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 )
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United States


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A Weekend At Minas Viejas / Oren Tranbarger -- Caving - Guadalupe Style / Pat Helton -- Improving Your Gibbs / Oren Tranbarger -- The Future of Texas Caving Is In Our Hands / Mike Walsh -- Jim's Sunday Surprise / James Jasek -- Cave Crossword Puzzle / Mike di Falco -- TSA Spring Convention / Jay Jorden -- Crossword Puzzle Solution / Mike di Falco.
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Vol. 35, no. 03 (1990)
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University of South Florida
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K26-04687 ( USFLDC DOI )
k26.4687 ( USFLDC Handle )
11421 ( karstportal - original NodeID )
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51 58 60 65 67 69 70 71 THE TEXAS CAVER VOLUME 35, NO. 3 JUNE 1990 A Weekend At M i nas Viejas O ren Tranbarger Caving Guadalupe Style Pat Helton Improving Your Gibbs Oren Tranbarger The Future of Texas Caving Is In Our Hands Mike Walsh Jim's Sunday Surprise James Jasek Cave Crossword Puz zle Mike di Falco TSA Spring Convention Jay Jorden Crossword Puzzle Solut i on Mike di Falco ALTERNATING EDITORS This Issue Oren Tranbarger 3407 Hopecrest Next Issue San Antonio, Texas 78230 (512) 522-2710 Day (512) 349-0208 Night Keith Heuss 2421-A Burleson Ct. Austin, Texas 78741 (512) 385-7131 Day (512) 462-9574 Night PROOFREADERS Linda Palit and Barbara Tranbarger TEXAS CAVER LABELS Rod Goke PRINTED BY RAINES GRAPHICS 471 Limestone Lane Driftwood, Texas 78619 CAVE RESCUE-CALL COLLECf (512) 686-0234 Page 50 The TEXAS CAVER June 1990 11-IE TEXAS CAVER is a bimonthly publication o f the Texas Spele o l ogica l Association (TSA), an internal organization of the Natio n a l Spel eo l ogical Society (NSS). Issues are publi s hed in February Apri l June, Oct o b er, and December Send all corresponden ce (ot h e r th a n m a t eria l for The Texas Caver) subscription fees and n ews l ette r exchanges to: lbc Texas Caver P .O. Bo x 8026, Austin, Texas 78713 SUBSCRIYilON for Tbc Tex:as Caver i s $10.00/year. Fo r Texas cav ers TSA membership is included in the subscription fee. Single o r b ac k issues are available for S2.00 each by mail pos t paid; Sl.OO each at c o n venti o ns. AKila..ES AND MATERIAL for Tbc Tex:as Caver s h ould be s ent t o the alternating editors listed a t left. Tbc Tex:as Caver openly invites articles, trip reports photographs (35 mm slide s or any size black a nd white o r c o l o r print on glossy paper) cave maps equipment items n ews even t s cartoon s and/or any other caving-related material f o r publication. Deadline for submit t ing material i s the 15th day of the m o nth prior t o the m o nth o f publi c ati o n re COPYRIGHf 1990 b y the Texas Speleological Associatio n I ntern a l o rganizations of NSS may reprint any item first appearing in The Texas Caver as long as proper credit is given and a copy o f the newsletter containing the material is mailed to the proper a lternating editors Othe r organizations should contact the proper alternating edit o r about reprinted materials FRONT COVER (Photo Cecil Simpson, 1 989) -is the C hri stmas Tree formation in Christmas Tree Cave Slaughter Canyon, New Mexico l11is formation i s about 10 feet (3 meters) in height and is a very s trikin g fea ture which shows up in headlamps from the trail passing thr o ugh the u pper leve l of t h e cave Christmas Tree Cave is one o f the well-known Guad caves lNSIDE COVER (PhotoCecil Simpson, 1989)This white gypsum cone i s about 1 foot (30 em) in height and is f o und near the Christmas Tree formation in Christmas Tree Cave. Its beauty and shape are unu s ual. BACK COVER (Photo-Oren Tranbarger, 1989)-Roy Wessel and David Pearson are o n t h e trail to Wen Cave Slaughter Canyon New Mexico. The trai l at this point is also the trail to New Cave Wen Cave and New Cave are at the same elevations, and t h e two entrances are very clos e to each o ther From this vantage point entrances to Ogle, Helen 's, and Corkscrew caves can be observed on the north s l opes of Sla u ghter Ca n yon


A WEEKEND AT MINAS VIE.JAS Oren Tranbarger Minas viejas means old mines. The maps of Mexico show many areas designated as minas viejas. To cavers, Minas Viejas is the mine site east of Bustamante 15 miles (24 km) up a rough mountain road off N.L. Highway 1 in the Sierra Sabinas. The caves and mines in the area first attracted cavers from south Texas in 1979. Four large caves have been found at Minas Viejas: (1) Pozo de Montemayor1 ; (2) Cueva de Cuchillo1 ; (3) Pozo Ia Gloria2 ; and (4) Forced Bivouac Bear Cave. In addition to these caves, the Buena Vista Mine has extensive workings that can be explored for hours. On a recent trip, a new lead was found in Montemayor During Thanksgiving 1989, cavers from San Antonio, Austin, Kerrville, Houston, and even Australia spent a fabulous weekend further exploring this cave and revisiting the other caves and mines in the area. BACKGROUND At one time, Minas Viejas was a thriving mining community where perhaps as many as 3,000 people lived. The metals mined included iron, lead, zinc, silver, and mercury. During World War I, nearly 15 percent of the world's supply of lead came from the mines at Minas Viejas. The history of the mines dates back to approximately 200 years. The mines were originally owned and operated by Spanish and French companies. In later years, a Mexican-American syndicate operated the mines until they closed. Around 1910, one of the mines collapsed burying as many as 300 people The collapsed mine is visible today as a grim reminder of that tragic event. Labor union problems around 1952 shut the mines down, and operations ceased. In surveying the mines today, the few remaining building structures appear to be very old, and no mining equipment is left. Almost everything has been stripped out of the mines. In some places, the mines are hard to spot since they have been stripped and overgrowth hides the entrances The biggest mine known in the area is the Buena Vista Mine. This is a huge walk-in mine that has extensive workings and multiple levels. Some of the passages in the mine tunnel through small caves In addition to the Buena Vista mine, countless smaller mines abound in the area. Minas Viejas is presently a privately-owned ranch that includes 55,000 acres of mountainous terrain in the Sierra Sabinas range. Geologically, the area is characterized by stable karst in the Iguana Anticline. There is virtually no surface water. Some water is, however, available from the Buena Vista Mine. The land owner hopes that a good water source will eventually be found in a cave; however, those hopes are fading because of the recent findings in Montemayor. The actual water table may be over 2,000 feet (607 meters) below the surface. Just west of the old Minas Viejas townsite and the present-day ranch house is Mesa La Gloria. The highest elevation of this mesa is 1,300 meters ( 4,265 feet). Montemayor, Cuchillo, and La Gloria caves are located on this mesa. To the south of the ranch house is La M ulada Canyon which runs in a northeasterly direction This canyon is about 700 meters (2 ,297 feet) deep. Near the floor of this canyon on the south slope is a cave recently named Forced Bivouac Bear Cave (FBBC). Figure 1 on the following page shows a view looking west toward Mesa La Gloria Roads to Minas Viejas and the mesa appear on the slope. Paul Duncan of Corpus Christi was one of the first cavers to make contact with the landowner in August 1979 and begin making trips to the area. In recent years, Alan Montemayor (formerly of San Antonio and past chairman of the Bexar Grotto) has been the primarily contact with the landowner. Over the years, a good relationship has been cultivated with the landowner. Hopefully, this relationship will continue for the benefit of all cavers. Montemayor was named by the landowner in 1981 after Alan descended into the cave in 1980. Paul Duncan provided the first survey and map of the cave. Recently, on a trip to Minas Viejas on October 6-9, 1989 (Columbus Day weekend), a new lead was found by Joe Ivy at the end of the cave in the 370-foot (113-meter) pit. A technical climb 30 feet (9 meters) up the wall was accomplished to initially explore this new lead which was a passage leading to another deep pit. The return echo from a rock thrown into the pit required approximately 6 seconds. The return sound also indicated that water was at the bottom of the pit. This was an exciting discovery that had to wait until the Thanksgiving trip to be checked out because of the lack of time and rope. Also, on that Columbus Day weekend trip, the entrance to FBBC was observed. These two discoveries set the stage for the activities that occurred during Thanksgiving 1989. The TEXAS CAVER June 1990 Page 51


of a trash bag tied to the antenna. Regardless of the price to be paid as a result of the trips to Minas Viejas, it is worth it considering all there is to do. On each visit to Minas Viejas, the Bexar Grotto cavers usually take food provisions and other needed items for the ranch foreman (Paulino) and his family as a token of friendship and goodwill THANKSGMNG CAVERS Figure 1. Overview of Minas Viejas Campsite Looking West Toward Mesa La Gloria The Thanksgiving 1989 trip to Minas Viejas was organized by Joe Ivy and included 36 cavers from San Prior to further exploring Montemayor, there was speculation that: (1) a major cave might be found; (2) the cave opening on the south slope of La Mulada Canyon might be a lower opening to Montemayor; and (3) a good water source might be found for the landowner. TRAVELING TO MINAS VIEJAS The unexpected usually happens on trips to Minas Viejas. On a Friday night trip during January 1989, a light rain made the 15 miles (24 km) of mountainous road particularly difficult. Two vehicles were temporarily abandoned that night because of being stuck in the mud and in danger of sliding off the cliffs. After a wrong turn, shovels had to be used to dig away an embankment for vehicles to get back on the main road up the mountain. The screw support on my small utility trailer was severely damaged that night. Joe Ivy also lost a muffler. Although these kinds of things happen on caving trips, the trips to Minas Viejas have been more costly than usual. Other dangers also exist at Minas Viejas On a cold evening sometime ago, one of the Bexar Grotto cavers got lost in fog and had to spend the night on top of Mesa La Gloria exposed to the elements On the recent Thanksgiving trip, damage occurred to one vehicle because of pigs that roam freely around the ranch house. The pigs jumped up on the side of the vehicle trying to get beer cans out Page 52 The TEXAS CAVER June 1990 Antonio, Austin, San Marcos, Houston, Kerrville, and even Australia The cavers listed below made the trip Brian Burton David Locklear Cynthia Grant Andy Grubbs Jon Cradit Jim Elliott Frank Hall Linda Palit Rolf Adams Libby Overholt Page Callaway Rob Bisset Bill Steele Ed Sevcik Joe Ivy Billy Jones David Jones Charles Grice MONTEMAYOR Anne Grey Frank Bogle Don Broussard Cathy Chauvin Ruff Daniels Bruce Johnson Thomas Moore Robert Hemperly Liz Leonard Claire Lindblom Catherine Berkeley Oren Tranbarger Brian Steele Mark Inbody Don Morley Carl Fromen Charles Fromen VVarren Schroeder The major objective of the trip was to pursue the new lead in Montemayor which was discovered previously This objective was accomplished together with some surveying in the cave. As a result of this new lead, the cave depth was extended by about 870 feet (265 meters). As shown on page 54, the survey depth of the cave is 501 meters (1,644 feet) There are several drops and pits in the cave of various depths: 120 feet (37 meters) at the entrance; 30 feet (9 meters); 100 feet (31m) down cascading slopes; 60 feet (18 meters); 370 feet (113 meters); 346 feet (106 meters); 15 feet (5 meters); 157 feet (48 meters); and


and 134 feet (41 meters). Between the two deep pits is the 30-foot (9-meter) climb The most challenging drops are 370 feet (113 meters) and 346 feet (106 meters), respectively Don Morley is shown in Figure 3 after completing a rappel into the 370-foot (113-meter) pit. The 346-foot (106meter) drop has been named the Argo Well. The rappel into this pit ends abruptly in a shallow lake with a quicksand type mud on the bottom. Fortunately, the depth of the lake at the rappel point was only knee deep. Overall, the depth of the lake varied considerably. The water level was also 12-18 inches (31-46 em) below high-water marks. High water in the cave can be a problem. On previous trips during the wet season, water flowing in the upper levels of the cave can make the descent to the 370foot (113-meter) pit impossible. Two other pits were found in passages below the lake. One was dubbed the Disbelievers Well which is 157 feet ( 48 meters) deep. Farther beyond the Disbelievers Well are the Rebirth Canal, so named because it is a tight crawlway filled with slimy mud, Figure 3. Don Morley Standing at The Bottom of The 400-foot (122-meter) Pit (Photo Bill Steele) and the Canyon Passage. The lower levels of the cave include multilevel maze passages. Some formations were found in the lower levels of the cave. The two major deep pits in the cave are wet and have good Figure 2. Charles Kennedy Lights Up The Passage Below The Third Drop (1988 Photo Peter Sprouse) flowstone formations. These formations are not usually observed during the rappels, but in climbing out, there is plenty of time to enjoy the surroundings. Prior to further exploring Montemayor, a possibility was raised that the cave passages might connect with the Forced Bivouac Bear Cave (FBBC) described below which is east of the entrance. Blowing air patterns in the cave can be indicative of a lower opening. At the top of the 370-foot (113meter) pit, air rushes downward into the cave The prevailing airflow at the entrance is always into the cave. The survey results show that the cave runs west. In the lower levels, one-way pulsations can be observed as the air flows inward through the cave. During the course of the weekend, Jon Cradit made an effort to find a lower opening west of the entrance Although some problems were encountered in analyzing the initial survey data, the fmal survey results in the form of line plots (proflie and plan) can be seen in Figures 4 and 5 on the following pages. At a depth of 501 meters (1,644 feet), Montemayor does not yet rate as one of the top ten deepest caves in Mexico; however, it is the deepest known cave in northern Mexico and surpasses deep caves in the US The overall length of Montemayor is presently 1,380 The TEXAS CAVER June 1990 Page 53


POZO DE MONTEMAYOR MINAS VIEJ AS, NUEVA LEON, ME w. PROFILE: 315.0 DEGREE VIEW ..... ..... ...... ..... ey 109 1$9 ILTrltS ,.. ii i! Figure 4. Line Plot of Vertical Profile of Montemayor (Plot -Mark Minton) Page 54 The TEXAS CAVER June 1990


r l [ P 0 DE MONTEMAYOR I S VIEJ AS, NUEVA LEON I.!E n P I ROTATED 315.0 DEGREES y 109 ILTEI\S ..... ..... ...... F r e 5. Line Plot of Plan View of Montemayor (PlotMark Minton) ..... -100 The TEXAS CAVER June 1990 Page 55


Figure 6. South Slope of La Mulada Canyon Showing FBBC in Lower Left Quadrant meters (4,528 feet). Montemayor has been a great fmd considering that it is just a short distance south of the border In exploring the new passages beyond the 370-foot (113-meter) drop, the cavers had that thrilling feeling of standing in places where no other humans have been, which is one of the ultimate experiences in caving In the course of exploring the cave, several leads were found which could not be pursued. These new leads and additional surveying will be accomplished on future trips. From the lessons learned on the Thanksgiving trip, an expedition into Montemayor can b e gruelling and challenging. The initial push team (Joe Ivy, Linda Palit, Ed Sevcik, Rob Bisset, and Cathy Chauvin) spent almost 18 hours on the first trip. After resting for a day, another trip was organized that required 24 hours. Other caving teams participated in the exploration efforts throughout the 4-day weekend Because of fatigue and lack of time, the cave was not derigged until December 15-17, 1989. Future trips should be well organized and include a Page 56 The TEXAS CAVER June 1990 full week of activities and multiple-team efforts to fully explore and map the cave. FORCED BIVOUAC BEAR CAVE (FBBC) Bill Steele's team (Bill Steele, Don Morley, Robert Hemperly, Brian Steele, Frank Bogle, Catherine Berkeley, and Page Callaway) explored a new'' cave that was named Forced Bivouac Bear Cave. This was a two-day effort requiring mountain climbing and rappelling techniques and an unexp e cted overnight stay in the cave. The cave entrance which is about 20 feet (6 meters) wide and 13-15 feet (4 5 meters) high was spotted on a previous trip to Minas Viejas. To get into the cave, the team climbed 650 feet (198 meters) from La Gloria Mesa down along the south slope of La Mulada Canyon At that point, 650 feet (198 meters) of rope was rigged above the cave entryway. The slopes on the south side of the canyon used to descend to the cave can be s e en in Figure 6. The cave entrance is in the lower left-hand quadrant of the photograph (dark spot) The team was guided by observers on the north slope of the canyon using CB radios. Radio contact was maintained periodically throughout the trip. The cave was surveyed and has a length of 150 meters (492 feet). The cave generally has a high ceiling and large walk-in passages, but also includes smaller crawlway passages. Animals and people have used the cave. A bear jaw bone and dried bear feces along with goat bones were found in the cave. Three sets of parallel sticks and three piles of unusual rocks were also found indicating that man had once visited the cave Initially, it was thought that these artifacts could have been left by prehistoric man or could have been put there by miners dating back 200 years. In later discussions with Paul Duncan, this mystery was eventually explained logically. In 1981 or 1982, Dan Klinsfelter and another caver explored FBBC. Their route to the cave was virtually the same as that used Thanksgiving. Dan liked to pile rocks up in unusual ways and play shenanigans. Chances are that Dan's artifacts were found. In leaving FBBC, the team split up. Frank Bogle had a cactus wound in the knee and elected to hike down to the canyon floor and then up the north slope of the canyon east of camp to the old road that runs into the Minas Viejas north of camp. In spite of being injured, Frank was the first one to return to camp Page Callaway and Robert Hemperly observed a lead on the north slope of the canyon. They also crossed the canyon floor and moved up the north slope. However, sight of the lead was lost, and a few


tense hours were spent assisting Page and Robert in getting out of the canyon via rope. A shortage of gear and water fmally took its toll. Andy Grubbs provided the final assistance for the ascent up the canyon wall It was after dark before the two tired cavers returned to camp. Bill and the rest of the team returned to camp over the same route used to get into the cave without incident. It was also after dark before they returned to camp. CUCHILLO Cuchillo was rigged and explored. This is a multilevel cave characterized by large rooms and good formations. A handline is required at the entrance for getting on rope to drop into the cave. A 90-foot (27-meter) drop is required to reach the first level. In rigging this drop, the tie off point is to a short stalagmite. A long rope pad should be used in rigging the rope at the top of the entrance drop. The drop into the cave is along a sheer vertical rough wall. To explore the upper level, the first one in the cave must walk around the lip of a large pit to get off rope. Those following are then pulled over to the far edge of the pit on a diagonal drop. The climb out involves a belayed pendulum swing across the pit to the wall. One of the best formations in the cave is shown below in Figure 7. This formation is approximately 3 feet (1 meter) high. In addition to this one, the upper level rooms contain large curtains and clusters of stalactites that make outstanding photographs. LA GLORIA With most of the efforts concentrated on Montemayor and FBBC, no visit was made to La Gloria. This cave is described in the August 1989 Texas MINES Ridgewalking accomplished 3 km (2 miles) north of Minas Viejas resulted in finding several large mines that were previously unknown to cavers. POSTSCRIPT Although time was limited, Scott Rote and Catherine Berkeley found what is believed to be a new room located beyond the Canyon Passage. The end of the cave has not been reached and further work remains to be accomplished on future trips. FUTURE TRIPS Minas Viejas is a special place that cavers in the Bexar Grotto will continue to visit in the future. Since Alan Montemayor has recently moved to California, Linda Palit has assumed the responsibility of being the primary contact with the landowner. Trips to Minas Viejas are announced periodically in the Bexar Facts, the bimonthly newsletter of the Bexar Grotto, and interested cavers are welcomed on these trips. Any inquiries on future trips should be directed to Linda Palit. ACKNOWLEDGMENT Acknowledgement is given to the landowner of El Rancho Minas Viejas, who has been so kind and friendly to cavers over the years in allowing visits for exploring the caves and mines on his ranch. REFERENCES 1. Duncan, P "Cave Exploration on El Rancho Minas Viejas," AMCS Activities Newsletter, No. 12, April 1982, pp 55-58. 2. Sprouse, P "Bustamante Caving," Texas Caver, Volume 34, No.4, August 1989, pp. 63-68. During the Easter weekend on April 12-16, 1990, 22 cavers made another trip to Minas Viejas to focus activities on Montemayor. The objectives of this trip were to: (1) further explore the lower levels; (2) resurvey the historical sections; and (3) provide the landowner with some photographic documentation. Figure 7. Formation in Cuchillo (Photo Don Morley) The TEXAS CAVER June 1990 Page 57


CAVINGGUADALUPE S1YLE Soda Straw in Christmas Tree Cave (Photo Cecil Simpson) by PAT HELTON Ah, life by the sea! Gentle breezes drifting in from the water's edge and the sound of waves breaking over the shoreline Close your eyes and envision life by the Panthalassia Ocean. Hold it! This isn t the South Pacific? Visions of sea side life should include palm trees and native girls wearing nothing but a smile and skirts made of the same material as their hut's thatched-roof. Jimmy Buffet does not sing wistful tunes about the Panthalassia Ocean; however, to cavers worldwide, this ancient seabed has become the center of speleo activity Limy skeletons of various marine organisms and the direct precipitation of sea water helped form the massive Capitan Reef along the shelf of the deep Delaware Basin setting the stage for formation of several world-class caves. The fossil remains of sea life formed a reef over one thousand feet thick which has had scientists speculating its origin for almost 150 years. Eventually, water circulation in the basin was restricted and the water became very salty resulting in the demise of the life forms. The basin was filled to overflowing with the salts, sediments, and skeletal remains Much later, dramatic uplifting formed the Guadalupe Mountains, or "the Guads as cavers commonly call the region. The Guads later served as host to many exotic and now extinct animals whose fossilized remains can be seen in and around the Page 58 The TEXAS CAVER June 1990 caves Mescalero Apache, Coman che, and archaic tribes called it home. Spanish conquerors and settlers tried to tame it. Cattle and oil barons have made and lost fortunes in these hostile mountains As the sun begins to rise on the twenty first century, the Guads resist attempts at civilization, and in the back-country regions, you begin to realize that nothing here has really changed in hundreds of years According to the official Park Service story, a cowhand by the name of Jim White sought the source of a huge bat flight, and the fame and glory of Carlsbad Cavern was born. Over 300 known caves exist in the Guadalupes ranging from small one-room grottos to the giants of the Cavern and Lechu-


guilla Cave. The daring exploits of Jim White can be best appreciated when a modern caver rigs up for a vertical drop with all of the latest "high test" gear and encounters one of the old ladders at the bottom of a cave made of fencing wire and cross sticks of Yucca, Juniper branches or Scrub Oak. Near the ladder remnants will probably be the remains of burned torch material or lantern wicks. Many of these caves have rock art in or near their entrances telling stories of war, hunts, birth, and death in these mountains. Several caves were considered sacred places and others were used to store food while others were hiding places from the raiding parties from the East. Each cave probably has a story to tell, but the only sounds now are an occasional water drop and the flutter of bat wings. Caving in the Guads is as diverse as the cavers who go. From the paved, lighted walkways through Carlsbad Cavern to the grueling 7080 hour expeditions in Lechuguilla, Guad caves offer something for everyone. For the non-vertical and less experienced, caves such as Christmas Tree, Rainbow, Cottonwood, Lake, and Black are jammed with outstanding and delicate formations. Scenic and sometimes strenuous hikes through the rugged canyon bring the non vertical cavers to Mudgett's Cave, Whistling Cave, Crystal Cave, or Painted Grotto. Some of the best examples of helictites are found in Spider Cave along with a forest of delicate soda straws. Along the northern extent of the Guads in the back-reef, the McKittrick Hill caves offer good examples of gypsum formation development and beautiful flowstone. For the more advanced and adventurous, Ogle, Madonna, Three Fingers, Pink Dragon, and Hell Below caves will test your skills and resolve. Ogle Cave contains some of the largest formations in the world. The rope work required in Madonna and Deep caves have caused more than one caver to question his sanity. The vertical extent of these caves probably does not compare with the tremendous free drops found in some of the Mexican caves, but they will give you a workout. One caver described the entrance to Gunsite Cave as "being so big you could fly an airplane in, turn around and fly out." Some of the prettiest and most impressive scenery can be found in the lower cave regions of Carlsbad Cavern. Before you turn up your nose and tell the world that you are a "real caver" and not interested in that tourist stuff, it should be pointed out that back cave regions are difficult to walk and involve fairly advanced techniques in tight crawls, tricky chimneys, and vertical work. One of the more enjoyable experiences in Carlsbad Cavern occurred when we exited one of the back-cave areas and arrived on the tourist trail well after closing time. Without all of the electric lighting and people around, the Big Room with only a carbide light gives an entirely new perspective to this grand cave. You notice the little things missed on a regular tour and the giant formations and towers appear as distant ghosts in the dim yellow light. Carlsbad Cavern is not just for "Joe Tourist." Leads are being pushed on a regular basis and new discoveries are being made. Camping and caving in the Guads can be a varied experience. Elevation at the mouth of Dark Canyon is approximately 3,500 feet (1,067 meters) and rises to 8,751 feet (2,667 meters) at Guadalupe Peak. Surface features range from the barren desert in the north (back-reef area) to the tall, cool pines of Three Mile Hill. Cavers with any experience in the area can tell horror stories of Guadalupe weather As members of the Bexar Grotto can attest, you can have 85 F temperatures one minute and freezing rain and ice the next. The region is famous for the "Guadalupe Winds" that come out of nowhere and top 90 mph (145 km/h) taking tents, stoves, and even small cars on occasion. It is not uncommon for highways to be closed because trucks are literally blown off the road. You curse it while you are there, but can't wait to go back. As previously mentioned, there are over 300 known caves in the area with more being added regularly. The Guads are a ridgewalker's dream with every find being the potential for a big cave. Lonesome Ridge, Big Canyon, Black Canyon, and many others are sure to hide caves not counted in the 300. Since Lechuguilla, the smaller caves are being reevaluated and checked out. Five years ago, Lechuguilla was described as an insignificant little cave This has caused an outbreak of "Lechuguilla Fever" among many cavers and the gt:neral public and a renewed interest in ridgewalking. This has some negative aspects, but can be positive if handled properly by responsible cavers. So remember, cave softly. Much of the initial survey and mapping efforts of the Guad caves was done by Texas cavers in the sixties. Discoveries in Mexico and in the Edwards Lime regions of Texas diverted much of the TSA activity from the Guads. Most of the discovery and mapping is presently being accomplished by groups from Colorado, New Mexico, and Lubbock. For many of us flatlanders, the Guadalupes are our weekend homes and we would love to see some of the TSA cavers come up and join us. I was once asked by a Hill Country native how I could stand to live up on these old bald plains. I told him that on a summer day, I could leave work in Lubbock at five o'clock and be caving in the Guads before sundown. He understood. The TEXAS CAVER June 1990 Page 59


by Oren Tranbarger IMPROVING YOUR GffiBS Here are some helpful tips for designing: ( 1) a Gibbs Footstrap; (2) an extremely good self-belay device for rappelling; and (3) a tether for keeping the cam attached to the shell. FOOTS TRAP Background The Gibbs ascender attached directly to the (right) foot is one of the primary factors that makes the ropewalker ascending system very efficient. This efficiency factor and overall performance of the Gibbs on a muddy rope provide a slight edge over other climbing systems, although a Gibbs is more difficult to self-start and to insert the quick-release pin under actual cave conditions (especially for farsighted cavers without glasses). In competition, ropewalker systems that use Gibbs ascenders generally result in shorter climbing times Design Criteria In developing a personal ropewalker system, the various methods presented in books and observed in practice for securing the Gibbs to the foot were not desirable. They were either not tight enough or were somewhat uncomfortable because the foot had to be cocked during climbing. To overcome these problems, a new type of Gibbs footstrap was designed. Four criteria used for designing this new footstrap were: (1) the cam must be centered on top of the foot; (2) the design should be universal and flexible for anyone to use; (3) the Gibbs had to have the required degrees of freedom of movement; and ( 4) the attachment for the Gibbs must be light weight. Construction Figure 1 shows the construction features of the new footstrap which consists of: (1) a piece of continuous l-inch (2.5-cm) tubular webbing approximately 68.25 inches (173 em) in overall length; (2) a 3-slotted buckle; and (3) a B&B 101 adjustable buckle. The construction details of the 3-slotted buckle are shown in Figure 2. The strap is folded back on itself to form a short pigtail. The pigtail is 12.5 inches (32 em) in length; the long section of the footstrap is 52.5 inches (133 em) The 3-slotted buckle is used at the fold; the 101 buckle is sewn on the end of the pigtail. The actual length of the strap is determined by the individual foot size and should include extra length for shrinkage. To eliminate Page 60 The TEXAS CAVER June 1990 shrinkage problems, the webbing should be washed prior to fabrication. The pieces of an auxiliary chicken strap are also shown in Figure 1. The chicken strap might be needed if inclined rough surfaces are encountered as described later. Experience has shown that the strap on time is shortened by using the auxiliary chicken strap, since the loops in the chicken strap keep the webbing in the harness properly aligned, which makes it easy to slip over the foot. The auxiliary chicken strap consists of two pieces. One piece is 7.5 inches (19 em) long, has a 2-inch (5cm) loop on one end, and uses a B&B 1500-1 buckle on the other end. The other piece is 12.5 inches (32 em) in length and has a 2 inch (5-cm) loop on one end. The piece with the buckle is used on the outside of the foot. The footstrap webbing is passed through the end loops. The chicken strap keeps the webbing under the foot from ever being pulled over the toe on inclined surfaces and buckles behind the heel. In constructing the required pieces of webbing, it is recommended that a wood-burning tool or similar hot knife be used to cut the webbing and that the sewing be done by a professional. The webbing can be cut to length and taped (masking tape) and then taken to a saddle shop or similar place of business for the finishing touches. Make sure nylon thread is used. Application In wearing the footstrap, the foot and ankle are wrapped by two complete loops as can be seen in Figure 3. Figure 3 shows the original design of the footstrap which used a B&B 1500-1 buckle under the foot instead of a 3-slotted buckle. The primary loop through the earn holds the Gibbs on top of the foot; the secondary loop completes the wrap and is used to buckle the ends of the footstrap behind the ankle. The primary loop also centers the Gibbs on top of the foot to avoid cocking the foot at an uncomfortable angle during climbing. This primary loop is fastened by either the 1500-1 buckle (under the foot) or the 3-slotted buckle which is subjected to the forces pulling on the loop. Overall, the flat buckle and webbing under the foot are barely felt when walking.


68.25 ,.=------:-=_ -:-::. THREE SLOTTED BUCKLE 101 BUCKLE 1500-1 BUCKL E 2.0 ND LOOPS 4.25 1 2 5 Figure 1. Construction Details of Gibbs Footstrap Components Strongest Configuration There are at least three ways in which the webbing can be threaded through the 1500-1 locking buckle on the bottom of the foot; only one practical way for the 3-slotted buckle. The 3-slotted buckle is far superior to the 1500-1 buckle and eliminates any potential creep or loosening problems However, since the 3-slotted buckle is not available com mercially, and it is not practical for every caver to fabricate a 3-slotted buckle in a machine shop, the following discussion applies to the manner in which the 1500-1 buckle is used. Figure 3 on the following page shows the s trongest possible way to thread the webbing through the 1500 1 buckle. It is impo r tant to note th a t th e webbing exiting the buckle is next to the boot whe re frictional forces are applied by the outside piece of webbing which enters the buckle. When the Gibbs is loaded, frictional forces are applied properly to the buckle and to the top and bottom layers of webbing to provide a strong locking loop. Generally Preferred Configuration The second configuration (not shown) allows the buckle to be worked back and forth as a lever in winching the strap very tightly around the foot. In this alternative configuration, the webbing exiting the buckle is also kept next to the foot to provide optimal frictional forces to the buckle and webbing r 1.750 1 R R -t T I I I C/L I I + I I '! .... R R C/L 1.060 ..__ NOTES: 1. Material: 0.125 Stainless Steel or Equivalent liOO 2. Mill Slots 0.250 Wide 3 Pl a ces 3. Corner Radius, R: 1/16, 4 Places Figure 2. Three-Slotted Buckle 2.15 0 The TEXAS CAVER June 1990 Page 61


1. 3. 4. 2. 5. Jo 1'<1' ,,o f"eer oF r Ttif FJIIISJ\!0 f!MPil'i! til .!>WOEit Frn JN TH oF TilE Figure 3. Gibbs Footstrap Assembled And Worn on Foot (Artwork Joe Ivy) Page 62 The TEXAS CAVER June 1990


Least Preferred Configuration In the third configuration, the webbing exiting the buckle can be brought up around the foot on the outside, not the inside. Generally, this configuration should not be used. Ankle Buckle After the primary loop is buckled (via the 1500-1 or the 3-slotted buckle), the ends of the footstrap are then fastened behind the ankle in a conventional manner using the 101 adjustable buckle. Since the primary loop along with its buckle under the foot is capable of holding the Gibbs on the foot alone, very little tension is actually applied on the ankle buckle. The ankle loop is conveniently used to buckle the ends of the overall footstrap. In climbing, the ankle buckle might tend to loosen if the end of the footstrap is not dressed down in some manner. In practice, an auxiliary 1500-1 buckle is used for this purpose. This buckle is slipped over the end of the webbing prior to threading the webbing through the 101 ankle buckle Velcro was also used for securing the end of the footstrap in early climbing tests on the footstrap This material may be easily torn off the strap, become clogged with mud, or not align properly, and is not suitable for the application. Comfort In threading the webbing through the Gibbs cam eyelet and wrapping the foot, the primary loop forms a band under the foot which is equivalent to 2-inch (5cm) webbing and provides maximum comfort. Performance The new footstrap has been used during several climbing exercises including the 400-foot (122 m) and the 346-foot (106-m) pits in Montemayor and the 466-foot (142-m) pit at Los Monos, Mexico Overall the performance of the new footstrap has proven to be satisfactory. Since the 3-slotted buckle has been designed and implemented, other long climbs have b e en accom plished without any creep or loosening of the webbing. If at all possible, a 3-slotted buckle should be used in constructing the footstrap. Problem One problem was found in early tests which is common to other l-inch (2.5-cm) webbing footstrap configurations. In climbing a rough inclined slope, the front loop under the foot will have a tendency to work loose and slip over the toe. This problem was corrected by adding the auxiliary chicken loop behind the heel which is shown in Figure 1. Initially, the new footstrap might r e quir e m o r e time to put on and appear to be m o re complic a t e d than other conventional systems. Thi s i s tru e in mastering the proper mechanics of routing th e webbing through the buckle on the bottom of th e f oot. With practice, however, the new design can b e rigg e d up just as quickly as any other Gibbs f oo t s trap B y using an auxiliary chicken strap that retains th e s hap e of the overall footstrap, there is n o need to rig it f o r each climb. The footstrap is simply slipp e d over th e foot, adjusted tightly around the f o ot and s e cur e d b y the buckle under the foot and then buckl e d b e hind the ankle, all within a few minut es. Recommendations Although a number of climbs (short and l o n g) have been accomplished with good results, th e n ew footstrap should be evaluated on an individual basis. A custom-made Gibbs footstrap that work s w ell f o r one caver may not necessarily satisfy the r e quir e m ents of another caver or feel comfortable. Exp e riment and practice using the new footstrap on a f e w short climb s prior to attempting a long climb. A GIBBS SELF-BELAY DEVICE FOR RAPPELLING Background During Mexpeleo 1989 Mike Reid from Albuquerque used a self-bela y device made from a Gibbs ascender for rappelling into Golondrin as The device included a Gibbs ascend e r and a l ever bar. With the lever, the Gibbs can be unl oc k e d quit e easily. The lever is pinned to the Gibb s b y the quick release pin which also act s as a pi v ot point f o r th e lever. A carabiner through the cam eye l e t and th e end of the lever bar transfers forc e appli e d t o t he lever to the cam for release after l o ckup o n r ope. According to Mike (who i s a Petzl dealer ), P e tzl use d to market the lever bar. Since the lev er bar is n o longer commercially available a similar device was designed, constructed and e v aluat e d Construction Figure 4 on the following p a g e s hows the le ver bar design. The lever bar is mad e o f alumi n u m and is easy to fabricate. Although th e bar shown was fabricated in a modern machin e sh o p u sing a milling machine, simple tools which are a v ail a bl e in j us t about anybody s shop are also adequate for co nslruc ting the lever. The countersink at the end of the bar is required to accommodate the curvatur e of the oval carabiner. Without the count e r s ink, the carabiner cannot be inserted through the cam and h ole a t the end of lever bar. The completed s elf-belay d e\ice is shown in Figure 5 A 19-inch (48 -cm ) l oop m a d e of l-inch (2.5-cm) webbing is used f o r t ie -in t o the seat The TEXAS CAVER June 1990 P ag e 63


c B 1---------t-------------7.000 8.250 0.375 0.500 T NOTES: 1. A Hole Drill 19/32 Diameter 2 B Hole Drill 15/32 Diameter 3. C Countersink 0.175 Deep 4. Material 0.500 x 1.250 Aluminum Bar Stock Figure 4. Gibbs Lever Bar harness. On some Gibbs devices, it might be necessary to remove the spring on the cam and relocate the tether for securing the cam. Performance The Gibbs self belay device has been used in practice rappelling sessions and on the 120-foot (37meter) entrance drop in Pozo de Montemayor. It was easy to control in maneuvering over lips. Lockup is accomplished by either pulling on the loop or pushing the lever bar up. As expected, the device rides smoothly down the rope on top of the rack and stays open without any problem by the counter weight of the bar. After lockup, very little effort is required to pull down on the lever to release the Gibbs. Figure 5. Gibbs Self-Belay Device Page 64 The TEXAS CAVER June 1990 In comparison with a Petzl Shunt, the Gibbs self belay device will not slip after it is locked up. The Gibbs device frees the left hand for controlling the bars on the rack whereas the cam on the Petzl Shunt must be continuously depressed while rappelling In an unconscious state, the Petzl Shunt has some merit. GIBBS CAM-SHELL ATI'ACHMENT In using Gibbs ascenders, problems have been encountered with the attachment between the cam and the shell. Some of the newer devices are available with a spring for this purpose. However, the spring can be permanently deformed and is not desirable to have in some instances. Bob Cowell of the Bexar Grotto has found a good solution to this problem. This solution consists of a 6-inch (15-cm) length of nylon cord between the shell and the cam. The ends of the nylon cord are inserted in electrical crimp type lugs (closed type). A strong mechanical bond is obtained between the lugs and nylon cord by crimping the lugs and melting the ends of the nylon cord using a wood-burning tool. After this process is completed, one of the lugs is bolted to one of the upper holes in the shell. This is accomplished by grinding off most of the head of an 8-32 bolt and rounding the edges. The top of the cam is drilled and tapped for an 8-32 thread to attach the other end of the cord to the cam.


TCMA NEWS TilE FUTURE OF TEXAS CAVING IS IN OUR HANDS TCMA recently launched a fund drive to raise money to purchase and to preserve special caves in Texas that need protection. To raise money for the SAVE THE C4 VES project, TCMA will be sponsoring the Texas Cave Raffle at OTR October 13, 1990. Also, contributions are being sought from individuals and grottos that want to support this project. Any caves purchased by TCMA will belong to Texas Cavers to enjoy for many years to come. For the past 35 years, we have been exploring the caves of Texas. Our visits often have been more than caving trips. They make up some of the great moments in our lives. We are a family and we attempt to work together to obtain our goals. It is with this philosophy that we request your help. The owner of Whirlpool Cave, located in south Austin, recently gave the cave and 4.25 acres to the Texas Cave Management Associa tion (TCMA) after $1,200 in back taxes were paid by TCMA. This 3,000-foot (914-meter) long cave is a real cavers cave. It has mud, crawls, and even some large rooms. Out-of-town cavers may camp on this land while caving in the Austin area. To get access to the cave, call Bill Russell, (512) 453-4774, or Doug Allen, (512) 476-9031. Both cave managers have keys to the gate. Eli Grimm is the Whirlpool Cave caretaker. Expect to be in the cave for 4-6 hours. Why should you support the TCMA in the fund raising effort? Why should you take out your checkbook and write a check for $25, $50, or $100 dollars? The answer is that you are really doing it for yourself. At some point in your life, caving was something very important to you. You cared about caves and the friends you made while caving. Perhaps jobs, family, or children came along and by Mike Walsh you dropped out or cut down You can never forget that special thrill you got when people say, "You go into caves? I would never go into those things." You may have lost contact with that special rancher who would let you into his cave, but now thanks to cavers who care, all you have to do is give them a call, and you have a place to show your children what caving is all about. Thanks to people like Randy Waters, Robber Baron Cave (San Antonio) is open for your visits. Joanne and David DeLuna bought Wurzbach Bat Cave in San Antonio so we can visit and enjoy this cave. Along with cave management and cave ownership come problems Taxes, gate material costs, legal fees, etc., are all p;ut of the cost of saving these caves from vandalism. To assist in these costs, a SAVE THE CAVES fund has been established. Recently, $300 was given to assist in gating Wurzbach Bat Cave. What about the active cavers who say : "We don't have to go to these caves. We can find our own." It is true that there are many good caves open here in Texas, but many of the best are closed. Deep Cave, Pumpkin, Blowhole, Indian Creek, MFP, Big Mother, Felton, Harrison, and others are closed. Never heard of them? They are among the best. What about Langtry Lead, Emerald Sink, and Langtry Quarry? There is a new owner, and we may not have access. The point is that we must act to protect our interests. Many cave owners are open to turning access or ownership over to cavers. With the TCMA, Texas cavers have the legal structure to own caves. These are exciting times for Texas cavers. We will be able to look back to 1990 and say this is when we acquired our fust cave. How many caves will be owned or managed by Texas cavers when the year 2000 is reached? While it is not possible to say, 20, 30, or more is possible. It will not happen without caver support. Grant money is available, but it will take time. Caver support is needed until the grants start arriving. With the Texas Cave Raffle available, now is the best time to write that check and show that while cavers are cheap, they can come up with money when it really counts. If you are really broke, look around and see if there is something you can donate to help make the raffle more attractive. Anything of value will be accepted. More important than money, we need you! We need you to assist in the Texas cave protection and cave education efforts. If you honestly do not have the time to take part, join the Texas Cave The TEXAS CAVER June 1990 Page 65


Management Association so others can see that you support the efforts to make Texas Caving better Join the Texas Cave Revolution! Send all donations to: TCMA P.O. Box 310732 New Braunfels, Texas 78131 THE TEXAS CAVE RAFFLE Dozens of prizes too numer ous to mention have already been donated for The Texas Cave Raffle to be held at OTR October 13, 1990. Altogether, over $2,000 worth of prizes will be given away. Grand Prize The big grand prize, however, will be a 4-day fust class trip for two to Monterrey, Mexico. This trip will include transportation, guide service, hotels, and all meals. The highlight of the trip is a visit to the ghost town of Real de Catorce. At one time, this town had over 60,000 people. To enter the town, it is necessary to drive 2 miles through a tunnel. Real de Catorce was a wealthy town with gaslights, an opera house, its own mint, and even streetcars. The trip will depart on a Thursday to be specified from the Austin-San Antonio area. Trip Itinerary Thursday: After we get together, we will drive to Laredo, Texas and cross the border. From there, it is 150 miles (241 km) to Monterrey, Mexico. Following dinner at La Cabana Restaurant in Monterrey, we will do some sightseeing and drive to the Hotel Chipinque. This hotel is located 2,000 feet (610 meters) above Monterrey m a beautiful pine forest. Friday: After breakfast at the hotel, we will visit La Gruta de Villa Garcia, one of the top commercial caves in the world. A steep incline railway takes us to the cave, located 400 feet (122 meters) above the parking lot. From here, it is on to Saltillo for lunch and then on to Real de Catorce. We will tour some of the town before checking into the Hotel Real. This unique hotel will be our base while in this mountain village, 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) above sea level. While in town, we will visit the House of Money, the Museum, several churches, the Room of Miracles, and much more. Saturday: After breakfast, we will drive northward toward Monterrey. This areas has many natural features which we may visit. This includes a deep gypsum pit, a natural bridge, waterfalls, caves, and a large rock mural. We will arrive in Monterrey in time for shopping and sightseeing before a party We will stay at the Hotel Rio that evening. Sunday: We will leave Monterrey around 10:00 a.m. and shop in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Return to the Austin-San Antonio area will be around 3:00 p.m. Other Prizes Some of the other better prizes you can count on to be given away at OTR include: 6-Volt Rechargeable Nite Lite Caving Light; Pair of Petzl Ascenders; Rack; Justrite Light; NSA Water Treatment Unit ($150); Pseudo Seiko Watch; Carabiners (3); Electronic Spanish Translator; 188-Year old Cave Print; David Foster's Nylon Highway Record; Caver T -shirts; Beer Holders; Texas and Mexican Flag Bandanas; Tye-Dye Shirts; Oldtimer's Refunds (2); Page 66 The TEXAS CAVER June 1990 Indonesia Bat Pin; Publications: Mexican Caving; 1964 NSS Convention Guidebook; Caves of Texas; Cave Carson Comic Books; Caves of Mexico; and Others. PMI Rope A 30-meter (100-foot) PMI rope will also be given away to the grotto that raises the most money in the SAVE THE CAVES project. Grottos could provide a big boost to the project by contributing $100 each. TCMA Membership And Raffie Tickets With TCMA membership, you get the TCMA Activities Newsletter, discounts on T-shirts, patches, publications, etc. and raffle tickets. The Associate Membership is only $10 a year and is worth 5 raffle tickets. For a $25 payment on the Lifetime Membership, you will get 13 raffle tickets. With full payment of $100 on the Lifetime Membership, you get 50 chances to win! In addition to the chances to win just by becoming of member of TCMA, each $2 donation is worth one ticket. Another advantage of joining TCMA is that dues are tax deductible since TCMA is an official IRS nonprofit organization. Membership fees can mailed to the TCMA address listed above or can be paid at OTR on the day of the grand prize drawing. Drawing Stipulations To be a winner in The Texas Cave Raffie, it not necessary to be present at OTR when the drawing is held on October 13, 1990.


ACCIDENT REPORT JIM'S SUNDAY SURPRISE by James Jasek Editor's Note: While caving west of San Antonio on Sunday May 13, 1990, Jim was involved in a very serious accident that resulted in a crnshed heel (left). The following story describes this accident. The cave and its location are purposefully unspecified for various reasons and are unimportant to this accident report The important points are: ( 1) how the accident occu"ed; (2) the events that followed; (3) medical procedures that were used; ( 4) looking at the facts in retrospect to determine if the accident could have been avoided; and (5) learning from his experience. In Jim's case, it is believed that the accident was totally unavoidable and that the exercise required in getting out of the cave and returning to the vehicles and administering of ice packs probably minimized the extent of the injury. Because of the nature of the injury, Jim will require a long recovery time and will undoubtedly experience much pain After searching for the small cave entrance for over two hours, we were finally standing at the opening ready to go underground. The entrance was about 2 feet (0.6 m) across, triangular in shape, and was an easy climb down of about 8 feet (2.4 m). I noticed the cave entrance area to be a dry jumble of breakdown that immediately worked its way deep in the ground. Brian Vauter, a Baylor student, came in behind me. We both began to work our way down through the dry breakdown until we were met by the smell of what was either animal feces or a dead carcass. We then decided to wait for Tony Jackson and Nathan Summar, both San Antonio cavers, to catch up with us so that we could ask Tony about the odor since he had been in the cave before. Tony told us that the smell was new, but we were unable to track down the source of the odor. We didn't want to be surprised by a large angry animal. All of us then continued on into the cave. The floor was dry dirt mixed with guano, making walking a careful down-sliding action. We immediately noticed that we were in a very large, wide passage that continued to slope downward at a steep angle as far as our lights would illuminate. The passage, or single large room, appeared to be well over 100 feet (30 meters) and 10-20 feet (3-6 meters) high in places. The entire floor was breakdown covered with loose dry dirt in the upper level and a more densely packed red clay near the bottom. After descending about 180 feet (55 meters) underground, we were about 300 feet (91 meters) walking distance from the surface. The passage suddenly changed into a dense breakdown area. We stood there at that point and were able to look down into what appeared to be a lower room. The breakdown was a mixture of limestone and churt and was a reddish color I very carefully worked my way down a steep ledge while trying not to slip as the rocks were wet and jagged. I found myself standing in a small passage about 8 feet (2 meters) high and 12 feet (3.7 meters) to the back wall I took a look around and did not see any passage leading off to a lower level, but I did notice that there were large car-sized boulders hanging over my head. There was also white colored breakdown chips all over the floor indicating recent collapse. I immediately got out of this area and yelled up to the others that it was unsafe and not to come down. I had been told by Tony that there was a lower room with 6-foot (2-meter) long soda straws in this direction. The niain purpose of our trip was to photograph this room and to enjoy a day of caving I went back into the lower level, this time well to the left of the dangerous breakdown area. Again, I found myself in another breakdown room and found the passage that I believed went to the lower room. As I stood in this breakdown room, I noticed that I was standing close to a monolith type rock about 2 feet (61 em) wide, 18 inches (46 em) thick and about 1 foot (30 em) or so taller than me. All of a sudden as I began to move, this large rock started to fall in my direction. I instinctively put out both arms to try to push it away, but I was unable to move it at all. The force of the falling rock led me to believe it could easily weigh 500 pounds (227 kg) or more. The rock continued to fall and I tried my best to scramble backwards. I was moving very fast as my reaction time was quick, but I was unable to get out of the way, and the rock hit both legs from the knee area down. I cried out. The rock continued to fall and began to roll toward my left side. I was sure it was going to crush me to death as I could begin to feel the pain and pressure of the entire weight of it on my legs. I yelled with what could be called a true death scream. I was still fighting the rock and I guess The TEXAS CAVER June 1990 Page 67


I was able to guide it away from crushing my body area (or it's more likely that I was just lucky), but it smashed my left leg from the knee down to the foot as it continued to slide downward. The foot took the brunt of the pressure. It was all over in the matter of a few seconds, and I was free of the rock as it continued on down. In a very loud voice, I yelled up to the others that I was very seriously hurt. In what seemed like only a few seconds, I hurriedly crawled out of this breakdown area and into the main chamber where the others had gathered. Tony told me that Nathan and he figured I had fallen in a pit and that he was still shaking from my screams The first order of business was for me to determine how badly I was injured With Tony's help, I stood up. I was able to place some weight on the ball of my foot, but when I transferred the weight to the heel, the pain was sharp and intense. I tried to walk with Tony's help, but found that an impossible task. I lay on the cave floor to rest and think about what to do. I could feel the blood draining from my head and I knew that I had to fight passing out as I might go into shock. Nathan and Brian gathered their camera and cave packs as well as my gear and headed for the entrance. Tony stayed with me as I began to crawl on my hands and knees to get myself out of the cave I knew that this was the only way. Tony directed me so that I could find the easiest path. Most of the floor was smooth soft mud so it was easy going. There were a few patches of sharp rock and cave corral that made going slow. As I looked up the long slope, I could see the passage go on for what seemed like infinity and figured it was going to take a long time for me to crawl out. When the slope got very steep, I turned over on my butt and used my arms to move me along. Tony and Nathan had to physically push and pull me up the steep areas This was true buddy caving. The most difficult area was the climb down just below the entrance. Tony and Nathan simply pushed and pulled me up and out. Brian told me that it had only taken me 40 minutes to get myself out of the cave The next problem was getting back to the cars which were parked at least a half mile (0.8 km) away down a steep slope. Using my arms, I did what my wife called the Diddly Walk on my butt to within about 300 feet (91 meters) of the vehicles. At this point, my arms had totally given out, and I simply had no more strength to go on, so Tony and Brian picked me up and carried me the rest of the way to the car. It took a lot of effort for them to carry me as the path to the car was rocky and covered with thorn bushes which they had to crash straight through. I had made a decision on my own early in the accident not to ask for much help as I knew I would need it toward the end and I didn't want Tony, Nathan, and Brian to be totally exhausted. I knew I Page 68 The TEXAS CAVER June 1990 would need their help the most when I was totally exhausted Nathan, Tony, and Brian gave me 100 percent in assisting me out of the cave and probably saved my life. It took about 1.5 hours to get from the entrance of the cave to the cars. Once there, we immediately packed up and drove off the ranch. This took about 30 minutes as we were deep in the ranch and the gravel road was rough enough to keep our speed down. A half mile (0.8 km) from the ranch, we crossed a low water crossing and stopped so that I could soak the injured leg in cold water. This gave me a chance to take a look at the injury and wrap it with an Ace Bandage. My entire leg was swollen and Nathan had a difficult time removing my boot. There was a family with lawn chairs sitting in the water while their children played in the water. They made a hasty retreat when I started to remove all my clothes. I took a bath and put on fresh clothes as I knew I would not have another chance to get clean for a while if I ended up staying in a hospital. The plan was to drive to San Antonio for help On the way, we stopped at a small store and purchased a bag of ice to pack my leg to keep the swelling down. The cold water of the river and the ice took away a lot of the severe pain and made it tolerable. On the way to San Antonio, we passed through a small town with a hospital and decided to stop. The people in this small country hospital were very friendly and both Brian and I were convinced that they felt the two of us were nuts the way we joked about the accident. They took X-rays and determined that only the left heel was actually broken. The doctor gave me a shot of morphine which took the edge off the pain, and we were back on the road to Waco. We arrived at my home in Waco around 8:15 p.m. and immediately called my family doctor who alerted the hospital and gave us the name of an orthopedic surgeon. Our family doctor also called the surgeon. If you ever have to go to the emergency room of any hospital, it is definitely better to let your own doctor call ahead for you if at all possible. This way, the emergency room staff knows what to expect when you arrive and what doctors will be needed to treat you and your injury I had brought copies of the X-rays with me from the small country hospital, and when the doctor arrived to take care of me, this saved a lot of time. Since I had broken my heel much like cracking a hard boiled egg, and no bones were displaced, I did not require surgery. The doctor simply wrapped my leg with a compression bandage to stabilize it and stop any further swelling. The swelling and excessive


amount of blood that had seeped into the muscle tissue of the leg were almost of more concern to him than the break He told us that he had never had an injury of that nature which was as severe as mine where he had not had to take the patient immediately to surgery to remove the clotted blood from the muscle tissue of the leg. Normally in an injury of that nature where you do not seek medical help until 10 hours after the accident, there is no other recourse, but surgery to save the leg muscle tissue. I am sure that I saved myself from surgery by the simple fact that I had to use the leg constantly in the two hours it took to get out of the cave and back down the mountain to the cars after the accident. The fresh flow of blood through the leg kept severe coagulation at a minimum, and the ice packs used after that helped slow the swelling and internal bleeding. In retrospect, I feel that this was one of those cave accidents that was unavoidable. All of us were taking extra caution in exploring the cave and were aware of the dangerous breakdown from the small room I had found soon upon entering the cave. The fact that the large boulder moved on its own sudd enly without warning made this a difficult accident to avoid. I feel that the next person who had been standing by that boulder would have had the same accident, as the vibration of my walking up to it seemed to set it in motion. I consider myself to be a careful and cautious caver always on the lookout for a dangerous situation. ACROSS 1. Damage 4 Beaver's repair job 9 Chiropteran 12 Pub libation 13 Grecian muse 14. Popular rental agency 15. Grotto trip locale 17. Pertaining to bees 19. Regret 20. -or -snee 21. Ohio city 24. Foul weather gear 27. Prefix meaning same (pl.) 28. Spanish monarch 29. and behold 30. Mathematical term (abbr. ) 31. The best type of passage 32 Container 33. Located 34. Take along 35. Wait 36. Road imperfection 38. Transporter 39. Ingests 40. Ghostly cry 41. Mr. Earp or Miss. Jane 43. Cave light need 47. Towel monogram 48. Chicago terminal 50. Josh 51. Unit 52. Refinishes (wood) 53. Printer' s measure DOWN 1 Popular computer, for short 2 -carte 3 Increase throttle 4 Summer TV fare 5 Sea eagle 6 German article 7 Another popular computer 8 Calaveras Cavern (CA) 9 Masons' need 10 __ glance (2 words) 11. 2000 lbs 16 Greek goddess 18 Type type 20. Shot starter 21. Composers' org. (abbr. ) 22. Japanese city 23. Dispensers of TLC (abbr. ) 24. View from the left bank 25. Avoid 26. Norman Fell role 28. Angers 31. Owned by a c a ve group 32. 104 34. Type of Eas t Indian 35. Idiot (slang) 37. Taunt 38. Customs 40. Shakespeare This situation caught me by surprise, and even though my reaction to the falling boulder was instantaneous, I was unable to move fast enough. All of us are fully aware of the danger of exploring in and around breakdown, and all we can do is hope that this sort of thing never happens while we are in a cave. I have always felt that four people on any caving trip is a bare minimum, and this accident confirms my belief. In any accident, at least one person should stay with the injured person, and two people should go for help. Any less and only one person is left to risk the dangers of leaving the cave alone to go for help. The injured person should never be left alone. I hope that my reflections on my accident will be taken to heart by any and all who read this article, especially any of the newer cavers. In almost 30 years of caving, I have never been seriously injured until now It has not changed the way I feel about this sport that I love so much, nor has it made me not want to go caving again. What it has done is make me even more aware of the safety precautions that are necessary in our sport. There should be more awareness of basic first aid procedures and that the cave is a part of nature, and as such, is a very unforgiving master when disturbed or thrown out of balance. We must respect it with a vengeance and be ever aware that we are trespassers in a world of delicate balance. 41. 42 43 44. Crossword Puzzle by Mike di Falco Keith s musical group Yang' s mate Preserve Presidential nickname 45. Weak batteries' light 46 Ames and Asner 49. Short laugh of disbelief See Page 71 for Solution The TEXAS CAVER June 1990 Page 69


TSA SPRING CONVENTION Bee's Campground Concan, Texas May 4-6, 1990 by Jay Jorden West Texas never looked so green in the spring. No, wait ... green?!? Yes, folks, all that water that helped keep the flood waters flowing in Dallas and Fort Worth late last month and early in May helped put a verdant patina across the Edwards Plateau Highlighting the Texas Speleological Association's (TSA) Spring Convention were about a dozen slide shows and presentations, tubing down the chilly Frio River, a hearty barbecue, and killer saunas. Organized by Catherine Berkeley, TSA Vice Chairman, the event attracted about 100 cavers and 10 to 12 local residents to Bee's Campground, a 60-acre facility near Concan, Texas In addition to participating in a social event, I presented two slide shows during the Saturday programs, the first being a Lechuguilla Cave program. Also, I gave an overview of National Cave Rescue Commission activities. Dave McClung and I left Dallas after 8 p m Friday arriving at the camp after 3 a .m. Saturday. It really is about a 7-hour drive to the region west of San Antonio. Of course, the camp was convenient to the Alamo City. The site was suggested earlier this spring by Pat Chenault who is a good friend of Randy Waters. Randy and Pat work together at Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio. Ironically, Catherine scheduled me to present the day's first program. A little groggy from lack of sleep, I obliged. The Lechuguilla slides were very well received and many questions were answered. Some people wondered when the next expedition was scheduled. Joe Ivy of San Antonio followed with a program on Rancho de Minas Viejas (Ranch of the Old Mines) in northern Mexico, where the region's deepest cave, Montemayor, is located He said the mountainous ranch area was first visited by cavers after Mark Shumate and Paul Duncan reported mine shafts were located there. Many residents of nearby Bustamante were once taken by narrow-gauge railroad to work the mines for silver, lead, zinc and other metals. The miners hit water at various levels, as well One attraction on the property, Cueva de Cuchillo, is a pretty show cave. It is named for its knife shape. Montemayor, has a 37 meter (120-foot) entrance pit. The second drop is 9 meters (30 feet). Page 70 The TEXAS CAVER June 1990 The ranch owner insisted on naming this cave for Alan Montemayor, a former San Antonio caver who now lives in California. The deepest drop in the cave was initially measured at 409 feet (125 meters), with the entire depth standing at 236 meters (774 feet). The deep drop was later revised to a depth of 370 feet (113 meters). Someone noticed during a recent trip that a large passage could be seen at the bottom of the 370-foot (113-meter) pit. It was up a 30-foot (9meter) mud-coated, sloping climb. So, on October 6-9, 1989 (Columbus Day weekend), a 4-hour technical climb was made there, with the resulting discovery of the Argo Well, 106 meters (346 feet). Last Thanksgiving, an expedition (see page 51) succeeded in pushing the cave's total depth from 236 meters (774 feet) to 501 meters (1,644 feet) Below the Argo Well are the Disbeliever's Well and the Rebirth Canal, a gnarly route indeed. Joe said the cave ends in breakdown, but lots of leads remam. Though the programs started a little late Saturday morning, they moved along in rapid-fire succession and Catherine shortly pronounced the schedule caught up. She announced that Randy Waters was leaving with a group of cavers for Barnyard Cave. Tranbarger reported that personnel were Tag Swann, Peter Mills Chris Thibodaux, Linda Davis, Noble Stidham, Jimmy Thurlo, Lloyd Swartz, Jim Elliott, Colin Nicholls, James Jasek and himself. He said a climb of about 61 meters (200 feet) was required to get to the entrance of Barnyard, a 1,000foot (305-meter) cave. It contained mostly horizontal walking passage. But some chimney climbing was required in the cave. Jim Elliott called the cave a miniature Precipicio. While Jasek took several photographs, other cavers flashed different sections of the long passages using strobes. Peter Sprouse was then introduced for a presentation on Sistema Purificacion. He gave an overview of the system, with its 11 entrances, and the work that bad been done from the fieldhouse near the village of Conrado Castillo, high in the pine forests above Ciudad Victoria. He showed photos of Infiernillo Canyon and the headwaters of the Rio Purificacion. Camp One, the Confusion Tubes, Isopod River, World Beyond, Arrachis, and Jersey Turnpike were also shown.


Sprouse's talk was followed by Ron Ralph on paleontological studies in Mexico. Other presentations included Keith Heuss on a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department video project; William Russell on the history of Whirlpool Cave, complete with graphic photos on how it got its name; Mike Walsh, Texas Cave Management Association s project at Whirlpool; Andy Grubbs, Cueva Cheve; Terry Raines, with the motto "Man's future lies underground," checking leads in Ocotopec, and the state of Orizaba, Mexico; Terry Holsinger of Austin, slides of Colorado Bend State Park; and Joe Ivy's quick survey course. After some tubing down the Frio River and relaxing following the programs, Roy Wessel presented a photo salon The Lubbock Area Grotto swept the print category First went to Jimmy Thurlo for his Sangre de Christo Room from Endless Cave, McKittrick Hill. Second was taken by Noble Stidham's photo of Ogle Cave Stidham took third as well with "Popcorn Buffet." Keith Heuss, Terry Holsinger, Mack Pitchford, Wessel, and John Fogarty judged the prints The top three places in the slides category were taken by Susie Lasko and Peter Sprouse. First was Susie's "Just Drop It" from Cueva de Cuchillo, Minas Viejas Mexico. Peter took second with Two Worlds" from Tokamak, Mexico and third with Cueva de Forje II went to Susie. Judges for the slides were Holsinger, Wessel, Pitchford, Fogarty, and Ron Ralph. The judges said they had a long and difficult time deciding which three slides were best, in view of the number of slides entered in the contest. The winners received certificates. This was definitely one of the best TSA Photo Salons ever, with many entries deserving of awards. The TSA officers held an 8-minute business session --most people blinked and missed it --with the date set for OTR this fall to be October 13, 1990. The Old Timers Reunion will again be at the Lone Man II Ranch near Wimberley. Much more was said and done during the two day event, and some heavy-duty sauna metal glowed cherry red into the wee hours Sunday for more than a dozen sessions. The dips into the Frio River afterward were startling, to say the least. Once again, an event not to be missed Solution to Crossword Puzzle on Page 69 (Mike di Falco) The TEXAS CAVER June 1990 Page 71



A Weekend At Minas
Viejas / Oren Tranbarger --
Caving Guadalupe Style / Pat Helton --
Improving Your Gibbs / Oren Tranbarger --
The Future of Texas Caving Is In Our Hands / Mike Walsh
Jim's Sunday Surprise / James Jasek --
Cave Crossword Puzzle / Mike di Falco --
TSA Spring Convention / Jay Jorden --
Crossword Puzzle Solution / Mike di Falco.