the Texas Caver JUNE : ... .. : : .. . ; .. .. .
the Texas Caver Vol. 29, No.3; June, 1984 CONTENTS New Look! ....................... ..... .. ........ .... ... ... ..... ... .... ..... ..... ........ 3 NEW CAVER EDITORS ........ .... . ...... ... .... . ......... .............. 3 Editorial ............ . ... ................. . .. .............................. .... ... .. .... 3 TSA BOG ............ ... ...... ........... . ....... .. ........ ......... ....... ... .. ...... 3 Peering Into the Vortex .... ...................... .. ............. .. ................ 5 Huautla Project 1Q84 .. .... .... ........ .... ........ .......... .... ................ ... 5 Equipment Neurosis ...... ........ ...................... .. .... .... .... .......... .... 6 Your Own Light System ............ ...... .. .... .. .. .. ............ .. ...... ...... .. 7 Honey Creek Preserve .... .......... ................ ............ .......... .......... 8 Grotto News ..................... ...... ........... ..... ............. ........ ... .... ..... Q Mexican Trip Reports ...... ................ ..... .. ...... ........ ................. 15 Trip Reports .. .... .......... .......... .. ....... ...... .......... .. ............ .......... 17 FRONT COVER DRAWING: John Brooks' (Dallas) pen and ink drawing of a sylvan cave entrance. BACK COVER DRAWING: John Brooks' (Dallas) pen and ink drawing of a borehole passage. Co-Editors Dallas Stalf CAVE RESCUE Jay Jorden 1518 Devon Circle Dallas, TX 75217 214-3Q8-Q272 Managing Editor Text Entry Call Collect John Spence 6801 Esther Austin, TX 78752 512-451-2374 Rob Kolstad Cllf Posey 512-686-0234 The Texas Caver Is a bl-monthly publication of the Texas Speleological Association (TSA), an Internal organization of the National Speleological Society (NSS). It Is published In February, April, June, August, October, and December. 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. Address material to one of the co-editors. Subscription rate Is $6 per year. Purchase slngie and back Issues for $1.00 each, post pald. Send subscription and back Issue requests to Jocle Hooper, RR 18, Box 14Q-S, Austin, Texas 78726. Please Include old address In address change correspondence. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Jocle Hooper, RR 18, Box HI}.S, Austin, Texas 78726. DEADLINES: Articles, announcements, and material for publication must be submitted to the editor by the 12th of the month. EXCHANGES: The Texas Caver will exchange newsletters with other grottos at the Editors' discretion. Contact one of the co-editors. COPYRIGHT 1Q84 Texas Speleological ASSOCiation. Internal organizations of the National Speleological Society may reprint any Item Hrst appearing In the Texas Caver as long as proper credit Is given and a copy of the newsletter containing the material Is malled to the co-editors. Other organizations should contact the co-editors. .. e:.; My insurance company? New England Life, of course. Why?
Ibe Tuaa Caver New Look! by Rob Kolstad The Teza3 Caver has a new look. This issue was composed and printed completely by computer. The Dallas editorial staff used C. Itoh CIT-I01 terminals connected at Q,600 baud to a DEC V AX-ll/780 computer running the UNIX operating system (UNIX is a trademark of AT&T Bell Laboratories). The troff text processing language produced output which was converted then printed at the rate of 8 pages per minute on an Imagen 8/300 laser printer (at 300 dots per inch resolution). We intend to continue experimentation with various styles of layout and composition over the next few months before standardizing on the Texa3 Caver look. Please submit interesting photographs or other art work to the Dallas branch! Next time around (October) we hope to be able to have much more advanced layout facilities and enough artwork to make the Caver even more entertaining. NEW CAVER EDITORS by Rob Kolstad Congratulations to the two new Texa3 Caver editors: Jay Jorden (heading the Dallas branch) and John Spence (in charge of the Austin branch). After Jim Jasek's resignation (after years of dedication and high quality), it was decided that until the Old Timers' Convention, both John and Jay would share the editor's duties on a rotating basis. Jay Jorden is the official editor for the June Caver, John will edit the August edition. Jocie Hooper has taken over the subscription duties, thus sharing the load even more. Please submit material for the Caver to the editor of the edition next to be printed (try to get material in a month before the issue is to be mailed). Editorial by John Spence and Jay Jorden It has been said that you have to be crazy to edit the Texa3 Caver. If this is true, then sharing its responsibility makes us only half-crazy! Pace 8 Seriously though, it seems true that a seemingly thankless Job such as the Caver would have to be difficult. Collecting articles, photos, maps, and information from the general public and putting together a timely, accurate, and informative publication ls one thing. But working with and for a group of individuals living on "caver time" is another. We hope to be able to surmount these problems somehow -but not without the help of others. Having the TSA secretary-treasurer, Jocie Hooper, handling the Caver subscriptions is a step toward helping the editors with a great task. We thank Jocie for her willingness to take on this burden and only hope her successor shares the same enthusiasm. But even with these changes, it will be up to us all to contribute as we can. Historically, the TSA and Texa3 Caver have drawn their strength from each other. The TSA comes together three times a year; through the Caver, though, we come together every other month. It is this way that we share information that would otherwise be limited to local friends or the grapevine. We are currently collecting material for the August issue of the Caver. In preparation for the Texas Old Timers Reunion, we will be taking another look back in our past. Should you have an interesting story you would like to share, please send it in as soon as possible to the address below. We would especially like to hear about those events that should go down in Texas caving history. Write to John Spence, 6801 Esther, Austin, Texas 78752. TSABOG By Jocie Hooper Minutes of the TSA Convention held at Kingsland, Texas on May 20, lQ84. About 48 people attended the meeting. Officers present: Andy Grubbs, George Love, Jocie Hooper. I. Minutes from Previous TSA Meeting Approved. n. Financial Report 1/1/84 to 5/18/84:
Pace i Bank balance Jan. 1 : Petty Cash Total: Credits to date: Dues: Account discrepancy Interest: Total: Debits to date: Texa3 Caver: Photo Salon, TSA Convention: TSA Logo Fund (patches): Total: Balance to date: ill. Committee Reports A Logo Fund $1,136.38 $36.00 $1,174.38 $190.00 $12.01 $15.88 $217.89 $72.00 $75.00 $250.00 $397.00 $965.27 Jay Jorden states we spent $335 00 for patches, including preorders. Sales are doing well. The patches cost $1.71 apiece, and are selling for $4.00 (gross profit of $2.29 each). B Publications John Spence says all the TSA copies of Introduction to Texa3 Caves are sold. There are plenty of copies of Texas Cave Humor. Bob & Bob are interested in selling the latter at noncompetitive prices and not at NSS conventions or in Texas. C Safety & Techniques Andy Grubbs has had new Texas Cave Rescue phone number stickers made. He is sending these out. The Association of Texas Counties may send them out to EMS and sheriff's offices Terry Raines may be able to insert them into a Texa3 Caver issue. Bob Cowell says he still has not received updated phone and address lists from all grottos. Rescue information sheets were filled out by those attending this convention. N Old Business A Nonprofit Status 'be Texu Caver This issue is on hold until someone wants to deal with it. V. New Business A. A motion was made to sell Texas Cave Humor to Bob & Bob for $4.00 each. This will give TSA a profit of $1.00 per copy. It passed unanimously. B. Texas Caver James Jasek has resigned as editor. He said he was completely burned out and needed to quit. James received applause for his consistently good production of the Caver. There are two issues due before the editor is elected at the Old Timers Reunion in September. It was unanimously approved that John Spence and Jay Jorden will co-edit the Caver until OTR. James also stated that the Texa3 Caver currently has no money to put out any more issues. We owe Terry Raines $130 for printing the last issue. There have been no new subscriptions in two months, as James was unable to send out fiiers reminding people to renew. The TSA voted to pay what the Caver owes to Terry Raines. Members authorized the temporary editors to draw up to $200 per issue if needed, up until OTR. There was much discussion on the cost of the Texas Caver. James states that it costs $10 per page and approximately $40 postage per issue Some people thought it could be put out more cheaply --less fancy. It was argued that the quality has been high and should be maintained if we expect people to continue to subscribe. Terri Treacy-Sprouse volunteered to assist in sending out postcards reminding people to renew their subscriptions. It was voted to send these out immediately. It was unanimously decided that the secretary-treasurer of the TSA would do the bookkeeping for the Texas Caver in the future, since it is the official publication of the TSA. Subscriptions need to b e sent to that person in the future. (Currently, Jocie Hooper, at RR 18, Box 149-S, Austin, Texas 78726. Subscriptions are $6.00 p e r year.) C. John Spence wonders if we could find a TSA tarp or tent to use as a gathering place durin g rainy conventions. Various people plan to look up prices and it will be discussed at the OTR
Ibe Tuu Caver meeting. D It was decided that the TSA will order 50 more copies of the Introduction to Texas Caves Crom the NSS bookstore. This will make them more readily available to our members. VI. Adjourned Peering Into the Vortex by Jim Pisarowicz While on a recent business trip to Florida, I was trucking along 1-109 when I decided to stop for fuel at Ponce de Leon, about 150 km east oC Pensacola. While tanking up, I happened to notice a sign pointing north and inviting passersby to dive at Vortex Spring. Not being in a great hurry to get back home, I decided to take the short drive otT the interstate to see what Vortex Spring is all about. Ten or 15 minutes later I was turning otT a paved road onto a dirt road and soon I was confronted by a welding shop/dive shop. Here I stopped to ask where Vortex Spring could be found and was told the park "over by the restau rant". This I did and immediately saw what could be best described as a large cenote perhaps 50m across. Getting out oC my truck, I slowly walked back over to the welding shop where I was informed that one could swim in the spring for only $1.00 but SCUBA diving charges were $5 Since I did not have my diving gear with me (diving equipment could be rented there) and had no diving partner that I would trust to enter an underwater cave with, I decided to pay the swimming fee I went back to my truck to get out my mask, snorkel and fins Minutes later, I was on one oC the docks peering into the vortex, perhaps 15m below me. From this vantage, I could see that the cenote was indeed a spring Cor a small creek that was Howing on the east side of the water filled sinkhole. The water was billed as "gin clear" and I could not find any fault in that advertisement. I could see the bottom and every detail with no hindrance to my vision. Stepping otT into the water was something of a shock. The water seemed very cold even though the day was overcast and raining. I later discovered that the water temperature stood at a Pa&e 6 nearly constant 20 Celsius (77 F). This temperature was tolerable if one kept moving about; I would recommend a wetsuit iC one were to spend any more time in the water than about 15-20 minutes. From the surface, every detail oC the bottom (15-20m away) could be seen. The spring is inhabited by a large population oC fish, including some very large panfish. While snorkeling around, I also saw a large snapping turtle. The owner has done some extensive dredging within the cenote as evidenced by equipment still in place during my visit in September, 1983. About the time I was getting very cold, another truck pulled in and two divers emerged and began readying themselves Cor a dive into the cave. I got out of the water and watched them assemble their equipment. They told me that they were only going a short way into the cave but each of them was only carrying two light sources and only one of them had a large, bright beam flashlight. I can understand why there are so many cave diving deaths in Florida, given the laissez Caire attitude of the divers and the owners of the cave. Anyway, I did my bit by mentioning that most "cavers" carry at least three sources oC light, and that rule holds in situations much less serious than cave diving. They seemed to be annoyed by me so I stopped saying anything. You really cannot protect people from their own ignorance if they do not want to listen. I did not stay around to watch them go down into the cave and come out. It was a spectacular sight to see the two oC them drift like underwater bats down to the bottom of the spring while their bubbles floated up to the surface where I was watching. About 10 minutes later they exited the cave and then spent some time playing with the flsh that were waiting for them at the cave entrance. All in all, it was a worthwhile side trip during my long drive back to Texas. I only wish that I had both a companion and my cave diving kit with me. Huautla Project 1984 by Jay Jorden The deep caving team on the 1984 Huautla Project used advanced diving techniques in an attempt to claim the world depth record within a network of caves on the remote Mexican
Page e plateau, where high water earlier blocked a group led by two Texans. The search for the world's deepest cave, in both attempts, centered in an interlocking maze of hundreds of shafts and miles of passage, which has been explored to a flooded tunnel 3,750 feet down, a distance greater than the height of two World Trade Centers. The latest team, led by Bill Stone of Washington, D C halted its attempt to link the Pena Colorada resurgence, a complex of springs and overflow caves, with Sotano de San Agustin, one cavern in the system. In May, 17 cavers from the United States, Mexico, and Great Britain were stopped at the seventh sump past the resurgence, about one-third of the way to the diveline at the bottom of San Agustin, Stone said. "After the sixth sump, we had encountered a 17o-foot pit, with another 160 feet of water at the bottom," he said. Past that point, flooded passage about 10 meters wide extended out of sight but the dive began to exceed the team's technological and endurance limits, he said. "We'll be back, Stone said. "It may take three to four years to design more advanced diving gear to meet the chalienge, but the key to success is better technology." Earlier this year, a team led by Mark Minton of Austin and Bill Steele of San Antonio was blocked by rising water in another cave of the plateau, Nita Nanta. "If Mark' s boys had succeeded, they would have gotten an additional 135 meters (of depth) in Nita Nanta," said Stone. His team members, who were prepared to climb 1 ,000 vertical feet and dive through a kilometer or more of flooded passage in the sixkilometer journey from the resurgence to San Agustin, encountered several climbs, some of which were 100 feet or more. A connection would have propelled the Huautla system to more than a mile in depth, beating the 4,482-foot extent of Reseau JeanBernard in France, now considered the world's deepest cave. the Tex .. Caver The Huautla system is presently the sixth deepest in the world. Stone's team in early April equipped a base camp at the resurgence that drains th e Huautla system. Included in equipment for the expedition were 72 special lightweight diving tanks, two air compressors, three 500-watt electri c generators, and a computer to compile survey data. The current depth in Huautla was attained in April 1981, when eight members of the U.S. Deep Caving Team, led by Stone, set up camp in a cathedral-sized room 2,460 feet underground in San Agustin. Cavers of the Huautla Project hav e explored about 9,000 feet of passage and descended more than 500 shafts in flve years of exploration in the plateau. Editor8 I Note: The above is intended as an overview of progress on the Huautla Plateau this year. More in-depth articles from participants have been solicited. Equipment Neurosis by Alan Johnso n Editors I Note: The following is a tongu e in-cheek appraisal of what happens when procuring equipment and supplies for caving gets out o f control. Equipment neurosis, a crippling visitation affiicts approximately one out of twenty cavers i n the United States. Collectors of all sorts, includi n g accumulators of caving equipment, are frequently described as compulsive and have been called other, less charitable things. Frequent purchasing of singularly superfluous and dispensable caving equipment may stem from feelings of inadequacy, the pack rat instinct, or poor upbringing. The disease is often manifested by owni n g more than one of the following items: MADs (mechanical ascending devices), explosives, sca lin g poles, bolt kits, mud pitons, surplus and inflatable rafts. Perhaps the most disabling result o f equipment neurosis is not having enough mon e y to go on caving trips, where the aforementione d equipment could prove useful. Another drawback of equipment neurosis is desiring to carry, b y necessity, 100 pounds of equipment up 3 000 feet
Ibe Texas Caver of mountainside. Enthusiastic caver-sherpas' numbers dwindle as neophytes become more scarce. Equipment neurotics suffer from other problems, some of which come with the territory. I believe that many of the symptoms associated with equipment neurosis could be alleviated by grotto ownership of nonstandard caving equipment. This would allow greater access to this type of equipment for more individuals. Another benefit of club ownership of equipment would be the focusing of resources, communication, and cooperation within regional caving organizations. The major objection to grotto ownership would probably concern funding. No doubt, many grotto members would balk at the prospect of higher dues or pressure for donations. The same members could truthfully claim that they will never need or use scaling poles, for example. However, grotto ownership of extraordinary equipment may have advantages which would outweigh even a strongly opposed minority. The presence of specialized caving equipment made available for Texas Speleological Association, Association for Mexican Cave Studies, and grotto projects would stimulate discoveries of vir gin passage in known and yet undiscovered caves. Your Own Light System by Bill Payne One of the longstanding debates in the caving world is that of electric lighting versus carbide lamps. The older, establishment cavers tend to use carbide lamps and insist that it's the only way to cave -and for good reason. The younger, upstart cavers tend to prefer the newer electric systems -and for good reason. Let's examine those reasons. Carbide lamps have some distinct disadvantages: they require extra water, which the thirsty caver might otherwise be able to drink; they take up space and weight in the belt pack, for carbide bottles and bags; they stink (literally); and they require regular recharging. They also require regular maintenance, including oriflce r eaming and the changing of wet felts. On the other hand, carbide is cheap and no external wire is needed, thus enabling the caver to remove his hat with ease, separately from his beltpack. Pace 7 Electric lamps also have their disadvantages: batteries can be quite expensive, and those batteries have to be connected to the lamp by a cord -this is one real complaint that cavers have about electric lighting. Those cords have a nasty way of getting caught on protrusions from the ceilings in crawlways and make it difficult to remove either the hat or the beltpack independently. But they produce a much stronger beam than any carbide lamp; they are relatively maintenance-free; and they are lightweight. In addition, some caves are now restricted to electric light only to avoid carbide-dumping by thoughtless cavers. Battery expense is a disadvantage that can only be solved by sale-shopping or the use of nickel-cadmium (rechargeable) batteries. But the problem of that cord is another matter. I have designed for myself and for several other cavers an electric light system that is cheap to buy and install, simple to understand, easy to maintain, dependable, and eliminates that blasted cord that runs to your beltpack. It does this by mounting the batteries in your hardhat. The first thing you will need to make your own is the six-volt headlamp with the elastic band (designed for insomniac fishermen). Several cavers who you know are already using these lamps, which are available at Gibson's or other similar stores. This will run you about $9, most of which is for the battery. You can use the system as is in about two good caves to get your money's worth out of the battery. The next part is a battery holder, available at Radio Shack, for about $1.95, designed to hold four "C" batteries in series. You can use "D" batteries instead but the holder will take up more room under your helmet, although you will get more hours of light per battery. Drill a screw sized hole in your helmet in a position that will allow you to run a screw in each of the two slots that will be in the battery holder. Then drill a hole in the front of your helmet just behind the center of your light. Pass the wires attached to your holder through this hole, and splice them into the wires on your fishing lamp. Polarity won't matter in this case but be sure the wires are attached securely, preferably with wire-nuts, which are available at any Gibson's or K-Mart in the electrical section.
Pace 8 One caution: in situations where you're expecting to be rained upon by large boulders, this system may not be for you. It handles normal situations safely enough but falling rocks could cause the batteries to strike your head. Use com mon sense. Always carry a spare set of batteries in your beltpack. These will take up less room than your spent carbide by itself. The space taken up by your carbide bottle, extra water, and maintenance kit can be put to much better use with candy bars, Dr Peppers, and Beenee Weenees. Editor'8 Note: The opmlOns expressed in the above are those of the writer. Do any Wheat lamp and carbide cavers want equal time? Honey Creek Preserve by Jay Jorden An I,SOO-acre ranch in the Texas Hill Country, near Bulverde where Indians once camped, now represents one of the last examples of what once was a native forest of juniper and oak. Luke Thompson has walked most of those acres in his three years as caretaker of the property; biologists have studied the old ranch's vegetation and wildlife. A tiny salamander discovered in a cave deep under the nature preserve now may be a key to its continued preservation, said Thompson. A conservation organization is fighting to keep Honey Creek Ranch Preserve, which was saved from developers when the Nature Conser vancy bought it in 19S1. The Texas chapter of the conservancy, a nonprofit organization which purchases and manages wildlands nationwide, faces a year-end deadline to repay $2.1 million borrowed from a trust fund to purchase the ranch preserve. "They money that we thought was going to come never materialized," said Thompson, the conservancy's land steward for Honey Creek and six other preserves in Texas. "Economic down turns happened right at that time that caused it not to come through." Nationwide, the conservancy has pur chased millions of dollars' worth of property. The organization's aims are to preserve "unique and significant" natural areas and the plants and animals dependent upon them. 'be Texu Caver "We're now looking at any alternative that we can," said Thompson, 32. "We are look ing at various funding sources -everything and anyone -making personal contacts to corpora tions and individuals and who are capable of mak ing sizeable contributions." The ranch, which was organized in the IS705, is the best example the Texas Nature Con servancy could find of a specific type of native forest land. Growth in San Antonio has been threatening its existence, with development spreading northward to within only miles of the property. "We were looking for an area in the juniper-oak savannah of the Hill Country," said Thompson, a biologist. "This particular plant association occurs only in the southeastern region of the Hill Country. None of it exists any more in totally native condition. He said university biologists who surveyed the property "determined that the vegetation present well represented the native plant and animal life and that it would be worthy of an attempt to restore it to the conditions it was in prior to settlement." He said biologists, among the few allowed access to the property, have also examined surface fiora and fauna to determine whether their rarity might afford them governmental protection. "We have already covered those bases," he said. "We have our plant lists and animal lists none of which will give it (the property) that type of status. Some of the plants, animals, etc. could have been protected by federal law. But this is in no way a pristine area. "We are proceeding with the restoration and management program under the assumption that we will keep it," Thompson said. The property also contains three Indian sites and about two dozen springs that are the main source of Honey Creek. Ironically, what lies under the ranch not on it --may be one key to its continued preservation. Thompson found a cave on the p roperty last year that contains delicate blind salamanders.
\be Texas Caver "The cave and the creek were a bonus, but have turned out to be the most central and significant part of the property, because of the occurrence of the Honey Creek bUnd salamander, or Comal salamander, as it is sometimes called," he said. Thompson discovered the cave last May when he was walking across the preserve after a rainstorm to observe drainage patterns and check on the springs. "I heard water running in an area where I knew there were no significant drainages," he said, "and when I stuck my head over the top of a hill, I saw a pool oC water and a waterfall cascading down a 45-Coot talus slope. It was still coming out of the ground six hours after the rain stopped." Two weeks later, cavers Crom the Univer sity of Texas Speleological Society entered the opening, finding an underground stream and 850 meters of passage. In April and May, mapping teams extended its length past one kilometer. "When we discovered the salamanders, the conservancy realized we would not ever be able to have an open-market sale, with no restrictions on the property," Thompson said. "There are some things worth saving here." The property was a working ranch until the conservancy purchased it in 1981 Crom William Bartle oC Corpus Christi. Since then, Thompson has lived with his wife, Jackie, in the old ranch headquarters. The Texas Nature Conservancy borrowed $3 million from a national endowment, the Land Preservation Fund, which is available for emergency purchases. "We still owe $2. 1 million to that account to pay for Honey Creek," Thompson said. He said the state chapter spent several hundred thousand dollars additionally Cor bullding improvements. "In the beginning, money was coming in from corporations and individuals," he said. "About $800,000 to $900,000 has been raised in Texas and a challenge grant was received from a New York Coundation." For every $2 million the state conservancy chapter can raise, the Coundation will pay it another $1 milllon, he said. Pace g "Honey Creek will be protected, but at this point, I am not sure the conservancy will continue to be able to hold it," he said. "Partial sale is a possibility, as is state ownership. So is private ownership." Thompson said the preserve has had many recent purchase offers, even though it is not yet Cor sale. "We have had 15 separate inquiries Crom just the development standpoint, Crom real estate agents," he said, "including a cash offer at almost twice what we mortgaged the place for. They really wanted it. Thompson said contributions to the conservancy, which are tax-deductible, should be sent to Honey Creek Ranch Preserve, Rt. 2, Box 2037a, Bulverde, Texas 78163. TSS NEWS by William R. Elliott In March 1983, a team oC TSS cavers was invited by Ron Ralph, archaeologist-caver with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, to map and study a small cave at Seminole Canyon State Historical Park, near Comstock, Val Verde County. The cave had been visited by very Cew people over the years and was kept a secret to prevent intruders Crom looking for Indian artifacts. Seminole Canyon Cave is 200 feet long and has a small sinkhole entrance 22 feet deep. The cave contains deep soil deposits, washing in from a now-plugged sink at the east end. The cave was mapped by Bill Elllott, Tom Byrd, Joe Sumbera, Mike McWhirter, Ron Ralph, and Wayne Haley (the Park Superintendent). A bio logical collection was made and photographs taken of two ringtail skeletons. Ron thought that the cave was a good potential bone site -both for animals and humans. In March, 1984, the Parks and Wildlife Department sponsored a multi-disciplinary preliminary study of the cave. Cavers Robert Hemperly, Tom Byrd, Mike McWhirter, Bill Elliott, Ed Alexander, Dwight Deal, and John Spence assisted an archaeology/paleontology team from UT Austin composed of Solveig Turpin, Lee Bement, Dr. Ernest Lundelius, and Bob Rosen, under the supervision of Ron Ralph and Wayne
Pace to Haley. Several other friends and family were present. Small animal bones were recovered from a test pit at the east end. A test pit was dug toward the west end to study the soil profile. Bio logical studies were continued in the cave and on the surface. More mapping was done in the filled surface sink for a revision of the cave map. The archaeologists began carefully removing the talus cone below the entrance drop and were rewarded with human skeletal remains. The excitement mounted as a point was found in place among the bones. The point, in perfect condition, was of a style about 6,000 to 7,000 years old. No complete skeletons were found, but a lot of jawbones, teeth, skull fragments, and a few long bones were uncovered. It became apparent that this had been used as a burial cave, and that the rocks may have been dropped in on top of the bodies. Whether it was a single, mass burial remains to be seen. One individual had been cremated and enough charcoal was recovered to send to a carbon-dating lab. After a week's work, the site was covered and closed down without attempting to removing everything at this stage. Subsequent study of material at the Texas Archaeological Sur vey lab in Austin seemed to indicate that there were parts of about six individuals recovered, most of them old women. Proposals were soon written to continue work at Seminole Canyon, and the TPWD has awarded a contract for a multidisciplinary study to be performed this spring and fall. Archaeology will be the main thrust but sub proposals were awarded to Tom Byrd for a sedimentology study, Bill Elliott and James Reddell for biology, Dwight Deal for geology, and others for paleontology and so on. The field work will be done in May and June with lab work and reports later. TSS is proud to participate in the study. In April 1984, James Reddell, TSS Editor, was notified that the old Kretschmarr Ranch west of Austin had sold unexpectedly to the developer, Doyle Wilson. The ranch contains Tooth Cave, Kretschmarr Cave, and several small caves having a significant cave-adapted fauna. Tooth Cave, in particular, has more species of troglobites than any other Texas cave. 'he Tuu Caver We were invited to search out the caves, mark them, survey them, and do an overland survey to locate them on a property map for possible inclusion in greenbelts. Amber Cave significant biological was relocated and a find made in it. Jim Pisarowicz found a new cave which was named after him. Reddell was able to relocate a spring cave he had vlsited 20 years ago; blind salamanders were discovered in its water. This work was done on two weekends and an overlay map and report was prepared. The work was presented to Mr. Wilson by Navenna Travis, Director of the Texas System of Natural Laboratories, who has long held access rights and protection of the caves there. Mr. Wilson responded very favorably and has encouraged us to find more caves on the property. The caves will be set aside for protection in some way not yet determined. The work was done just in the nick of time, as plans for the placement of buildings and houses were not final. This is the second time in the last year that Austin cavers have been instrumental in getting developers to set aside caves on their land. The attitude seems to be good in the Austin area for this sort of thing. We hope cavers in other parts of the state will try to do similar conservation work. Thanks go to Marcelino Reyes, David McKenzie, Linda Elliott, Tom Byrd, Jim Pisarowicz, and Dale Pate for assistance in the field. Work is progressing on the forthcoming TSS publication The Cave8 of Blanco, Gille8pie, and Llano Countie8. In March, Bill Elliott, Dale Pate, Joe Brobert, and David Highland mapped Davis Blowout Cave, Blanco County. This is a large bat cave about 100 meters long. The cav e still has some old guano mining equipment in it, so we photographed it. A biological collection was made of the invertebrate fauna. The cav e has been used in two different studies of Mexican freetail bats, the latest being a study of nursing behavior, recently published in Science by Dr. Gary McCracken of the University of Tennessee Legend has it that this cave "blew out" and burned many years ago. There are smoke and soot stains around the entrance, so perhaps the story is true. Bat guano, such as at the Frio Bat Cave, has been known to smolder and burn for months.
Ibe Tau Caver George Veni has sent us the first drart of his exhaustive Bexar County Survey, to be published by TSS. Over 180 caves are represented in the work. Other TSS publications could be developed over the next year or two: Carta Val ley, Hays County, and Medina County. We need volunteers to do field work and drarting. The TSS office is in good shape but we have received relatively little material from cavers lately. The TSS is the archives of speleological information for Texas cavers. We have built a large map file for the purpose of archiving the hundreds of cave maps that are still in private files out there. It is full of empty map tubes at this time. We are asking all Texas cavers to bring maps and other information with them to the Old Timers' Reunion in September so we can start to update our files. In return, you will have an improved TSS file system to draw on in the future. Sensitive information on caves (for instance, having to do with certain landowners or caves that should not receive heavy traffic) can be marked with your specifications in our files. In the near future, we hope to acquire a good microcomputer and start indexing and summarizing our files with dBASE n, a database program. Donations for the computer will be gratefully accepted --or if you have any ideas on how to obtain such a computer for free or at low cost, please let me know: William R. Elliott, TSS Asst. Editor, 12102 Grimsley Drive, Austin, TX 78759; phone: (512) 835-2213. PBSS News by Bill Bentley Back in the early days of my spelunking adventures in some of the oldest known caves in New Mexico, I would aiways wonder just what it would be like to be the first one to enter a virgin passage in a new cave. That was early in 1980; it wasn't until July 1981 that those dreams would be fulfilled. Being the first human to ever enter Childress Sin khole, I knew then and there I was hooked and this would not be the only time to enter a new Many trips later to many different caves and caverns, I still felt that somewhere more virgin caves existed. Pace 11 Talking to many people helps in the search for new caves. Sometimes ranchers or locai residents can tell where they thought an elusive hole in the ground could be found. Wild goose chases and wasted trips are part of the price one pays in searching for new caves. A good friend of mine and fellow caver, Dennis Haynes from Fort Stockton, has felt that feeling of "being the first man on the moon" in virgin caves. He and his two brothers have found and explored McKenzie Cave and the newly discovered Comanche Springs Cave, in which I was actively involved. This year should again bring more virgin cave discoveries. In August, digging in a sinkhole for 18 hours in a 10.5 inch crawlway paid off in several hundred feet of muddy crawlway passages, ail virgin. A recent trip to Wizard's Well (discovered in summer of 1981 by former Odessa resident Mike Warton) reveaied more deep, dark secrets with many feet of new passage. On the way back home from that trip, I stopped in the small town of Iraan to get gas and mentioned to the lady at the counter that I was a cave explorer. She told me of a hole on her uncle's ranch near Sheffield, in which she had warmed her hands while deer hunting years ago. Two weeks later, I was able to contact the rancher and go searching for this hole. Arter hours of looking on the wrong hill, our group searched on the right hill and twenty minutes later found it. The cave remains to be explored, due to blockage of rocks and mud and soon we will be able to go back and, judging from the breeze of cool air blowing out of this new cave, remove the rubble. Editors' Note: The following is a list of new cave discoveries from West Texas, some of which were by PBSS members. Discoveries were McKenzie Cave, discovered five years ago by the Haynes brothers in Fort Stockton; Wizard's Well, discovered in July 1981 by the former lO-G Grotto in Odessa; Childress Sinkhole, June 1981 by Bentley, Hill, Melots in Midland/Odessa; Comanche Springs Cave, January 1983, Haynes brothers, Fort Stock ton; Gonzalas Cave and other sinkholes, August 1983 by Haynes, Bentley in Midland, Fort Stock ton; Raven Cave, October 1983 by PBSS; and Pecos Spring Cave, October 1983 by PBSS.
P,,e 12 Bexar Grotto News by Linda Palit San AntoI!io has a new caving organiza tion called the Bexar Grotto. The first meeting of the Bexar Grotto was February 27, 1984; work on the organization had been in progress for several months. The intent of the Bexar Grotto is to pull together the divergent interests and resources of the San Antonio caving community. Meetings are being held in the San Antonio Savings Building, at the northwest corner of Loop 410 and San Pedro, in the Community Room at 7:30 pm on the fourth Monday of each month. We would like to thank those cavers from Austin and San Marcos who have supported us by attending meetings, giving programs, and inviting us to participate in their projects. Bexar Grotto extends an invitation to any caver to visit our meetings when he or she is in the area. Editors 1 Note: Evelyn Bradshaw, board member of the National Speleological Society and chairperson of the Internal Organizations Com mittee, reports that the Bexar Grotto was recently chartered as an NSS entity. DFW Grotto News by Jay Jorden With its great propensity to cross state lines and national borders, Dallas-Fort Worth Grotto members have been involved in mapping and exploration in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mex ico, Arkansas, and Mexico in the past several months. In May, five DFW members went to the Guads in New Mexico, where they rendezvoused with members of the University of Texas Speleo logical Society and visited the "Pink" caves, Three Fingers Cave, and other points of interest. Two other groups went to Fitton Cave, Arkansas, for photographic excursions and exploration. Also in May, one DFW member joined with groups of Oklahoma cavers for map ping at Jester Cave, ridgewalking near another cave, and exploration and mapping at Wild Woman Cave. 'be Texu Caver In April, a regional planning session which the DFW grotto and its chairman, Joe Gid dens, helped organize in Oklahoma was termed a success. Cavers from Oklahoma City, Ardmore, and other areas of the Sooner State met with Wichita Falls and Dallas-Fort Worth personnel for mapping in Wild Woman and discussions of form ing a new National Speleological Society region There was general agreement to the concept, which envisions a region encompassing areas pre viously unserved by an NSS internal organization and yet overlying existing regions. The same month, another trip was led to Fitton. The month of June has been a busy one for DFW grotto members, who organized a verti cal session, took yet another mapping trip to Oklahoma, and met with San Antonio cavers for an excursion to an area cave. Some members attended the TSA convention and planned to make the NSS convention in Sheridan, Wyoming. Y'all come caving with us! Aggie Grotto by Jim Mueller Our group here at Texas A&M is slowly gaining experience and members. The Aggie Speleological Society isn't what it used to be but we do (un)officially exist. If anyone in the Bryan-College Station area is interested in getting in touch with us please contact Jim Mueller at (409) 260-6098 My address is P O Box 3245, College Station, Texas 77841. We meet semi-occasionally and have had trips monthly. Many thanks to the University of Texas grotto for their help and caving invitations. Without their assistance, our caving expedition s would have been very limited. UTG News by William R. Elliott On Dec. 5, 1983, seven cavers left Austin for Huautla, Oxaca to push Nita Nanta toward Sotano de San Agustin. They met seven others there and began a push at a boulder choke near the bottom, but it soon sumped due to rain reports Mark Minton. The water was higher than
Ibe Texaa Caver last spring. A new depth (1031 m) and length (10.7 km) was established for the cave. Two new entrances were discovered, bringing the total to eight. A major rope de-rig was done through three routes in the cave. It took 10 new ropes to de-rig 30 old ones. Julia James (Australia) and Lisa Wllk (Austin) did a through trip of the cave by themselves, de-rigging 600 m vertically along the way. Julia took a fall and stunned herself but was uninjured. Alan Warlld from Australia did a solo 47-hour trip to the bottom of Li Nita with one rope, using 1200 m of venetian blind cord and wire runners to rig around rocks. He then pulled down his rope as he covered 1020 m vertically. To finish out the trip, some hiking was done in the area, too. After Christmas, Russell Dobson, Maureen Handler, and Mike Walsh went to Jalpan, Queretaro, to rescue some gear left behind when Mike's truck burned. Mike went on to Mexico City while the others caved. They visited the entrance of Sotano del Macho Rey, then hiked to look for pits. They met Mike in Tamazunchale and headed to Tamapatz, where they met some Missouri cavers, then on to Sotano de Cepilla and Golondrinas to look. They did the entrance drop in Sotanito de AllUacatlan. Several days earlier, it had snowed. The road is now being extended toward Golondrinas. David Dodge, John Willcox and Jack Ackerman went to Grutas de Quintero, Tamaulipas, around Christmas and noted that the old map is very out-of-date. About the same time, Bill Russell and John Gilliland hit a boulder choke at -2 m in Grapevine Cave, South Austin. Jim Pisarowicz, Louise Hose, and Tom Strong visited Potrero Redondo in the mountains above Horsetail Falls near Monterey, N.L. They took in Cueva de la Tierra Rosa, a large resur gence cave explored by Charles Fromen a few years ago and since visited by several other Texas groups. An old man led them into the cave. He said that during the Revolution he was a messenger boy to a group of 50 men who lived in the cave for 100 days. The cavers mapped about 700 meters of cave. The entrance area is a maze with lakes. The next day, in wetsuits, they plowed through cave ice and heard roaring water. They then popped into a 200 meter stream gallery and surveyed to sumps at either end. They found a 20 meter pit. The cave has lots of wind. Pace 13 Roy Jameson and Patty Mothes visIted the Ojo de Agua caves near Gomez Farias, Tamps., and the famous Grutas de Cacahuamllpa, Guerrero. Tickets to the latter were only 200 pesos each less than $2. On New Year's Day 1984, Jack Ackerman, Jerry Johnson, -David Dodge and Wayne Russell, in SCUBA gear, surveyed and went to the end of a cold spring after six sumps in Cueva de Carrlzal, N.L. They found a 15 meter high dome with an unchecked lead at the top. Soon after that some of the divers went to Cave Without a Name. On Jan. 15, Andy Grubbs went to Hilis and Dales Pit, a cave in San Antonio, with six Southwest Texas State cavers. Some did their first rappel there; some climbed the 6o-foot drop on knots. Russell reported in January that a cave park was being set aside by a developer, Bill Milburn, in Maple Run, a subdivision in South Austin. Four acres will hold Goat Cave, Hideout Cave, and Wade Sink while another 1/3 acre will be for Maple Run Cave. Management plans are not complete. They may eventually save Grapevine Cave 1/2 mile west of there. Peter Sprouse reported that a pit, Hades Schacht in Austria, has been reported as 450 m deep, but is probably not a free drop. The drop starts at -5 m. Fern Cave, Val Verde County, was visited on Jan. 28-29 by 15 or 20 people from UT, San Marcos, San Antonio, and England. It was a vertical training, photography, and sightseeing trip. The old wooden ladder was still at the entrance but was too rickety to use so everyone rappelled in. Bats were observed. Lisa Wilk was seen cavorting with a stuffed money. On Sunday, six cavers visited H .T. Meiers Cave and went down three drops. Lisa was inspired to plan a return trip. During the TSA meeting in February, a group went to Preserve Cave at Honey Creek Preserve, Comal County. After a dig they got into going passage. Four had to leave, but eight went on through 250 m of dry passage to a stream passage. Downstream, it sumped at tlowstone. Upstream, they saw several blind salamanders. They made a 100 m hanging survey but had to stop as lights began failing.
PaceH On Feb. 11-12, H.T. Meiers Cave was visited by Wilk, Minton, Handler, Bill Mixon, Don Broussard, Jeff McGlew, Paul Smith and Darryl Reese -the last from San Marcos. They broke into a new passage at an old lead that was blowing air. This went about 60 m. They got into a giant room with another lead, then went to a 10wer section. The cave probably is about 100 m deep. There is no vertical data on the lower end; the cave will have to be remapped. About the same time, five cavers visited Goat Cave, according to Robert Green. The Texins Speleological Club, known as the "TI Cavers", had a photographic trip to Caverns of Sonora in February. The club is trying to get an NSS charter. On Feb. 25, the Explorers Club met at Marble Falls. Minton attended with four others and said that Bro. Nicholas Sullivan, the biospeleologist, was the featured speaker. Elections were held for the grotto. Duwain Whitis is still president, Terri Sprouse is vice president, and Mixon is again secretarytreasurer. On Feb. 26, Wayne Russell Jr. drowned in Jacob's Well. Since the initial reports, we have heard that his single tank was finally recovered and found to be empty. The UT Grotto is shocked and saddened at the loss of a good friend and a fellow caver. John Spence, Cindy Agee, Paul, and Russell went to Maple Run and Goat Caves to take photos in late February. Bill Rupley, Al Ogden, and others from San Marcos went to Belize in February. They saw Logan McNatt and visited three large river caves. One was 1/2 mile long and one entrance was visi ble from the other. Also in February, the hanging survey in Preserve Cave was connected to the entrance and the cave brought to 850 m length. Isopods, harvestmen, and 15 blind salamanders were seen. The cave was heading toward a plugged sinkhole. The end of the cave as Minton knows it apparently extends under the sink, according to a topographic overlay. In early February, Grubbs went to Wild Woman Cave in Oklahoma with the Dallas-Fort Worth Grotto. The cave is about three miles long. tbe Texu Caver Peter Sprouse, Terri Sprouse, and Jim Feely traveled to Cuatrocienagas, Coahuila, in early March to scout for caves. A large scorpion was found in one cave. During spring break, March 9-18, cavers left for Sotano de Las Calenturas and Cueva del Tecolote, Tamps. Minton and his bus transported Jerry Atkinson, Alan Williams, Nick Hauwert, Smith, Jeff McGlew, Handler, John Gilliland, Erika Heinen, Kent Sanders, and Mixon. Most of the time was spent in Calenturas where they pushed all the passages upstream to no avail. The cave is about 7 kilometers long. They mapped some new passages, so the cave is essentially finished. The future of the cave lies upstream. They did some surface hikes, dropped into some small pits, but nothing went. The last few days were at Tecolote at Los San Pedros, in the Brinco area. One push trip picked up at a 20 m drop into large borehole. They surveyed over 300 m and stopped at a drop into a big room about 170 m deep. The cave has 600 m of depth potential. We heard that Jim McIntire, former SWTSU caver, is starting a caving club and possible NSS grotto in Red Rock, Texas. Word filtered to us in early April that the Pena Colorada expedition in Oaxaca was using a cliff entrance into the cave system and had passed a 150 meter sump into borehole 1 kilometer long and 100 meters wide. Then there was a second dump to another borehole. The cave was not heading toward San Agustin and a camp needed to be set soon. Pisarowicz and Mary Standifer went to Itundujla, Oaxaca, and Xochltlan and Zoquitlan, Puebla, in March. They met Steve Knutson and Scott Linn and revisited Grutas de Ateno and San Bernardo. The latter is not yet connected to the Santa Elena system, of which Ateno is a part. They hiked to Elochtitlan, Puebla, where they saw a big sumldero, El Mirador, previously found by some Belgian cavers. Some camping gear was stolen from them, but the local constabulary retrieved it. In Publa city they saw a busines s named "La Cueva del Jedi". Andy Grubbs went to Gruta del Palmito, N.L., in late March with the SWT Geography Club. March 30-April 1 saw another trip to th e Langtry caves. Wilk, Minton, Feely, and Tom Byrd checked out a cave on private land only 200 meters from the Rio Grande. The entrance, a 15 foot drop, was in a dry wash. Tom showed slides of the cave, which was filled with sediments but
'be Texu CaTer naturally re-excavated in the past. A cleanup was held at Big Tree Cave-Langtry Lead. A large amount of trash, including sheep carcasses, was removed form the entrance and burned to reduce the volume. The remainder will be hauled away. During the trip, three people from San Antonio plus Handler, went to the bottom of Emerald Sink. She checked a 45-foot lead. Spence and others mapped the upper area of the cave. On April 14, Minton and others worked at Preserve Cave. Wllk and Whitis were there from Austin; Brian Burton and Jay Jorden from Dallas; George Love from San Marcos; Robert Hemperly, DDS, from Kerrville; and Bill Steele, Paul Schmidt and Walter Plunkett from San Antonio. The cave was extended to 1.1 kilometers long with the addition of 250 meters. A large block could be removed for more cave. A dig in the sinkhole went down 3 meters then into a 20 centimeter diameter hole. Russell reported on "Flint Ridge Cave" in south Austin. A new cave near Goat may go; Hideout Cave may go. Grapevine is now mapped. John McDowell, James Green, and Bill did a cir.,. cular dig in Grapevine recently. Spence visited a cave near Medina Lake with the San Antonio grotto In mid-April. A 30foot pit went into a decorated room, which led on to a two domes but no leads. Another cave was rumored to be big enough to ride a horse into but they could not find it. Barb and Duwain Whitis had an openhouse party at their new place near Buda in March. Who should show up by Ronnie Fieseler, who was recently transferred by his company from Rock Springs, Wyoming, to Bryan. As soon as Ronnie gets a malling address he'll let everyone know. Ronnie also attended a regular Wednesday night meeting. Jim Pisarowicz treated the club to a showing of his 1982 New Guinea expedi tion slides. At another meeting, Bill Stone popped in on his way to Oaxaca and showed us Huautla slides. Then, Mark Minton showed us highlights of last year's expedition. Tom Miller and Eric von Vorkampff stopped by on their way to Belize during one meeting. Tom announced his candidacy for NSS BOG. We have had visitors from San Marcos, San Antonio, Bastrop, and other places. Neal London, from Elgin, used to cave with the Dog wood City Grotto in Atlanta and has been caving .Pap 16 with some new friends in Texas recently. Peter Sprouse gave a talk on carbide lamp history and showed us examples dating to 1911. Bill MIxon' then demonstrated a piez"electric striker he adapted to his lamp. Mark Minton showed us his all-day Petzl "ceiling burner" and a 1902 lamp with a glass door on the headpiece. Eric returned from Belize in early May to report that he and Tom had surveyed 9 kilometers in an unnamed cave on the Chiquibui River. Recent news from the Pena Colorada expedition had It that four sumps had been passed in a tenday diving effort A pit was descended down to water again but the pit kept going down to at least 170 feet underwater. The divers had to quit as they weren't prepared to work at that depth so far in. So, they will try bypassing this area. A new novel, Jacob'll Well, was recently published by Steve Harrigan. It generally concerns the Austin lifestyle (including some fictional cavers) and diving in Jacob's well. The sad news reached us that the Restaurant Condesa in Cd. Valles, famous among cavers, burned to the ground recently. Rumor has it that a printing shop next door was the cause of the fire. Other recent work done by club members is reported in TSS Newll Minas Golandrinas by Alan Johnson Destination: Minas Golandrinas, Mexico Personnel: T. R. Evans, Charlie Loving, Alan Johnson, and others Dates: January 1, 1984 Rob Miller and I followed T. R Evans, Charlie Loving, and others to Minas Golandrinas on New Years Day. Minas Golandrinas, a mining ghost town on the west side of the mountain about 15 miles north of Bustamante Canyon, consists of two small groups of houses with nearby mine tunnels. A caretaker resides at the ore processing plant near the bottom of the mountain. The entrances to most of the mines can be reached with a sturdy truck. The mine tunnel furthest north is in solid basaltic rock, and connects to natural cave passages. Two pits, about
Pace III 300 and 200 Ceet deep respectively, are encountered along with one Calr-sized room and what appeared to be ongoing, natural passage. According to one oC my guides, Charlie Loving, the mountain is honeycombed with mines and caves. I entered two other tunnels but made careCul hasty exists upon seeing previous cave-ins and unstable shoring. Generally speaking, abandoned mines should be avoided. IC good judgment is exercised, though, Minas Golandrinas can provide a diversion Crom the Care. Gruta de Carrizal by Duane Canny Destination: Gruta de Carrizal, Gruta del Palmito, N L ., Mexico Personnel: Duane Canny, Linda Palit, Mike Johnson, Eric Short, George Veni, Nick CrawCord Ron Delamarter, Tony Able, Tim Schafstall, Ben Kelley, Christopher Groves, Elaine Cohron, and John Hoffelt Since George was coming through San Antonio and his group oC Kentucky field trip members were staying with us, we were invited to accompany the group to Carrizal and Palmito. I was panic-stricken at taking Mencius the Maverick to Mexico with six people but wil ling until Eric volunteered his Cather's station wagon. After leaving work early Friday afternoon, Linda, the Kentucky group, and I were packed and ready to go by 5 :30 pm. Crossing the border went with little trouble, except that we were required to take all gear inside to be marked with an "X" in chalk, then had to repack it. We proceeded to Carrizal, learning as we went the habits of our transportation, nicknamed "Puff the Magic Dragon". Puff headed for each pothole in the road while Eric would whimper; the vehicle would then become airborne. We would then spend the next 60 seconds weaving all over the road. We arrived at Carrizal and camped outside the gate. The next morning was cloudy and cool as we proceeded on to the cave. We had one oC the quickest trips on record. the Texas Caver We were out oC Carrizal and on the road to Bustamante beCore noon. We introduced the novice Mexico tourists to the pleasure oC Mexican restaurants. We then spent two hours trying to find the key for the entrance to the cave. We never found the key but finally learned that the gate was unlocked because a was being built at the bottom of the hill. Starting up the hill to Palmito about 4 :30 pm, Linda and I were the last to reach the top; we immediately proceeded into the cave. The locals have been busy stringing up lights since the last time I was there --I had never seen that much of the cave. We went all the way to the "hidden" room. Surprisingly, it is vandalized very little and still beautiful. We had lost three or four of the Kentucky cavers on the way to the back but all oC us who were left exited the cave and went down the mountain in less than 1.5 hours We then went to the canyon to get some rest. Awaking the next morning to drizzle, the Kentucky group headed south to the Ciudad Valles area while we went back to San Antonio and work. It was a pleasure, though, to hear Nick Crawford's comment upon leaving. He said Mex ico caving was "blowing our minds!" La Boca by Peter Sprouse Destination: La Boca, Nuevo Leon, Mexico Dates: September 8-11, 1983 Personnel: Jim Pisarowicz, Peter Sprouse, Terri Sprouse The three of us headed south from Austin in a rainstorm. It was still raining when we set up camp near the Mamulique mine south of Sabinas Hidalgo. Friday morning we drove into Monterrey to the American consulate to find Eduardo Alanis Leal, a guard and a friend of Larry Cohen's who had a pit lead in the mountains above La Boca. He was not scheduled to be available until the afternoon, so we did various kinds of shopping in the city, including going to the governmen t map office on the west side of town to obtain topo maps. We also drove up a steep hill on the south side of town, EI Mirador, which offered a good view oC the city. We met Eduardo in the afternoon and made arrangements to join him the nex t day in the village oC Los Canelos.
Ihe TexlIB Caver Saturday morning we made the short but steep hike up into Cueva de La Boca, which is a very impressive cave. We followed the Jeep road to the back where we were nearly stifled by clouds of gnats. We rushed back to Los Canelos to meet Eduardo, who took us south to the small village of Monteprieto where he had relatives. He pointed to the cave's supposed location: six or seven hundred meters up the steep east face. He indicated there would not be time to climb up there and that we should make arrangements to return with advance notice. We made tentative arrangements for October and then headed west toward Cola del Caballo. We pushed on past the tourists and took the left turn to Potrero Redondo. Alter innumerable stream crossings, we arrived in the potrero, a pleasant valley of apple orchards. We had a local citizen guide us to Cueva Rosal which is in a canyon below the village. Inside, we explored a short way in to the flrst pool. The cave has apparently been explored quite a way back by south Texas cavers but has not been mapped. A good breeze blows from the entrance and water might come out during floods. Directly across from the cave entrance is a spring. We camped for the night in the forest south of the village, again in the rain. The following day we drove on south to the village of La Trinidad and had a look at Sumidero de Cebolla. A large arroyo enters the cave, and which becomes wet after 50 meters. Houston cavers have mapped this cave, and have determined that its water exits a lower cliffside cave. On our exit down the mountain we had to dodge waves of Sunday dirt bikers from Monterrey. La Boca #2! by Peter Sprouse Destination: La Boca, Nuevo Leon, Mexico Dates: October 7-10, 1983 Personnel: Jim Pisarowicz, Peter Standifer Feely, Ernie Garza, Jim Sprouse, Terri Sprouse, Mary Six of us crossed into Mexico at Laredo and again camped near the Mamulique mine. We walked up the hill in the morning to look down the mine shaft. Picking up some much needed Pace 17 gas in Cienega de Flored, we drove west to Los Morales, where we wanted to check out a canada [Editor'3 Note: not a clue what this word means in this context] on the east side of a large potrero-shaped mountain. However -we were stopped by a locked gate. We headed on south through Monterrey and we climbed up into Boca again for a photo trip. At Monteprieto we made contact with our guides Cor the manana. Arkansas Caves by Nicki and Sarah Reineck Destination: Little Bear Cave, Bat Cave, DoyEdmund Cave; Arkansas Dates: July 1-4, 1983 Personnel: Sarah Reineck, Nicki Reineck, Pat Neal, Nancy and Hank Ratrie, Mike Hughes We left Galveston on July 1, 1983 about 2 pm and arrived in Hot Springs State Park about 1 am. We had passed through some torrential downpours on the way and it was still raining. The next morning, we drove to Little Bear Cave, just outside of Jasper, Arkansas. We stopped in Jasper to contact Bert Alan, a member of the MOLES (Middle Ozark Lower Earth Society). He informed us that the gate was unlocked. We pro ceeded to the cave where we ate lunch, geared up, and went inside. Little Bear Cave is located in an enormous sinkhole. We found the gate unlocked and crawled into the entrance room then down the entrance crack. Following the marking flags led us along a walking passage, past a few white formations. We explored to the end of the walking passage by following four different crawl ways. After checking and rechecking, we returned along the walking passage looking for leads that we might have missed. We split up at the bottom of the crack with Hank and Mike returning to check the walking passage and the rest of us spreading out to check for additional passages off the crack. Later, we gathered at the top of the climb, relocated the crawl to the entrance, and headed out of the cave.
Pille 18 There were still several hours of daylight lett so we piled into the vehicles to drive to Fitton Cave where we planned to cave on Sunday. On the way, we were hoping to stop for additional directions at the ranger station but it was closed. We did have directions: a local map of the Buffalo National Rivers, which included the back roads. Several of us had been there last year so we had great confidence in our ability to get to the cave even without the ranger's help. It had been raining and we couldn't go the way we went last year but we didn't let that deter us. In the morning, Hank and Mike went off in Hank's van to explore the two-wheel-drive potential of a rough road. About two hours later, they returned telling tales of unfordable streams, unclimbable hills, and getting stuck. We turned around and began a long morning of traveling. After returning to the main road, we went to the ranger station where the ranger explained another way to go and told us about other caves that we could visit. We jumped back into the vehicles and spent several more hours following dirt roads. Finally, we reached the parking area for Fitton Cave at about 2:30 am. We debated about hiking the two or three miles to the cave and finally decided that the cave was too long (14 miles) for a short trip to do it justice (we learned that last Memorial Day). Having explored every possible road to the cave, we vowed that we would return soon and not get lost so we could definitely get an early start. After determining that it was truly was impassable for this year's vehicles, we met a friendly local citizen who was taking his family swimming. He told us about several caves and we plan to contact him on future trips to the area. In lieu of Fitton Cave, we decided to check out Bat Cave which was south of Jasper and also on the way home. Bat Cave is a hibernation site for bats and is closed for all the winter months to keep from disturbing them. The Park Service has erected a huge fence around the cave. The cave is open in summer, so the gate was unlocked. The entrance is a rock-strewn, mossy sink with a stream running through it. Five members of our group climbed carefully down the slippery rocks and entered the cave. It was a pleasant change from the small spaces and slippery climbs in Little Bear so two of us ran back to get Nancy so she could get a taste of a different kind of cave. 'be Tuu Caver Bat Cave is a solution cave with two large rooms and various solution domes and pas sages off the large rooms. It has two short drops which would require ropes but we found that someone had recently equipped these drops with homemade ladders. One was the trunk of a pine tree with the branches trimmed within a foot of the trunk. We used both of these ladders although some of us wished desperately for the familiar security of vertical equipment as we went up and down. At the bottom, we explored two semiwalking passages and passed up a wet, muddy crawl along a stream. At the back of one of the passages there is an art gallery of sorts where many aspiring artists have lett their marks. We spent an enjoyable three hours and then went on down the road to DoY-Edmund Cave. We found the deserted farm near DoyEdmond Cave without incident and decided to camp in the farmyard. The next morning we got up at dawn to be greeted by a mysterious sight. Mist shrouded the many ferns and mosses growing in the cave's entrance. We crawled in the entrance and found a walking/crawling passage that sometimes divided and the rejoined. We went quickly to the back, staying mostly in the drier passage. Our desire to get an early start on the drive home forced us to leave without looking for more leads but we enjoyed the cool temperatures inside the cave. Tonne's Pit by Duane Canny Destination: Tonne's Pit Personnel: Duane Canny, Ed Gilson, Steve 8l Nan Gutting, Scott Harden, Joe Ivy, Kurt Menking, Linda Pal1t, Rand Waters, and Guano the wonder I got a call from a land developer about two weeks earlier saying that she had a large pit on her land. Three of us went out one day after work: Steve, Linda and myself. We encountered a nice 30 foot pit form the surface -or so we thought. Being the first one down the pit, I was surprised to find another larger pit. By the time the other two had descended, I was anxious to get to the bottom. We found a room about 35 by 40 feet and at least 40 feet high. It was late and we had to work in the morning, so we beat a hasty
the Texu Caver exit from the cave, vowing to return and map this impress pIt. Two weeks later, we were able to get back and finish We had learned the pIt was called Tonne's PIt, though the descrIptIon In the TSS files Is not true to the cave. Having strained my back buildIng a shed the day before, I was not very sociable during the trip. Having vowed to do the survey, I proceeded to talk Scott Into mappIng wIth me, whIch is harder than Scott talking me Into collecting bugs. While I was takIng the entrance shots, Linda showed up wIth Guano, ready to rappel. Being Guano's first time in a cave, I volunteered to take him in. Everything went fine on the first drop until he got hIs ear stuck in the rack, which caused him some distress. By the second drop, he knew to keep his ears out of the rack. As we mapped the bottom (with breaks for bug collection), Guano and Linda explored and he became accustomed to caving. The rest of the group was descending while all this was going on; they did not know that Guano was in the cave. By the time the survey was finished (map is forthcoming), the rest of the group was down into the cave. Imagine their surprise when I came around the corner with Guano at my heels. Feeling much worse for wear, I exited the cave. All went well until the pack broke and Guano almost fell 30 feet If it weren't for my teeth, it would have been his last cave trip. We're gearing up for another trip; I hope Guano enjoys It! New Mexico & Texas Caves by Bill Bentley Destination: Ogle Cave, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New MexIco; Border Cave, Sidewinder Well Cave, Culberson County, Texas Dates: January 21-22, 1984 Personnel: BIll Bentley, Dennis Doherty, Joe Colllns, Robert Zoecher, Pat Hill, Terry Hill, Steve Barnes, Tony Grieco, Vicki Grieco, Patrick Murphy, BIll Greenlee; park rangers and guides John Lujon, Jaques Whitworth 18 It was to be our Permian Basin Speleolog Ical Society's second official grotto trip and first vertIcal cave trIp. Last plans were made at the PBSS meeting; the group departed at various tImes Friday. Dennis Doherty and I left Midland around 1:30 and arrived at Carlsbad at 3:30 After checkIng in at a motel and getting ready, we attended the annual Pecos Valley Grotto's "Teton Tea" party at the home of Dave and Carol Belski. Being one of the first to arrive, we met several of the rest of our group there. Surviving the party, most of the group met at the Stevens Motel Restaurant Cor breakCast the next day. We arrived at the parking area around 9 am Saturday and met our group leaders Crom the National Park Service. It was cold as we set across the western side of Slaughter Canyon for Ogle Cave. After being led by the Park Ser vice rangers up the steepest trail in all the canyon, we found the entrance. Two ropes were rigged and descending was done in pairs. Descending for all took a little more than an hour. Robert arrived late and his friend couldn't enter the cave because he wasn't on the permit. With everyone off the ropes and in the cave, we started into its massIve 250-Coot wide chamber with a l00-foot high ceiling by walking and half-sliding down the loose talus rubble rock pile about 100 feet down. Complete guano mining operations remain in Ogle, and artifacts are in pristine condition. Abandoned since 1917 after the discovery of more guano in New Cave, the evidence remains. The rangers gave a tour oC the entire length of the cave and a short side tour into a parallel passage containing many stalagtites, helectites, soda straws, and shields. Exit of the cave took several hours, with Pat Hill's and Dennis Doherty'S climbing gear not working exactly right. On the hike down the canyon wall, we passed by cavers Crom Wichita Falls who were looking for Helen's Cave. Bill Greenlee helped them find the cave, so they invited hIm to visit it with them since an extra spot remained on their permit. Upon leaying the parking area, the NPS vehicle wouldn't start. Terry Hill tried to pull start It to no avail. They were able to call the visitor center Cor help so we left for town.
Pa&e20 Sunday morning's caving activities found our intrepid group at Border Cave after breakfast. We entered Border Cave around noon and in groups of two, we filtered back to the lake room and the mud mountain adjacent to the lake. We all got to see the drill pipe that comes out of the ceiling and disappears into the depths of the black, murky water. Everyone exited the cave after a couple of hours and met on the highway. Our neat little band of Spylunks entered Sidewinder Well Cave around 2 pm. and everyone got to see the largest underground lake room in possibly all of Texas. Exit of the cave was rapid and we were rolling down the road by 3 pm. All in all, it was a fun weekend of caving. Comanche Springs by Bill Bentley Destination: Comanche Springs Cave, Pecos County, Fort Stockton Dates: January 29, 1984 Personnel: Bill Bentley, Dennis Haynes, Robert Zoecher, Jimmy Duke, Debbie Duke, Phil Dolbow and Vicki Bradley It has been called "Caverns of Fort Stockton" and "Fort Stockton Caverns" by some armchair cave explorers but it really is a grubby, grimy, muddy, and slimy hole in the ground. After a trip in there last October, I did what I said I would never do: go back! After several meetings with different people who are so-called cave divers, everyone we talked to about diving Comanche Springs had said they would like to -but none ever did. Finally, we had found some cave divers who were going to look at the cave and see about possibilities. A phone call Saturday night said Jimmy and his diving partner Phil would like to go into the cave and check what kind of gear for a dive would be needed. The next day, everyone arrived at 9:30 am and the lid to the barrel entrance was unlocked shortly thereafter. The difference between the warm air inside the cave, saturated with moisture, and the cool dry air outside cause d water to condense on the ladder rungs; rust had started in some places. Since the fIood last year, the cave seemed wetter and muddier 'be Texu Caver than ever. Talking to Dennis had given me details about a rough compass survey that put the Stephens Well Room above the entrance barrels by a mere two feet, and directly below the old Fort hospital. The survey revealed that it was only 23 feet from the ceiling to the surface. It took about one hour for everyone to meet at Stephens Well after rest stops at the Fos sil Dome Room. The two divers looked at the water and sent for their fins, masks, and snorkels. After a Quick trip out and back in, they had their gear. Several Quick dives revealed that "the cave is very dangerous for diving, and visibility is reduced to zero because of the murky water; swimming will be hard because you would have to swim upside down so your fins will not stir up silt on the bottom. Divers also told us "it might be several weeks before the actual dive because extensive training would be necessary. Dennis led the way back past Christinas' Well and the twin blue water pits. After two more hours, we exited the cave. Preparations for another dive are now underway. Any persons or groups interested in helping survey, map, or dive in Comanche Springs Cave are urged to call Bill Bentley at (915) 5634178. Wizard Well Caverns by Bill Bentley Destination: Wizard Well Caverns, Terrell County, Texas Dates: March 31-April 1, 1984 Personnel: Bill Bentley, Tony Grieco, Joe Col lins, Art Carr, and Lloyd Goldwire Early preparations for this trip resembl ed planning an expedition to the arctic. Knowing about the trip for months, we made many phon e calls to cavers all over the state and hoped t o have 16 cavers join us. It was no surprise though, that as we met on the highway that only five showed up. Everyone met on the road and we set up camp late Friday night.
Ibe Texu Caver We entered the cave and rogged the rope on the 110 root Wizard Well entrance shaft. All descended and trekked through the skinnies and through the tornado crawl. Joe rigged the Junction Room drop and everyone descended to the mud covered tloor. Onward we pushed through the two root high meat tenderizers. We took a r es t ful stop at the rormation room while Lloyd took lots or pictures. Our intrepid band or Spy lunks made it all the way to the big room and then exited after placing a register in the entrance room Everyone agreed that this cave was much li ke a hangover since you reel terrible the next morning. Busted knees and bruises abound but nobody felt cheated or a good time. McKenzie Cave by Bill Bentley Destination: McKenzie Cave, Pecos County, Texas Dates: March 25, 1984 Personnel: Bill Bentley, Dennis Haynes, Glen Haynes Sitting at home Saturday, I was interrupted from a leisurely evening by a phone call from Glen Haynes in Ft. Stockton, Texas. He asked me if I was interested in going to McKenzie C ave tomorrow and exploring all the leads under t he highway. So, I decided to go since the water supply in the cave needed replenishing and we w ere going to gate it anyway. Sunday round us digging the entrance out so the manhole cover would fit and at around 1 0 :30 am we had it in place. Now there is no way snakes can get into the cave. We then entered t he cave and rought the dirt blowing out of the e n trance and getting into our eyes. Once inside the cave, we refilled all of the water jugs, signed the register, and explored the section of maze cave that continued under 1-10 to the south. Allor the leads were caved in about 100 feet from the main passage south. Glen spotte d dynamite drill holes in the celllng and noted that the entire area looked like something Floyd C ollins would hesitate to crawl under. Thinking that this trip would produce no new leads, we started systematically exploring every passage .Pace 21 rrom the old entrance back to the north. Dennis remembered a passage that went down and was claimed to connect with the north maze or new section or the cave. We finally round the crack that went down but Glen and Dennis were both too big to fit So, I was volunteered to make the epic journey alone Arter sliding down and diagonally about 25 reet, the crack opened up into more crawllng and there was evidence someone had been here berore. A short wait and I was gone searching ror a way back but ended up back at a spot that was a common resting spot that had "hole" and an arrow pointing down marked on the wall I climbed out and scared Dennis and Glen. Then we stumbled into a room that was not familiar at ail. We reaiized that there was no evidence or anyone having ever been here berore so it was announced we were in "virgin cave". Exploring revealed 20 root high domes that have very moist and sort dirt on the fioor (we nicknamed them the cake mix domes). The ceiling was white and resembled the inside or a skull. There were many lower and intermediate level passages taking on a northwest trend (toward a 300 root high mesa). I do not know how much new cave was round but there is definitely several miles or passage. All in all over 20 new leads still need to be checked out. We can't wait to go back. Arter five hours, we exited the cave: exhausted. Spavinaw Bat Cave by Carol Carlson Destination: Spavinaw Bat Cave, Spavinaw Creek, Delaware County, Oklahoma Dates: March 25, 1984 Personnel: Bill Puckette, John Puddy (Chairman), Don Land, Chris Baker, Jerraid Saulsberry, Lorely McGee, Mike McGee, John O 'Neal, John Guffey Sam Martinez, Carol Carlson Before going to Tulsa, I got in touch with the grotto. They responded and sent me a complimentary issue or their extremely fine newsletter. Arter arrivi ng, I called John to see if a trip was planned. Yes, to a very speciai cave that no one in the grotto had seen.
Page 22 John happened to live five minutes from my aunt, so he picked me up at 10 am. We met everyone else at a truck stop then headed east for 1.5 hours. We finally arrived at the cave. We walked down the hill to see the high, swift, frigid, .creek. Bill said we were standing on an overhang above the cave. Everyone kept asking, "How do we get in?" Was I ever surprised when Bill walked about 250 feet upstream, climbed 30 feet down the cliff, and got into that water which he said was in the low 40's. He tied a safety rope from a tree at this point and carried it to the cave where he also tied it. One by one, we slowly entered the water. If one stepped on the right rocks, the water was chest deep -simply breathtaking. About halfway there, we had to climb over skinny limbs growing out of the rock. When we all arrived on the muddy mound at the entrance, we climbed through the gate. This cave is a summer home for the endangered gray bat. Bill takes good care of the cave and does special studies for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. He is gating the cave so as not to disturb the bats. This early in the season, we saw only one bat in the cave. The cute little ball of gray fuzz was about 1.5 inches long. When the bats arrive, it is impossible to enter the cave. They winter in Marvel Cave and another cave in S W Missouri. This is an unusually decorated cave for the area. The ceiling was high in places, some with nice domes. Some bacon, a black soda straw, and many other pretties. The walking passage eventually turned into a water crawl. Bill said it went for about 300 more feet. We all took his word and headed out -our compatriots were a little timid in front of my fisheye lens. On our journey home, we stopped at a diner and feasted on home made chili. I had a wonderful time with the green country cavers and am thankful they shared such an exciting trip with me. Fort Stockton by Bill Bentley Destination: Comanche Springs Cave, Fort Stockton, Pecos County, Texas Dates: September 17, 1983 Texas Caver Personnel: Terry Hill, Dennis Doherty, Bill Bentley This was to be Dennis Doherty's first trip to Comanche Springs Cave and would be my eleventh trip. We departed Midland from my house and left around 6:00 am. This put us entering Fort Stockton and waking up Dennis Haynes at 8:30 am. He told us of a new discovery outside of town. It was another cave located about 250 feet from Gonzolas Cave that we had dug into only two weeks before. How could we have missed seeing it? The cave was a round hole about four feet in diameter and about 12 to 15 feet vertically with a passage in the bottom that ran to the east and broke into a small room. This was the cleanest of any of the caves in the sinkhole area. It was solid limestone with no mud! At the end of this room was a: small hole just big enough to wallow through on one's side. Once through the small hole, you enter a small dome room about 3.5 feet high with a continuing six inch high passage that disappears around a corner after a few feet. A lot of digging was ahead, but the smell of cave was near. Sometime somebody might dig it out. After looking at some good sinkholes south of town, we woke up Glen Haynes and told him we were going to enter Comanche Springs Cave and wanted him to come along. He said he would try to be there around 12:30, so we went to the entrance and milled around the old public swimming pool waiting for Glen. Glen had not yet shown up by 1:00 so w e entered the cave via the barrel entrance and, as usual, I hurt my knee. Dennis Doherty's small body and frame had no trouble worming down the hole. He is the envy of every large caver. I checked out a lead in "overflow crack". Meanwhile, Dennis checked out a lead in another place known as wash basket crack. I found noth ing but Dennis was gone completely out of hearing range and after several minutes he returned telling of coming out into more walking passag e after traveling 150 feet (or more) through an upand-down tight crack. We decided to check out another lead in another part of the cave after taking a tour of Stephen's Well. Dennis, after struggling and grunting, went through a small hole in the end of a knee grinding two foot high seven foot long tunnel. Communication was good: for several minutes he gave me a blow-by-bloW description of every move he made. Then I heard
Ihe Texu Caver him say that someone had been here before and he laughed; then came complete silence. Several minutes seemed like hours and I ran back to Stephen's Well where Terry was waiting and told him Dennis had disappeared. We both returned to the spot where Dennis had crawled through only to hear him yelling He returned safely to tell us that i t was the same place he had been earlier in wash basket crack. Thus completed another loop further entangling the maze and unlocking another secret of Comanche Springs Cave. We left Fort Stockton around 5 :30 and on the way back I knew that I felt a little closer to the cave than I had been a few hours earlier. Pink, Black, & Hidden by Jim Mueller Destination: Guadalupe Mountains, New Mexico Dates: March 12-14, 1984 Personnel: Jim Mueller, Jeff Zachem, Mary Kay Manning After losing two cavers to sprained ankles b e fore the trip ever began, the destiny of this group appeared grim. The original purpose of the trip was to retrieve gear from Pink Dragon that was l eft for a short t ime in December. Unfor tunately, the earlier group encountered snow, s l ee t and fog and never found the cave again. A l oc al caver from Carlsbad had found the gear and turned it in (there was a reward) to the Forest Se rvice After obtaining the gear, we journeyed to Black Cave. I was the only one with much caving experience (and even that is questionable), so Black was a good introduction to caving. The sec6nd day we searched unsuccessfully for the Pinks, but did find a cave in the bottom of a canyon. Jeff found a rattlesnake as we were climbing down a 20 foot rock wall in the canyon --pretty scary. On the third day, we enjoyed Hidden and then decided to high-tail it home so Jeff could catch a bus the next day. On the trip home we saw over 260 rabbits between Artesia and Fort Stockton --incredible! Oh, look, honey ... it's our dream horne.. It's jQst. perfect, and would dou.ble a'3 a. bomb shelter. Ha.ven't developffi and the bee.n ood -to us? P&&e 23
/ --BULK RATE U .S. Postage PAID Austin, Tex a s Permit No.1181
Contents: New look! --
New Caver editors --
TSA BOG --
Peering into the vortex --
Huautla Project 1984 --
Equipment neurosis --
Your own light system --
Honey Creek Preserve --
Grotto news --
Mexican trip reports --