge, fudge on the light siderather than going heavy. Dousing your Rope with fabric softener will deteriorateit and cause it to rot, much the same as it would your underwear if youoverdosed it. "As for the washing machine... sure, go ahead and toss yourrope in just like you always have. Using the gentle cycle helps avoid thespaghetti thing and using a front load machine is even better." DISCLAIMERUnless otherwise noted, the information contained herein is the opinion of theauthor and does not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of PMI orPETZL equipment.

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Population declines of gray bats have been significant enough that they arelisted as a federally endangered species. From June through November of 1994,the Missouri Department of Conservation conducted a survey of caves that havebeen used historically by gray bats but were not surveyed in recent years.Recent trends indicate that gray bat populations have increased in Missouri, sothere was a chance that historic caves were seeing new use.

The primary objectives of this study were to (1) survey caves thathistorically have been used, (2) estimate population sizes of summer colonies,(3) record observations of evidence of previous population levels of gray bats,and (4) estimate frequency and levels of human activities which could lowercave utilization by endangered bat colonies.

Estimates of current population size of summer colonies were made by directobservation of bat clusters, or measurement of fresh guano deposits. Fresh guanocan be distinguished by high moisture content, pungent odor, and shinyappearance. Approximately 170 gray bats occupy each square foot of clusterspace. By multiplying 170 by the area of fresh guano, a close approximation ofcolony size is obtained. Estimates of past population size of gray bat summercolonies were made by measuring the area of the largest continuous ceilingstain or old guano deposit. This method is based on the assumption that a solidcluster of bats occupied the stain area over the old guano deposit. Thisestimate results in a maximum past population estimate.

Surveys were conducted at 66 gray bat caves. Thirty-nine caves housingsummer bat colonies were confirmed by the presence of bats or fresh guanodeposits. Twenty-two caves contained gray bats, 14 contained fresh guano, andin three caves, fresh guano was observed by the roost sites were not reached.Eight sites were found to serve as maternity sites, and 25 were transient usesites. No evidence of recent use was found at 26 caves. Most of the 26 caveswith no bats were among the most heavily visited by humans. If you have anyquestions concerning bats, feel free to contact me at (314) 499-1724, or at mye-mail address.

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The new WMS practice guidelines are now available in a 72-page book form.These replace the 1989 Position Statements of the Wilderness Medical Society.Anyone interested in Wilderness EMS should get a copy. WMS members may orderfrom the WMS bookstore at a discount; others may call ICS books directly at1-800-541-7323 and order a copy directly ($12.95 in U.S.A.; $17.95 in Canada).


Topics include:

+ Wilderness Evacuation


+ Near Drowning

+ Head Injury

+ Spinal Injury

+ Wilderness Wound Management

+ Burn Management

+ Orthopedic Injuries

+ High-Altitude Illness

+ Hypothermia

+ Frostbite/Immersion Foot

+ Heat-Related Illness

+ Lightning Injuries

+ Field Water Disinfection

+ Oral Fluid and Electrolyte Replacement

+ Wild Land Animal Attacks

+ Reptile Envenomation

+ Arthropod Envenomations

+ Tick Transmitted Diseases

+ Substance Abuse in Wilderness Settings

+ Anxiety and Stress Reactions in the Wilderness

+ Wilderness Medical Kits


also included is a copy of the WMS Wilderness Prehospital Emergency CareCurriculum recommendations.

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March 24, 1995


Called to order at 7:20 by Vice President John Marquart. Present: JohnMarquart, Jim Jacobs, Marty Jacobs, Dave Carson, Angela Carson, Tonja Horn,Dave Frazer, Greg Kwosny, Julie Angel, Ken Taylor, Isaac Taylor, Tim Shaffer,Val Winston (plus a few others who didn't sign in).


Introductions were made. The minutes of the previous two meetings wereaccepted as printed in the Near Normal News. The Treasurer's report waspresented by Jim Jacobs and accepted.


Announcements were made of coming events. The organizational meeting of theIllinois Speleological Society is to be held tomorrow (3/25) at Waterloo, IL.Tim Shaffer and John Marquart will attend, with John designated as the officialgrotto representative. Possible agenda of this meeting was discussed. John Mreported on his highly successful speaking tour through Texas and Missouri.During his tour, he was able to network very effectively on behalf of thegrotto with representatives from other grottos, and agencies such as BCI. Jim Jpresented the information on the Smittle trip, and promised to mail maps andinformation to all who expressed interest in going. Jim also gave outinformation on the MVOR and the Kentucky Speleofest.


The May meeting will be moved from the 26th (Memorial Day weekend), to June2. The June meeting will be moved to the 30th.


Tonja and Dave volunteered to do refreshments for the next meeting. Theworkshop/discussion will be on caving boots and books.



April 28, 1995


Called to order at 7:25 by president Norm Rogers. Present: Jim Jacobs, JamieWelling, Reid Siebert, Julie Angel, Beth Reinke, Norm Rogers, Kevin Rasmus,Isaac Taylor, Ken Taylor, Tonja Horn, David Fraser, John Marquart, Tim Shaffer.


The minutes of the March 24th meeting were read by treasurer Jim Jacobs andapproved. The Smittle trip was discussed by attendees. Despite the cold andrainy weather, a good time was had by all. Tim Shaffer reported on trips toParryville. The first was with numerous NNG members. The next weekend, he andTim Sickbert went alone. Tim and Tim traveled a mile through Crevice Cave fromthe Echo Pit entrance. John Marquart stated that the Blackball Mine permit isapproved. He received letters from Bat Conservation International expressingappreciation for bringing BBM to their attention. They feel that the project isvery important. Slope measurements, entrance photos and measurements need to betaken. BCI is possibly interested in getting the lower entrances gated as soonas possible. John M. notes that if the lower entrances are gated, then theshafts must also be gated to avoid having people go down the shafts on knottedropes, and not be able to get back out again. (Don and I ran into a couple ofthese yahoos, so we know that they exist.) Dan Taylor also mentioned that itmay be desirable to replace the carbide-smoked station markers in the lowerlevel. John also discussed the progress of the Illinois Speleological Society,and asked for input, since there is to be another meeting.


ANNOUNCEMENTS: Jim J. announced that there is to be a National Cave RescueCommission (NCRC) weekend rescue course June 9-11 at Waterloo, IL. IllinoisCaverns will be the practice rescue site. Applications were passed out. It looksas though quite a few NNG'rs will participate. John M. described the NCRCweekend that he attended a few years back and recommended it highly. TheKentucky Speleofest will be May 26-29. MVOR, May 5-7. Indiana Cave Capers, June18-20 at Dalany Creek Park, Salem IN. John M. will be off to Ohio andPennsylvania for his lecture series. adjourned.

At the workshop, cave books and boots were discussed, and Jamie Welling, agraduate student in bat biology, demonstrated his bat detector. Next time thesubject will be surveying. Goodie by Beth and Julie.

Jim Jacobs (for secretary Brian Braye)

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EARTHQUAKES AND CAVES (Internetdiscussion)


David McClurg


When the earthquake in west Texas took place, we were away from Carlsbad,but folks across the street from our house on Live Oak Place in the northernpart of town, felt a jolt in bed and heard a noise at some unidentified placein their house. They experienced no damage and hadn't heard of any from othersin town. What would be of interest would be news from the three localgovernment-agency cave specialists who might have heard some first hand reportsfrom cavers.

Of special interest to me would be whether cavers heard or saw anythingwhile underground at the time the quake occurred. J.G. BLM (?), D.P. NPS (?),R.T. USFS (?) Are you out there?

One California quake experienced by cavers underground was on a three-dayweekend in May some years ago. Several cavers were in Church Cave in KingsCanyon on the western side of the Sierra Nevada when a quake struck in the MonoLake area. This is only about 80 miles (130 km) away as the crow flies, but isover on the eastern side of the range. Most of them were in a relative largepassage, but one was a few meters behind in a vertical squeeze called the meatgrinder. His chest was right in the constriction at the moment of truth. Thefirst thing they heard was a sound like a locomotive coming down a tunnel rightat them. The sound lasted several seconds, then reached a peak and passed themby. Then a few small rocks fell, but nothing more. But the poor solenegotiating the Meat Grinder squeeze said the sharp protrusions gave his chestan industrial strength massage. When he finally emerged, the entire group wasof one mind-get the hell out of there with all possible speed. This spot isonly about an hour from the entrance, so they made their way out and headedhome for Sacramento. We were caving in eastern Nevada at the time-about 200miles away. But either none of our group was actually underground when thequake hit or we were too far away. We neither saw, heard, nor felt anything. Sowe may have been caving during an earthquake, but certainly didn't experienceanything different.

On Monday on the way back, we got a first hand report from Dave Cowan andothers in the Mother Lode Grotto who had been in Church Cave when the quakestruck. They can lay claim to the dubious distinction of actually being insidethe earth when it elected to shift around some heavy furniture down in thebasement. Any other members of this exclusive club out there?


Hal Love


The discussion of the earthquake in Texas reminded me of an incident I readabout some years ago. I think it was around 1985 when an earthquake struck thenorth central Arkansas, USA area near Blanchard Springs Caverns. BlanchardSprings was developed as a show cave by the U.S. Forest Service during the1970's. It is similar to Carlsbad Caverns in respect to the entrance/officebuilding and elevator ride into the cave. Most of the tourist portion of thecave lies about 250-300 ft (75-90 m) below the entrance building.

When the earthquake struck, a large group was in the cave on a tour.Employees and visitors ran outside into the parking lot, fearing the buildingwould collapse. When the tour returned from the cave, they were totally unawarethat anything had happened. Another incident that I have heard about, butcannot completely confirm, also occurred in northern Arkansas. Apparently, agroup of cavers was exploring and mapping in Fitton Cave and camped in arelatively remote part of the cave. During the trip the explorers heard loudrumbling and strange noises. As they started out of the cave, they encountered freshbreakdown in several areas. When they reached the entrance room (a chamber 750ft long) they found the entrance partially blocked by a house sized boulderthat had not been there when they entered the cave. This was 1964, and theysoon learned that during their trip the "Great Alaska Earthquake" haddestroyed Anchorage over 3,000 miles away!

I found it hard to believe that an earthquake, even one of the most powerfulever recorded, could have this effect on a cave over 3,000 miles away. I hadheard this story many times and assumed it was total bullshit. But then Ichanced upon an old NSS News from the late 50's (maybe 1959?). On the cover wasa picture of the entrance room in Fitton Cave showing a large beam of sunlightstreaming far into the cave. I have been to this cave many times and it is notphysically possible for the sunlight to penetrate into the entrance roombecause of a large, house sized boulder in the way!


Scott Linn



A few years ago we were removing fill in Oregon Caves National Monument, notvery far inside the cave. When we got out, everyone was asking about how theearthquake felt in the cave. They said that the hotel was rocking pretty good,but we didn't feel anything in the cave.

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Anmar Mirza, EMT-D



Trapdoor Cave

At approximately 5:45pm Saturday afternoon, Amanda Clark and I got the callat my cabin in Lawrence County (one county south of Monroe) for cavers trappedby high water in both Salamander Cave and Trapdoor Cave. It had been a clearday there, but we could clearly see thunderstorms to the north. The reportincluded the fact that there was someone trapped in the entrance of Trapdoorcave, unable to move due to the water.

We immediately packed up and headed north, where we ran into extremely heavyrain and marble sized hail, heavy enough to cause us to slow to 30 mph on thefour-lane. This cell was fairly narrow, within 5 miles we were out of it, butlight rain continued. Dwight Hazen was on scene at Salamander Cave where StatePolice divers were attempting to secure permission from their superiors to tryto enter the cave, there was no one in command at Trapdoor where the MonroeCounty Dive rescue team was attempting to enter Trapdoor. I asked Dwight whichsituation he considered more critical, he told me to head to Trapdoor. All thistook place via amateur radio while we were heading to the scene.

I heard the request for sand and gravel to be brought to Trapdoor in aneffort to impound the water entering the cave. Trapdoor is a fairly safe caveas far as flooding, the entrance climbdown is about 10' and the body sizedcrawl is about 12' long. The rest of the cave does not flood to any significantdegree. I got on the radio to cavers on scene to have them to stop thisattempt, and contacted Monroe Co. Sheriff to get them to stop this. Theproblems we'd have would be twofold, not only would there be a huge pulse whenthe impoundment broke, but it would also wash sediment and gravel into theentrance, possibly blocking the crawlway, compounding the problem. To divertthe actions of the personnel on scene, I called for pumper trucks to be broughtin to attempt to pump the water over the hill to slow down the flow enteringthe cave. In my opinion, this would not make a significant difference, the maincourse of action is to wait for the water to go down, but it gives theresponding agencies something to do in order to fulfill their responsibility totake action. National weather reported one more cell that was heading our way,small but intense. Trapdoor would go down fairly quickly, but it's difficult toconvey that to people who are demanding action now, particularly when you haveparents and the media on scene. Further compounding the problem was rain, hardat times.

When I arrived on scene, at Trapdoor, there was some confusion as to who wasin charge, there were Highway Dept. trucks and equipment beginning to try tocreate an impoundment, the stopping of which I made my first priority. Therewere also cavers and Monroe County Dive team at the entrance of the cave tryingto enter the cave. I made talking with them the very next priority. I placedWillie Lunsford, an ISSA caver who has had some rescue training, and who Iconsider a strong caver in charge of the cavers and crew at the entrance, withthe priority to not try to enter the cave until we deemed it safe. I alsodrafted some cavers to clear personnel away from the entrance, the cave is aswallowhole with steep slippery sides, leading right into the water washinginto the cave, and there were at least 30 people standing around. Heading backup to the road, I encountered Officer Chambers(? names are difficult, theevening was a blur) of the Monroe County Sheriffs Dept who placed me in chargeof the cave operations and assumed command of coordination of the overalloperations. I told him the game-plan, get the water pumped over the hillsideand wait for the water to go down. It took a bit of coordination, buteventually operations started shaping up enough to leave me confident enough togo back to the entrance.

By 8:40pm the water had gone down enough for Willie to try to do thecrawlway, he had a full wetsuit on and was willing. I had Amanda and TomBertolicini rig a haul system so we could haul Willie out if need be, a simpleGeorgia haul (straight line pull) and a capture cam was used, since we hadample bystanders to run the haul system. He entered with a care packageconsisting of trash bags, candles, lighters, heat packs. 10 minutes later hewas out, reporting that everyone in the cave was ok.

By 9:10 we had several pumps running and the flow into the cave was afraction of the amount it was an hour earlier, mainly due to the fact that therain was holding off. We were due for another cell to hit at 9:30 and I figurewe had about 10 or 15 minutes lag time before the flow would pick up again. Imade the decision to go for it and Willie entered the cave to start escortingthem out. By 9:30 all four kids were out of the cave. Just as the rain hit.Willie went back in to bring out the dogs (2), when he handed up the first one,the flow had started increasing. When we do NCRC weekend seminars, wefrequently tell the students "the water is rising" to instill a senseof urgency, Willie had heard me tell him this before in training, this time itwas for real. By the time Willie had made the last trip out to bring out gear,the water flow had picked up again, almost to dangerous levels.


Salamander Cave

Despite a successful operation at Trapdoor, we still had an operationunderway at Salamander. This one was being run under the authority of the StatePolice. At that time, the entrance of Salamander, which is a high-flow bypass forTurtle Cave, was putting out a very high flow. Topside off Spicer Lane we hadDwight Hazen, Terry Hudson and Officer Cleveland of the State Police. At theentrance of the cave we had Tony Emmons and Jim Johnson as well as two membersof the State Police diving team. Dwight, myself, and Officer Cleveland headeddown to the cave entrance. I left Amanda at the staging area to organize asearch of Coons and Grotto caves. At this point we had one vehicle located witha pretty good description that the two people had headed for Salamander, but Ifigured to cover all bases since it was the only thing we could do. We also hada report that there may be as many as five additional people in the cave, butwere unable to locate a vehicle. The two we had a vehicle for were Ezra Erb,and a female.

At the entrance, Officer Cleveland decided to pull his people out of theoperations until we needed them, the only thing at this point was to wait untilthe water receded, which could be as much as two days. It had been fairly dryrecently, so we were hopeful that the water would recede more quickly. I headedback up to the staging area to run incident command from there. I establishedcontrol of the entrance to Spicer Lane, and had radio link to the caver thereon a private simplex frequency we established as a command channel. It seems Iblocked off Spicer just in time, minutes after I did, the media arrived. Thiskept the staging area from becoming a circus, and allowed us room to interviewpeople and pass information without having to worry about the confusion largecrowds can generate.

At various times, we received conflicting information as to the number ofpeople we were looking for. I established a 99% probability that at least thetwo people were in the cave, and a 50% probability that there were anadditional five, the lack of vehicle leading me to the latter. By 1am, Dwightreported that the water was receding at a rate of about a foot an hour. TerryHudson was doing a marvelous job of dealing simultaneously with running thecommunications net, interfacing with the State Police, and interviewing people.Mark Brown, myself, and Jim Johnson suited up to head to the cave. Mark and Idonned wetsuits and had Wendy and Amanda get geared up to head down later.

The three of us reached the entrance of the cave about 2am. Dwight headedback up to the staging area. We sent Nate Baynes back up to get a wetsuit andget prepared to go, the water indeed was well down. By 3am, the water hadalmost stopped flowing from the entrance and there was a siphon at the entrancecrawl. We were also informed that family members were on scene. The entrance toSalamander is a low stoop for about 20', leading to a downward angled tubeapprox. 10' to a small canyon passage approx. 4' wide by 7' high, for about300'. This is the part that floods completely. Turtle cave, a very small cavetakes off at the base of the entrance tube and goes for several hundred feet,with many tight squeezes and bathtubs in dry weather. The end of the canyonpassage opens into huge borehole passage, often 30-40' high by 50' wide forseveral hundred yards.

By 4am there was a foot of air space showing. And a nasty looking whirlpoolgoing into Turtle. At this point we could have entered, but I deemed it moreprudent to wait another hour, given the rate of drop in water level. I reportedback to the staging area the plan. 5am, we evaluated the water level, by thistime there was 4 feet of airspace. The water looked swift, but it lookedpossible to chimney across the top, avoiding the downdraft into Turtle. We wentback outside and reported to the staging area to standby. 	At 5:05 amSunday morning, Mark Brown, Nate Baynes and I entered the cave, with two backupteams consisting of Jim Johnson, Amanda Clark, Wendy Wente, Willie Lunsford,and Tony Emmons, waiting at the entrance. We had a 150' line rigged, and theplan was for me to enter first with a sit harness being belayed, in case Islipped and started to be swept into Turtle. The water was about 3' deep, andthe current swift, but negotiable. When I reached a safe spot, I anchored therope to allow it to be used as a hand line and Nate and Mark came onin.	 At approx. 5:23 Nate Baynes made first contact with the two at thetop of the breakdown pile, Mark Brown and I quickly made our way up. Both Markand I are Emergency Medical Technicians, familiar with cave medicine. Weevaluated their fitness to travel. Both were unhurt, though cold. The femalewas Elizabeth ?, and Ezra. Both looked to be around 19, Ezra was showing moresigns of hypothermia, despite Elizabeth being of slight build (approx. 90lbs).They were not properly equipped to be in the cave environment, no helmets, oneflashlight each. Mark and I gave them several heatpacks and light. Mark headedout to tell topside they were ok, while Nate and I lead them out. By 5:37amthey were outside and had warmed back up. We packed up the assorted gear aroundthe entrance and headed to the staging area. By 5:47am we reached the stagingarea (ever climb a 250' hill, lugging 30lbs of gear while wearing a quarterinch wetsuit?), where family was reunited.

This series of events taxed the response capability of the respondingpersonnel. Not from the standpoint of difficulty of rescue, but because of themyriad of compounding problems, rain, poor coordination between agencies andresponders, multiple scenarios, and the fact that in high-water situations,often the best response it to wait. Rescuers have come very near to dying insimilar situations because they tried to act before it was prudent, primarilydue to the pressure to do something. It is difficult to have the patiencerequired to just sit tight and wait, but in almost all cases, either thepersons will survive the time it takes for the water to recede, or they will bealready dead. It is not prudent to risk the lives of rescuers in thissituation, as is taught in the National Cave Rescue Commission curriculum, andhas been the experience of local cavers in previous high-water situations. Thisis also outlined in the cave rescue protocols that the local cavers preparedfor and presented to the various agencies. This can be difficult when you havefamily members and the media calling for you to take action, and who cannotunderstand why you do not.

Both operations went much more smoothly once coordination was establishedamong the agencies and responders, it doesn't matter who is in charge, so longas someone is. The local cavers recognize the authority of the County Sheriffand the State police, and have good working relationships with both agencies.Past negotiations with these agencies has smoothed these relationships, as hasthe many successful operations performed by the cavers.

From the standpoint of the cavers, it is also difficult to have the patienceto just sit tight when you see the opportunity to do something, despite therisk. I recognized this and set quantifiable limits on what we did, that Iwould not hesitate to defend in any arena. We also had to deal with the veryreal possibility that we were looking at deaths, Salamander Cave claimed threelives in 1975 under similar circumstances. Most cavers are civilians withlittle preparation for experiencing the deaths of fellow cavers partaking ouractivity, it is up to those of us who assume command of these situations to besensitive to this and to do our best to prepare our people for this, and toprovide the followup and support after such an incident. In this case, unlike1975, it had a happy ending.



Bruce Bowman


Well, after last weekend's great TV and print coverage, landowner relationsin Central Indiana are sure to suffer. As mentioned in previous Digests, thespelunkers were never in any serious danger, but the media did not reflect that[Channel 6 did ONCE mention that there is "cause for hope" because ofthe high ground sites in the cave where they could take refuge]. A quick checkof the NSS Member's Manual shows none of the names listed in this account.Although NSS membership does not necessarily bestow any measure of intellect,it is clear that the many who were actually present had the sense to steerclear of the media. However, the media had no trouble finding others to talkto. The names of the spelunkers:

Trap Door Cave (4 hours)

Aaron Lancaster (Carmel), age 21

Timothy Baker (Bedford), age 17

Joshua Baker (Bedford), age 12

Nicholas Fizetti (Fenton, MI), age 18

2 DOGS, names not provided


Salamander Cave (15 hours)

Elizabeth Hershman, age 19

Ronald Erb, also 19

Some examples of the news coverage.... Channel 13 showing considerablefootage in Buckner's entrance room intermixed with Salamander flooded entranceshot. No mention that the footage was somewhere else. Monroe County Sheriff'sdiver (Saturday night) discussing the chances of survival in Salamander withChannel 13 reporter, "The entrance is completely flooded and it's toodangerous to enter. Hopefully they [the trapped cavers] can find an air pocketto get into."Sgt Steve Chambers, Monroe County Sheriff, in a newspaperaccount: "Water was bubbling out of the entrance of Salamander Cave,making it unlikely that if anyone was inside, they could survive. "Channel13 reporter shown walking by the IKC routed NO TRESPASSING sign on the way tothe cave. Camera zoomed in on sign. This was well after those trapped hademerged and everybody else had left. Channel 13 Sunday morning news: Even at9:30 AM, they were still saying 2-7 cavers were trapped in Salamander eventhough the 2 teenagers came out at 5:45. This was despite their claim to have areporter "on-scene" and possibly would have a live remote during thetelecast. Channel 8 interviewing Brad Keefe in newsroom. Personal internalphotos of Trap Door Cave are displayed. Apparently Brad spent 8 hours lost inanother Monroe Co. cave at one time. Stating how easy it is to get lost, Bradsaid that there are "...really no landmarks down there that you canfamiliar yourself with [sic]...it all looks the same." Perhaps I'd bettertake a can of spray paint with me next time. Channel 6 speaks with a man whocame down because his kid went caving and the incident is all over theairwaves. "We feel kinda relieved because, his car ain't around here."Neither was his son. Later, the newscaster states that "It may takeDAYS for the water to recede." [Emphasis his] It actually took about 12hours. Channel 8 interviews the two trapped in Salamander shortly afteremerging from the cave. They only had one light apiece, but did have some food."We were up to our necks in some pretty strong current on the way to theentrance."More quotes from WISH-8 newscasters ...the people involved didNOT say any of this: "Two teams make it to safety, and tell of theirHARROWING experience." "The six were virtually fighting for theirLIVES...". "Could have been deadly...". "Rescuers fearedthe worst...". "They feared they would freeze to death.""Fortunate they all survived." One of the few actual quotes in thenewsclip: "If they try to race the water to the entrance, they'lllose." [This is probably true] WXIN 59 (Sunday 10 PM)....interviewingBuckner spelunkers as if they were typical cavers (note: none had hardhats, allhad a single flashlight -- several were wearing dust masks). Their names --Dave Sweet, Tim Corbin, Rick Kesselborn, Rick Partane. Grafitti all over, butno real mention of it. Some quotes, with trippy acid rock music playing in thebackground: "Cheating Death in Indiana's Underground" "Goingthrough the crack it's kinda scary...it's like Spider-Man.""Everyone's gotta try it. It's like you bring your friends down here andthey always go back with you next time." "Although many caves are onprivate land, owners say 'no trespassing' signs rarely keep committed caversout."I'm truly glad no one was hurt, both for the sake of the spelunkersand in hopes that the media circus will die down as quickly as possible.



Indiana Karst Conservancy


Although these people were never in any serious danger (they just had towait it out), the resulting media circus was a scary thing to see. Most of thepeople I've talked to at work and elsewhere bought into all of it, and feltthat the situation constituted a near-death experience. Some have even beenasked why they didn't go to the site and assist in the rescue. Just what Anmarand Company need -- hordes of well-meaning cavers doing nothing but standvigil. Because of this, the Indiana Karst Conservancy has sent letters to themedia and we may set up a formal media contact so that misinformation is lesslikely to be disseminated should this situation recur. In a couple of days, Iwill post a "best of the worst" regarding the media coverage -- Ihave a lot of it on video. However, we are now being asked to help with thepreparation of a "safe caving awareness" newsclip of sorts. The valueof this kind of thing is less clear. Granted, this situation could have easilybeen avoided with a modicum of training, but only if the spelunkers involvedseek it out. I do not believe that a person can be taught what they need toknow via television...they will enter the caves with a false sense of security.High profile caving does two things -- creates more cavers than it educates,and closes caves. Neither is in our best interest. My main hope is that thesituation will just blow over -- get the people focusing on the O J Simpson trialor some other trivia as soon as possible.



Bruce Bowman

In the past month, I posted a couple of messages here that were sharplycritical of the media coverage of the cave flooding problem we had here inIndiana. Those messages were quite richly deserved...however, in all fairness,I now find myself compelled to post a short message about a couple ofproductions that aired recently that provided a counterpoint to the bad ones.

WTIU-30 (public station in Bloomington) aired a 5-minute piece on safecaving, in which several Bloomington Indiana Grotto cavers activelyparticipated. This segment, though not flawless, still was able to get acrossmost of the elements really necessary to deter yahoos from entering caveswithout making it sound like a life-threatening situation every time you enter.This is a tall order, and those involved (Anmar Mirza, Frank Reid, and KristeLindberg) have my admiration.

WISH-8 in Indianapolis partially redeemed themselves in my eyes as well. Ihad been receiving calls from them, and since Kriste did such a good job on theWTIU stuff (she's a telecommunications major, too) I put them in contact withher. Despite some truly poor programming during the rescue, they did pulltogether something that made a good point...you may recall Mr. Abdulla's post afew Digests back about Indiana being touted as a "caving state."WISH-8 picked up on how inconsistent this was in light of the rescues, mentionedsome rules of thumb regarding safe caving (three sources, etc.) and insertedthe caver's credo about "take nothing/leave nothing/kill nothing"(which sounds more trite every time I hear it, but people DO remember it).

In both cases, the adventure and danger aspects of caving were downplayedand the equipment and training needs were brought forth. Because yahoos aretypically seeking "adventure" with minimal outlay of finances or graymatter activity, this is what we want. While I would have preferred that nothingbe aired at all, in cases where the media are going to put something togetheranyway it is best that knowledgeable people step forward. Otherwise, there areplenty of others who DON'T know what they're talking about who will be willingto do so for us. Thanks again to those who took on these projects...here'shoping we don't have any more of them soon.

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April 21-23, 1995

Jim Jacobs


Participants: NNG: Tonja Horn, Dave Frazer, Mark and Brian Valentine, RichBell, Pat and Kathy O'Connell, Reid Siebert, D.C. Young, John Marquart, JulieAngel, Beth Reinke, Tim Shaffer, Marty and Jim Jacobs. Louisville Grotto: SteveGentry, Ted Burke. Mark Twain Grotto: Chris and Elizabeth House, Mike Goodwin,Loren Fear, Mike Deason, Dave and Mary Mahon. Chouteau Grotto, MO and StygianGrotto, MO: Kermit Wayne Wilkison. MO Dept. of Cons.: Mark McGimsey.


The long-awaited time had finally arrived. The trip to Smittle Cave was on.Flyers had been sent out, maps and directions in hand we made our merry way toMissouri. Our friends of the Mark Twain Grotto had obtained the necessarypermits, and had been good enough to invite our group. Well, I'm not sure that"group" is the correct word. More like a whole herd of NNG'rsdescended on the parking area near Lowell Cave that friday. Dave Mahon had, asusual, provided good maps and directions well in advance, so that I was able tocopy the information and pass it on to our people in plenty of time for them tomake plans. Marty and I decided to make the trip in our new/old camper van thatwe had purchased from our next door neighbor, Mrs. Oliver, whose husband hadpassed away last year. (A few of you may remember that they had attended acouple of NNG meetings at our house, and thoroughly enjoyed Don Coons' slideshows.) The forecast read cool weather with some rain (so what else is new?),so we figured that high and dry was better than the tent for this trip. We areNOT hard-core campers. Anyway, the forecast turned out to be somewhatinaccurate. It was not cool, it was COLD. And when it rained, it poured.(Anyone remember the Cave River Valley Trip?) YEP!

Since most of the group were to arrive later, we decided to take a quickwalk over to Smittle, (about a mile) to size up the stream that we would haveto cross, and to show the impressive entrance to some who had never seen it. Itdidn't take long to figure that there was no way that we would even get thefour-wheel drive vehicles across the stream. A couple of the slabs which usedto be a road across the stream in dry weather had washed out, were tilted atfunny angles, and the stream was fairly high. We could easily cross on foot byhopping from rock to rock, but we would not be camping near the Smittleentrance.

By early evening, we had a pretty good sized group, and began gearing up todo Lowell Cave, which was only about two hundred feet away at the end of thepath. Since some of our group were somewhat new to caving, it took a while toget everybody assembled. We walked to the entrance, which is a large impressivehole in the hillside, and gathered for some Kodak moments. As we filed into thecave, I discovered that I had forgotten my gloves. I told Marty that I wouldcatch up, and walked back to the van. Just as I found the gloves, Steve Gentrypulled up, along with a caving buddy of his, Ted Burke. I knew Steve from thelast two Mammoth Cave Field Camps. We had become friends, and I had invited himto drive up from Louisville to join us. It was also good to meet Ted. I figuredthat if he caved with Gentry, then he probably had a good sense of humor. Andyou could trust him with your life in a cave. I told them to set up their tentlater, and get their gear on. There was cavin' to be done. They threw theirgear together, breaking world records and a camping lantern in the process, andwe headed into the cave. Since they are fast cavers, and the group ahead waslooking at the scenery while waiting for us, we were able to catch up with themin no time.

Lowell is a solution cave with quite a few cut-arounds. There are manyplaces where you can take the stream or you can go over to get to the sameplace. According to Dave Mahon, there is a place near the end of the cave whereyou can pop up through a hole and find an upper level that goes on for a longways. Unfortunately, Dave had not yet arrived, and we were unable to find theroute to the upper level. We had a good time following the cave to the pointwhere it just became too low and too wet to follow comfortably, and turnedaround. I count this trip as a milestone, because I now have proof that D.C.Young actually caves!

We returned to camp and dispersed to our individual tasks of setting up campand getting supper. People were still arriving, and the camp began to take onthe look of a small city.

Our tentative plans were to spend saturday practicing vertical work at theSmittle entrance, and to explore Smittle on Sunday. We visited with our new andold friends for a while, then hit the sack. Besides, it was getting cold! Andrainy! I may be a wimp, but I'm glad I wasn't in a tent that night.

In the morning, we woke to find that our number was now 26! After breakfast,we gathered our vertical gear and walked over to Smittle. Two ropes wererigged, and we took turns rappelling and ascending. I took a few turns of myown, and did my first "on rope" changeover from rappel to climbing,but spent much of the time helping the rookies "over the edge" forthe first time. That's a lot of fun! The look of pure joy on the face of peoplewho complete their first descent is a sight to behold. We didn't quit untilsupper time.

After supper, we walked back to Smittle to try to see the bats leaving. Wehad heard that they swarm out in impressive numbers, but either they weren'tready, or weren't dumb enough to come out in the cold. I could just hear themsaying, "There'll be no bugs flying tonight! I'll just hit the snoozealarm for next week." At any rate, we saw only a few stragglers.

When we got back to camp, we found that those who had been smart enough tostay there had built an impressive bonfire. The rain had held off during theday, and was still cooperating. Many a tall (caving) tale was told that eveningas boots dried by the fire and a barley pop (or two) were consumed. Around 11:30or 12:00, the rain started again, so those who had not already done so, headedfor bed.

Then the rain got serious! In the morning, everything was soggy, and D.C.found drops of ice atop his tent. It was still raining, and was getting colder.The stream which had to be crossed to get to Smittle was higher, and would behigher yet when we got out. We didn't know what the stream inside of Smittlewould be like. We had reserved enough vacation time to stay over sunday nightand perhaps do Little Smittle or another cave that Dave had in mind on mondaymorning. It was decision time. Some were gearing up for the walk to Smittle,but cold and wet and nasty as it was, Marty and I, Steve and Ted, Pat and Kathyand Reed decided to do our day's caving in comfort. We packed up and drove overto Onondaga, a magnificent commercial cave about fifty miles from where we hadbeen camped. On the way, Marty and I discovered that there was a problem withour old van's heater core, and the defroster just fogged the windows up worse.The harder the rain came down, and the harder the wind blew, the foggier ourwindows got. Our arms got quite tired from wiping off those big van windowsevery 90 seconds.

The tour guide at Onondaga seemed a little nervous that two-thirds of hergroup were hardened cavers. Reid was even wearing his helmet and petzel mega. Iwasn't sure if he worried that some of us would take off down side passages orthat some of the people in the group knew a lot more about caves than he did.In any case, after a little while, he relaxed, and we had a fine tour of agreat cave. It wasn't Smittle, but Marty and I had seen Smittle (or at least apart of it) a couple of years before. I'm just sorry that those of our groupwho hadn't seen it will have to wait till this fall, when we can get anotherpermit, and perhaps some reasonable weather. I also hope that we can get areport of the actual trip through Smittle by some who stayed to brave theelements.

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to the tune of:"The Cover of the Rolling Stone" by Dr. Hook


I'm a hard-core caver, I do owners a favor

'Cause they beg me to go in their hole.

I've done the world's deepest pit and the world's longest crawl;

I'm loved everywhere I go.

I make all kinds of waves to save all kinds of caves

And I always pay my grotto dues.

And they really ought to put my picture on the cover of the _NSS News_.




NSS News...

Gonna see my picture on the cover,

Gonna get my dad to hide it from my mother,

Doing all those dangerous things on the cover of the _NSS News_.


I found virgin passage in commercial Mammoth Cave

And I mapped everywhere I went.

I cultivated speleo-political connections with the East-Coastestablish-ment.

I went to the board meeting in the big city,

I licked stamps for the money committee,

I told them my face would sure look pretty

On the cover of the _NSS News_.



That's cave mud on my nose.

It's from Lechuguilla.

Since you're a special friend, you may touch it.


I got a mile of PMI and a high-tech rack for sliding down slippery slopes.

I got a 44-D blonde graduate student that wants me to show her the ropes.

I go on international scientific caving expeditions

And Mixon gives me good reviews.

But I never did get my picture on the cover of the _NSS News_.


R-O-O-O-O-O-C-K 'n roll!


I beat claustrophobia and histoplasmosis,

There's so many fine things I've seen.

I've been just about every place a caver can go

Except "America's Caving Magazine."

I've been in _National Geographic_ and Discovery Channel

and _Outside_ didn't refuse.

But I just can't get my picture on the cover of the _NSS News_.




NSS News...

Gonna see my picture on the cover,

Gonna show it to my stock-broker brother,

Me and all the other BNCs * on the cover of the _NSS News_.

_NSS News_ gives me the blues,

'Cause I just can't get my picture on the cover of the _NSS News_.



Who you gotta know, anyway?

Is she married?

Oh No! They messed up the color again!



* BNC = Big-Name Caver

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(posted on the internet by Ian Drummond)


With the interest in tandem rappelling, I thought I should send in thefollowing article which appeared in The Canadian Caver, 15(2), 1983.

Rappelling the West Face of Thor (Note from a report by Steve Holmes toParks Canada) An American team of Kathy Williams, Alan Johnson, Peter Uberto,Bill Clem, Russ Anderson, Steve Holmes, and one Canadian Kirk MacGregor, haddecided to attempt the world's longest rappel off the west face of Mt Thor onBaffin Island [Canada]. For this a special rope was manufactured by PMI,7/16" nylon kernmantle with an extra strand added to offset the weight ofone mile of rope (370 lb). Two teams were assembled. The summit team spentseveral days reaching the top of Thor mainly due to white-out conditions on theFork Beard Glacier. They dragged 84 ft of canvas padding, 5,000' of 3/16polyester hoist line (35 lb) an amazing assemblage of top rope anchoringparaphernalia and stocked a summit camp for 10 days. .... The 3/16" hoistline was lowered from the summit with a stone filled red bag attached, but sovast was the scale of Thor that there was considerable difficulty in locatingit by the base party.

Meanwhile, the base team linked in the aforementioned 350 lbs (sic) of PMIto the 2,000 foot 5/16 rope. Communication ensued by radio and telescope. Oncethe bag was found and the three ropes joined, the summit team then pulled upthe 5/16 rope, followed at 2,000' by the PMI and eventually everything waselaborately secured at the top. Two bulges on the face were padded and avertical kilometer was ready for rappelling. In order to get the descender ontothe rope, an ingenious 8:1 mechanical advantage system was designed andemployed to lift the now 200 lb of rope.

Spectacular rappells then ensued, uneventfully, taking from 6 to 30 minuteswith racks twice the normal length and holding 8 brake bars which were cooledby splashing water on them. One tandem rappel was achieved using Kirk's squeezeplate device that functioned independently of the rope weight. This device wascomposed of two plates between which the rope is squeezed by a nutcrackermechanism controller by the rappeller. It was cooled effectively by towelmaterial attached to the plate and soaked in water. Ascents were made withoutincident taking from 2 hours to 5 hours (the longest being for the tandemascent). The Mitchell box, foot and knee Gibbs arrangement was found to workbest over the 3230 +/-20 foot vertical distance.

After successfully completing the world's longest rappel, the rope wasallowed to slide off the mountain top to land in festoons at the bottom.


---- If any one is interested in more details of the "MacGregorNutcrackers", Kirk is still an NSS member and is living in Toronto. By theway, this is the same person who appeared on the caving scene in the late1960s, cutting the record times for prussiking 100' and 300' just about inhalf. ---- Ian Drummond

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This is a response to Rob Tayloe's query about removal of wood etc. fromcaves. This is a subject that I wrote about in my chapter "An Introductionto Biospeleology" in the NSS's "Caving Basics" book, firstpublished in 1982 and now in its third edition. I guess I thought that caversactually read this chapter for guidance...maybe not. Here's an excerpt from thesection "Conserving Cave Life":

"1. Never dump carbide in a cave! It is poisonous. Carry all your trashout with you.

2. On the other hand, it is usually best to leave someone else's old organiclitter (wood, paper, food, feces) in the dark zone of the cave, as it may beproviding food and shelter to cave-adapted animals. Cave clean-up campaigns arebecoming more popular and we should be thankful, but the thrill of ridding acave of man-made trash should not blind us to the possibility that it alreadymay have become part of the cave ecosystem. If such materials are removed, theyshould be thoroughly examined for animals, which should then be released in asimilar habitat in the cave or collected for study..."

The above opinion is my own, not official NSS policy. However, I think itcan be applied in a reasonable way, which I outline below. My opinion is notjust based on sentimentalism about cave animals or theory, but on observationsover many years in different types of caves. I'll give some examples:

a. Back in 1973 I was doing a biological survey in New Cave (= SlaughterCanyon Cave), Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico. Like most caves in that region, itis rather dry and the fauna is sparse except in drip spots. I found some old,rotten timbers in the middle of the cave, left there no doubt many years ago.This was the only place in the cave where I could find the troglobiticmillipede Speodesmus tuganbius. They were crawling on the rotten wood, feeding,no doubt, on fungi. I was shocked to learn a few months later that the NationalPark Service removed this old rotten wood while constructing a trail throughthe cave. I could not find the millipedes on the next visit to the cave and Iwonder if any are left in the cave. Of course, I wished I had reported a faunalist to NPS and commented on the wood, but it was too late.

b. Show caves often have perturbed cave communities. In my experience thecave community shifts to exotic species being attracted to food particles andtrash in the cave. Some native cave species may actually thrive on blue-greenalgae, bacteria, and fungi growing near trail lights. Cave lint can provideenough nutrients to cause local abundances of collembolans (springtails), whichin turn become prey to micropredators such as spiders, harvestmen, etc.Clean-up campaigns have not, in my opinion, usually been careful tocharacterize the invertebrate fauna before and after the clean-up. Most caverscannot recognize most small cave animals and often are unaware of theirpresence. c. Very rotten wood and organic material makes a good substrate forfungal and bacterial colonies, which collembolans, millipedes, terrestrialisopods, and other cave species can feed upon. It also provides a moist milieufor these creatures to burrow and hide in. This eventually becomes a soil. Suchareas can actually become "biological magnets" that attract cavespecies. Most cave environments are very "patchy" anyway, that is youwill find concentrations of critters on raccoon or rat feces, wood, bat guano(although that usually entails certain guano-tolerant species), etc. To removethis stuff suddenly can be a big hit on the populations that were attracted toit over a long time. True, they may have had a local population bloom in thematerials, but it is almost like a big trap for these animals.

d. There was an unfortunate incident at Mammoth Cave a few years ago when aclean-up project by well-meaning cavers removed some rich wood deposits frompart of the cave without examination of it for fauna. Worse, perhaps, thecavers slogged through a biological study area in a stream that had beenplainly marked out by a researcher, severely affecting and probably ruining hislong-term efforts. There was much discussion and some embarrassment over thisincident, but it was soon forgotten by most. I hope the NPS learned somethingfrom the incident. Certainly the current Mammoth Cave ecologist, Rick Olsen, isvery vigilant about things like this and is now conducting high-qualityphysio-chemical and ecological baseline surveys of the cave system.

I have been put on the spot a couple of times about my opinions on organicremoval from caves. Some cavers react to it emotionally because they feel theyare doing a good thing and "After all, that stuff shouldn't bethere!" But we need to remember that cave animals don't have the aestheticsensitivity that we humans have. Food is food to them, and they must beopportunists to survive in a food-poor environment. At the same time, we don'twant to make the cave artificially food-rich (eutrophic). The extreme exampleof that is a show cave that I studied that was totally eutrophied from aleaking sewage system. The wall of the cave contained exotic fungus gardens andat least two species of earthworm were coming out of the walls and actuallyeating bacteria-soaked clays in the walls. Some people wanted to just kill theworms with pesticides, but we eventually were able to trace the leaking sewagelines and forgotten septic tanks and get control of the problem at the source.(Sorry, I cannot reveal which cave this was, but it could happen at any showcave, including private or public show caves.) I certainly understand thedesire to remove man-made materials from caves. I would advocate a moderate,scientific approach to this problem. Get a cave biologist, if possible, toexamine the materials and identify, at least generally, the species there andmake a recommendation. If the wood has not rotted to a soil yet, then much ofit should be removed. Brush off the bugs onto the floor of the cave with softpaint brushes. If some fauna is present in the wood pile, leave or move a smallremnant of this material out of view (if necessary) and let some of themsurvive. Certainly remove all glass, batteries, metal, plastics, and othernonorganic materials. If you can't get a cave biologist to come, make someobservations first and contact the Biology Section of the NSS for advise. Hereare some addresses of cave biologists who may be able to help:

Dr. Ed Lisowski, Exec. Sec. NSS Biology Section 1301 S. 5th, Apt. #6 Tacoma,WA 98405 lisowski@seattleu.edu

Dr. Daniel Fong, recent editor North American Biospeleology Newsletter(NABN) Dept. of Biology The American University Washington, DC 20016dfong@american.edu

Dr. Kathy Lavoie, new editor North American Biospeleology Newsletter Dept.of Biology Univ. of Michigan-Flint Flint, MI 48502 lavoie_k@msb.flint.umich.edu

Dr. Horton H. (Beep) Hobbs Dept. of Biology Wittenberg UniversitySpringfield, OH 45504 phone 513-327-6484

Dr. William R. Elliott 12102 Grimsley Drive Austin, TX 78759-3120welliott@mail.utexas.edu phone 512-835-2213

The NSS Biology Section holds a meeting each year at the NSS Convention.Dues are $5 to Dan Fong (above), who recently published the latest NABN (#45),which is published once or twice a year. Anyone who is interested can join. Wehad lots of papers and field trips at last year's Texas convention and will domore at the 1995 convention in Blacksburg, Virginia. KAPTAIN KARST (Dr. JohnHolsinger) will be leading some field trips to several caves.

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