The Texas Caver

The Texas Caver

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The Texas Caver
Series Title:
The Texas Caver
Texas Speleological Association
Texas Speleological Association
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Regional Speleology ( local )
Technical Speleology ( local )
serial ( sobekcm )
United States


General Note:
Vertical issue part 3 Contents: A few words about the Inchworm -- A few comments on the Prusik Knot -- Modified Mitchell System -- The Galveston Vertifical Rig -- Knot the best way..or is it? -- Cable ladders -- One piece chicken loop -- Kick back -- Trip reports.
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Original Version:
Vol. 28, no. 03 (1983)
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See Extended description for more information.

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University of South Florida Library
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University of South Florida
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K26-04647 ( USFLDC DOI )
k26.4647 ( USFLDC Handle )
11381 ( karstportal - original NodeID )
0040-4233 ( ISSN )

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the Texas Caver Vol. 28, NO.3,1983 CONTENTS A Few Words About the Inchworm 43 A Few Comments on the Prusik Knot.44 Modified Mitchell System . 47 The Galveston Vertical Rig 51 Knot The Best Way Or Is It? 52 Cable Ladders ..................... 58 One Piece Chicken Loop 59 Ki ck Back 60 Trip Reports ................... 63 COVER PHOTO: Looking down a wet 325 meter drop in The Fishure of Sotano de San Agustin. Photo submitted by Bill Stone. Editor: James Jasek Typing and Proofreading: Mimi Jasek Illustrations: Jay Jorden Layout: James Jasek Printing : The SpeJeo Press (Terry and Susie Raines) Distribution: James Jasek The TEXAS CAVER is a bi-monthly publication of the Texas Speleological Association (TSA), an internal organization of the National Speleological Society (NSS), and is published in February April, June, August, October and December. Deadline for submission of material is one month before publication date SUBSCRIPTIONS are $5 year. Persons subscribing after the first of the year will receive all back issues for that year Single and back issues are available for one dollar each postpaid The TEXAS CAVER openly invites all cavers to submit articles, news events, cartoons cave maps, photographs (any size black & white or color print), caving techniques, and any other cave related material for publication in the TEXAS CAVER. Address all SUBSCRIPTIONS and EDITORIAL material to the Editor : James Jasek, 1019 Melrose, Waco, Texas 76710. Evening phone is (817) 776-1727. When sending in a change of address, please irrclude you old address Persons interested in EXCHANGES and FOREIGN SUbscription should direct correspondence to the editor. / i i So:rry, guys --I know I'm But ... look on the bright side: if I roa.k, you'll alre aefy have the pollbeareJ picked out


A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE ,I Dale Pate My first lessons on Single Rope Technique (SRT) were in 1 Sl70 on some cliffs along the Blanco River a few miles north of San Marcos, Texas. At that time, most of the active cavers in the SWTG were avid Mexican cavers and they used the Inch-worm method for ascending pits. This system was ideal for many of the deep Mexican pits that were discovered in the late 1960's and the early 1970's. First introduced by Charles Townsend at the 1966 HSS Convention and though it is not widely used today by vertical enthusiasts, it is still a n efficient means for climbing a rope. Kobert Thrun described the Inch-worm system in his book entitled PRUSIKING: "Mechanical ascenders must be used with the inch-worm method. 'l'he feet rest o n a cross bar that is clamped to an ascender between the feet, and s ome sort of lashings are used to Keep the ascender attached to the feet. The upper ascender is tied between a seat slin g and a chest sling. The motions are simple and require no sKill, as they merely involve standing up and sitting down. When you stand up, the top ascender is pulled up by the chest sling you sit down, you transfer your weight to your seat sling and lift up your legs, lifting the ascender with them." Ideall y the Inch-worm system is best Mhen used on free drops. Walls and es pe sloping ledges can sometimes be a but with practice most of these problem s can be overcome. Mud can also be major problem, since Jumars are the type pf ascend ers that are used. Heavy mud flogging the Jumars' carns can cause them slip. One of the keys to a climber's is in the amount of experience he or s h e has had. Anyone choosing the Inch sys tern to climb rope should spend as wuch time as possible on practicing climb skills. Efficiency and safety are a cli mber's main concerns when actually on a r o pe and the Inch-worm system can b e a depe ndable, safe way of ascending many types of d r ops. Any one who is interes ted in learning more about the Inch-worm m ethod of climbing a rope or any other system for 43 Front View that matter should refer to the source books listed below. Mont gomery, Neil J{. 1977. SINGLE ROPE TECHN IQUES. Sydney Speleological Society uccasional Paper No.7. Lakes Printers, Australia. 123 pages. N SS Thrun, Robert. 1971. PRUSIKING. publication. The Speleo Press., Austin, Te xas. 75 pages.


A FEW COMMENTS ON THE PRUSIK KNOT Marion O. Smith Although I've climbed many underground miles with prusik knots, it is with a great deal of reservation that I yield to the request to put my observations, experiences and opinions on paper. Until now I've refused all pleas for "tech niques articles, including a recent one from the editor of Nylon Highway, because the truth is I'm one of the most untechnical and unmechanical persons around. Prusiks were "invented," I believe, in France, but were considered too cumbersome for any climb over forty feet. This was because there were quite a number of wraps around the main rope and a climber would soon become fatigued. During the early 1950' s America's Bill Cuddington modified the prusik to only two wraps and caused quite a stir by doing numerous hundred foot plus pi ts wi th them. They" caught" on within organized caver ranks and soon there existed a cadre of expert prusikkers. When I was introduced to prusiks in 1966 the standard equipment was three knots and a horse girth for a chest harness. At least one group that I know of actually climbed a 156 foot freefall pit in Alabama without a chest harness by standing up in two prusik leg knots and balancing themselves next to the rope with their arms! There was little understanding among my fellow vertical cavers what the "proper" length of '1e va _ ous knots should be, and many of c' _mbed uncomfortably for years. Seventeen years have passed since my first pit and I still climb the three knot style, even though I must confess that for the most part I have substituted jumars for prusiks. Many good mechanical climbing systems have been developed during those years, particularly the box and Jumars, Gibbs, and French "Frog" rigs. Generally I have ignored most of these rigs, because I was really interested in wa < getting into and out of caves, and prusikb always me out, sometimes just as fas t as tho: fancy rigs. Therefore, I became "set in my ways. The one feature I became used to with prusiks was a harness around my chest, so when I relaxed on rope my trunk was instantly held. I got 44 in trouble on a very wet drop in an Alabama cave in 1977 with a box and jumar system because it lacked this element. I've tried that rig only about three times since and still consider the three knot method a more comfortable way to climb, a t least for me. One might say that all the mechanica l rope climbing rigs are those with "auto matic transmissions." If so, prusik knots must be the "stick shift" or "standard transmission. It is my belief that no matter what rig a climber is eventually going to adopt he or she should be trained in the fundamentals of prusik climbing. The length of prusik knots is impor tant. One leg knot should be longer the other. The "rule" that I use is t o stand in both leg knots at once while are unat tached to a climbing rope. The leg knot that is to be raised first, in case the right, should reach the waist. The other knot should be two or inches shorter. This is to insure t hat when you're on rope and standing in the stirrups that your feet are at the s ame elevation. However, if this isn't d one you can still level your feet while on rope by adjusting the leg knots up or as needed. The length of the ches t knot should not exceed the comfortable distance of the arm. Many people try t o get fancy wi th their knots by tying theo to foot loops made from webbing. Less "sling" material is needed this way, but since to me the whole point is to have simple gear, all I do is to tie a overhand knots and pres to, I have a new prusik knot! Some people have flat feet and it bothers them to stand in stirr ups of sling material but not webbing. I have high in-steps on my feet this has never been a problem for me. I do put u extra overhand knot in my right sling s o that when I pull it from my cave pack I instantly know in what order on the rope it goes. Regardless of whe ther a perso n is right or left legged, the longes tIe knot goes on the rope above the shorter leg knot. For additional safety it is desirable t o have a sufficiently long "tail" on a p r u sik knot so it can be attached to the seat


harness when climbing. I must confess that I don't like to have any seat harness on at all when I climb in order to have more "freedom" and less rub. For this omission I have been probably justifiably criticized. Leg prusiks should be secured in some manner to the feet, either by slip knots or by "chicken" loops. I personally use "chicken" loops so small that I can barely get them over my heels wi th my feet bare. To guarantee that the prusik will stay attached in case of turning upside down I have occasionally connected the prusik to the "chicken" loop with a carabiner, but generally I do nothing. "Chicken" loops have other uses in caving such as attaching them to a pack or rope and dragging them through a crawl, or hauling vertical packs up a pit. I particularly do the latter in wet caves since prusikking in a wetsuit with a backpack tends to cut off the circulation. One prusik cycle consis ts of the movement of all three knots one "bite" up the climbing rope. It is important to learn to properly "break" the knot before moving it up. This is done at more or less the same time, by taking pressure off the chest knot by standing in the foot loops, "pushing in," and with a slight twist moving the knot up the rope. It is best to mOve the chest knot up as you stand in the leg loops, in order to prevent lost mo tion. I still grab the main rope above : he ches t knot f or balance, and use my -ight (since I'm right handed) hand to m ove up the knot. Then the leg knots are 'l1oved up, with the climber always slightly Lifting each leg to "release" tension be 'ore loosening the knot. Then the cycle repeated however many times it is nec essary to get out of the pit. It isn't u:commended that the knots be pushed too close to each other because this makes it slightly more difficult to grab the one you want to move. ::iome people tie the leg knots "right" and "left." This means simply when you face the rope and knot if the "tail" hangs to the right of the rope it is a righthanded knot and if vice versa it is lefthanded. I'm right-handed and all three of my knots are "right." This way I have to think a little less--keep it simple, right! Depending on an individual's physical condition, it is possible to do long freefall drops with prusiks and not have to 45 stop to catch one's breath--well, not too much. I know for a fact that Golondrinas has been climbed non-stop a number of times by persons using prusiks. The triCk is to "rest" an instant in the midst of the climbing cycle by dropping the arm as soon as it has finished moving up the ches t knot. This" ref res hes the arm enough to keep g9ing a long distance. Another feature of the three sling climbing system is that the knots, depending on their length and your height, allow you to be as much as two and a half feet from the main climbing rope. This allows you some freedom to scramble or freeclimb over "nasty" lips at the tops of pits without having to stop and readjust your rig--which is often necessary with a box and jumars. The negotiation by prusiks of truly overhung lips where the rope above lies flat is 1'11 admit not as easy to maneuver as with a Gibbs rig, but by pushing away from the lip or rolling the chest it should be always possible to work your way over. Walking up a slope with prusiks is often ungraceful. Sometimes I take off my right (middle) knot and this enables me to walk with less clumsiness. When making prusik knots always leave enough sling length so that extra wraps (wraps beyond the traditional two) can be added. I had been climbing for fifteen months before I even knew this could be done and my first need for this knowledge was 500 feet off the floor in Golondrinas! Prusiks will definitely slip on muddy ropes, but in most instances an extra wrap will enable a climber to make it out. Climbing with a three-wrap prusik is a lot more tiring than with an ordinary knot and the climber should not automatically add an extra wrap to all three knots, just to enough knots to acquire a secure feeling that slipping won't continue. Prusik knots work best on nice new clean ropes, especially those of hard braid construction. I am biased in favor of the stiffer PMI "flex" or Bluewater III or any laid rope, particularly Goldline. Knots are more difficult to move on dry dirty ropes or dry ropes which have a lot of aluminum dust mixed with the fibers (which has happened a number of times on longterm used ropes in 510 foot Fantastic Pit, Ellison's Cave, Georgia). However, knots work quite well on dirty ropes which have gotten completely wet. Knots are light-weight and relatively inexpensi ve. If a person did three miles


of vertical work a year and wore out a set of knots every 2,000 feet, it would still take over three years before reaching the average retail price of a pair of jumars. I prefer tenstron for prusik knots. having said that, I know it has a low mel ting point and many vertical authorities say it shouldn't be used in caving because it would melt in two if for any reason you slid down the rope. The trick, of course, is not to fall! I became a friend of tenstron in 1971 when in a very muddy 180 foot pit in Virginia I was using two yellow polypropylene knots and one tenstron knot. The poly knots wouldn't hold at all with regular wraps but the tenstron was jammed tight. Since then, while using knots, I've stuck with tenstron, for good or evil. KNOTS DO BREAK when worn too much. Tenstron, depending on the condition of the ropes they're used on and the "breaking" habits of the climber, will last anywhere from 1,500 feet to over a mile a set. It is important to visually inspect your knots, whatever they are made of, at horne BEFORE leaving on a caving trip. If the knots are overly worn, don't push your luck, REPLACE THEM. Prusiks aren't too difficult to pass over a knot in the main climbing line. Depending on the size of the knot holding the two ropes together, it might be possible to simply loosen a prusik enough to slide over the knot, without detaching yourself. Otherwise, the prusik will have to be detached from the chest harness and if no jumar or other quick snapping device is available much caution and presence of mind must be exercised along with a firm grip on the main line to make sure you remain upright. If a knot in the main line is in a waterfall even more caution is needed. In fact, if a person has never practiced going over knots with ANY system, it is doubly recommended that he NOT learn in a waterfall. Although I know that they have been used in such situations, I don't really recommend that a person participate in expedition-type trips to deep (500 meters plus) caves with prusik knots as the main climbing rig. On a trip of this sort twenty, thirty and forty drops in a row are sometimes -done, and a person with prusiks will inflict considerable wear on a set on one entry into the cave. Also, the exit time may be increased a fair amount by the extra time needed to tie three knots for 46 each climb, although some mechanical rigs take just as long to attach. Prusiks aren't the best system to haul heavy duffels or loads of rope. In fact it is virtually impossible unless a good seat system is available with a comfortable attachment for a tether. Prusiks, however, are not impractical or outdated f or most multi-drop caves of the United States. In TAG country where I do most of my caving, we have around forty "deep" caves in the 400-500 foot range, everyone of which is easily do-able by a person proficient with the use of prusiks. Hut whe ther in TAG or in a truly deep Mexican cave I frequently have a prusik draped over my shoulders in case some other part of my rig fails or a prusik trolly line safety is needed (on awkward angles a jumar will "pop" off a rope. A prusik or Gibbs ascender won't). Al though there was a time some thirty years ago when they were the "cutting edge" of underground exploration techniques, prusiks obviously won't be used in such exotic future speleological scenes as the investigation of volcano vents as envisioned by Bill Stone. But, even though many vertical cavers consider the system antiquated, it is my belief that there are in this country alone literally thousands of virgin caves remaining to be explored by the already known techniques, including the use of prusiks. CAll IT CAVR'j INTUITION . BUr r HAVE A FEurWG mrs PIB::x\GE G065 11.'/// The Huntsville Grotto NEWSLETTER, 1981


MODIFIED MITCHELL SYSTEM Bruce Smith The construction of a MITCHELL SYSTEM coupled with a Texas system as well as the Cuddington Third Phase, utilizing Frenchmade Petzls and a Gossett Box was written b y Bruce Smith, and was taken directly from The Windy City Speleonews, Vol. 22, J une 1982. T ake inventory and verify whether you have all the components. # Item 1 Ri ght-handed JUlDar ascender with handle (blue). 1 Left-handed Croll ascender with handle (yellow). I Ri ght-handed Jumar ascender (blue). Gossett box. I 60-inch-long 2" chest box strap with bu ckle (red). 4 I-inch D-rings. 70-inch-long 1" tubular IYebbing (red) shoulder straps. L 5-inch-long I" tubular webbing (red) O-ring holders. 2 I7-inch-long 1" tubular we bbi ng (red) c hicken loops. 2 21-inch-long 2" seat belt strap (blue) foot loops. ::; Eyelets for ascenders. i r ) Feet of 5/16" PMI prusik cord (flex). Use conservatively; you will need all of it. 7-inch-long 1/2" dark blue tubular webbing, finger loop. P i eces of wire for securing prusik cord knots (you will need 15). 1 Complete set of instructions' TOULS N EEDED: Se\.; awl and thread. Knife for cutting 5/16" cord. T a p e ( Sc otch, masking or nylon). Pliers for bending wire. B i c lighter to burn nylon ends. P en o r pencil to mark where to sew. R u I er. 1: FABRICATE THE CHICKEN LOUPS. Take the two 17-inch pieces of 1" tubul a r webbing and determine proper diameter o f loop. 1. Wear a wool sock (or what you climb 1.n) 2. C 1.r cle the loop around your foot at t h e heel. 4 7 1 1 I __ I Diagram #1 3. Leave about two fingers of room. 4. Mark the loop with a pencil. 5. Sew the two loops with your awl. 6. Leave about 2 1/2 inches of overlap. STEP 2: FABKICATr: nili CtiEST HAKNE;SS. 1. Find the 70-inch piece of 1" webbing (red) shoulder straps. 2. Fold in half and from the folded end measure up 2 1/4 inches. 3. Hark this point and sew with your awl. 4. Find the two S-inch 1 tubular webbing pieces CD-ring holders). 5. Find the four D-rings. 6. Find the 60-inch piece of 2" chest strap with buckle. 7. 8. 9. 10. Find the Gosset box. Sew one S-inch piece with two D-rings 1/2 inch from the edge of the buckle. Slide the box onto the strap to within 3/8 inch of the first sewn D-ring buckle. Measure approximately 3/8 inch on the other side of the box and sew your second S-inch piece with the other two D-rings in place. .!!!!!!!!!!!!I!!---...... Diagram #2 Diagram #3


STEP 3: FABRICATE THE FOOT LOOPS. 1. Find the 21-inch blue 2" foot loops. 2. With your boots on measure how big the loops should be so they can slip onto the boot. Be cautious not to make these loops too big. 3. Sew securely. Your entire weight will be hanging on these loops repeatedly. (It may be better to measure the loops, pin them in place and have them sewn at a saddle shop.) 4. Overlap will run between 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 inches. STEP 4: FABRICATE LONG RIGHT-FOOT ASCEN DER. 1. Find a blue foot loop (step 3). 2. Find the blue Jumar ascender with a handle. 3. Find 4 pieces of wire. 4. Be sure the cut eyelet is in place in the bottom of the ascender. 5. Find the 5/16-inch rope. Don't. pre-cut. 6. Tie a tight bowline through the eyelet. 7. Wrap the wire around the knot as shown in Diagram 5. 8. -Double-wrapped, ends twisted together. distance must be as small as possib'le lrll Diagram #5 "An -One wrapped around the two ropes as shown. -One wrapped around the two ropes and the eyelet as shown. Tying the second end of this ascender is critical and very difficult. One will need a rigged climbing rope, even 48 if it is tied over the top of a door. 9. Put the chest box on. 10. Put the blue foot loop on the right foot (wearing boots of course). 11. With Point A (the bottom of the knot) at the very top of the box, right leg straight, tie a bowline around the blue foot loop. 12. With the prusik cord in the right side of the box, hook the Petzl to the rigged climbing rope and stand up straight. Does Point A still hit the top of the box as shown in Diagram 6? 13. Keep retying the foot loop knot B until Point A touches the top of the" box with all your weight standing on the foot loop. 14. Wrap and twist the two wires around the running end of the knot and the loop of the bowline. Diagram #6 15. Mark where you are going to cut the rope, tape over the mark, cut the tape and the rope at the mark and burn it. STEP 5: FABRICATE THE SHORTER LEFT ASCEN DER. 1. 2. Find the other blue foot loop. Find the yellow-handled Croll der. ascen-


3. Find five pieces of wire. 4. Find the 5/16-inch rope. 5. Find the 7-inch piece of l/Z" tubular webbing. 6. Verify that an eyelet is through the bottom hole of the Croll ascender. 7. With the 5/16" rope, tie a bowline with the eyelet through the Croll Ascender as shown in Diagram 8. 8. Secure it with three pieces of wire as shown in Diagram 8. 9. Sew the 7-inch dark blue 1/2" piece in a circle as shown in Diagram 9. The loops should be approximately two inches in diameter. Do this only on the yellow Croll ascender. No one will hang from this loop, so stitch the loop accordingly. 10. Put the blue 2" foot loop on your left boot. 11. 12. 13. I l5. Diagram #8 Diagram '9 Tie your desired knot similar to the knot in Diagram 7 so that the middle of the Croll Petzl is even with your crotch as shown in Diagram 11. Points to keep in mind when determining the length of this ascender: -Arm relaxed for an easy reach. -Ascender usually falls right at crotch level. -One or two fingers through the 1/ Z" loop is standard for climbing. Hook the climber on a rope and verify whether or not it is the right length when weight is applied. Cut the rope as described earlier. Wrap and secure the knot with wire. 49 STEP 6: FABRICATE THE SHORTER SEAT HARNESS. Used for Texas climbing, resting during Mitchell climbing and necessary when using the Cuddington Third Phase. 1. Find the small blue Jumar ascender. Z. Verify an eyelet is in the bottom eye of the ascender. 3. Find five pieces of w\re. 4. Find the last of the 5/16" rope. 5. Put your fabricated chest box on as you would wear it while climbing. 6. Tie an endless loop either with a "follow-through overhand" knot or a "follow-through figure-8" knot. 7. Put your seat harness on. 8. Put the endless loop in the seat harness. 9. Put your medium-length left-foot ascender on your left foot, and hook the ascender to the rope. Put the climbing rope in the left side of the box. Secure the box bolts and stand up. 10. The endless loop should be just long enough to attach the ascender above the box. 11. Adjust the "follow.-through" knot until the proper length is achieved. 12. Cut the rope as described earlier and secure with wire as shown in Diagram 10. Diagram #10


Diagram #11 50 -10 J I +he he hts .f'ounA lS -&f. Dnly ;" +he 1hAt (a.r"'VOfNS, > TEXAS CAVE (512)-686-0234 KREIDLER ANSWERING SERV o McALLEN. TEXAS RESCUE CALL COLLECT REQUES T CAVE RESCUE


The Galveston Vertical Rig Dave and Martha McAdoo Due to dissatisfaction with some standard climbing configurations, and lack of exposure to up-to-date rope walker configurations, a climbing configuration was deve l oped in the early days of tne Galveston Grotto which is still utilized here. I have not seen it used by anyone else. It was previously described in the Texas Caver in October, 1978, by Bill Farr. The combination consists of a attached to one foot and a Jumar attached to the other by a line through a chest box. A Gibbs attached to a seat sling is generall y utilized for backup safety and to per;nit resting in a sitting position. The foot Gibbs, chest box and seat sling are .JLl attached in cOllventional ways. As usual, the Jumar line should be just long nou g h so that the Jumar rests against the oj) of the chest box when one is standing !!o rmally with the devi'ce attached. The J u mar can be attached with a standard foot l oo p combined wi th a chicken loop. Howev er, we generally utilize a sliding loop H r o und the ankle and a second loop created by p assing the line to the Jumar under the Eoot from outside to the inside and through the first loop on the inside of t ile foot. (See illustration) The latter drrangement is more convenient, and probably safer, if a climber should find him0e l f hanging upside down by one foot. h.j\,ever, as it slips tight on the foot, 2" 1/: ebbing is recommended in this configural i o n Even this can become uncomfortable on a long climb if Jungle boots are being worn No problem is experienced with hiking boots. T he rig is safe, comfortable and ef fi c i Qnt. However, it is also bulky and rel a U ve l y expensive, since it utilizes four d e'.'ices. In theory, the chest box limits the tightness of the climb it can be util i z e d in, but the real limiting factor seem s to be the ability to bend the knee t o r aise the foot Gibbs. Going over lips i s sometimes difficult for beginners, but t h e worst lips seldom give serious difficulty after some experience. The Jumar c a n be detached and reattached higher up t o circumvent some difficulties. If one can get a foot against something, the Ju m a r and ches t box can usually be forced 51 away from the rock by leaning back with the upper body. Both hands can also be utilized for pushing in this maneuver, and the Jumar raised by pushing against it with the chest box, provided the length of the Jumar line has the proper length relative to the chest box. The seat Gibbs provides for resting in the sitting position with the weight off the legs on long climbs. The three devices in the rig are useful if one fails. We know of this happening only once. A caver had a foot Gibbs come unbuckled about two-thirds of the way up Surprise Pit (400 ft.) in Fern Cave in Alabama. He climbed out using his seat Gibbs and Jumar, a feasible, but not very efficient process. I recently tried out a conventional rope-walker with the idea of utilizing it in a planned trip to Golondrinas. However, I found the body tilt created by the shoulder Gibbs W1comfortable, and so opted for the Galveston rig On the long climb.


Knot The Best Way Or Is It? Jay Jorden At the end of your rope? Cavers often find themselves there, and not because they're at their wit's end. More often than not, a rigging point is being tied for a rappel into a pit. Less frequently, a caver rappels to the end of a rope, only to find the bottom of the drop is another 50 feet down--a vertical caver's nightmare. But hopefully, the caver is greeted by a knot. It could be the difference between a happy ending or an uncont rolled freefall. Remembering to use a knot, and using the right one, can spell safety or disaster, and caving lore is replete with tales of both eventualities. Hundreds of knots have been chronicled; some are stronger than others, and many are designed for use on specific types of rope and webbing. A comprehensive listing of all will not be attempted here--only those in common caving use. No discussion of cavers' knots would be complete without mention of the bowline. Cavers are not as interested in tying two ropes together as they are in securing a rigging point for a rappel. The bowline (on a bight) is the most common way of I, B01ZV'line rigging a rope. (Fig. 1). As was mentioned, different knots retain certain relative strengths of the rope itself. The bowline, though not the most efficient at this process, nevertheless does quite well in static tests, with 65% strength. Walt Wheelock, in his book "Ropes, Knots and Slings for Climbers," calls the bowline the 'king of all knots' since it is equally respected by sailors and cow-52 hands. Any knot that a cowpoke can trust to keep his Longhorn steer in line or that a sailor can rely on to secure his mainmast has to be good enough for El Sotano, right? Seriously, if there is one knot to learn, it's the bowline. Three advantages to the bowline: it's easy to check, can be tied with one hand with a little practice, and can easily be untied even after bearing a load. The last isn't true of a number of other knots, which actually tighten around themselves and become nearly impossible to untie. The bowline is easy to check. The old caver's saying uses an analogy to explain how the end of the rope is passed through the loop, or bight, created in the standing part of the rope: "The rabbit comes out of its hole, goes left around the tree and goes back into the hole." Silly, but it gets the :Pig-Three. Overhancf Knot. point across. The free rope portion must end up on the inside. A half-hitch (Fig. 2) or overhand knot (Fig. 3) may be used to secure the knot. Securing is normally accomplished as a safety precaution. There are many variations on the b oWline. These include the true bowline-ona-bight (Fig. 4) and the bowline-on-a-coil (Fig. 5). These two knots are used by mountain climbers, the former by the l ead climber and the latter by the end m an. The bowline-on-a-coil has been observed to be used when belaying a climber on a cable ladder, as when the University of Texas grotto had climbing sessions and practices at Camp bell's Hole in days of yore. An-


3 Fig. PiY.]owlineon-a-Coil. 1/" fI (/fll/ 1'1 ,IIf",II Fi8. SiX. Two-Ynat-. o ther b owline method, which has been referred t o as the Tennessee two-knot, al .Lows a rope to be rigged in tandem -if enough and tied to two trees. (F i g 6). The bowlines are tied using a d o u bled rope, similar to a bowline-on-abight. L a r son a n d Larson, in their book, "Caving: The Sierra Club Guide to Spelunk ing," suggest that a bowline can be stren gthened by using a double bight on a singl e r ope and passing the free end back t hrou g h the bight, entering again through the opposite side. Never having seen this d one, it's difficult to recommend this approach. I m entioned that the bowline is easy to check. It is fail-safe in that if the loo p is formed wrong, no knot is created. If t h e end of the rope ends up on the oppos i t e side of the standing part, (Fig. 7), the knot's strength is reduced onehalf 53 Seven. Improper &wline. Search and rescue (SAl{) folks call the bowline a standard knot around the world. Go to Switzerland and you're likely to be able to converse in bowlinese if nothing else. The figure-eight and its family of knots are the basic rescue tools of the Yosemite SAR system. Tim Setnicka, in his "Wilderness Search and Rescue," claims that the figure-eight retains 75 to 80% of the rope's inherent strength. But a study of the literature on knots indicates that authorities differ on breaking strengths of knots -and ropes. But Setnicka asserts that the figure-eight knot has replaced the bowline as the 'fundamental climbing knot of the Valley.' Well, what's good for climbers ins't necessarily good for cavers, but SAR people do make some strong arguments. They say that the figure-eight Pig. is safer, tending not to work itself loose and can be visually inspected for security. (Fig. 8). Wheelock doesn't get as excited about the figure-eight, noting only that it is attractive and is often seen on decorative 'border knot display boards.' It's obvious there is a disparity of opinion here. The figure-eight is formed on the same principle of the overhand knot, but, because it forms more gentle turns on the rope, is easier to untie. The figureeight is quickly tied into a bight (Fig. 9) and thus is handy when it becomes necessary to form a foot loop or equipment loop in the rope. It has been recommended that the mandatory knot at the end of a


rope -to prevent a rappel off its end in a drop of unknown depth -be a figureeight-on-a-bight. This is apparently so for convenience's sake -it forms a foot loop at the end of the rope, and for one unfortunate enough to rappel to there without touching bottom, there is a little additional rope to play with in figuring out how to rig for the climb back up. Some wags have suggested putting a hangman's noose at this point (Fig. 10) but were only displaying a warped sense of humor. Remember to make 13 loops around the doubled rope. }' i3-EleYen. Figure.Eight Bend For safety's sake, it is sugges ted that the figure-eight-on-a-bight also be secured with a double half-hitch or overhand knot. This is because the main knot is subjected to intermittent stress and the possibility, however remote, exists that it might loosen. Both the figure-eight and bowline, once mastered, can be tied one-handed in the dark, which adapts them quickly for emergency use. But Neil Mont gomery, in "Sin gle-Rope Techniques," says the figureeight knot is more versatile than the bowline. The figure-eight can also be used to join two ropes together. This techFig. Twebre. CNerknCf. nique (Fig. shape, Bend. is called the figure-eight bend. 11) The knot, symmet ri cal in is called alternatively the An overhand bend can also be tied .Fig. Ten. Noose(}H Recommemki) 54


using the same approach (Fig. 12). The simple overhand knot should never be used in any vertical caving situation where life and limb are vital to protect. But Wheelock claims that the overhand bend is a 'secure knot'. Caveat emptor. As with the bowline, there is a right and a wrong way to tie a figure-eight knot. The wrong method diminishes the strength of the knot by about 8%. (Fig. 13) The overhand knot, when used in webbing, exhibits more reliable characteristics. When the overhand bend is used to tie two pieces of webbing together, it is called a water knot. (Fig. 14). The knot is perfect for use on tubular webbing, since the webbing lies more flat in the knot than it would in a figure-eight bend. Setnicka c 1> Pit, Fourl:een.Waer Knot. Fig, Fifteen. tbublQ Carrick.Bend, (Not recommendecfJ advises that one should leave plenty of free webbing at each end, since under tension a short end can slip through the knot. He suggests leaving six to seven centimeters of free end 1 possible. One should put body weight on the knot to test it and check the knot frequently. Webbing is also secured by sewing down the ends with nylon thread or fishing line. The water knot retains 60 to 70% of the webbing's strength. A figure-eight bend could be used in webbing, but is bulky and cumbersome. One knot to avoid in webbing is the double carrick bend (Fig. 15), which allegedly contributed to the death of a Texas caver in the last decade. Wheelock says in his book, "This knot shows up well on a test-55 .Fig. SIxteen. Fisherman's Knot. Fig. Seventeen.'D:ru.'ble Knot:. ing machine, but has never been accepted by climbers. It was designed to join heavy ship's hawsers." A tremendously useful knot for tying two ropes -even those of differing diameters together is the fisherman's knot. (Fig. 16). There is a more complicated version called the double fisherman's knot (Fig. 17). Tied either way, the knot is usually secured on both ends with a double half-hitch. The fisherman's knot retains 59% of a rope's inherent strength, according to published figures. It is called one of safest means of joining two ropes, but could be difficult to untie if subjected to loading. Loading occurs when a fall is taken on a rope, subjecting it to abnormally high stress. But even if a fisherman's knot has been subjected to loading, it can be untied by forcing some rope back into .the knot in the opposite direction from which it was tied. A lot has been written about the double fisherman's knot, and it is preferred by some climbers for joining together rappel ropes. The knot has tighter arcs than a figure-eight follow-through (Fig. 18) but


Fig. Nineteen.. Butterfly Knot. is harder to untie after loading. Larson says it is one of the few knots that does not require securing of ends. The simple fisherman's knot, once called the Englishman's knot, is probably more familiar to cavers. Setnicka rates the strength of the fisherman's knot at 60 to 65%, with 65 to 70% for the double fisherman's. He rates the figure-eight the strongest knot in existance. Montgomery agrees, saying that tests in 1974 on eight nylon I,. Fig. Twenty. G-in: h. Hitch.. climbing ropes showed that the figureeight was stronger than the bowline (and fisherman's) in every case, an average of 10% more strength. It is useful, perhaps, to know a few unique utility knots. One is the butterFig. Twenty-One.l'ruSik. fly. (Fig. 19). It's a great way to clip on equipment with a carabiner for lowering down a drop, since it allows tying onto the rope above its end. Some folks just simply form a loop somewhere along the rope and tie a figure-eight knot with the doubled bight. Either method is commonly used. Another is the ring knot, or girth hitch (Fig. 20). It is used to tighten a 56 rope through a cinch ring or attach a u tility sling to a swami belt or other bel t. It can also be used to at tach a rope to a carabiner. A special class of knots, called friction knots, is well worth taking the time to learn, although it will seldom be used by a typically equipped vertical caver. The Prusik knot (Fig. 21) forms the cornerstone of this group. Most cavers cringe when they hear the word, for it connotes the practice sessions and grotto initiations which involved climbing 100 or so feet using knots. But during the frugal days of college, Prusiks were indeed cheap, and they made the mileage up a rope. They are named for the inventor, Dr. Karl Prusik -trivia buffs take note. They have a valuable place in search and rescue, when improvisation often becomes necessary, and can be used as a safety during rappelling and a safety tie-off while raising or lowering ropes. The configuration of the knot allows it to be freely moved up or down a main rope when no force is being applied on it, but it grips firmly when weight is added. One disadvantage of the Prusik -and one that was corrected in later friction knots is the tendency for the knot to become 'frozen' on the main rope after a person's full weight has been applied, and for the knot to actually slip somewhat. Some cavers formerly remedied this situation tying Prusiks only in polypropylene ski rope, which is supple and spongy, and also has a coarse texture for gripping. Thus the knots would tend to spring loose after weight was applied, and to grab icy, wet or muddy ropes better. Whether or not polypropylene is used, the Prusik can be made more efficient depending on the number of turns upon itself that are used. Normally, small diameter ropes are used for the Prusik: 1/4 inch or 5, 6 or 7mm. It's a good idea to use sheathed rope for knots on laid rope and vice-versa, to enhance the staying power. The knot works well in either a Texas Prusik system -or two-knot rig -or a Tennessee (?) three-knot configuration. But the knots deform under extreme force, over 500 kg, and can damage itself and the main rope. In the Texas Prusik, one knot is normally attached to the seat sling and the other to one foot. In the three-knot, both feet are used. A real advantage to Prusiks are their


... Force to set Fig. Twenty-Two. f:i(5. Twenty-Three. B:Acb m atm. weight. They can form a second, emergency vertical sys tem that can be carried in a small corner of a cave pack. In friction knot parlance, it is necessary to 'set' the knot before putting weight on it, meaning that horizontal force must be exerted before weight is applied (Fig. 22). This is to reduce slippage. Some people have guides about the ideal diameter of the Prusik rope, with one test prohibiting ropes that are less than 3mm thinner than the standing rope, and another forbidding use of Prusik ropes greater than 5/16 inch diameter. An improvement on the Prusik is the Bachmann knot (Fig. 23), which is constructed from a loop of rope and a carabiner. The carabiner enables one to 'break' the grip of the knot easier and slide it up the rope faster. It is constructed on the main rope by placing a carabiner parallel to it, then clipping a loop through the carabiner and passing the doubled rope around the snap-link and the main rope several times. The gate side of the carabiner should not be involved in the working of the knot. The knot was developed in Austria. It gained popularity over the Prusik, and before the Jumar ascender became available was considered a godsend. Larson considers the friction knots safer than a Jumar because they handle high loads better. Whereas a Jumar will fail catastrophically in an accident, a Prusik will Slip and slidf'. down the main rope, transferring the load into friction and movement downward. And the knot could 57 grip again later. Not so with the failed Jumar gate, he says. While all of the above knots are being considered, it could be noted that knots are one of man's oldest inventions. The ancient Inca Indians of Peru used knots to keep records of Sums and figures with them. One knot, called the Gordian knot in Greek mythology, was so complicated that legend claimed the man who could untie it would rule Asia. Too numerous to discuss are knots like the square knot, sheet bend, one-way knot, granny knot, barrel knot, wall knot, anchor bend, angler's loop, constrictor knot, timber hitch, rolling hitch, lark's head, cat' s paw, honda knot and ratline hitch. Knots were formerly used to make clothing and construct shelter from plants and logs. Is it any wonder that cavers now depend on knots for their lives? \ TSA CONTEST The Members of the TSA voted to redo the official TSA that has been used on the arm patch and T-shirts for the past years. The new design should depict caving in Texas with the judging to be done by all members present at the OTR this year at Krause Springs Sept. 24-25 1983 So send all entries to Jocie Hooper, R.R. 3 Box l49-S Leander Texas 78614, or, bring them to the OTR and let's get a new Texas logo.


CABLE LADDERS JAMES JASEK In past years the cable ladder was used by almost all cavers to gain entry and to exit caves with vertical drops, but today single rope technique has all but taken over the use of the ladder. It is still used in certain situations where rigging a rope is not practical such as very short unclimbable pitches. Here the ladder makes short work of a difficult situation. Back in the heyday of cable ladders, they were fairly cheap, costing about one dollar a foot, but today they cost twice that much. This higher cost makes cable ladders a sizable investment for a caver or a grot to. Money is bet ter spent on good rope and climbing gear as it is used more often. The way to beat this cost is to construct your own cable ladders. Once you have all the material, the actual construction of the ladder is very simple. Back in the mid 60's we made 100 feet of ladder for just under $50. Times have changed the cost of things, but it is still cheaper to build your own ladders. There is one single drawback to making your own ladders, and this is the high cost of the tool used to crimp the copper s top sleeves to the cable. A Single tool can be used to crimp both the stop sleeve and the oval sleeves, and can also be used to cut aircraft cable up to 7/32 inch. This Nicopress tool costs $115.72 which makes the cost of building your own ladders out of the question if you end up having to purchase. the tool for a one time use. Since this particular tool is used to crimp sleeves on aircraft control cable, mos t airports will have this tool. By talking to the right person, it should be possible to borrow this tool. This is what we did, and how we made our ladders under $50. If they will not loan the tool ask them if they would rent it, or let you use the tools in their shop. You might even put down a deposit to cover the cost of the tools. If you can not use these tools, you might as well forget about making your own ladders altogether. Find this out before you get any of the supplies. Incidently, the people at the airport may just have all the materials you need to build the ladders. If not, here is the name of a supplier that sells 58 everything except the ladder rungs. They are Marine and Industrial Supply Co., in Dallas, Texas. Thei r phone is ( 214) 6312300. Aluminum tubing for the ladder rungs can be purchased from Metal Goods, Dallas, Texas. They have an 800 number: (800) 442-3084. Here is a list of the materials you will need to build your own ladders: Galvanized flexible aircraft cable 3/32" with a breaking strength of 1000 pounds. Sold in 250 foot spools at 22f per foot. Copper stop sleeves to hold rungs in place. Nicopress trade name, catalog no. 871-l7-J, cost $8.39 per hundred. NICOPRESS STOP SLEEVE FINISHED STOP With one stop above and below each rung it will take nearly 400 sleeves per 100 ft. of ladder. -Copper oval sleeves for making wire NICOPRESS OVAL SLEEVE loops at each -Stainless steel thimbles cable wire loops. Cost Four per ladder. s to protect each. -Aluminum tubing 3/8 inch connnonly sold under these numbers 60.61T or 20.4213 wi th a .065 inch wall. This is very strong tubing for its size and will not bend. Will take about 84 feet per 100 feet of ladder costing $7.83 per pound or nearly one hundred dolla rs. Here you could save some dollars by going to several airports and buying scrap aircraft tubing. Ladders only


require short lengths that is probably a throw-away for the airport. -Nicopress crimping and cutter. Stock no. 64-CGMP. Cost $115.72. Will press both oval and stop sleeves, and cut steel cable up to 7/32 inch. Cuts ca ble clean and round wi th no frayed edges. Besides cutting your cost, building your own ladders has another advantage: you caT! build them to exactly the length you iJl.oed rather than being stuck to carrying a 33 foot ladder. I see that ladders can ; ,')'" be purchased in 17 foot lengths, but you can build six times the amount of lad cin for just a little more than the cost o t a 17 foot ladder. These ladders are very light weight, and when rolled up can be easily carried in a gas mask bag. A sh ort drop with a terrible over-hang can LH' made simple with a ladder. Commercial ladders have six inch long [t!ngs 3/8 inch diameter tubing, set 15 i '1ches apart. Once you get them all cut nnd drilled, be sure to file them smooth tc eliminate all burrs. This is one prob Ln you don I t need while climbing in the :Jne very important thing to remember wIlLie making the ladders is that each rung m u c ; [ be the same dis tance apart on each s L de or the ladder will not hang straight dOlvn. The easy way to do this is to make a jig to hold the rungs in the correct positio n as they are being crimped. ,\( the end of each ladder you will need wire loops to connect the ladder to a car ;abiner. Be sure to take into account the length of the carabiner when making the loop lengths. If they are too long, you end up with a step that is greater ,than 15 inches. It will be very difficult to m a ke this long step on the ladder. There you have it. A way to make your PWn cable ladders if you are so inclined. Remember all cable ladders should be JIsed with a safety line, and never place two hands or two feet on the same rung. Pse the heel-toe climbing method to keep the ladder from swinging in free space. 59 ONE PIECE CHICKEN LOOP James Jasek Simplicity in your climbing rig is important for overall weight and safety. This simple to tie chicken loop is formed at the bot tom of a Jumar sling, and by following the drawing, you should have no trouble tying the knot. Slip dmm i 1 :J The only real problem is that the around the ankle will tighten as climb. Jungle boots are no good rope: switch to tubular webbing. loop you with


KICK BACK Editor, TEXAS CAVER: I enj oyed Bill Stone's essay, "A Philosophy for the Vertical Caver," in your February 1983 issue and would like to discuss several points it raises. I'll start off by saying I'm somewhat turned off by those who like to segregate cavers as 'horizontal' and 'vertical'. After all, most caves slant somewhere in between; likewise, most 'serious' cavers are proficient in both horizontal and vertical skills to one degree or another. I enjoy vertical caving but don't consider it necessarily more glamorous or challenging than 'plain old caving'. As Bill says in so many words, vertical techniques have been refined to the point where the biggest hassle is just dragging in all the rope and extra gear for rigging. Is descending a series of pits 'superior' to pushing a very long crawlway or negotiating a cave so extensive that 24-plus hour trips are routine? Or doing a moreor-less horizontal cave of modest size with many obstacles such as tight squeezes or abundant mud and water? To each his or her own taste. I do take exception to Stone's suggestion that vertical cavers are likely to be more careful than their 'horizontal' colleagues. If anything, cave accident statistics can be interpreted to show the opposite. Besides vertical work, Bill lists 'big wall' climbing, diving and underground camping as required techniques for most future cave discoveries (in addition to the time and resources to travel to exotic countries?). Undoubtedly this is correct up to a point. I wonder about big walls -it's hard to think of major finds to date in this area, although I'm sure a fair number will be made. In-cave camping remains appropriate only in very unusual situations, as has been realized at least since the mid-' 50' s "C3" experience. I feel this technique should be discouraged because of the overall record of many 'base camp' parties leaving large amounts of litter in their wake. (So far as I know, the Mexican expeditions co-led by Stone haven't been guilty in this respect.) I'm somewhat surprised that Bill leaves out one pretty obvious technique for future caving: digging. Of course 60 this isn't a new technique at all. But I feel sure it's one which will be put to use in North America on an increasingly ambitious scale. Digs which once seemed excessively taxing will now be carried through. The recent discoveries via excavation of such systems as Roppel and Fisher Ridge in the presumably heavily-checked Mammoth Cave area of Kentucky are evidence of future possibilities for never-say-die cave diggers. Likewise the Jewell Cave (S. Dakota) extensions made feasible by opening the "Very Important Short Cut." (Speaking of Kentucky, I might mention that the central Kentucky sys tems aren't quite as 'horizontal' as Bill implies.) The style of expedition caving for which Bill is best known will have to remain out-of-reach for most cavers, because it's so expensive -in terms of both money and time. People with the time for multi-week (or month) journeys to deepest Mexico or more remote countries tend to be either: (a) students in no hurry to complete their degrees; (b) "cave bums", Le., persons of independent means or willing to get by with non-steady jobs; (c) a very few lucky guys (such as Bill) whose careers somehow permit them an unusual amount of vacation time. Most of us (particularly in neardepression times such as these) are glad enough to earn a living and take off two to four weeks a year. The financial side of expedition caving is likewise complicated -and has significant conservation overtones, I think. North American cavers seem to be at a disadvantage compared with colleagues in European countries, where caving either is subsidized by governments (military in some cases) at least partially for nationalis tic motives. Or at least is a m uch more publicized sport (such as Gre at Britain) so that attracting sponsorship is less of a problem than here. I have serious reservations' about raising expedition funds in ways which involve greater public exposure to caving, for conservation rY sons. I hope that American cavers can avoid appeals for monetary support from non-caving organizations (such as the Er plorers Club) or equipment manufacturers, in return for stories published in widely circulated journals or product endorsements in advertising. Ideally, the NSS should do much more to support expedi tion caving without such need to 'go public'. To date, however, this hasn't worked out,


with such dubious priori ties as the NSS office building. Finally, Bill's ideas about futuristic cave styles (descending volcanic cores or di ving hot springs) may not be all that far-fetched. However, the Doctor's notion that cavers should be ideal candidates for exploring other planets can perhaps be viewed in light of Bill's own ambition to become an astronaut. Editor, TEXAS CAVER: Thanks, Mike Dyas Re: Letter from Mike Dyas It is difficult to finesse every controversial subj ect in caving such that you wind up both being yourself and pleasing all your readers. The thrust of the 'philosophy' article was not, as Mike asserts, "to segregate cavers as horizontal and v ertical. Rather, the lesson was that cave exploration today -and I am speaking of exploration, not touristing -is becoming increasingly dependent upon the tools o f technology. Those that embrace those tools will naturally have an edge on those w ho do not. They will see more virgin passage. They willdO more challenging an d more rewarding caving. Not because the tools themselves automatically mean big finds, but because the individuals who have made the effort to learn how to use t h e tools are usually more dynamic drivers than those who do not. They will go on to use the tools they have learned to the limit, and in the process they will make big finds. A tacit assumption here is that everyone learns from the ground up. You do not simply become a 'vertical caver' More typically you learn to be an accomplished 'horizontal' caver first. As y o u learn more skills you become more versatile in your problem solving capability. Herein is where many of Mike's arguments fall short of the target. Sure, there are lots of tough 'horizontal' cavers. But none of them will explore one actditional meter of passage at the base of a pitch until they learn how to descend an d ascend that drop. The same goes for all of the other disciplines mentioned in the article including, as Mike points out, digging. Are vertical cavers more careful t han 'their horizontal colleagues'? Perha ps the statement would have been better w orded: "They had best be." Those that d o not follow the safety maxims of vertical caving (cave diving, climbing, blast-61 ing) are much more likely to be critically injured in an accident than their horizontal colleagues. It is for precisely this reason that those who practice those disciplines regularly have developed habitual safety checks. Nothing puts me more on the defensive than s.omeone who dredges up the story of the CRF C3 'expedition' and says, "You see, underground camping does not pay." Well Mike, seige style underground camps went out with the C3 'expedition'. The use of freeze dried foods, lightweight camping equipment, and an alpine (mobile) self-contained camping methodology has completely revolutionized the tool. The question is not whether or not to camp, but when and where. Anytime the exploration radius goes beyond a 24 hour round trip you should consider camping. Camp packs can weigh less than 30 pounds. You can take them through anything you can fit through, and each person carries his/her own gear. If an alpine style camp can be set in Nita Nanta (18 different persons have done so to date) it can be set in any cave in the world. The power of a camp is two fold: one, it increases the exploration radius from a given entrance and two, it allows for a protracted effort at some remote site in the cave -say a climb, a dig, or a detailed survey. Realizing the same concern you voice over the potential for trashing a cave with camp waste products every AMCS Activities Newsletter since January 1979 has carried a bold and clear message to underground backpackers: "Pack it in, Pack it out." Sponsoring expeditions was not part of the subject matter of the article. But since you bring it up let me amplify upon a few of my experiences. The first rule of sponsoring expeditions is: if you can afford to payoff the whole thing yourself, do not try to sponsor it. If you cannot fund it yourself (which is often the case if a technically complex objective is involved) you are left with two options you describe: seeking monetary support from non-caving institutions and hardware from industry. Until a U.S. speleological research trust can be established that is sufficiently well endowed to throw off several tens of thousands of dollars annually, the U.S. explorer is left wi th those options They are not, however, the armegeddon of cave conservation. Actually, the explorer who is sponsored is in the bes t position to shape


public awareness of conservation. When you play for a company 'team', you select what they get in the way of photographs, endorsements, and articles. The power of the word here cannot be understated. tiy building the image of a competent explorer and conservation sensitive speleologist (associated with the NSS) you leave the company with two impressions: one, "my god, look at what they did with our gear, and two, "those NSS explorers sure have their act together." They do not go away saying, "by golly, I'm taking up caving." How many people do you think decided to become high altitude mountaineers after seeing Reinhold Messner in Time Hagazine sporting his Rolex on the top of Nanga Parbat? Dear Jim: Bill Stone Washington, DC Do not let negative comments on your editorship get you down. It is much easier to be critical than it is to be constructive. You are doing a fine job and are to be commended for your perseverance and continuity. Keep it up. Dear Editor: Your magazine thought out and the good work. MIl Stone Washington, DC is excellent. Well well executed. Keep up Mike Harrel, DDS Duncanville, TX Letter of Clarification and Apology: Rereading my letter, printed in the April '83 Texas Caver, I find it to be very misleading on one point and wish to clarify it before any bad feelings develop. I mention that since Bill Mixon's arrival in Texas, there has been an increased clamor for a change in the editorship of the TC. It comes off sounding that Bill is bucking for the job and is stirring the controversy. To the best of my knowledge, this is not the case. My intention was to illustrate the "grass being greener on the other side of the fence" reaction towards a person capable of the editorship. Perhaps, when stating an example, I shouldn't have used anyone's name. That type of reaction could be applied to many people, for many things, and often without their knowledge or participation. My since res t apologies, Bill, if 62 it appears I've accused you of a crime you didn't commit. Such was not my purpose and I hope it didn't distract too much from the letter's true intent. I plan to proofread a bit more closely in the future. George Veni Bowling Green, KY Caving Ham's Radio Roster As promised last year, I am compiling a list of Amateur Radio Operators who are cavers or interested in caving. These caving "Hams", who provide not only public service through radio communication and the advancement of electronic knowledge, also want to get together through the air waves and talk caving. If you are a Ham Radio Operator, feel free to contact these individuals listed below and make a radio schedule for a friendly chat about caving. Those Hams who are cavers or interested in caving and want to be listed on this roster, send the information shown below. Those cavers who are interested in becoming Amateur Radio Operators, contact me and I will try to help you connect up with the right persons and information to start you on your way to this fun hobby. Paul Johnston KA5FYI 207 W. Crestland Austin, Texas 78752 512-452-3918 NSS II 15988 Jerry Johnson WA5RON 12700 Silver Creek Austin, Texas 78759 512-255-1144 Bryan Whitehurst N5BES 2502 S. Norfolk Ave. Tulsa, Oklahoma 74114 918-747-5786 NSS II 19070 Tom Whitehurst -KC5UN 6430 Beechwood Corpus Christi, Texas 78412 512-991-4709 NSS II 12919 Paul Johnston Austin, Texas


)RING tlREAK TRIP irch 11-14, 1983 ,vers: Joe Anders Sr. Jim Anders, Bill Joe Anders Jr. ported by: Joe Anders 0 e left Austin Friday afternoon at one, 1 after a brief stop at the customs sta m in Laredo, arrived in Bus tamante at We got up early Saturday morning and lded for the cave. After a brief rest l p at the entrance, we put our lights on l went on in the cave. It seemed as if 're wasn't as much water in the cave as ;re was in January, but it was still ,tty slippery for the first few hundred .ers or so. Everyone in the group was zed at the size of Palmito. As we ked our way on back into the cave, the ling of vastness seemed to increase and sed us to consider the huge amount of required to dissolve all of that estone. We spent about five hours in e the cave snooping around, then emerg:' back into sunlight. tter piling back in our truck, we stop )C I in a store in Bustamante for some re E f .;hments, then drove out to the hot > !J"ings for a bath, supper and a place to : r J sh. About two in the morning, some in :on siderate cavers (one was from Austin) pulled into the park next to us and made a tlun c h of for about an hour. They were gone the next morning when we got up, but had left some trash scattered around, 63 and we picked up more of their garbage they left in the springs. We went up the road about one half mile to a great big rock, and practiced climbing and rappelling. Feeling pretty adventuresome, we decided to hike up to the entrance of Precipicio. We made pretty good time this one ridge, but finally noticed that we needed to be on the next ridge over. After three hours of stiCky bushes, spiny plants, loose rock, and no easy trail, we made it to the entrance. Pulling out our flashlights, we started on in. It was nice to see the absence of graffiti on the walls, but someone had left some old batteries and a few cans. This was a really neat cave, like a bunch of bubbles stuck together. The air flow was poor, and the air was stuffy with a lot of dust in it. We had been told that a rope was necessary, but we spent a couple of hours inside the cave and didn't feel like our hike was short -changed because we weren't equipped for vertical work. It took much less time to get down, using the talus slopes to slide on. About halfway down, Jim noticed a strange looking boulder, which turned out to be the entrance to another cave. This cave only went back about 100 meters, and opened up into a fairly large room. There were some writings on the wall, but it's hard to tell graffiti from pictographs. After arriving back in camp, Joe Sr. told us about all of the locals that had been at the park, and how friendly they all had been, and how he had been invited to lunch with about ten different families. One Mexican school teacher pointed out some additional openings that he said were really good caves. It seems that a fun way to spend a week or so would be to camp out at the hot springs and just hike up to different openings in the cliff checking for caves. The next morning (Monday), we broke camp and headed on into Bustamante for a breakfast before the long drive out to Big Bend. We talked to the owner of the local hotel, who pulled out some old photo albums of the cave. He was very talkative, and drew us a map showing the locations of several other caves in the area. This just made everyone more determined to come back and do some more caving. The part of our vacation spent in Mexico was a lot of fun, and all of the locals we came in contact with were extremely friendly. The only negative part were the American cav-


the Texas Caver 1019 Melrose Dr. Waco,TX 76710 ers who left a mess behind them. Trips down to Bus tamante are too much fun to have a few inconsiderate cavers screw things up by getting the locals mad at the gringos that come down to their parks and scatter trash around. LOVER'S RETREAT, Palo Pinto Co., Texas February Cavers: Reported 27, 28, 1983 Eric Spears and Jay Jorden by: Jay Jorden A telephone call from Eric had suggested the possibility of cave leads in the Mineral Wells area, so a reconnaissance trip was organized to check them out. Saturday morning, we visited a local resident who told us of a cave out near Blue Hole east of Hineral Wells, which we proceeded to. A rappell 20 feet down a cliff to the cave entrance over a creek only yielded a shelter. We then drove to the Glen Rose and Walnut Springs area, intending to visi t some caves that Eric had seen during a recent trip there. A cave atop a high bluff outside Glen Rose was explored. It was only about 30 feet long, but was solutional in nature. Inside Walnut Springs a cashier at a gas station told us of a cave along the springs which we hiked to. It turned out to only be a shelter cave. Back in Mineral Wells the next day, a trip v!as made to Lover's Retreat, a disused resort camp west of town. A cave with a small stream issuing from it and two entrances were found. The cave needs mapping, so a future trip is planned there. Attempts are being made to perma-nent entry to the resort area. DEN CAVE, Oklahoma Fegruary 20, 1983 Cavers: Todd Wilson Brooks, Ann Wayne Burks and friend, John Lawson and friend, BULK RATE US. Postage PAID Waco, Tx. 76710 Permit Na.1423 Reported by: Jay Jorden A return trip was made to Bear's Den for the purpose of pushing a boulder choke at the end of the cave. Explorers with sledges and come-alongs entered the cave Saturday afternoon and spent the next several hours straining at rocks weighing as much as '100 pounds or more at the end of the cave. A call was sent out for someone to go outside and get more tools. That call was obeyed and another hour or so passed with Burks, Brooks and others making significant progress and moving al large rocks. A crack between two large rocks, beyond which more cave can be seen, was widened, and plans have been made to return with reinforcements and perhaps some 'instant cave' At a restaurant retreat for some R&K after the excursion, a local said he knew of several more caves in the arEa, THANKS TO .... Thanks to Wick Dossett and his amaziJg llICOM 2000 word processor, the TEXAS CAl ER has finally caught up with the compu e r age. Wick has been a friend of ours f01 a year or so -photography being the m in connection -and has re.cently begun go ng I caving with us. After explaining to tim that due to some defective ribbons I las going to have to retype another whole 5[ sue of the magazine, he generously off( red to let us use his word processor. Wf of course jumped at the chance, and if yo actually read this far you've seen moS the results. So Wick, here's a for putting up with produce this issue. again. big public thank youl to us for over a wee Hope we can d ( it Your Proofreader, Mimi Jasek

Vertical issue part 3
Contents: A few words about the Inchworm --
A few comments on the Prusik Knot --
Modified Mitchell System --
The Galveston Vertifical Rig --
Knot the best way..or is it? -- Cable ladders --
One piece chicken loop --
Kick back --
Trip reports.


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