bplist00__WebMainResource_ _WebResourceTextEncodingName_WebResourceData^WebResourceURL_WebResourceMIMETypeUUTF-8O_ Near Normal Grotto

November 1997 NearNormal News

Jim Jacobs

Yeah, right! Hole in the ground? Me? Not lately! The only caving I've been ableto do this year has been two quickies, one to Illinois Caverns, one toBuckner's, just to see if I remember how to pack a drag bag. Oh, well. Youcan't do everything, I guess. It's a good thing you folks write good tripreports. I can sit at my desk, rub my chin like Dave Letterman and say,"Oh, yeah...I remember what that's like".

This issue centers on two recent caving deaths, although we might--perhapsmore accurately--call them deaths due to rappelling accidents. The timing ofthese accidents seems ironic, since we have recently received the instructionpackage from the NSS for conducting Single Rope Technique classes. Inevitably,when something like this happens, the discussion turns to safety. How did theyhappen, and how could they have been prevented? Both occurred while rappellingdepths far deeper than anything most of us have done, in the neighborhood of400 feet. Although you can get hurt on a 30 foot rappel--ask JohnMarquart--accidents in deep pits are more likely to be fatal. Would furthertraining or closer attention to basic safety procedures have saved thesepeople? Probably.

One occurred when the rappeller hooked into a "safety" line whichwas hung alongside the main line. This line was about 100 feet SHORT of thebottom of the pit. What was its' purpose? I don't know, but the rigger shouldhave tied a safety figure-eight loop at the end of it. She would have beenstopped safely, and we wouldn't be writing about it. Instead she zipped rightoff the end of the rope. The second death may have occurred due to therappeller's unfamiliarity or inexperience with a characteristic of very longrappels: At the beginning of the drop, the weight of the rope under you createstension on your rappelling device, and slows you down. Sometimes, it's quitedifficult to get started. As you near the bottom, you and your device have tocreate your own tension and friction, since most of the weight of the rope isnow above. With a rappelling rack, which is the device of choice for deepdrops, you clip in an extra bar part of the way down, which adds friction. Therappel doesn't get out of control, which is what seems to have happened atSurprise Pit. She had only five bars engaged instead of six, and her speed gotout of control before she could do anything about it.

This spring, when we participate in our vertical practice, let's pay closeattention to safety. Our own, and our "partners". Clip onto the rope.Get ready to go, but have someone else check your rig first! I do. Every time!Is your carabiner locked? Is your rapelling device rigged upside down? Check itfirst! Marty has stopped me from trying to go down with an unlocked 'biner.Likely, I would have gotten by with it. Maybe not. It only takes once. This isa safe sport, but scary things can happen in *any* sport. There might not betwo vertical caving-related deaths over a period of three or four years acrossthe country. We've just had two within a few weeks' time. In one year theremight be five kids killed by getting hit in the head with baseballs, or twohundred killed on bicycles. Personally, I *love* going up and down rope. It's asafe sport if you *make* it safe. Let's do it that way? Okay?

We'll be electing our new Executive Committee at this meeting. If you can'tmake the meeting and wish to vote, the last page of this issue is a ballott.Either rip it off or photocopy it and mail it to the NNG at PO Box 813, Normal,IL 61761. It must be received by the day of the meeting, and YOU MUST INCLUDEYOUR NAME ON THE BALLOT, OR IT CANNOT BE COUNTED!


JOHN MARQUART summarizes the two accidents. JIM WILBANKS describes hisexperience with a scary trip down rope that could have ended the same way. WMSHREWSBURY reports on experiments with different bottom belay techniques thatmay or may not help in situations such as this. Mr. Shrewsbury is the editor ofthe NSS Vertical Section's magazine/newsletter, NYLON HIGHWAY, so he has somecredentials. LARRY MATTHEWS AND CHRIS LLOYD also contribute their views onvertical safety.

On the lighter side of this issue, Julie Angel describes her trip to BurtonCave with members of the Mark Twain group, and Steve Taylor tries to convinceus that there was actually an MVOR without RAIN! Sure, Steve. [mumblessomething about tall tales], and Angi Bennet reports on her first trip toMystery Cave. ??

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John R. Marquart

When longtime caver and early pioneer of vertical caving, Larry Matthews -NSS 6792 recently published his item concerning vertical safety on Tag-Net, theInternet bulletin board for TAG (Tennessee/Alabama/Georgia) caving, it occurredto me that his comments are entirely pertinent to our grotto. We have recentlychosen to sponsor our own basic training course in vertical techniquesfollowing the course outline supplied by the NSS Vertical Section. LarryMatthews description of the need for grottos to provide formal verticaltraining was prompted by the death of two lady cavers in hardly more than a twomonth period. He has grated us permission to reprint his comments.

The two deaths were unrelated except that both occurred due to problems thatarose while descending into deep pit caves in Jackson County, Alabama. JacksonCounty, in northeast Alabama, is the home for many of the deepest pits caves inthe country and is the location at which many of the modern single ropetechniques were first developed. I will give a brief rundown of each of thesefatal caving accidents as posted on Tag-Net and in the news media.

Saturday, August 30, 1997 - Stevens Gap Pit, Jackson County, Alabama. KarenL. Prowett - NSS 39562, ( of Alpharatta, GA) age 46 died in the fall thatoccurred when she apparently mistakenly hooked onto a short "safety"rope hanging beside the main rope and proceeded to rappel into the pit. Thesafety rope was apparently rigged without a knot at the end and she rappelledoff the end, falling a hundred feet to her death. The mistakes were obvious.One, Ms. Prowett should have double checked that the rope onto which she wasattaching herself went all the way to the bottom of the pit. Two, the person orpersons who rigged the "safety" rope should have put a stop knot atits lower end, preferably a loop on which a person could hang until able to getback up.

Sunday night, November 2, 1997 - Fern Cave, Jackson County, Alabama. AlexiaS. Hampton - NSS 39576, (of Memphis, TN) age 35 died as a result of injuriessustained from an uncontrolled rappel into 400 foot deep Surprise Pit. Sheapparently lost control of her rappel and free fell the last 50 to 100 feet tothe bottom of the pit. She landed upright, but sustained severe injuries(apparently multiple broken bones and internal injuries). A major rescue wascalled out. She survived for the 12 hour rescue, but succumbed from respiratoryarrest just inside the cave entrance. Accounts differ on the amount ofexperience that she had with vertical caving, with one saying that she had doneseveral drops of over 200 feet and another that she had never before attempteda drop of more than 100 feet. The cause for the uncontrolled rappel has notbeen determined for certain, but it has been noted that the rope was a new 600foot rope. New ropes tend to give faster rappels than used ones. Also withlimited experience, Ms. Hampton may not have realized that on long drops theweight of the of rope hanging below the climber will decrease as the climberdescends. This will cause the rappel rate to be very slow at first and thenspeed up as the climber nears the bottom. In such long drops, it is oftennecessary to attach more brake bars to the rappel rack as the climber nears thebottom.

As Larry Matthews states in his posting, much state-of-the-art vertical gearis now readily available, but we should not be led to believe that reading theenclosed instructions and/or books on vertical technique will make for safecaving. It takes much study and practice to become at all competent when onrope. Even then the unexpected can happen (I know!). We plan to hold our coursein basic vertical technique this coming spring. Rich Bell is coordinating thecourse and is going to need much help with those who have on rope experience toserve as instructors. But again, let me emphasize that those who do have suchexperience will need to study up and prepare rather than trying to pass on ourself professed "expert" methods to the newer contingent. When itcomes to something as dangerous as vertical caving, we never know enough! Ihope that most grotto members participate in the course, either as instructorsor as students. As terrible as the two recent deaths are, let's let them teachus something that needs learning - be prepared.

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Jim Wilbanks
(Rising_Fawn, Georgia)

I still remember clearly the time I went out of control while rappelling. Itwas in Incredible Pit on a through trip. My rack was old (shorter) and my barswere well worn, the rope was new and it was wet. Also I was considerablyheavier. As I usually did then, I clipped in five bars and casually swung overthe lip. The next thing I knew, I was at terminal velocity. My first reactionwas panic and to grip the rope. I never want to forget that feeling. For whoknows how many feet, I was on the way to being a casualty, another statistic.They would say "he had five bars clipped in".

Fortunately, reason and experience prevailed and I added my sixth bar. Evenwith it pulled up tight I still could not stop. I went into the bouncingphenomenon found in deep pits. Whenever I would reach the bottom of the bounce,I could not stop. I could lock off, but I had to continue as I was with a largeparty and It was quite wet. So with six bars tightly spaced and a full legwrap, I continued to the bottom hitting too hard. My only comment at the timewas "that was NOT fun". I got a longer rack with more new bars beforepitting again.

When I heard about the recent accident in Fern, I was able to understand howthis can happen from my own experience. Had I been closer to the floor of thepit, the same thing might have occurred to me. What I have not heard in recentposts is a few important facts about the incident. Witnesses at the bottomreport hearing Alexia scream. They looked up and saw the last of the rappel.She was described as falling as though she was not even attached to the rope.Her hands were held out away from the rope. Among her serious injuries, werethe burns on her hands. Even though she was wearing gloves, her hands had blisterson them. Her sixth bar was not attached. Apparently she was gripped by thatsame panic I had felt. Every one I have taught vertical techniques has heard mesay adnausium, "now what do you do if you are going too fast?" It'sthe last thing they hear from me as they go over the pit.

Alexia Hampton is dead. My heart goes out to her family and friends. This ishappening too often and the only answer is training. It is up to the moreexperienced of us to step up and volunteer to help. There is more than one techniquefor vertical caving. But the manual for training produced by the VerticalSection is good basic stuff. I highly recommend it. ??

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Wm Shrewsbury
(Chattanooga, Tennessee)

Before I begin, please note: Some of the following article containspractices that I do not condone. They were done under very controlledcircumstances, and should not be repeated in your tree outside. They were donesolely for the purpose of research, and trying to find an effective method ofbottom belaying deep pits.

I will not answer any hate mail. This forum is not for that. Send it to medirectly. It is easy for me to put it in the trash. This is posted as research,not personal accomplishments. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a veryresponsible caver who has helped many people out of jams and dedicated years ofmy life to rescuing cavers and "locals".

David Brace writes: Are bottom belayseffective on vertical drops of 400+ feet. I was of the understanding that theywere not. When I attended Bridge Day this year I was chuckling at people bottombelaying these 900+ foot drops theorizing that by the time you'd pulled all thestretch out of the rope to stop your out-of-control buddy he or she would landon you. Any answers?

Well, research will have to be more thorough than this, but here goes: Whiledoing Fantastic Pit with a group from Missouri once, I went down first. Therope was rigged to the new bolts in the ceiling, thus no lip debris. As eachperson got on rope, I waited about 2 minutes till they had cleared the upperchimney area, looked up to verify their light position, and then walked outinto the pit.

My attempt was to bottom belay them with against the rope bounce/stretchfrom this virgin piece of PMI - 11mm (7/16) Max. I weigh about 175 pounds withfull vertical/cave gear on, which I was wearing at the time.

What I discovered: Running out to the bottom of the rope (panic position)and pulling straight down on the rope had almost no effect. Too much stretchand bounce. The belay will cause the rope to 'zip' through their rack in shortbursts. Yes, this may slow them down from "terminal velocity", but itwas a far cry from preventing a crash&burn. It also prevented them from takingcontrol of the rappel again. I would prefer that they didn't crash into me inthe process....

Taking the part of the rope currently at floor level (NOT the end of therope) across the pit (about 50 feet) caused them to have a pretty nice rappeltill about 100 feet up. If they were under control, this led to them rappellingdiagonal near the bottom and slowed them somewhat.

Repeating the above with someone who rappelled faster proved fruitless asthey had way too much momentum and darn near made me into an impression in thewall.

Taking the part of the rope currently at floor level and climbing up on topof the rock at the entrance to TAG Hall put me about 15 feet off the floor andabout 50 feet to the side. I took some webbing and slung a couple of knobs ontop of the rock, put in a figure 8, and clipped the rope into this. A normalrappel was stopped easily by the "loop" effect. I had to lower him tothe ground.

Repeating the above with a controlled 'speed rappel' did the same thing withone exception. As he came into the 'loop', his rate of descent pushed himcloser to me. In effect, he was redirecting his downward force into a lateralforce. This started about 30 feet off the floor for him. Since I was about 50feet away, he did not swing all the way to me, and I had to lower him.

One last 'test'. After conferring with a hefty guy I knew could be trustedto stay focused, I climbed back up and got on rope myself. Nothing like beingon the other end of the rope....

I started with a descent rate that should have put me on bottom in about30-45 seconds - five stainless bars spread on a 6 bar rack, with upper spacers.Bruce Smith calls this rate of descent "about 2 octaves above middleC". I would not call it an uncontrolled rappel, since this rate of descenthas been done before without injury. It is, however, a pretty good way to getkilled without a lot of years of caving under your seat. I do not recommendthis rate of rappel to the smart caver. When I was about 50 feet off the floor,my downward descent started to turn into a diagonal tyrollian. About 30 feetoff the floor, I had reached the point where the top rope was stiff, and theslack was out of the rope from my belayer, creating this wide 'V', or maybecloser to an 'L'. At this point my momentum carried me toward him. As I swungcloser, the rack moved along also. I got about 15 feet from the rock when Istopped. He had to lower me.

Now, all of the above stipulates that the bottom belayer remains alert,effective and does not get pulled off the rock. My belayer used the sling withthe figure 8 in it. That way, he could feed out a little to keep me away fromthe rock should I come in too quick.

What does all this mean? Well, as I mentioned above, it means we need moretesting - highly controlled!

I pulled rope in on the straight down rappels. We did not try pulling inmore rope on any of the diagonal rappels. We made the assumption that thebelayer would not have effective control of the rope when the force finallyhit. Also, had the rope been pulled in before the rappel began, it would havebeen one crummy rappel. We merely held the length constant, with the ability tofeed out a little more on the "loop" belay.

More needs to be done. Would The Loop have saved Alexia? Well, Fern Pit'sfloor is sloped. Not as nice as a convenient rock with a lot of clear space infront of it. It might have helped. But then again, it only helps when you haveit in place. I would recommend it for anyone who has not done such a long drop.The difference between 200' and 400' is a lot. We often forget the differencein rope weight. We compensate for wet rope near the bottom of the drop frommist, and less rope weight. It becomes second nature for us.

Keep the less experienced in mind while caving. It will let a lot of ussleep that night...

Cave Softly and Carry a Long Rope - TAG!

Wm Shrewsbury, 22677RL
Chairman, 1998 NSS Convention, Sewanee
Editor, Nylon Highway, NSS Vertical Section
President, HardCore Technologies (makes TAG-Lites)

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Julie Angel

Well, I've done it again! I'm sitting here putting this trip report togetherthe night before the newsletter deadline. "Why do I do this?" I askmyself. "Do other people do this, too?" These questions may not havegood answers (like "Why do I Cave?" - another article I intend tosubmit as soon as I've procrastinated a bit!!)

Anyway....on August 31st, John Marquart and I joined Dave Mahon, his sonWill, and Bill Schaper on a great trip into Burton Cave (also saw Mike Goodwinfor a few minutes). We barely "squeaked" by [groan!-Ed.] before themidnight deadline, as the cave closed September 1 for bat hibernation.

Having grown up in Northeast Missouri, I had heard a lot about Burton Cave,but had never had the opportunity to go there. Burton Cave is in Adams County,just southeast of Quincy, IL in a beautifully wooded area overlooking BurtonCreek. Its arched entrance measures 7 foot by 30 foot and is in a recess 50feet above the creek. It is easy to see why the bats like this cave locationwith it's thick canopy of trees and water close by. Burton has also been theobject of studies by a number of biospeleologists who have looked at variousspecies of amphipods and a troglobitic insect known only in a few locations inIllinois and one in Missouri.

The Mark Twain Grotto worked diligently in August to complete the bat gatewhich now protects Burton's various species of bats. Vandalism of various typeshas been a problem at the cave for years. MTG did a very professional gatingjob, thanks to Dave Mahons tireless efforts and knowledge gained from workingthe Blackball mine project. Dave also cleverly designed a sliding entrance bar thatis virtually impossible to find without some careful hunting. Congratulationsto MTG for a job well done!

As we entered the cave, I became even more thankful that it is now beingprotected. We immediately had the opportunity to take pictures of relativelyundisturbed, active white formations tucked away in a small ledge, each withits own unique shape and beauty. It was plain to see as we ventured furtherinto Burton, that the cave is still very much alive, with water trickling infrom various sources in the walls and ceiling. With less traffic and a bit ofclean up, it should recover from it's years of misuse very quickly.

The cave is one main passage, but if one looks carefully, you'll notice thatthere are enticing holes darting off into the floor along the walls. Dave, Willand I decided to try one such passage at the spot where main cave terminates.This particular hole was discovered just a few years ago by Dave and TimShaffer after removing a rock from the cave floor (Tim - where are you these days????We miss you man!!!) It was appropriately named "Packs Off Passage"and is a series of tight crawls separated by small rooms. In the third room,Dave pointed out some incredibly interesting fossils - bigger fossils than I'veever seen before!!! In looking over the fossil photo (which appears in thisissue) new NNG member, Dr. Dennis Campbell believes that the star shaped fossilis a rare find; being the top, cup-like section of a crinoid that is not asreadily found in fossil form. It was definitely worth the crawl back there tosee it!!

After spending about 45 minutes in the crawl we emerged in main cave anddecided it was time to exit and get some food. Dave and I had the same place inmind, Tower of Pizza; in my book Quincy's finest pizza establishment!! It wasapproaching 9 p.m. and we were all starved.

John and I would like to thank Dave for enthusiastically offering to takeus, even though his weekend was filled with a class reunion and a familybirthday party. We had a great time and look forward to going back. We NNGersshould make it a point to assist the MTG in the Burton cleanup effort! Let'salso get another MTG/NNG trip together soon - it's always great to cavetogether. ??

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Steve Taylor

[We don't usually print tall tales, but since Steve is new to our groupwe'll make an exception just this once. Obviously, an MVOR without rain is acontradiction in terms, and one can only stretch the truth just so far beforeit snaps.--Ed.]

October 3-5 1997, Fort Kaskaskia State Park, Randolph County, Illinois.

It was MVOR again, a time of subterranean fellowship, bonfires, and at mostMVOR's, heavy rainfall. Being a sucker for all of the above, I packed my gearand headed south early Friday morning. Through some prior planning, I hadarranged for a Friday caving trip to one of Illinois nicer caves with NNGer TimSickbert and Illinois Department of Natural Resources Heritage Biologist DianeTecic. The purpose of this trip was to provide Diane with an introduction toIllinois caves and cave biology, and to take some time to discuss some of thecurrent hot topics in Illinois speleology with her. We all met in Waterloo, anddrove on to the cave. It was a beautiful day, hot for October (89 F, 31.5 C),so we took the opportunity to enjoy the cold, dark and damp underworld awayfrom all those nasty photons. Our trip was leisurely, strolling along in thecave stream, looking at amphipods and isopods in the stream and bats on thewalls and ceiling. After several hours, we emerged to face the stillobnoxiously nice weather. We spent the afternoon wandering through the grass ata hill prairie above the bluff near Fults Saltpeter Cave. As it grew dark,Diane and Tim headed north, and I headed south to the MVOR site at FortKaskaskia State Park.

The MVOR site was easy enough to find. The darkness of night was broken byscattered campfires and headlamps dotted what seemed to be a large field on ahillside. Soon, I had registered and found the campsite of some of my old friendsfrom southern Illinois. Beer in hand and campfire smoke in my eyes - feels likecoming home!

Saturday (another sunny day) featured a number of caving trips, but I hadgotten my fix the day before. Instead, I participated in a sinkhole cleanupwest of Waterloo with about eight other cavers from various grottos. We spentseveral hours filling a dumpster the size of a large dump truck bed with avariety of discarded objects, including numerous oil drums, a large water tank,a glider couch, and (our crowning achievement) a refrigerator. The fridge wasby far the most fun, as it required the concerted effort of all of us workingas a team to haul it some forty feet up out of a large sinkhole. We all gotdirty and sweaty.

After the sinkhole thing, I drove over to Illinois Caverns to attend thededication ceremony for a plaque honoring Armin Krueger. Present also were someKrueger family members, many cavers, and representatives of the DNR. Severalspeeches were made and then the stone plaque was unveiled by Armin's nieces.

Saturday night included the usual festivities: banquet, bonfire, beer, andsocializing. A great time.

Sunday began, disturbingly, with blue skies and a clear weather forcast. Ispent the entire day with a feeling of impending doom--something HAD to bewrong...MVOR without rain?? In any case, I bit my lip and tried (successfully)to have fun. Socialized all morning, then attended the Illinois SpeleologicalSurvey meeting around noon. After a satisfying meeting with a littlepoliticking thrown in, I head north with many of my underworldly needstemporarily satiated.

Even today I am disturbed by that weather. Hopefully next MVOR will includea good torrential downpour with stuck vehicles and downed tents. ??

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Angi Bennett

I know that most reports are suppose to be about the caving experience butthis one is a little different. I was excited about the prospect of a new cavethat neither Brett or I had been in. We would be able to share together thefirst time entering and the first look into the unknown. We had planned on itbeing a family trip, but our son Nick was not well so our daughter Annie wentwith us. The three of us were psyched up for it.

After arriving at the restaurant at the appointed time, (we were actuallythe first ones there; another first!!!) we watched for other cavers. SteveTaylor, who had invited us along, told us to look for people who don't looklike farmers. We took his advice and slowly began to detect the invasion of the"Cave People". After a leisurely breakfast we headed out to the campsite for the other brave souls to set up their tents. (We are doing a lot offirsts but I'm not quite ready to camp in 30 degree weather in only a tent. Notto mention I still like indoor plumbing.) While all of this was going on weprepared our gear and got our helmets and boots on. Our daughter was gettingantsy and kept asking what I was thinking, "How much longer?".Finally everyone was ready.

Now the adventure really began. After realizing that the camp was directlyacross the road from the cave entrance we followed the leader over the fenceand into the cowpie mine field to a tree. At the base of the tree was theentrance. (I thought they were kidding. They couldn't really expect me to godown there through that little hole.) I began to feel like Alice in Wonderlandgoing down the rabbit hole. With just a hint of doubt but knowing this was theonly way to see what lay underneath, (not to mention I knew it was a lot warmerdown there than up above.) I slid down to a little crawl way, approximately 5-7ft. in length.

It opened up into a large room known as the "Cathederal Room". Itwas amazing. The vast room had several formations and one large one that wasjust beautiful. After everyone was down and gathered into the room our hostsproceeded to give a brief history and some food for thought about caving. As Ilistened I couldn't help but notice the pride that they shared in this cave. Iknew they meant everything they said about the caring and protection of cavesfor the future cavers. They explained that we were guests in the cave and thatwe were responsible for ourselves. We were to stay with the group as there was17 miles of cave that had been charted, and it could take a long time to findyou if you got lost. They wanted us to be aware that this was a very live cave,(I noticed that when I met a toad at the end of the crawlway.) and that weshould be careful of touching the formations because of the harm we would do toits growth. Annie was getting a little restless wondering when we were going tosee more cave. As we counted off, (16 people in one room and loads of room tospare.) we seperated into two groups. We went with the "tourist trip"with Steve leading the way. (I don't think we could have missed him anyway. Youhave to see this caving outfit to believe it.) I had asked Brett about crawlingand he had assured me that Steve had made no mention of it to him. But wait Iget ahead of myself.

As we headed over breakdown, we worked our way over to what I call the mudslide. ( I thought of Tanya Frasier often in this cave. Mud, mud, everywhereyou go.) We veered to the left to the stream and a very low ceiling that mydaughter even had to bend down to go through. This passage went a ways beforeopening up again to another large room. We went on down to a tight squeeze thatmade "Fat Man's Misery" look like a walk in the park. I noticed someunique rock forms that looked like a dragon's head. We reached another roomthat is known as the "Brain Room". After seeing the formation in herethe name was self-explanatory. We walked up a small waterfall into anotherroom. This room had two levels that you could climb up. Steve took Brett andone of our fellow cavers up into a chamber to see a column, while the rest ofus rested. We were really enjoying ourselves.

We headed back the way we came picking up the debris we had found along theway. (The cave floods and things wash in. The Little Egypt Grotto doesn't justpack out what they pack in, but also takes the trash that has been left behindby the flooding waters. The integrity of a cave is always mentioned by caversbut this was a first for me to see in action.) As we reached the "mudslide" I mentioned earlier, I realized there didn't seem to be a reallyeasy way to get up it. As much fun as it was to go down it, it was unbelievablejust how hard it was to get back up. With the aid of my companions, and thethreat of being seen in a less than desirable condition on video if I didn'tget up it soon, I got up the mud. This is where another first happened. It mustbe in the family that we are accident prone. Rich hurt his knee this year,Brett hurt his ankle, and I strained my wrist. My first injury in a cave. I washeartbroken and couldn't belive that it happened. We were climbing back up thebreakdown to the Cathederal Room and to the exit. The trip that had startedwith such enthusiasm now became heartbreak. I still wanted to see more. I feltthat I had ruined the trip for everyone. Steve and the others went into rescuemode. They reassured me that I hadn't ruined anything. This was their chance toput their NSS training into action. After taping my wrist and giving Alieve, webegan tackling the problem of getting me out. As Steve had told me earlier,gravity helps us going down. Unfortunately it doesn't help us on the way up.

After several tries and the frustration of not being able to use my lefthand to help pull myself up out of the cave, (sometimes being short has somesevere disadvantages for reaching footholds.) my rescuers in true caving familystyle joined forces and brainstormed on how to get me out. I must say thatwithout their help I would still be down there today. Finally reaching the landabove I made my way out to change and to head back home.

The cave was incredible. I would love to go again. But more than just thebeauty of the cave I came away with a whole new concept of cavers and caving.First, that caves are not there just for us, but that we must be there for italso. The care that they took in watching their travel to be sure only to leavefootprints and nothing more showed me what love they have for caving. Second,that we do make a difference and can make a difference. I thought of Buckner'sCave several times while I was inside of Mystery. The drastic differences weremade by the cavers' who traveled these passages. Third was the way that caver'sare unique blend of people who truly are kindred spirits. From an accountant,to a steelworker, to a geologist, to a teacher, all were there for a commonexperience; to view the unknown wonders of the underground worlds that await uson our next travel below.

I would like to thank the Little Egypt Grotto and the other members of ourgroup for making this trip one that I will not soon forget. I not only cameaway with memories of an amazing cave, but with a new outlook on what caving isand can be. I hope to be able to take what I have learned from this trip andshare it with my children. "Cave softly" as Steve says. I know that Iwill try.

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August 22, 1997

[Sorry. I should have had these available in September, but I justforgot.-Ed.]

Present: Norm Rogers, Chris Dinesen, Dirtman Collins, Julie Angel, BethReinke, Tonja Fraser, Leah Horn, Kevin Rasmus, Rory Hinrichs, the Bennettfamily, Len Storm, Lara Storm, Marty Jacobs, John Schirle, Brian R. Braye, JohnMarquart, Jim Jacobs

OFFICER REPORTS: Not available, see next newsletter. Treasurer report byJulie Angel says that we're healthy. Approved.

OLD BUSINESS: The Burton Cave gating project is underway. Rich Bell isheading the vertical training course, and will establish a web page. The NNGdonated $50.00 for the Armin Krueger Memorial. An engraved stone is to beplaced at the top of the wooden stairs to Illinois Caverns during the Fall MVOR(Oct. 3-5)

NEW BUSINESS: There will be a Mammoth weekend in Oct. - Norm Rogers. Stateof the Illinois Cave Amphipod was discussed. Roy Powers wants us to form anIllinois section of the ACCA. We discussed bad air in caves and the possibilityof John designing a project to check behavior of a flame.

TRIP REPORTS and ANNOUNCEMENTS. Brett Bennett is going to Waynes. THere willbe a Fogelpole cleanup 8/2/97. John Marquart gave a presentation to the MidwestBat Conservation and Management Workshop at Muddy, IL regarding the BlackBallMine project. The population of Indiana Bats at BBM has jumped from 532 to 943in one year! There will be another count this January. September NNG meeting on9/26, Tonja Fraser will provide a program. Fall MVOR at Fr. Kaskaskia, IL.Adjourned.

Respectfully submitted
(but very late)
Jim Jacobs, Secretary.

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September 26, 1997

In attendance: Julie Angel, Earl Neller, Brett Bennet, Rory Hinrichs,Richard Bell, Tonja Fraser, Steve Taylor, Tim Sickbert, Dennis Campbell, NormRogers, Chris Dinesen, Beth Reinke, John Marquart

The meeting was called to order by president John Marquart at 7:06 pm.

OFFICER REPORTS: The minutes of the August 1997 meeting were not available.Treasurer Julie Angel reported a current balance of $365.94. Her report wasaccepted.

OLD BUSINESS: No additional information on legal advice regarding the waiverof liability forms was available (Mark Belding is looking into this). BrettBennet mentioned that he'd be happy to share the sample waiver forms availablein one of the general caving books he's been reading. Rich Bell reported thatthe general plan for the vertical training course is to aim for start up duringthe spring of '98. John Marquart passed out copies of a letter he wrote onbehalf of the NNG to the Fish and Wildlife Service regarding listing of theIllinois cave amphipod as a Federally endangered species. John was commended bymembers present for his excellent letter. Steve Taylor reported that the MonroeCounty Farm Bureau has been encouraging farmers to write letters in oppositionof the endangered status for the amphipod. Norm Rogers reported on therestoration of Echo River at Mammoth Cave National Park. There will be aweekend restoration camp Oct 4-5. Beth passed out updated member rosters.

NEW BUSINESS: The nominating committee presented the following slate of candidatesfor 1998: President (Brian Braye), Vice President (Julie Angel), Secretary(Tonja Fraser), Treasurer (Beth Reinke), Member at Large (Norm Rogers).Nominations were opened to the floor. No additional nominations were made. Theelection will be held during the November meeting (held on Dec 12).

TRIP REPORTS: Julie Angel reported on a trip to Burton Cave and the recentgating project. Brett Bennet reported on a trip to Buckner's (an abortedWayne's trip). Julie Angel and Steve Taylor reported on a meeting of the KarstWorking Group that they attended on 9/16/97.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Steve Taylor is looking for two strong cavers for a trip onOct 3 prior to MVOR. There will be a trip to Buckner's on Oct. 18 (see Tonja).Next meeting Friday, Oct. 24. Steve Taylor will present a slide show on cavingin Brazil. Adjourned at 7:30.

Angela Bray of the American Red Cross presented the program: "'Til HelpArrives". It covered basic information on what to do during the first fewminutes of an emergency. We also practiced bandaging wounds and all received abooklet describing what to do until help arrives.

Respectfully submitted,
Beth Reinke, Vice-President

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OCTOBER 24, 1997

Called to order at 7:15 by President John R. Marquart.

Present: Brian Braye, Dennis Campbell(*), Phil VonDeBor(*), RoryHinrichs(*), Tonja and Leah Fraser, Rich Bell, Lara Storm, Len Storm, SteveTaylor(*), Tim Sickbert, Randy Wahlfeldt, Julie Angel, Dave Carson, AngelaCarson, Joy Cukierman, Jim Jacobs. (*)= new member


OFFICER REPORTS: The September minutes were taken by Beth Reinke, read byJim Jacobs. Approved. The treasurer's report was read by Julie Angel. Currentbalance, $351.94. Approved.

OLD BUSINESS: The comment period for the Illinois Cave Amphipod has beenextended through December 8, 1997. President Marquart shared copies of a letterthat he had written to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on behalf of the NNG.Briefly, he stated that we approve measures which would lead to improvement ofthe water quality in southern Illinois karst which threatens this animal, butthat we oppose any measures which would lead to cave closure.

NEW BUSINESS: Julie A. reported on the Karst Working Group (from the Dept.of Nat. Resources) meeting in Waterloo, IL, at which Phil Moss gave apresentation indicating that cavers are ready and willing to help, and that theISS files would be available. Julie subbed for John at the ISS meeting.Illinois Caverns has had trouble with vandalism recently.

TRIP REPORTS: Brett and Rich - Buckner's. Lara took a 12 hr. trip throughWayne's Lost with some Indiana cavers she knows. They made it to Camp Four. Atthe MVOR, Steve Taylor helped with a sinkhole cleanup. They even extracted a'fridge! And there was no RAIN! At an MVOR. NO RAIN? John and Julie checked outKrueger's Dry Run. Steve Taylor and Tim Sickbert visited Foglepole. No one didthe Mammoth weekend. Coming trips: Tanja is going to camp at McCormick CreekSt. Park and do Buckner's on Nov. 1. Steve will coordinate a trip to MysteryNov 14-15.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Lara and Tonja report that they are going to Hawaii thiswinter with Don Coons. D.C. Young will be on assignment in Kiel, Germany forthe next two years or more. He says he will miss us. There will be a BurtonCave cleanup sometime next year. The November meeting will be Friday, December12, 1997. Dennis Campbell will present a slide show, "Caving in NewGuinea". Election of officers will be held. Nominees are: President - BrianBraye; Vice President - Julie Angel; Secretary - Tonja Fraser; Treasurer, BethReinke; Member at Large, Norm Rogers. Adjourned.

PROGRAM: "Caving in Brazil" by Steve Taylor.

Respectfully submitted,
Jim Jacobs, Secretary

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