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


General Note:
Contents: The Alaskan Caver -- Record Pit Found in Alaska -- President's Corner -- Notes from Prince of Wales Island (1988) -- Technical Preliminary Report #6: El Capitan Cave -- Identification of Insects from Prince of Wales Island Cavs -- Hole Checking, Anyone?.
Open Access - Permission by Author(s)
Original Version:
Vol. 9, no. 4 (1989)
General Note:
See Extended description for more information.

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University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
K26-00297 ( USFLDC DOI )
k26.297 ( USFLDC Handle )
4457 ( karstportal - original NodeID )

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fhe A1 aqw Cays d s the 1 ntermi ttent pub1 lcatf on of the GI aci er Grotto of the Natlonal Speleological Soclety, (Copyright a 1989 by the Glacler Grotto.) Fhtertals not copyrtghted by fndivfduals or by other groups may be copied by other NSS Pub1 icati ons prw ided credit t s given to author and The A1 Caver and a copy Is sent to the Edjtor. Back Issues are avallab'le fsan the Presfdent for $1.00 each. Members shoul d send artdcl esr letters# news f ternsp announcements, and so forth directly to the Editor (see below). Opinions expressed wt thl n are not necessarily those of Caver, the Glacler Grdtor or the NSS. Memhersh.1P Is open to a17 Interested I n A1 askan cave dlscovsry~ exploratf on, descrl ptf onp survey, mappi ng* photography? hydro1 ogy, morphol ogyt bf 01 ogy~ geology# history# spelsogenesis and other spelaean processes, conservation? management# adventurest and the fell orrship of A1 askan avers. Dues are $5.00 per year in the United States E$10.00 In US funds If werseas) for the flrst member of a mall tng address and $1.00 for .addf t2 onal persans at the same address. Rus are due on January 1 and are sent to the Treasurer (see belm3 wfth the appl icati on/renewal form. Those pay irig for the f lrst tfme after October 1 will be consml dsred paid up for the foll wing year. The year through whdch each member is pald is indicated on the mailing label. Meetings are called to plan and report on trips or other spec1 a1 events: nnyona wantf ng to have a meetlng for any reason should notify the Presid~dr Vice Presd dent or a Member-at-Large. OfFIcers blR7esldnt J Rdwel'F Jr Ylm Pm [3avld M Moll Actlng Sec Jlm Nicholls Trgasurer San Dunaway Manb at Lg Tan Ha17 imn knb at Lg Win All md Editor W Hawgr Barers Asst Ed Currln Mertslw NJ Reg Rep Dave Kl I ngar Manbershlp Curvfn Metrlsr Address 2W hory St P 0 Box 82044 PO 00x654 7301 Chad St 1617 Wol verf ne Dr P 0 Bax 376 3B S Bartlett Cr P 0 Bm 100738 PO Bcrx537 P 0 Bax 100738 mty St Zlp Morage PK 99508 Fa1 rbanks AK 99701 Cl ear ffl 9507 Anchorage IUC 99518 Fa1 rbanks AK 93709 Haines AK 99827 Wasilla M -83 Anchoraga AK 99510 Lemrrmh WA 98826 Anchorage PK 99510 Hane Work 277-7150 564-8267 455-6578 4746318 474-0104 5B4ZU 344-4037 762-217 1 4796m 479-7454 via WS" vfa WINS* 376-2294 373-2247 333-87M 333-8366 54mmt 54&5880+ 333-8766 333-8766 Messages may b amunmd to Win dally via radio station WHS at (9071 7ti6-ma The area cob for phoning Dave In Le~morthr Washington is 1509) (both nunbers) Ccver: muPCtfh.e_Uni Stam draw i ng by Carl ene A1 1 red. The feature article, entitled "Record Pit Found in Alaskaw, appears on page 3. Record Pit Found in Alaska . , . . , . 3 PresidentmsCorner . . . , , . . 5 Notes frm Prince of Wales Island (1988) . a . . . 6 Technical Preliminary Report #6: El Capitan Cave . . . 10 Identifications of Insects f ran Prince of wale^ ~sland Caves 14 HoLeChecking, Anyone? . . . . . 16 The Alaskan Caver Volume 9 Number 4 QctDber 1989


Record Pit Found in Alaska by Julius Rockwell, Jr, The deepest known natural pit in the United States has been found on the top of El Capitan Peak, on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska. El Capi tan Pit was first entered on July 27, 1989, by Kevin Allred of Haines, Alaska, Jim Nicholls Of Clear, Alaska, and Miles Hecker of Casper, Wyoming. The sumeyed depth, 590 feet, exceeded that of any other natural free fall pit in a known U. S. cave. Allred* the Expedition leader, was the first to reach the bottom. At the bottom, the speleol,ogists found an unexplored fissure passage which continued in two directions. Last yeas, Allsed and Dr. Robert J. Baatasz of Livermore, California, went down to the 340-foot level, but had to turn back for want of rope. This year, three 1000-foot lengths of rope were brought along. The support and backup group on the top of the mountain consisted of Richard A, [Rick) Plridges of Denver, Colorado, man Gehsing of Casper, Wyoming, Lymen G. (Kelly) Kellstedt of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Stephen Meier of Fairbanks, Alaska, Anne K, and Douglas Strait of Caswell Beach, North Carolina, and Winnfield G, Wright of Richmond, Virginia. Base camp support personnel at ET Capi tan Work Camp of the 0. S. Forest Service included Carlene B, Allred of Haine~, Alaska, Robert 5. Bastasz, Patti S, Heckes of Casper, Wyming, Dr, Julius and Elizabeth A. Rochell of Anchorage, APaska, and Dr. Kathy Tonnessen of Livermore and Sacramento, Cnl if ornia, All of the above were among the participants of the Prince of Walee Island Expedition I1 I (PClWIE 111) of the Tongasa Cave Proj ect Conunittee. This Committee is a standing committee of the Glacier Grotto, the Alaska chapter of the National Speol ogical Society (NSSF The Grotto joined with the Thorne Bay Ranger District of the Forest Service, U. 5. Department of AgricuJ-ture, on July 25, 1989. in an Agreement for Sponsored Voluntasy Services to facilitate the angoing inventory and survey of the cave resources of the District. The purpose of this inventory is to assist the Forest Senice in its implementation of the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act of 1988 (PL 100-691). This new Federal cave law encourages such cooperation to improve cave management and protection. As Forest Service Volunteers, Grotto members are gathering data and turning it over to the Forest Service to assist in management decisions. In return, the Forest Service provides needed logistical support when and if it happens to be available to increase the efficiency and output of the Grotto's operation and safety, The establishment of a new record for the deepest pit in the United States ia highly aignif icant to the world caving community, especially as it f acuaea attention on an area 1 ittle known f som the spel eological standpoint. A record of more than sixteen years standing has been broken, In caving, the deepest pit {single drop) is comparable to the highest vertical rock face in mountaineering. Since Alaska now has the highest vertical drop in the U. S., on Mount St, ELiaw, the highest mountain, Mount McKinley, the deepest pit, in El Capitan October 1989 Volume 9 Nmber 4 The Alaskan Caver


Pit, we have only to find the deepest cave, which we hope to accomplish before too many seasons. The present U, S. record now stands at 1550 feet, Columbine Crawl, Wyoming. The only other caving record is the longest cave, which at 330 miles, Mmoth Cave, Kentucky, may be beyond our grasp, at least: in the inmediate future. The previous record pit was Fantastic Pit in Ellison's Cave, Georgia. It was discwered and first descended in October 1968 by Della McGuffin to a depth of 510 feet. However, the entry point was not at the top and by Christmas Eve, 1973, Don Davison, Jr. had bol ted 2 8 anchors upward to the top and rigged the drop. Cheryl Jones was the first to descend 586 feet to establish a record that stood for sixteen and one half years. POWIE 111 was preceded by POCJIE I1 and PClWIE I. PCWIE I, 1987, consisted of the Allred family. Carlene and Kevin Allred explored and mapped Starlight Cave on Prince of Wales Island, more than doubling the record for length and depth for Alaskan caves. Published results in T-he Alaskan Caver, the Grotto' s publication, brought a total of nine cavers for PClWIE I1 in 1988. That year El Capitan Pit was found by Kwin Allred, Harvey Bowers of Waailla, Alaska* and David Matfield of Ketchikan, Alaska. Over a mile of El Capitan Gave, Alaska's longest known, and three other caves were surveyed and mapped that year. This last summer's work established the northern Pri nee of Wales Island as a highly signif fcant karst area of the United States, The discovery, near El Capitan Pit, of Snow Bole, which at 450 feet is the third deepest pit in the United States, simply bears this out. Over two thousand feet below these and other cave entrances, EL Capitan Cave has now been surveyed to wer 9000 feet and many leads remain unexplored. However, the vandal ism that has taken place in El Capitan Cave since Last yeas is saddening. Speleothems are being 'broken and removed, contrary to the recently passed Federal Cave Resources Protection Act of 1988 (PL 1010-691). Much of it must be due to ignorance, which a skillful educational program might correct, Next to inventory and survey, curbing destruction of speleotherns should be high priority. The Grotto haa entered into a volunteer agreement with the Thorne Bay Ranger District, II, S. Foreat Service, to imentory and survey the cave resources of the District. The data gathered will assist the Forest Service in management decisions regarding this important resource. In return, the Forest Service has provided needed support to increase the efficiency and output of the Grotto" operation and safety. The Thorne Bay Ranger District haa developed a proposal utilizing the experience, special know1 edge and skills of the National Spel eological Society. With their help, the Forest Service will develop and update cave management plans addressing resource concerns, pub1 ic needs, and health and safety factors. In this way with the cooperation of the public, the natural wonder of these caves can be preserved and enjoyed for generations to come. Thia is another example of how the Forest Service is involving the public in developing recreational resources on Prince of Wales Island. map d The Ala~kan Cwer Vnllnne 9 Number 4 October 1989


Presidentts Corner Lest we be accused of understatement, the Grotto has had a stupendous summer! Not only have we found the deepest and third deepest known pits in the United States, but we have acquired other firsts as well. The number of paidup members has reached 100 for the first time in the history a the Grotto, with the October 13 addition of Dave Decker. The efforts of all Grotto members who participated in POWIE 111 are most appreciated. This was also our first year to receive substantial support for any of our activities from an outside organization. Mr. Pete L. Johnson, District Ranger, Thorns Bay District of the U, S. Forest Service, writes: "We are extrmely pleased with the continued work of the Glacier Grotto for fiscal year 1989. Your group is to be cammended for a job well done we are eager to see the reports and surveys f rm this years inventorying activities andanticipateyourrecent discoveries will thrust ua into national prominence in the caving community and Federal Cave Management Programs. Thank you for your news release article. We will be using your information for local news releases here on Prince of Wales Island and in Ketchikan. The national records for the deepest and third deepest national pits, which this district now holds, will undoubtedly focus great attention on us and draw many more forest users than experienced in the past. It is for this reason that we must continue with our work and mwe quickly to develop a District Cave Management Plan. It will be important for your members to include as much information as possible into your cave inventory reports along with managanent recommendation~. With regard to the vandalism you mentioned, we also are concerned with this problem. This October 1989 Volume 9 Number 4 issue will be an important consideration which will be addressed within the plan. "For fiscal yeas 1990 (which starts October 1, 1989) we intend to develop the first draft of the District Cave Management Plan and continue with the District Cave Inventory as we have in the past, We will continue to provide the Glacier Grotto with subsistence, limited housing* sanitary facilities, work space, radio, fixed wing, he1 icopter, and boat support where necessary. With each successive season we have become more prof icient in hand1 ing logistics and prwiding support for your organizationt s work, yet due to the magnitude of this year' s operation, heavy work loads in other areas, and a lack of sufficient l iaison personnel for your support, we did experience several problems this season in the field camp operation. We hope to remedy this situation in 1990 with more personal liaison contact, impraved housing conditions, a trimmed-down expedition number (15 NSS member 1 imi t) and an improved agreement between the NSS and the Forest Service.., "In closing, I would like to thank you and all NSS members involved in this years expedition. We look forward to working with you again in 1990 and hope to continue a successful cave inventory, management and protection program,.." This issue of The Alaskan Caver includes the last of the 1988 RXIE I1 reports onhand. Eachparticipant needs to complete his or her reports of this past summer (POWIE 111) and turn them in to our Editor for the next issue. We have pruven our ahil ityr now, we must shav the Forest Service that we can work with them in their camps and deliver the reports and surveys that they need to protect the cavea on Federal lands assigned to them. The Alaskan Caver


Notes from Prince of Wales Island (1988) Bob Bastasz and Kathy Tonnessen Day 1 Monday, August 22 Into El Capitan Our campsite along the banks of El Capitan passage was a pretty spot. Directly across the natrow passagc, a snow-capped peak on Kosciusko Island dominated the view. The meandering passage was interrupted by sevd small islands and banked by a thick spruce and hemlock forest. Low tide exposed a beach of shells, rocks, and sea grass, which provided a rich habitat for bald eagles and sea bids. Getting to the campsite was a 4 day journey from San Francisco fa Kathy and me, involving a plant, two ferries, and a fOO miIe side (cornphtncn ts of Jay Rockwell) over logging mads through the Tongass National Forest. We had arrived late in the night and were anxious this morning to explore our new smundings. Soon aft= Mast we saw an hefty black bar wandering down tht logging road into camp. Black bears seem 20 thrive on Prince of Wales Island, for each day of our trip we encountered at least one bear. Fortunately for us there are no brown bears remaining on the island and, in Iate Augusb with the salmon spawning and abundant berry patches, the bears took little interest in us. I tmk some time to Imk closely at the excellent map of the island the Forest Sewice has published. El Capitan passage is located near the northwest corner cxf the island, far from the towns of Craig and Klawock, where most of the island's 2000 or so population Iives. The brief description on the map about the idand's geography seemed about right "Prince of Wales Island, part of the Alexander Archipelago in the southernmost portion of thc Alaskan panhandle, is the third largest island in the United States (after Hawaii and Kodiak), The island is 135 miles long and 45 milts amss and covers abant 2,231 square miles. There are 1 1 additional islands between 16,000 and 22,000 ams, and hundreds of smaller islands smunding Mce of Wales Island. Its 990-mile coastline has numerous bays, coves, iders, and points. The landscape is characterized by steep, forested mountains and deep Ushaped valleys, streams, lakes, salwater straits, and bays that were cawed out by glacial ice which once covered much of the area. The bIanket of sprucehdwk forest is broken by a scattering of muskegs, or bgs, Most of the momtains on the island are 2,000 to 3,000 feet high." A good deeption, except it makes no mention of caves, the main reason we were amcted to the island. Our first trip afidqmund was to EI Capitan cave, which had become the main focus of the trip following ~e discovexy by Kevin and CarEene Ahxi of major waking passageway and an extensive network of phtic spongework. The cave entrance was just a haIf mile from camp and part of that distance was along a hsh logging road The hard part was crossing a few hundred yards through a recent clear cut. Since the custom on Prince of Wales Island is to leave the slash in place, picking a way through the devastation demanded one's full attention. In contrast, traveling the remaining distance through virgin rainforest was a delight. The vndmrory and deep moss carpet filled the air with frtsh scents and the quiet surrounding the ancient trees was equally intense. The cave entrance is at the base of a hestone shelf and is large enough to enter without stooping, A cursgr look for sips of bcar habitation revealed none. It would be interesting to leave a marker over the winter to determine if the cave is used for hibation. The purpose of the trip was to swcy a maze area in an east-trending side passage about 200 feet from the enmce. Carlene was fandm with the ma and Ied us quickly through the cobbEefloortd main wallring passage. We turned right into the side passage and smn arrived at the last survty station. We all aped to a policy of "survey as you go," so each party had the opportunity gage 6 The Alaskan Caver Volume 9 Number 4 October 1989


ice of Wales Island (1988) -continued to explore virgin cave. We quickly became enmeshed in a three dimensional network of smaU pits and passages, CarIene worked the compass, Kathy the notebook, and I the tap, Most shots were short and progress was slow. I rigged a handine and dropped into a small, 15' pit and at the bottom came across some flagging tape Ieft by Kevin on a previous trip. We established a station to connect with tht previous survey and moved on. The spongework contained several small Imps, a few alcoves decorated with S& straws, and ample opportunity to check our closure error. The ~p yielded a few hundred feet of new passage and convinced me the El Capitan cave was a me solution cave with many leads and gcai potential for funher discovery. Day 2 Tuesday, August 23 Rumbling Pit Kevin had earlier found a 35' tubular pit a short distance into a wcstwad-mndhg side passage near yestday" ssurvey. Tday's objective was to check out a smIl crawlway at the bttorn of the pit Kevin and I rigged a handline, chimney& down most of the way, dropped the last 5' and found ourstlvcs in a small room with fine stream gravel on the floor. At the lower end, a smalI "rabbit hole" was the only way onward. Partially fdled with water and gravel, it appeared chat this space could easily sump. In a few minutes we had cleared enough silt to ~UOW US to squirm Wugh without having to get too wet, The conshction opened into a stoopway with widening passage ahead. We found a wide, low morn with some clastic fill, a small dome, and ahead: downward trending, growing passage, After a short distance, we came to a walking-height canyon and a mud bank that Jd to a shwt parallel passage with a dirt-floored balcony overlooking the main passage. We surveyed the short loop and then continued in the canyon as it started to mnd upward until it ended in a dirt-banked cul-de-sac. We remed to thc lowest point in the canyon passage and found a nearly-horizontal, scalloped tube going underneath and parallel to the canyon. The tube had ken scoured clean and contained numerous small potholes indicating sustained, high-velocity water flow. Surveying into the tube, we could feel air flowing through it and also could bear the sound of water running over nxks. We smn came so the lip of a clean pit abut 25' deep. At its base, we cdd see smam cobbles and running water. We rigged a handline using a questionable tie off some distance up the tube, but it did not mch the ROOT, Considering om position and the lack of an adequate belay, we decided not to downchb the pit until we could bring in better equipment This pit is definitely a going lead and is the lowest point yet found in the cave. Upon returning to the surface we rather exdtdy reported out findings. When Jay heard our description, he kgan to refer to the "'rumbling pit," and the name stuck. This will be one of the Mr areas to bc pushed on a retm rip, Day 3 Wednesday, August 24 On the Road Late Tuesday we drove the EOO or so miles to Hollis with Jay so he could catch the fcsry back to Kttchikan early this meming. We spent the rest of the day in Craig and Klawock running errands and seeing what the urban areas of Prince of Wales Island had to offer. Pethaps most interesting was the extensive collection of totem poles near the school in Klamk. The drive back to the north part of the island was long and uncventfu1 except for a short side trip to Staney Cretk cabin. This Forest Service wildmess cabin has recently been rebuiIt and looked like a pleasant spot to whiIe away a few days. About a de before reaching the trailhead to the cabin, we noticed a smam that appeared to spring hm a low limestone cliff on a hillside a few hundred yards north and to the west of an old quarry. After crashing through the vegetation we found the stream source, which flowed out from October 1989 Volume 9 Number 4 The Alaskan Caver page 7


Notes from Prince of Wales Island (19881 -continued small limestone rocks. It wasn't possible to dig out an entrance, so we departed. Day 4 Thursday, August 25 Descent into El capitan Pit Kevin, Kathy, and I smed early his morning. The Forest Senice, expressing interest in our exploraticms, had offered to airlift our gear up El Capitan peak. Kevin delivered a duffel bag of caving gear to the helicopter pilot and then drove us up a logging road on the southwest slopes of the mountain until it became impassable. We Ieft his car and the three of us began a long hike to an area Kevin had identified though aerial photos and a reconnaissance hike earlier in the month. We had found a deep pit and. now we were equipped with over 3W of rope and the necessary vertical gear to check it out. Walking along the rerrmants ~f a logging road we passed a large cliffside entrance with a water stain beneath it, which to our howledge has never been entd This was not our objective so we continued, arduously crossing a clear cut and slowly making our way up a steep slope of old growth spruce and hemlmk. At one point we stanled a h, who loped away amazingly fast. An hour's time brought us to flatter ground and the beginnings of an extensive kafst area. Sinkholes appeared. Some small crevices were deceptively covered by thick moss and once my leg disappeared as I stepped into the center of one. We kame more cautious and passed larger sinkholes containing snow. Eventually we reached a saddle near a small tarn, which was the planned dmp site for our gear. Happy to see yellow flagging, we found the duffel bag right on target. Kevin's aerial map was neatly tucked into the carrying straps indicabg that the pilot was able to land. Afta rest, we loaded up and headed for the pit near the center of the karst plateau. The termin made travel circuitous and it took over an hour to go the last half mile. We passed quite a few sinkholes and pits, occasionally dropping a rock to gauge their depths. In at least one instance, the soundings indicated a free fall of over loo4. There was no question when we anived at what we named El Capitan pit. Its e1ongate.d opening sits in the major east-west fracture crossing the plateau and has a distinctly forelmding appearance. The mouth of the pit has dimensions of abut 15' by 30', with a sheet cliff' on its south side. We decided to rig the pit's lower north side, tying off to a convenient stout me. We lowered a 190' piece of BTuewates II rapt alongside a 30" cable ladder to provide aid near the lip. Kevin, the discoverer, elected to descend first. Out rock soundings indicated a probable depth in excess of the rope's reach, so he carried an additional 150' of Goldline rope to use if needed. Kevin was soon out of sight and his muffled repom sounded enthusiastic. Reaching the knot at he end of the bluewater, he stopped at a small Iedge and saw the pit extending into blackness beyond the power of his lamp. After calling up to the surface, he attached the goldline and continued his rappel. Abut 130' further down he came to a severe nick in his rope, apparently caused by rockfall, and stopped just above the damaged spot. At this point, over 300' below the surface, the pit was spaciaus, with water spraying down part of it, and no end in sight! After Kevin ascended, I clipped in and rappeled to the end of the Bluewaaer. Hm the pit is roughly kidney shaped with the long dimension perhaps 50'. The walls were fluted, very clean, and showed no signs of pinching out. I dropped seved stones fkm the ledge where Kevin had done his changeover, and listened as the mks droppad free for several seconds and then bounced off the walls for a few more, It wasn't possible to accllrately estimate the depth, but one fact is catah: El Capisan, with a depth of 300'+, is the deepest reported pit in Alash Once I rcmed to the surface, we took a few photos and deriggd fit pit, already talking about a sewn trip with more rope to wmplett the txpIoration of this remarkable pit. Crossing the karst plateau, we returned to the helicopter landing site, repacked the duffel bag, page 8 The Alaskan Caver Volume 9 Number 4 October 19 89


Notes from Prince of Wales Island (1988) -continued smffing in as much as we could of the equipment we earlier lugged up, and headed down the mountain. One very apparent featwe of El Capitan mountain is the subterranean water drainage and consequent Iack of surface water. We had brought only a qum of water apiece and had exhausted our supply on this unusually warm and eloudess day. Fortunately, as our thirst increased and the gradient steepened, we came to several patches of salmon berries. Besides tasting especially delicious, they provided handholds. The direct mute we took led down nn alder-Nied gully ending at a beaver pond. As we approached, a distinctive "thwack'"med the occupants of our presence. We crossed the pond by walkhg atop the kaver dam, which seemed abut a 115 mile in length and the longest I've seen. Back on the road at dusk we hiked the Iast mile to Kevin's car by flashlight. Et was the end of an unforgettable day. Day 5 Friday, August 26 Discovery of the Alaska Room The day started with a low tide and the sound of a helicopter landing in the tidal flat next to our camp. The Forest Senice had made an early trip up the mountain to retrieve our gear and graciously delivered it to our doorstep. We much appreciated their help in getting our caving equipment up and down the mountah. Tday 's &ip to El Capitan cave was a push to see what lay abvt the waterfall in the Cathedral Room discovered on Wednesday by Dave KIinger and the Allreds. Carlene, Kathy, and I entered the cave and went directly to the area, where a downward sloping crawlway through cobbles lad to the 25' diameter dome. Kcvin had he-climbxi a 5.7 pitch next to the waterfall and left a handline in place. We went up the 20' waterfall drop, but Kathy got rather soaked before reaching the top. This was no place to risk getting hypothtrmia, so Kathy returned to the entrance. Carlene and I began to survey and found that the cave above the waterfall continued as walldng passage. Aftm a couple of bends, we came to several alcoves containing formations. Fwher on in the main passage we found a stalagmite abut 4' high and in another alcove we came across a translucent drapery of flowstone. At one point the passage constricted and we had to crawl mnd a small pool, where we noticed a defmite airflow blowing past us towards he entrance. As we continued to survey, the passage trended upward and kgan to enI-. The -down here was the largest I had seen in he cave, the passage spacious, and we hastened onward making some 50' shots. As the passageway approached dimensions of perhaps 30' in width and 15' in height, I had the distinct impression of seeing (or actually not seeing) a void ah=& Becoming mom excited, we continued the survey and mn reached what apptared to be. a balcony overlooking an immense chamber. Some of the breakdown in the area looked unstable, so we cautiously pxxd into the rmm More us, We wm 90-20' above the floor of the room. I estimated the longer dimension of the mm, which was oriented roughly perpendicular to the balcony passage, to be about 1 10' and the distance from our vantage to the far wnZl about 80'. 1 could not see to thc highest point in the ceiling and guessed that it must lx more than 100' in height. We wtre much impressed by this room and I suggested, because of its great size, we name it the Alaska Room. There wasn't he to adequately survey the room, so we established a final station in the center of &e balcony, probed the room with our strongest lights, and left the Alaska Rm as the prime lead in the cave. As we made our way out, I speculated that perhaps we had found the bottom of a large domepit. This was certainly not the bottom of EI Capitan pit, for that lay much farther north of our position, but perhaps another pit leading on to upper level passage. We exited the cave and wMe waking back to camp I had time to think abut what an incredible two last days these had been: first we Visit a pit that we can't find the bottom to, and now we bd a room where we can't see the ceiling, Alaska caving certainly has come of age! October 1989 Volume 9 Number 4 The Alaskan Caver page 9


El Capitan Cave Prince of Wales Island Technical Prel iminary Report #6 by Kevin All red October 9, 1988 Located on northern Prince of Wales Island, it is unknown who first discwered El Capitan Cave, or when, In September of 1985, David Hatfield, a Tongass National Forest geologist, and another person penetrated into several dif f icul t and remote regions and apparently were the first to drop dcrwn into what is now known as Hatfield's Pit, In August, 1987, the first NSS (Glacier Grotto) members to investigate and officially name this rumored "50 0-foot-long cave" were Carlene and Kevin Allred. In two days, they surveyed 1887 feet of passage in the entrance portions and explored little else. In August, 1988, on the Glacier Grotto's Prince 05 Wales Island Caving Expedition, nine members continued exploration and surveying and discwered some significant passages, including the yet unentered Alaska Room. At the end of the 1988 expedition, the length of the cave had grawn to 5563 feet. Locale El Capitan Cave sports three entrances, all of which are horizontal, in the very steep slope abave a well-defined gully. The area is typical northwestern coastal rain fore~t, consisting of cedar, Sitka spruce, and western hemlock. The entire area, beginning some 150 feet below the entrance, has been logged off for samedistanceineither direction. The entrances are located above this large clearcut. The gully below the cave was apparently area. However, to the east, perhaps 800 feet away, is a major emergence at the a1 titude of 80 feet (Klinger, 19883. The prev iously-mentioned dry gully contains Middle Cave, 30 feet long, and Kid Cave, which contains 153 feet of passage, Other than a breeze issuing out of Kid Cave and one down the gully, no other evidence of lmer cave entrances were noted on the 1988 expedition. There are some karst areas sweral hundred feet above and north containing sinkholes, sinks, and uvalas, which were studied by David Klinger in 1988. His most significant f Snd was Belittled Pit, some 50 feet deep and still unexplored, Geology and Hydrology In Siluxian Heceta 1 hestone largely a1 tered into rnarblized breccia, El Capitan Cave had phreatic beginnings with extensive vadase modifications, There are signs of past violent flooding, from evidence such as deeply dished-out areas of large football-sized cobbles in constricted pas sages, and scallops. The scallops of ten lack consistency in size and pattern, suggesting greatly fluctuating flow rates and patterns, There are many spongework side passages in the explored areas ranging from approximately 100 feet above to 85 feet below the entrance. This gives evidence, along with various fill deposits scattered throughout, of changing flow patterns, as certain main water conduits have become clogged, to formed frm the system's resurforce corrosion and erosion of gence, which is no longer in the new smaller ones, a~ae 10 The Alaskan Caver Volume 9 Number 4 October 1989


Many of the cobbles are noncarbonate. Whether they originated from Heceta impurities or were washed in from above is not known. There is much evidence of mixing erosion (Bagli, 1980 1 Deposits Fill, some of which has been prwiously cemented with calcite and later partially washed away, ranges from boulders to silt and rarely clay. Of special interest is a light-colored banded clay deposit at least one foot tliick located in a tube at the bottm of Hatfield's Pit. This clay may possibly correspond with former glacial activity in the region of the cave, Speleothems consist of soda straws, stalactites, drapery, flowstone, small helictites, small crystals, stalagmites, mud stalagmites, conulites, and moonmilk. In much of the cave, sinter is now being dissolved, even above the piezometric surface (fluctuating water table). Notable speleogens are splash cups, boxwork, and scallops, B iol ogy Throughout the entrance portions is scattered bat guano, and one dead bat waa found about 500 feet into the cave, It is not known when the bats use the cave or, far that matter, what kind they are. Kevin Allred collected some five-millimeterlong wormlike creatures which are associated with hanging silken threads up to one centimeter long in silt deposits on the ceiling areas near the bottom of Hatfield's Pit. Rod Crawford at the University of Washington identified themasanundetermined species of fungus gnat (order Diptera, family Mycetophil idae, genus Speolepta) [See page 14.1 General Descriptions The cave is generally horizontal andcontains amainpassage with areas of adj oining spongework maze, Pits are up to 25 feet deep. The main passage is often of walking height or larger, while the spongework is generally smaller, usually only two or three feet in diameter, Many passageways are filled with sediment nearly or campletely to the ceil ing, The Alaska Room, newlydiscovered and unexplored as of this writing, is the largest known mum, Many other small tubes are known to open up into extensive and unexplored regions. In a newly-explored area, cairn #I60 on the floor of the Cathedral Room, is 41.58 feet below the main entrance floor. The Balcony, next to the Alaska Room, is 26.68 feet above the entrance floor. This room is approximately 300 feet belaw the surf ace using aerial photos and a topographical map for interpretation, or only 255 feet: belm using David Kl inger s barometric measurements of the surface. The Alaska Room appears to be directly below at least the easterrnost of two large sinkholes above the cave. David Kl inger investigated these and found them both plugged, The Balcony is 940 feet from the main entrance floor. Management ~ecommendations El Capitan Cave is known to many local people on Prince of Wales Island, some of whm have wantonly vandalized the cave by removing or touching speleotherns. The first spray paint was noted in 1988. In both 1987 and 1988 large amounts of flagging were found and removed from inside the cave by the Glacier Grotto. It is recommended that a small sign be placed inside the October 1989 Volume 9 Number 4 The Alaskan Caver


entrance with a register to attempt to educate the public as to the cavet s unique nature and to minimize impact. El Capi tan Cave is not only the longest cave in Alaska, but by far the most beautiful. It is also very accessible, making it very easy for individuals to carry off large amounts of destroyed speleethems. The cave is a good tool to help understand the hydrology and geology in other similar karst areas on the island which have not been explored yet. It is hoped that many diversified people enjoy visits to this amazing cave with small impact to save it for many years to come, References BUgLi, A, 1980. Karst Hydrology and Physical Spel eol ogy. New York, Springer-Verlag, 2 84pp. KB inger, D. 1988, A1 timeter readings ram POWIE 11, [The map on following page shows only part of the cave; f er a map of the remainder of the cave see The Alaskan Caver 9 (13 :7-8.1 Nws for Sling Load Accident Victims by J. Rockwell For those who had equipment lost or damaged by the PClWIE 111 sling load accident, the following paragraph from Pete L. Johnston1 s letter will be one of interest: "In regards to the claims by NSS members for financial reimbursement for personal, items damaged or destroyed as a result of a sling load accidentally dropped ram the helicopter, we are continuing to process these claims through the Forest Supemisors Off ice, We anticipate no problems in this process and fully expect your members to be reimbursed for their Losses. On the leas positive side, this is a lengthy process and on the average noxmally takes approximately six months to complete. Also, we are required to reimburse the depreciated value only of the items claimed as this is considered fair market value, It is to be hoped that they are talking about replacement value here. LQBt and Found Some caving gear was found an Prince of Wales Island at the end of POWIE 111: o light blue rain pants o a metal pot gripper o a white towel o a trash bag containing climbing boots, shorts, heavy rubber knee pads The gear was recovered by the Allreds, and their message is: nIf any of this belongs to you then send us enough money for its postage and we' 11 mail it to you, "' Contact: Kevin & Carlene Allred Box 375 Haines, Alaska 99827 Portions of the Glacier Grotto' s Annual Report, pub1 ished in The Alaskan Caver 9 11) : 3 (19 89 5 appeared in The Cave Cricket Gazette 14 (5) :S7.


,~!uD @ h'cwn and Curlem Alfred USAU ROOM-. BALCONY , ,', THE CATHEDRAL ROOM !I 1m m I. .. 2' A'',.:. ''..s T' ?q+ 8 ,--b,., $ ., 2.2 i a A < d' __. I :* .) FAN ROOM feet ( EL CAPITAN CAVE I PRINCE OF WALES ISLAND ALASKA SURVEYED BY THE GLACIER GRmO NATIONAL SPELEOLOGICAC SOCIETY Tbtrl~P~-6~I~ SW urd -m*xr -m namw~~m~onMmm October 19.89 Volume 9 Number 4 The RTa~kan Caver page 13


Identifications of Insecta frm Prince of wales Island cave^ by Rod Crawford Thanks for the specimens and data. The identifications are: El Capitan Cave webs on ceiling of lower maze area 5 very young fungus gnat larvae Though their food as an adult is unknawn, these larvae feed on cave slime, which is usually present in a thin layer even if not thick as in lava tubes. The species is probably the same one as found in many Washington caves, a1 though the larvae are a little too small far me to be quite sure. (They get at least three times this size before they mature. 1 Adults would be of interest, small black gnats 118th to 114 th inch long on walls or flying in same part of cave, Flies of this genus, Speolepta, are found in caves through much of North America and Europe, but very rarely found outside of caves, This would be the first record from Alaska. The species is not named yet, but that is not because it is rarer it is because not many people work with flies in these parts. Foryour official report, the scientific names are : Digtera Nycetophil idae Speol epta true flies fungus gnats order family genus Sw Fry Cave larvae on rock in stream about 413 feet in 6 nearly adul t blackf ly 1 arvae I am sure you are familiar with black-flies: the adult flies are bigger than nosee-us but small er than deer flies and a bit smaller than mosquitoes: they are very common in Alaska, and THEY BITE! I quote from "Flies of Western North American: "The larvae are interesting little creatures, living in running water, of ten in rapids, where they feed on tiny organisms and algae drawn to them by peculiar fans on the head that create a current toward the mouth. A sucking disc near the tail anchors them to rocks in the stream bed and they are also attached by a silken 1 ine. These lasvae live in silken labyrinths, and when ready to pupate they spin a cocoon.. . The larvae have rarely (if ever) been found in caves before, but the adults probably took shelter fxm weather in the cave, then found the stream and laid their eggs. The species is a cmon one. Diptera Simul iidae true flies black-flies order family Simulium arcticum Malloch genus species The specimens have been dewaited in the cave fauna collection of the Burke Mu~eum, at the University of Washington, Seattle. 1 am enclosing several proper vials for you. These are nice and strong (they rarely break even when crawling) and do not leak, unlike yours. 1 assume you can buy alcohol (iaopropyl is best for killing in) so I am sending them dry. Fill them about half full for field use.


Highlights of Grotto Meeting August 1, 19B9 by Jim Nicholls 1. POWIE Committeemembers Members of the POWIE (Prince of Wales Island Expedition) Cornmittee were chosen as: Julius Rockwell, Jr. Kwin Allsed Rick Bridges Robert Bastasz Later, an additional member: Miles Hecker was added to the Committee. It is possible that still another additional member will be chosen. 2. Volunteer Agreement The details of the Volunteer Agreement were discussed. It is currently in draft form, and Jay Rockwell plans to complete the details of the agreement during January of 1990. Comments are needed and should be sent to Jay Rockwell before January 1, 1990. 3. NSS asticleg on POWIE I11 Articles about POWllE I11 are being assahled by Rick Bridgesa he is responsible for editing the umbrella, All articles must be received by him by the deadline of December 1, 1989 Lechuguilla Cave Project format is fine, A few topics and authors are: Kevin Allred Jim NicholEs wim Wright Jay Rockwell Ann Strait ? (uaknawn) ? (unknown) ? (unknown) ? lunknwn) first descent ridgework basemaps USFS contacts Doug's rescue Heceta boat trip El Capitan Perue Peak Calder Peak Election of Officers by J. Rockwell Election time is coming, The Nominating Committee is listed below. Please call or write your nominations to one of them by December 1, being sure your nominee is willing, The Nominating Committee's selection and publication of a slate of officers needs ta appear in The Alaskan Caver at least a month in advance of elections. Elected officers are President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and two Members at Large. The elections may be an appropriate time for bylaw changes. These require a twcthirds vote of full members. This is possible at the time that dues are paid. At the mment, the only proposed change in the bylaws is to raise the dues to $7.56 from $5.00, Other bylaws, including the duties of the officers, appear in The Alaskan Caver, Vo2, 3, No. 2. It may be desired to change more of them. The procedures for doing so are spelled out in the bylaws. The members of the Nominating Cmmittee are listed below; Chair is David Moll, Kevin Allred has no phone, so must be contacted by mail or via radio station KBNS. David M. Moll (907) 455-6578 P.O.Box 82044 FairbanksAK99708 Samuel M. Dunaway (907) 344-4037 7301ChadSt AnchorageAK99518 Richard& Bridges (303) 759-2149 4840 E Atlantis PI Denver CO 80222 Kevin kllred (via KHNS) 756-2020 P.O.Box 376 Haines AK 99827 David M. Kl inger (509) 548-5400 P,O,Box 537 LeavenworthWA98826 October 1989 Volume 9 Number 4 The Alaskan aver page 15


Hole Checking, Anyone? by Kevin All red A large amount of cavefinding research, still just begun by the Glacier Grotto, has been mostly on the northern end of Prince of Wales Island, extending south to Neck Lake. The potential for caves there is great, as it is on many islands mostly to the west, judging from my estimates for mounts of Heceta Pjmestone (see chart) Karst topography has also been located in rock that is not classified as Heceta, but which contains portions of Receta or other l hestanes. Speaking of Hece ta, it has been stated as "THE cave-containing formation 05 the area along with the younger Wadleigh 1 hestone" (Rogers, 1979) Our latest information en the thickness of Heceta limestone is a "thicknessprobablygreaterthn 4000 meters in some exposures" (from page 16 of 1984 USGS Open File Report OF 84-04051. This is equal to over 13000 feet of moatly limestone, which is a whopping amount, folks! Carlene has previously mentioned same of the greatly varied karst features in an earlier report (Allred, 1989) but not some density figures for dolines. According ta BBgl i, in other parts of the world densities of dolines (sinks and sinkholes) in deline fields can vary from .57 dolines/ 3an2 to a maximum of 7 500 dolines/ km21 or .9l dolines/mile2 to 12075 dolinea/mile2. He also gave an average density which comes out to about 150 dolines/nile2 IBbgli, 19803. Usingaerial photographs, I estimated an average of 3200 do1 ines~rnil e2 in three subalpine to alpine areas of northern Prince of Wales Island, These areas total about 4.5 squase miles, or 14400 dolines, My awn feelings are that there are possibly more than I had eethated. They are there to count if anyone is interested. This terrain is very difficult to travel on and can be quite dangerous with partially hidden holes of varying depths, some containing serrated, sharp knife-edged fins of rock jutting up in readiness to crudely slice unsuspecting cavers to pieces. In lower elwations the noticable n&er per area is much less, The total number of leads in northern Prince of Wales Island is still growing, and along with Estimated Heceta Limestone in Square Miles (Gehrels, 1970) Is1 and Dove Eagle HOO t Whal e Owl cap White Cliff Bushy Noyes Baker orr Marble Long Scrubby Coronation Tuxekan Dall Heceta Kosciusku Prince of Wales In ormation was gleaned from a Prel hinary Geologic Map of Southeastern Alaska by G. E. Gehrels and H. C, Berg in 1970. It does not include ather limestones containing karst Limestone here noted as Heceta may be known by other names on Dall Island or elsewhere. The a in the last column indicates that a cave and/or pit was reported. wae 16 The Alaakan Caver Volume 9 Nrrmber 4 October 1989


what we have obtained of the nearby islands is 952 as of April 1981. Some of these leads are simply circled concentrations of many dolines. Of course, as in other parts of Alaska, much of the problem in exploring this karst is the diff iculty in getting to it. In the clearcuts, we firad ourselves rapidly burned out a ter several days of checking one after another slashor muskeg-plugged sink or sinkhole ... and these are the close ones! But yet, I am convinced that on the northern part of Prince of Wales Island alone are perhaps 500 miles of cave passage. Finding our way into it is the hard part and would add up to countless devil' s club thorns in wearied, tattered ridge walkers 1 Maybe someone can come up with a suit 1 ike the tin man uses in The Wizard of Oz Because of these difficulties, presently the Grotto is checking the best leads and leaving most less-desirableones forpasterity. Those who may claim there are no such miles will be right until those who do not know any better prwe them wrong. It would probably not happen in our lifetime. A statement by Edward Judson seems appropriate: "Success and suffering are vitally and organically linked. If you succeed without suffering, it is because someone suffered for you; if you suffer without succeeding, it is in order that someone else may succeed a ter you. '" References Allred, C. 1989, Caving Through a Stereoscope, The Alaskan Caver 9 (1). Bagli, A. 1980. Karst Hydrology and Physical Speleology. New York, Springer-Verlag, p. 6 2. Rogers, B. 1979. This is it! The Alaskan Caver 4 (2) Cartoon by Carlene Allred For the second year running Steve Lewis led the Coronation Island Expedition in exploring caves on this wilderness island. With him were Don Hmpton, Anne Ruggles, and Curt Black. Sweral caves were discwered: locations and descriptions of them will be f~xth-cmking in The Alaskan aver. Steve comments: ". . there appears to be Pots of cave potential on Coronation Island. .,, Last Straw Cave has soda straws nearly three feet long, apparently the longest yet in Alaska. Although none of the pits we dropped were deeper than 90 feet, there are still many unexplored flagged pits.. October 1989 Volume 9 Number 4 The Alaskan Caver PW@ 17


* Grotto Meeting * and Slide Shm Saturday November 11, 1989 at the hme of Julius Rockwell, Jr 2944 mory Street Anchorage short business meeting cave-related activities refreshments prav ided bring slides for shming followed by an expedition to the Byron Valley Caves on Sunday (the 12th) conditions permitting Glacier Grotto 2944 Emory Street Anchorage, Alaska 99 50 8-4466 Grotto Patches Are Ready Designed by Carlene Allred and produced by Sharon Dunaway, assisted by Liz R~ckwell* 100 attractive Glacier Grotto patches have finally been delivered. A copy of one appears below the return address on the outside of this issue, They were designed to go below the NSS patch but may be worn separately. They are $5 each postpaid, and may be ordered from Ms. Sharon Dunaway, 7310 Chad Street, Anchorage, AK 99518, Checks or money orders should be made out to "'Glacier Grotto". Grotto membership now stands at 1010, so do not wait too long be ore ordering. Address Correction Requested

Contents: The Alaskan
Caver --
Record Pit Found in Alaska --
President's Corner --
Notes from Prince of Wales Island (1988) --
Technical Preliminary Report #6: El Capitan Cave --
Identification of Insects from Prince of Wales Island
Cavs --
Hole Checking, Anyone?.


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