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March 2001 NearNormal News



by Jim Jacobs

   Well, here we go again!  It’s off to Mammoth Cavetime!  More fun, games and a bit of hard work thrown in for thebargain.  Strike that.  Reverse it.  We get to have fun workingour butts off, to be frank about it.  Last time, we hauled 841 bags ofwood, cable and other stuff from Vanderbilt Hall to the surface.  Huffpuff!  You can read all about it later in this issue. 

   As usual, (other than the weekend at Mammoth), the closest I’vebeen to a cave is reading “Beyond Mammoth Cave” by Roger Brucker and JimBorden.  If you liked “The Longest Cave”, you’ll love BMC!  If youhaven’t read TLC, GET IT!  No caver should be without it.  TLC takesthe history of the exploration of Mammoth Cave and the Flint Ridge caves fromthe beginning up through the excitement of making the connection between themby the Cave Research Foundation.  BMC takes it from there, with the establishmentof the Central Kentucky Karst Conservancy, the discovery of Roppel and Morrisoncaves and much, much more!  Our grotto mate Don Coons figured prominentlyin much of this exploration.  It’s taken some real hard-core cavin’ to mapsome of those caves.  One of the main problems is that you keep pushingand mapping, until it gets to the point that it takes ten hours of hard cavingjust to get to the last place that’s been mapped.  Then you can survey fora while…remembering that you’ll have at least ten hours of hard going just tosee the light of day again.   Sometimes you can find a shortcut.  Another solution is to find a new entrance.  Another is to digand blast a new entrance.  Then you have a new starting point for yourmapping, by-passing some of that nasty stuff you had to go through to findit.  Both books are great reading!  You can get them from the NSSBookstore, or online from Amazon.com.  I admire those folks, but I guess Istarted caving a bit late in life to get out there on the edge.

   STUFF HAPPENING: June 22-24, 2001 - 50th Annual SERA SummerCave Carnival, hosted by the

Chattanooga Grotto.  Located near Lafayette, GA at Smokey Caldwell's200 acre Farm.  Come help us celebrate 50 years of SERA in TAG!  Wewill have caving trips, the best Munchie Stand ever, a dunking booth, doorprizes, a DJ, a fire and top off the evening fireworks!  Contact Wm.Shrewsbury at taglite@bigfoot.com or (423) 326-3316 for details.  Getup-to-date information online at http://www.caves.org/grotto/chattanooga. We hope to see you there!

  SPELEOFEST PRE-REGISTRATION THROUGH MAY 11th.ScottCundiff@aol.com. Anyone wanting to Pre-Register for Speleofest 2001 willhave until May 11th to do so.   However, we will be conducting'ON-SITE' registration as well at the Metcalfe Co. Park during Memorial DayWeekend. 

Please use our website at:http://www.caves.org/grotto/louisvillegrotto/speleofest/index.htm to print thepre-registration form and for more information on Speleofest 2001. Hope to seeyou there, Scott Cundiff,

Speleofest 2001 Chairman.

   THE 24TH ANNUAL TAG FALL CAVE-IN, hosted by theDogwood City Grotto, October 4-7, 2001 at the Sequoyah Caverns Campground,Valley Head, Alabama.  I have registration forms if anyone is interested.

   MVOR.  Unfortunately, the MVOR takes place the sameweekend (May 4-6) as the Mammoth Cave Restoration camp.  The locationis—believe it or not—Bob’s Chigger and Tick Ranch in southwestern DouglasCounty.  Highlights include Garrison Cave and a restoration workshop atFox Creek Cave.  MSS president & archaeologist Matt Forir will speakon Lon Odell Cave.  Contact information:  website at http//members.aol.com/OHGhome or contact Carl & Lisa Thayer at thrfrm@ipa.net or (417) 537-8618.

   Speaking of Mammoth Cave…we had quite a bit of excitement downthat way a few years ago.   It was August 19 and 20, 1993, so many ofour current members are unfamiliar with these events.  Since we are a bitshort on current articles for this issue, I feel that these are worth arerun.  At the end of the week-long Mammoth Cave Restoration Field Campthat year, we were offered a reward trip, an opportunity to visit FloydCollins’ Crystal Cave, to see Floyd’s famous “Lost Passage”.   Justpast a place called, “Ebb and Flow Falls”, is a crevice passage called,“Straddle Canyon” where one has to straddle a deep crevice, which varies fromone to three feet wide.  At one point, the ledge that John Marquart wasstepping on broke under his weight, and he began to fall into the crevice. Thus began a series of events that kept us very busy for the next 24 hours orso, the first full-scale rescue at Mammoth Cave National Park.  I havereprinted two of the articles from that issue.  One was co-authored byBrian Braye and I.  It was easy to edit, because he and I were in the caveat different times, but between us, we pretty much covered the wholerescue.  He wrote his, I wrote mine, and I just stuck them together. Another thing worked out very well, and that was the photo record of the trip. I took pictures on the way in, and during the wait for the first rescueassessment team to reach us.  When I was relieved and sent back topside(about twelve hours later), John asked me to take his camera up with me so thatit didn’t get lost in the shuffle.  I agreed, but in doing so, I forgot MYcamera, leaving it at the rescue site.  In the morning, Brian was in theparty that was sent in to clean up the rescue site just after the doctor andhis party began to escort John to the surface.  Brian recognized my cameracase, and had the presence of mind to go ahead and finish up the roll of filmon the way out.  In the morning, when they got John up to the Scotsman’sTrap, I was there with HIS camera and took pictures all the way to the cave entrance,(about ¾ mile), and into the ambulance.  By a stroke of luck or two, weended up with one of the best photo documentation records of a cave rescueever!

   At the time of writing this issue in 1993, I wrote that I verymuch admired the way the Park Service ran the rescue.  I’ve had somerescue training and learned a lot since then, enough to modify my opinionsomewhat, but not completely.  The rescue was successful, and that is themost important thing.  It was a rescue, not a body recovery, so enoughthings were done right.  It was overkill more than anything.  Mybiggest disappointment has been the Park Service’s reaction to theincident.   They pretty much shut down all “reward trips” andvisitation of wild (non-tourist) areas for our group, and I’m sure forothers.  This was a fairly predictable, conservative reaction for abureaucracy which has to deal with large numbers of people, and must safeguardthe public.  Fear of liability and bad publicity must figure in aswell.  I hope that things will loosen up again in the future, and we’llhave another chance to see Floyd’s Lost Passage.  I hear that it’s quite asight.  And the trip there is fun, too.  I’d sure like to go all theway some day.

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by Julie Angel

Hi Cavers,
Hope you're enjoying the beginning of spring and are able to do more cavingthan I am!! Here are two items of interest that we'll be discussing at the nextmeeting:
We've had a number of people express interest in attending the IMAX movie,Journey Into Amazing Caves, as a group. It is scheduled to run through July 12,2001 at the Cinedome (next to the Children's museum) in Indianapolis. As soonas I get this semester and Differential Equations out of my hair, I'll bee-mailing those who expressed interest to set up a date and time. Log on towww.amazingcaves.com for more info. Will let everyone know when we're going incase anyone else wants to join in. Should be lots of fun!
I received an e-mail from Rich Bell regarding a potential cave mapping projecthe might be able to arrange in a very historic brewery cave in St. Louis, MO.Rich would like to see this cave mapped and documented for historical purposes,and was wondering if our grotto would be interested in taking on the project(provided he can successfully approach the owners and convince them that thiswould be a worthwhile endeavor.) We would need several people who areexperienced in mapping, and a strong commitment from us to see the projectthrough. We'll be discussing this at our upcoming meeting. If you'd beinterested in participating, but can't make the meeting, please e-mail me atjangel@soltec.net.
Looking forward to seeing everyone at our next meeting, May 11th, 7 p.m.
See ya, Julie

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IMAX Theatre SCHEDULE -JourneyInto Amazing Caves

Showing March 16 - July 12, 2001
CineDome (next to Children's museum) 300+seating capacity

Saturday and Sunday Daytime Shows:
10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday Evening Shows:
6:30 p.m.

Adults (18 and over) $6.50
Youth (2-17) $4.50
(No special Senior discount)

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by John Schirle

As of April 15, 2001, Illinois Caverns will be open for visitors on thefollowing new schedule:

SUMMER HOURS (April 15-October 15). Wednesday through Sunday, 8:30 am-3:30pm.

WINTER HOURS (October 16-April 14). Thursday through Saturday, 8:30 am-3:30pm.

The site will be open until 3:30 pm but they want people out of the cave by2:30 pm.

Although this is, to some extent, due to budget cutbacks, the primarymotivation is to lessen the environmental impact on the cave by too manyvisitors. Last year, Illinois Caverns had about 10,000 visitors, and the numberhas been growing at about 24% per year. A recent study of the cave by Ron Kerboof the national Park Service recommended that visitation be limited in somefashion to further protect the environment.

[From a phone conversation with Chris Hespen, site naturalist at IllinoisCaverns, March 9, 2001]

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by Lara Storm

The cold morning air was an incentive to come to the cave already dressed,but the hour-long drive and the thought of stiff rubbery neoprene forced us outinto the cold to change by the side of an old farm road. Snow blanketed thefields surrounding the road. Reluctantly I took off my warm fleece pants inorder to begin the struggle with the old NRS farmer-janes. Stiff neoprene, coldhands-I would be thankful for this later, I reminded myself. After stretchingthe arm-loops farther than they wanted to go-up and over my shoulders-I startedputting on my other gear: fleece top, nylon coveralls, vertical gear-I feltlike a mule.
Some of the others had gone to set up the rope before changing into theirclumsy gear. I was glad that the hike was so short. Starting down the"trail", my feet sunk down into the frothy snow, making every step astruggle. In a few long minutes I stood at the top of a small sinkhole lookingdown into blackness. Soon it was my turn to plunge into the darkness. I climbeddown to a ledge at the top of the drop to put my rack on the rope. I descendedinto the narrow crack landing at the bottom about 60 feet down. There waslittle room at the base of the drop, so I was instructed to move down thepassage into the next room.
After all had reached the bottom we split into two groups: "let's go shredour knees" group, who went left, and the "let's get wet group,"who went right. Needless to say, most of us went right. We just wanted to seesome cave. The few others who went left were in search of another entrance ortwo. Six of us (I believe) headed down a cobble-paved crawlway-the knees wereoff to a good start. I was using kneepads that had been through the Wayne'scrawlway once more than they should've been. The passage turned into anelevated crawlway with the stream a few feet below. There was a crackconnecting the two levels, and it was a fairly constant struggle to keeponeself from slipping into the crack. It really wasn't too bad. We could'vebeen crawling in the trickle below to justify to ourselves the layers of neopreneand fleece that were now impeding our breathing. Turning a sharp corner thepassage opened up a bit and then split back into the two levels. In some placesthe crack was wide enough for some of us to slither through. Farther down thepassage, most of us were able to weave through the winding canyon. But then thepassage changed. Some of it seems a blur. Maybe it was more of the same stuff,but soon we came to "Lady's Limit". Why it is called this, I'm notsure, but I crawled through the wet hands-and-knees-crawl bath just as easilyas the other five guys on the trip. This bath was the reason for the wetsuits,and while I admit the water was worse than chilly, only our forearms and legswere really wet. Somewhere in there we got to do a bit of walking, but in theend we were back down on our hands and knees. After dropping down into a lowerroom we came to a muddy crawlway. Just getting up to the crawl was difficult,as your knees had the tendency to slide backwards down the slick mud slope.This last stretch of the passage was a slanted tube that proved to be ratherawkward. We crawled until we reached the end of the cave-we were all dressed upwith no place to go...

So we turned around and went home.

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by Troy J. Simpson

I get this e-mail from Brett Bennett asking about a gear review on mythoughts of the LED conversion of my headlamp. Now, my knee-jerk response is"well, the light works really well in sunlight!" Seriously though, Idecided to take a calculated leap of faith and see about Brett converting oneof my Petzl Zoom headlamps into a LED array.
I first saw the 20-bulb array set-up that Marc Tiritilli had devised for SteveTaylor. My initial reaction was to the efficiency of the set-up and how I coulddo some serious saving on batteries. Marc and Brett then teamed up anddeveloped a board that would plug into a Petzl, like a normal bulb. I thoughtthis would be fine for me, but Brett, told me to wait and he would get it setup so I have a dimmer switch to boot. O.K., sounds good to me. Well, inNovember I had a chance to see one of Brett's pieces in action as Rich Bellbrought his to Illinois Caverns. I was satisfied with the output enough to giveBrett the go ahead to fix mine up.
Shortly after Christmas, I get a package in the mail from Brett. Woo Hoo; my"new" headlamp is here!! That night, I immediately went to try itoutside. I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed with the output. Where wasthe illuminating light? I was getting a very faint blue glow on the snow belowme, but 30 feet ahead, there was nothing. Not a problem, maybe my batteries aredying and I need fresh ones. A couple of weeks later I showed off my new toyand Brett suggested I make a minor adjustment to the battery power and include6 volts instead of 4.5 volts. I still wasn't all that thrilled about the outputof light, but I was still basing my judgment on results from outside.
Within a week I would get my first true test, Sullivan Cave. The trip wasexciting, but I'll save that for my trip report. I was amongst the first intothe cave, so I got a chance to test my headlamp without the interference ofother lights. I was amazed at what my eyes saw! I was truly impressed with theamount of light that was emitted in the cave. The 20 LED array provided aclear, soft glow that could be seen 20+ meters ahead. This was not a beamlight, but provided a light that surrounded. I found the LED was especiallyhelpful in walking passageways, allowing me now to see from ceiling to floorwithout adjusting the beam. I found the glow of the LED, to also help bring outthe details of the formations. A halogen beam tends to encircle what I'mlooking at. Using the LED, the formations seemed to gradually blend into thesurrounding darkness. Using the dimmer switch I was able to arrange my lunchwithout having to constantly adjust my beam when I turned my head. The dimmerswitch also allowed me to adjust the light output when viewing maps and thusavoid getting the glare produced by intense light. Another great advantage wasthe lack of worry about changing batteries after a few hours. With the 4 AAarrangement, I figure to save 2 to 3 dollars each trip on batteries alone.There are some drawbacks though. The LED doesn't provide the "big beam"view when in very large passages. You can forget about seeing that bat that ishanging 200 feet across a breakdown room. I also found that it was sometimesdifficult to point out formations to others, because the LED's don't isolatelight as well. I guess that is one more reason to carry those mini-maglites.
I could go on and on, but I want to keep this brief (relatively speaking).Overall, I'm more than pleased with my LED array; in fact I rank it nearly ashigh as my Camelbak hydration system in terms of making my caving experiencemore enjoyable. The cost can be considered steep, but to me, I feel it hasalready been worth it.

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March 3-4, 2001
by Jim Jacobs

Marty and I gladly piled into the car for our first chance to go caving inquite a while. Of course, this wasn't to be real hard-core caving. We weren'tgoing out on "the edge". We'd be doing volunteer work in the touristareas of Mammoth Cave. That's ok! It was a cave, and most importantly, it was achance to get to see old friends, some of whom we only get to see on occasionslike this. The drive to Kentucky seemed to fly by. It seemed more like an houror so rather than six and one half. We had stayed at the Maple Springs Stationbunkhouse on previous trips, but this time, we decided to stay at the MammothCave Hotel. I remembered what it was like, coming up the hill from the historicentrance. At the top was the hotel. Then we had to cross over to the parkinglot, shed the outer, dirty layers, jump in the car for the trip back to MapleSprings via the Green River ferry. Then to change clothes, clean up and getready for dinner. The cleaning up part usually meant waiting in line to getinto one of the showers. I thought back then just how nice it would be at thetop of the hill to be able to just pop into my room and right into the shower.Okay, this time I still had to wait my turn for the shower, but there was onlyone person ahead of me…Marty.
We got settled in our room, and went out to get a bite to eat. We got a goodnight's sleep, and went to the Hotel restaurant to get some breakfast. It wasgreat to see old friends like Norm Rogers and Larry Matiz again. Larry quicklynoted that I had gained weight since the last time we had gotten together. Itold him that I would get even (I didn't). It was just good to renew oldfriendships.
The previous work group had, a few months ago, left quite a large amount ofwood, cable, and other stuff stashed out of sight at the Vanderbilt Hall, mostof it already bagged up. There was still quite a bit that needed to be cut andbagged. There is electricity at VH, so one group stayed there with theirSawz-All finishing up the cutting and bagging.
Since they had gotten it that far, it was our task to get the bags the rest ofthe way out of the cave. We had quite a large group, over forty. Little did weknow just how much help that would be.
We started by lugging the sacks one or two at a time, and stashing them againstthe cement wall just below Mammoth Dome where the Tower is. This took us up tolunchtime, and we headed out to visit the snack shop near the visitor's center.
That afternoon, we went back down and spread out in a line, from where the bagswere, all the way up the tower, and up the stairs to the next level. It wasgreat to have that many people so that we could pass the bags all the way upthe tower without having to pile them up again or walk them part of the way up.I ended up at the top of the stairs, so I took it as my task to find out justhow many damn bags we had. I HAD to know! So, as I piled the bags, I countedthem. Man! They just kept on coming! We were running out of room to stash themat the top of the stairs. Luckily, the park service had provided a number ofwheelbarrows. The bad news was that they were all up at the Rotunda, which wasabout half a mile away. So somebody had to go get them, one by one. Someonewould bring one down, and we would fill it and send them back up the avenue.But it took quite a while to shuttle a wheelbarrow full of bags up and back,and the bags were just FLYING up the tower. They were really piling up. PamSaberton was working with us at the top, and it was good to see her again. Shemade a misstep on the trail about six months ago at the last field camp andbroke her ankle. It was still causing her some discomfort, so I was quitesurprised to see her working so hard. She and Marty were both slinging thoseheavy bags with the best of them! I turned the counting over to someone else,and made one trip with a wheelbarrow. But after hitting a bump and overturningmost of the load after reaching the Rotunda (huffing and puffing all the way),I decided to leave that part of it for someone who's a bit younger, or at leastin a little better condition.
Once we got them all up to the top of the stairs, we started carrying them upthe avenue, by wheelbarrow and by hand. The dump trucks weren't coming untilthe next morning, so we piled the bags along the side of the trail, at the baseof the big stairs. If I remember correctly, my final count was 841 bags! Thatevening, we had supper in the Hotel dining room with a number of other folkswho had worked so hard that day.
The next morning, Marty and I headed toward home, leaving the final push up thestairs to those hardy souls who were staying to finish up. I felt a bit guilty,especially since it was raining like crazy and was going to be a miserablemorning for them, but we had already made our plans, and we were pretty tiredfrom the big push of the previous day.
We'll be heading back down on May 4th, so we'll have an oral report to make atthe meeting on the 11th.

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January 12, 2001

Called to order at 7:27 by Secretary Jim Jacobs filling in for PresidentJulie Angel, who was ill. Present: Dave Carson (Treasurer), Earl Neller, LarryBird, John Marquart, Leonard Storm, Brett Bennett, Angi Bennett, Nick and AnnieBennett, John Walther, Marc Tiritilli (At-Large Board Member), Troy J. Simpson,Troy R. Odgers.

OFFICER REPORTS: The minutes of the previous meeting were approved aspublished in the NEWS. The Treasurer's report was approved.

OLD BUSINESS: Troy passed around copies of the brochure that he designed. Hedid an outstanding job. We'll have copies made and get them placed in strategicspots. Brett asked for contributions for the I.S.S. report. It's due inmid-April. There was discussion about a clean-up at the Stemler Sinkhole tocoincide with the I.S.S. meeting April 14-15.

Larry Bird reported on the state of the BlackBall Mine. He did someclean-up. Mapped it himself. The DNR is running patrols. Trespassers are fined.They are heading in the direction of getting it in shape for tours. He was lastin there on December 11. The car is still stuck in the upper shaft. There arethousands of bats in the Zimmerman Mine. He did some temperature and humidityreadings. The farmer planted corn over the top of the mine. Heritage Corridoris a company that does tours. They may be the company to work with on this.Their grant from the govt. went from $200,000 to $2 million. There might be bustours and/or bike tours. The Conservation Police are still just allowing Larryto do things in the mine. No one else, yet. He has considered doing a bit ofdigging at the site of the little natural cave. May find artifacts. He alsobrought for us to look at, a photocopy of a Mammoth Cave trip report which waspublished in the newspaper in 1852.

TRIP REPORTS/ANNOUNCEMENTS: Troy & Brett - Sullivan's Cave. January 20with Boy Scouts and Ralph Sawyer. John Walther will take an ISU group toMaquokata (Iowa) on April 1st.

Adjourned to Tobin's for pizza.

Respectfully submitted,
Jim Jacobs, Secretary

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February 9, 2001

Called to order at 7:30 by Board Member-at-Large, Marc Tiritilli. Present:Tracy Tiritilli, Steve Taylor, Brett Bennett, Ralph Sawyer, Larry Bird,Treasurer Dave Carson (& Matthew), Secretary Jim Jacobs

OFFICER'S REPORTS: Treasurer's report delivered by Dave Carson. We have$291.47. Accepted. Minutes of the January meeting read by Jim Jacobs. Approved.

OLD BUSINESS: The Stemler Sinkhole cleanup and the Illinois SpeleologicalSurvey meeting will probably be moved to the next weekend (April 21 & April22) rather than the weekend of the 15th, as originally scheduled, to avoidconflict with Easter. John Schirle is our representative for that meeting. (Heand Brett Bennett alternate.) The ISS is in the process of selecting a newChair of their Data Management Committee, since Rick Toomey is moving toArizona. In many important respects, the whole character of the ISS hinges onthis selection. Lack of confidence in the Data Manager may hinder datacollection.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: The Mammoth Cave weekend field camp will take place on March3-4. The MVOR this spring will be hosted by the Ozark Highland Grotto. The NSSconvention will take place in July (23-27), in Mt. Vernon Kentucky. I'vereceived a video on the convention, and I'll bring it to the next meeting. AnI-Max film has been made on caving and will be released soon. The Indiana KarstConservancy also has work weekends. You can link to their website from the NSShomepage. The Eastern Kentucky Rescue School will take place April 7 & 8.Marc Tiritilli is going and is open to share the ride and expenses with someoneelse who is interested.

TRIP REPORTS: Ralph Sawyer took scouts to Sullivan Cave. They gottemporarily lost, but nothing serious. (See article, this issue - Ed.) Buckner'sCave is now closed Monday through Friday. They close the parking lot. Thelogging company now patrols the area and arrests people trying to cross thefields to get to Small Dull Cave. Marc T. gave a presentation for third gradersat Metcalf School (in Normal).

Next meeting March 9. Adjourned.

Marc showed a video of an NCRC group learning to rig a "Flying W"highline system to raise a litter from a valley. Pizza at Tobin's.

Respectfully submitted,
Jim Jacobs, Secretary

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March 9, 2001

Called to order at 7:10 by Julie Angel (president). Present: Matt Angel,Phil VonDeBur, G. Dennis Campbell, Marc Tiritilli, John Schirle, Brett Bennett,Ralph Sawyer, Troy J. Simpson, Brian R Braye, David S. Carson, Jim Jacobs.

OFFICER'S REPORTS. Treasurer Dave Carson reported that our current balanceis $290.68. Approved. The minutes of previous meetings were approved aspublished in the NEWS.

OLD BUSINESS: The IMAX caving movie has been released. It is being shown atmany IMAX venues, including Indianapolis.

NEW BUSINESS/TRIP REPORTS: Reports on Mammoth Cave weekend restoration campthat took place March 3-4. Heave ho! We moved 841 bags of wood, wire, etc. fromVanderbilt Hall to the historical entrance.
John Schirle reported that Illinois Caverns is changing their visitation rulesand hours. [see article, this issue]. Basically, they're cutting back. They'reunder budget cuts. There is a new changing facility, but it doesn't haveelectricity yet. It also may be wise to take your own toilet paper, just incase. John found two $1 bills and cheap headlamp in the main passage. There wasdiscussion about the "other" exits from the cave. Ralph Sawyer andhis scout troop are headed there on Sunday.
Pike Lumber Company controls much of the area around the Buckner's Cave area,and is running patrols to keep people off the property. This affects peoplewanting to hike over to Small Dull Cave and others.
Lara Storm sent a message. A caver friend of hers, Bob Svensson, died in a cavediving accident. He had been with her on a trip that she recently reported on.
Brett Bennett talked to Larry Bird. They may have found an underground river.They're going to check it out. No other details.
Dennis Campbell spent some time in China. He may do a presentation in thefuture.
ANNOUNCEMENTS: The next grotto meeting is April 13.
April 7-8 NCRC cave rescue weekend in Kentucky. Mark Tiritilli isparticipating.
May 5-6 is the next Mammoth Cave restoration project weekend.
Program: Jim Jacobs showed the video that the NSS provided promoting theupcoming NSS Convention. John Schirle did a presentation on "DoingPresentations on Caving". He showed a video on Kartchner Cave.

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April 13, 2001

PRESENT: Vice President, John Schirle, Brett (and Anne) Bennett, Don Coons,Jim Jacobs, new member Jeff Gosnell.

For the second time in our existence, there was no quorum present, so noofficial business could be conducted. The treasurer's report was read bysecretary Jim Jacobs, who also read the minutes of the March meeting. Thetreasurer's report (balance of $310.68) will have to be continued until the Maymeeting for approval. The minutes for March and April will also have to beconsidered in May for approval as published in this issue of the NEWS.

We welcomed new member, Jeff Gosnell. His address is 30,000 Mission CampRd., Canton, IL 61520. Email, jeffery@davesworld.net.

We held a general wide-ranging discussion. Someone mentioned that we couldpractice vertical work at ISU's tower. I asked for confirmation and moredetails, since this would present a major change in their previous policy,which has been very restrictive as to who could use the facility. John Schirlewent to the rescue training weekend in Kentucky with Marc Tiritilli. It washeld at Climax Cave, near Climax, Kentucky. Don Coons had helped to run one inHawaii. He has spent a lot of time exploring lava tube caves there over thepast few years. He reports that in ways lave tubes are more fun to explore thanlimestone caves. There is a lot more walking passage as opposed to crawling.The ways that they are formed creates different sorts of passages than thosecreated by water. He gave one example of a cave which is formed in a riftinside a volcano, which features four levels of stacked passages--big passages.They were able to survey over 2,000 ft.

We discussed the need for more planning, for meetings, programs, andactivities.

May 5-6. Mammoth Cave restoration weekend.
May 11. Next grotto meeting.
May 23-27. NSS Convention.

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Caving in the NewYear in New Mexico.
by Steve Taylor and Barb Capocy

On the afternoon of December 30th, we (Barb Capocy and Steve Taylor) droveaway from the Albuquerque airport ("Sunport" they call it) in a smallrental car headed towards Grants, New Mexico and the lava just to its' south.We stayed the night in Grants then drove via scenic "Zuni Canyon" theback way into the western side of El Malpais National Monument, crossing thecontinental divide twice. There was snow on the ground, but bare rock showedthrough on the south and west facing slopes.

We stopped a few spots along the way to take pictures -- cows, bluffs, and alava/aspen/snow combination. Our first real stop was at the visitors center,where we interrogated the employees, learning that the best of the lava tubeswere approachable only by four wheel drive. We opted instead for tubes in the moreaccessible El Calderon area, only a short drive from the visitors center. Wespent time in the parking lot changing into caving gear, getting cameras ready,helmets, knee pads, etc. A short walk in the snow took us to the entrance ofJunction Cave, an oft-visited tube near the parking lot. The ceiling collapseafforded entrance down a rubble sink in the snow down into the dry, rugged, andvery dark cave. Not that I don't know what dark is - but the lava-colored wallsdo soak up a lot more light than do our midwestern limestone caves. We clamoredabout on the breakdown, finally reaching a closed area near the back of thecave (which we did not enter). Near this area, we noted a few bats hibernatingsingly on the ceiling. On the way back out, we checked out an interesting sidepassage that soon became crawly. Somewhere along the way we found fine whitecrystalline growths that looked much like snow. Accumulations of bat bones wereobserved several places.

After coming out of Junction Cave, we continued down the snowy trail acrossthe lava. Soon we arrived at Double Sinks Cave. The entrance was quiteimpressive. Two huge holes in the snow and the blackness of going passage atthe bottom of what appeared to be a 50-70 foot rope drop. We were not preparedto do the drop, so moved on after more photos.

After much trodding along the trail, we came to Bat and Xenolith caves atopposite ends of a lava tube collapse which formed a picturesque sink. Bat Caveis closed for the bats, and we only took photos by the entrance sign. Then wecrawled into Xenolith Cave and strolled briefly down the borehole before comingto a short vertical drop equipped with a tree as a ladder. We opted not totrust the old tree (which is even shown on the map of the cave, published inthe June 1997 NSS News). We hiked back to the rental car through the beautifulsnow-covered lava field, entertaining ourselves with snowball ambushes and snowangels.

We drove north back to Grants, then after a short jaunt on the interstate,cruised back south on the eastern side of the lava flow. After passing througha corner of the Acoma Indian Reservation, we came to La Ventana, the"largest easily accessible natural bridge in New Mexico". Thebeautiful span of sandstone was within sight of the lava flow, and was lit bythe remains of the sunset.

We continued south in the growing darkness after this satisfying day,thinking about the several hundred lava caves we were leaving behind, and aboutthe adventure that lay before us. The first part of the adventure before us wasa rather alarmingly remote, rough, snow and ice covered road which we traversedin darkness in our low-clearance rental car. After quite a long time (hours),innumerable cattle guard crossings, and several moments of uncertainty (tooharrowing to recount here), we emerged unscathed at the other end in "PieTown" which we recognized by the presence of a stop sign and a four-wayintersection (no gas station, no "downtown"). We drove on into thedarkness, heading east now and passing through what must be a quite scenicarea. We spotted several Elk along the side of the road - thankfully theystayed along the side of the road. Eventually we arrived at the more sizabletown of Socorro, where we spent the night.

The following morning we drove off in search of a recommended canyon whichwe never found, then drove to another area for which we had better directions.We hiked about in rugged desert terrain following ravines, bluff lines, and thecontact between sandstone and limestone. Never found a cave, though.

Impulsively, we decided to drive to Carlsbad that evening. Along the way, wecame across a BLM site called The Valley of Fires - a small recreation area inthe Carrizozo Lava Flow. We stopped and trotted out onto the treacherous lava.It was a rugged and foreboding place -- very sharp, jagged, unstable lava withlarge crevasses. Cactus everywhere, and snow here and there. On summer nights,one can add rattlesnakes to the 'potential concerns' list, and it is said thatit is not possible to carry enough water to last a full day on the lava flowduring the heat of mid-summer. So many hazards and yet so beautiful. Completelytaken by the place, plans are already in the works to return soon for a longerstay with more intensive vulcanospeleological investigations.

Reluctantly back on the road again, another long night drive. Through amountain pass where we saw a Pronghorn Antelope on the shoulder of the road. Onthrough Roswell (home to aliens, spaceships, and active imaginations -including ours when the fog settled in just before the city limits), throughstinky (industrial) Artesia, and finally into Carlsbad.

The next morning, with an early start, we drove up to Carlsbad Caverns,drooling at the Swiss cheese bedrock cliffs along the way. We spent much of themorning doing the self-guided tour from the historic entrance down to the bigroom. Lots of photography. Found the spot where Barb had rappelled a few yearsback during a cleanup. General good time. An elevator ride back topside (some750 feet up), and we secured tickets for the guided lower cave tour. By thistime, it was sleeting outside. Future driving worries set aside, we set offwith gloves and helmets for the lower cave tour with our National Park guidesand about 8 other tourists. Elevator down, short walk on tourist trail, ropeassisted descent down a flowstone, then three ladders, and there we were. Wesoon discovered a difference between our two guides.. One of the ladies wasvery personable and likable, but the other became quiet unbearable inpersonality (and she just wouldn't stop talking). This unfortunate personalityclash caused us considerable distress during our tour of lower cave. Eventuallythe torture, and the tour of the beautiful passages, came to an end (about anhour later than advertised, thanks to the excessive monologue).

We scraped ice off of the rental car (which, of course, had no ice scraper)and headed down the canyon via the scenic route. Tonight, we would climb moremountains - up through Cloudcroft (a rich-folks ski town) and down the steeproad on the other side, on into Alamogordo - a rather bland, desert town wherewe spent the night.

Our caving was over by now, but hey, gotta finish the story, right?

We drove another 25 miles to White Sands National Monument, and climbedabout on the large dunes comprised of gypsum sand (so intensely white), stillwith a touch of snow on the ground. Continuing west, over a low mountain pass,down into Las Cruces, then north again almost to Socorro, where we spentseveral hours at Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge, a site that one really*must* see if you're in the area. Our bird list included about 8 Bald Eagles,several species of hawks, thousands of Snow Geese, and several hundred SandhillCranes. After that treat, we continued north, passing through Albuquerque on awhim to see Sante Fe. We struggled to find a stereotypically "SanteFe" coffee shop without any luck and had to settle for a Starbucks. Fromthere we drove south to Sandia Park, on the other side of the mountain from Albuquerque,where we stayed overnight with my sister before heading back to the"Sunport" early the next morning. Then, again, home to Illinois.

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Piercing theDarkness
by Troy J. Simpson

The radiant sunbeams pierce the darkness
Like arrows that seek their target.
Their reach grows weak
As the black abyss gradually envelops them.
Faintly, the splinters of light disappear,
Like a shroud, all features are blanketed.
The cold, damp hole is all so quiet.
The voices of water trickling on the floor,
The only interruption in the cathedral silence.
The warmth of light is nowhere to be found.
A resounding boom echoes through the chasm.
The soft glow of light begins to overtake the blackness.
Colors jump out off the walls.
Browns, Yellows, Reds, Whites.
Stone Icicles, petrified by time, reach for the floor,
Arm-like pillars grasp for the ceiling.
The halo of light holds the darkness at bay,
The wonders of the subterranean are a secret no more.
The shroud once again covers the secret.
The darkness dwells over the mystery.
Safe again.

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The Rescued Party's Account
by John R. Marquart
Copyright 1993 by John R. Marquart

The 5th-Annual NSS Cave Restoration Field Camp at Mammoth Cave NationalPark, Kentucky, came to be the most memorable of my caving experiences with myrescue from Floyd Collins' Crystal Cave. I will describe the events concerningthis rescue from my recollections supplemented by some discussions with othersinvolved. The accuracy of times and events described is the best that my memoryallows, since I certainly did not take written notes at the time. This accountfrom the injured party's view when combined with the accompanying account byLarry Reece, who served as part of the rescue team, should give a fairrepresentation of the occurrences in this, the first "technicalrescue" (beyond helping people with minor injuries or simply pooped out ontourist trails), that the National Park Service, NPS, has had to perform onMammoth Cave National Park property. I am sure that everyone involved learnedsome important lessons concerning cave rescue, some of which I hope to pass onto you.
Thursday afternoon, August 19, 1993, was to be a fun payback for our volunteerwork. Bob Ward, Park Historian and NPS person in charge of our camp, arrangedfor us to have this afternoon off from our work to do wild-cave trips of ourchoice. We could explore cave areas well off the tourist trails. A group of 14of us chose to follow our NSS leader, Norm Rogers, on a difficult trip toFloyd's Lost Passage in Floyd Collins' Crystal Cave on the Flint Ridge area ofMammoth Cave National Park. Crystal Cave and other caves of Flint Ridge connectand they ultimately connect with Mammoth Cave on Mammoth Cave Ridge and othercaves on Joppa Ridge through a network of passages. Combined they make up asingle cave system totaling 340 miles in length, the longest cave system onearth .
In the winter of 1916-17, Floyd Collins discovered a breathing sinkhole nearthe Collins' house. After two weeks of digging, his tight crawlway opened intoa major cave with a huge trunk passage having 100 feet wide walls and a 75 footcrescent shaped ceiling. The walls and ceiling glistened with gypsum flowers,suggesting the name Crystal Cave to him. He went on to explore other huge trunkpassageways which he named, Valley of Decision, Devil's Kitchen, and GypsumRoute. By 1919, Floyd opened Crystal Cave to paying tourists. The Collinsfamily was very poor, as were many in central Kentucky, a region with poortopsoil and few other resources. The way out of poverty was to have a goodtourist cave to attract the increased influx of big-city, car vacationers.Unfortunately, Crystal Cave was too far down poorly maintained dirt roads toattract many of the tourists heading for the main attraction, Mammoth Cave.Floyd was looking for an entrance to Crystal Cave that was closer to the mainroad, when on January 30, 1925, he made his fateful crawl into nearby SandCave. His entrapment and death made world news at the time and folk historyever since .
With Floyd's death, knowledge of all but the tourist trail areas of CrystalCave was lost for decades. Later explorations into a labyrinth of seeminglyinsignificant crawlways past Scotchman's Trap led to Floyd's Lost Passage, ahuge trunk passage where artifacts of Floyd's solo trips in the 1920's arefound to this day. There are cans of kerosene for his lanterns and stoves, beancans, and other items exactly as he had left them over 70 years ago .Scotchman's Trap is so named because the Scotch are supposed to be very tightand so is the passage beyond. That was an understatement as I was about tolearn.
It was about 1:30 p.m. Thursday when the 14 of us drove down the dirt road tothe old Collins' house and hiked 300 feet further down some stone steps to thesmall, rectangular cave entrance that Floyd Collins had dug 76 years before.Inside, Norm reached through a hole in a heavy steel door to unlock a padlockand lead us into Floyd Collins' Crystal Cave. The narrow sinkhole entrance soonopened into the Grand Canyon Passage. The limestone walls and ceiling wererichly coated with glistening white gypsum crystals. When the Collins' familysold the cave to a developer, the deal included leaving Floyd's body there as atourist attraction. Here we saw a rock slab where a bronze casket containingFloyd's body had remained for decades. The casket was now gone, since MammothCave National Park obtained the cave and had him buried in a cemetery on parkproperty. His funeral was only a few months ago and some of our NSS colleagueshad attended it. One of Norm's sons thoughtfully laid down on the slab for myphotographic reenactment. Some of the group crawled under a overhanging ledgeto see Floyd's signature smoked into the ceiling. With Norm expressing concernthat we move on with such a large group, I passed on this experience, figuringto do it on the way out. I never got to have the opportunity, as fate wouldhave it.
Abandoned tourist trails of concrete sidewalks and fallen down wooden handrailstook us through another mile of huge trunk passages. We passed rapidly throughthe Valley of Decision, the Devil's Kitchen, and the Gypsum Route. We movedalong rapidly since our goal wasn't here in the tourist part of the cave, butfar back into the lower levels. At about 2:30 p.m., we arrived at ourbreaking-off point, Scotchman's Trap. Beyond was a half-mile of passagestarting with a tolerable stoop-walk, then a duck-walk, and turning into abelly-crawl barely the size of my body. It was tight and soon I felt theabrasion of the gypsum sand burning my eyes and penetrating my kneepads toabrade my knees. I wondered if the rewards ahead were worth the pains.
Ahead lay the much-dreaded obstacles: the "S-Curve", very tight andonly passable while crawling on your side while worming your body around thesharp s-bend, and the "Keyhole", the tightest slot on our route,where we passed from one passage to an adjoining one. It was a triangular slotonly 10 inches high at one side of the triangle by 24 inches wide. I fit, butbarely. The Keyhole gave me the most problem and as I tried to squeeze through,my clothing snagged on the rough rock. Finally, with some effort, I wasthrough. I thought of how much I wouldn't relish the trip back out. How littleI know then about how difficult it was actually to be!
The passages made a confusing three-dimensional maze. They branched offsideways and also vertically up and down. It would be very easy to get lost,especially to overshoot the Keyhole on the way out. Norm, who had exploredthese passages before, led and at each branch passed the word back through eachof us to tell our tail man, Steve Gentry, to attach flagging tape to the wallsso we could find our way back out. Steve, a very capable caver from Louisvilledressed in cave-worn suit of yellow ballistic nylon, was assigned to be thelast person through and to keep tabs on those ahead. I could see that his attirewas more appropriate to this cave than mine, which consisted of a tee shirt andjeans, since his slide more easily through these passages. I tend to overheatin the humid, cave atmosphere and perspire a lot, so I tend to dress lightly. Icarry some backup clothing in my pack to use when we stop for a while. Atperiodic times, Norm would tell us to count off to make sure that we allfollowed. In these tight passages, he had no way of communicating with any ofus except to pass the word back man to man.
Once out of the tight crawlways, we entered deep fault-fissure canyons that wehad to negotiate by chimneying high above the floor. The cave leveled out for abrief time as we came to Flow and Ebb Falls, a trickle of water falling from ahigh dome and vanishing into a small hole in the floor to finally dropping tothe canyon floor far below. This had supplied Floyd with the only water supplyfrom Scotchman's Trap until deep into Floyd's Lost Passage. I was third fromthe rear of our group of 14 when we again began to traverse a deep, narrowfissure canyon, Straddle Canyon. This time, there were narrow ledges on thecanyon wall to traverse a fault crack which projected high above and below us.The canyon floor lay in a deep crack about 40 feet below. We were almostthrough the hard part of the route and not far from our objective, Floyd's LostPassage.
Then at 4:00 p.m., two and a half hours into our trip, it happened! Jim crosseda ledge on the left side of the canyon slot with no problem. Now under myweight, Jim's 150 pounds plus 50, I felt the ledge give way and heard the crashof rocks that were my only foot hold tumble deep into the canyon below. Thingshappened too fast for my memory to recall, but my instinct was to break myfall. A second later, I found that I was securely jammed crosswise in thefissure by my outstretched arms. I had only fallen about four feet and wassecure, but then the bad news. I couldn't move my right arm to climb back tothe ledges. My shoulder was dislocated. My arm was out of its socket and nowpositioned painfully above my shoulder blade.
I called to the group to come back to my aid and to get me out of here. SteveGentry was first to me and refused to try to move me until he had determinedthe extent of my injuries. After concluding that it was safe to move me, Steve,Jim Jacobs and others then climbed into the fissure that held me and with myassistance, got me back to the ledge level. They helped me about twenty feetback into the passage from which we had come. There a solid floor bridged thecanyon. This small area turned out to be my home for a long time to come. Itwas apparent that my only disability was my dislocated right arm, which gavequite a bit of pain. I ask my colleagues to try to put my shoulder back intoits socket. None of us, including myself, had any idea of how hard to pull andwith what kind of motion, but they tried. It was futile. The pain and danger ofdoing me more bodily damage was too great. I clearly needed a doctor and morehelp. I couldn't travel on my own and a rescue in this cave, with its mixtureof vertical exposure and very tight crawls, was going to be very difficult. Alitter or skid, no matter how small, couldn't negotiate the body sized windingpassages, vertical corkscrew climbs, and deep fissures. The Keyhole and theS-Curve seemed like the most formidable obstacles.
Within a half-hour, the rescue plan was begun. Norm was to lead most of ourparty out of the cave to alert the park rangers that a rescue was needed and toget medical help to me. Four were to stay with me until help arrived. SteveGentry and Larry Matiz had cave rescue training and previous rescue experienceand elected to stay, along with Jim Jacobs and Matt Reece. Those exiting leftbehind their food, water, spare carbide, and some dry clothing. My tee shirtand jeans were very wet with my sweat and the first concern was hypothermia atthe 56 degree Fahrenheit temperature. I was to remain immobile on the limestonefloor of the passage until help came. My colleagues removed my tee shirt andgot me into a polyproplyene shirt and skull cap that I had in my pack and a dryzipper sweater left by one of Norm's sons. They fashioned a sling from somecloth and secured my injured arm tightly across my chest by tying one-inchtubular webbing around me. A space blanket and some dry clothes were spreadbeneath me and I was covered with a couple more space blankets.
As long as I didn't move at all, the pain was fairly tolerable. I was givensome mild pain tablets, which helped. I soon ask for some more, but was toldthat they were in limited supply and I couldn't eat them "likepopcorn". I felt relieved that my friends were doing all the right thingsand that it would all work out. Two years before, I had taken a two-day short-coursein cave rescue for the National Cave Rescue Commission, NCRC. It was now payingdividends by boosting my confidence. I could picture what was to be done to getme out and knew that I needed to be patient for a long wait for it to be doneright. It was about 5:00 p.m. and I tried to estimate when various parts of myrescue might occur. The accident had happened at 4:00 and Norm's group washeading out by 4:30. I guessed that it would take two hours for them to exitthe cave, another two to get rangers and a doctor, and two more to get back tome. If all went well, a doctor might be here by 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. and I mightbe on my way out. My estimates were only right to a point, but it helped mymoral to make plans. Matt heated some Pepsi right in the can that had been leftwith our supplies. To keep up my body heat, he wanted me to drink it hot. To mysurprise, I actually liked it that way.
It was about 9:30 p.m. when we heard voices coming through the passage. It wasTeam #1 of the rescue parties consisting of Ranger Henry Holman leading threeNPS team members, two of whom were EMTs. It was a full hour earlier than I hadestimated that a rescue team could be organized and make it back to mylocation. Henry was to direct the rescue from the "Incident Command Center"and was here to examine me and the cave to plan the rescue operation. He thensent messages with my NSS colleagues, Steve, Larry and Matt to beginimplementation of the rescue. Jim Jacobs elected to stay longer, saying that Ineeded someone there whom I knew. My estimate of 10:30 for the beginning of myevacuation from the cave at first seemed to me to have been conservative, butas it turned out, it was much too optimistic. This was only the beginning of along series of steps in my rescue. I had hoped that the EMTs could get myshoulder back in joint or, at least, give me a shot to deaden the pain so Imight become mobile. The answer was "No, only a doctor can do that and oneis being sought". I had to settle for more aspirin and Tylenol paintablets. More space blankets were put on me and I was given sandwiches that hadbeen left by my group. They where smashed flat by being dragged through allthose crawlways in backpacks. I was handed a meatloaf sandwich which wassmashed to about a quarter inch thick. I chased it down with some Gatoraid.
Around midnight, we again heard voices approaching. Norm Rogers and LarryBundy, from our NSS group, were leading Rescue Team #2 to us. Norm only stayeda short time and then started the long trip back out, to continue his role asliaison between our NSS group and the rangers, and as a guide through thecomplicated maze of passages. Team #2 relieved Team #1. One of them, KevinNeff, stayed while the rest of Team #1 followed Norm out. Apparently, the planwas for Team #3, led by Park Ecologist Rick Olsen, to follow Team #2 in, abouta half-hour later. Rick was to be in charge of getting me out of the cave. Ihad heard from mutual caving friends that Rick was a very capable caver. Helived in Illinois and operated an electron microscope at the University ofIllinois, where I teach part-time (in addition to my full-time position atEastern Illinois University). Recently, Rick was hired by Mammoth Cave NationalPark. Small world, I thought, but that isn't unusual, cavers are a small,select group.
As the hours mounted, and I lay immobile with the cold, hard limestone floorsapping up my body heat, I would occasionally start shivering. When shiversovertook me several times, my rescuers had me stand, which although quite painful,did help me throw off the shivers. The space blankets and thin layer ofclothing above and below me were a godsend, but not actually adequate for themany hours that had passed and had yet to come. Fortunately, I do not get coldeasily, but my rescuers were very concerned. If I did lose my body core heat,then it would be very difficult to restore it under existing conditions. As theNPS team's concern grew, they dispatched two of their team with a note that asleeping bag and air mattress was absolutely needed to keep me fromhypothermia. I told Jim Jacobs that I was well tended to and that he had bettergo out too. He had been in the cave for about eleven hours so far and wastiring. He, Henry, and Kevin left for the surface.
Carbide lamps were held under the space blankets, and heat packs were applied.After the heat packs were exhausted, there was even talk of lying next to me tosupply body heat. The rescuers were more concerned than I thought necessary atthis stage, but I appreciated their concern for my welfare. I had little to dobut lie there watching the flames of their carbide lamps light up the narrowfissure that rose high into the ceiling and to think and try to plan on what toexpect next. I tried to sleep, but the effort was futile. I didn't feel tired,just anxious to be able to move again and start out of here.
More hours went by. The rescue party was visibly puzzled and began to expresstheir concern. Where is Team #3? Weren't they to come a half-hour after theirteam did? Also, where was the sleeping bag? Plenty of time had past for thefour-hour turn around time to go out and back to us. Several times someonewould say that he had heard someone approaching and everyone would becametotally silent. The winding cave passages absorbed sound like they did light.To be heard or seen, an approaching party had to be very close. Each time, thesounds proved to be only a occasional dripping of water or an echo from our ownsounds. Several disturbing scenarios were proposed. Had the Team #3 become lostin the labyrinth of passages? Were they trying to find their way back oncourse, either to us or to get back out? Had a rescuer himself been in anaccident in this difficult cave? Had rescue operations stopped to rescue arescuer? Then, most disturbing, had there been a collapse which sealed us in?It wouldn't take much to block the narrow crawlways. What then? One of therescue team said that there was another way out via the Austin entrance, but itwas miles away and a 12-hour trip for someone in good shape. I didn't sayanything, but I didn't think it a good idea to suggest such scenarios in frontof the victim, me!
Finally about 5:30 a.m. Friday morning, everyone again went silent. This timethe sounds steadily intensified as Team #3 approached. Rick Olsen appearedleading three other team members and Dr. Gary Howerton. Rick was to lead mymovement out once Dr. Howerton had repositioned my shoulder. With them, theycarried a sleeping bag. Finally! Team #3 had been held back until themuch-needed doctor had arrived to join them. That explained the long worrisomewait that Team #2 and I had, but it certainly would have helped to have knownabout this change in plans, and the sleeping bag had been needed many hoursago.
Dr. Howerton explained that I must be mobile and in good senses to make it outof the cave on my own power. He wanted to try to reposition my shoulder withoutusing any pain killers. The sleeping bag now served only one purpose, as aspread for me to lie on, while Dr. Howerton removed a boot, placed his foot inmy arm pit, and pulled hard on my arm. The pain caused my muscles toinvoluntarily fight back. My shoulder slid into joint and right back out. Hewould have to give me a pain shot. A shot of Valium was administered and heagain pulled on my arm, first straight out and then with my elbow at a rightangle. This time, it went into joint and was stayed there. He then gave me ashot of a counteractant. In a short time, the drugged effect of the Valium wasgone and I felt as conscious as ever. I didn't know that medications existed,that can turn you on and off like a light switch, but was glad that they do.The pain was much less now and my arm was again tightly strapped across mychest. Dr. Howerton warned me that the Valium had a longer lifetime than thecounteractant and that it might again take over. This didn't prove to be thecase and I remained alert all the way out.
At about 6:00 a.m., 16 1/2 hours after entering the cave and 14 hours after myaccident, I was finally mobile and ready to begin the difficult trip out. I askRick how he planned to get me past some of the obstacles ahead. I would have tokeep my damaged right arm away from any contact with the rocks and make do onlywith my left arm. I am right handed and my right arm is stronger, but nowuseless. The pain was quite tolerable as long as I didn't make any such contactwith it. He told me not think ahead. Each obstacle would be overcome as a goalin itself. Then we would attack the next. Limited by the tight passages, the teamhad brought in a minimum of rescue equipment. They had 200 foot of PMI staticrope, a seat harness, a kit to place expansion bolts in the walls, and abackboard. The backboard was a desperation device. It was the only type oflitter or skid that would fit through the passages. If necessary, it would bestrapped to my back and I would be dragged along. I wondered how they couldmanage that, since my body alone hardly fit through many of the passages.
The first obstacle was to get across the fissure canyon that we had chimneyedacross just before my accident. I couldn't chimney and Rick secured the rope asa traverse line along the walls of the canyon. He then helped me into the seatharness and handed me a huge carabinier, which I clipped between my seat harnessand the rope. It turned out to be very easy to traverse the wall to solidfooting on the far side. At each obstacle, Rick would go ahead and would try toplace himself in my situation. While holding his right arm across his chest, hewould try to get across the obstacle. He would then come back to me saying"John, I think that it will work, if you do it this way". He wasusually right. Occasionally, it seemed easier to me to do it some other way,but usually, I tried it his way and it worked. There were more canyons totraverse ahead. This time, Rick said that there were narrow ledges high up inthe canyons and that he thought I could stay out of the canyons by crawlingthese ledges. The ledges were narrow, sloped downward toward the canyon drop, andwere covered with loose gypsum. They offered considerable vertical exposure,but Rick and his colleagues jammed their bodies across the canyon fissures toback me up if I slipped. Each time, I made the crawl unassisted, but was verygrateful for the security of their backup. At one place, it was necessary tocross the canyon from a ledge on one side to one on the other. My rescuer'sbodies made me a human bridge with which to do the crossing. More climbs layahead, such as the "Corkscrew", a vertical winding climb. I was ableto negotiate it unassisted. Now the vertical exposure was over and long, tightcrawls lie ahead. The rope, which had only been used once, was no longer neededand was abandoned as surplus baggage. I think that the backboard was also abandoned,since it hadn't been needed at all. I wore the seat harness all the rest of theway out, but never used it again.
We arrived at the Keyhole. There was no way that I would fit with my armstrapped across my chest, so we undertook the unpleasant chore of unstrappingit and moving it to my side. I recalled the difficultly that I had gettingthrough on the way in with my clothing snagging and wanted a minimum ofinterference this time. I removed my helmet, had the sweater unzipped andspread aside, and the polypropylene undershirt pulled up around my neck. Rickand another team member crawled through to the other side, leaving two of theteam on my side. I slid my legs through the slot, then my waist, but my barechest hung up in the crack. Instead of struggling to get through, I ask Rick topull me on through by my feet. It worked and I was through.
Now came the tight crawls and the worry of the S-Curve. When the ceiling washigh enough, I crawled on my knees using my left arm for support. When the ceilinggot lower, I laid on my left side and acted like a worm, inching along. Rickwent into the S-Curve mimicking my plight and came back saying that he thoughtit was passable by crawling on my left side while keeping my injured armelevated. It worked. I don't think it would have worked if I had to crawl on myright side with an injured left arm, although, I imagine that Rick's ingenuitywould have gotten me through somehow.
The long crawls to follow turned from my side worm-crawl, to a duck-walk, andto a stoop-walk. The cave was opening up and we were moving on. I was gettingenthusiastic about getting out of here, but Rick periodically ordered me tostop and rest. He didn't want my excitement to cause some careless gesture. Thenews came in from rangers waiting at Scotchman's Trap that once I got there, Iwas to be transported to the cave entrance on a litter. I protested thisdecision, saying that I had done the difficult part myself and didn't need orwant to be put in a litter when we got to tourist trails. Rick supported mydesire and sent word out that I had done an "aided self-rescue" sofar and that a litter wasn't needed. We went on to walking passage. The firsttime that I had stood upright in hours.
We climbed out of Scotchman's Trap at about 11:00 a.m. Friday and were met byrangers, many of my NSS friends, and other rescuers. The ranger in charge saidthat his orders were to carry me out in a Stokes litter, but that he would letme get out of the litter near the entrance and walk out of the cave unaided.Their worry was that once on tourist trails, I might get too anxious to do theremaining distance out and fall in my rush. It made sense and I agreed to bestrapped in the litter for my trip through the same trunk passages that I hadentered a day earlier. As I was carried toward the entrance, I heard my friendssing the theme song to Gilligan's Island, "...a three-hour tour...".How appropriate, what was to have been a 7-hour cave trip turned into a 22-hourordeal. Usually six litter bearers carried me, changing teams frequently.
At the Grand Canyon Passage my litter bearers halted, I was unstrapped, andclimbed out of the stretcher. One expressed concern on how much I staggeredwhen I tried to get my ground-legs, but I explained that I had hardly walkedupright for the 19 1/2 since my accident and had to get used to it again. Itwas now almost 11:30 a.m. when I walked up the last flight of stone stairs andout of the darkness of Floyd Collins Crystal Cave and into the noonday sun. Isquinted. My eyes had become accustom to the darkness of the cave.
When I reached the top of the stairs, I was met by a network TV camera crew fora short statement, "...Yes, I planned on caving again...". At the topof the hill, near the Collins' house, a group applauded my safe return. Irecognized many as my NSS friends. It felt good to see how much my plight hadconcerned them. An ambulance awaited to take me to a hospital in Glasgow,Kentucky for x-rays. On the way to the hospital, I talked with the ambulanceparamedics and learned that they and Dr. Howerton, who treated me in the cave,were the same medical personal that on last Memorial Day had been belatedlycalled to assist an unfortunate caver, William Coughlin, of suburban Chicago.Coughlin, a novice to caving, died in the private, commercial Buzzard's RoostCave, just outside Mammoth Cave National Park. The paramedics said that theywere alerted too late to save his life. They expressed happiness that this timethings were done right. The difference was that in my case, knowledgeable andcapable people were with me when my accident happened and were in chargethroughout the operation. Whereas, after Coughlin fell unbelayed from a cableladder, his companions had him try to do a self-rescue which resulted in furtherinjuries and ultimately, in his death. Steve Gentry, Rick Olsen and fellowNNG'r Don Coons were called out for this belated rescue attempt, and wereinvolved in the body recovery. At the time of this writing, Don is on his wayto Kentucky to testify as an expert witness to the Coroner's Inquest concerningthe handling of this incident by the trip guide.
At T.J. Samson Community Hospital in Glasgow, my shoulder was x-rayed, the manylayers of cave dirt cleaned off of me by having me sit in a whirlpool bath, andmy arm and shoulder put in a fresh sling. Jim Jacobs brought clean clothes andI was released to return with him to our field camp. At the hospital door, wewere met by Cynthia Crossley Eagles a reporter for the LouisvilleCourier-Journal for an interview. Her story appeared in the August 21thedition. This newspaper has a distinguished record of reporting on caveaccidents and rescues and had sent Cynthia to cover mine. In 1925, their 21year-old, cub-reporter William Burke "Skeets" Miller pushed his tiny110-pound body through the dangerous crawls of Sand Cave seven times to takewarm food, drink , and electric lights for heat to the trapped Floyd Collins.Skeets comforted the unfortunate man and tried in vain to free him. Skeets wasgiven exclusive authority to report to the world on the "rescue". Onhis eighth trip to Floyd in a week, Skeets found that the perilous passage hadcollapsed. This collapse finally sealed the doom for Floyd Collins, whose bodywas not reached until weeks later.
With two cave deaths with which to compare my successful rescue, how thankful Iam and will always be to my dedicated and capable rescuers. My shoulder willsoon mend and I will cave again. My special thanks and gratitude to my NSSbuddies, who took my safe return so much to their hearts; Ranger Henry Holmanof the Mammoth Cave National Park Service, who commanded a well organized andwell operated rescue; all NPS personnel, who showed so much concern anddevotion to my welfare; Dr. Gary Howerton, whose medical treatment wasparamount to the success of the rescue; the Bowling Green Cave and Rock RescueTeam, who assisted in the rescue; and all that participated and prayed for myrescue. Thank you all!

Much went on beyond my view that made for a successful rescue. I will commentonly on things of which I have direct knowledge.
My NSS colleagues acted very responsibly from the onset, which set the tone fora successful rescue. Steve Gentry was correct in refusing my plea to be moveduntil he had determined that it was safe. Action in moving me to a safe placeand stabilizing me there until medical help could be brought to me was correct.The division of forces to leave four with me and have the rest exit the cave toalert the NPS was well planned. The NSS group operated swiftly, but withforethought and without careless haste. Under the difficult conditions imposedby the cave, the 5 1/2 hours response time from my fall until NPS Team #1 NPSarrived to me was very prompt, an hour faster than I had thought possible. Thecapable actions and obvious concern of all involved gave me the necessary faithto remain optimistic throughout the long ordeal. Their continued hard work andsupport through a long and tiring rescue verifies my belief that we cavers area small, but dedicated bunch of the most loyal friends that exists.
The NPS properly assumed command of the situation and operated a well-organizedand well-executed rescue. Their effort to cover every possible eventuality andto supply abundant manpower to the operation made it go smoothly. I am veryfortunate that my rescue occurred on property within their control and notelsewhere, like at Buzzards Roost. The NPS and EMT personnel who treated me inthe cave did a fine job and continually showed their deep concern for mysafety.
Dr. Howerton served his profession beyond the normal call of duty by making thedifficult trip into and out of the cave to treat my injury in the early hours.His medical assistance was paramount in allowing the rescue to go off as smoothlyas it did. I shudder at the thought of what I would have had to endure had Dr.Howerton not been willing and able to get to me and to reset my shoulder.
All others who contributed to the effort did so with unselfish devotion to myrescue. I am very touched by how many people took my plight to heart and freelyassisted in its successful outcome or stood by on call if needed.
The positive aspects far outweigh any negatives, but with the aim thatconstructive criticism will make any future rescue better, I will express a fewsuggestions:
Communication could be improved. The 4-hour turn around time, from the caveentrance to the accident site and back, presented a major problem. A"runner team" would have helped much to let NPS personnel at theaccident site understand what was going on and when to expect various stages ofthe rescue. This was particularly true when Team #2 was expecting Team #3within a half-hour, but it turned out to be much longer due, apparently, tochanges in the overall rescue plan. In a hazardous cave, such as this one, itwould not be unadvisable to send a solo "runner". At least two shouldmake up a "runner team". This would present a demand upon personnelneeded in later stages of the rescue, but it appears that sufficient personnelwere available to have made this possible.
The first or, at least, the second team to the injured party should have triedto bring any supplies that were deemed necessary in case of a long delay in therescue. Food, water, mild pain tablets, and carbide were left in abundantsupply by the NSS party, but a sleeping bag and air mattress would have madethe fight against hypothermia much easier.
Rescuers should not express their concerns of possible problems in the rescuein front of the injured party. Better communication would have helped to haveeliminated the anxiety of my rescuers that something was wrong. They were veryconcerned for my welfare, which I very much appreciate, but they should try tobe optimistic themselves, especially verbally. It is all right to makecontingency plans, but do so in a positive manner. As it appears after readingLarry Reece's report, the scenarios of difficulty weren't entirely wrong. Agroup of rescuers had become temporarily lost by overshooting the Keyhole ontheir way out. This may have contributed to the communication problem citedabove by delaying messages sent from the accident site. Perhaps clearer markerswere needed to mark the routes.

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by Ralph Sawyer

I think I'm going to be disappointed this time. We have been in SullivanCave now for over four hours. Things didn't begin well. Despite verbalinstructions from the cave patron, it took us an hour just to find theBackbreaker passage, less than 100 feet from the entrance. During that hournone of the seven Venture Scouts from Troop 64 complained, but at this stage ofthe game, after much backtracking and frustration, I and the Scouts need tofind the Mountain Room soon or we will have to exit the cave skunked. If thathappens I don't know if they will ever want to return to Sullivan Cave.
We keep going over the map, a barely readable photocopy of a photocopy. The mapis indispensable but is fully understandable only in hindsight, once we haveconfirmed our location. But that's the trick isn't it -- confirming ourlocation. Brett Bennett theorizes we are in Grand Canyon while I argue with aScout about whether a compass can "go bad". Troy Simpson wonders ifwe have somehow skirted the edge of the Mountain Room without seeing it. I amhaving serious doubts about my memory, both short term (instructions from thecave patron) and long term (my numerous trips to this cave long ago). We beginbacktracking, carefully checking the shadows on both sides of the passage, highand low, for an entry crawl. Twice someone shouts back to us they are sure theyhave found it. Twice they are forced to admit they are wrong. We keep numberingoff to make sure we don't leave a caver in one of these side crawls.
Taking up the rear, I am resigned to the fact that we are on a slow exit fromthe cave. The Backbreaker awaits us, the ceiling just high enough to makecrawling ridiculous. We will exit stooped in surrender through the 1200 feet ofpassage.
They are excited up ahead. Big deal, we've been through this before. But thistime it is the real thing. Troy has wriggled through a small hole under aledge. The hole has opened up immediately into a tall crevice (just like on themap!)and then The Mountain Room, over a hundred feet wide with a sixty foothigh ceiling, filled with a breakdown mountain capped with an impressivestalagmite, made more wonderful by the difficulty we have overcome to achieveit.
I am only slightly jealous of Troy because I have just shed thirty years. I amtime traveling, checking out the Flood Passage just off the Mountain Room withmy buddies from Explorer Post 1 of Champaign Illinois. I am twenty poundslighter. My hair is thick and wavy. Girls think I'm cute.
So we meet the challenge of the Backbreaker bowed but triumphant, our goalattained. I'm hot. I can't stand up straight and sweat drips from my eyebrowsto my glasses. My helmet keeps scraping the ceiling. One of the Scouts asks mehow soon we can come back and I can't stop grinning. With over nine miles ofpassages mapped (we traveled about 3200 feet and back) Sullivan Cave, south ofBloomington Indiana, beckons us to return. On our next visit we anticipate arapid trip to the Mountain Room, then exploration of a stream passage thatconnects to the subterranean Sullivan River, where we hope to see crayfish anda fish called sculpin or miller's thumb. Sullivan Cave is owned and managed bythe Indiana Karst Conservancy (www.caves.org/conservancy/ikc). Special thanksare due the IKC, Brett Bennett, Nick Bennett, and Troy Simpson for theirassistance and guidance.

Photo caption: Somewhere in Sullivan Cave with the Venture Patrol of
Troop 64, with Nick Bennett and Troy Simpson. Photo by Brett Bennett

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Scott Cundiff

Anyone wanting to Pre-Register for Speleofest 2001 will have until May 11th
to do so. However, we will be conducting 'ON-SITE' registration as well at
the Metcalfe Co. Park during Memorial Day Weekend.

Please use our website at:http://www.caves.org/grotto/louisvillegrotto/speleofest/index.htm to print thepre-registration form and for more information on Speleofest 2001.

Hope to see you there,
Scott Cundiff
Speleofest 2001 Chairman


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by Brian Braye and Jim Jacobs

Aug 19 - 2:00pm. The group of fourteen NSS cavers entered Floyd Collins'Crystal Cave.

Aug 19 ? 4:00pm. While straddling a canyon passage just beyond Ebb n FlowFalls (two hours in), John Marquart stepped on a rock shelf that others hadstepped on as they passed. The rock broke and John fell feet first into thecanyon, which is 3' wide and about 20' deep. Reaching out with his arms to stophis decent, he jammed his right arm upward, dislocating his right shoulder.Those of us who are ahead are called back by those with him. When we arrive,John is still in the canyon from the waist down, being stabilized by SteveGentry, who had dropped down to a ledge to support him from below, and by JimJacobs, who had his arm hooked under John's left shoulder. They helped him tohis feet and assisted him back a few feet to a place where he could restwithout being in danger of falling. He was evaluated, and it was determinedthat his only injury was to his shoulder, which was dislocated verticallynearly an inch.

4:30pm. We discussed what should be done. It was decided that four people(Steve Gentry, Jim Jacobs, Matt Reese, and Larry Matiz) would stay with Johnwhile the rest returned to the surface to summon help. Everyone dug into theirpacks and left their water, food, space blankets, and clothing to help Johnstay as comfortable as possible. We knew that this would take a while to resolve.Norm Rogers wrote down vital information on John's condition, symptoms, andmedical information, along with a list of items that may be needed.

4:45pm. The other nine people in the group started back to the entrance withNorm Rogers in the lead. They traveled quickly, resting when necessary (no needto have two casualties), arriving at the main entrance in one and one halfhours.
Back at the injury site, John was helped out of his soaked T-shirt into twosweaters, the inner one being a polypro that he had in his pack. He was givenibuprofen to ease the pain. Other spare clothing was arranged as a makeshiftmattress, and his bootlaces were loosened. Carbide lamps were kept handy toprovide warmth and light, and so save their batteries. A couple of times hebegan to shiver, so they helped him to sit up, and tented the space blanketsand put a carbide light between his legs. It was no big job to keep John'sspirits up. He is a hardened caver, has had cave rescue training, and is anatural optimist. He and Jim (co-editor of their grotto newsletter) held alively discussion about who would write the trip report. (Those editors are allalike). During the wait, he developed quite a taste for Pepsi heated right inthe can on a wing stove.

6:15pm. Two people (Kurt Rothberger and John Benton) were assigned to stayat the entrance to allow no one but authorized persons into the cave. A third,(Steve Patruniak) also volunteered to stay also. The rest of the party leftimmediately for the Ranger Station to notify the Park Service.

6:30pm. The Park Service was notified, and a command post set up at the firestation. The call went out for Park Service personnel to report for duty. TheNSS camp was notified (they were already aware, as they had a scanner in thecamp. A team of four Rangers (two with EMT training) prepares to enter the caveto assess the situation.

7:00pm.The first team left, and teams two and three were organized from NSSmembers and Park personnel and put on standby. Others were sent back to camp torest or help with food preparation.

9:00 pm. Norm Rogers returned pretty well exhausted from leading group twoto the site of the injury (his second trip in and out). He headed back to campto get some sleep.

9:40pm. The first team, led by Scene Director Henry Holman, arrived withKevin Neff and two paramedics. Henry determined that, since John's conditionwas stable, and he was in no immediate danger, that it would be best to try toget a doctor down to the site to reset the shoulder, which would enable John toassist in his own rescue. Movement too soon risked further injury, shock and/orunconsciousness due to the intense pain. He reasoned that premature movementcould jeopardize John's life. Further, the Doctor's presence would be necessaryin case of other possible problems during the evacuation. Messengers weredispatched to the surface with information and orders for necessary items.Other helpers arrived later.

Aug 20, 12:30am. While John (a chemistry professor) is lecturing theparamedics on the chemistry of carbide, Henry, Kevin and Jim head for thesurface. The timing is just coincidence. Jim had been in the cave for nearly 12hours. The three of them made it to Scotchman's trap in less than 45 minutes.Just past the trap, they met the actual rescue team who were escorting thedoctor, who had come in from Bowling Green. They exchanged information, andconfirmed the plans for evacuation.

1:00am.The rescue team was sent in. One member was a doctor with some cavingexperience. The others are top people, experienced in cave rescue. When theyarrived at John's location, the doctor attempted to set the shoulder, but itdislocated again. He then gave John an injection of Valium, which put him out.He again set John's arm, and this time it stayed in. After allowing John tosleep for a while. He gave him an injection to bring him back to fullalertness. About 3:00 am the group started out of the cave traveling at a slowpace. John is able to handle most of the cave on his own, receiving help whenneeded.

3:00am. Brian Braye is awakened to join nine others on a fourth team to goin to assist in bringing John out if needed. They got to the cave at 5:00 am,and made it to Scotchman's Trap at 5:15. They traveled toward the Canyon area.As they approached the Mason jars just before the Shark formation, they met themedical team with John on their way out. Four of them volunteered to travel tothe Canyons to recover gear and bring out equipment. They arrived at theCanyons about 7:00 am and begin cleanup. After gathering everything, theyheaded back out catching up to the medical team and others before they reachthe keyhole. They followed and rested as the medical team insisted that Johnrest. He had more energy than his "rescuers" at this point.

11:00am. John and the crew exited Scotchman's and rested in the touristpassage for a while. John was reluctantly placed on a litter and carried tonear the main entrance.

12:00am. John walked unassisted from the mouth of the cave and up the hillto be interviewed by the media.

12:15pm. John continued up the hill to the support center to be greeted bythe cheers of all those assembled. He was placed in a rescue vehicle andtransported to the hospital. The teams and support personnel return to the firestation, demobilize and are debriefed.

6:00pm. John returned from hospital in good spirits and is welcomed back tocamp. We watched the TV interview with John on the 6:00 news. All got a goodnight's sleep.

Aug 21 ? 9:30am. Ranger Bob Ward conducted a one on one interview with NSSmembers to define what worked well and what needed improvement on the rescue.

10:30am. John, driven by Brian, and followed by Jim, return to Charleston,IL.

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