The Texas Caver

The Texas Caver

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The Texas Caver
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The Texas Caver
Texas Speleological Association
Texas Speleological Association
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Regional Speleology ( local )
Technical Speleology ( local )
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Contents: Journey To El Sotano De El Barro / Oren Tranbarger -- Broken Ankle At Cueva De El Abra / Don Denton -- The Mexican Ropewalker / Joe Ivy -- Three Fingers Cave / Larry D. Sansom -- The Survey And Restoration Or Caverns of Sonora / George Veni -- Words From The Editor / Oren Tranbarger -- Caving History- Women Cavers / Pat Helton -- The Pigtail Knot Shunt Oren Tranbarger -- Proposed BLM Rules For Implementing The Federal Cave Resources Protection Act Or 1988 -- Caving On Public Land Valley Or Fires -- What Is A Cave And The Cave Environment? / Victor Polyak --TCMA Report To The Members / Mike Walsh --Fer-De-Lance / Oren Tranbarger -- Surveying Tips / Oren Tranbarger -- Book Reviews / Bill Mixon
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Original Version:
Vol. 37, no. 01 (1992)
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3 8 9 10 11 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 21 22 THE TEXAS CAVER Volume 37, No. 1, February 1992 Journey To El S6tano De El Barro Oren Tranbarger Broken Ankle At Cueva De El Abra Don Denton The Mexican Ropewalker Joe Ivy Three Fingers Cave Larry D. Sansom The Survey And Restoration Or Caverns or Sonora George Veni Words From The Editor Oren Tranbarger Caving History-Women Cavers Pat Helton The Pigtail Knot Shunt Oren Tranb a rger Proposed BLM Rules For Implementing The Federal Cave Resources Protection Act Or 1988 Caving On Public Land Valley Or Fires What Is A Cave And The Cave Environment? Victor Polyak TCMA Report To The Members Mike Walsh Fer-De-Lance Oren Tranbarger Surveying Tips Oren Tranbarger 25 Book Reviews Bill Mixon ALTERNATING EDITORS This I ssue Or e n Tranbarger 3407 H o pecre s t S a n Ant o nio, TX 78230 512-522-2710-D 512 349-5573-N Next Issue K e ith Heus s 1004 A Milford Way Aus tin TX 7 8 745 512-385-7131 D 512 462-9574-N HALFTONE STRIPPING: Pat Geery PROOFREADERS Barbara Tranb a rg er and Lind a Str e clcfus TEXAS CAVER LABELS: R o d Goke PRINTED BY RAINES GRAPHICS 471 Lime s tone Lane Driftw o od TX 7 8 619 CAVE RESCUE: (Coll e ct) 512-686-0234 THE TEXAS CAVER i s a bimonthly publication of the Texas Speleologi cal Ass ociation (fSA), an internal or g anization of the National Speleological Soci ety (NSS) Issue s are publi s hed in F e bruary, April June August, October and December. Send all c o rre s pond e nc e (other than material for The Texas subscription fees and new s l e tter exchanges to: The Texas Caver, P O. Box ?.026, Aus tin Texas 78713. SUBSCRIPTION for The Texa s Caver i s $15.00 per year. For Texas c

I TRIP REPORT I JOURNEY TO EL SOTANO DE EL BARRO SANTA MARIA DE LOS COCOS, MEXICO November 22-29, 1991 By Oren Tranbarger INTRODUCTION Planning is the first step in the successful management o f a project, including caving trips. The idea for visiting El Sotano was suggested by Jay Jorden during Thanksgiving wee k 1990 on a trip to Golondrinas. For me, it was going to a trip of a lifetime, which would be more demanding than ( : o londrinas. Added impetus for the trip came during Christ :oJas 1990 on a second visit to Golondrinas when discussions (;cc urred with Walt Pirie and VPI (Virginia Polytechnic i n s titute) cavers who were getting ready to do El S6tano. Aft e r the VPI trip, Walt said that one afternoon had been spent :q c ar e fully placing rope pads. The lip of the pit has sharp : a g ged rocks that are hazardous for ropes. The placement of tile rope pads and the best manner for anchoring them became a major concern of the trip. In early January 1991, the NSS slide presentation on El Sutano was obtained for review. The enormous size of the pit ,,._,as impressive. Although El S6tano is not the deepest open c;ir pit in th e world, it does have one of the longest free drops 1ll any in the world. The AMCS Database shows the depth of 1h c e ntrance drop to be 410 meters or 1,345 feet. The depth .. r the entrance drop at Golondrinas on th e low side is slightly ic s s at 333 meters or 1,093 feet. From the jumping-off point :u L os Cocos, the trip requires three days: one day to hike to :he pit and rig; one day to do the pit; and one day to derig and !iikc out. Last January, Don Denton indicated an interest in the upc oming trip being planned for Thanksgiving 1991, particus ince several Brits would be in the states for caving. This rip would be a way in which to return a caving favor since seve ral Texas cavers had visited the UK previously and were llc a tcd royally. Last spring or earlier, Don Broussard heard : : b out the trip plans and became a key factor in its success. Don first went to El S6tano in 1972 (shortly after its discov e r y ) with some California cavers and wanted to return. Much or the success of the trip is due Don because of his first-hand k n o w ledge, Mexican contacts, and ability to speak Spanish. Plans were discussed for months, and a special planning m e e ting was held in July 1991 with Don Broussard, Don Denton, Jay Jorden, and myself. At that time, Jay was unc ertain about whether the Dallas group would participate, particularly if a large group of cavers was going to be involved. By OTR, Charley Savvas and Glen Schneider became interested. A few weeks before departure, however, the Brits informed Don Denton that they wanted to do Golondrinas and not El S6tano. The participants were finally determined at the last minute and included seven: Don Broussard, Charley Savvas, and Glen Schneider from Austin ; Don Denton and Sherry Holliman from Wichita Falls; Matt Ward (UK); and Oren Tranbarger (San Antonio). The trip started Friday evening November 22, 1991 and included a stopover at Hoy a de las Guaguas to" warm up" for the big one. During the expedition, a question was raised about past trips to El S6tano. Within the past year, only three were known to have occurred: ( 1) one from VPI; (2) one from Mexico; and (3) ours. No one could recall any recent Texas cavers that had accomplished El S6tano. PHYSICAL TRAINING Those involved in the expedition trained in various ways Don Broussard climbed rope several times a week Others ran and jogged. My personal training program involved backpacking and working out on a resistance climber. Several weeks in advance, I went to Guadalupe National Park to backpack more than 40 lbs up to Guadalupe Peak through View of El S6tano de El Barro From Road Approaching Santa Maria de Los Cocos F e bruary 1992 The TEXAS CAVER 3


a change of elevation of about 3,150 feet. This revealed a problem with old knee injuries. From suggestions of others with the same type of injury, neoprene knee supports were obtained; which proved to be very beneficial. At departure time, there was still concern about being really physically fit enough for the ordeal to come. BORDER CROSSING AND TRIP INTO INTERIOR (Friday -November 22, 1991) Charley and Glen (in one vehicle), and Don Broussard (in one vehicle) arrived at my home shortly after 8:00 PM Friday evening. We left in three vehicles for Reynosa after a stop at Chachos for food. At the border (1:30AM Saturday), the immigration place was hardly busy. After obtaining visas, we had to go to another line for the vehicle permits. This is a new procedure. After standing in this line, the others (who had been there for a long time) indicated that it was necessary to have a photostat copy of your vehicle title, proof of citizenship, and driver's license, according to the sign on the window. Documents could be photostated at a pharmacy several blocks away. This caused a delay of about two hours (or more). The next time you go into Mexico, take photo copies of the required items. It might expedite the border crossing. After leaving Reynosa, we drove south for about 35 miles, found a side road, and pulled off for a few hours of sleep. TRIP TO VALLES (Saturday -November 23, 1991) It was cold, cloudy, rainy, and windy when we awoke and proceeded to Victoria around 8:30 AM. Victoria was a stopping place for gas and lunch. Don Broussard exchanged some dollars for pesos and bought one of his favorite bottles. Charley and Glen exchanged some empty Corona bottles for a couple of cases of full ones. When Mante was reached, another stop was required for cafe negro (coffee), which included some pastries. After the coffee and the little snack, I checked out the back of the place for the restroom and was appalled at the sanitary conditions and the manner in which food was being prepared for a big feast that night. It was probably there that a couple of us were attacked by the "tourista" plague, one thing always to avoid on a trip to Mexico. This required copious amounts ofPepto Bismol for a few days. The trip to Valles ended around 5:00 PM, after about 20 hours on the road (including sleep and stops). It had been a long trip for only 600 miles. We immediately went to the Don Juan Restaurant to check the speleo book for messages. Jay and the Dallas cavers had arrived earlier and were staying at the Hotel Taninul. There was no word yet from Don Denton and the Brits. After dinner and scribbling a note in the book, we bought water and gas, and camped for the night at El Baf'iito about 10 miles south of Valles GUAGUAS (Sunday -November 24, 1991) We got up early (6:40) Sunday morning in preparing for Guaguas. The rest during the night was good except for the interruption of loud buses on the highway and a friendly dog that decided to sleep next to my tent. Moving was a little slow because of the fatigue from the previous day. Before leaving camp, Don Denton and Sherry arrived with their horror story of crossing the border. Alan Pritchard, one of the Brits, had been detained at the border for having old visa papers from a previous trip. This infraction was a $150 fine. Mexican immigrations had confiscated his passport, which presented a problem in returning to the states. It was suggested that Reynosa was a very good town in which to stay. Don finally cleared up the matter with $20. The old bribe system still works and is reliable. Arrangements were made to meet Don, Sherry, and the Brits at Guaguas. We proceeded to the pit for rigging and climbing for a warm up before doing El S6tano. Before the trip, there were some reservations about doing Guaguas, since I felt that it was necessary to conserve energy for doing El S6tano, and besides, I had accomplished Guaguas last April. After past trips to Golondrinas and Guaguas, there was an energy drain. The pit was irresistible after arriving. The low side was rigged, and Don Broussard and I rappelled into the pit while Charley and Glen rigged the high side where they descended. After being on the bottom for a while, Don Broussard climbed out on the high side followed by Charley and Glen in tandem. While rigging up for the climb on the low side, the Brits arrived. The climb out was delayed while three cavers descended. During the process, ropes were rigged at two more places on the low side. The ends of a 1 ,500-foot rope were used for the rigging. At one point, cavers were coming and going on four ropes. The climb out of Guaguas was invigo rating and generated endorphins. Upon reaching the surface, I was met by the DFW Grotto cavers that included Jay Jorden, Troy Shelton, Steve Dalton, Dave McClung, and Don Metzner. Also assisting the Brits from the North Texas Grotto were Don Denton, Sherry Holliman, Tom Bone, Bruce Freebe, and Randy Harden. With 25 cavers, there were enough for a mini Mexpeleo. Brits The following is a list of cavers from the UK who visited Guaguas: Alan Pritchard Matt Ward Dave Little Mike Dunleavy Chris Somerton Dave Hammond Dave Jarman Pete Collings-Wells Paddy Newman Yvonne Hayden Ray Ashworth Hades Caving Club Hades Caving Club Hades Caving Club Hades Caving Club Hades Caving Club Mendip Caving Group Mendip Caving Group Mendip Caving Group All the Brits did Guaguas except Alan, who stayed topside. At this point, Guaguas was the longest drop for any of them. The Brits had arrived a week before this trip and had been out in the Guads for a week. Some of the Guad caves visited were: Ogle, Carlsbad, Madonna, Hell Below, Hidden, Black, and the lower part of Cottonwood. For Mexico, the Brits had rented the cookie van owned 4 The TEXAS CAVER February 1992


by Mike Walsh. It had been a harrowing experience for some of them driving and riding along on the Mexican roads at night. Also, some mechanical problems developed with the van. Mike was kind enough, however, to leave them a couple of cases of good cookies. Departure From Guaguas After Guaguas, three groups were formed. The Brits and some of the North Texas Grotto cavers headed for Tamapatz to do Golondrinas the next day. The DFW Grotto cavers headed to the west in search of new caves. Our group (Don Broussard, Charley Savvas, Glen Schneider, Don Denton, Sherry Holliman, Oren Tranbarger, and Matt Ward) headed for Xilitla to camp for the night. Xilitla is always a delightful place to visit. We camped Sunday night at the "Birdhouse" at the trail leading to the waterfall. We ate supper quickly and pitched our tents. Listening to the running stream nearby was refreshing. Some time after turning in, the Taj Mahal (vehicle owned by Steve Dalton) rolled into camp. The DFW cavers had been following a road earlier, but it petered out, and they needed a place to camp. XILITLA (Monday -November 25, 1991) Monday morning was unhurried. The DFW Grotto cavers were up early and left to resume the search for new caving areas. Some visited the waterfall before camp was broken. Xilitla was the next place to visit for shopping and a !ate breakfast and cafe negro. I bought two kilos of coffee and four blankets for Christmas presents. It was probably around noon when we were on the road again headed for Jalpan. The drive from Xilitla to Jalpan is through high mountains where pine trees grow. The countryside is very scenic, and the mountains are very rugged. Last Christmas when Jalpan was visited, the VPI cavers were gathering there for the trip to El S6tano. PUERTO A YUTLA A few miles north of Jalpan in the state of Queretaro is Puerto Ayutla. A few shacks are there. For trips in the past (such as the one Don Broussard took in 1972), this is where burros were rented and the hike to the pit started. From this point, it used to take 1.5 days to get to El S6tano. Presently there is a road running west out the Puerto Ayutla. In stopping at this point, Don Broussard chatted with an old lady there after buying a coke. It was learned that the drive out of Puerto Ayutla requires three hours to reach the jumping-off point at Santa Maria de Los Cocos. Don ascertained that a man typically makes 15,000 pesos (about $5.00) a day and 15,000 pesos might be a fair price to ask for each burro. While resting there, Don Denton's water pump was examined. It had been g iving some trouble, but it appeared feasible to make the drive into the mountains without too much concern. Although it had been a long drive from Xilitla and the rest was good, there was probably some apprehension about starting the long drive to Los Cocos, not knowing what was up ahead on the road. DRIVE TO SANTA MARIA DE LOS COCOS The road to Los Cocos follows a spectacular canyon in going through a pass to the west. The cliffs along the canyon are awesome. The rugged mountains of Mexico are unrivaled in many ways. The road to Los Cocos is no worse than many primitive mountain roads. There are some good and bad places. Before the trip, Don had heard that a Ford Fairmont and a VW bug had made it over the road. After peaking out on the mountain range west of Puerto Ayutla, there is a long descent into a valley and some driving up on the slopes of another mountain range to the west where El S6tano is. 1n coming down this long slope, we missed seeing El S6tano to the west, probably because of late afternoon shadows. In going out, several places on the road provided good views of the awesome hole in the ground high up in the mountains. El S6tano is visible for many miles when approached in the right direction. The road was so rough in some places that a 6-gallon water jug was punctured in the "coffin" (trailer). After stopping, the water was transferred to smaller containers. Near the end of the 2.5-hour drive in approaching Los Cocos, Charley and Sherry rode in like charioteers waving to the villagers. Practically everyone in the village turned out to see the "gringos" ride into town, since we could be seen miles away (over an hour away). The road went through the village and ended at a school yard. This place is where past cavers have camped. Although advance information indicated it was OK to stay here, we were unwelcomed and were directed to park the vehicles down the road next to a little store, which had been temporarily closed. No further problems were encoun tered in setting up camp for the night. ARRANGEMENTSFORTHEBURROSAND PERMISSION TO DO THE PIT Right away, Don Broussard directed inquiries to the kids about where the comisariado ejidal (land commissioner) could be found. (The village is full of kids.) The comisariado ejidal is the political leader of the village and is the person who grants permission to do the pit and makes arrangements for the burros. It is a tradition and courtesy to bring clothes and other items for the needy in exchange for permission to do the pit. The present comisariado ejidal is Pedro Francisco who lives just across a ravine from where camp was set up. From his mannerisms,Pedro must be a wise man in his culture. Arrange ments were made for Pedro to look at all the gear to be carried up the mountain the next day and to determine how many burros would be required. The next step was to pack the gear in the various duffel bags brought along for that purpose. After inspecting the gear, it was determined that six burros would be required. It also would be necessary for two men to drive the burro train. Since water could be dumped on the return trip, four burros and two drivers would be used coming down out of the mountains. After Don completed negotia tions, the final price for the drivers and burros for the roundtrip was 210,000 pesos, or roughly $10 each, since there were seven of us. CAMPING AT LOS COCOS After completing the arrangements for the burros to show up the next morning at 9:00 and unloading three leaf bags of clothing for the needy in the village, camp was set up. We then ate and turned in for the night. It was crowded in the little camping area. Charley, Matt, and Don Broussard slept February 1992 The TEXAS CAVER 5


out in the open. Several times during the night, the guard dog let us know that he was on duty. Sometime during the night, it started raining, which caused Charley and Matt to scurry for cover. Fortunately, the rain was light and stopped. Around 4:00 in the morning, the roosters started crowing. And, so the night passed at Los Cocos. THE HIKE TO EL SOT ANO (Tuesday-November 26, 1991) We started getting up around 6:00. Duffel bags and backpacks were loaded with gear. The burro train included a couple of mules. Except for Don Broussard's backpack and one water jug, the animals carried the gear. One driver carried a 3-gallon jug of water. Nineteen gallons of water (besides smaller jugs) were taken up the mountain. It was really a relief not to have to carry a heavy backpack up the mountain. The hike involves an elevation change of about 2,700 feet and was accomplished in about 2.5 hours. In hiking up the trail, Don Broussard and Glen took the lead and soon disappeared. Charley and I followed but soon found ourselves isolated. Fortunately, after the burro drivers yelled, we backtracked, and I then stayed with the burros for the remainder of the hike. In hiking with the burro train, the two dogs that also made the hike were amusing. They were good dogs and stayed right with the burros, never panting. I wanted to pet them, but they did not look too friendly, so no hand was extended for fear it would be bitten off. The burros and dogs were well fed. It was amazing in going up the mountain. In two places, cornfields were encountered. As in many places, the locals roam over the mountainsides with ease without food or water all day. Although El S6tano is south of the Tropic of Cancer, the forests in that area of Mexico are somewhat different than the jungle forests around Guaguas and Golondrinas. The trees around El S6tano are similar to the broadleaf forests in this country. As anticipated, the trail is rocky and requires stepping on slick limestone rocks. Hikers should have good boot treads to keep from slipping and falling Throughout the hike, we were blessed by cloudy, cool conditions. In retrospect, the weather was nearly perfect. This was the pattern that held throughout the trip. As we approached the pit, one burro driver indicated it was near. I understood enough Spanish to know that the hike was about over. At the lip, there was plenty of room for camping. The burros were unloaded, and the drivers and burros departed. From discussions with Walt Pirie, I had anticipated very little space for camping. Four tents were erected besides Don Broussard's tarp shelter Matt slept out in the open on the ground. THE FIRST LOOK AT EL SOT ANO After straggling into camp, we stood at the west edge of El S6tano. Various scenes from the NSS slide presentation (Windy City Grotto) flashed into my mind as the grandeur of the pit finally became reality. It was all there after a year of planning. How magnificent it was. I was careful not to stand too close to the edge. Since it was noon time, a lunch break was taken before rigging was started. Dimensions And World Ranking El S6tano was ftrst explored January 28-29, 1972. The opening of the pit is oval shaped. The length of the east-west major axis is approximately 420 meters (0.26 miles); the width or minor axis is about 210 meters (689 feet). The depth of the pit varies along the rim because of differences in elevation and the sloping nature of the floor. On Rope shows the rappel depth at 1,3 80 feet. The AMCS Database shows the entrance drop to be 410 meters or 1,345 feet. According to the Atlas Or The Great Caves Or The World (Courbon, P., Shabert, C., Bosted, P., and Lindsley, K., Caves Book, St. Louis, 1989), the 1980 French expedition of the Speleo-Club des Causses surveyed the entrance drop at 364 meters (1,194 feet), which includes a free drop of only 310 meters or 1,017 feet. The overall depth of the pit from the high side is 455 meters or 1,493 feet. In view of the discrepancies, Terry Raines should resurvey the entrance drop using his laser instrument. If the AMCS distance of 410 meters is correct, then the entrance drop at El S6tano is the deepest in the western hemisphere. The ranking of the four deepest pits in the world by the Atlas Or The Great Caves Or The World is: (1) Hollenhohle in Austria at 450 meters; (2) Minye in Papua New Guinea at 417 meters; (3) Provatina in Greece at 389 meters; and (4) El S6tano at 364 meters. Although three other pits are listed as being deeper, El S6tano may have the longest free drop if the other pits have ledges that interrupt the free fall RIGGING THE PIT Don Broussard s past knowledge was invaluable in rigging the pit. Don proceeded along the north rim while I stood on the west rim. From directions at my vantage point he was able to locate a tree that was growing on a shelf (ledge) above a sheer highwall. After working his way down to the shelf, old bolts from past expeditions were found, and it appeared that the tree had been used for anchoring. Next to the tree was a rock that was used for an anchor. Two ropes (1 ,500-feet minimum) were tied off using the tree and rock as anchors. These anchors were backed up with a tie off above the shelf on a BFR. Feeding the ropes over the edge of the shelf and the placement of rope pads took courage. By using a pigtail and a safety, Don Broussard worked his way down the slope close to the breakover or drip point where the sheer drop begins Some rope was coiled and thrown out into space. This allowed enough of the rope to fall down along the highwall and provided weight for feeding the remainder of the rope over the ledge. Both ropes ran down into the pit about 20 feet apart No major tangles occurred in feeding the ropes into the pit in this manner. Only one rope had a slight knot in it about 100 feet from the bottom. The next major problem was placement ofthe rope pads. Charley and Glen had discussed doing the pit that day after it was rigged and agreed to place the rope pads. This was accomplished by using a 4-mm nylon cord running parallel to the ropes to tie off the pads where needed. This process took a while. 6 The TEXAS CAVER February 1992


FIRST RAPPEL It was late in the afternoon when Charley and Glen rappelled into the pit. All went smoothly, and voice communications (via CB walkie talkie) were established after they got on the bottom. The CB radios proved to be useless, however, the following day. During their sojourn in the pit, we ate supper and began waiting for the long climb to be completed. We discussed the events for the following day. By this time, Sherry was committed in doing the pit. Don Denton devised some foot stirrups. He had leg circulation problems at Guaguas and wanted to prevent similar problems the following day. Finally, we began to hear Charley and Glen talking while climbing in the dark, and soon, lights were visible on the south wall of the pit. It was a relief as they climbed out. The climb took an hour and 20 minutes. The weight of the rope is a factor in getting over the edge as well as climbing out. Since the top 50 feet or so is on an incline, the rope weight is manageable without a haul system. That night, Charley found it difficult to sleep well because of the day's events THE BIG DAY FOR THE PIT (Wednesday -November 27, 1991) The big day for the rest of us occurred Wednesday S hortly after 9:00AM, Don Broussard and I were on rope working our way over the ledge inspecting rope pads and making adjustments where necessary. Finally, the drip point was reached, and the vast open space of the pit had to be faced. In starting the rappel, Don took a photograph of me on rope. Don zipped on down the rope. I descended slowly using only five bars all the way. On the Golondrinas drops last year, six bars were required near the bottom. Five bars were adequate, p robably because the rope had been well used I forgot to time m yself, but the drop at El S6tano seemed to last much longer than the two Golondrinas drops last year. Although foot s tirrups were used, my legs were numb when I got to the bottom, and difficulty was experienced in walking. My rope, which was rigged to the right of the tree, came clown along a highwall at the bottom. Both ropes terminated on top of a steep breakdown pile. The touchdown point was about 50 feet higher than the deepest point of the floor. Since the rig point is higher in elevation than the point on the rim s t raight above the deepest point in the pit, the rappel distances are probably about the same at both places B ottom Or The Pit The bottom of the pit is surrealistic in nature. Tall tropical plants that are totally different from plants on the s urface cover the bottom. Walking is difficult because of the big plants and slippery rocks of varied sizes. A small cave with a muddy floor is at the bottom of the breakdown pile near the touchdown point. I did not care to wander inside it, but Don checked it out. The east end of the pit is nothing but a g radual breakdown slope that becomes steep. During the fall and winter months, sunlight probably does not hit the bottom. Because of limited light, photographs are difficult to obtain unless objects are close and a flash can be used. After trying to walk on the bottom near the west end of the pit I started up the breakdown pile toward the ropes. Since this little hill was difficult, the climb out was going to be slow. Descent or Other Cavers Don made his way to the east end of the pit to photograph Matt on his rappel. He stayed there as Sherry and Don Denton rappelled down. While they were getting on rope a small rock was dislodged and landed near me. I was not concerned originally about the fall zone, since no problems were encoun tered previously. I moved fast after that and stayed out of the fall zone. Everyone enjoyed the descent, and Don Denton's foot stirrups worked for him. The Climb Out As Don and Sherry were rappelling together, I was busy gearing up for the climb. I clipped on the rope around 12:30 and started the solo climb. The strategy was to take 20 small steps and then rest for a short period. Since neither rope was completely new, Don Broussard thought it was best for each caver to climb solo The beginning of a long climb is the hardest until the second wind provides additional energy. The pace worked pretty good, since I never really got tired during a stepping sequence. Shortly after lift off, Matt clipped on the other rope and started climbing. As we moved up the ropes, I asked periodically how he was doing That was about all I could ask and the answer was always the same, OK. I never saw him moving, since our rest periods seemed to coincide. What I did not realize at the time was that Matt was frogging out of the pit, which is so difficult on such a long climb. In tracking time, 15 minutes passed, then 30,and then45. About halfway up, many loose rocks were found on the side. This was the only unstable place observed. Also, at several places, large nests of some kind of hornet were observed on the walls of the pit. The creatures that produced them were gone. In climbing higher, progress was measured by using the low side (east side) of the pit as a reference. Most of the time while climbing, I was oriented so that the whole expanse of the pit could be observed. When the low side clears, it is possible to see the mountain range to the east. While climbing, glances were made upward wondering about any rope abrasion that might be occurring at some unprotected point. Around 2:15 (one hour and 45 minutes later), the climb ended, and I was off rope and safe. What a good feeling that was. Matt completed his climb shortly afterward. I really admire anyone that has the strength and stamina to frog that distance. After I completed climbing, Don Broussard started up withSherry. Donmadeitoutin55minutes. DonDentonthen started up the rope and caught up with Sherry and stayed with her throughout the remainder of the climb. Derigging When the ropes were free, derigging was started. Don Broussard supervised this activity efficiently, also. The derigging was completed long after dark. The rope bags were left out on the rim for the night while we returned to camp to eat and celebrate the accomplishments of the day. I turned in early and found it hard to sleep like Charley had experienced the previous night after his climb RETURN TRIP (Thursday -November 28, 1991) Early Thursday morning, the rope pads were derigged, February 1992 The TEXAS CAVER 7


and gear was packed. Two mules and one driver arrived before 9 : 00, the designated arrival time. Shortly after that, two burros and another driver arrived. Excess water was dumped, and some of us backpacked gear on the return hike. For some reason, the dogs did not accompany the burros up the mountain for the return trip. I suppose they were not early risers and preferred to sleep. The hike down carrying a load required only 1.5 hours After returning to Los Cocos, gear was quickly stowed in the vehicles, and we departed for Puerto Ayutla and on to the Conca River for bathing On the way out, we stopped at several places and looked west toward El S6tano. It was easy to spot and photograph. What an awesome pit it is As the sun illuminated the north wall, it was possible to see the high wall where the ropes had been rigged. The drive out was quicker than the drive in, but it was tricky at one point where an abandoned pickup was found. We were fortunate to bypass it and proceed toward Puerto Ayutla. The driving time out was only 1.5 hours. The Conca River north of Puerto Ayutla was the next stop, where everyone bathed and cleaned up. At this point, I was ready to start the long drive home alone via Rio Verde, San Louis Potosi, Matehuala, Satillo, Monterrey, Sabinas Hidalgo, and Laredo. We said good-bye, and the others returned to Valles. Between San Louis Potosi and Matehuala a stopover was necessary for the night at a new Pemex station that has a restaurant. The traffic was so bad that it was unsafe to proceed, since I was tired. It was a rough night because of vehicular noise and the lack of sleeping accommodations LAST LEG OF TRIP (Friday -November 29, 1991) I woke up around 4:00 AM and ate breakfast, which consisted ofhuevos a Ia Mexicana. That was not the best meal on the trip. By 5:00, I was on the road again. Many foggy places were encountered for about five hours that made driving hazardous. Eventually, I was in Laredo and across the border in the USA The border crossing was no problem. I called home and then went to Denny's to fulfill another dream -a hamburger and fries Home was reached around 5:00PM after driving for 12 hours that day TRIP POSTSCRIPT Overall, the trip to El S6tano was successful in every respect. Wonderful experiences were shared and new friend ships were made. Because of good planning and no unex pected problems, the trip was completed two days earlier than anticipated. Things did not go so well, however, for the Brits. Sunday night (December l 1991) following the return home, I called Don Broussard. He informed me that Dave Jarman had suffered a severe compound ankle fracture on Friday, November 29, 1991 around 3:15PM when he slipped near the entrance of Cueva de El A bra south of Mante. Dave was taken to Valles for medical treatment and was unable to return to the states with the UK cavers because of the serious nature of the break His fellow cavers provided funds for medical bills, and he was left in the care of some North Texas Grotto cavers in Mexico. (Continued on p 27) BROKEN ANKLE AT CUEVA DE EL ABRA November 29, 1991 By Don Denton After the expedition to El S6tano described on Page 3, Don Denton and others took Matt Ward back to Ciudad Valles to rejoin his party from the UK. In returning to the states on November 29, 1991, Dave Jarman had a serious compound fracture of his right ankle at Cueva de El Abra. This is a short report of that accident After we said adios to Oren at the Rio Conca, we left for Ciudad Valles. At Valles we had dinner at the Don Juan restaurant, did a little shopping, said our goodbyes to Don Broussard, and headed to the Taco Rock. The Taco Rock is (Continued on p. 27) Scene at The Rescue. Cavers (L toR): Tom Bone (cigarette and cap), Chris Somerton (foreground, UK), Randy Harden (cap), Ray Ashworth (shorts, no shirt, behind victim, UK), Dave Jarman (in stretcher, UK), Paddy Newman (sun glasses, UK), Bruce Freeby (foreground, no shirt), Mike Dunleavy (no shirt, background, UK), and Yvonne Hayden (UK). Matt Ward (UK) and Don Denton (not shown) are up top derigging the rope belay 8 The TEXAS CAVER February 1992


EQUIPMENT THE MEXICAN ROPEWALKER By Joe Ivy Development In December of 1990, I had the opportunity to cave with a French caver who was taking some classes at Texas Tech. Watching him climb with the "Frog" system aroused my curiosity about the system so I tried it out on a vertical obstacle course in some trees. The Frog system is remarkably efficient for doing technical rope work such as rebelays and knot crossing but is slow and tiring on long, free drops. I wanted a s ystem that would com bine the technical versa tility of the Frog but still have the comfort and effi c iency of the Modified Ropewalkeron longer free drops. The result of this s earch was the Mexican Ropewalker (MR). Description The MR has two floating ascenders, one at tached to each foot. The right-hand ascender is l evel with the knee joint while the left-hand as c e nder is level with the waist. The strap length for the left-hand ascender Tlf. JIARo .... places the ascender so that if aVERY large step is taken with the left foot, the ascender hits the chest roller. For redun dancy, there is a cord running from the left-hand ascender to the seat sling's main attachment point. The length of the s afety cord also should allow for that VERY large step. Each ascender's bungee cord runs from the respective ascender over the shoulder to a D-ring located in the center of the small of the back on the seat harness. The bun gees are padded with l-inch tubular webbing. The chest harness is of the same variety used with the Modified Ropewalker-a Simmon's Roller with or without a stiffener plate. The top point of attachment is a handled ascender attached to the seat sling's -oU. 2 ... main attachment point. The strap length for the top ascender places the cam of the ascender even with the forehead. As cenders that are easy to put on and take off the rope such as the Petzl Ba sic Ascender and the CMI Shorti are preferable, since they increase the efficiency of the system. Use The MR is very easy to use as everything is done for you by the bungee cords. For those who do not like the "clutter" of two bun gee cords, it is also easy enough to raise the left ascender by hand. The top ascender is not neces sary while climbing as there are already three points of attachment, but it is necessary if you need to sit while on rope. When negotiating difficult lips, this feature is convenient, since it allows you to unclip the top ascender and place it past the lip if needed while still main taining three attachment points. Drawing By Joe Ivy Crossing Knots For climbing past knots, it is simply a matter of moving each ascender and the chest roller past the knot as they encounter the knot. For rappelling past knots, you use the top ascender (which doubles as a safety ascender hung off the seat sling anyway) and the left ascender without its bun gee. Rappel down until the knot is almost in the rack. Now, put the top ascender on rope above the rack and continue the rappel until your weight is on the ascender. Put the left ascender on rope under the knot and remove the rack from the rope. Downclimb with a stand-sit action until the top ascender is at the knot. Replace the rack below the knot with as little slack as possible. It will be necessary to move the left ascender down the rope periodi-February 1992 The TEXAS CAVER 9


cally as you thread the rope through the rack. Finally, stand up and remove the top ascender and sit on the rack while keeping some weight on the left ascender. (It is not necessary to lock off the rack during the crossover, since the left ascender acts as the rappel safety. If you were to lose control, the ascender would prevent your descent by jamming in the rack.) Once you have tension on the rope under the rack with your rappel hand, use your other hand to remove the left ascender and continue down the rope. Rebelays Crossing rebelays while climbing is basically the same as crossing a knot. Using a cow's tail for rebelay work is not absolutely necessary with the MR., but it does add some convenience and speed. Climb until the chest roller is just below (5 em or 2 inches) the knot at the rebelay. Clip the cow's tail into the carabiner at the rebelay and clip the top ascender onto the rope above the rebelay as high as possible. Unclip the roller from the rope to give more freedom of movement and move the ascenders from the "down" rope to the "up" rope one at a time. Finally, unclip the cow's tail from the rebelay and clip the rope back into the roller and proceed up the rope. Crossing a rebelay on rappel is simple. Rappel down until the rebelay is about even with your waist and clip the cow's tail into the rebelay. You should have your top ascender and your left ascender out and ready. Rappel until your weight is on the rebelay point. Clip the top ascender onto the "up" rope just for safety and clip the left ascender onto the "down" rope about45 em or 18 inches below the knot. Unclip the rack from the "up" rope and transfer it to the "down" rope. Eliminate as much slack as possible between the rack and the seat sling. As with the knot crossing, you must move the left ascender down the rope as you rig the rack. When the rack is threaded, unclip the top ascender. Then, stand on the left ascender and unclip the cow's tail. Keep tension on the rope below the rack with the left ascender until you have manual control of the rope with your rappelling hand. While holding tension with your rappel hand, take the left ascender off rope with the other. Other Applications The MR. converts easily to a Texas system if you eliminate the right ascender and the chest roller. Ascending steep slopes can be done in two ways. The first is to unclip the chest roller and keep on going with the top ascender for the top point of attachment. The second is accomplished by making the top ascender attachment line out of 9-mm rope. If this is the case, unclip the top ascender from the seat harness and clip the left ascender onto the 9-mm line. Clip the top ascender and the right ascender to the rope, and you have something similar to the "third phase" of the Mitchell system. Conclusion The primary advantage of the MR. is that all the ascend ers are within easy reach. In looking for a ropewalker that works for rebelays, I found a very convenient system that eliminates the problems .traditionally associated with foot ascenders (such as difficulty in getting the rope to feed at the bottom of a drop). I have used every ascending system that I have read about or have seen mostly out of pure curiosity, and I think that the MR. is the easiest to use. In some situations, THREE FINGERS CAVE By Larry D. SansomU.S. Forest Service During the calendar year 1992, Three Fingers Cave will be withdrawn from the recreation cave permit system. This action is needed to allow for restoration of the cave. All cavers interested in cave restoration trips are encouraged to contact the U.S. Forest Service, Guadalupe Ranger District. Volunteer agreements will be used and must be completed prior to project work. Plans include two restoration trips per month. Three Fingers Cave has a vertical entrance requiring all restoration volunteers to have their own vertical gear. Skills and the ability to maneuver through the cave safely are necessary; however, no restoration experience is required. Forest Service personnel or other experts will be leading all of the restoration trips. A variety of projects will be worked on, including: cleaning dust, mud, and black scuff marks off of formations; repairing broken speleothems; and low impact travel-trail marking. Your cooperation and assistance will be appreciated during the restoration work. We will continue to provide the best management for all areas of the Lincoln National Forest including our special caves and recognize your contributions. For further information contact: Larry D. Sansom U.S. Forest Service Federal Building Carlsbad, NM 88220 505-885-4181 Editor's Note: Three Fingers Cave is an outstanding cave on Three Mile Hill that has an entrance drop of 90 feet which is comprised of three 30-foot drops. Volunteer groups should be limited to no more than six. The Forest Service should be contacted at least one month in advance of a planned trip to complete arrangements and to process the volunteer agreements. other systems are preferable (for example, using the Frog in a cave with several kilometers of passage but only one or two short drops) but overall, I have found that the MR. is the best. This, of course, is my opinion, and the purpose of this article is to describe this system so that any interested readers can give the MR. a try. If you do try the MR., I would greatly appreciate any feedback, comments, criticisms, or sugges tions that you might have My address is: Joe Ivy 4019 Rarnsgate San Antonio, Texas 78230 By the way, I named it the Mexican Rope walker because it is in Mexican caves that I have encountered everything from 100-meter shafts to short, rebelayed pits in the same cave, and this system does all of that with ease. 10 The TEXAS CAVER February 1992


G roup Photo Before Clean-Up THE SURVEY AND RESTORATION OF CAVERNS OF SONORA By George Veni Photos By Nathan Summar O UT OF THE BLUE Although it was her first show cave my future wife, K aren, realized Caverns of Sonora was very special. I told her the cave desperately needed mapping and study but had been c losed to cavers for 25 years. "When I finish my dissertation i n 2-3 years, maybe I will contact the owners, submit a proposal, and see if I can get access." An unexpected phone c all came several months later. The cave s manager asked if I would like to do a survey and geologic study. I was not about to tell her to call back in 2-3 years! Caverns of Sonora is internationally recognized as one o f the world's most beautiful show caves. NSS founder Bill S tephenson said, "The beauty of Caverns of Sonora cannot be e xaggerated -not even by a Texan! Originally called Mayfield Cave, it was known as a relatively small cave with only a few hundred meters of unremarkable passages. In 1955, exploration of a high lead across a precarious ledge led to glorious discoveries and in 1960 Caverns of Sonora was open to the public. Exploration and survey of the cave began in those early years. Most of that survey covered what became the tourist trail but some off-trail survey was also completed. In the early 1960's, the owners curtailed offtrail access. Although tourists visiting the cave are stunned by its beauty, the prettiest parts are off-trail. These areas were being damaged by cavers unintentionally or through carelessness The pro fusion of speleothems makes it difficult to move in these sections of the cave without breaking something The owners denied further off-trail access, believing it was more impor tant to preserve the cave than to explore it. Their recent interest in a new survey does not indicate a major change in attitude General off-trail access is still prohibited. However, the owners have developed a keener interest in understanding and better managing their cave and they felt a tightly con trolled survey would be able to accomplish this with minimal damage. February 1992 The TEXAS CAVER 11


Aggies At The Dig THE SURVEY Having an invitation to survey in Sonora and actually gaining approval are two different things. The cave is a three-hour drive from my home in San Antonio, and I had a series of three meetings there with the manager and owners to discuss how the project would be conducted before I finally got their consent. One of their first concerns was personnel. The owners asked me to select a team of 2-3 people who would Stephen Jung Hauling A Bucket Full Of Rubble 12 come out each time and help survey. The intent was to develop a select group that knew the cave and could be trusted in delicate areas. I suggested having a broader-based team instead; the survey would take several years, and a crew of so few people may not be able to make every trip. This suggestion was born out of practicality, but also to avoid my being lynched by all the cavers who would otherwise not be selected. More importantly I saw off-trail access as an opportunity to be shared with the cavers of Texas The owners compromised by letting me bring whomever I wanted, so long as I had previously surveyed with them to know they were cautious and competent. Damage to the cave was the big gest concern about the survey Jack Burch, one of the owners and a long time caver, knows the lure of virgin cave and wanted assurances that our work would not harm any speleothems. I went to great lengths to explain that no matter how good a lead was, the break age of any speleothems for exploration would be decided by the Cavern man agement, not me The last big item I discussed with the owners was how the cave would be surveyed. Jack had produced a highly accurate transit survey along the tourist trail but no sketch I proposed a three phased project: the first phase constructs a sketch along the surveyed trail, the second phase extends off trail, and the The TEXAS CAVER third phase mops up whatever loose ends remain. The loose-ends will mostly check possible survey errors and will not survey leads. The off-trail survey will proceed systematically, surveying each passage to completion as it is en countered, not saving the worst pas sages for last, and not leaving any leads. Phase I began on 31 March 1990. I have made 13 trips to the cave since then, completing slightly more than half of the transit survey sketch. Progress has been painfully slow, requiring 2-4 hours to sketch 15 meters of passage. A high level of detail and precision in the sketch necessitates this snails' pace. All significant features are accurately measured to be properly drawn and ori ented in the sketch. Additionally, I am adding geologic features and observa tions that can help resolve the questions of how the cave formed and why it is so well decorated. The level of detail and precision in my work may be gross overkill--to my knowledge, no cave of this size (an estimated 11 km) has ever been so care fully surveyed. However, I view this as a grand experiment where, with the use computer aids, I will accurately plot various features on the map and hope fully see subtle trends and information that would not otherwise be noticed. Perhaps I will not learn much more than I would from a normal cave survey, but Gayle Austin Towing Buckets To The Entrance February 1992


Sweepers Cleaning After The Diggers the only way to find out is to play out the e xperiment. Preliminary observations indicate that the extra effort will prove w orthwhile. At my current rate of progress I estimate the off-trail work to begin some timein 1993. Thepeople(morethan40) r have spoken to about helping survey will then be contacted. As I cave with and get to know other cavers, I hope to e x tend more invitations. Presently, K aren is all the help I need, and she s p e nds most of her time reading until I n e e d help measuring something, which is about once every 45 minutes. We l o o k forward to the time we start survey ing off-trail so other cavers can join us. T HE RESTORATION PROJECT As the months went by working on the survey, I learned that the owners of t h e cave have increased their interest in pre senting educational tours and in preserving the cave s natural condition. To m e e t this end they asked if cavers would be interested in helping them with a restoration project. Over a four month period, I polled about 40 TSA cavers and got 30 "yes" responses. When I conducted the poll and l a ter recruited help, I did not try to glamorize the project. What was in volved was heavy manual labor hauling rocks and dirt out of the cave, and the w ork was not in the pretty sections. C utting paths for trails in commercially d e veloped caves generates a lot of de-February 1992 bris. Typically, this material is dumped to fill side passages or to create un sightly piles. The management of Cav erns of Sonora wants to remove the stuff, even though it is fairly well cam ouflaged and generally unnoticed on the tours They would like the cave restored as much as possible to its natu ral state. Sixty cavers showed up ready to work on Saturday morning, 16 November 1991. We entered the cave as one large team at 8:30a.m. and went to the main dig area just beyond the famous ledge about 220 meters into the cave. From there, the group began moving back toward the entrance, dropping off people along the way for their assigned tasks. The first people left behind began digging at two rubble piles. They filled 5-gallon buckets with the debris and passed them to the next group who ferried them toward the entrance in upright dollies. Another group carried the buckets up a short flight of stairs to the next dolly crew who took them to the base of the series of stairs at the entrance Half of the crew worked these stairs, passing the rubble up and out of the cave where it was dumped into one of three trucks that carried it off. A rotation plan was set up so people would not have to stay in the same spot all day, but digging was so popular that few wanted to rotate out of that job and back into the haul line. I spent most of my time running back and forth from the entrance to the dig site rotating and transferring people to areas where they were needed. Owners Jack Burch and Seco Mayfield assisted with the work, along with cavern staff members Paul Chevalier, Juventino Grenada, Mark Rogers, and Shaumarie Scoggins. In a short period of time, clean-up opera tions were running smoothly. At noon, the owners provided all the lunch fixin s for everyone to custom design sandwiches, and at 1 p m. we headed back underground. The yell of "Buckets!" again rang through the cave as full ones were passed out and empty ones were passed down. A small addi tional dig near the entrance was com pleted and opened a small but pretty passage. As dig areas were wrapped up, some cavers swept and cleaned the once rubble-covered areas. Nathan Summar photographed the entire event and eased many aching muscles with massage therapy. At 4 p m. we stopped digging and began cleaning up. The last bit of excavated rock and dirt was sent out of the cave followed by tools empty buck ets and dollies. By 5 p.m., we had swept the trail clean back to the entrance and took a well needed rest. The restoration work was a treOne Of Cleaned Areas. Formerly An Area 8 Meters Long 2-3 Meters Wide And Up To 0.5 Meters Deep In Rubble. The TEXAS CAVER 13


Before Passage Was Dug Open Near The Cave Entrance mendous success The owners were ecstatic; we had done much more than they had ever ex pee ted. In one day, we had applied 450 person-hours and re moved approximately 7 50 cubic feet of rubble, weighing over 18 tons! Thecrewfeastedat6p.m. Wayne Sawyer rustled up a tremendous out door feed highlighted by brisket, BBQ chicken, and peach cobbler. Wayne's After Passage Was Dug Open Near The Cave Entrance 14 sour-dough monkey bread won second place in the World Champion Cowboy Campfire Cooking Competition, and the rest of his cooking was equally deli cious Afterwards, everyone split into one of six groups to photograph in the pretty sections of the cave; tour lights were left off to avoid interference with the photos The next day, Jack and I led a leisurely 3.5-hour lights-on tour through the cave, discussing its history, geology, and survey. Those who could not stay that long took free regular tours of the cave. Everyone also received a pass to come back for a free tour. All day Saturday, people asked me when we were going to do restoration work again at Sonora. "Let's see how today's work goes," I would reply, "the owners have never done anything like this so they are a bit apprehensive." The apprehension did not last; the owners were very grateful for our enthusiastic work. By the days' end, they were asking me if cavers would be willing to come back to do it again. On Sunday morning I asked the 40 cavers on my tour if they would like to come back in the next year or two. Their response was unanimously positive. Plans are now underway to return to the cave next November for more restoration work. Perhaps this could become an annual event. We are dis cussing detailed clean-up work for next year and a return to rock hauling the following year. The plan and date will be announced in the Texas Caver. I would like to thank the owners of Caverns of Sonora for their efforts to protect and restore this extraordinary cave to as natural a condition as pos sible, and for supporting the TSA in this endeavor. I highly appreciate the work and enthusiasm of everyone who con tributed to this project. 1991 RESTORATION CREW : Michael Achenbach, Gayle Aus tin Barbe Barker, Jean Bass, Amber Beck Jeff Benadum, Carolyn Biegert Kristy Bowers, Scott Caffee, Roy Cham pagne, Richard Chitwood,Pat Copeland, Jon & Lisa Cradit, David & Joann DeLuna, David Dorsey, Pat Geery Johnny Hazelton Steve Hedges, Keith Heuss, Chris Hunnell, Mark Jones, Stephen Jung Kent Kelln, John Kibler, The TEXAS CAVER Janice Knezek, Rob Kolstad, Dawn Langevin, John Langevin, George Love, Kim Maloy, David McClung, Craig Mitchell, S udh ir Nunes, Libby Overholt, Blaine Parish, Kevin Persyn, Greg Pe ters, Jeff Polk, Carl Ponebshek, Laurie Powell, Walt Radensic, Brook Robinson, Paul Rodriguez, Kenny Ryckeley, Chris Sobin, Nathan Summar, Steve Sutherland, Tarnra Torres,Richard Van Arsdel, George & Karen Veni, Bob West, Connie Wienpahl, Joel & Vickie Wil liams, Randy Winans, Jim Wolff, and Eddie Y onemoto. WORDS FROM THE EDITOR For over five years, I have used WordPerfect professionally. In begin ning efforts on The Texas Caver back in 1989, a learning process was required for graphics After the first couple of issues, I felt very proficient in using graphics, which has been limited to simple box forms. For this issue, Aldus PageMaker4.0 was used for completing the final page layouts. This software has the capability of easily merging text and graphics. In preparing an article, text is initially prepared in a WordPerfect file and then imported into PageMaker. PageMaker is moderately complex, but probably it was a lot easier to learn than all the stuff originally involved in WordPerfect. The desktop software becomes easier with constant use. With time, better versions of desktop publish ing software will be used and eventually integrated with CorelDRA W so that more graphics can be used to sharpen up the overall appearance. As progress is made in improving the appearance of The Texas Caver,let me encourage more cavers to be involved in preparing articles for publica tion. It is not necessary to have aca demic credentials or computer equip ment to prepare articles for The Texas Caver. The primary thing needed is a desire to write. Material can still be prepared the conventional way with a piece of paper and a pencil. Keith Heus s and I are constantly needing material ranging from high quality technical ar(Continue on p. 27) February 1992


CAVING HISTORYWOMEN CAVERS By Pat Helton To the general public, cavers appear to be an odd group. A nyone involved for any length of time is sure to be told about the lack of sanity suffered by people who dare venture into these fearsome dark holes in the ground. The vilest of s lithering creatures rule that domain along with blood-suck ing bats that wait in ambush for the daring men who would a ttempt entry. Experienced cavers enjoy the expressions of d i sbelief on faces when the same predictors of doom learn that the exploration team includes women Their expressions become more exaggerated when they find out these women are their child's teacher their dentist doctor, office co worker, or their neighbor. To these multitudes, women spend money on Calvin Klein Liz Claiborn, and Ralston; not Petzl, G ibbs or Lost Creek. After the initial shock wears off, many decide that this is just another modern example of Women's Lib, and they walk off humming the refrain from "The Times They Are A Changin '." Not so! For one woman, caving was a n important, but all too brief stop on her adventurous trek t hrough history Colonel Boles and others knew that more cave remained to be discovered, but they were not sure of how to accomplish the task In early 1929 Colonel Boles thought the solution to this problem might be on her way to Carlsbad TheEl Paso Herald reported, "She wanted to do a little exploring and was taken off the beaten trails into an obscure part of Carlsbad Cavern. Colonel Boles showed her a succes sion of black, grim openings into nowhere, handed her a lantern, and told her to go ahead Evidently, she decided she was in a region untrod by man because she kept going. Sometime later, those awaiting her return saw a faint glow of light from the mouth of the tunnel, and she presently returned keyed up with excitement. Then and there she and Colonel Boles began to plan for full-fledged exploration expeditions Colonel Boles could hardly contain his excitement. A world-famous explorer and adventurer would be taking up where Jim White left off. The fact that the expedition leader was a woman would only bring in more publicity. Press releases were issued announcing the project. As reported in the El Paso Herald, Miss Amelia Earhart will be attempting ,...--------...;,_---------------, explorations in Carlsbad Cav-In 1928, Colonel Tom Boles became the first Superin tendent of Carlsbad Caverns National Park Colonel Boles ern to be commenced once her immediately fell in love with scheduled flying adventures Carlsbad Cavern and pledged About The Author have been completed. When to make it the showplace of the Pat Helton is a TSA caver from Lubbock Texas. her engagements permit she National Park Service. The He first began venturing into the Guadalupe Mounwill return here, arrangements press quickly began calling him tains back in the mid 1960s and continues to spend all will be made, and the expedi" King of the Underground"and the time possible in the area. He is currently working tion will be on " Mr. Carlsbad Cavern be onremappingCarlsbadCavern'sMysteryRoomalong As we know, tragedy c ause of his openly aggressive with other projects in the Guads. ended all hope of Amelia promotion. His efforts paid With an active interest in the history of Carlsbad Earhart realizing her dreams off in arranging for free fullCavern and the Guads, this historical account seems of further exploration Ar-page ads in the New York appropriateafteroverhearingsometouristsinCarlsbad chives contain several of her T imes under the guise of news Cavern exclaim, "I didn't know they allowed women letters showing her continued reporting. He managed for a to explore in here," when one of his survey crews went excitement toward the project radio broadcast of the popular into the cave This story is a perfect reply and of plans for this and other R ipley s Believe It or Not" adventures. pro gram from within the cave In 1992, the search conand promoted a full meet ing of L----------------------J tinues for Amelia Earhart, and the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriation Committee the search in Carlsbad Cavern continues for new passages and t o be held in Lower Cave The result was nationwide and even new adventure. worldwide interest in this new World Wonder." Celebrities Acknowledgments politicians, and adventurers from around the world made ArchivesCarlsbad Caverns National Park; NationalPark their way to Carlsbad to see for themselves what was being Service. described as a natural miracle. ArchivesEl Paso Herald, El Paso, Texas. In 1928, Jim White credited with the majority of Nymeyer, R., Halliday, W Carlsbad CavernGuadalupe Carls bad Cavern's exploration, began to feel that his health Mountain Association, Carlsbad Cavern, The was fai ling and he would no longer be able to undertake the EarlyYears, Lorraine Press, Inc 1991. s trenuous demands of pushing the cave farther and deeper. February 1992 The TEXAS CAVER 15


THE PIGTAIL KNOT SHUNT By Oren Tranbarger Introduction One of the skills required for ver tical competency is rappelling over a knot. Changeover modes and climbing up over a knot are easy compared with rappelling down over a knot. A Mitchell system is perhaps the best conventional system to use for downclim bing over a knot, but some cavers do not use a Mitchell system or might not have the necessary gear (double-roller chest box) to implement such a system. After practicing various techniques in rappel ling over a knot and contemplating the problems encountered, a new technique was developed for the required maneu ver. This technique allows the caver to remain seated in the seat harness and requires no upper body strength or spe cial equipment. The pigtail knot shunt can be safer since three points of contact are usually maintained while hanging on the rope. The following technique is especially easy to use if a self-belay device is used. Self-Belay Devices The merits of self-belay devices are undisputed unless such a device is poorly designed and interferes with rappelling. Recent incidents have oc curred where a life might have been saved had the unfortunate victims been using a self-belay device and always maintained a second point of contact on the rope. Conventional self-belay de vices are described in On Rope. Also, a bar-release design for a Gibbs that I have found useful is described in The Texas Caver, June 1991, pp. 63-64. Pigtail Knot Shunt Design The pigtail knot shunt consists of a Jumar ascender tied to a 7/16-inch rope about 15-20 feet long. The end of the rope should have a loop big enough for standing (if that should be necessary) and a knot about 3 feet above the loop for safety In application, the Jumar is attached to the rope about 7-10 feet above the knot on the standing rope. The caver simply transfers over to the pigtail, rappels past the knot, and then 16 Rack Lock Off Rappel & Take Up Slack On Self Belay End Of Rope Knot End Of Rope Footloop t transfers back to the standing rope be low the knot. Once on the standing rope below the knot, normal rappelling is resumed. Rappelling Equipment And Proce dures In rappelling over a knot, the ac cessory equipment required is: (1) the pigtail knot shunt (carried on the seat harness); (2) a self-belay device; and (3) a safety. If a self-belay device is used that cannot be released under load, then an ascender would be used on one foot to raise up on the rope for releasing the self-belay device. The TEXAS CAVER ,.. Rope 10 Transfer Self Belay Unclip Safety Clip Safety Release Self Belay & Continue Rappel Illustration By Blake Barr The following steps describe the procedure: 1. Rappel down above the knot and lock off using the self-belay de vice about 5 feet above the knot. 2. Attach the Jumar and the pigtail above the self-belay device as shown in the figure. 3. Attach the safety on the pigtail as shown in the figure at chest level with slack in the tether. 4. Transfer the rack from the stand ing rope to the pigtail. 5. Unclip the safety from the pigtail. (Continued on p. 27) February 1992


BLMUPDATE PROPOSED BLM RuLES FoR IMPLEMENTING THE FEDERAL CAVE RESOURCES PROTECTION ACT OF 1988 In 1988, the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act became law. Since that law was passed, the various governmental agencies responsible for the management of federally-owned caves have been using interim guidelines for enforcing this law Presently, the National Forest Service, the National Park Service, and the Bureau of Land Management (ELM) are developing their respective rules for implementing the law. Recently, these rules were published in the Federal Register for review and comment before finalization The following items pertain to the ELM and are taken from the Federal Register, Vol 57, No.8, January 13,1992. In the case of the ELM, written comments must be received by April13, 1992 Because of space limitations, it is not possible to reproduce the entire contents of the proposed ELM rules. These rules are very important in preserving our national cave resources and will impact big business opera tions (mineral oil, and gas) and cavers who are not conservationists or who engage in cave vandalism Cavers should be aware oft he new rules and be part of the review process. Appreciation is expressed to Michael Bilbo, Cave Specialist, BLM-Roswell, New Mexico for providing the following information (excerpts) and for pointing out particular paragraphs that are of special interest. SUMMARY: This proposed rule would implement the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act of 1988, which re quires identification, protection, and maintenance, to the ext e nt practical, of significant caves on Department of the Interior administered lands The proposed rule would establis h criteria to be considered in the identification of significant caves. It would also integrate cave management processes and protect cave resource information to prevent vandalism and disturbance of significant caves. DATES: Comments must be received in writing by Aprill3, 1992. Comments received or postmarked after the above date may not be considered in the decisionmaking process on the final rulemaking. A DDRESSES: Comments should be sent to: Director (140), Bureau of Land Management, Room 5555, Main Interior Building, 1849 C Street, NW., Washington, DC 20240. Comments will be available for public review at the above address during regular business (7 : 45 a m. to 4:15 p m.), Monday through Friday. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Federal Cave Resources Protection Act of 1988 (the Act) (16 U.S.C. 43014309, 102Stat. 4546) became law on November 18, 1988. The purpose of the Act is to secure, protect, and preserve signifi c ant caves on Federal lands for the perpetual use, enjoyment, and benefit of all, and to foster increased cooperation and exchange of information between governmental authorities and those who utilize caves located on Federal lands for scientific, educational, or recreational purposes. The Act states that it is the policy of the United States that Federal lands be managed in a manner that protects and maintains, to the extent practical, significant caves. The Act also requires the Secretary of the Interior to issue such regulations as he deems necessary to achieve the purposes of the Act on Department of the Interior-administered Federal lands. The regulations are required to include, but need not be limited to, criteria for the identification of significant caves. 37.2 Policy. It is the policy of the Secretary that Federal lands be managed in a manner which, to the extent practical, protects and maintains significant caves and cave resources. 37.4 Definitions. (a) Authorized officer means any agency employee delegated the authority to perform the duties described in this part. (b) Cave means any naturally occurring void, cavity, recess, or system of interconnected passages beneath the surface of the earth or within a cliff or ledge (including any cave resource therein, but not including any vug, or any mine, tunnel, aqueduct, or other man-made excavation), and which is large enough to permit an individual to enter, whether or not the entrance is naturally formed or man-made. Such term shall include any natural pit, sinkhole, or other feature that is an extension of a cave entrance. (c) Cave resources means any material or substance occurring naturally in caves on Federal lands, such as animal life, plant life, paleontological resources, cultural resources, sediments, minerals, speleogens, and speleothems. February 1992 The TEXAS CAVER 17


BLMUPDATE (d) Caver means a person who explores, maps, studies, and/or investigates cave areas for recreational reasons or to promote general knowledge of the resources present. (g) Significant cave means a cave located on Federal lands that has been evaluated by the authorized officer and determined to have biotic, cultural, mineralogic, paleonto logic, geologic, hydrologic, or other resources that have important value for scientific educational, or recreational purposes. 37.11 Identification and designation of significant caves. (c) Criteria for the Identification ofSignificant Caves: A significant cave on Federal lands shall possess one or more of the following features, characteristics, or values, which are deemed by the authorized officer to be unusual, significant, or otherwise meriting special management. (1) Biota: The cave provides habitat for cave-dependent organisms or animals. The cave contains species or subspe cies of flora or fauna that are native to caves, occur in large numbers or variety, are sensitive to disturbance, or are found on State or Federal sensitive, threatened, or endangered species lists. (2) Cultural: The cave contains historic properties or archaeological resources (as described in 36 CFR 60.4 and 43 CFR 7.3) that are eligible for or listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (3) Geologic/Mineralogic/Paleontologic: The cave pos sesses one or more of the following features: (i) Geologic or mineralogic features that are fragile or outstanding, or that are useful for study. (ii) Deposit of sediments or features useful for evaluat ing past events. (iii) Paleontologic resources with potential to contribute important scientific information. (4) Hydrologic: The cave is a part of a hydrologic system or contains water that is important to humans, biota, or development of cave features. (5) Recreational : The cave provides or could provide recreational opportunities by virtue of challenge or scenic values. (6) Educational or Scientific: The cave offers opportu nities for educational or scientific use; or, the cave is virtually in a pristine state, lacking evidence of human disturbance or impact; or, the length, volume, total depth, pit depth, height, or similar measurements are worth of note. 37.12 Confidentiality of Cave Information. (a) No Department of the Interior employee shall dis close information concerning the location of any significant cave or cave that has been nominated as significant as to which final determination is pending unless an authorized officer has determined, based on information received under paragraph (b) of this section that disclosure would contribute to the protection and responsible use of the cave and cave resources, and will not create a substantial risk of harm, theft, or destruction of cave resources. (b) A written requestto view information about a signifi cant cave by a Federal or State governmental agency, bona fide educational or research institute, or individual, or orga nization assisting with cave management activities, will be considered when the following information is submitted to the authorized officer: (1) A signed letter specifying the cave information requested. (2) Name, address, and telephone number of the indi vidual responsible for the security of the information re ceived. (3) A legal description of the area for which the informa tion is sought. ( 4) The purpose for which the information is sought, and (5) Written assurances and evidence that the requesting party will adequately protect the confidentiality of the infor mation and ensure the protection of the significant cave(s) from vandalism or unauthorized use. CAVING on Public Land Provided by Michael Bilbo Cave Specialist BLMRoswell, New Mexico The Roswell District oft he Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages three million acres of public land in southeast New Mexico. Field offices are located in Carlsbad (Carlsbad Resource Area) and Roswell (Roswell Resource Area). Hidden beneath the surface of these lands are hundred of caves and shelters. All caves managed by BLM are consid ered wild caves, meaning that they have not been developed with artificial lights or paved trails. Every cave is unique and offers a different recreational experience to the cave visitor The caves vary in size from a single room to complex, multi-level mazes, and room passageways totallingjust a few feet to several miles. Caves of national and intemationai significance are located on BLM administered lands. Caves in the area occur in gypsum, limestone, or lava flows. Caves in gypsum contain few, if any, formations but offer a challenge in their often lengthy passages. These caves are subject to flooding during heavy precipitation. Delicate speleothems can be seen in some of the many limestone caves. In the lava flow near Carrizozo, several lava tubes and fissures lie waiting to be explored. A few caves in the district are vertical caves where ropes and special equip ment are needed to negotiate drops. Most, however, are horizontal and may involve some crawling or squeezing through narrow passages. Here is a list of some of the more popular caves: 18 The TEXAS CAVER February 1992


BLMUPDATE Carlsbad Area Parks Rand Cave Extensive gypsum cave with a stream, lakes, and many entrances McKittrick Cave Several entrances and a maze area. Sand Cave Complex limestone cave Endless Cave-Complex, multi-level. Yellowjacket Cave-Extensive maze, much crawling, closed in summer to protect a bat nursery. Doc Brito Cave-Vertical, 35-foot drop in rear. Lair Cave Small limestone cave Lost Cave Small, with prehistoric cave painting repli cas, guide required Big Manhole and Little Manhole Caves Vertical en trance drops of 40 and 50 feet. Hick's (Wind) Cave-Multi-level, requires a handline limited access. Roswell Area Little Angora Goat Cave Limestone maze cave Fort Stanton Cave Strenuous because of its length Seasonally closed because of hibernating bats or flood ing. Blue Tick Cave Small limestone cave. Com Sink Hole-Vertical, 65-foot drop at entrance. Crystal Caverns Complex gypsum cave with several entrances. Note: Written permission from the BLM must be obtained b e fore entering many of the caves listed above. Inquire at the nearest BLM office for details. Why Some Caves Are Gated Among the many caves on public land, some contain unusual or delicate formations, rare animals or other items that could be damaged or might be removed if left unpro t e c ted Others have potential safety problemssteep drops or unstable ceilings. BLM has installed gates on these caves Gates provide protection for the resource and the public, while still allowing for recreational use through the registration process Some caves may be closed during certain seasons because of hazards s u c h as flooding or to avoid disturbing a colony of bats during c r i tical periods of their life. For Your Safety Caves are unfamiliar territory to most people. A few precautions can make for a more enjoyable trip and help avoid accidents Never enter a cave alone. Three people is a safe minimum group. Carry three reliable sources of light per person. Wear a sturdy hard hat. A chin strap will keep your hat on your head. Tell someone who is staying outside where you are going and when you expect to return. Watch for snakes near cave entrances Also recommended: Carry plenty of drinking water. Wear non-skid, non-marking boots, kneepads, and pro tective clothing. Cave Conservation Caves are a unique and non-renewable resource. Any damage which occurs today is considered permanent. You can help protect these underground wonders by Caving Softly. This means watching where your hands and feet are placed to avoid damaging formations, obeying the maximum group size limit, remaining on any marked trails and using non-marring footwear (light colored soles) Some caves are confusing. So it is a good idea to have someone along who knows the cave. If you must mark your way, use small rock cairns and dismantle them on the way out. In consideration of others, please lock any gates behind you as you enter and leave a cave. Pack out all trash and spent carbide. The caves visited may be important habitat for delicate or unusual forms oflife that need to be protected. Bats are not to be feared. Like other wild animals, bats will not harm you if left alone. For More Information Contact either of the following offices to obtain more information or cave entry applications, or to report cave vandalism Carlsbad Resource Area 101 E. Mermod Street P.O Box 1778 Carlsbad, NM 88220 505-887-6544 Roswell Resource Area Federal Building P.O. Box Drawer 1857 Roswell, NM 88202 505-624-1790 VALLEY OF FIRES Information From BLM Recently, the BLM acquired Valley of Fires Recreation Area, which was formally Valley of Fires State Park (New Mexico) Valley of Fires is located in the Malpais Lava Field four miles west of Carrizozo on U.S. Highway 380 and has an elevation of 5,250 feet. The Malpias has always fascinated travelers crossing the north end of White Sands Missile Range. This sea of broken and twisted lava with lush vegetation always entices people to stop The malpais is also one of the youngest and best preserved lava fields in the U.S. Because of its unusual scenic and scientific features, the 463acre tract was dedicated and maintained as a New Mexico state park since 1966. Because of budgetary constraints the New Mexico State Parks and Recreation Commission deeded the park back to the U S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management. Facilities include : (1) 20 pull-through sites with picnic shelter and water; (2) five sites have electrical RV hookups; (3) Barbecue grills at each location; (4) comfort station with (Continued on p. 21) February 1992 The TEXAS CAVER 19


I Did WHAT IS A CAVE AND THE CAVE ENVIRONMENT? By Victor Polyak INTRODUCTION The cave environment is not often a subject of discus sion. This might be because the study of caves and the cave environment is a relatively new science or maybe we are just satisfied with what has been written. The following defini tions and discussion are presented in hopes of creating an awareness of the cave env i ronment as a subject matter, and also to emphasize the relationship between the cave and cave environment. Something as seemingly trivial as the definition of a cave can be a subject worthy of at least moderate discussion and debate, depending on how the cave is going to be used. Attention to the subject of the cave environment might give us a better perspective of that environment the next time we are in it. The science dealing with caves and the cave environment will help us focus on the uniqueness. The uniqueness gives the cave environment its importance as a natural laboratory as well as making it a place of fascinations. So just what is a cave? DEFINITION OF A CAVE The definition of a cave is "any natural subterranean cavity, fissure, or tube which is man-size or larger and which extends past the twilight zone. "Ill No formal definition of the twilight zone has yet been found by the author. The above definition of a cave is very good, and is no doubt the caver's definition ; however it could slightly limit the significance and uniqueness of caves and the cave environment. Many karst f e atures and grottos, while not caves by definition, have physical deposits and biota characteristic of caves and they are so closely related to the cave environment that they should be included. For instance I doubt any significant difference could be found between a grotto 80 meters in length and a cave (very similar to the grotto) 90 meters in length having 10 meters of dark zone. Also, many grottos and karst features contain deposits indicating that a much larger more extensive cave system formerly existed. They hold clues as to pre existing cave environments and the natural evolution of caves. Other definitions for a cave are very similar. These are as follows: A natural cavity recess, chamber, or series of chambers and galleries beneath the surface of the earth, within a mountain, a ledge of rocks, etc. ; or an underground opening generally produced by solution of limestone large enough to be entered by a man.121 A natural underground room or series of rooms and pa s sages large enough to be entered by a man.[3] A natural cavity below the surface of the earth, large enough to enter, with some portion in essentially total darkness.I4 J A natural underground chamber or series of cham bers open to the surface JSJ Definitions suggesting that a cave should go beyond the twilight zone into a zone of total darkness, or that a cave must form by solution, seem to be somewhat narrow. The defini tion of a cave should be broad enough to allow a complete relationship with the cave environment. A definition for the cave environment is needed. THECA VE ENVIRONMENT In the geological sense, an environment is defined as a geographical area with a particular set of physical, chemical, and biological variables. The cave environment can be defined as a geographical area (the cave) having a unique set of physical, biological and chemical processes that are intimately related to a physical deposit or biotic community within that geographical area. The cave environment can be categorized according to the host rock in which the cave was formed i.e., limestone dolostone, gypsum, sandstone, talus basalt, or marble The cave environment can be split into zones, such as the twilight zone, the middle zone of complete darkness and variable temperature and the zone of complete darkness and constant temperature in the deep interior.l61 Moore and SullivanPI separate the biotic cave environment into zones and stratigraphy : ( 1) the entrance zone; (2) the twilight zone; (3) the dark zone; (4) the ceiling; (5) the wall ; and (6) the floor. In general, the cave environment is a geographical area consisting of unique physical, chemical and biotic parameters It is tempting to categorize the cave environment into zones such as those introduced above. This could include four zones: (1) an entrance zone; (2) twilight zone; (3) intermedi ate (transition) zone; and (4) a quiescent zone The entrance zone would be that portion of a cave receiving direct sunlight, and the twilight zone would be that portion of cave receiving indirect sunlight. Both of these would be very high energy zones in terms of solar radiation, temperature fluctuation air circulation, and biotic activity. The intermediate (transition) zone is that portion of a cave having total darkness and considered moderate to high energy. This would be any area linking the twilight zone with the quiescent (deep) zone. The quiescent zone is that portion of a cave where the biota and deposits are the results of very low energy regimes. Thi s would be areas where air circulation is not easily measured Very delicate speleothems, such as long soda straws or abundant eccentrics may be indicative of the quiescent zone. The assumption is that each zone has unique processes related to particular physical deposits or biotic communities. Of course, it is more complicated than the scenario presented. There is overlap, and there are many exceptions because ther e are many kinds of caves. CONCLUSION In conclusion, if the cave environment can be defined as a geographical area (the cave) having a unique set of physical (Continued on p 21) 20 The TEXAS CAVER February 1992


(Cave -Continued from p. 20) biological, and chemical processes that are intimately related to a physical deposit or biotic community within that geographical area, then the definition of a cave is simply that geographical area. That geographical area should not be restricted to include a dark zone, nor should it be restricted to having a natural entrance. Perhaps a cave should be defined as a natural cavity or recess large enough for human occupation and (x) times longer than the maximum diameter of its largest entrance if there is a natural entrance. The variable (x) could be suggested as having a value less than five. This definition would include those small crawl holes that might have dark zones within meters of the entrance and large "caves" with very large entrances and consisting of hundreds of meters of entirely entrance and twilight zone. It would also include caves without natural entrances that have no entrance or twilight zone. The sole purpose of such a definition is to relate the uniqueness of the cave environment with the cave. More practically, maybe the definition of a cave should vary to fit each region containing caves. REFERENCES 1. Hill, C., Forti, P., Cave Minerals of The World, NSS, Huntsville, AL, 1986, 238 p. 2. AGI Dictionary of Geological Terms, Anchor Press, Garden City, NY, 1976,472 p. 3. Monroe, W., "A Glossary of Karst Terminology," Geological Survey Water Supply, Paper 1899-K, 1970, 26 p. 4. Halliday, W ., American Caves and Caving, Harper and Row Publish ers, NY, 1972, 348 p. 5. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, Merriam-Websterlnc., Springfield, MA, 1983, 1563 p. 6. Poulson, T., White, W., "The Cave Environment," Science, Vol. 165, 1969, pp. 971-981. 7. Moore, G., Sullivan, G.N., Speleology, The Study of Caves, Cave Books, St. Louis, MO., 1978, 150 p. TCMA REPORT TO THE MEMBERS Prepared By Mike Walsh February 1, 1992 It was a good year in 1991 for T exas Cave Management Association (TCMA), and the planning done will make 1992agreatyear. The year started in January with the TSA Business Meeting being held at the Whirlpool Cave Preserve. Over 100 cavers were introduced to the property. A total of $600 was raised for the TSA. Amazing Maze Cave came under TCMA management, and we had a wine and cheese party in the cave. The cave now has almost 30,000 feet of passage, and there is more to map. A clean-up trip will be held February 21-23, 1992, and everyone is welcome. The Midland cavers will be working with the TCMA February 1992 on the project. Our finances are in much better shape. We now have ten publications available for sale. The T-shirts and the Bat Wind Chimes have helped our fund raising efforts. The Richmond Area Speleological Society gave us a $2,500 grant to assist in our cave management efforts. The TCMA was requested to assist in the gating ofWurzbach Bat Cave. In one day, three gates were installed. The TCMA provided a $300 grant to assist in purchasing materials. The 1991 TCMA Report was presented at the TSA Winter Meeting in San Saba, February 1, 1992. (Continued on p. 25) The TEXAS CAVER FER-DE-LANCE (fair duh LAHNSS) By Oren Tranbarger Some time ago, someone told me about the deadly fer-de-lance snake that lives in Mexico and how a Texas caver almost stepped on one in a trail. This snake looks similar to a rattlesnake with out a rattler and allegedly lives in the area around Valles where all the good deep pits are. The snake is so deadly that antivenom would have to be taken al most immediately. The problem with the antivenom is that it has to be kept refrigerated, an impossibility on a cav ing trip. On our recent trip to El S6tano, I brought up the subject. At that time, I did not even know how to spell the name. When I returned home, I found the following description of this snake in The World Book Encyclopedia (World Book, Childcraft International, Inc., 1978). The "fer-de-lance is one of the largest and deadliest of the poisonous snakes. It lives in tropical North and South America. It has velvety scales, marks of rich brown and gray, and a yellowish throat. The fer-de-lance lives in both wet and dry places in forests as well as open country. It eats birds and small animals. There may be over 60 young snakes in one brood. The baby snake is about one foot long. It has fully formed fangs at birth, and can give a poisonous bite. It may grow to be 8 feet long. Its name is French and means lance head." The bottom line to this story is if you are bitten, make peace with your maker quickly because you will die! (Valley-Continued from p. 19) hot and cold water and flush toilets; (5) no showers; (6) RV dump station; and (7) group picnic shelter is available by reservation. In addition to these facili ties, there is a 1.2-mile Mal pais Nature Trail. The trail provides a close-up look at the lava surface. Trail guides are available at the trailhead near the group shelter. Food, gas, and amenities can be obtained in nearby Carrizozo. For more information about caves in the Valley of Fires, contact the Roswell BLM office listed on p. 19. 21


SURVEYING TIPS Uy Oren Tranbarger INTRODUCTION Surveying is a us e ful way to make an important contribution to speleol ogy Therefore I purchased a set of prismatic Suunto instruments (clinom eter and compass) sometime ago but found a problem in reading the scales because of bifocals This problem has been solved by patience practice, and enhancing the instruments. In investi gating surveying, information was lack ing on practical techniques and on the simpl e math This short article de scribes the enhancements made to the instruments and fills in the information gap encountered particularly on the mathematical calculations and the ge ometry of the problem THE SURVEYING PROBLEM Figure 1 shows a typical surveying problem involving two reference points r1 and r 2 In the example, a passage is being surveyed that has a high ceiling. The probl e m is to determine the lateral distance (X) and the elevation difference (Z) between the two reference points and the height of the ceiling (H) above the second reference point. In the example h1 is an offset used at the instrument reference point; h 2 is an offset used for supporting the light at the second reference point. (In actual surveying h1 and h 2 can b e equal, unequal, or zero.) To calculate X, Z, and H it is necessary to measure R0 9, h1 and h 2 The distance R o is measured by stretching the tape between the offset points along ray-path R0 The inclination angle (9) is then m e asured using a clinometer. To determine the ceiling height, a light is used to illuminate a spot on the ceiling and the second inclination angle is determined by using a clinometer. The desired distances are calculated from the expressions at the right (and above). These expressions hold for any uplooking or downlooking angle. It is important to use the proper sign for the angles. A downlooking angle is negative; an up looking angle is positive 22 Illustration By Blake Barr Figure 1. Typical Survey Problem And Geometry When a negative inclination angle occurs Z will be negative. Note: In using the expressions below, the inclination angle (9) must be measured clearly read In this case, the sightin g hairline must be aligned with sighting marks on the instrument and the poin t being observed. A stabilizing platform ....-------------------., or a theodolite approach can ( 1 ) overcome the sighting problem X Rocose; = z = H = M = Rosine + Llh; sinS] + h 2 ; and hi -h2. (2) described. In reading the compass or fabricating a (3) stabilizing platform, objects (4) (including lights and ey e glasses) near the compass mus t along ray-path R0 For example, ifRo is measured directly between the reference points without any offsets and unequal offsets are then used for sighting the inclination angle, then the geometry of the problem changes drastically, and the expressions for X, Z, and H become much more complicated as shown in the box on page 25. INSTRUMENT ENHANCEMENTS Usually, instruments are read by holding them close to the cheek while sighting through one eye. With some types of glasses such as bifocals, the instruments must be held slightly away from the eye before the scale can be The TEXAS CAVER be made from nonferrous materials. Although a stabilizing platform has bee n found useful many stations in caves are unique and may not be amenable for using a platform. In such cases, t h e instruments must be held and read as accurate! y as possible in the conventional manner. Tripod Mounts Figure 2 on the following pa g e shows various enhancements develope d for the clinometer, compass, and light source. The basic platform used for mounting the instruments and light i s the Ultra pod II, available at most camer a shops. This small tripod is constructe d February 1992


F igure 2. Instrument Enhancements from plastic and aluminum parts and is idea l for the application. The Ultrapod I (which is smaller) also can be used e ffectively Swivel Ball Mounts Although the Ultrapod II has a s wive l capability, camera swivel ball mounts provide greater measurement precision. Generally swivel ball mounts have ferrous parts and snap together via Q n internal locking ring. The swivel ball mount shown in Figure 2 originally contained a small ferrous spring that had to be removed. This was accomplished by s crewing a l/4-20 bolt through the bottom forcing the unit apart. The snap ring was plastic and was not really damaged. After removing the ferrous spring the mounts were reassembled and showed no deflection effects on the c o mpass. M odification Of The Compass The compass was modified by attac hing three l/4-20 nylon nuts to the unit: one on each side, and one on the bottom. Epoxy was used for this purpose, but not just any type of epoxy. The 5minute stuff was first tried which proved unreliable. The nuts detached with use. To se cure the nylon nuts permanently, use JB Weld, which is available in auto p:-trts stores. This recommendation from Blake Barr proved highly successful. The nuts allow the compass to be m o unted in any desired position. As February 1992 shown in figure 2, the compass is suspended horizontally from the right edge. By tilting, the compass can be aligned accurately on apoint(upward or downward) and then rotated to a horizontal position for the final reading The rotational error (1/4-tum or less) on the threads (on the swivel ball mount) is several orders of magnitude less than all other measurement errors. Modification Of The Clinometer The clinometer was modified by using two l/4-20 nylon nuts. One was epoxied on the back of unit at the rotational center; the other was on the bottom of the unit. The mounting position on the back of the instrument is preferred, since the instrument can be tilted and aligned on a point precisely. Extensions Or Offsets Sometimes, the swivel ball mounts will be used directly on the Ultrapods without offsets Other cases may require an extension or offset. Two types are shown in Figure 2: one is an aluminum bar six inches long, l-inch in diameter; the other is a 4-inch long delrin rod linch in diameter. Both extensions accommodate 1/4-20 inch threads for mounting on the Ultrapods on one end and have l/4-20 inch bolts that are captive on the other end. The 1/4-20 inch bolts are of brass. Light Source Often, the light source will be The TEXAS CAVER positioned on a reference point without any offset. Figure 2, however, shows a special holder (and offset) for a Mini Maglite light source. A l-inch diameter aluminum bar was drilled for holding the light. A l/4-20 inch brass bolt screws in from the top to clamp the body of the light securely in the holder. A special cap is installed over the lens. A pinhole is drilled in the cap, and a piece of pinkish-colored vinyl (1/16-inch thick) is used between the lens and pinhole to emit a soft pink light, which is easy to view while sighting on a point. The pinhole light source is an improvement in measuring angles. DATA COLLECTION AND SURVEYING PROCEDURES Every surveyor has a preferred manner in which to record data. The table on the following page is useful for collecting data and filling in the official survey book. The first entry to be made in the table should be the units to be used during the course of the survey In recording data specific characteristics are first noted for a given reference point, namely : (I) the distance (D) from the specified point to the floor of the cave (if applicable); (2) the distance (L) to the left wall; and (3) the distance (R) to the right wall. The Land R distances are usually measured at 90-degrees (horizontally) from the ray-path R0 After identifying the reference points (r1 and r2 ) or stations to be surveyed, azimuth or the compass heading is recorded. The inclination angle (8) is then measured using any appropriate offsets. With the offsets set up R o is measured. The offsets (h1 and h2 ) can be recorded at any time from which Llh is computed. This difference parameter can have negative values. The quantities X and Z are calculated from Equations I and 2. If this is accomplished in the cave, a small inexpensive scientific (programmable) calculator (such as the Casio fx-1 OOOF) is useful. Making the X and Z calculations in the cave also is helpful for the sketcher. If the ceiling height cannot be directly measured then a light must be used to illuminate a spot for sighting This will require using a clinometer to determine the angle sighting from 23


N -3 :><: > tl:l (i > < 61 0" 2 \0 \0 N DATE. ___ SURVEY _______________________ ___ PAGE NO. __ or __ Azimuth 9 A. h, h2 Ah X z H D L A Ref. No. (deg ) (deg.) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (deg.) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) Remarks I ? < I / t I t t / .... ............ / i l ) > H>. .. . ? . . . I / m Y . ) } ....... \ / 1 .... . . i . .. ) > > : t < 1 H i n r i t > .: < ' '.' I n < ? ) ' .. > / u ) u > > >::: H : } I S > : I ). I t I / i ( < ) > ) \ u ...... ........ .......... ................... .:.:. .:.::.:. .:.-.-. ( < > . ... > < : < [ : : \ ( . i > ; r . ? .. / I t I / I t . < : H . ............ . . ...... . :,\ >< \ ? < : : .,.,: : ,::::,:,:: :::: : ..... <<. } . > <'> : .. ) .. ( ) \ /. <::::.: : :\ ? : . ( . : i I . t . : : )?. } ) ) ::::::: ::::::::::::': ............... . .... : ...... . ..................... ........ . : : : : t ) ) ... i n t t }} t } :::::::::::::: I H : ) . . ) : ,::,::::,,. ) .: ... n : > ) t . ) .. : II i } .... ) } c j) JT?WTI!T } : : : .... ) : : : } :::: ... ... . I ....................... ..................... ) . H it I I I : I :::::: t I } ....................... t: I : {: : t \ : > < ... i n:. m J I ? ) i I : I Team Compass Type Serial No .. ____ Clinometer Type Serial No.


the appropriate reference point. After each set of readings, instruments are moved to another set of reference points to repeat the data collection process. In moving forward along a survey line, it is sometimes necessary to backsight the azimuth. This extra step will require more time and may not be worth it if the platforms are used to increase the survey accuracy. Also, with available cave mapping software, any incorrect survey points can be identified easily and resurveyed if necessary. ALTERNATE GEOMETRY AND CALCULATIONS Figure 3 shows the alternate geometry of the surveying problem, which is more complex than presented in the main discussion. In this example, the station-to-station distance (S) is measured directly at the reference points. As previsously discussed, Ro was measured from the offset points. In this alternate example, the inclination angle i s sighted by using the offsets as was the case presented in the main discussion. In this more complex example, Ro is a function of S, 8, h,, and h2 The expressions below apply to the alternate geometery. Figure 3. Alternate Surveying Geometry (5) X = {(S2 -(Ml)2(cos8)2 ]112-(Ml)sin8}cos8; (6) Z = { [S2 (Ml)2(cos8)2] 112 (Ml)sin8} sinS+ Llh; and (7) H = { [S2 (Llh)2(cos8)2 ] 2 (Ml)sin8 }[ cos8tanj3sinS] + h2 (8) (TCMA Continued from p. 21) We provided a continental breakfast for the meeting. In 1992, TCMA will provide more acces to caves. We have been in contact with Peter Marsh of the City of Austin concerning a contract to monitor the 30 or more caves under their control. New caves are being discovered on their property every month. Before the contract can be signed, we must increase our liability m s urance. The TCMA is in contact with several cave owners concerning the donation or sale of their caves to the TCMA. Things are going well on several fronts, but these things move slowly. Several cavers have offered to purchase caves if a deal can be made. February 1992 The TCMA will be in good shape to promote responsible cave manage ment at conferences. We have acquired a table-top slide projector, and we are working on several slide programs. We have a mobile 12 x 6 foot display. Things may be going better with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Depart ment. Kickapoo Caverns is available for recreational caving if you have a $25 conservation passport. We have been promised recreational access to Colo rado Bend State Park soon. TSA and TCMA members are going to install a gate in Gonnan Falls Cave. A large new cave has even been found at the Hill Country Park. Our new Board of Advisors has already started producing results. The The TEXAS CAVER Illustration By Blake Barr Wray Trust of Houston must have been impressed by the board because a $1,000 grant was provided for Whirlpool Cave Preserve. We will purchase a riding lawn mower for use on the 4.24 acres. We are in contact with several agencies concerning cave management agreements. We hope to assist them in the management of their caves. The TCMA will need assistance from local cavers when these contracts are signed. The Simon Lakeline Mall projects of Austin is in the final stages of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department approval. The TCMA will sign a contract to moni tor five endangered species caves. Mike Warton is the project manager. This contract will bring in $2,000 a year for the next 30 years. The Edwards Water District and the Barton Springs Water District are acquiring recharge caves. We hope to work with them in the management of these caves. The Texas Nature Conser vancy plans to acquire Texas bat caves. We are in contact with them and hope to assist in their efforts. The TCMA Texas Bat Cave Owner publication will be ready in time for the NSS Convention. Jay Jorden really turned out the text that day in (Continued on p. 27) 25


BOOK REVIEWS By Bill Mixon The Darkness Beckons, The History and Development of Cave Diving, by Martyn Farr, Diadem, London, 1991, 280 pp Order from Cave Books, St. Louis Hardbound: $35. Postage and handling : extra. Martyn Farr has expanded and updated the earlier, 1980 edition of this book, and it has doubled in size. He covers the history of cave diving from Norbet Casteret's free dives in 1922 through early dives with equipment that fed air to the diver from the surface, and on to the days of rebreathers and the modern scuba equipment. Rebreathers recycled the diver's air and only a small amount of oxygen had to be added to replace exhaled carbon dioxide that was chemically absorbed in the appara tus. Th ey were, however, cumbersome and unreliable and by the middle six ties, they had been entirely superseded, even in Britain, by the familiar scuba tanks. Ironically, modernized rebreathers are today being considered for very long or deep dives, where the waste of air inherent in scuba is a seri ous obstacle. The majority of the book is about British cave diving, which is covered in considerable detail. This coverage is amazingly up-to-date; it includes the connection between the Kingsdale sys tem and King Pot, which I had read about in a magazine barely a month before I got a copy of the book. There is some evidence that this news was included hastily, however. That con nection is referred to in the previous paragraph as something for future gen erations. There arc about 100 pages about cave diving in the rest of the world, and coverage is less detailed, although I cannot think of any very major explora tions that I have read about elsewhere that ar c not mentioned here. NSS diver and Bicking laureate Sheck Exley has more entries in the index than anyone else. The news that Sistema Naranjal in Mexico is now the world s longest un derwater cave did not quite make it, but 26 that just proves that cave diving is still adynamic field, with new discoveries or records every few months Nearly every page contains a black and-white photograph, and there are about four dozen color photos. The maps, many of which are extended pro files of sumps, together with very clear writing, make it easy to follow the often lengthy history of cave diving in various caves. The very small-scale maps of major cave systems that have been inte grated by diving could have used some clue as to which of the passages are underwater, however. Most cavers know far too little of the story of cave diving, and they should read this book. In fact, I would recom mend this fine book to anyone, caver or not, who likes to read about exploration. The frontiers of underwater cave explo ration today are as challenging, if not more so, as the conquests of the sea, the mountains and the arctic, and the his tory of cave diving is happening now. AMCS Activities Newsletter, Number 18, Edited by Partricia Kambesis, Asso ciation for Mexican Cave Studies, 1991, 112 pp Order from AMCS, Box 7672, Austin, Texas 78713 Hardbound : $14.00. Postage and Handling: $4.00. The big room in Kijahe Xontjoa, Oaxaca, is entered by a small window high on one wall, from which powerful electric lights show nothing in any di rection. The room is 100 meters high, and there is a 150-meter pit in its floor. In northern chiapas, Sima de Abuelo Ray is an 80-meter blind pit. Sima de Ia Cerca has a 70-meter entrance pit and a total depth of 106 meters. These two caves are so close together, they can both be rigged with one rope. These are the sorts of things one expects to find in any new issue of the AMCS Activities Newsletter. This issue contains over a dozen reports on projects and expeditions in Mexico, including work by Brits and Australians and an article on the con nection of Cenote Naharon to Cenote Maya Blue, making a system nearly five kilometers long, all underwater. There are a couple of articles on the geology of major caving areas in Oaxaca, nearly a 100 cave maps, and numerous photos. The TEXAS CAVER Blind White Fish In Persia, by Anthony Smith, Penguin, London, 1990 (reprint of the 1953 edition, with a new postscript), 243 pp. Softbound: $8.95. This book's relationship to caving is a bit tenuous, but it is almost unheard of for any caving book to be so highly thought of as literature that it is reprinted by a major publisher after 40 years. In 1950, three Oxford University students bought a war-surplus 3/4-ton truck and drove to Persia, hoping to discover the first cave fish in Eurasia, which were rumored to live in theqanats, extensive tunnels dug into the hills to collect and channel ground water to towns and villages. The book is the well-told story of their trip and their underground explorations in the qanats, in the days when three Englishmen could drive from Beirut through Damascus and Baghdad to Tehran without getting kidnapped. They did not find any blind white fish, but in the postscript, Smith tells of finding a new species of cave fish in a Persian spring 25 years later. Lava Beds Cave, by Charlie and Jo Larson, published by the authors, Vancouver, Washington, 1990, 56 pp. Order from the NSS Bookstore. Softbound : $4.50. Postage and Handling: $2.00 This is a nice little guidebook to the caves of Lava Beds National Monu ment in extreme northern California The bulk of the book is descriptions and nice maps of the most popular lava-tube caves. There is brief introductory text about the formation of lava tubes and caving safety and conservation. Ther e are black-and-white photos on mos t pages. The book ends with a glossary and a short bibliography, plus a key to map symbols that should have been earlier in the book, so the non-caver reader would know what all those numbers in circles mean. The NSS is mentioned, but the organization whose address is given for further information is something called the Western Speleo logical Survey, which consists, as nearly as can be determined, of Charlie Larson and Bill Halliday. This booklet is a lot less thorough. of course, than the recently published U S. Geological Survey bulletin on the February 1992


same subject, and the maps are less detailed and have a smaller scale. But it also is a good bit cheaper and more readily available, and visitors to the park, including traveling cavers, will find it a lot more convenient as a guide book. Even if you are not planning on visiting the area, I would recommend the book as an introduction to a type of cave that is unfamiliar to a lot of cavers. (El S6tano -Continued from p. 8) Mechanical problems were en c o untered in getting the van back to the s utes. On Don Broussard's return trip, a H i ef stole his helmet and canteen while h was camping for the night on the road t El Pach6n, a few miles south of El i 1ra pass. (' roken Ankle-Continued from p. 8) and night club on the main t 1 g in Valles. We spent the night 1 sting the success of the expedition to )6tano. Charley and Glen left Friday 1 ming for the return trip to the states. : rry and I also left Friday morning h the eleven Brits and other cavers r n Wichita Falls to first do a quick to Cueva de El Abra on our way 1 t h to the border. We spent about an r in the cave. Dave Jarman from don slipped and broke his right ankle I le coming down the talus slope. As e recalled the incident, he was steps down the slope when his right foot arne wedged causing him to fall. s action resulted in a compound fracjust above the right ankle and a md fracture just below the right knee. / e was unaware that there was an er trail down. A flawless rescue followed. Dave 1 ; given a pain killer. The leg was s nted, and a makeshift stretcher was f ricated from some carpet. Using a n c belay and six people on the stretcher, v slowly lowered Dave down to level g und and up into the back of a pickup. L ve was taken to a hospital in Valles w :e re surgery was necessary. No auli' J rities were ever involved. The hos p i a l was told that Dave had slipped w h ile we were having lunch on the side of the road. Dave spent a few extra days in Mexico. Bruce Freeby and Tom February 1992 Bone stayed with him to make sure he got purified water and proper food. Bruce and Tom finally drove Dave to San Antonio where he caught a flight home. (Words -Continued from p. 14) ticles to trip reports. Anyone making a caving trip can prepare a report. Texas cavers are exceptional cavers and are doing great things on worthy projects. Those with technical writing skills should keep The Texas Caver apprised of good project accomplishments and further enhance our reputation. Appreciation is expressed to all those who have made past contributions to this magazine because it has been a sacrifice. The Texas Caver constantly needs material of all kinds, and only committed cavers can provide it to keep this publication viable, diversified, and interesting. Please help If you are interested in submitting material to The Texas Caver, contact me or Keith Reuss at our respective addresses given on the inside page. Thanks, Oren Tranbarger (Pigtail -Continued from p. 16) 6. Continue rappelling on the pigtail by releasing the self-belay device. 7. Stop the rappel at neck level with the knot and tie off the rack. 8. Attach the safety about 1-foot be low the knot on the standing rope as shown in the figure (p. 16) 9. Remove the self-belay device above the knot and reposition it below the knot. 10. Remove the safety in Step 8. 11. Untie the rack in Step 7 and con tinue rappelling on the pigtail. 12. As rappelling continues, lock off the self-belay device. 13. Reattach the safety on the pigtail above the rack as shown in the figure (p.16). 14. Transfer the rack from the pigtail to the standing rope. 15. Remove the safety in Step 13. 16. Continue rappelling on the stand ing rope by releasing the self-be lay device. After completing the rappel, one of two things will happen: (1) another caver will follow; or (2) the first one to The TEXAS CAVER rappel will ascend. In the first case, the following caver would rappel down slightly above the Jumar. At this point, simply reach beiow, detach the Jumar, rappel farther down the rope, and reattach the Jumar overhead. After reattaching the Jumar, the above procedures would be repeated. If following cavers did not wish to use the pigtail, any standard technique for downclimbing over the knot could be used. On ascending, the first one up the rope would climb over the knot using any conventional technique. On the way up, the jumar and pigtail would be detached and carried to the surface. Summary The above technique for rappelling over a knot always maintains two points of contact, minimum, on the rope. With the exception of brief transfer and rappelling periods, three points of con tact are maintained. Although more steps are involved than conventional techniques, the advantages are that: (1) a sitting position can be maintained throughout the procedure; (2) no super upper body strength is needed; (3) no special climbing gear is required; and (4) the pigtail does not hamper other techniques that might be used for downclimbing. A self-belay device should be used in performing the above procedures. With practice, the pigtail technique can be accomplished quickly without much thought. (TCMA -Continued from p. 25) Dallas. The Nature Conservancy may assist in the cost of the publication. We plan to give a copy to each Texas bat cave owner. The TCMA will start a new Texas Cave Raffle at the TSA Convention. The drawing will be heldatTOTR. We will be seeking large prizes from corpo rations. We have two new publications available: An Introduction To Caving, a guide for beginners: $5; and Geology Of The Edwards Plateau And Rio Grande Plain -1897 Report: $20. The TCMA meets at Mr. Gatti's at William Cannon and IH 35 in Austin on the second Tuesday of each month. The year 1992 will be the cavers year! 27


THE TEXAS CAVER P.O. BOX 8026 AUSTIN, TEXAS 78713 BULK RATE U.S. Postage PAID Austin, Texas Permit No. 1181

Contents: Journey To
El Sotano De El Barro / Oren Tranbarger --
Broken Ankle At Cueva De El Abra / Don Denton --
The Mexican Ropewalker / Joe Ivy --
Three Fingers Cave / Larry D. Sansom --
The Survey And Restoration Or Caverns of Sonora / George
Veni --
Words From The Editor / Oren Tranbarger --
Caving History- Women Cavers / Pat Helton --
The Pigtail Knot Shunt Oren Tranbarger --
Proposed BLM Rules For Implementing The Federal Cave
Resources Protection Act Or 1988 --
Caving On Public Land Valley Or Fires --
What Is A Cave And The Cave Environment? / Victor Polyak
--TCMA Report To The Members / Mike Walsh --Fer-De-Lance / Oren
Tranbarger --
Surveying Tips / Oren Tranbarger --
Book Reviews / Bill Mixon


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