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: Calendar of Events -- White Mountain Trail -- White Mountain Cave Report / Rich Hall -- Chitistone -- Chandalar / Jay Rockwell.
Open Access - Permission by Author(s)
Original Version:
Vol. 5, no. 5 (1980)
General Note:
See Extended description for more information.

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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:
K26-00274 ( USFLDC DOI )
k26.274 ( USFLDC Handle )
4434 ( karstportal - original NodeID )

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Valurne 5 Number 5 Septemer-October 1980 THE ALASKAN CAVER autmH;esternmost Peak of the white ,Wuntalns


CALENDAR OF EVENTS September 18 Glacier Grotto Meeting. lhe program will be slides of our July ite Mountains trip, Meetings are oeld in room 312 Grant Hall, Alaska Pacific University at 7:30 pm. October 16 Glacier Grotto Meeting. Tne program will be an NSS slide snow on Ellison's Cave in Georgia, Meetings are neld in room 312 Grant Hall, Alaska Pacific University at 7:30 pm. November 20 Glacier Grotto Meeting. Meetings are neld in room 312 Grant Hall, Alaska Pacific University at 7:30 pm. November or December some weekend. Glacier Caving at Byron Glacier or elsemere. Contact Jay Rackwell at 277-7150 if you are interested. December 18 Glacier Grotto Meeting. The program will be an NSS slide snow on "Fundamentals of Caving'" Meetings are neld in room 312 Grant Hall, Alaska Pacific University at 7:30 pm. January 15 Glacier Grotto Meeting. Meetings are held in room 312 Grant Hall, Alaska Pacific University at 7:30 pm. February 19 Glacier Grotto Meeting. The program will be an NSS slide Bt'l ow. Marcn 19 Glacier Grotto Meeting. April 16 Glacier Grotto Meeting. ne program will be an NSS slide snow. JulylB-24 EigFltn International Congress of Speleology in Bowling Green Kentucky. This is me first time hat me International Congress nas been atld in me United States. Tnere will be a week of sessions, meetings, and trips as we1 1 as pre-congress, post-congress and daily excvrs ions to caves and karst features. For furtner info request me second circular from: Eig tn 1ncernat:ional Congress of Speleology, The Secretariat, Department of Geograpoy and Geology, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky 42101. Fees range from $5 for a single day's aessiona to $130 for full membersnip. lhe ALASKAN GAVER is a periodic publication of me Glacier Grotto 05 me National Speleologieal Society. Subscriptions are free to members. Membersnip dues are $3 per annum. Dues can be sent to Jay Rockwell at 2944 Emory St, Ancnorage, AK 99504, Copyrig t 1980 by Glacier Grotto. Material not copyrigted by individuals or otner groups may be copied by om er NSS publications provided credit is given .to tn e AUSKAN CAVER and a copy of sucn publication is sent to me editor. Editor: GROTTO OFFICERS Ricn ard Hall Presidene Julius Rackwell Publisher: V. President David Street David Moll Secretary Ricnard HaLl Acting Treasurer Liz Rockwell At Large David Moll Publicity Barbara Jansen WELCOME to Dr Keita D Vmel, 818457 Box 160, Fairbanks, AK 99701, a caver wno nas just moved up co Alaska.


WTTE WAIN TRAIL W%S Quads: Livengood A2, A3, B2, B3. Pierce ~vlclntosh Date: July 20 27, 13fN Tne Hnlhite ivbvntain Smer Trail offers access to Beaver Creek anu the bite ikmntains. Tne area's attractrons are many; alpine ridge-tops offer views oi tne White Muntalns and tne AlasKa Range, there are also birds, Derries and caves. &aver Creek offers excellent Grayling fishing. US Fiso and dildlife has a cabin at the junction of the trail and Beaver Csee~. Heservations (free] must be made with them in Fairbanks. Kichard Hall, John Foster, Sara Forbes, bile E T legt the trailhead at mllepost 28, Elliot Hwy on Smday morning, July 20. The trail is well rnar~ed asld proceeds across dic~essham Dom (3207 ') and follows me ridgeline tnsough moderate ups and down across Pt. Sham (3218') and on for an additional 2-3 miles and then generally down the ridgeline to the junction with tne ~hite Mountain Winter Trail, approximately 19 miles frorn the trailhead. bs most everyone knows, the designation of Winter-trail means wet feet, tussoc~s and mosquitoes in Summer. The last two miles of this trail offers those ingredients in abundant measure. The chance to wade Wickersham and Beaver CreeKs is most welcome after traversing the sloping swamp. Tn years past BM 6 YCC crews have constructed board walacs over way low areas en the trail. 1 just wish they could have included the last two miles. On our way in we met two people coming out who advised Beaver Creek was too high to cross. Nhen we arrived at the edge of the creek, we met two German hi~ers (from Berlin) who had spent two days unsuccessfukly trying to rig a tyrolean bridge across the water. They also thought it was too deep to cross. Within 15 minutes Rich and John had scouted the area and found a place to cross where me water was only mid-thigh. Beaver Creek ha5 a goad sack bottom and is not too swift, so there really was no problem, Tne caoln is in good shape, except for a few extra doors made by the resident red squirrel, and the lack of a few window screens. Good tent sites are scarce in the vicinity of the caoin, but there are abundant sandrias sites In tne general area. We spent tne next 2 and one half days using the cabin as a base of aperations for fishing, berrypicking, and two sorties into the westernmost Nhite Mountain Range exploring for caves. One cave worthy of me name was examined, s~etCflerl, and pnotographed by Richard. Other caves were vlsiole, out not reachable without technical rocK climbing on the rather friaele limestone faces. "Fne trip out retraces the same route, and the swampy area is no easier on me way out, going upnill, even with a lighter pack. We chose to do tnis portion late in the evening and dry camp a~our 5 miles from the cabin. -It seemed to oe a wise move to avoid -daytime heat in the swamp.


The Hnite Mountains and White Mt Trail (X mar~s sprlngs)


WTE MXJNTAIN CAVE REPORT Are tnese caves in the rrinite rhuntains? Yes there are. Our trip mere from July 23 to 27 conf imed that there are solution caves in the Tolovana Li~nestone in the White cbmtains although no major caves have been found so date. Pierce and Emily McIntosh, John Faster, Sarah Forbes and T drove to Fairbanks on Saturday July 19 leaving behind one of the few beautiful days Anchorage nad seen so far this summer. Of course, there were thmdersllowers in FairoanKs when we arrived but they quickly dissipated. Dave and Ginny Moll had invited us to stay with them so our first item of business was to figure out mere they lived which took a bit longer than 1 expected but we did it. I also stopped in to see Herman Bucholtz, a retired trapper and guide in the White Muntains. He had some good advice for us on wnere to go and how to get about in the mountains but said ne was not aware of any caves there. It was a beautiful sunny Sunday as we hit the old BLM White Mountain Trail (see Pierce McIntoshrs article on the nike on page 3) headed for the Mrealis LeFevre ca~in. The map on page 4 shows the route of the trail. From me cabin, a tnsee hour hike down Beaver Creek will get you to tne most soutAwt2~terly peak of the White Mts. Actually our first attempt followed tne soutnemmost meander of hver Creek and took four hours witn lots of grueling crawling through brush and slogging through bogs; but we found that by ta~ing the northernmost branch and by crossing and recrossing me stream in the sight places you can make the trip in less tnan mree hours and much more enjoyable. Tne map on this page shows the various routes taken. John, Pierce and T hiked to the mountain on Tuesday and Sarah and Emily joined us on Wednesday. This is where we began our cave searcn. Routes Ta~en to Tip of the Hhi te Mountains (pref ered route is solid line)


The Tolovana Limestone has been described in a paper entitled 'Preliminary Results of a Survey for Thick Migh-calcium Limestone Deposits in the United States' as '99 percenr calcite with no dolomite or deleterious rock types, 1500 to 3000 feet thick" and was discussed in the Alaskan Caver Vol 5 No 2. The best book for a general geologic introduction to the area is USGS Bullexin 872, 'The Ywkan-Tanana Region, Alaska" by J.B. brtie, Jr., 1937. More specific to the White Mts is a 1960 master's thesis by Richard Church and M. Charles Derfee entitled '"Geology of the Fossil Creek Area". Ir describes all the rock units in the middle section of the White Mts and postulates that extensive faulting has caused the limestone to weather in two ma~n ridges and several irregular outcrops. The double ridges refered to by Chu~ch are not evident in the area where we were. There was only a single ridge and all of the rock was slanted at an angle of about 80 degrees with the strike running about narth-northeast, the same direction as the mountain range in general. The slope of the mountainside on the east side (om direction of approach1 is about 60 degrees but is not quite as steep as the west side. The east side is covered with dead trees from a forest fire which makes is difficult at times to climb the slope. Thickness of the beds according to Chvrch range from two to twenty feet near Fossil Creek; examination of the rocks in this area show the bedding variable from one inch to over ten feet. Church and Durfee measured the thickness of the limestone near Fossil Creek at 3215 and 4225 feet in two different places although the base is not exposed due to faulting and the upper contacts have been removed by erosion. The Tolovana Limestone only crops out as a band up to a few miles ride and 90 miles long however, it is suggested that it is part of a much broader limestone deposit ranging from the Kuskokwim valley ro the Porqupine River. All told we fomd three caves (ldefined as larger than body size) and a nmbbw of smaller solution and karren features. We saw our first cave, hip Grind Cave (map page 71, through our binoculars from a half mile away uhich is why we decided to explore that part of the mountain. It consists of three rooms, one on the right that stretches the entire 20 foot height of the cave and two on the left, one above the other with the entrance to the upper from the cave face and the entrance to the lower via the righthand rmm. There are many mall solution tubes up to six feet long around the walls of all the rooms and in the ceiilng of the upper rmms. 'These may or may nor be related to the vadose seepage patterns but water does, or has, run down the 80 degree bedding plane, into the upper part of the cave, then through the ground between the floors, into the lower room and out through the dirt and breakdow in the bottom of the cave, still following the bedding plane; much as water drips through a drip grind coffee pot hence the name of the cave. The breakdown in the battom of the righthand room consists of a pile of boulders wish space underneath them but no effort was made to move the rocks and there was not enough room to fit between them. There are also several other places on the mountain where solution (too small for hvmans) follows the bedding plane. There are two cases near Drip Grind Cave where these tubes farm tunnels through peaks of some spites. 6


DRIP GRIND CAVE many solution tubes H --< in ceiling / \ / I' I' 1 A, 1 1 v t 1-4 I 5qdrop 7' drop -\ map view upper level cross sections: solid line is in rear of cave dashed line 6s at face of cave Livengood B-2 Quadrangle 147O 48' W 65O 24' N -Glacier Grotto NSS t July, 1980 ,... map view lower level Pocat ion A small (1ltV by 24") cave was discovered by John on Wednesday to the left and uphill from Drip Grind Cave. Tt went in for at least 12 feet before turning down and out of sight, He did not explore it due to the volume of mamot droppings on the floor. 1 Eomd another cave on Wednesday aoout 200 feet to the right of Drip Grind Cave and almost to the smit of the mountain. Tt consists of one cig hole, 15' high and wide by 10' deep; more typical of a large frost pocket: cave than a solution cave although there was a small solution tube in the back of it. It also was a favorite animal shelter as it contained a large amount of animal feces. The potential for caves in the White Mountalns is huge and it will take years to cover even a small part of them. To save the it would be better to do several things differently. Fly in rather than take four days hlking in and out. Camp nearer the mountains rather than take a minimum of six nours a day hi~ing to and from the rocks. Investigate the mountains further north where the limestone Is thicker and there is less vegetation. Take a fishing pole. Note that travel earlier in the season could be hampered by higher water on Beaver Creek and more mosquitoes. Rich Hall 7


We made it into Chitietone ValLey in late August, found a few new caves, surveyed part of one, atared in awe at the inaccessible holes in the rock faces, and had a great time. Full report in the next issue. During a flight down North Fork Chandalar River from Chandalar Camp on the Oil Pipeline, the Skajit Limestone was found to have cave-like openings. This limestone surfaces in a band extending from Sukakpak and Weil Mountains on Middle Fork Koyukuk and Dietrick Rivers, extends northeast up Mathews Creek and crosses North Fork Chandakar River in Town~hip 35N. Band Ranges 5 and 6 of the Fairbanks Meridian (see V%S Chandalar D 4). It is near Reds Lake and a promising opening, among others, was seen in T. 35N. ,R. 5W see LO(of FM), The extent of the expoacd limestone belt seemed to broaden as one went north. Jay Rockwell Glacier Grotto The Alaskan Caver Richard Hal 1, Editor 4607 Klondike Court Anchorage, Alaska 99504 NEWS DATED MATERIAL

Contents: Calendar of
Events --
White Mountain Trail --
White Mountain Cave Report / Rich Hall --
Chitistone --
Chandalar / Jay Rockwell.


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