Alaskan Caver

Alaskan Caver

Material Information

Alaskan Caver
Series Title:
Alaskan Caver
Alternate Title:
Alaska Caver
Pease, Chuck
National Speleological Society (Alaskan Cave Areas Conservation Task Force)
National Speleological Society (Glacier Grotto)
University of Alaska Southeast (School of Arts and Sciences)
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Regional Speleology ( local )
serial ( sobekcm )
United States


General Note:
Contents: President's Corner: Elections Coming Up ? -- Grotto News -- Glacier Caving Season is Here Again! -- Meadowbrook Mystery Cave -- Scientists Unearth Rare, Ancient Pictographs in Southest Alaska -- Patient's Notes from the Cave Rescue -- Beaver Cave and a Karst Window -- Summer 1991 Cave Search and Exploration Reports -- Members in the News -- Pribilof Island Expedition (1991) -- Caves of the Pribilof Islands.
Open Access - Permission by Author(s)
Original Version:
Vol. 12, no. 4 (1992)
General Note:
See Extended description for more information.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
K26-00224 ( USFLDC DOI )
k26.224 ( USFLDC Handle )
4384 ( karstportal - original NodeID )

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Vol vmn 12 -. Nunbar 4 Rre ALamlran bver [ISSN 073H4811 in thm intamittont publleat$on of tha GLscler Grotto d the Matl onal SplieologtoL Soel mty. bpydplt 1982 by thm G Lee1 sr Grotto. Wteri sl a not mpy rl @tsd by tndivi dudm or by other group8 mq bs wxrplsd by other MSS Pflblication~ prwidsd crmdi t 18 giran to the nuthor and The ALarkn Dyer and a mpy im wnt ta tho Ed+ tar [addrssa hLm]. Back l asws are watlmblls fm the Ree4dsnt for L2 ma&. Send srtlele~~ hatters* me itas, ennornamsntg tdp FOpmtg Caw0 eUWsy& drrringq $otogrs#~pla, and 60 rnrth dlrsctly to tho Editor. Oplnfans expresad within .re rot rscasmrtly thorn st Jh@ Aleubn .Qv.srr tha GLac4ar Grotto, or tho NS, b~krrhft! la opn ta all fnterested +n ALsuhn cave dl ~arvery~ nrploratl on, tbmcrt pti on, surrq. mapping, @ofography, tydrcrlogy, mpholagy. biology, gsoL~~y, htatory. speLeogomeia and other epnlaean promnmh mnesnration~ mmgmanh sdvsrrtwss and the fallmBhlp of ALn~len csrera, AnnlaL drra ere e15 for IndlvlrLwL or 8E0 ?or tally naibsrhip. Add 18 to duss 4f warma6 01 radl ppswpe is prafarrsd mmr nutTacs, InatltuManrl subscrfptlons are 8120 per volume (d x fearam]. are d116 on Janmty 7 nnd arm arnt to the Trsneurer [addrmum beta) pyabls to GLac4ar rotto. Thorn J od ni ng for tha rf rst tlms tmtaaen Dcfabsr 1 and 5mmbsr 31 wit E bn bscr~net; &rod pl d through the toLLaing year. emtu& i 6 1nd mtad on he naillng Label. lubetlnga .re had in hehomgs, Fa4 rlmrikn, ond Kmtehi bnf use the back pep tor fntomaMon regrdtng awtI ng tlmaa end locatlone. Gfficers Me Address city St Zip President J bchdl. Jr 2944 Bmtp St Anchorage AK 99508 VP Northern Hike Mauser 1466 Carr Ave Fairbanks AK 997 09 VP Shtrd Rachel may^ 1813 Barmister Rd Anchorage AK 99508 VP -tern Kevin Allred P 0 Bax 376 Haines AK 99827 Secretary Jack Hassie 1853 Bartlett Dr Anchorage AK 99507 Treasurer W mey Bcwers 305 S BWett Cr Wasilla AK 99654 Editor -in MeUler P 0 Ba 100738 Anchorage AK 99510 NCA Rep Dave Klinger P 0 Bm 537 Lemth WA 98826 Conservat'nJimFerguson POBm20908 Juneau AK 99802 Prog Q-dr John Jansen 7814 Raymar Cir Anchotage AK 99518 SEast CZlair Gary %menhrg I377 Pond Reef Rd Ketchikan AK 99901 Haue Work 277-7150 277-7150 4566953 452-1414 2764138 276-0138 KHNS 766-2020 562-0417 349-8587 376-2294 373-2247 333-8766 786-1804 (509) 548-5480 463-2690 46453 65 344-4402 34k-W2 247-1559 247-1559 (All tdephone nmber area codes are 907. M.&, mless otherwise specified.) Cover: A waterfall flowing dmn through a hole in the limestone of the Lisbusne Formation, at Atip Gorge in the Brooks Range, Alaska, Photo by Cumh Metzler. rsblc of Contents President's Corner: Elections Coming Up? . . . . . . . . 3 Grotto News . . . . . . , . . . . . . . . 3 Glacier Caving Season is Here Again! . . . . . . . . . 4 Meadowbrook Mystery Cave . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Scientists Unearth Rare, Ancient Pictographs in Southeast Alaska , . 5 Patient's Notes from the Cave Rescue . . . . . . . 6 Beaver Cave and a Karst Window. . . . . . . . . . . 7 Srmtmer 1991 Cave Search and Exploration Reports . . . . . . 9 Members in the Nws . . . . . , . . , . . . 14 Pribilof IslandExpedition (1991) . . . . . . . . . . 16 Caves ofthePribilof Islands . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Page 2 The Alaskan Caver Volume 12 Number 4 October 1992


As we approached, we could sense a void hidden in front of us in the fog. Soon we were walking across a wet meadow which took us through the pass to scree fields on the other side. The fog was thinning and beginning to lift, making castle-like cliff faces faintly visible above the accumulation of broken rockWe hiked down the gully to where there was a small valley to the north between two steep ridges almost totally covered with talus of f ossilif erous limestone. We hiked up the rocky valley a few hundred yards until we found a small grass-covered area adjacent to a little brook, Since the spot was sheltered and contained a clear stream, we made it our last campsite. Early the next morning, I was awdcened by some sheep walking on a trail near the tent. I fumbled for my camera and took a photograph as they stared and continued walking narthardGoing to the north in this valley leads eventually to the eastern fork of the water dl stream (see cover). Large frost pocket cave in cliff face. I turned around to see him laying in the stream! His cotton jeans, the only pair of psnts he had brought even after all my warnings and recommendations of wearing wool. were thoroughly soaked. He put on some nonthermal underwear and borrmed my rain pants, but the weather was miserable and 1 imagine be wag aleo. As we followed the tributary higher up the mountain, the fog thickened and visibility was too low for us to be: able to locate the gully going up to the pass, As we hiked, I kept checking my altimeter watch, and occasionally gat out the map and campass to estimate our position. Finally, after reaching a few hundred feet higher elevation than the pass and still heading directly to the south. we concluded that we had missed the gully leading to the pasis. We hiked dong the side of a ridge. stumbling over hulders in gn attempt not to lose much altitude, until we could determine that the pass was probably just ahead and below. Westward view fran a Brooks Range cave. October 1992 Volune 12 Number 4 Z"ae Alaskan Cavar page 13


After breakfast. I hiked up the talus slope to the east in search of caves. but kept getting distracted by all the fossil corals along the way. Once the cliffs were reached. a ntmtbex of small caves were located, as well as one very large frost pocket, After the German hiker reached the top, we walked the ridge together dl the way to the pass, I found a few small limestone solution cmea and some frost pockets along the way. For much of the walk a rainbow was visible. but the sun came out as we hopped down the scree f id ds. The next day we hiked View south from a Brooks Range cave. out and drwe back to town. Wdxeraimthem (Contributions invited) E Amanda, Carl R. (Jr.1 and Carl E, (Sr.1 Clark and others helped clean up some of Mammoth Cave, according to John George Vargots July 1990 article. Volunteer dean-up work at Mammothtq, which appeared in CIG Newsletter 34 (7) : 77-78. m William R, Hallidayts interesting account of a quick week-long trip to Athens and environs, entitled "Greece, 199QW, appeared in both the krch-April 1990 Cascade Caver 29(3-43:11-I3 and the June 1990 Spcleograph 26 (6) : 56-5 8. Included were visits to a fmous caver on Andiparos, which has had renown visitors like Alexander the Great, and to Koutouki Cave, along with well-known Greek speleologist he. Petrochjitou. m Buddy Lane gave a program entitled "Caving in the TAG" at the June 1990 meeting of the Chattanooga Grotto. according to Chattanooga Grotto Tadbe 3 (6) : 1, page 14 Tfie Alaskan Caver Volume 12 Number 4 October 1992


October 1992 Volume 12 Number 4 The Alaskan Caver


Ribilof Isltmd Erpedition (1991) by Art Eash Hamey Bowers, Cumin Metzler, and Art Eash, members of the Glacier Grotto. flew to St. Paul Islaad of the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea to locate and survey eaves and lava tubes reported by various sources to be found there, The expedition was authorized by Tanadgusix. the village corporation of St. Paul, as required for any such venture, We arrived at St. Paul Airport at 2pm on Thursday, May 16. 1991, after a two hour and 15 minute flight on Rewe Air Aleutian. The weather conditions were clear (which was hard to believe on this norma2ly fog-choked island) but very windy. Victor Merculief, Land Manager for the Tanadgusix Corporation picked us up in his Suburban and whisked us off on s short tour of the tcwn area, complete with a short history. The two islaads of the Pribilofs were uninhabited until the late 1800s, when Russians imported enslaved Aleuts to hunt and process seal furs from the mammals who then made an annual breeding visit in uncounted droves to the rocky shores. In the early 1970s the controlled international harvest was halted except for subsistence hunting by natives, destroying one of the feu reliable sources of income for the locals, With the onset of bottom fishing in the Bering Sea, though, St. Pad has become a major port for crab and pollock processing, with tens of millions being poured into capital projects by Japanese imeator~, some of which pulled out when their stock market crashed. Overfishing in the Gulf a Alaslca and southern Bering Sea is pushing the industry into the Pribolof neighborhood. Crab (opil io, for now) pollock and black cod are the main source of revenue. with tourism (especially birding) coming on in summer months. About 550 tourists were booked in 1991, including many birders from around the world. After our baggage (packs) arrived, we heeded north to a lava quarry, excavated a few years ago to construct the tawn breahater, A substantial nev harbor services a fleet that ranges over most of the Bearing Sea, On the day we arrived, 25 ships were anchored up. The Bogoslof volcano, high point of the island, sits a couple of miles north of the quarxy, (It is an ancient, longdormant cone-not the active Bogosl of volcano wEch created an island by the same name further south in the Bering Sea.) We moved in the direction of the volcano, choosing one of very few dry campsites to pitch the "tentsn. (Harvey and I used a rain fly wer bivvy bags; Curvin tented next door.) The winds swept wer the island, unhindered by any large plant life or blocking landforms, blowing steadily at 21) or so miles per hour with gusts much higher. Finding caves was hampered by large patches of snow remaining on the tundra, often several acres in size at this time of year. But temperatureswere moderate, around 35 degrees Fahrenheit, and the sky was uncharacteristically blue, We had packed mounds of gear and clothing in expectation of 32.1 degrees and blowing sleet. We were granted a reprieve. The next morning, we cooked a quick breakfast, packed up the caving gear, and headed for Bogoslof. Hiking over the tundra was difficult, with large volcanic rocks concealed beneath the grasses and heathers, The grasses form tussocks, sometimes a couple of feet high, which topple when stood upon. But we made our way. noting locations of potential entrances to caves and lava tubes as we went. Harvey dropped into one small lava tube a short distance out of camp. The wind continued as we clambered up the slopes of Bogoslof, On top. Harvey and I scanned the tundra below for evidence of caves, distracted by what must be the best view in the Bering Sea, and finally spy an entrance to the best-known cave on the island. We descended downhill to the mouth, which is a hole in the tundra with three nesting pairs of grey-headed black-capped row finches flitting in page 16 The Alaskan Caver Volme 12 Number 4 October 1992


and out. Curvin j oined us, and we threw on our harnessed and dropped 30 feet to the cave floor via a pair of crossed beams placed over the sirfoot access hole. Harvey' s prehistoric Gibbs ascenders perform perfectly once again. Inside, the constant roar of the wind dissipates to near silence. Over head. broken only by the entrance, is a nearly perfect vaulted ceiling, with polygonal patterns spanning most of the visible surfaces. As we would see in most caves on St. Paul, a reindeer or two had visited this cwe before us, as evidenced by the crumpled piles of bones on the floor. The room entered into was 25 feet wide (maximum) and over 60 feet long. tapering to a narrow lava tube network at one end. We judged this to be the cave some botanists had described as having a walk-in entrance (during warmer times) from the side of a nearby crater. Spindrift had filled what ap peared to be that entrance on the uphill side, The ca-vewas briefly surveyed and we ascended out into the tempest again. Outside, finding no other cave entrance nearby, we mwed vest tmard more volcanic landforms, including volcanic cones,, There were fewer tussocks and the terrain was more rocky as we walked westward, but trmel was at least as threatening to our ankles. The perfect weather continued, but daylight was waning, so we returned to camp. En route, Curvin descended several very mdl lava tubes through breaks in the tundra, but none extended beyond a few feet, Each is part of the million-year old system that has been severely broken up over time. The next day, the trio headed for Bogoslof again, this the circling the cone for other cave entrances, Two more entrances were descended into, one of which yielded a small, gelatinous worm from wet walls at about 25 feet. A specimen was collected. Tubes repeatedly ended in pinched corners or were nearly filled with sediment, ending probe after probe. Moving around the volcano and fur ther north we found a herd of reindeer. including a dozen or so calves. grazing on the lichen. Several exotic lor at least colorful and unidentified) lichens Art Eash and Curvia Metzler inside Bogoslof Dome Cave. Photo by Hasvey Bowers. October 1992 Volrmre 12 Number 4 The Alaskan Caver


ering grounds during hunting .season. .. There were no fur seals that day, with a sole exception. One '?beachmasterm-an enormous male--sat on a rocky point, waiting for his harem to show up. Despite federal management efforts, fur seal populations have declined to drastically below historic levels. And populations of the Stellar sea lion, another beach resident, have dropped to alarmingly low lwels in addition. St. Paul residents are now participating more kt Eash at Bogoslof Dome Cave entrance. directly 5n management deciPhoto by Harvey Bwers. sions in hopes of reversing the decline, with the much decorated the rock in this low-lying longer perspective prwided by their area of the island. Mwing yet further Aleut heritage. north, we could see a ship which had run Back in camp, we dug in for another aground (and has remained stuck another windy night, We filtered the coffeeyear later), A dune area behind the colored standing water through a 'Water beaches precludes any more cave disOnen, which barely operated at such cold covery, so we migrated past the reindeer. temperatures. With just a few hours past sriclcleback-filled Big Lake, and left on the little Bering Sea paradise, back to the drier, more valcanic areas re walked around in the area near camp, to the west, still hoping to find another cave or The western shoreline is character tvo. Cumin entered a couple more lava ized by sheer drops of columnar basalt, tubes, but they dl went nuwhere, The f osming perf est, protected ne~ting sites for hundreds of thousands of birds. Protected. that is, except frcm the foxes, which were introduced by Russians last century or before, and which prey on eggs and young in summer. Coupled with a disrupted food chain at sea, severel avian species are sufferingsetbacks, includin~ the red-legged kittiwake, whose only breeding site is on this island. Our goal included walking beaches in search of seacaves, but time was running short. and we walked easterly again rmard camp. The beaches on this southwesterly side are rocky and are the site where over half a million fus seals hang out during pup rearing time. Observation decks have been built for subsistence hunters. The grassy dunes behind the beaches are green, unlike nearly all the remainder of the island. Harvey Bowers checking out a lava cave. as this is the location of the butcb ehoto by Curvia Metzler. page 18 The Alaskan Caver Volume 12 Number 4 October 1992


stars returned, assuring us of another The next morning we loaded up. remarkably cold and clear night on an walked the road to town, visited with island noted for its consistent fag and the folks at Tanadgusix, and boarded rain. the Reeve flight home to Anchorage. o Idothorms note: In August of 1992. I flew with my wife Karen back to St. Paul Island, this time with mountaim bikes to take advantage of the exeellent roads that circle the island. No camping is permitted without permission, but a stay at the island' s one hotel is highly recmended. Our weather again was perfect, with no wind this time. Yet the forecast nearly always favors wind and rain, so even a seasoned camper will wdcme a hot shower and a good meal. A bed and breakfast option exists as well. Between the half million fur seals, the over 200 species of birds, and a myriad of flowers on the tundra, this island provides an eyeful wherever you turn. I [Please note: Any expedition on either St. Paul or St. George Island requires prior clearance with Tanadgush: Tanadgusix Village Corporation 1500 West 33rd Avenue Anchorage. AK 99503 (907) 278-2312 During most of the year, no access is permitted to lands off the main roads, in an effort to reduce disruption to wildlife. Hawmer, excellent tours are available through either Tanadgusix or the King Eider Hotel, including day trips to some of the best bird and mammal viewing sites anywhere.] t ,mjT,& Scale in Feet Cave A, St Paul Island, Alaska 5/17/91 sunny, 34 F, 20-25 mph winds Cave is located on an old lava flow S.E. of Bogoslof Hill. Total length 30 feet. Total depth 20 feet. Sumeyed by Cumin Metzles Art Eash Harvey Bowers This small cave is located in the bottom of a small sink. this area has a number of collasped lava tubes. The only item of note in this cave was some clear worms(?) which leave a reflective slime, October 1992 The Alaskan Caver page 19


Cwes of the Milof Islands by Hafvey Bowers Bogoslof Cave and Bogoslof Dome Cave are located on the south side of Bogoslof Hill on St. Paul Island in the Bering Sea. Bogoslof Cave reports were published in The Alaskan Caver in 1982 (7 (2) :4-5) and 1985 (8 (3) :4-7). We had hopes of mapping the cave, but were unable to fhd it due to snow aepth in the adjoining crater. As recently as 1985 this cave was thought to be the lwgest kam cave in Alaska, and to this date is our longest known lava tube, Bogoslof Dome Cave (we were unable to find a local name to the cave, wen though the cave and almost the entire island is owned by local natives) was visited on May 17. with the weather being sunny, 34 degrees (Fahrenheit), with a 20 to 25 mph wind. The dome is entered by a fourfoot-by-f ive-f oot pit entrance, with a 21-foot drop to a snow/ice mound on the bottom. The pit is located close to Bogoslof Cave at the edge of a collapsed dome or crater. At the rime of our visit. two posts (4x4 inches) were crossed over the pit with two polyprepylene (fishing boat) ropes going into the pit. We reamed the larger of the two ropes because it looked degraded. The second rope was part of a couple hundred feet of rope coiled by the entrance. The dome had a nice dome feature with large cracks in the ceiling and walls. At the entrance pit and the far east side there was a large mount of snow and ice. The cave did not have a lot of features to keep our ~ttention. Noted features were: birds nesting just inside the entrance (which had a large amount of moss) ; numerous reindeer bones throughout the cave (the entrance had a rotting smell); a small skylight in the middle of the cave (nearly invisible from the surface) ; and small, clear worms which leave a reflective slime (found at the far west side). We saw the worms in some of the smaller caves; yet this island is the only place any of us had seen such a worm, Also. in the small west side passage there was a strong air current flowing down passage. estimated at 200 to 360 cfm, On our visit we located some other small fissure caves. We located one cave southeast of Bogoslof Hill and five others to the east and northeast. All were 20 to 40 feet long, and ten to 21 feet deep. Most had reindeer bones at the base of the pit and some caves had the clear worms with reflective trail. The natives of St. Paul also reported a very interesting creature that can be caught in the crater lake on Bogoslof Hill. From the description it sounded like a trilobite. 'She lake was frozen at the time of our visit. a 0 '23 Y u Scale in Feet Cave D, Saint Paul Island, Alaska surveyed 5/19/91 by Cumin Hetzler Art Eash Harvey Bowers page 20 The Alaskan Caver Volume 12 Number 4 October 1992


October 1992 Volume 12 Number 4 The Alaskan Caver page 21


************** Area Grotto Meetings ****a********* n SouthCentral Area Meetings SouthCentral Area Meetings usually are held at 7:30pm the fourth Wednesday of each month. However, we currently are 5n d of a regular reeEing place1 There vill be ml meeting in Nwhr. as a result. And the December meeting will be a pd.n& at the home of Jay Ibxihell. Jr. r 2944 hory Street. Anchorage, AK 99508, telephone 277-7350. The Chrismas potluck will be hdd on Thmsday, De& 10, at 6:OOpm. n SouthEast Area Meetings SouthEast Area Meetings will be held at 7xOOpm on the first Monday of each month. The meeting place is the Alaska mic Health Mce Building, 3054 5th hue, Ket-. n Northern Area Meetings Northern Area Meetings are held in Fairbamks by demand: contact Eike Hauser at (907) 4564953 for more details. DUES are DUE1 It's that time of year again--the to show your support and appreciation for all the news and information which has been collected and distributed via The Alaskan Caver during the past year. If your mailing label shows a 92 instead of a 93, it1 s time for a sub~cription renewal, as: only mo issues remain in the current volume, Renew now, so you won't miss a single exciting issue of your favorite actiaa-packed newsletter. Besides, we need the funds in order to produce this newsletter on into next year. so please renew now, Just do it! Glacier Grotto 2944 Emory Street Anchorage. Alaska 99508-4466 Forwarding and Return Postage Guaranteed Address Correction Requested

Contents: President's
Corner: Elections Coming Up ? --
Grotto News --
Glacier Caving Season is Here Again! --
Meadowbrook Mystery Cave --
Scientists Unearth Rare, Ancient Pictographs in Southest
Alaska --
Patient's Notes from the Cave Rescue --
Beaver Cave and a Karst Window --
Summer 1991 Cave Search and Exploration Reports --
Members in the News --
Pribilof Island Expedition (1991) --
Caves of the Pribilof Islands.


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