The Texas Caver

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


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Contents: Are you a "Spelunker?" / Gil Ediger -- In Search of the Origin of the Word Spelunker / Bill Mixon -- What's a Cave? -- Cave Leads Need Checking in Burnet County / Jerry Atkinson -- Texas Cave Literature from TSS -- Interview with Don Broussard / Aimee Bereridge -- Bindseil's Well / Rick Corbell -- Gunnels Cave / David Locklear -- Caverns of Sonora Restoration Project--1996 / George Veni -- Trip Reports -- 1997 TSA Convention / Gill Ediger -- Bad Air / Jim Kennedy -- Tarbuttons Cave / William Russell -- The Problems of Cave Hunting / William Russell -- Endangered Karst in the Public Eye / Kristen Tronvig John Mylroie -- Photo Tricks / John Chenger -- Trespassing / Gill Ediger -- My First Caving Trip in Mexico / Dale Barnard -- Gruta del Palmito / Jeannie Lovirig -- Caving in Chiapas / Rebecca Jones -- News Notes / Jim Kennedy -- More Trip Reports -- Book Reviews / Bill Mixon.
Open Access - Permission by Publisher
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Vol. 42, no. 03-06 (1997)
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University of South Florida Library
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K26-04721 ( USFLDC DOI )
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11455 ( karstportal - original NodeID )
0040-4233 ( ISSN )

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May-December 1997 Volume 42, Numbers 3-6 This issue of The Texas Caver was funded by the Bexar Grotto, the UT Grotto, and personal donations oftheir members. Issue Editors: Gill Ediger Rebecca Jones Jim Kennedy ProofReaders: Katie Arens Joelvy Copyright 1997 by the Texas Speleological Association Box8026 Austin, TX78713 Contents 51 Are you a "Spelunker?" G1ll Ediger In Search of the Origin of the Word Spelunker Bill Mixon 52 What's a Cave? 53 54 58 59 60 62 67 68 70 72 74 76 79 80 82 83 85 86 90 Cave Leads Need Checking in Burnet County Jerry Atkinson Texas Cave Literature from TSS Interview with Don Broussard Aimee Bereridge Bindseil's Well Rick Corbell Gunnels Cave David Locklear Caverns of Sonora Restoration Project--1996 George Veni Trip Reports 1997 TSA Convention Gill Ediger Bad Air Jim Kennedy T arbuttons Cave William Russell The Problems of Cave Hunting William Russell Endangered Karst in the Public Eye Kristen Tronvig & John Mylroie Photo Tricks John Chenger Trespassing Gill Ediger My First Caving Trip in Mexico Dale Barnard Gruta del Palm ito Jeannie Lovirig Caving in Chiapas Rebecca Jones News & Notes Jim Kennedy More Trip Reports Book Reviews Bill Mixon About the Cover Melanie Alspaugh in the Helictite Passage in Cueva del Brinco Nuevo Leon Me x ico. 1997 Spring Break trip to Proyecto Espeleologico Purificaci6n. Photo by Robin Havens The Back Cover Warclubs in the Birthday Passage of Gruta del Palmito. Photo by Andy Grubbs.


Are you a "Spelunker"? Opinion by Gill Ediger When I s tart e d cavi n g a caver was a "spe lunk er"--no d o ubt about it. A cave r i s what a spelunker i s Now, of course, we calle d ourselves covers in everyday conv e rs atio n Th e n ews p a p e r s, TV, a nd Natio nal Geographic r e f e rr e d t o earl y cavers as "s p e lunk e r s." A nd bec a us e of that the general public called them sple lunk e rs." Ca llin g ourse l ves cave r s was an ins ider code which serve d to ide ntify tho se w ho were part of th e caver community whether the y we r e cavers or not. It was sort of an uppity dege neratio n in order t o avoi d the h aug h ty so undin g s pelunk e r." R es t ass ur e d that whether th e news media and th e ge n era l publi c call u s "caver s o r "spelunkers th ey still h ave no idea w h at we really do and they s till think we a re all crazy. I noted with interest r ece ntl y that th e Nationa l Geographic Maga::ine u sed "caver" in a n article co mpl e t e l y unrelated to caving. B y way ofhistory, th e U T cavers fro m th e 1950s h a d a r e union two yea r s ago a nd in th ei r con ve r sa tion and in their correspondence th ey r e ferred to th e m se lve s and o ther cave r s pr e d o min a tel y as "spelunkers." That was not a n accident. The word "caver" h a d not quite m a d e it into the ge nr e in th e '50s. In the '60 s it was still u se d so m ew h a t int erc h a n geably Now, "spe lunk e r" h as t a ken o n severa l disparaging connot ations. One of tho se i s that "s p e lunker s" a r e th e untr a ined a nd un a ffili a ted dangerous cave damaging, doo-dah weekend noncavers. I a l so consider that it is a caver misconception that all per so n s who u se "spe lunk er" a r e dude s outside of the caving community a nd worth y of littl e respect. As I n o ted above some of th e b est "cave r s" ever t o com e o ut ofTexas (fro m th e 50s) were s pelunk e r s are "spelunkers a nd a l ways will be "spelunkers." Th a t "spelunker" h as fallen into moderate disuse d oes n o t ma ke it a word to b e s hunned. Indeed it i s very useful and I think s hould be e mpl oye d more often. Write r s will find a dearth of alte rn at i ve words for "caver "spelunker" bein g one of th e b e tt er. "Cave explorer "cave crawler" a nd "cave di gger," "speleologist "pot holer, a nd one or two o t her l esser known awkward and so mewhat s tilt e d t ern1s m a kin g up m os t of o ur options. "Spelunker" can itsel f so und a bit stilted, but p roper l y inser ted into the t ex t it can and should identify cavers w ithout r ese r vatio n as cave r s and nothin g e l se. It' s a good word w hi c h s hould b e pur ged of a n y neg ative conn o t at ion s a nd brought back int o m o r e useful service Wi\NI TCJ (:f:J ffi.\ t-A. : AKN'T Ct>..\J'tS 1-\EI

What is a "Cave?" compiled from various sources as noted Editor's Note: Ther e ha ve been man y attempts to both qualijj 1 and quantifY w hat a cave "is". As you might imagine. the d efi nitions hav e been quite varied. Thom Engel, a caver ji-om New York propos e d a definition of a cave in the March issue ofThe Northeastern Caver, a regional publication much like The TEXAS CAVER. That article prompted a lot of traffic in several publications, the Cavers' Digest, and other email nets. What follows i s a part of the discussion that ensued. Definition of a "Cave" in Texas by George Veni Texas Speleological Survey In Texas (reply to the following article--excerpted and slightly modified jiom the 17 February 1997 posting on Cavers' Digest #5429)) The Texas Speleological Survey (TSS) currently uses the following as its definition for a cave: any naturally occuring, humanly passable cavity which is at least 5 meters in length and/or depth, and no dimension of the entrance exceeds the length or depth. The "naturally occurring" and "humanly passable" parts are fairly obvious and non controversial. As for the rest originally TSS (in its pre-metric days) went for at least 25 ft long or 15 ft deep. This was felt to be rather silly since a hole is a hole no matter which angle it heads into the ground, so a single number was selected, 5 m (-15ft), and stated in such a way that, for example, a 3-m-long passage ending at a 2-m-deep pit would qualify--5 m of total extent. While many may argue that 5 m is too small, it seems to fit fairly well with our observations of the limit of occurrence ofbiological and geological phenomenon which are recognized as part of, limited to or otherwise significant to caves and their study. The last part about the entrance size is meant to exclude sinkholes, cliffside shelters scoured from stream flows etc from consideration. Of course there are always sites that seem to break whatever standard is set. For example, Mexico's El S6tano del Barro has a 41 O-m-deep pit but its 600m-long entrance would preclude its inclusion as a cave by the TSS standard. I wish El S6tano were up here so we could more conveniently conduct field investigations of our definition! As for the numberofcaves known in Texas, TSS has computerized its database, which has about 3800 features. Note, "features" not caves This includes selected sinkholes, karst springs with no known caves archaeologically significant shelters and other somewhat potentially speleologically useful and related features. Data entry is not complete so we can't yet run a filter to give a true number of known caves, but by my guess it is somewhere between 3000 and 3500 If you want the actual number soon, contact TSS and offer to help with the data entry! Definition of a "Cave" in Some Other States (lifted and modiji e djio m the Cavers Dig es t #5427) Some years back the NSS published a list of number of reported caves for each state but this list is now terribly dated and in many cases the number s need to be increased to account of newly discovered or reported caves. The recently formed Illinois Speleological Survey defines a cave as a natural cavity in the earth that is large enough for human entry for at least 20 feet. The old NSS list shows a modest 210 caves there. The Indi a na Cave Survey uses a length of25 feet or more which can be vertical, horiz o ntal or a combination of both. There are about 2500 caves in Indiana The Tennesse e Cave Survey us es a 30, 40 50 rule. That is: 30 feet for a pit 40 feet of depth or 50 feet oflength qualify it as a cave. Tennessee ha s over 7 000 caves. The TEXAS CAVER 52 Definition of a "Cave" for What? by Rane L. Curl, Ann Arbor, Michigan (from Letter to the Editor, Northeastern Caver June 1997) Thorn Engel's article, "What is a Cave?" in the March [Northeastern] Caver, purports to arrive at a "definition" of a cave that is "objective However one criterion chosen,that a "cave" be "fully enterable by an adult human" is inherently contradictory I hope we would all agree that a cave is a Geological phenomenon. Origins vary, depending on whether a cave is in rock ice or other (non organic) medium but most fundamentally, the origin of a cave is unrelated to the dimensions of an adult human. Solution caves begin by the opening of joints and bedding planes with dimensions of microns and the process continues to cave volumes with dimensions of many meters. There is certainly no geolocical transition at 0 .6 meters, or whatever one wishes to use as the size of an adult human. In addition, there are numerous collateral cave sciences that do not make this scale distinction. Cave biology for example, is the study of organisms mostly smaller than humans that occupy parts of a cave that are smaller than humans The same is true of the studies of cave hydrology or meteorology where water or air flows in conduits smaller than humans as well as tho se larger. Since there is no other term that ha s universal applicability to caves at any scale, it is presumptuous to adopt the term cave solely for a subset of interest to just human adventurers. There is, in fact no characteristic scale in caves much less a human one: caves have been shown to be fractals--geometric objects irregular at all scales. (See my 1986 paper "Fractal Dimensions and Geometries of Caves" in Mathematical Geology 18(8):765-783.) In this work it is estimated that the total volume of allnonproper cave pas sage in Pennsylvania is about the same as that of proper cave passage with or without proper entrances. Because the sizes of the non-proper cave passage are smaller the total length of non-proper cave passage is vastly greater than that of proper passage. Engel's error arises because he wishes to consider just the subset of caves that humans can enter. These now have a fonnal designation in the revised GLOSSARY OF GEOLOGY. They are called proper caves, becaus e this is the subset of caves that are given proper names. If Engel had posed the question "What is a Proper Cave?" the criterion that it is enterable by a human follows naturally However it must be recognized that while we can only enter proper caves we see everywhere in a cave continuations at scales smaller than us but which are nevertheless part of the total cave down to scales of micron s and below. The definition Engel is really seeking is one for caves he and others want to include in a database of"explorable" caves. That is a natural limit on any databas e of caves, but the definition that has to be made is not of cave but of the limits or criteria for inclusion of a cave in the database Cave Safety is NO ACCIDENT May-December 1997


TSS Cave Leads Need Checking in Burnet County by Jerry Atkinson, Texas Speleological Survey All these leads are located in Burnet County. They are Ellenburger caves and all were found on on l y one trip in 1962. They were just the caves located next to the road so there i s obvi ously a lot of potential. For conservation reasons we do not publish cave locations or cave owners names, but anyone interested in going there can contact me ( or71 3-360 2244) for directions. No one has been back since the first trip so interested persons will have to initiate landowner relations. VANN CAVE BUR047 Length : 100ft. (30m) Depth : 55 ft. (17m) Quadrangle: Gorman Falls 7.5' (?)Special Hazards: none Description: A 50ft( 15m) fissure leads into a I 00 ft(30 m) long cave co nta inin g solutional tunnels. The deepest point ofthe cave i s 55ft below the entrance. His to ry: The cave was explored on 20 January 1962 by Terry Rai n es and Jame s Reddell. V ANN FISSURE BUR048 Length: 70ft (21 m) Depth: 20ft (6 m) Quadra n gle: Gonnan Falls 7.5' (?)Special Hazards : none Descri ption: A 3ft (I m) wide, 30ft (9 m) long fissure drops 20ft (6 m) into a 50ft (15 m) long passage. History: The cave was exp l ored on 20 January 1 962 b y James Reddell. V ANN RANCH FISSURE SYSTEM NO. I I3UR049 Lengt h : + 200 ft (+60 m) Depth : 20ft (6 m) Quadrangle: Gorman Falls 7.5' (?)Special Hazards : none Description: The cave comprises a typica l fiss ur e sys tem Numerous fiss u re entrances drop 5 to 20 ft ( I 5 to 6 m ) into a series of so metimes int erconnected fissure pass ages wit h a total length of more than 200ft (60 m). History: The cave was exp l ored b y James Reddell, Terry R a in es David McKenzi e and Tom Phillip s on 20 January 1962. VANN RANCH FISSURE SYSTEM NO.2 BUR050 Length: +200 ft (+60 m) Depth : 15ft (5 m) Quadra n gle: Gorman Falls 7.5' (?)Special Haza rds : none Description : The cave compri ses a typical fis s ure system. Numerous fissure e ntrances drop 5 to 15ft ( 1.5 to 5 m ) into a series of so metimes interconnected fissure p assages with a tota l l ength of more than 200ft (60m). History: The cave was exp l ored b y Jame s Redd ell, Terry Raines, David McKenz ie a nd Tom Phillips on 20 Janu ary 1 962. V ANN RANCH FISSURE SYSTEM NO.3 BUR051 Length:+ I 00 ft (+30m) Depth: 15 ft (5 m) Quadrangle: Gorn1an Falls 7.5 (?)Special Haza rds: none Description : The cave comprises a typical fiss ure system. Numero u s.fissure entrances drop 5 to 15ft ( 1.5 to 5 m ) into a series of so metimes i nt ercon n ected fissure passage s with a tot a l length of more than I 00 ft (30m). It is l argely unexplored. History: Th e cave was exp l ored b y James Reddell on 20 January 1962. GONE GOAT GROTTO BUR015 Length: 100ft (30m) D epth: 25 ft (8 m) Quadra n gle: Gorman Falls 7 5' (?)Speci a l Haza rds: none Description: A 4ft ( 1 .2 m ) w id e, 20 ft (6 m) l o n g fissure drops 25ft (8 m) int o a 75ft (23m) long fissure passage. A dy in g goat was found in t h e bottom History: The cave was explored on 20 January 1 962 by Tom Phillips Terry R a ines James Reddell and David McKenzie. Geo l ogy: The caves are developed in either the Gorman or Tanyard Formatio n of the Ellenburger Group. Reference : J Reddell 22 January 1 962. May-December 1 997 Texas Cave Literature Available from the TSS The Caves and Karst of Texas Edited by William R. Elliott and Geoarge Veni, 1994. Nat i onal Spe l eological Survey Conve ntion Guidebook. 342 pp. + viii + 12pp. maps. $25 00 to the public $20.00 to TSA and NSS member s, plus $4.00 po stage in USA. Thi s edition was prepar ed for the 1994 NSS Co n vent ion held in Brackettville. It i s a "must have" book for any serious Texas caver. With a do ze n s heets of foldout map s as well as s maller map s a nd description s of over90 ofT ex as' most significant caves and n early as man y photographs a nd major sections on the Karst Region s of Te xas H y drogeolog y a nd Evolution of Caves a nd K arst in the Southwestern Edwards Plateau Vertebrate Paleontolo gy ofTexas Caves The Cave Fauna of Te xas, a nd a s hort addendum o n Cavi ng in Northern Mexico, thi s vo lum e can be considered t h e late st and mo st concise compendium of information on Texa s caves. This i s a fat book--mor e than three-quarters of an in c h-full ofinformation which s hould be ofinterest to T exas cavers. Don't be scared off b y the price. At $20 it is a bargain considering the amount if Texas cave d ata presented. Order yo u rs today. Geomorphology, Hydrogeology, Geochemistry, and Evolution of the Karstic Lower Glen Ro se Aquifer, South-Central T exas. George Veni TSS Monograph I 41 Opp. $35 00, p l us $4.00 postage in USA. Monograph I is Dr. George Veni's doctoral disse rtation completed a t the Penn sy l van i a State Un i vers i ty in 1994 It exa min es aquifer and cave d eve l opment in the Lower Glen Rose Aquifer within Bexar, Coma! a n d Kendall Co unties where many of the l ongest caves in Te xas occur. Thi s publicat i on will be of interest to not on l y geoscie ntist s and cave exp l orers but to p l anners administators educators, a nd citizens who man age or depend on the Lower G l en Rose Aquifer -which i s a s tate desi g n ated crit i cal water resourc e of limited supp l y th a t is experiencing rapid l y increasin g demand. This report include s ex ten s i ve appe n dices w i th cave, well, spring, water level water quality an d other appe ndice s. Due to the lik e l y intere s t among nong eo l og i sts a n extensive glossary has been added b y the author to thi s reforn1atted edition. 53 The TSS has a new address! See the block below to order items from the TSS office. Th e Texas Spe l eologica l S u rvey maintains fil es of caves and cave resources in Te xas You a r e urged to s ubmit cave report s and photos to the TSS Volunteers are need e d to file draft map s, e nt e r data a nd do other arc hiv a l chores. For more informatio n : Texas Speleological SuNey PRC 176 / R4000 Austin Te x as78712-1100 TSSOffice : 512-475-8802 The TEXAS CAVER


An Interview with Don Broussard by Aimee Beveridge On a cold Februw y day I got to experience the wild adventures of a world class caver. I haven't spent a lot of time hanging out with grizzled caver types so I wasn't sure what to expect or even what to ask, but there I was sitting at Ediger's house with Don and a tape recorder, as Gill's int e rrogation styl e of questioning began. There had been a lot of water under the bridge and there was still a lot of ground to cover. So I listened intently as Don modestly described storiesofneardeath and survival and great adventures and accomplishments. This is how it went --AB TC--How did you get your first caving experience and how old were you? DB--Snelling Cave, close to Spicewood was my first cave. I went there several times while in high school with some friends. I lived in Houston at the time and joined the NSS as a young high schooler. Oh yeah, I went to Bustamante and Muzquis while still in Houston. TC--Who did you cave with back then? DB-David Honea and several other "hanger-oners" caved together. When l went to the University of Arkansas to study EE, I joined the Arkansas Speleological Society and met David Taylor who served as my mentor. We did all the big Arkansas caves, including Fitton Cave. TC--How did you end up in Austin? DB--I found out that most of the big Mexico expeditions were run out of Austin, so I decided to transfer toUT in 1968. At first I continued to study EE before trying a year of geology and finally switching to Math. I spent most of my time caving. Being a part of the UT Grotto allowed me to be a very active caver during that time and continue to increase at the maximum level of my abilities. At that time I felt as if! was one of the youngest of the original "old cavers" when l was 20. I felt that there was a generation gap with the other cavers in the group who were much younger (laughs). TC--So who did you cave with and where in Mexico did you go? DB--Most of the Mexico trips back then were to Sierra de El Abra and Huautla. In 1968 I went to Huautla for the first time with Mike Collins, David Honea, Mary & John Fish and a van of Canadians. I went again in 1969 and only did S6tano de San Agustin. The Canadians had established Camp I and were pushing in the Lower Fissure Series into the lower levelsofthecave. l remember Mike's pickup had a plywood camper shell that had been built by T R. Evans and was painted fancy psychedelic colors at the 1968 NSS Convention in Springfield, Missouri, earlier that summer. When we tried to cross the border we were turned back because of the camper shell, so we had to paint over all the fancy artwork to cross into Mexico Back then I used to have to stuff my pony-tail into a short haired wig so I could get a tourist card. La Grieta was also done in 1968 with Mike Collins, Mary Fish, and David Honea On that trip l had diarrhea for three days really bad, so l only went to the entrance of the cave and didn't take any vertical gear. l was a cting as the rope guard for the cave while the others went down. As l waited the local Mazatecs came out to stare at me from the com fields. l was surrounded by short men in white clothes with machetes passing cigarettes around watching the foreigner fora good long while. Later in the day three men from another Municipio arrived. The Mazatecs seemed to freeze when they saw what appeared to be three big bullies arrive. The bullie s would not speak to me in Spanish but spoke in Mazatec only. In the meantime l noticed that the rope was moving (indicating that someone was climbing) sol looked down the shaft to see who was on rope. Then The TEXAS CAVER 54 Don Broussard seeking sustenance beside Pheaux-Pheaux, Terry Raines' inimitable speleotruck in San Agustfn, Oaxaca, near Huautla, in 1969. Ediger photo I saw the rope suddenly whiz past me, and I turned around to see all thirteen of the Mazate cs hauling ass away from the area, running as fast as they could. It turned out that it was Mary on rope After verifying that she was all right, she called [to me to let down another] rope. So I took off as fast as I could back into town to get one. I got back to town and met up with a nice guy who I thought was an The La Grieta dolina. The La Grieta entrance is the fissure on the extreme right of the photo. Several cavers can be seen guarding the rope, even though no Mazatecs are in sight. Ediger photo May-December 1997


Eas t C oa s t c aver. H e offe r e d t o h e lp m e t o t a k e th e r o p e b ack. A t tha t tim e I didn' t know h o w much ro p e was in the b ag, but we r a n b ac k as fas t a s w e co uld a nd b e c a u se of th e h e lp ful g u y, we we r e able to get it b a ck tc;> the cave. As i t turn s o ut th e g u y was n't a cave r a t all but a hippi e w h o saw th e A m e ric a n pla t es a nd th o u g ht h e wo uld s t o p Aft e r o n e h o u r of uphillca rrying th e r o p e we r e turn e d t o the cave. T h e t o t a l dr o p dis t a n ce was 140 f ee t M a ry h a d pru ssike d 80 fee t jus t p as t a l e d ge w h e n th e r ope was c ut a nd had only falle n 3 f ee t o nt o a b o uld e r a t th e e d ge of th e l e d ge. Ye ars lat e r L a Grie t a was connec t e d t o th e Sa n Ag u s tin Sys t e m TC--Whic h c aves in th e E l Abra we r e hot t h e n ? DB--Los Sabin os, Tin a j a, d e l A rr oyo a nd Ve n a dit o (Litt l e D eer) we r e so m e of my early t r ip s t o th e E l A bra. TC--Wha t a b o ut th e early 70 s? DB--In th e early seve ntie s I s p e nt tim e d o in g E l A br a caves In th e '7 0 s I was ass i s tin g J o hn F i s h w ith his geo l ogy field wo r k for his Ph .D As a n ass i sta nt I wo uld pla c e s ta ge r eco rd e r s up at the n a cimi e nt os --th e big s prin gs a t th e b ase ofth e r a n gea nd i n seve r a l caves. I was his fie ld ass i s t a nt for th ree yea r s for s i x to e i g ht weeks a t a tim e. We wo uld live a nd work in th e Valles a r ea [of th e s t a t e of Sa n Luis P o t osi]. On e o f th e h o u ses we r e nt e d was a C h r i s tm as -tim e h o u se, a nd all kinds ofcaver s ca m e down t o s tay w i t h u s i n c ludin g Nea l Morr i s Barba r a Wo l f F r a n k B i nn y, B a rb a r a Vin so n S t anley S t eve a nd C r aig Bittinger J o hn G r ee r and o th e rs. Don Broussard (right) and othercavers in S6tano del Tigre in El Abra range sometime in the mid-'70s. Ediger photo Nume rou s blind fis h c aves wer e b e in g resea r c h e d b y Dr. Mitc h ell, a b i o l og i s t f r o m T exas T ec h in Lubb oc k Bill E lli o tt an d othe r s. I ass i s t e d o n a trip t o r esea r c h fis h caves of th e E l A b ra Dr. M i tc h ell h a d aske d Dr. Albe rt fro m A lic e to fly his s m all pla n e t o Valles l ook for n ew e n tra n ces. H e 'd thro w t oile t p a p e r o ut th e w indow of th e pla n e (t o m a r k the ro u te f r o m th e roa d t o th e e ntr a n ce ]. H e h ad e i g ht of u s o n the gro und to l oo k for the cave e ntr a n ces afte r a fly -over ve r ifie d it s l ocation. W e f o und a few caves but t h ere were a l o t of e ntr a n ces f o und a nd m ajo r t r ails wer e c h o pp e d t o later-di scovere d s p ec t acula r caves. A t th e e nd of t\ vo weeks, everyo n e was goi n g h o m e a n d I h ad t h e o pp o rtuni ty t o go b ac k with Dr. A lb e rt a nd his so n T o m i n th e a irpl a n e T o m w a s a l so a goo d UT caver. Dr. A lb e rt wa nt e d t o s h ow T o m a n d m e t h e e ntr a nc es h e h a d alr ea d y see n fro m the a ir in the n ex t ra n ge up the S i e rr a de G u a t e m a l a. But th ose [ e ntr a n ces ] were so re m o t e we d idn't eve n try t o c h o p t o th e m Dr. A lb ert s Cess n a 1 72 was n o t over -l oa d e d b ut did co ntain T o m a nd m e a nd gear. As we approac h e d th e ridge Dr. A lb e rt 's l a ndin g gea r lig h t l y bru s h e d so m e tr ee t o p s o n a rid ge lin e. Th e a irpl a n e s p ee d imm edia t e l y dropp e d a nd s udd enly th e a i rpla n e hit t h e g r o und s pun a r o un d a nd s lid d ow n th e o th e r s id e of th e m o unt a in Ap p a r e ntl y Dr. A l be rt h a d pull ed b ac k the stic k a nd was very co n cerned a b o ut n o t ge ttin g e n o u g h I i ft t o c l ea r May -D ecembe r 1 997 th e m o un tain. A nd after a 200ft s lid e it s t o pp e d a nd we r ealize d we wer e in tro ubl e. All we co uld see was g r ee n ery of a tr o p ica l th o rn f o r es t j un g l e all aro und u s. T h e pla n e was s u s p e nd e d fo ur feet off th e gro und Everyo n e was fine exce pt f o r a c ut o n T o m 's c h ee k Only afte r we flo p ped out of th e pla n e d i d we r ealize th a t th e wi n gs wer e s h ee r e d off a nd l e f t o n t h e c r est. Th e c r as h h a pp e n e d so f as t th a t th e r e was n o tim e t o b e afraid. We we r e o n t h e gro un d ins t a ntly. T o m h a d the c ut in his c h ee k so Dr. A lb e rt as k e d m e to find a prickl y p ea r t o u se as a n eed l e to s utur e t h e c ut. But th e r e we r e n o tru e s pin y cac tu s, so we u se d a band age o n th e c ut. W e did find severa l bu gs a nd b eet l es whic h T o m a nd Dr. A lb e rt a t e I refu se d t o ea t t h e bu gs b eca u se th ey did n ot pro v id e e n o u g h calories. We a l so a t e a very l o n g g r ass s n a k e c ut int o th i r ds a nd eat e n r aw. I h a d th e tail e nd ; i t tas t e d rubb ery Th e h ea d e nd was eate n b y T o m We gathe r e d up all t h e f oo d we h a d i ncludin g a co ntaine r of s ugar, s p a m two d o nut s t h a t h a d b ee n und e r th e sea t o f th e Cess na f o r t\vo weeks, and h a ifa ca n tee n of wa t er. W e h a d n o id ea o f w h ere t o go b ut we th o u g ht that the r oa d to R io Oca mp o wo uld b e the c l oses t ro a d So we h ea d e d so uth We we r e in a t h orn for es t w i t h o n e m ac h e t e that was n o t s h a rp e n e d a nd we t ook turn s u sing the m ac h e t e to c l ea r the bru s h I h a d l os t m y p oc k e t kn i fe, but I was in luc k b eca u se Dr. A lb e rt h a d a n extra o n e. A pi ece of p l astic was u se d to ca p t u re h a l f a ca nt ee n of wate r w h e n it drizzl e d th a t nig ht. Otherw i se o n e of th e grou p wo uld c limb int o a t r ee a nd pull do w n th e b ro m eliads t o drink t h e wa t e r t ra pp e d in s id e th e m We would s hake o ut seve r a l pla nt s t o ga th e r a h a l f a c up of wa t er. We also ate a very long grass snake cut into thirds and eaten raw. I had the tail end ... Act u ally, the p r oble m I h a d was h aving to g u ess t h e l eve l of in s ulin I would n ee d ( D o n i s dia b etice d .), so I d ro pp e d t o 1 / 4 th e u s u a l d ose b eca u se I k new I wo uld n o t h ave a n y foo d a nd wo uld b e exerc i sing th e w h o l e tim e. Ins ulin int ake n ee d s t o go way down und e r th ese co nditi o n s. La t e r tha t d ay h owever m y bloo d g lu cose h a d dropp e d very low a nd l b eca m e slugg i s h I was able t o r eac t b u t n o t able t o thin k I jus t sa t t h e r e. Afte r T o m f e d m e a do nut a n d s u ga r wa t e r m y bloo d s u gar l eve l was r a i se d hig h e n o u g h t o b eg in wa l king agai n T oward th e e nd of th e seco nd d ay we fo und a tr a il. After craw lin g t h ro u g h the b a mb oo f o r seve r a l h ours w e [ ca m e int o ] a v ill age w h ere we a t e t o rti lias a nd dra n k t ea m a d e f r o m th e l eaves o f a n avoca d o tr ee lt turn s o ut that ( t h ere was ] a cave in the village t h at h a d b ee n explore d t h e yea r b y J a m es Re dd ell. Th e n ex t day we wa lk e d t o a r oa d a nd t oo k a bu s b ack t o T exas TC--A n y other n otable s t o r ies f r o m t h e 70s ? DBI a dmi t it 's h a rd t o t o p th at l as t o n e. ln 1 973 o r 74 in S6 t a n o d e S a n Ag u stin, I was at Ca m p I I A whic h i s 53 0 m e t e r s d ee p We we r e explo rin g th e S i e rr a d e M aza t eca R oo m b e low th e U pp e r G o r ge We h a d b ee n und e r g r o und f o r 5 d ays. A g r o up o f us we n t b ack toward th e e ntr a n ce inte ndin g to pick up m y ins ulin a nd so m e foo d a nd go b ac k i nt o th e cave. We go t t o the 93-m e t e r pit c h a nd the t h ree of u s b ega n lookin g for t h e r o p e. It was n 't h a n g in g dow n We felt a r o und in th e p oo l thin k in g it fell in Still n o r o p e It was n t h a n g in g down so we d eci d ed t o go b ac k t o camp. I co uldn't go caving a n y l o n ger beca u se I h a d n o ins ulin eve n th o u g h I h a d ple n ty of wa t e r I dir ec t ed J ea n J a n c i w i cz a nd Bill S t ee l e o n how t o get ins ulin a nd s h oot m e up in case I l os t co n sc i o u s n ess. I s t aye d th e r e in m y s l eeping b ag for thr ee d ays. O n the seco nd d ay th e r es t of th e gro up s t a rt e d going s tirc r azy a nd s t a rt e d p u s hin g o n down th e U pp e r Gor ge. On th e third d ay a c rew, i n c ludin g St eve Knut so n Bill S t ee l e a nd Mario n 0. S mith h a d tr i e d t o c lim b up the wall u s in g a gra ppling h oo k m a d e o ut of a r ack. Th ey h a d n o b o lt s a nd few pit o n s so th ey t ook a few climbin g r o p es t o try t o c limb it. Th ose thr ee g u ys got t o th e base of th e pit c h 55 T h e TEXAS CAVE R


shining their brightest lights up the shaft to see if the rope had gotten caught up somewhere. Suddenly a rope dropped down the pit and a caver rappelled down. They said hello to the caver identified as Joe Lieberz from California and sent someone back to camp to let me know that I could get out. The other cavers who were in the cave were supposed to meet us, but Blake Harrison had fallen and they were tied up with the deepest rescue ever, but that's someone else's story. It turns out that the rope had hung up on a ledge, when a caver by the name ofWarren Heller got it stuck on his gear [while climbing out several days earlier]. I hauled ass to the entrance in six hours not carrying anything so I could get out faster. I had a severe headache for four days. Later Steve Zeaman and Dino Lowrey came in to Camp I 1-A and hauled my sleeping bag and gear out. I did no more caving on that trip. You asked about other things that had occurred. There are some people that m ay remember it differently but I'll tell yo u my version of the 1972 Expedition. We were going to push the end of the what was referred to as the "Breakdown at the End of the '68 Passage." In 1968 Richard Schriber had pu s hed the end of the pass age and they just couldn't go any more. It had taken all of their energy to get to the end of the passage, which was 550 meter s below the entrance. So I remember a handful of us had just established Camp I 1-A, which was a days travel from the entrance at that time We were someofthe first people to get through the breakdown block -which was 25 feet w id e and 50 feet tall--that had fallen from the ceiling. Many others h ad tried in the past to get around it. Others, with a rope had attempte d to go over it. So we tried a tiny nasty crawl way underneath it, and s ur e e nough we were the first people to get around it. On the other s ide of the breakdown block the cave opened up and that was it. It sta rted getting deep with mile after mile after mile of vast quantities of cave. There were about six of us. Th e person I remember the most was Dino Lowery. Jim Smith might have been there and Steve Zeman, and there were seve r a l others. Otherwise we went to Huautla seve ral years, until 1974 when it became very tense to get to the caving area. The Mexican Government put so ldi e r s in the road and would not let hippies past. Huautla didn't get started again until the 80s TC--What e l se were you doing in the 70s ? DB--I registered to go to UNM in Albuquerque a nd was there from '77 to '79 finishing my degr ee I first started going on Cave Research Foundation (CRF) trips back then. We did some poking around in Carl sbad. CRF West as they called it was l argely supported by Albuquerque cavers Occasionally we would go to the Guads [the Guadalup e Mountains in SE New Mexico]. Act i ve cavers included Doug Rhodes Glenda Dawson and Lind a Starr. I lived in New Mexico for severa l years, a nd I found that the New Mexico caves a re good for s t ay ing in s hape for the Mexico caves.! prefer vert i ca l caves with water falling down the drop s, much more challenging. I a l s o did arc haeological work in Color a do for a year. But I never went und ergro und in Colorado. I went back to Texas for archaeology work. I h ad worked assisting Logan McNatt in 1971 for Texas Parks and Wildlife at H ueco Tanks and Fort Lan cas ter and had become a good digger. I e njo yed it a nd it kept me in shape And I could go caving more since all the archaeology projects were short term. TC--What abo ut Kirkwood Street ? DB--Fr ank Binney and I were two of the tirst cavers to live on Kirkwood Street. Peopl e who liv e d in that house inc luded Blake Harrison and Jud y Willi a m s, who lived in the s t a irway P e ter Strickland lived in the attic Frank a nd I kept our b e droom s for a long time Occasionally others would stay, camped out in the living room for months at a time, like Mike Boone I s pent much of the time living in houses with eight to ten other people pa ying very low rent and w as ab le to live for months without working. The TEXAS CAVE R 56 TC--What about the 80s? DB--I went on a Chorreadero through-trip with Blake Harrison which was a fun trip Once you get p as t the first drop you [pull your rope down behind you and] can't go back so you enjoy the ride and take a rope to go down the longer drops You start swimming in the river, then you enter the cave, go down the right passages, jumping 15 feet into pools. Huautla picked up again in the earl y 80s. There was one close call in San Agustin, I remember. In 1987, I was comingoutofCamp IV with a whole pile of people. We had been underground for about seven days Camp IV is 600 meters deep. We had just finished pushing Scorpion Sump, a screwy little passage that ends in a sump which is not too deep and we pushed through and connected with another cave called Nita Nanta which had already been mapped. I hadn'tbeen in Nita Nanta before but Jim Smith had been there, and he recognized which cave we were in. So we found a survey station and connected the two On the way out, I was the next-to-l ast person with Bill Steele [behind me) I had a huge duffel bag for my gear. Back then we would prussik with the duffle bag tethered below [our feet]. Bill and I were coming up the Fishure Series (named for John Fish) and I was almost to Camp I. I stepped on a one-rung etrier to get down to a ledge. I suddenly peeled over backw a rds and hit some part of my back on the ledge I had been standing on I fell into the stream passage three meter s below. At least that's what I thought I did because when I came to I pulled my head out of the water. I thought I had broken my back and I was scrunched up in ten centimeter-deep water. Back then we were still wearing wet suits, not the nylon suits we wear today I laid there in thi s little sandy spot. I was reall y hurting ; I dumped my gear. I was in poor shape so I thought I'd pull myself up to the Canadians' Camp I. Bill carried some of my gear. I must h ave eaten seven or eight candy bars which for me as a diabetic was not a good idea. From Camp I to the entrance usually takes l ess than two hours. It took me six hours this time to prussik up the multiple pitches When I finally got to the Sand Room at the bottom of the Entrance Chamber, I l a id down -exh a usted Bill gave me his Petzl ceiling burner under a sheet of plastic to keep me warm while he went to the surface Once he returned, he gave mea sleeping bag and spent the night with me there in the Sand Room The next day Mark Minton and D o ug Powell came--in case I needed help. Nancy Weaver was waiting on the top. The ceiling in the Entrance Chamber must have been a couple ofhundred feet high and the room was two to three hundred feet wide with big breakdown blocks. It was while they waited that they--Mark, Doug and Bill climbed up a steep slippery mud slope discovered an air flow and made a [discove1y] trip through the breakdown. They climbed down a large breakdown wall --i t was April I 1987--and found a going pass a ge blowing air like crazy through a little constriction. They now call it the April Fools Passage No one would believe them when they came out. As it turns out the April Fools Passage is a much shorter route to the Upper Gorge It now b ypasse d Camp s I and II cutting off about ten hours of travel time which is a s i g nific ant s hort cut. I flew back to the US and got a back x-ray immediately. I was fine! TC--What other big events were you involved in? DB--I was in Huautla in 1994 That was Stone's big rebreather trip when Ian Roland died ofhypoxia. Stone says he died ofhypoglycemia, because he was using a rebre a ther at the time but all of the evidence points to hypoxia. That was a big trip. TC--Who do you consider the be s t cavers you ever caved with? DB--I'd pick Bill Steele, Mark Minton Peter Sprouse Pat Kambesis and John Fogarty. TC--Who were the be st from the 70's and 80's that you caved with? May-December 1997


DB--Then? I would enjoy caving with Neal Morri s and Craig a nd Steven Bittinger. Back when David Honea caved, I e njoy e d caving with him. rc--What do you get out of caving? DB--I try to maximize the efficiency oftheequipment I'm using I'll spend extra money for climbing hardware As Jo e Ivy sa id "Some peopl e go bu y a new car every year, I buy a new rack every year." Caving i s always work but it's work I enjoy, because I'm an ex plorer. I enjoy going where no o ne else has been I would feel comfortable going to any cave in the whole world as long as I get to rig it and it' s full of air. I push m yself, not becau se I wa nt to be where no one else ha s be e n but bec a u se I a m s urveying the who l e time and someone e l se will ben efit. I always try to su r vey. It's r are for m e to see a passage which hasn't been s urveyed Th e world ma y ben e fit from what I do ; I may be helping geologists. I also created maps eventually It's only cats that hav:e nine lives. Humans have to be really careful! but nev e r excelled as P e ter Sprouse did in map s. I've occas i onally m a pp e d at Purificaci6n but Pet e r doe s n't lik e m y sketching well enough. So I ca n only be a t a pe m a n or a n in s trument m an. When I fir s t s t a rt e d mappin g at the University of Arkansas with Taylor, we were s till mappin g with Bruntons but as soo n as they came available we s t arted u sing Suuntos I've been increasing m y sk ill s in caving. I s p e nd my mon ey goi n g caving. I push my se l f hard without going over th e edge TC-Are you a n explorer in other ways? DB-I've s p e nt a handful of trips just wa lkin g but I don t go unle ss there's karst. TC--Have you ev e r been sca red ? DB--When I was at [Cu eva ] C h eve in 1 993 I was sca r e d I didn't wa nt to p us h to Camp Ill. So I farted a round in Camp II f o r severa l da ys. It's on l y cats that hav e nine lives; hum a n s h ave t o be re a lly careful! TC--Wha t drov e you to enjoy it a t fir s t ? DB-Snelling Cave was fun b eca u se I was exploring so m e thin g that I hadn't done b e for e and o thers hadn t see n b efore. Sometimes I sit a nd l ook at th e route a nd convince my self that I am go in g to do it. Lik e a rebelay rig ht in the middl e of a waterfallI p syc he m yse l f up for it. A nd o n ce you d o it a dozen tim es, you s tart to memorize the rout e. Then th e who l e cave s hrinks and gets so short you can almost do it w ithout thinkin g TC-What about Texas caves? DB-T exas caves? Well I've b ee n to so m e. I l ike Powells ifl ca n get the rig ht crew t oge ther. TC--1 understand you are going to Cheve? DB--I go b ac k to C heve tomorrow. Once we ge t jus t p as t Ca mp Ill t o the big breakdown th e n I'll help blast a p assage It i s I 325 m eters deep The theme is to pu s h through th e brea kdown w ith M a tt Ol iph ant Na n cy Pis tole a nd Joe Ivy. TC--Thanks Don And h ave a good trip In the caption for the fir s t photo of th e artic l e on the His tory o f the Tex as Cave r s Reunion in the D ece mb er 1 996 T exas Caver we misp elled Krystal's name. It' s been spelled with a "K" all these yea r s a nd w e sho uld h ave caught it. In the J a nuary / February is s ue Jennifer Pelaez' s la s t n a m e go t g litched b y th e word pro cessor in the Powells Cave a rti c l e Sorry J ennifer. May -Dec e mbe r 1997 Don Broussard (right) and one of the cats who was't quite as careful as he sho u l d have been. Andy Grubbs photo 57 Attention Cave Photographers! Th e r e h as b ee n so m e traffic r ecently o n th e Cavers' Diges t co n ce rning a serv i ce offered b y Seatt l e Film Works. For th ose of yo u w ho don't kn ow, SFW s uppli es a nd p rocesses a color-negative 35mm film--said to be sa l vage d e nd s offofm ov ie film stock --fr o m which you (ca n ) get both s lid es a nd prints. B UT, they a l so offe r t o sca n yo ur film a nd mail y ou a disk OR yo u can download it from their we b site v ia the int e rnet dir ect l y into yo ur m ac hin e. The s lid es print s, a nd negs w ill a rri ve b y m ail so m e da ys l a t er. Th e ir sca n s pro du ce so m e b asta rd files n a med .swfwhic h yo u n orn1ally cou l d n 't u se Th ey do pro v id e a free-wa r e program whic h ca n be download e d from t h e ir web s it e. It is a b as ic program a nd will co n vert the .S\ vfi nto seve r a l o ther forn1ats includin g ( I think) .gif, .jp g a nd .pcx. They h ave a b ette r ve r s i o n of t h e progra m that yo u ca n buy for $ 1 4.95 o r so w hich will (p r es um ably) co n ve rt to m ore forn1ats an d a llow so m e m a nipulati o n Proc ess in g i s not as cheap as a lot of o ther s lide se r v i ces, even co nsid e rin g that th ey s upply yo u with "free" film SWF film h as been b a dm o uth ed b y seve r a l people w h o h ave u se d it. The processing i s ve r y goo d but it i s (re put edly) m ov i e film a nd as s u c h i s not sta bili ze d so i s s ubj ec t to co lor s hifts e t c. due to high temperatur es and othe r co nditi o ns e ncount e r e d while in the mail sys t e m Of course yo u ca n clean up and co lor adjust yo ur sca n s, but what about yo ur pr ecio u s s lid es? A few yea r s ago th ere was a co mp a n y in D allas offer ing th e sa me film but the ir se r v i ce was f o r print s only --n o s lid es, no sca n s The T EXAS CAVER


Milestone Reached at Bindseils Well b y Rick Corb ell T h e 25th o f A u g u s t 1 99 1 w ill b e r e m embere d by th e San A nt onio caving c ommunity as a mom e nt o u s occa s ion. The floor o f th e origina l dry w ell was uncover e d t h a t d a y Lat e ne ss in the d a y a nd lack of a h eav y s l e d ge l e d a triumph a nt c rew to call it quits But a hol e in th e floo r b ecko n e d pr o j ect l ea d e r R a nd y W a t e r s a nd a band of di e -hard cave r s t o r e turn a t a l a t e r dat e t o pu s h it fart h er. No on e w as di sa ppoint e d to leave e v e n s u c h a promi si n g l ea d Why ge t in a ru s h no w aft e r four yea r s? O n e rea s o n mi g ht b e th e tr e m e nd o u s a ir flow. A l ea d t wo m e t e r s b e low t h e s ur face h a d b ee n e xpl o r e d in J a nuaryofl963 b y Bill Ru ssell a nd T e rry R aines(Ca vesofCo m a l County, TSS, 1 971 ) Th e n in Octo b e r of 1 98 5 R a ndy W a t e r s B o b Cowell, and A l a n Cobb o p e n e d mor e o f th e l ea d w ith ex pl os i ves (Coma C ounty ca v e files) Bind seils W ell i s a l so known as Bind seils Wind Tunnel and B ind seils Blow H o l e Survey t a p e h as b ee n blo wn c ompletely up and out ofh e well w h e n co nditi o n s we r e rig ht As bu c k e t afterbucketofho u se hold t r a s h b o ttl es and c a n s we r e lifte d o ut ofthe fir s t five meter s of well, fie rc e a ir flow wo uld blow dirt off th e floo r in to the fac es o f eage r c ave r s. Th e n down th ro u g h roc k a nd dirt t o a to t a l d e pth o f 2 0.7 m e t e r s th e w ind co ntinu e d to w r eak h avoc o n th e du s t fill e d eyes o f the diggin g c re w N ear b y wa t e r wells all blow a ir. They all are in the Edw a rd s Lim es t o n e a nd ove r two hundr e d fee t d ee p I f th e m e n w h o h a d du g th e well h a d k n ow n as mu c h a b o ut th e Edw ards Aquifer asweknownow, the y wo uld h av e w a it e d f o r b e tt e r t ec hn o l o gy. W e could tell the owne r th a t we h a d a pr e t ty goo d id ea w h y the orig inal digge r s had quit. It was a ir flow th a t e n co ur age d diggin g t o s t a rt in th e fir s t place. A t fir s t th e going was easy thro u g h h o u se h o ld junk. Plastic bucke ts w e re eas ily h a n ded up to th e s ur face Pr og r ess was fast, a nd a ft e r jus t a few digs a c rud e f r a m e of j unip e r p os t s was e r ec t e d a nd a pulley rig u se d B y May 1 987 ( B e xar Fac t s) the d e pth w a s "ne arly fo rty feet." A m o r e e l a b ora t e woo d fra m e was built l a t e r a nd a pla tform a dd e d aro und the well ope nin g f o r sa f ety. Bu c k e t s we r e fabri ca t e d from fre on cy lind e r s w ith c h ain b ails L oa d s we i g h i ng80 po und s we r e being pull e d b y "mul es" (cavers in h a rn ess h oo k ed t o th e up pe r e nd o f the rop e) some l oa d s r e quirin g two "mul e s." By tha t tim e a safe t y b oa rd a s h ee t of ply wood with a bu c k e t s i z e d h o l e in it, h a d a l so b ee n s u s p e nd e d jus t a b ove the dig g ing c r e w A The modified freon cylinder being hoisted with a load of rock and oth e r fill from the bottom of the well Corbell photo T h e T EXAS C AVE R 5 8 Bob Cowell works top-side emptying buckets. Corbell photo gaso line powe red winch built by t he a uthor and Arn o ld L es l e y w as a dd e d t o th e a r s enal in the summe r o f 1 9 90 Due to a stron g co n cern f o r sa f ety, the going w as very d e lib e r a t e ( i e. s lo w). Lift di s t a nc e a l s o pl ay ed a d e layin g role Communica tion was h ampere d b y the noi se ofthe w in c h e n g in e, s o on th e l as t dig a n int e r co m Raul Puente near a blowing side passage two meters above the floor at the bottom of the well. Corbell photo May-D ece mb e r 1 99 7


was r i gged a nd it imp rove d safe t y a nd spee d Th e winc h o p era t o r could h ea r all so un ds fro m down h o l e a nd start t h e w in c h immed i a t e l y w h e n t h e bu c k e t was load e d Previ o u s l y top-s id e bu c k e t h a n d l e r s h ad h a d t o s tr a i n t o h ea r th e di ggers' co mm a nd s a nd the n s i g n a l to th e winc h o p e r ator. Oftt im es th e comma nd s we r e no t i ss u e d as nee d ed causin g so m e a n x i ous m o m e nt s a n d d e l ay W e w ill b e eve r v i gila n t i n r ega r d to m ain t a inin g o ur goo d sa f ety record F in ally we fo und w h ere n early o n e hun dre d yea r s ago, t h e well d i ggers h a d g i ve n u p W e h ad re m ove d an estima t e d II 00 c ubi c ya r ds of m a t eria l b y h a nd in f o ur yea r s. At m i nu s 1 8 m e t ers a s i de l ead h ad b ee n du g i n t o a s h a tt ere d l ayer o f r ock. Afte r mu c h colla p se, a f o ur m e t e r h orizo n ta l c r aw l th e n J e d t o a n arrow crev i ce a n g lin g down ward a n d away f r o m t h e we ll. It a pp ea r e d to tum b ack in th e d i r ect i o n of th e l ea d a t t h e bottom of t h e well. Bind seils was n o t j u st a fill e d in d ry we ll. A i r h a d blas t e d f r o m t h e side l ea d w h e n i t was firs t ope n e d B u t now t he h o l e in th e floor h as the d omi n a nt a i rflow Jud g in g fro m t h a t a co nnectio n see m s l ike ly. A nd we a r e s ur e t h e own er will l e t u s cont inu e to pu s h in sea rch of m o r e p assage i n t h e cave. Terry R a in es a n d so m e g u es t s dro pp ed by B ind seils o n t h at eve ntful d ay 28 years after h e fir s t saw t h e t h e n filled i n we ll. W h at a rem a r ka bl e co in ci d e n ce for him t o a p pea r a t t h e well agai n o n th e day i t was fin ally e mpti ed Gunnels Cave Ac c ess Impro ves t o On e of Eas t T exas R a r e Caves b y D avi d Lock lear G unn e l s Cave whic h h as a l ways h ee n clifficult t o ge t acces s to i s now in th e h a nd s o f a caver fr i e ndl y l a ndown er. I m e t w ith t h e n ew ow n e r t o d ay, a nd h e i s goi n g to l et u s co m e ou t to the cave a n d ca m p th ere t oo. I thin k h e w ill l e t u s make m a n y t r i ps to t h e cave I a m pretty excited abo ut thi s T h e r e s h o uld b e a tr ip a nn o un ce m e nt poste d very s oo n Fo r t h ose of you w h o have never heard of G unn e l s Cave t h a t i s b eca u se i t i s on th e T exas -L ouis i a n a b orde r n ea r Lake T o l edo Bend It i s a s m all san d stone cave. Y e t it i s un i qu e a nd b ea u t i f ul. Des cription T h e cave is 300 f eet l o n g all easy wa l k in g p assage Th e cave appea r s t o b e for m e d fro m a s p r in g. Thi s s prin g i s at th e botto m of a 3 0foo t d ee p s in k h o l e Th e s inkh o l e i s a b ou t 200 f eet l o n g a nd 50 feet acros s w ith shea r vert i ca l walls cove r ed in fe rn s a n d m oss. Prior t o th e colla p se ofthis s i nkho l e t h e cave was p ro b ably mu c h l o n ge r After yo u c l i mb d own to the b ottom of th e sink h o l e, you ca n see t h e l a r ge e n trance t o t o th e cave. T h e b o tt o m of t h e s in k h o l e i s b ea utiful. Th ere are l arge oak trees a nd ferns eve r yw h e r e U p o n e nt e r ing t h e cave, t h e te m pe r ature c h a n ges quick l y It i s coo l i n th e cave Th e spri n g is a t t h e e n tra n ce a nd t h e wa ter flows s l ow l y int o th e c ave. Th e r e a r e l o t s o f littl e cave bu gs, for all yo u bio l ogis t s o u t the r e T here a r e ce nt i p e d es h arvest m e n a n d crickets I did n o t see a n y ba t s o n thi s trip. But I saw 1 5 b ats o n a tr i p a b o ut t e n years ago. Contin u in g throu g h t h e cave a b o ut I 0 0 fee t in yo u ca n see th e ot her e n tra nce. Yo u n eve r do get o ut of t h e tw ili g ht zo n e t hu s yo u n eed Int eres t h a s been r i s i ng in r et urn i n g t o Bin dseils i n the s ummer of'97. A qui c k ph o n e call t o the owner fo un d h im rece pt ive and eager fo r r et urn trip s. Cave r s inte r este d in b ecom i ng a part of this p ro j ect s h ould co ntac t R i ck Cor bell at 2 1 0 659 235 1 O u r m o tt o might b e I f yo u d o n 't a l ready h ave a cave d i g o n e Rick Corbell shows off the new winch hauling fill from the well photographer unknown o n ly a flas hli g ht to v i s i t t h e cave. After a b o u t 50 fee t more y ou e n te r th e on l y roo m i n t h e cave. It i s a b o ut 20 f eet w i de w ith a 20-foo t cei lin g a n d abou t 40 fee t l o n g About I 00 f ee t m o r e yo u w ill exit the cave i nto a s m all ravi n e I f you we r e t o follow t h e wa t e r down s tr ea m a b out a q u arter mil e i t would l ead to t h e new owner's h o u se. l -Ie h as da mm e d u p t h e stream to crea t e a n ice l ake. We s h o uld b e able to ca mp a n d s w im t h ere o n ce the owner gets t o know us. (I h o p e.) Vandalize d Th e cave is h ighly va n dalize d I p r o mi se d t h e own e r t h at t h e fir s t tr i p wo uld be to co m p l ete l y c l ea n th e cave. T h e t r as h p i ck up will be easy T h ere r e p r obab l y e n o u g h alum inum ca n s i n th e cave to fill u p a tras h s ack B u t t h e r e a r e a l so b ottles a n d ot h e r junk. Th e m ai n prob lem i s s p ray paint. Th e e ntir e c a ve i s covere d i n s p ra y p a in t in c l udi n g a l a r ge pai nt i n g of t h e Co n federate F l ag Be i ng a san d stone cave t h e van d a l s p r efe r i s l eave t h eir mark b y sculpting words. T h is m ay b e diffi c ult to c l ean I i mag in e t h at th ere we r e o n ce p i c t ogra ph s h ere b ut t h ey a r e all go n e n ow F utu re Trips Th e c a ve a l so nee d s to b e s u rveyed Th e on l y m ap i s a sketc h t h a t wa s p ubli s h ed i n 1 979 I t h i n k t h e cave co uld b e s u rveyed in t hree I 00-foo t s h ot s Bu t a goo d m ap of th e cave wou l d i n c lud e so m e o f th e si n k h o l e feature s I p l an t o i n vite an a r c h aeolog i st on th e trip T he p revio u s l a n d ow n e r sa id h e u sed to collect arrow h eads fro m t h e cave w h e n h e was yo u nger. T his cave s t a y s coo l year ro un d a n d h as a water so u rce thu s it could h ave bee n a h ome to I ndia n s fo r m a n y yea r s. No t elli n g w h a t lies b eneat h t h e collapsed sink h o l e The Association for Mexican Cave A loosely organized group of cavers that collects maintains files publishes and distributes information on Mexican caves and caving A.M.C.S. Newsletter #22 For a list and prices of other publications available is now available soft bound -$18 + $1. 50 s&h, hard bound--$24 + $2 s&h A.M.C.S., Box 7672, Austin TX 78713 MayD ece m ber 1 997 59 A.M.C.S., Box 7037, Austin TX 78713 512-452-5709 mexcaves@ T h e TEXAS C A V ER


5th Annual--1996 Caverns of Sonora Restoration Project by George Veni (photos by author) Background Many cavers called me last year, de s perate to have their Sonora "fix," but the annual restoration project took the year off so the owners of the cave could focus on hosting the National Caves Association Convention. By the time I a nnounced the project this year, withdrawal symptoms were feverishly high Mail e-mail, and phone reservations poured in. The project's 70-person limit was re ac hed and in only 12 days and I eventually had 32 people on the waiting list! The Work A breakfast ofjuice, coffee and muffins greeted cavers as they awoke on Saturday morning 2 November 1996. By 8:30a.m., all of the cavers, and owners and staff from the Caverns were assembled and ready to work. The goal for this year's project was to clear out rubble from the Sponge Rooms, 250-300 m from the natural entrance. About35 years ago, pits near the trail had been filled with rocky debris from passages that had been enlarged for tourists Extra rubble was deposited as unobtrusively as possible as small, artfully designed piles but the time had come for it to go. Since everyone could not fit into the Sponge Rooms at once, th e pl a n was to t a ke everyone as close as possible, the Devil's Pit so they could see most ofthe work area and h ave a better understanding of the job at hand Some people were sent ahead to begin digging and I led the rest back toward the entrance, dropping them off at designated positions in the haul line By the time we reached the entrance, we were about seven people short of the dump truck parked a t the door! I knew what the problem was and ran back to the dig Several people who were supposed to p ass buckets and other supplies to the Sponge Rooms went there and stayed. I scooted them back to entrance then over the next hour fine-tuned the numb e r of people in other areas until we had an efficient haul team It was the u s ual start-off con fusion, although this year we also had a briefly join us who thought this work was part of his tour! The production line began at the digs under the s upervision of Carl Poneb s hek Since the Sponge Rooms had several piles that needed Cavern guides digging open a rock-filled pit. attention, I h a d taken Carl into the cave the night before to brief him on what needed to be done so he could coordinate diggers moving them to different piles or pits as other areas were completed. Typically there were eight to ten people digging in three or four locations They used small folding shovels, garden trowels and gloved hands to scoop dirt and rocks into five-g a llon plastic buckets. As the digs approached the floors or walls, The TEXAS CAVER 60 greater care was used to pre ve nt additional damage A few times, meter d ia meter boulders were hammered into more manageable pieces for hauling As areas were cleared of rubble Pat Copeland would recruit one or two cavers to sweep up the remaining pebbles and powder and after the restoration weekend, the owners washed the areas of the unswee pable dust to bring back each locale's original sparkle. Almost 90% of the restoration team was occupied hauling the rubble out of the cave. Their task began by loading the buckets two or three high onto upright dollies and wheeling them to the Devil's Pit. The buckets were unloaded at a short series of steps, then reloaded onto the next set of dollies which off-loaded at the Popcorn Room staircase. Four cavers passed the buckets up the steps, then another dozen passed them up to where the passage was wide enough to accommodate the third group of dollies From here the buckets were rolled to the base of the entrance series of stairs, where about 30 people passed them out of the cave and into a waiting ten-ton dump truck A pad and pencil were left at the entrance for people to mark how many buckets they dumped Thi s was useful to tally the amount of rubble removed, but it was mainly to control the rate of job rotation When someone dumped their 20th bucket they would mo ve to the Sponge Rooms and replace a digg e r who would then join the haul team bumping everyone else one slot closer to the entrance. Digging was of course the most popular activity, so no one could kee p that job indefinitely. But if people liked working a particular part of the haul line, they were welcome to stay there and others would rot a te past them. In addition to the buckets, rocks larger than their five-gallon capacity were carried out in a litter made of a piece of fencing wrapped around two metal poles Robert Campbell, who kept looking for the hardest job, found his niche with this task. At noon wequitforaone-hour lunch headlined by Bill Sawyer's pozole a rich New Mexican-style stew, accompanied by chili, s tuffed baked potatoes, snacks, and drinks. Before heading back into the cave, we did the usual briefing to clarify questions on the rotation sys tem and other items to improve efficiency As usual, the afternoon work flowed s moothly now that everyone had a better grasp of the job and mor e confidence in performing it. Cavers ne ar the entrance began to count the May-December 1997


buckets they passed to estimate when they would get to dig and to harass people for not rotating ahead. Still the rotation system worked slower than normal and about I 0-15 people didn't get to try all of the jobs. Nonetheless, by quitting time at 5 p.m we had removed 890 buckets of rubble, and more than a dozen litter-loads of rock for a total of over 18 tons This brings the grand total for all of the Sonora Restoration projects to over 64 tons of rubble taken out of the cave! The Evening Everyone grabbed a hot shower in the campground or in one of the two on-site houses, and by 6 p.m. the dinner line began to grow. So did the legend of the Caverns ofSonora Cook Crew as Paul Chevalier,Zory de l os Santos, Carol Mayfield Louise Moore Christie and Tim Talley, and Chris and Kendra Vyvlecka prepared a feast ofmultiple and delectable meats veggies and especially desserts! Owner Seco Mayfield thanked all of the cavers for helping and manager Sherrie Chevalier presented everyone with gifts: Sonora hats insulated mugs and glass mugs, each stuffed with a Caverns of Sonora refrigerator magnet a free pas s to tour the cave and Oreo Cookies dipped in Sonora's famous (really') homemade fudge After dinner we divided int o two groups: photography in the cave or photographs of caves. Initially over 40 cavers had signed up for an evening photo tour of the cave but weary muscles and full tummies overruled and only 24 actual l y when in Most of those were die-hards or those who wanted to see the cave but couldn't stay for the morning caver tour. Most of the remaining cavers crammed into the rock house for slides of caves in Arizona Mexico New Mexico and Texas that Pat Copeland, Terry Holsinger, and I showed. Some of the slides were repeated in the gift shop for the photo teams who came late out of the cave The Tour The next morning lied a three-and-a half-hour tour of the cave for about 30 cavers. We took our time saw everything there is to see on trai l discussed caving tales and told lies to our hearts' content and shot more photos. This was also an opportunity for everyone there to see how much work we had done the day before Unlike previous years I was not initi ally impressed with this year's work and I know those l ess familiar with the cave were also not as impressed as they normally would be The reason was that we dug in several areas, so the impact was diffused. Also much of the rubble was pulled from pits and underlying passages not visible from the trail which again diminished the overall visual impact. Nonetheless the Sponge Rooms do look a lot better and more natural than before, and everyone should be very proud of his or her work. May-December 1997 61 Whatabout1997? The owners and I have been discussing the restoration work for this year's project. We are considering focusing the next couple of projects at the Devil's Pit to complete the work we began there in 1994. Everyone was amazed at the tremendous visual impact we had there and we only spent half the day in that spot! I encourage anyone i nterested to sign up as soon as the trip is announced (probably in September for a November weekend) Access is first-come first-served and the slots fill fast. I've yet to hear any complaints from anyone who has worked at the cave during any of the projects but I always welcome suggestions for how to make the projects run better. Special thanks go to the teams for making this project possible. Many thanks to Walter Feaster and Grahn Coffin for providing dollies and 125 buckets and to those cavers who loaned digging and other tool s to the project. 1996 Caverns of Sonora Restoration Project Team Cavers Brian Alger Terry Anderson, Jerry Atkinson Barbe Barker Marcus Barksdale Mary Ann Bauknecht, Mark Beauchamp, Wayne Bockleman John Brooks Don Broussard Karen Campbell Robert Campbell Melissa Cicherski Michael Cicherski Gralin Coffin Melynn Conwa y, Pat Copeland, Rick Corbell Lisa Cruz, Meliene Davis David Deluna, David Carl Deluna, Joann Deluna, Sara Dierk. Bill Elliott Walter Feaster Bruce Freeb y, Glenn Hasbrouck Dan Hogenauer Terry Holsinger Bruce Johnson Jeanette Joost Michelle Karle, John L angevin, Jerry Lee, Rebecca Lee Ted Lee Hal Lloyd Bonnie Longley Mike Malone, Pam Massey, Dave McClung, Logan McNatt Jill McArthur Martha McArthur Susan McCarty Marvin Miller Donna Mosesmann Libby Overholt Linda Palit Mike Pearson Jennifer Pelaez Carl Pon e bshek Mark Porter. Paul Rodriguez Don Ross Mark Sanders, Sue Scott Justin Shaw Jessica Snider Mary Thiesse George Veni Roy Wessel, Joel Williams Vickie Williams and Trish Wilson. Owners and Staff Cheryl Chevalier, Eric Geske Juventino Granados Kim Hutto Sarah Marrs, Eddie Maskill Ange l a Mayfield Ed Mayfield Seco Mayfield Cindy Ramirez Tammie Reed, and Bill Sawyer. The TEXAS CAVER


TRIP REPORTS The Who, What, Where, When, & Why of Texas Caving Gruta del Precipicio Bustamante Nuevo Leon Mexico. Weekend of22 February 1997 Anthony Adamcik of Burnet Kyle Combest of San Angelo, John Gieselbrecht of Austin Russ Johnson of Llano Stephen Nicholson of Austin a nd Scott and Ryan Nicholson ofWimbereley. The hike up the mountain was pretty h a rsh but the views were impre ss ive and the cave was awesome. The drops were fun and the big room must be seen to be appreciated. Th e re was a logbook at the bottom of the first drop, in which there was expressed concern about trash in the cave. We packed out as much as we could, mostly empty water bottles from the e ntr a nce passage Th e re were three first-time cavers o n thi s trip We had taught them how to do the drop s and climbs but they had no way to expect what they were getting into : the hike the s i ze of the cave, the workout. This was my first trip here also, and exploring this amazing place with wide-eyed b eg inn ers was both fun and challenging. It was a trip none of us will forget. On the way out of town we noticed a big-top circus tent. Upon inve st igation there were some circus a nimals and big signs saying "Pipo and "C ir co Dumb," and big clown faces painted on them. It all looked pretty e ntert a ining. I wish we h a d had more time to go and see it. We also ate a h earty cabrito meal at the hotel on the way out of town "Dee p phreatic wond e rs nev e r cease to amaze .. Quote from log book at bottom of first drop in Precipicio Hill Country Natural Area Galveston Grotto 21 February 1997 Joshu a Arthur Knichel Our trip to Hill Country Natural Area turned out great. The weather was p erfect, a nd everyone including so me new members had a terrific time. H CNA offers a lot of land to hike, explore, a nd ridge walk. I would recommend it to any group of cavers that had a diversity of interests. I h oweve r wouldn't recommend it to a group of only die-hard cavers. The propert y ha s over 20 caves but mo st a r e only ten or so meters long We only found two caves of any re a l s i ze and each of the se only took about a n h ou r to exp lore. The trip was s till great a nd finding a hole in the ground with no idea of how far it would go was a new experience for our group. The weekend was great but lik e I said before if die-hard caving is all you're interested in, this might not be the place LogansCave Bexar Co unty 30 March 1997 N eil H e rn a nd ez, Jam es Loftin Peter and Tina Baron Jennifer Richard s David J e nning s C hris Moore Ju sti n Atkinson Lisa Schlicker Jonathan C linton Haby a nd Tam a ra H a by Everyone met at an icehouse so Neil could lea d us to the cave on his property. I was somewhat nervou s when we were driving to the entrance. The r oad was rocky and steep. Our truck seemed to moan to us. I thought if we get there this is a g reat place for a cave. Beautiful country! When we arrived near the entrance we met Jame s and fumbled into our gear. I wondered "Do I really need all thi s duct tape ? I was pumped! The group was ready to experience the cave we had only heard about. Neil and his friend Jame s were to be our g uid es Th ey were very cordial and good natured about the ine xperie n ce of s o m e of the group. Everyo n e entered the cave quickl y We were ready. The cave had l arge rooms w h ere we could sit a nd rest chat gossip and disco ver te a r s in eac h ot h e r 's clothing I followed on th e h ea l s ofNeil afte r crawling through bat g uano. I was excited and yet so mewhat un s ure. I wanted to be behind the person who knew the cave completely. I had been in caves and yet n eve r craw l ed this much since I was a baby. Craw l-crawl-cr awl. The TEX AS CAVER 62 The cave was very muddy Nei l laughed about the upcoming areas and told us the names of some of the pa ssages. The "Mud Pit" wasn't that bad It was self-explanatory. But the "Birth Canal?" Needless to say, many of us were born again. And again, and again. The cave had many areas of tremendous flowstone, large fallen boulders and wide fissures. I began to see everyone in the group as my team. We were all there to have fun but to take care of each other too We all spent four exhausting hours crawling and climbing our way through Neil's world. Since I was new to caving I tried to do things in a way that seemed natural to me. I l earned a very important l esson. Do things like the experienced cavers do it or do it the opposite of the way you think you should. I also learned that gravity is only a good thing when you WANT to godown. By the tim e we were out of the cave I felt tired and yet energetic I want to thank Pete for g iving me a comfy place to re s t and th at so gentle push on the way out. It was a great trip and we made some great new friends. We've been invited back Yeah! Let's get gear get going and get dirty! Midnight Cave Edwards County, 31 May 1997 Magdalena Espinosa Soto Don & Syd Formanek, David Locklear and Jim McLane from Houston ; Donna Mosesmann Bob Obele, and Jean Might from Dallas ; Shannon Seals from Arlington; Ernie Garza Vico Jone s JenniferTownsdin and Chris Vreeland from Austin ; Don Ross and Elizabeth Lightfoot from San Angelo; Frank, April Andrew & Marie Herzig Steve & Matthew Gutting, and Don Muir from San Antonio; Heidi Wagner, Kevin Lillie, Sheri Mahan Gary Mahan Me lynn Conway from Wichita Falls ; Richard & Gloria Bariteau from Burkburnett; Daniel Allert and Bill Sawyer from Sonora ; M e lien e Davis from Olney and Vicki Williams from Grah am. I left Houston with my friends Magdalena Soto and Jim McLane We arrivedatthemeetingplacenearCarta Valleyabout3: 30 am Saturday. We found several c a rs park e d and all the cavers were asleep. We s lept until 8:00 and then got everyone to ge ther and headed for the cave. We all arrived at the cave around I 0:30. Thirty-four cavers entered the cave. Almost everybody went beyond the corkscrew Some cavers practiced ropeclimbing I spent a few hour s doing some close-up photography but didn 't have much luck. The l as t cavers exited the cave aro und 6:30 and by sunset the last of us were leaving the ranch After dropping the key off with the rancher Magdalena and I went toN uece s River Park near Camp wood. We camped here Saturday night and swam a little Sunday on the Nue ces River. Sunday afternoon we h ea d e d over t o th e town of Leak ey a nd s pent a little while driving up and down the Frio River looking for camp s it es. I lucked out and found a n aweso m e camp spot. It was Memori a l D ay Weekend on one of the busie st rive r s in Texas. We had a whole mile of river to ourselves We had agrea t sw immingholeall to ourselves. We didn't see a human being the e ntir e day. W e sk inny-dipped all afternoon a nd Monday morning too. It o nly cost seven dollars. Cueva del Brinco Tamaulipa s, Mexico Easter Vacation 1997 by David Locklear This story begins at the l ast M exS peleo. I met a caver there from Ciudad Victoria Tamaulipas. Her n a me was Blanca Garcia The year following MexSpeleo we corresponded through l e tter s a nd phone calls I celebrated New Year's Eve in C iud a d Victoria, and we mad e plans to go camping during my Easter vaca tion I had never been camping or caving in the area, so I left the detail s up to Blanca On Friday we left Victoria a nd headed for the mount ains. We s topp e d along the way to pick up two friends C h arro a nd Noe who lived in a village at the b ase of the mountain s on the Rio Corona We set up camp in a s m all me adow down the road from a landmark called "Paso del Muerte." May-December 1997


The next day we continued up the mountain. From one spot in the road we could see the lnfernillo entrance to the Purificaci6n System. I had never seen it before. Later in the day, we arrived at a small village called '_'Conrado Castillo." We set up camp in a large meadow just down the road from the village. Noe and I went caving for about an hour. I think it was the Brinco entrance to the Purificaci6n System. That evening we enjoyed a spectacular view of the comet as we sat around the campfire conversing in Spanish They didn't know a single word of English; but we managed to communicate anyway. They enjoyed camping in my luxurious pop-up camper. I regret however taking my camper up that mountain Several cavers told me that I would never make it up there with that camper. The following da y, we headed down the mountain and went swimming at a park called "EI Tigre on the Rio Corona. After swimming, I took them home and then headed back to Houston Midnight Cave, Edwards County & 0-9 Well, Chambers County 23-25 May 1997 by Jennifer Town s din When I left my house in Austin, Friday May 23rd, it was pouring I met Ernie Garza and Vi co Jones around 6pm. Luckily we were driving away from the rain We camped overnight at the highway intersection towards Rock Springs. We met up with the rest of the group in the morning and drove to Midnight Cave. The three of us plus Chris Vreeland from Austin a nd Sheri from Wichita Falls chose to take the vertical entrance. The purpose of our trip was photography After making it to the back of the cave, we laughed because we were taking pictures right away in the beginning and at that point we hadn't seen nothin' yet. One should take lots of film-I ran out. I was proud to find the small hole that led to the nicest room in the cave filled with large helictites! We could have stayed longer but knowing we had to be offofthe property by sundown, we had to force ourselves back to the entrance. While we were waiting for our group to climb back out, we discussed the next caving stop--0-9 Well. Chris Vreeland's eyes popped out at this point. He was not aware of the other trip we were going t o take that same weekend. Unfortunately Ernie was ready to go back to Austin so Vico and I transferred our gear to Chris' truck and took off for Crockett County and 0-9 Well. We did pretty well travelling by memory at night. When we finally drove up it was very quiet and everyone else was sleeping. Sunday morning was a lazy start. Luckily the cave was still rigged from the day before Joe Ivy was glad to see us and asked if we would de-rig the cave so he didn't have to. Everyone who was there caving on Saturday eventually left. We dropped to the bottom and came back up It was nice and refreshing Then it was back to Austin. Earth Day Project at Colorado Bend State Park Aprill9, 1997 by Rebecca LeeKaler (from The Hol e News, May 1997) The Earth Day Project is sponsored by the Central Texa s Grotto where members with the help of the State Park give tours of Gorman Cave and Gorman Falls to park visitors The tour fee goes to the park. This year grotto members hung from the trees in a demonstration of vertical caving techniques and the visitors loved it. Clean up oflcebox Cave was also scheduled. The Earth Day Project took on a particularly wild air for those of us ca mped at the TSA campground After gathering around the fire Friday night our camaraderie quickly strengthened as the intoxication of the s tarry night took over, or should I just say the intoxication took over. But this stay, up until two am, was nothing compared to Saturday night. More on that later Saturday morning Tom Kaler and I drove to Icebox Cave where we were to work on the removal of trash from this former trash dump cave. This was my second time to work in this cave and I don't think there will May-December 1997 be a third It seems this project is stale With last year's late start due to rattle s nake and lack ofhelp and tools, this year's effort was sadly worse. Tom and I were disappointed to learn that we were the only ones to work the cave. Alvis Hill helped in the morning but was in charge of the entire project this year and had to tend to the other activities. So Tom and I spent the rest of the day attempting to make a difference in this cave Tom dug up the trash and put it in the five-gallon buckets for me to pull up with a bipod and pulley Then I dumped the trash in the bed of a truck We removed broken glass cans batteries plastic bottles and other trashy things. It was slow and almost senseless. We wished we could have done more However Saturday night we quickly forgot about our day's disaster. The fire once again lured the TSA campers to it and gathered an interesting group, including Pat Copeland. Dale Barnard and Brian Steele from REI strolled up with guitars on their backs and with the flow of Gary Mahan's margarit as the festivities began. Soon everyone was singing, laughing and even howling at the moon Some even howled at Hale-Bop But, the highlight of the night was the rowdy rock-bowling contest. This throw-anything-at-a-row-of-empty-beer-cans game brought out some crazy behavior. Mary Anne Bauknecht didn't hesitate to toss Meliene Da v i s' lawn chair and actually managed to miss After that a few weary people slipped off to bed at the conference center. Bill Sawyer came up with the idea for the rest of us to sneak to the conference center and scare the you-know-what out of the sleepers. So we did No one was hurt and it was all in "good" fun The overall project was a success and many comments were made a bout how cooperative the visitors were this year. This was a fun trip and even though not much caving was done,just being with cavers made up for it. Robber Baron Cave-aka An Adventure with Wally and Ben by Andrew Cushman (from the Spring 1997 ASS I met at 6:20 and then drove out to our designated meeting spot. Ben a member of the San Antonio Fire Department arrived soon after with several other people and after Tina a rrived a few minutes later we drove over to the cave. Several of Ben's friends met us there one driving an ambulance and another a fire truck Wally then joined us carrying a large roll of "si ssy string" (as Ben called it) for his kids. Having Ben as a semi-guide was helpful as the cave was a complete maze It was mostly a walking and climbing cave with only a few crawl spots which our guide (unfortunately) was careful to avoid. There were a lmost no formations except for some small cave popcorn and immature cave bacon and the cave was unusually warm at about 80 degrees The many passage s and intersections of the cave plus its relatively large size made it a very fun cave to explore Almost everywhere you looked there were about five passages to choose from. We were only able to spend about two hours in the cave before we h a d to leave however we all decided that we definitely needed to come back and spend a full day exploring it. Vertical Training at the Harris Ranch by Leslie Calderon (from the Spring 1997 ASS Explor e r) S a turday was a perfect day to spend outdoors and we tookadvantage of it by heading to the Harris Ranch in Waco. There we set up gear for the 35-foot drop which was my first experience rappelling Like pros Tina, Will Justin and Chris strapped on their stuff. But 1 on the other hand had no earthly idea what to do and relied on Tina's ex pertise to don the attractive and oh so comfortable gear. We coined the term "crotch splotch" for the strategically located black stain left behind by the harness My moment of hesitation and insecurity came as I first went off the eli ff. When your back is turned away a nd you cannot see where yo u are heading, instinct reacts with that awful butterfly feeling in your stomach. Unlike Will I didn't get off the cliff very gracefully but once off it I felt 63 The TEXAS CAVER


the security of the rope and entrusted myself to it. What a rush! I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now going up is a different matter and if! thought going off the cliff was hard it was no comparison to getting myself over the top again As a result, you might run into me at the Rec Center working on upper-body strength. We practiced change-overs (not easy!) and pick-ups (not the dating kind) Wait I think the term is pick-OFFs, but I don't recall now. Now, on pick-whatevers, Tina and Will demonstrated the rescuing procedures and then it was Justin's tum to play hero and my tum to play the idiot who got stuck on rope (an Oscar-worthy role I am sure). Justin was correctly following all the steps but somehow we managed to get the rope stuck on the rack, which meant trouble We struggled with the rope as we dangled in a straddling position which was not comfortable at ALL. The straps can quickly kill circulation. Nevertheless, after a frustrating battle, the rope let go under Justin's constant tug, much to Tina's and Will's relief. Now we had a first-hand idea of what they felt when they got stuck in the same position (for 45 minutes ?). Overall, a great time was had by all especially me Not bad for the first time on rope! Cueva del Brinco UT Spring Break Trip by Melonie Alspaugh Melonie Alspaugh Gill Ediger Robin Havens, Chris Knapp, Bill Mixon Collin & Peter Strickland Carey Suehs, Jonathan Wilson Mei Zhou 8-15 March 1997 The purpose of this trip was to introduce several of us relatively new cavers to a "serious" Mexican cave, something which would require more diverse caving techniques and test our separate skill levels. Before our January Bustamante trip, Gill Ediger, Carey Suehs, and I had discussed a possible spring break trip. Ediger believed Brinco to be the perfect introduction to Mexican caving, sin vertical gear. Just two weeks prior to departure Ediger recruited the drivers, and I the riders. We found ourselves camped under the starry night sky along the banks of the Rio Corona, about 30 kilometers northeast of Cui dad Victoria After breakfast and last-minute supply gathering in town, we headed to the mountains stopping briefly for a swim in the cold waters of"the canal" near El Carmen Nearly five beautifully scenic and bumpy hours and twenty four-wheel-drive miles later we arrived at the field house in Conrado Castillo nestled in a picturesque mountain valley at an elevation of 1900 meters On Monday, we headed into the Brinco entrance ofSistema Purificaci6n, Mexico's longest cave and deepest through-trip. We were guided through the "historic section" by Ediger. This section consists mostly of large rooms with dry walking passage, separated by several free-climbs and a few traverses which cross steep drop-offs of about 20 meters. Brinco or "brink is named for one such traverse Once past the brinco, we came upon the Helectite Room the entrance to which is a short belly crawl. This area is literally filled with helectites soda straws stalactites, stalagmites, and, near the end a large flowstone mushroom. Back in the main part of the cave, the dry passage ended at the Changing Room, so named as the spot where cavers change into their wet suits before continuing into The Chute and the wet passages beyond. As we were without our suits we decided to return the following day. On Tuesday Jonathan Chris, Carey Mei Pete, Collin, and I returned to The Chute the narrow, 60-degree upward slope that leads ultimately to The World Beyond which connects Brinco to Purificacion's main sy s tem via Rio Verde Just after The Chute we encountered the Crack of Doom, a formidably tight sideways / upward squeeze through sharply scalloped limestone bedrock With only the information given to us by Gill (who had not been in this section of the cave for twenty years) we decided to look for Tin Can Alley which does not lead to The World Beyond We continued in a somewhat forward and upward direction climbing and The TEXAS CAVER 64 straddling the black, scalloped bedrock After about 30 meters we climbed up through a narrow hole into a large room with several soda straw formations. We continued up though a passage to the right, not really knowing what to expect or where to go, except "forward." By this time our path no longer matched that which Gill had described, so we were just exploring. We came to a junction with a stream passage Carey, Jonathan, and Collin continued to the left . The rest of us waited awhile at the junction. The others moved nearly out of ear-shot, but the rest of us preferred to follow the passage to the right. Judging by the sewer-like smell and the evidence of trash which had washed in, it seemed that this was probably Tin Can Alley We called to the others to return, as Pete did not want Collin to be separated from him and Mei and I felt it would be better for everyone to stick together We would check the passage to the right then go back to the left. We moved upstream through shallow pools for about 40 meters, until we came to a room that was mostly scalloped bedrock. Collin and I continued up a small passage with pristine, white flowstone and rimstone dams on the floor, on which we tried not to walk directly The passage narrowed into a low canal half filled with water, which would require a half-submerged belly crawl. We returned to the others and agreed to go back to the left stream passage. This led to a difficult climb / drop into a lake. However, Mei was becoming tired, so Jonathan and I decided to return with her, while the others continued to the lake, which, in the end, ended that passage We all exited the cave without incident. Ediger, Mixon, P. Strickland, C. Strickland, Seuhs, Zhou, Knapp, & Havens, with Alspaugh & Wilson in front. After two days of above-ground exploration, visits to smaller area cave entrances, and much hiking, most of us returned to Brinco with the intention of going as far as possible into Rio Verde, toward The World Beyond Gill, Mei, and Jonathan decided to explore the French Entrance which ties into Tin Can Alley after quite a bit of vertical climbing through the typically swiss cheese-like limestone Back in the Brinco entrance, we made our way to The Chute after several still-photo and video shots (Pete had brought his now infamous video camera and a few movie lights). Once through the Crack of Doom we decided to leave the photo equipment at the entrance to Rio Verde in order to move more quickly The first part of the passage, called The Lunar Way, consisted mostly of walking and climbing over black, smoothly scalloped bedrock that rose above clear pools of water. We then came to Mudball Crawl, a slick, ten-meter belly crawl over tighly packed mud, which was by the way, great fun! We were then at the beginning of Rio Verde itself and began wading through the roomy stream canal lined with exquisite flowstone We passed over numerous pristine rimstone pools along the way and came to our first serious climb-down over a slowly moving flowstone waterfall. We dropped into a small lake and swam across to more flowstone-filled, walking stream passage. We then came to a formidable flowstone climb which descended 15-20 meters into another shallow pool. After yet another short climb-down, we were at May-December 1997


a short narrow, horizontal section called the Main Squeeze. Pete Strickland who had once been through this section barely recogn i zed it as s u ch, for it had been a much tighter "squeeze" prior to being" I vysized" the previous Christmas (Joe Ivy, a robust expert in caving and cave rescue has been known to aid in the en l argement of such narrow sections in order to insure his passage through some caves.) We were surprised to learn that the Main Squeeze was not very far from The World Beyond--we had gone much farthe r than expected! However, in o ur h aste to arrive there, we inadvertently followed the wrong flagging a t a point where there were several leads. Afte r much painful climbing down razor-sharp "death coral" and craw lin g through a nasty mud and water passage to a sumped-out mud-banked room, we realized that we were definitely NOT getting c l oser to The World Beyond. Robin and I sure that this was A LL wrong started back. Just after the sharp c l imb-up, I poked through another lead where I saw the correct flagging Unfortunately, we had wasted our energy on the wrong lead and Robin was worried that she might be too tired to safely return if we decided to cont inu e Once the others had caught up and Pete had briefly checked the correct l ead we decided it best to leave while we had th e energy to ascend the many free-climbs that remained before the dreaded Crack of Doom. Despite the fact that we had not made it to The World Beyond we left the cave in high spirits a nd with sufficent energy Along the way Carey, Robin, and I were impressed (to say the least) by Chris's Tantric mantra wh i c h echoed divinely and pro v ocatively through the quiet cave passage. We begged him to repeat it a few times, wh i ch he willingly did. (Outside the cave, he has since refused to repeat it in our presence ) Anyone familiar with Tantic mantras might speculate at our state of consciousness after this sub lim e trip. Nine hours after leaving camp we returned to camp, tired and satisfied. Rio Verde was, to date the most splendid cave passage I have ever see n Its beauty inspired me to consecrate myself to more ser i ous cave exp l orat i on, while its diversity and difficulty helped me determine that I could, in fact do this. The next day we headed down the mountain toward Victoria. Everyone agreed that it had been for us new cavers an extraordinary experience. As for our beloved o ld -timers . well they had succeeded in se llin g us on the exceptional nature of "serious" Mexican caving. I must say Texas has not looked the same since ... A Spring Trip to 0-9 Well by Lucille Pinkerton de Berrones A trip to 0-9 Well happened the first weekend of May wit h about 15 of us mostly from Austin. It was a small group considering the limit ed opport unities to visit this waterfall wonder of West Texas. The trip was promoted purely as a surveying trip and most people don't like to survey in chilly wet caves. But being a beginner shivering and soaking under ground for a few hours didn t matter to me ... yet. One team was to head upstream in unsurveyed parts, and another downstream through what most know as 0-9 Well a mix of vertical and horizontal wet-suit caving with an air and water temp of 66 F. 0-9 was a historical watering hole for cattle drives coming up from Northern Mexico heading toward Kansas City before the railroads It was a l so a s t oppi n g place for the Ozona-San Angelo stagecoach. Now it waters ranch I ivestock a nd serves as an occasiona l playground for thase of us who like wet, dark jungle gyms. The gated entrance drops 39meters into a world of fissured Edwards Limestone and Y's. Upstream holds an unknown length (potentially kilometers) of winding narrows that hasn t inspired a survey report in over 30 years. Downstream s n akes about 85 meters over rimstone dams and through a series of about four rigged falls. Joe Ivy's crew headed out of Austin early Friday to rig the drops and begin the downstream surveying, while Terry Holsinger s upstream crew piled into Char l ey Savvas' safety orange Power Wagon at dusk only three hours l ater th an the es tim ated departure time. We began the five hours' May-December 1 997 worth of late night travels under s tarry central s l owly becoming West Texas skies. We pulled into F redricksburg for pit food and gas stops, and encountered our first g l ances pointing fingers and turning heads Oh yeah, we were in one of perhaps four existing Dodge Power Wagons heavy-duty gas-guzzling 4x4 school buses and anti qu e military vehicles The big r anch small town Cowboys are especially interested says Char l ey because it's bigger than their rigs. As we stopped to do o ur own oohing and ah hin g at a restored antique truck adorned with a "For Sale" sign (price witheld) a trio of growing cowboys stepped into the bus. Carrying a Lone Star drunken drawl, one asks Is this some kind of Gratefu l Dead LSD hippie bus or somethin ? To which Bonbon responded with a high pitched throw-back-yourhead kind oflaugh. Terry straightened 'em out, "No, we re cavers from Austin ." Oh OK, y'all re from Aust i n? as if t hat explained everything One particularly impressed less drunk cowboy prodded our tolerant driver form ore info wanting to know abo ut the engine and where he found it and how he won that fourth place ribbon on the swing door handle th e n proceeded to say Well ifl didn t h ave so many responsibilites I d come along with y'all." Bonbon responded again with a face-reddening head-flinging laugh. But they were too mesmerized by the Power Wagon s ambiance to notice. After heavy s ighs and one l ast dreamy l ook a r o und the cowboys stepped out and wished us a good trip. They headed back to their Papa -p aid-for Jeep Wrangler and waved cold ones at us as they sped off to wherever big ranch small town cowboys squeal off to on a Friday night. Off we went stopping one more time for gas and our driver s stay awake poison. After a timeless s l eep we arrive d at the back roads of University of Texas-owned ranch and oil-dredging lands Pothole-hop ping and jack-rabbit dodging became our wake-up ca ll. Bonbon found the sport of bunny-dodging particularly e nt ertaining cackling at the furry critters blinded by the orange monster s beams. They froze in fr i ght then finally flew off the playing field bound for the high grasses on the roadside. But sometimes they stayed frozen and sometimes the monster wheels made bunny cakes Others moaned in sympathy and complained of Char l ey s poor playing The game ended as we arrived at our windy campsite thick with yellow-flowered brush. Skinny mesquites and electrical power lines dotted the horizon and one windmill hovered above us and the gated 0-9 We ll. The squ e a lin g of the blades and the water pump s drumming became our nightcap. We continued our sleep in the Wagon except for those with extra long Holsinger l egs We woke after the sun was mid-morning high, s h ared breakfasts then began the dance of dumping out packs checking a nd re-checking rigs and sundries. Joe s crew headed down first. After two pm--after sweat trailed down the folds in our wetsuits--all of Holsinger s team had descended more than ready to get wet! So Char l ey, V i co and Jennifer pushed u pstream whi l e the rest of us--Bonbon Holsinger Bonnie Rachel and 1--began surveying from the entrance We crawled along in first gear surveying speed chimneying w alls c a ked with mud formations and dotted with fossilized mollusks. I nstead of diving into quiet pools of unknown depths we opted for toe stretching and squeezing through breakdowns and thin passages The upstream r oute meanders a lon g for what some say is a few kilometers--wet below wit h a high fissured cei lin g stretching above At times we stopped to stretc h o ur necks a nd throw lumin escence up noticing the openness and itch to climb and exp lor e w h at cou ld be an upp er level passage. At one point we found a trio of scratch marks in the mud. We hypothesized a 'coon had scrambled and fallen after a n unex pected walk in total darkness At another point we noticed a faint movement in the atmosphe r e, a change in the mud and the chance of another entrance Not far from there--after 20 survey stations--we backtracked, covering in a h a l f hour what had taken 2 to survey Terry headed out pleased with the surveying we 'd comp l eted Bonbon Bonnie and I decide to t ake a trip downstream Rachel came a short way but decided to stay by the entrance feeling a bit uncertain of 65 The TEXAS CAVER


her vertical gear. We plunged downstream, chasing pool after pool down the bone-shaped narrows ,jumping and sliding overrimstone dams to the first drop a 17-meter waterfall. Bonbon peeked over the edge then beamed back a look of utter excitement. Eric who helped rig downstream earlier in the day suddenly came powerhousing down from the entrance whooping and hollering, throwing rus hes of water over the falls, "C'mon, let s go; let s go! So we did. What a worthwhile drop it became sheets of falling ferrous stained calcite at our sides water winds rushing in our faces the ceiling lost somewhere above in the mist. We landed ina knee-high pool in a giant room 30 meters high the flooring provided mostly by breakdown. Go on! Go exploring up there; it' s cool. I climbed around a bit but found nothing except mud-covered breakdown. Eric showed us the scramble, beneath the fallen ceiling to more butt slides and climbs down rimstone dams into deep pools until we reached the next rigged drop of almost 12 meters More dam-hoppping followed then another rigged drop of about four meters to the end of the cave in the bottom of the sump. Here awaited the grand finale: a stockpile of the b e st mud this side of the cave a mud wrestler s dream come true a butt slider's paradise Eric and Oscar took some play time i.e. hurling themselves up the mud pile feet blurred in road runner motion to reach the top s of the slippery stuff, then body sliding down to the last pool. Bonnie and I scrambled around pulling our boots up out of the shoe sucking mud throwin g our lights around everywhere to catch the whole room. But a s ense of time returned with calls of hot food and dry shoes. Beaming smiles and tired bodies we equipped ourselves to ascend. On the way down Oscar had remarked that we would struggle on our way up how we would hav e to scramble against the currents in charge of this underground piece of art After a few more numbed-by-the-cold body scrapes and bruises grunts and new curse words and a few humiliating but somehow needed butt boosts we arrived at the entrance. Whew! Well almost. Now awaited the final 39-meter ascent--not a lot really but seeming much more after spending eight hours under But we knew dry socks and good beer awaited us on top As I got closer to the lip, an unexpected cool--on the verge of cold--wind joined me on rope chilling the air and my cheeks to mid-'50s Terry waited up top as did chimes from Charley So not bad for a Texas cave huh?" "Yeah, uh huh." All I could think of was stripping down and drying off. My shivering had become a whole body shake teeth chattering, and a strange grunting somehow escaping from somewhere, without my permission. An hour later andre-plumped with hot sausage wraps hamburgers mushroom soup, and a few cold Negra Mode los we gathered our warmed-up, well fed bodies into camp chairs to compare notes under star-coated skies. It was then the excitement invaded--the real kind--you know, the kind that comes after you step out of a wet vertical cave and into dry warmth again. The trip was most importantly productive in the eyes of the leading surveyors. Among other finds Charley s troop had pushed through a lot more crawling and walking passage finding dates etched in the mud since the 50s and a decomposing bag of chips(?) in an old lunch box Joe s crew had re-rigged the downstream drops with stainless steel bolts--many times safer than the x-year older rigging points. And Terry s team had surveyed the first part of the upstream passage. A total of 506.1 meters were sur v eyed and the depth was changed from I 0 I to 92 meters dropping 0-9 Well from the # 7 to the # 12 position of deepest Texas caves More surveying is on the agenda for a Memorial Weekend trip so keep watch for updated reports. This year we had a tourist join us briefly. He thoug The TEX A S CAVER 66 May-December 1997


1997 TSA Convention Brownwood, Texas 26 April1997 After month s of preparation and publicity, the 1997 TSA Convention was set to be held at the Travelers Lodge in Brownwood Pat Copeland had secured the facilities and arranged for a very nice campground nearby Papers were called for and slides and maps for the salon were solicited Maps and announcements were sent out in the TSA Activities Newsletter. As the week grew old and the time to leave for Brownwood approached, so did word of an approaching storm. Bad weather was in the forecast for every square meter ofTexas and before the weekend was over it was in the atmosphere as well. The campground started seeing activity by early Friday aft e rnoon TSA Secretary Troy Shelton started registering cavers while waiting for the registration tent to arrive More cavers showed up as well as the tent. By dark the beginnings of a good Convention were taking shape But then the r a ins came In the midst of the night great winds and rain hit the campground blowing down tents and filling many of them with unacceptable amounts of water. Dawn came none too soon and with it was more rain wind and cold Wise campers got up and made a run for town but confusion, conjestion mud, and poor driving skills rapidly turned the campground into a quagmire Several hours were spent extricating vehicles. Cavers pus hed and pulled and the landowner towed many a car and truck to firmer g round with his tractor. Most of the campers had arrived at the Travelers Lodge an hour or so after the announced starting time Registration commercial vendors a s well a s TSA TSS & AMCS booksales and a BCI desplay were set up All the makings of a good Convention were beginning to take shape But before it was over, only 62 cavers of an expected 150-200 had r e gistered The early assessment was that the weather was to blame Nonetheless there were those who wanted to blame general caver apathy for the low attendance Except for the lack of cavers the Convention moved on as usual with the presentations and slide shows being well-receiced The lack of sleep during the s tormy night took its toll however and the couches at the back of the room were burdened with any of several cavers curled in the fetal position most all of the day. Many cavers took advantage of Pat Copeland s offer to feed cav ers and show off her nice restuarant in town We fairly overwhelmed the place and several c a vers called upon their table waiting skills to help get the mass served. The white carpet faired fairly well as well despite the abundance of mud on boots due to the inclement weather. After the presentations a very rapid TSA Board Meeting was conducted by TSA Chairman Gill Ediger and a excellent banquet was served by Pat Copeland, who is applauded for her extra special effort in many aspects of this TSA Convention After supper the 16mm movie, Cav e of th e Windin g Stair, was shown, followed by the Photo Salon, and award presentations The campground was of course a shambles, so Pat volunteered the floor and parking lot of her cafe for camping purposes. A good time w a s had by those who stayed and gathered around a make-believe camp fire and told lies ofthings they wished had happened Some fearful cavers packed th e ir gear a nd made a mad dash for home, forsaking the comraderie at P a t's place M a y-December 1997 67 The TEXAS CAVER


8 A 8AD C4VE ? etc.). Some people become very il l and vomit after coming out into the open air, a lot like the aftereffects of anesthesia. Most get violent headaches. Novices sometimes get D A R compiled b y Jim "Crash Kennedy Most cavers are aware of the dangers of rockfalls, the perils of improper vertical work the threat of flooding, and even the hazard of meeting venomous and unfriendly animals in the cave. Few consider the very air they breath to be a risk. However, there are many instances of "bad air" in caves particularly in Central Texas. But what is "bad air," and how dangerous is it? Bad air in caves is usually due to a build-up of carbon dioxide (C02 ) with a corresponding decrease in oxygen (02). Occasionally another dangerous (flammable) gas, methane (Cf-4) is produced by large deposits of decomposing organic material, but this tends to be rare and isolated. The rest of this discussion will focus on the C02/02 situation. The normal atmospheric level of 02 is 21 %; C02 is less than 0.5 % In the USA the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not allow workers in a closed space with less than 19. 5 % 02 at any time without breathing apparatus There s a good reason for that-a worker climbing down a ladder into a tank or a rusty ship's hold may quickly go from 21% 02 to a very low concentration in a short distance. So the 19.5 % limit gives a large safety margin. Horizontal caves don't behave that way. Workers are not allowed to work a shift in more than 0.5 % C02, but this would be a joke to most cavers. Many caves in Texas have greater than l% C02 in the summer, and it's not even noticeable to the average caver. fn bad air, different individuals experience different s ymptoms at different times Most cavers can easily tolerate increa s ed C02 levels of 3 % (with a similar decrease of 02 to about 18% ) and may only breathe a bit heavy even after resting At 4 % most cavers will start puffing and at 5 % most are panting hard and will give up and leave. Some cavers force themselves to breathe slightly higher concentrations of C02 for a short time, but pay for it later (a hangover the next day, soreness, crankiness, The TEX A S CAVER 68 panicky and may even hyperventilate in overreaction. Paranoia and claustrophobia sometimes set in quickly with novices, and even low level s of C02 can worsen this. Experienced cavers become somewhat oblivious to mildly bad air and develop a "body expectation" that goes along with the whole caving experience. This expectation would unnerve many normal people. (Maybe it also causes minor brain damage and that s why we continue to go caving ... ) Loss of judgment is a real problem In one famous case in Texas cavers tried to survey Marguerite Cave in very bad air. They would forget to write down data, then would say forget it" and go on to the next station. They almost gave up gettin g out of the very tight entrance and might have died, if one guy had not gotten up the energy to struggle out and help the othert. More than 10% C02 could be lethal in short time, but decreasing oxygen levels in C02 -containing air is not the only danger. The other way C02 can kill people is "C02 anesthesi a Levels of more than 60 70mm Hg partial pressure C02 in the blood may lead to loss of consciousness and subsequent apnea. The air levels needed to reach this pressure are very different from one individual to another. That YOU survive I 0 % C02 without problems doesn t mean that everybody does! As with other anesthetics, the C02 levels needed for these effects may also vary from one person to another. This kind of increased ventilation (compensation by hyperventilation; not the same as the psychogenic hyperventilation) is an early sign of increased C02 levels, because the body tries to get the C02 out of the lungs An important warning sign! Numerous air quality measurements were taken in caves at Colorado Bend State Park in San Saba County, Texas over the last nine years. Of the I 50+ caves on the park, the majority have some level of measurable C02 accumulation ranging from detectable to deadly Over the course of this project the state has furnished two air quality instruments for these readings. One (no longer available) is an electronic oxygen meter, the May-December 1997


other a Draeger device. Literally thousands of air quality measurements were taken using these instruments. During the course of the project, trip leaders became curious at what oxygen levels a common Bic-type lighter would start reacting. Using the instruments a number of controlled experiments were set up and verified with a number of repetitions over several years with different brands of disposable lighters The lighter will start reacting at 19.5 % oxygen. The flame changes color and a small gap will begin to be noticeable between the flame and the jet. At 18% oxygen, the flame will burn about I inch above the jet. At 17% oxygen, the lighter goes out and ca n not be relit. As mentioned earlier these measurements were very repeatable and could be verified by anyone with the inst ruments to do so In TSA te s ts, 99 % of the time the oxygen was displaced by a n equal amount of C02, so that 17% oxygen = 4 % C02. This was not always the case! In two caves, the measurement s were typically out of balance where the C02 was 2% higher than indicated by the oxygen level. Thi s was repeated over years of data. At the very least when the lighter no longer burns STOP! The physiological effects of bad air result from the C02 rather than oxygen deprivation. Most cavers (unless they are asthmatic) can tolerate 17 % without much difficulty. They will breath heavier than normal for the a mount of work being performed. At C02 levels greater than 2%, the caver should cave slowly, especially when climbing! High C02 will result in a much higher rate of breathing, the skin will be flushed to pink, a nd you feel hotter than you'd expect in a 68 degree cave. Hallucination, panic and even "passing o ut are typical reactions, especially when the C02 level is g re ater than 4 %. Coming back to the surface, headaches and even severe nausea may be exper ienced. This can be prevented by stopping in an area that has between 18% to 19% oxygen for at May-December 1997 ( l least 15 minutes before moving on to normal air. Those who s moke seem to be able to handle higher levels of C02 than non s mokers since they may be u se d to poor air quality anyway In bad air cave areas, like San Saba and Burnet counties, cavers often use the Bic test to determine when to leave a cave. This seems to give them a good margin of safety. In the carbide days, a cap l a mp going out or getting a weird, separated flame was also a good sign that it was time to leave. Some of the pit caves in San Sab a and Burnet counties are dangerous in the summer, with 02 concentrations below 12% and C02 above 6 % Oxygen levels have been measured as low as 11% in Skull Cave at San Antonio by sucki ng air out via a s mall ho se with a small air sampling pump attached. Skull had to be s urveyed by two cavers wearing SCUBA tanks. The air was so "carbonic that it burned their eyes and they could ta s te the air when they took their mouthpiece s out to speak. This article was prepared with excerpts from the electronic forum Cavers Di gest. I would lik e to thank But c h Fralia, Bill Elliott and Dirk Boujong for the lib era l use of their material and for Elliott's and Fralia s later com ment s l >J j L 2 i 69 Th e TEXAS CAVER


From the Files of the TSS: Tarbuttons Cave by William Russell Tarbuttons Cave is one of the more unusual Texas caves, being under the Blanco River. A caver can stand on the narrow ridge of rock that separates the cave entrance from the Blanco River and look down three feet to the Blanco River then turn around and look down ten feet into the entrance of Tarbuttons Cave Caves under major rivers are very unusual: most rivers determine the local water table and all the spaces below the river are filled with water. But in the vicinity of Tarbuttons Cave, more water is able to flow south into to San Marcos (Aquarena) Springs than can escape from the river, and so the Blanco River i s above the water table for a short distance. As might be expected in the Balcones Fault Zone there are numerous cracks in the river bed, and so much water is lost from the river in the vicinity of the cave. In fact an alternate name for the cave is "Tarbuttons Shower Bath, because not far into the cave, there i s a shower of water from a crack in the ceiling. Due to its location the cave is frequently flooded ; it is always muddy and frequently jammed with flood dehris Most of the accessible cave consists of crawl ways, many half-full of water. Over the years, rumors of new passages have circulated, but, due to the frequently changing nature of the flood debris and mud b a nks, it i s not obvious if new passages open at times and then a re blocked Not re a lizing the s ignific a nce of my opportunity, I visited Tarbuttons Cave during the se riou s drought in the 1950s The Blanco River was not flowing and I was able to crawl through muddy crawl ways for over I 00 feet and finally turned around when everyone else became tired of crawling in the mud, but the passage continued. We planned to return, but time passed the rains came, a nd the opportunity was lost. After the trip during the drought, we were drawn back t o the cave by a report from a local that he saw a salamander "a foot long in the cave. Rather than asking him to describe the salamander, we eagerly blurted out, W as it white?" He answered as might be expected, Yes ," and we were off to check the cave. We carefully checked all the accessible pools, but saw nothing. We decided that the recent floods had washed all th e animals back into the cave, and returned seve ral more times, but never found any white salamanders. What we had hoped to find was a very unusual salamander Eui) 'Cea robusta, much less common, a nd known from even a smaller area than the Barton Springs Salamander, Eurycea sosorus, thought by so me to be the rarest known vertebrate. Eurycea robusta, a blind, white, obviously cave-adapted salamander, is known from only a single specimen collected from a water-filled crack in the bed of the Blanco River about five miles downstream from Tarbuttons C ave. Eurycea robusta is more like a small cave-adapted alligator than the norm a l slender cave salamander Its body is thick and massive; its leg s are not thin and spindly, but short, and muscular What sort of environment could produce thi s type of body ? The salamander crack, just upstream from the I-35 bridge, is developed in the Austin Chalk, and Tarbuttons Cave is in the Edward s Limestone so a range extension of this animal north to Tarbuttons Cave would be a significant event. Tarbuttons Cave needs a monitoring team to visit the cave after floods and during droughts to check for changes and foot long cave-adapted alligator salamanders. TARBUTTONS SHOWERBATH CAVE HAYS COUNTY, TEXAS BLANCO 19 67 RIVER 0 1 0 20 30 scale in feet Redrafted 1997 by Jim "Crash" Kennedy Th e TEXAS CAVER Brunton and Tape Survey by C. D. Broadus, J. R. Broadus, and J. Cepeda The University of Texas Speleological Society May 13, 1967 ENTRANCE 70 outline of surface sink May-December 1997


A TARBUTTONS SHOWERBATH CAVE HAYS COUNTY, TEXAS Horizontal and Vertical Plan Undated sketch map, anonymous. Edited and redrafted 1997 by Jim "Crash" Kennedy I I I / I / bluff line approx _........,_ sinkhole I I' "-.,_ A' 1----1 = approximately 10 feet I bluff line I IDEALIZED PROFILE =ss =-/ A ---=)17. Texas Speleological Survey Note: Since two versions of the Tarbuttons map were found in the TSS files we decided to publish both. Needless to say, this cave could use a good resurvey! M a y-December 1997 71 Th e T EXAS CAVE R


The Problems of Cave Hunting by William Russell You don t have to have a gold card and fly to Borneo to find big caves. The problems we have finding caves are psychological not monetary Back in the old days there was a community of cave hunters who promoted the art and science of cave hunting. This group discussed the late s t finds, the five-day trip that was rained out, the long hike to the big one that didn't go, and all the other joys and tribulations of cave hunting. This same sympathetic group nurtured new cavers and turned them into cave hunters with stories of s uffering and reward. Finding new caves was a large part of caving, and everyone participated from Bill "Socovon" Stone, who later went on to Huautla and rebreathers, to the new caver chopping through El Abra. Across Texas caves known only to a few locals were brought to the attention of organized caving by cave hunters Indian Creek, Caverns of Sonora, the Langtry Caves, the Carta Valley Caves, and many others were soo n the destination for many trips. Cave hunters crossed into Mexico and s tarting in the low mountains found wonder afte r wonder. Zim a pan and Ventana Jabalf, on to Huautla, Zongolica, Golondrinas, El Sotano, Brinco, and Infiernillo. New discoveries are not made when no one l ooks; the lack of new discoveries convinces new cavers not to look. Only a psychological leap will break this cycle of ignorance. When new cavers join a grotto, they follow established paths. The new caver does a few pits and likes vertical caving, or after a few mapping trips is hooked on a project. The new caver has found a home; camaraderie flourishes They talk about common problems : are steel maillons better than aluminum? What could have caused the bad survey closure? They become part of a group. They are happy cavers. But, sa dly, there is no group of cave hunter s to welcome new cavers. It takes a brave person to strike off on his or her own and look for new caves. A few projects provide a taste of cave hunting but it is a spoon-fed, non-nourishing broth a fancy name with no technique attached. In the present climate projects are organized to record and document the karst. Their success or fai lur e will depend on how well they organize data Projects that do not effectively manage data fade away, frequently resulting in much unhappiness. Proje ct participants resent the many hours s pent mapping, and no map And especially aggravating to the cave hunter many karst area surveys produce more confusion than results. (Hays County comes t o mind.) This wave of discovery crested when the cream had been skimmed from the more promtsmg karst areas. It appeared that cavers had been everywhere, and th e deepest pits and the longest caves had all been found. It was time to document the finds, and so leadership and effort went into Patty Kennedy looking into just another sha llow sink somewhere in the Texas Hill Country. Buried in the underbrush, it is easily missed on ridgewalks. No one would deny that data people need to be in charge of project s, but dat a people, by their very nature want thing s organized and under control. Thus, they are somewhat ambivalent about new discoveries. Discoverie s cause problems for data people inefficiencies a nd challenges to their control. projects-to map organize, and catalogue what had been found Some of the cave hunters themselve s stopped looking and organized projects. Jobs family and money all took their toll a nd the co mmunity of cave hunt e r s lo st its identity Cavers no l o n ger h ad g uidance as to what to expect in the karst or how to find it. The current d a rk age of cave hunting i s perpetuated through a perniciou s and p ervas ive mind set: All the big caves have been found, don t waste your time looking The o l d cave hunters know this i s n t so, but they are dis missed as modern day Don Quixotes chasing impo ss ible dreams Now, "rea l cavers do the big pits perfect the latest in SRT, and the se riou s cavers participate in the projects. Th e TEXAS CAVER 72 Initially, new caves are hard to manage and upset the status quo. And even worse, when someone finds a new cave, they want to be part of the s ubsequent exploration. Frequently, they even think of the cave as their cave. They found it, didn't they? But the project man ager h as two good teams of s urveyor s to se nd out a nd i s committed to a "survey as one explores policy, to ensure the entire cave gets mapped Therefore, the project manager thinks the real work of the project is the s urvey and wants to efficiently organize the survey. The people who found the new cave are complicating matters by insisting they shou ld be involved. And s uch cave hunters are frequently u se les s on the survey team To avoid these problems project managers u s ually try to May-D ecember 1997


organize c a ve huntin g as a fill-in p a rt o f a m a in pr o j ect. Cave huntin g i s some thin g to ass i g n th e exc e ss p e r s onn e l o r t o d o o n off d ays b e tween cave trip s. In thi s framewo rk, it h as littl e s t a tu s and e v e n le ss c han ce t o pr ofi t f rom individu a l initi ative. L oca l pr o j ec t s ass i g n people t o w a lk a s m all sectio n ; project s c o v e rin g l a r ger a re as camp a t so m e conve ni ent p lace and f o ll o w l oca l s o r c h ec k areas near camp. Suc h effor ts ar e s tri c tly p art of the project a nd so, a t th e end o f th e sea r c h whatev e r i s found i s turn e d in t o t h e pro ject r e m a inin g unde r it s co nt rol. This s y s t e m caves i s tim e the swee p s ur vey team is n o t m ov in g. At the e nd of the swee p the team s h o uld o r ganize f e a tur es int o t h e r e cl asses: min o r fea tu res tha t we re c h ec k e d durin g th e sea r c h ; s i gnif icant caves th a t s h o uld b e m a pp e d bu t w hi c h are pr o b ably n o t ex t e n s i ve; a nd m a j o r find s. Thi s info rm atio n can th e n b e effectivel y integr a t e d into a p ro j ec t now o r o n a s ub se qu e nt trip T h a t p ro ject w ill pl a n t o survey t h e m a jor finds over sever a l t r ip s; th e s m all caves that need m apping a r e m a pp e d as tim e o r a team i s availa bl e during trips t o th e m a j o r caves wo rk s well e n o u g h t o occupy th e day l a b o r a t a pro ject s it e Enthus iastic, e n e rgeti c caver s alwa y s w a nt t o know w h at t h ey can d o, a nd are h appy t o b e The s am e cave /lOW enterable after digging. Pho tos by Jim Kennedy Man y cave r s a nd e ve n some project s, have a p o licy o f m apping caves as th ey are f o und Thi s i s a n excepti o n ally ineffi c i ent use of r eso ur ces i n any area. ass i g n e d a n a rea t o c heck The pr o bl e m i s t h a t h av in g cavers walk aro und t o find caves i s e ntir e l y in a d e qu ate f o r l arge a reas, and e v e n o n s m all tr a ct s, untrain e d caver s (cave r s w h o d o n o t know th e a rt o f cave huntin g) mi ss m a n y e nt ra n ces hidd e n b e tween ro c k s in th e th orny bru s h T o e ff ective l y find caves re quir es d edicatio n a nd pr e p aratio n Befo re th e sear c h of a n y a rea b egins, all p e rtin e n t i n fo rm atio n n ee d s t o b e asse mbl e d b y the tea m s go in g o ut. Wh a t h as b ee n d o n e in th e a rea, a nd wh at i s known ? P e rt a in e nt geological infor m atio n s h o uld b e assesse d eve n b efo re team s asse mbl e in the f i e ld es p ec i ally i f a proj ec t i s going t o M ex ico wh e re the r e is a w id e c h o i c e of areas. T o p og r a phi c m a p s s h o uld b e carefull y c h ec k e d fo r ind icatio n s of cave e ntr a nc es. Afte r rev iewing the inf o rmati o n a pr o j ec t team s h o uld se l ec t a pr ec i se area t o b e sear c h e d ra th e r th a n l a un ching itself into a r a nd o m a r ea. Pla nnin g i s ve ry h e lp ful, but a t ea m s h o uld n o t blindl y f ollow "The Pl a n either. B e a bl e t o c h a nge str a tegies as new inf o rm a tion b eco m es available. Once in th e c hosen area, a searc h tea m s h o uld fo rm a s ur vey lin e (sta ndin g jus t fa r e n o u g h a part t h a t all the s mface ca n b e o b se r ve d ) a nd th e n sweep thr o u g h t h e ir a rea. Thi s i s n o t as s impl e as it mig ht so und but with p r actice, it becom es seco n d n a tur e Wh e n cav es a r e found o n s u c h a s w ee p they s h o uld b e bri etly c h ec k e d t o evalu a t e th e ir s i gnif ican ce. M os t di scoveries a re only b lind c r ac k s a nd s h allow pit s. These s h ould be m arke d o n t h e map with a brief d esc ripti o n D e p e ndin g o n the a rea, m o re tim e ca n b e s p e n t c h ec kin g caves tha t a ppear pr o mi si n g Th e t ea m s h ould p e rh a p s carry a 3 0 m e t e r ro p e a nd c h ec k w h a t o n e can in a few minut es. Th e idea i s t o e f f i c i e ntl y ga th e r inf o rm atio n a b o ut w hi c h caves mig ht b e m a j o r caves, a nd whic h a re lik e l y to b e o f only min o r s i g nifican ce. All th e tim e s p e nt c h ecking May-D ece mber 1 99 7 7 3 Most cave hunte r s are n t goo d m a pp e r s and m os t m a pp e r s are n t goo d cave hunt e r s. I f a n effi c i e nt cave -huntin g t ea m i s in th e fie ld s p e ndi ng a n h o ur or t wo m a ppin g eac h s m all cave e n o rm o u s l y limit s th e area t h a t te a m cove r s the caves found a nd the k nowl e d ge gai n e d Th ose w h o a d voca t e thi s p olicy thin k th a t it i s in effic i e nt t o h ave a gro up a rri ve a t the cave e ntr a nce and th e n n o t m a p t h e cave. T hi s i s a con venie nt m i nd se t fo r the m a pp e r s w h o u s u ally dir ec t p ro j ects, bu t they are w r o n g Survey in g a n ew s ubdi v i s i o n a n d buildin g t h e h o u ses a r e t wo se p ara t e o p e r atio ns. Th e id ea l so luti o n for these c ultur a l di ffe r e n ces in pr o j ec t p e r so nn e l i s f o r everyo n e t o a ppreci a t e w h a t eac h g r o up can d o b est. Pr o j ec t m a n age r s s h o uld e ncourage serio u s cave searc h es a nd those sea r c hin g s h o uld realize tha t th e ir reward i s the findin g of n ew caves-th ey mig ht n o t b e the b es t people t o docum e nt th e f ind All cavers s h ou ld b e e ncouraged t o o r ganize cave huntin g trip s sinc e only a s m all p a rt of the k a r s t in T exas o r M ex i co h as b ee n we llc h ec k e d Cave huntin g g r o up s w ill soo n becom e profi c i e nt a t f indin g caves hidd e n in th e k a r s t a nd eve r yo n e will b e nefit. But re m e mber, i f yo u find a reall y wo nderful cave t h a t n eeds a m a p yo u mig ht h ave t o o r ganize a p ro j ec t t o d oc um e nt yo u r fin d p ro p er ly. Th e n yo u w ill b e the o n e dealin g w ith the p rob l e m s in p a r a di se. Y o ur goo d budd y w h o was w ith yo u durin g all those l o n e l y nig ht s ca mp e d in th e k ars t now com es o ut of the W es t P assage saying, 1 m a pp e d a kilo m e ter t o d ay a nd w ill d o m o re t o m o rr o w ," a nd p ro udl y h a nd s yo u hi s n o t eboo k Th e s k e t c h l ooks lik e th e p ro du c t of a s m all c hild pl aying w ith a c r ayo l a D oes yo ur budd y ge t t o m a p t o m o rr ow i n hi s" p assage ? P ro jects need goo d sear c h t ea m s, a nd goo d sea r c h team s n eed p r o j ec t s th a t w ill h o n o r the s kill a nd d e dicatio n of th ose w h o f o und the caves. T h e TEXAS CAVE R


Karst Waters Institute Creates Top Ten List of Endangered Karst Ecosystems by Kristen Tronvig and John Mylroie Some of the most unusual species of organisms known to science occur only underground in caves and voids in perpetual darkness. Hidden from view, these ecosystems beneath our feet" are prominent in karst landscapes. Springs, sinkholes, blind valleys, and cave entrances signal the presence of karst, and indicate that cave systems formed by dissolution may exist. Similarly, lava develops karst-like features (especially caves) as the result of the crusting over of cooling lava flows. These caves form a unique biological habitat. The Karst Waters Institute (KWI), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of research and public understanding of karst, held a scientific conference in February 1997, titled: Conservation and Protection of the Biota of Karst. The conference, which attracted 100 participants from I 0 countries, re s ulted in discussions on how to protect endangered karst ecosystems. The Karst Waters Institute reacted with it s first annual nomination of endangered karst communitie s, in order to raise public awareness about karst communities in general and threatened or endangered karst in particular. These karst communities are subjected to a variety of threats including development, mining, petrochemical extraction, groundwater pumping, waste dumping, transportation and agricultural runoff To identify a collection of critical kar s t ecosystems, the Karst Waters Institute solicited information on endangered karst from scientists and experts worldwide The Kar s t Water s In s titute received 40 nominations of e ndang e red karst communities. From these nominations, it has constructed a list of the ten areas in most need of protection for the 1998 year. The most cr itical factors in determining the kar s t of greatest importance were: ( 1) the biological significance ( whether the s pecie s are rare endemic, or threatened or if the community is rich in it s biodiversity) (2) the actual threat to the kar s t community, and (3) relevant local groups interested in protection of the threatened karst. It is the hope of the Karst Water s Institute and all those who participated in the project that thi s study will provide the beginning of increased public awareness of the threat s to the se karst areas and stimulate enhanced protection efforts. The t e n mo s t endangered karst communities for 1998 are: Blu e River Ba sin, so uth ern Indiana USA Cape Range Penin sula, Australia Church and Bitumen Caves, Bermuda Cueva del Viento System, Canary I s land s Fricks C ave, Geor g ia, USA H a Tien-Hon Chong Vietnam Jollyville Plateau, Texas, USA Koloa Lava Tube System, H awaii, USA L ez Kar s t System France South Central Kentuck y Karst Kentucky USA Th e Blue River Basin in southern Indiana USA has over I 000 caves, including Wyandotte Cave and Marengo Cave. It is home to over I 00 ,0 00 fede r ally lis ted Indiana Bats as well as m any other rare and e nd emic species of anima ls. Blue River Ba sin also contains rar e kar s t pla nt habitat s s uch as lim estone glades, chert barren s and upland s inkhole swa mps. The area i s threatened by intense commercia l and re s idential development The T EXAS CAVER 74 pressure from Louisville, Kentucky. Local organizations interested in the well being of this karst system include The Nature Conservancy Indiana Karst Conservancy, and American Cave Conservation Association. The only hope for preservation of the Blue River Basin is for the public and county officia ls to realize how sensitive and special this area is and for them to implement appropriate plans to protect the area Cape Range Peninsula is located in northwestern Australia about II 00 km north of Perth. The peninsula supports rich fauna in each of its terrestrial, freshwater and anchialine systems The peninsula contains a karst system with mostly endemic cave species and is amongst the most diverse in the world Th e peninsula is threatened by a variety of land uses including water extraction urban development, limestone quarrying petroleum exploration overpumping of water resources within the aquifer and waste disposal. The Australian Cave and Karst Management Association Inc. and the Australi a n Speleological Federation along with the Australian scientific community and some governmenta l agencies, are interested in protecting the Cap e Range Peninsula Protecting both the natural and economi c resources of this area will require the development and implementation of proper local and regional land management ba se d on sound research Church and Bitumen Caves are lo cated beneath Ship's Hill on the grounds of the Marriott Castle Harbour Resort in Hamilton Parish Bermuda Church Cave contains the largest underground lake in Bermuda. Bitumen Cave just north of Church Cave i s the deepest underwater cave in Bermuda. There are at least eleven cave species which are found only in the lakes of the se caves, nine of which are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red Li st. The Castle Harbour Development includes a $60 million housin g project which involves the construction of 37 luxury townhou ses on top of Church Cave and a retail center on top of Bitumen Cave Partially treated wastewater from the development will be used to irrigate golf courses surrounding the caves. Th e Bermuda Plan of 1992 prohibited any development that is harmful to caves but development dollars proved to be more per s ua s ive than environmental protection and Cas tle Harbour was subsequently given the authority by the government t o proceed with the project. The Bermuda-based group, Save Open Spaces (SOS), hope s to encourage the Marriott Hotel corporation and the Bermuda Government to preserve these caves. The Cueva del Viento System i s located in the upper part of the lcod de los Yino s (Tenerife, Canary Islands Spain) within the northern slope of Pi co del Teide It is a set of l ava tube s and contains a pproximately 19 km of galleries It is remarkable for it s biodiversity where all but one of it s 35 cave species are endemic to Tenerife and ten are endemic to Cueva del Viento Thr eats to the sys tem include se wage dumping tourist refu se and the uncontrolled and illegal building of superjacent housing. Local gro up s concerned with the well-being of Cuev a del Yiento include the Canarian Federation of Speleology, the Department of Animal Biology at La Laguna University, and the Yicecon se jaria de Media Ambiente of the Canarian Government. Conservationists continue to l obby the Canarian Government and the Cabildo de Tenerife in an effort to encourage the se official bodie s to declare the Cueva del Yiento a preserved natural sitea plan that was fir s t devised, bu then aba nd oned six years ago May-December 1997


Fricks Cave, located near Lafayette, Georgia, USA, in Walker County is one of the most biologically significant caves in the southeast region of the United States. It is home to the endangered Gray bat, a rare cave salamander, as well as many beetles and other invertebrates. The cave' s main threat is development, mostly because it is in the vicinity of ideal real estate for commuters to the city of Chattanooga There are several local groups who are interested in the cave, including the Southeastern Cave Conservancy Inc. (SCCI), The Nature Conservancy, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The property containing the cave has been purchased at auction by SCCI who still needs to raise $100,000 in order to maintain ownership and provide the resources necessary to protect the c ave. Unfortunately, SCCI is still uncertain that it can meet this financial goal. Ha Tien-Hon Chong Karst in southern Vietnam has a unique c ompilation of plant and animal species due in large part to its geographical isolation Cave animals limited to this area include s pringtails beetles woodlice, and millipedes. Ha Tien-Hon Chong also contains numerous vertebrates including bats, r e ptiles, birds and small mammals A cement plant the Morning St a r Project is scheduled to be built on the Hon Chong, which will affect most of the karst ecosystem and destroy prime habitat. Limestone quarries scheduled to supply the cement plant would cause irreversible damage. Holderbank, the Swiss bank responsible for financing the project, has proved especially ins ensitive to environmental issues involving the karst. Protests by locals provincial authorities and scientists from Ho Chi Minh University have, so far, all been ignored by the Hanoi government. The threat to the Ha Tien-Hon Chong karst highlights the difficulties which environmentalists face when attempting to protect unique ecosystems on commercially attractive properties in underdeveloped countries. The Jollyville Plateau in Travis County, Texas, USA, is located about 16 km west of downtown Austin and just east of Lake Travis on the Colorado River. It contains at least 91 caves and sinks with a number of endemic cave species including spiders, pseudoscorpions, harvestmen, beetles and a newly discovered, undescribed cave salamander. There are six cave species which appear on the U.S. Endangered Species List. They are: Tooth Cave spider, Bee Creek Cave harvestman, Bone Cave harvestman, Tooth Cave pseudoscorpion, Tooth Cave ground beetle, and Kretschmarr Cave mold beetle. The animals are threatened by land development, utilities, transportation, chemical spills and imported red fire ants. Also, an industrial park is scheduled for development on the old Kretschmarr Ranch, which will make it increasingly difficult to protect the cave communities. The Texas Speleological Survey is very interested in the well being of the Jollyville Plateau. Funding is needed to ensure proper management, fire ant treatments, and the placement of effective gates. The Koloa Lava Thbe System in the southeast corner of Kauai near the towns of Koloa and Poipu is one of the most threatened communities in Hawaii containing at least three e ndemic cave species. Two of these species, the no-eyed big eyed wolf spider and a terrestrial amphipod are candidate s for listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The third endemic species is an undescribed terrestrial isopod. Other species found within these caves include cockroaches termites earwigs, and springtails The system is threatened by agriculture urbanization, refuse dumps, deforestation, mining, and the invasion of alien species. Local groups interested in the conservation of the Koloa Lava Tube System include the Hawaii Speleological Society Hawaii Conservation Task Force of the National Speleological Society, the Pacific Islands Ecosystem May-December 1997 75 Office of the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, and some local government agencies Public awareness will encourage both the protection among the s e caves and the federal listing of the threatened species living within these caves. It will also assist in the establishment of research to monitor the effectiveness of protective management strategies Again protection of surface environments is the key to the conservation of this system. Lez Karst System is in the south of France about 32 km northeast of the city of Montpellier. The Lez is the richest karst system within the region, containing 37 cave species Its primary threat is overpumping on the Lez Spring a difficult threat to counter since the spring is the main source of drinking water for the people of Montpellier. Although Lez Spring has been exploited since the 18th century groundwater pumped from its aquifer has increased 100 percent in the last 30 years causing the water table to drop nearly 30 m. It appears that there are no local groups interested in the system and the only groundwater monitoring is conducted by the water company. The effort to protect Lez is spearheaded by biologists from the Groundwater Ecology Laboratory at University of Lyon. The University of Lyon hopes that public awareness will help the threats to Lez pre s sure the Town ofMontpellier and to the Compagnie Generale des Eaux into the development of a plan to protect biodiversity. The South Central Kentucky Karst is a biodiversity hotspot among caves Approximately 130 species inhabit the South Central Kentucky Karst including the endemic and federally listed Kentucky Cave shrimp federally listed Indiana and Gray Bats and the Northern Cavefish. It is also the only place where both the Northern and Southern Cavefish coexist. The threats to the South Central Kentucky Karst include agriculture oil and gas extraction, expanding transportation corridors and urban development. Encroachments have resulted in habitat loss poor water quality, and a degradation of the prairie ecosystem that once dominated the sinkhole pl a in. Containing these threats will require the construction of runoff retention basins along Interstate Highway 65, continued use of fertilizers in agriculture and the re s toration of Green River s natural flow pattern. The Kar s t Waters Institute actively solicits participation in its Top Ten list both in the management of selected karst ecosystems and to identify ecosystems to be included in the next 'Top Ten list. If you are interested in working with this project contact Dr. David C. Culver at Karst Waters Institute P O Box 490, Charles Town, WV 25414, or by e-mail at R e fl ec ti ve 4 ye ll o w and bla c k T e xas Bat Sti c k e rs N o w availabl e f o r $ 5 eac h .fimn the TSA Bo o kst o re. The TEXAS CAVER


A Few 1rffillCCJK for Better Cave Photos by John Chenger After a few years and quite a few trips, I have dragged my poor camera through just about every cave environment there is. Big passage, small passage river passage, liquid mud, vertical passage, and (nearly) underwater passage. Flipping back through stacks of old photos I noticed one recurring thing -a lot really suck. Even after all those years, I still ruin frames and even whole rolls of film. But because of all the previous waste (called "experience ") I now have much better odds of coming back aboveground with something worth keeping. There are four things that make the finished photo : the camera, the film the photofinishing, and, of course, the photographer Here are some random observations I've made on each. Hopefully they will keep you from wasting film like I did The Camera The first factor that will limit a proposed photo is your equipment. Basically, cameras can be divided into two categories: adjustable and nonadju s table The nonadjustables are popular with cavcrs because they are cheap. When dropped down a pit it's no great loss. These range from the $10 disposable toy cameras to the slightly more sophisticated $50-125 auto-everything jobs. Generally the builtin flash i s not powerful enough to light anything more than the smallest passage s and rooms Some of the more expensive models pretend to offer different len ses (i.e. "built-in telephoto "), but are generally usele ss for cave photography. Most of these cameras do not focus closer than three feet also making closeups out of the question. A mid-priced ($200-$300) fully-adjustable 35 mm camera is much more suited for caving. This should have fully interchangeable lenses and a detachable flash unit. Generally, the fewer computerized gadgets, the better (they are harder to fix after being dropped in a pit). Autofocus lens u s ually s pend their time trying to focus on your steam rather than your s ubject, and they a re a little too ex pen s ive and unneces sary for caving. Try to find the s malle st, mo st powerful flash you can afford. What len s to bring? Telephoto s are u se le ss except under very special circumstances. A normal lens (50 mm) is so metime s too powerful for central T exas tight passages. Ninety percent of the time I s hoot with a 28 mm wide-angle Using a wide angle also let s you s tay close to the s ubject, thus enabling you to maximize your fla s h power. The larger format profe ss ional cameras ($700+) such as Mamiya and Ha sse lblad are simply too expensive and bulky to go very deep a lthough they give unsurp asse d image s harpne ss. Anyway, if you own one of these cameras you probably s hould be writing thi s ar ticle not reading it. Feeding the Camera When se lecting film, first think abo ut the cave you will be visiting D oes it have big passages or m a inly tight ones? Are yo u planning to take lot s of closeup formation s hots ? Film ha s The TEXAS CAVER different speeds -I 00 200, 400 -the higher the number the faster it collects light. As a result, the faster the film, the more advantage you will have with the limited flash power For roomy passage s 400 speed is the way to go, but if it's close detail you want, I 00 (or less) gives higher resolution and contrast. Forget about the high speed I 000-1600 films. The pictures from ultra fast films appear muddy" and grainy if slightly underexposed although advancing film technology may someday remedy this. For color prints, I use Kodak Gold 200 almost constantly It 's a happy medium between speed and sharpness, and this particular film also displays outstanding color rendition Great for formations and small to medium-sized passages ; the typical central Texas cave. 76 For slides, go with Ektachrome 64 or 200. The colors last longer than Kodachrome Make sure you specify plastic mount s when having the film processed. When Above Ground Photofinishing is something a lot of people do not tak e serio usly I think the best bet i s to find a good local 1-hour place but not just any one-hour place! Ask them if they color correct each roll of film. Some labs set their printing machines up in the morning and make picture s all day as long as Joe Blow and Grandma come out with some kind of flesh tones. Professional labs run s hort tests of certain frames of your film to see if any color correction is nece ssary The key here is to find people who know what they arc doing not just pushing buttons If your lab is using Fuji photographic paper then your print s will be as colorful as possible Always choose glossy paper Avoid the matte finish s ince fine detail is lost in this extra-grainy texture on the paper itself. To keep costs down some labs only offer the cheaper matte paper Above all, the prints s hould look like the cave Keep in mind that most people working in these labs never saw the inside of a cave so usually so me explanation along with a GOOD caving sna pshot will help immensely. Try severa l different lab s and compare results. Most local professional photographers (one s that do not also run one-hour l a b s) will give honest opinions on 35 mm photofinishers In the end, don't accept photos of peopl e in caves that don t seem to look real. Training Yourself There are hundred s of books out there that explain what makes a photograph and it is impossible to scratch the surface with just a few paragr aphs. The# I rule to photography, especially cave photography is to GET IN CLOSE. Constantly ask yourself "What am I looking at?" If you are s hooting a formation don t get your pack the graffiti on the wall, and your buddy who i s 200' down the passage! Shoot just the formation and any detail that add to the formation. The second rule of photography is KEEP IT SIMPLE. If you get in close, the subject should be simple Crop, crop, crop the sce ne and constantly eliminate unnecessary objects. How d o you know what is unnece ssa ry ? Similar to Rule #I, concentrate on the subject. If the subject is the Airmans Cave entrance maybe add a couple of friends unintrusively on one s ide of the view. But having 30 sco uts, clothes drying out on rocks, a cooler in the s tream and a campfire in the scene turn s your original ide a into a circus. May-December 1997


Poor photo: This entrance shot could be dramatically improved if the subject was facing into the picture. Remember that non-caver s will eventually see some of yo ur photos. If someone i s not sure whether they are l ooki n g at your photo right s ide up the photo failed U s u ally in ser tin g a fellow caver (sucker) in the scene will improve the photo 1000 % At the same time no one wants to see the back of helm ets in a room and butts in a crawl. Keep in mind you are still photographing people It 's just the se ttin g that i s unu s ual. Some things just don t translate well as photos Say you co me across so me re a lly weird wall sc ulpturing Well so m e curvy rocks may interest you, but even to a fellow caver the photo won't mean much. In caves you cannot change many of the sce ne s to your advantage. What you have to do i s add to them Generally, the best prop to add is people. Coerce one of your buddies into standing waist deep in water next to the sc ulptured wall. Now you have so mething of intere st to even noncave rs. They 'll say "Wow, i sn't that neat how the rock s a re re a lly c urvy!" or Boy that water looks cold! It 's the same rock s you h ad before but a person plugged in the right s pot mad e the photo a winner, giving it scale per s pective and color. There are a few little thing s to m ake people look better in yo ur photo s Never h ave them sta nding stra i g ht at the camera, the shoulders should always be a ngled Look casual. Sit kneel, or have one leg propped on a breakdown block. Do so m et hin g May-December 1997 77 with the h a nd s, if nothin g e l se put one in a pocket. Make sure a nyone can id e ntif y the p e r son. Here are so m e things to keep in mind before s n apping a n y spe l eop hotos: Use scale. Stick a p e r son (or part of a person, lik e a h a nd ) in the photo but m ake s ur e that you can see the person 's face. Don't always use an object for scale, s u c h as a h e lmet or car bid e lamp. These are unn at ur a l t o be found l y in g abo ut a cave and can be fairly uninter esting. Clean up your scene. D o n t l eave p acks lyin g in the frame Watch out for litter a nd graff iti or s hift the s hootin g a n g l e Shoot for non-cavers. Keep it simple. Get in close. Watch for steam. The main so urce i s yo ur breath but a l so wet clothes can be a major problem. Any a mount of stea m near the l e n s will ca u se the photo t o a pp ear misty a nd und erexposed. Three so lutions: ( I ) don t bre athe (2) tak e a s tep forward a sp lit second before s n a ppin g the s hutt e r a nd for reall y steamy sce n es (3) c ut your l osses a nd bag it for a nother day. Watch electric lamps Powerful spo tli g ht s leave a nn oyi n g spo ts in yo ur sce n e. A bright lig ht s hinin g directly at the flash unit will trick it into und erexposing your film The TEXAS CAVER


A lot of photo failures are caused by people who do not really understand how light must work with the camera to make a picture. Unlike sunlight, which is diffused evenly throughout the landscape, the electronic flash blasts light from one small source. To the camera underground light which is reflected from nearby formations is very bright. And light which is reflected from the far end of a huge room is very faint. The trick to successful beginner cave photos is forget about showing this type of perspective, because cameras with a single flash underground capture only two dimensions. When using one fla s h just forget about showing your girlfriend sprawled on a breakdown block 15' away with a forest of formations 50' in the background dome Your camera dealer may tell you the unit is good up to 60'. This DOES NOT mean that everything less than 60 away will be illuminated! With a s ingle flash your image MUST be created by objects that are all basically the same distance from the flash. This will assure that your frame is evenly lit and any good photos must have detail in all areas. Think two dimensional! In practice your usual useful underground flash depth is fifteen feet or less, so don t get carried away with perspective. The closer an object is to the plane of the subject, the better the object will record If care is given to proper lighting, the camera itself does not have to be next to the flash. It can be 10' to either side, 30' behind or even in front of it. What is important is flash-to s ubject distance. The camera can be anywhere to record the scene. Getting this advanced means experimentation and luck. Take It In! Uh, In What? For some people, the shoebox size military surplus ammo box is the cheapest indestructible waterproof carrying case readily available. It is $5-$10, but check to make sure the rubber gasket is good. Back home scarf up an old towel or two to snugly pack the camera and flash Not only do the towels cushion the equipment, but they give you something to clean your hands with before handling the camera. Grab some webbing and a carabiner and make a shoulder strap. Later in the cave you may find unclipping the biner is a fast way to lower the box down s hort drops to friends. Many people hate the weight of the box and prefer to bag the equipment and wrap it in towels or sweatshirts inside the normal cave pack. The decision on how. to carry the gear ultimately depends on the passages you will be in. In some big walking pa ssages I have caved great distances holding the camera in the open. Then there are constant mudbaths where the ammo box is opened, hands are cleaned, one scene is shot, then everything i s packed up for the 20' trip down the passage to the next sce ne. How to Fake Looking Like a Pro Luckily today 's flash units are advanced enough to make cave photography a breeze. Mo s t flash units can be placed on automatic, which figures out for it se lf how much light it should dump depending on the mythical flash-to subject distance Printed so mewhere on the unit is the camera f-stop that you s hould be u s ing when the fla s h is going automatic. It might read "3 '-20' f5.6", this mean s as long as your subject is le ss than 20' away, use f5.6 on your lens and let the flash do the math! Because there is no available light in caves, overexpose your photos by half-stop (put the lens in between f4 and f5.6). Flash Th e T EXAS CAVER 78 manufacturers assume there will be some light to begin with Continuing with the above example, if you are a little more than 20', open the lens a full stop or more (f4 or f2.8) If you are less than 3' away, close the lens (f8 or fll ). The Chenger Flash Test Before you get too cocky, test your flash before heading to a cave Take the unit alone and set it to automatic. Aim it a foot from a white wall and press the test" button; note how bright the light was and how long the flash took to recharge Now cover the light sensor with your finger and press the test button The unit should fire a full flash because the sensor did not "read enough light to automatically shut off the flash If the flash fire s full when aimed at a white wall on automatic, either the unit i s damaged or the unit must sit on top of the camera to function properly, which severely limits its simple use in caves. Experiment Pick an big, easy, dry roadside cave for speleophoto experimentation. Since caves of this type do not commonly exist, you 'll have to wing it. Always use a flash on people-especially outdoors in bright sun. The flash will fill in the shadows around people's eyes caused by overhead lighting. Bring a 3'-6' long sync cord. This cable synchronizes the camera and flash without having to mount the light on the camera. When deciding to shoot a formation or other closeup, preview the shot by waving your light from different angles and observe the changing shadows across the scene When you see something you like, replace your light with the flash unit. Remember to bring the sync cord? Then fire away! Similarly, have a buddy take the flash (forget the sync cord) I 0-15' in front of you. Set the camera's shutter to "B" or "Bulb". Frame the scene, and turn off all lights. Hold down the shutter your buddy should hear the "click" and immediately fire the flash. Let go of the shutter, and you faked it --without even dragging a tripod. Try backlighting. After the above shot, get another buddy between you and the flash Aim the flash at the camera, but in the direct line of-sight obstructed by the middle prop person (or rock, formation, etc.) Triple-check all your settings. Take more than one of everything one at what the settings should be, and one a stop and a half overexposed. Sometimes you can return to reshoot, sometimes you cannot. No Guarantees! All these hints will seem make perfect sense after you have been snapping away for a few years. Until they are second nature, though it is best to carry a small notebook to record what you do for each shot. It may seem like a major time consumer but considering the trouble it took to get to the cave and lug the gear to that spot, it's really minor. When you get you slides or photos back from the processor you can compare the best with your notes, and try to duplicate those conditions for your next photo session. Before you know it your photo could grace the cover of the next TEXAS CAYER! John Chen ge r has b ee n a c aver and professional photographer for nin e years. His phot os hav e graced the cove rs of man y cav ing publicati o ns but ne ve r The TEXAS CAVER (yet). May-December 1997


Chairman's Column TRESPASSING By Gill Ediger The ugly specter of trespassing ha s reared its head again and, again, it is to the detriment of cavers and casts a dark shadow over caving in general. I don't intend to fuss at anybody here but to pass on a few thoughts that might make this ongoing problem a little le ss of a problem. Please read and consider these ideas and discu ss them at your Grotto meeting. One of the first issues of The TEXAS CAVER ever publi s hed had an article warning cavers about the problems caused by trespassing, and subsequent issues have mentioned it from time to time So we can see that it is an ongoing problem. Or more properly, it causes a problem. Now I want to present thi s from a s lightly different perspective than it's u s ually seen. There is a traditional argument that cavers should not trespass because it is illegal and, therefore "wrong. Let's all agree that it is, at least illegal. The concept of "wrong can fall into several nebulous areas ranging from the morali s tic to the self-indulgent to se lf-preservation One's goal or viewpoint can alter the sense of right-and-wrong from one incident to another. What s see m s right to one caver may in fact have a negative effect on another caver. Such is the case with trespassing Trespassing is illegal and so shouldn't be done Fine! But so are speeding, jaywalking, spitting on the street, public intox ication and adultery. The reality of the matter is that we all ignore one or more of those law s-for our own per so nal reasons-without The first re s pon s ibilit y a trespassing caver acquires is that of breaking the law. While that ma y seem like a rather per so n a l deci s ion it actually cou ld ha ve bad and long la st ing effects on all cavers a nd caving Getting caught tre s pa ssing creates bad publicity in the non-caver community that is extremely hard to overcome So the second responsibility s hould be to the cave ownernot just of the cave in question but to all cave owners. Generall y voluntarily allowing cavers onto his property i s not to the a dvantage of the landowner. Getting permi ss ion to go caving is hard enough without creating bad feelings by trespassi ng Neighbors talk and when one ha s a problem with cavers, the others are likely to accept their view befor e cavers ever s how up The third responsibility a caver take s on when trespassing therefore is screw ing up cavi n g potential for other cavers Thi s can have far-reaching re s ults. Cave owners and manag ers, newspaper reporters and the general public do not mak e a di s tin c tion between non-trained cavers ( high sc hooler s so me sco ut s loc a l kids) and organized cavers who (s upp osed l y) know what they are doing Getting caught or le av in g evidence of trespassing can result in bad pre ss and b a d feelings. That of course, d oes nobody a n y goo d The probl e m is es pe c i a lly compounded when there is a n acc ident. I could go on but I think the point s h o uld be clear-tr es p ass in g can cause feeling a sense of w r o ng Not getting caught is enough to justify the action. Getting drunk over eating, being ob noxious and a raft of ot her minor personal sins" are thing s we do Trespassing itself is not and does not cause a problem for cavers. What does cause a problem is the foolishness of getting caught! pr oble m s and it is tho se problems th a t we are trying to avoid. I cann o t a nd do not, publicly condone trespassin g Most caving organizations, includin g the TSA a nd because we have weak self-control or a n overwhelming de s ire to do what we want to do---the rest of the world b e damned. That, in itself, probably doesn t make it wrong. The n egative effect it has on others probably doe s And this is the category that trespassing fall s into. Although we r a nt against it for some cavers trespassing to go caving is a fact of lif e-and for severa l rea so ns none of which are important to thi s di sc ussion. E ac h caver' s rea son is justification enough-for t hem at least. Tre s passin g, itself, i s not a nd does not cause a problem for cavers. What does cause a problem is the foolishness of getting caught! Cave owners and cave manager s feel rightly, that th ey s h o uld h ave a say -so about who, or even IF a nyone, s hould exp lore their cave. Legally a t le ast, their feelings are well s upport ed. Choosing to tres pass subjects a caver to a number of respo n s ibilities which s hould be well under stoo d just lik e going caving should. May-December 1997 79 NSS, have policies agains t it s imply because of the seco nd ary problems it causesnam ely a n egat i ve overall effec t on cave access and caver re spec t ability. I do know realistically that cavers often find themselves at a cave e ntr a n ce with o ut pem1iss ion t o be th e r e for whatever the rea so n Th e wise cave r will mak e d a mn s ure that no ev iden ce of his or h er passing will eve r be discovered by not only the owner or man ager, but also anyone else! Thi s is not a trivial m atter, a nd extends t o other cavers as well. Braggin g a bout tr es pa ss in g h as the p ote nti a l of e n co ura g ing others to tre s p ass. Much of caving et iqu ette and education i s a matt er of peer pressure. Making it OK to trespass w ill n ot only h ave a ne gative effect o n caving in ge ner a l it will a lm ost certainly have a ne gat i ve effec t on yo ur p erso n a l caving soo n e r o r later In th e lon g run e n co uraging others to trespass is as wrong as gett in g caught at it yourself. Think about it-a nd be careful. -Ediger The TEXAS CAVER


My First Caving Trip Into the Heart of Mexico: Sierra de El A bra and Huastecan Indian Country December 3-8, 1996 by Dale Barnard Jwzgl e-cove red giant sinkholes in the Sierra de El Abra. Photo by Gill Ediger Our crew of Terry Raines Ernie Garza and Dale Barnard reached our first objective on the second day: The high-clearance o l d Otates Mine Road that leads up into Sierra de El Abra. My only previous Mexico caving trips had been to Gruta de Palmi to near Bustamante This jungle-like area felt completely different. It felt a s though we were quite remote and the road showed no imprint of recent tire tracks We slept beside the road in a nice grassy clearing Surprisingly we were awakened early in the morning by a ve hicl e bouncing past u s and then again by what sounded lik e a burro. I craw l ed o ut of my tent when the truck pa s sed u s agai n as it headed back toward civilization. Terry chatted with the truck occ up ants and confirmed that this is the Otate s Mine Road but that the mine had been closed for years, l eaving the road in questionable condition, even for a Toyota Landcruiser Once we packed up the camp and made a breakfast of avacados and bolillos we headed up the road that we hoped would enab l e us to reach Cuesta one of Mexico s 25 deepest pits With machetes in hand we retraced the vision of Mexico caving that began around Thanksgiving of 1962 with the father of Mexican caving T.R Evans of Au s tin, Texas. In Terry s mind my I i fe began today In ten years ['II let you know i f h e is right. It did not take l ong on the Otates Mine Road to realize that it had not been traveled much during the l ast few years Small tree s were growing up in the middle of the road and larger tree s had fallen acros s it. The grass was so tall that it was lik e driving into a fog bank. The Landcruiser plowed through it like it actually enjoyed the new s cratches. Periodically Ernie a nd I jumped out to chop open the road with the machetes. Our brand new machetes fel t like overw e ight butter knives merely pushing the branches away rather than biting into them. The TEXAS CA \IER All of our c h opping efforts got us about two-thirds of the way up the road int o El Abra, but Terry decided to call it quit s until we could come back with more cavers. With o nly two more days avai l able for caving we didn't want to spend it all just c h opping. Even if we had reached the top of the range, we would have had to chop about four kilometers of trail to reach the cave. On the way back down the road we stopped to take photographs of the incredible Soyate trees and to visit a cave entra nce along the road This cave was barely worth callin g a cave in Mexico. However this same cave, if found in Travis County, would be considered one of the finest. Instead, we drove to Ciudad Valles a traditional caver stop and ordered milanesa at Cafe de Don Juan. I l earned that thi s restaurant holds a lot of caver history, and much of it can be found in a l og book that cavers sign when they arr i ve usually describing their current activities and plans. Unfortunately, the fir s t two lo g books, full of humorous and informative lo g entries burned a l o n g with the rest of the restaurant in 1984. Thus, from 1 971 through 1 984, there i s no suc h record of activities ln a February 1996 l og entry, we learned that a group of cavers apparently spent five days chopping their way to within a kilometer of Cuesta before runnin g out of time. I ima gine that their work will be helpful to us if we return in a couple of months and manage to find their chopped trail. On the third night we camped at a little paradise called Parque de Tambaque. It is near a crystal clear stream resurgence. The next morning a nice gentleman who lived there was helping me with techniques of sharpe nin g of machetes: Since I am right h anded I sho uld on l y be s h arpening the right side of the blade so that it will better bite into trees from the right. H e brought 80 May-December 1997


out his machete, which was very worn and very sharp. Terry suggested that I ask if we can trade for the sharp machete. In my broken Spanish I somehow managed to complete the trade He was happy because he got a brand new machete and I was happy because I got a sharp one. Before driving on to Aquism6n, we photographed the stream along the rock walkway that led to the eye of the resurgence. We poked our heads into several of the cave entrances all of which sumped out (water level was higher than the ceiling). However, I saw my first vampire bats. I had previously thought that they were not found in North America Their guano was like liquid since they eat blood mostly from cattle. They swirled around us, but as long as we were moving around, they had no interest in drinking our blood. Aquism6n used to be the road terminus for those wishing to hike to the 333 meter deep S6tano de las Golondrinas the s econd deepest pit in North America. When Ernie and Terry first visited Golondrinas it required a two-day hike through the jungle with a guide, and maybe a burro, on well -w orn foot paths. However, we took the new road to within a ten-minute stroll of the cave. Looking over the edge of the 333-meter pit was like looking into the Grand Canyon It is certainly beyond what my s mall brain can comprehend. It took a full 11 seconds for the s ound of a dropped rock to return to us. Our rope was only 200 meters long, so we drove on to Tamapatz The road only recently ope ned so we may have been the first cavers to drive directly from Aquism6n to Tamapatz. In Tamapatz Terry arranged camping for us next to a s tore so that we could get up to visit S6tano de Cepillo in the morning. Children swarmed around us with wide-eyed curiosity They were too shy to talk much but they did not hesitate to stand two inches from us where we constantly had to walk around them That evening, I started down the footpath away from town on a mission to find an appropriate bush for practicing the three point backwards stance I soon found a nice rancher willing to a n swer so me of my questions about the cave and the area. We walked together for most of a kilometer. He was retrieving his milk cows for their daily milking in town. I was busy enough with the conversation that I decided to follow it as long as it would last. When we reached his turnoff he generously decided to walk me the rest of the way to the cave My reaction to the beautiful 128 -m eter pit entrance was s imilar to when I stared into Golondrinas -disbelief I could not enjoy it long because I knew that I would get lost if the s un went down before I made it back to town As it turned out, the sun went down, and I did become lost. Soon, I made it back to town on a different path We were awakened at four a.m by a liv e band that played disturbing, Irish-sounding music as they walked around the plaza. It was followed by a car with amplifiers that polluted the quiet morning air with religious garbage. 1 would rather be awakened by roosters. By nine we were on the footpath to Cepillo with a local 15-year-old to help with carrying gear. Once at the pit we found a nice rig-point on a tree and 1 was sent down first. I had a walkie-talkie a nd a la serreflectin g mirror with me as I rappelled more than twice as far as I had ever done previously Little by little the floor of the cave became visible. Descending the last few meters was a wonderfully uncanny feeling, much like landing on another planet. I removed myself from the rope turned on the walkie-talkie and informed Terry that I had placed the laser-reflecting mirror on a level surface He then s pent the next 20 minute s trying to aim the May-December 1997 81 laser so that it would reflect back and give a reading. It turned out that the pit was 128 6 I I meters deep, two meters longer than the old reported depth. They left the 15-year-old by the cave entrance to keep an eye on the ropes for us. Once we were all at the bottom of the pit Terry sketched the walls and floor while Ernie and I surveyed a bunch of radial vectors "s praying" out the s urvey from the center of the large room The room was a circular pit about 80 to I 00 meters across in most directions. Terry and Ernie se t up tripod s to take six or eight photos while I popped their flash bulbs for them. To ascend the pit Terry used hi s nice rope-walker rig to ascend the pit, Ernie used his Mitchell system and I used my frog system For weeks, Terry and I had been discussing whether a frog sys tem was efficient enough to be u se d in Mexico pit s since it requires more effort in the arms. It was the first time that I had used it on such a deep pit but I liked it because it i s a simple system that is easy to rig. It took me about the same amount of time to ascend the pit as it took Terry with his rope walker, but Terry blamed it on our age difference On pits over 200 meters I would definitely consider using a system other than a frog. When I reached the s urface of S6tano de Cepillo I was rewarded with a beautiful clear view of the surrounding high altitude limestone mountains that undoubtedly house many undiscovered caves This rugged landscape screens out all but the most determined tourist s, leaving me with hope that most Mexico caves are safe from vandals and heav y touri s m for many years to come. However new roads and power lines appear every year, each opening up tourist access to new areas of the pri st ine wilderness. Fore sts become corn fields towns become touri s t stops, and cultures mix Most of the United States wilderne ss areas have been lo st to developers, but Mexico is running decades behind. At thi s point my hope is only that it remains less consumed for as long as po ss ible Mexico helped to widen the gap between money and m y motiv atio n to earn it. It was a long journey home a nd I had plenty of time to realize the freedoms of intermittent employment earning o nly enough money to return to Mexico. Many Mexico cavers in Austin have s pent much of their lives without regular employment. Most of them are rugged individual s who dri ve old trucks and can fix a broken ax l e with duct tape and an old caving rope They will spe nd hours defending their uniquenes s and independenc e, yet when you see them t a lk about Mexico, you can see a glimmer of cama r a derie Each one of them knows that Mexico caving is an overwhelming obstacle to any one individual. I find it refreshing to know people who have so much wisdom and experience to offer. The old story of the wise elders does not often play out in our confusing, mainstream American culture but Mexico cavers under s tand that 34 years of strugg le and adventure in Mexico uniquely position them as a living library of experience. No young, inexperienc ed caver with broken Spanish has the ability to cross the Mexic a n border to negotiat e permi ss ion s to caving areas, repair a transmission in th e jungle, earn the trust of locals, and s et out through the jungle with a machete to start a s ignificant project. This trip was a s mall adventure that foreshadows greater ones to come I learned a lot more than a classroom can teach in these last six days. When i s the next class? Th e TEXAS CAVE R


Gruta del Palmito Bustamante, Nuevo Leon 6-8 December 1996 b y J eann i e L oving W e ( Orion a nd Jan Knox Charlie a nd Jeannie Loving Ju a n C arlos Rom ero, and Clark Shores) met in Bustamante a t the H ote l Ancira on Friday nig ht t o s tudy Ori o n's a nd J a n's m a p in pro g ress of the cave a nd to m a k e pl a n s for the expedition th e following day. Saturd ay mornin g we returned to the cave and e nt ere d the m a in room where we climbed off the trail to revisit s ur vey s t a tion s and look a t the cave fro m a n e ntirel y diff ere nt perspective. Eyeing the cave from the severa l different level s found in the m ai n room we di scove r e d th a t the cave i s every bit as conv o luted as it seemed in our first visit in the sixt ie s, a nd that in o ur ru s h to get to the "end of the cave in prior visits, we missed some s trikin gly rare and beautiful sites which have apparently been found only by J a n an d Orion. (Note to Grotto m e mber s: Orion a nd J a n have cave m a ppin g and cavin g down to a fine a rt that the r es t vmg of us can only as pir e to atta in!) After a h ard d ay of clambering aro und the cave, we s howered at the H ote l a nd went to the int erv iew that Ori o n h a d set up Afterwards we dined at A n ci ra. We missed the wedding that nig ht but were awakened at 2 a.m by the mari ac hi s hired to serena d e the newl yweds in th e room across the way. The sere n a d e l asted well into the wee hour s of th e m o rnin g a nd was enjoyed by a ll. J a n a nd Orion s tayed in Bu s t a mante to m a p so me mor e, but the re s t of the crew left o n Sunday for Au s tin jobs, a nd sc hool. About the int erv i ew: Nin ety years after Grut a del P a lmit o was di scove red by Ju a n Gomez Cazares Orion Kn ox a rr a n ged for a n int erv i ew with the discover's so n Cayetano G o m ez Dura n who was s till the cave g uid e when UT cave r s first be ga n to visit the cave. Orion wrote the questions for the int e r v iew, Charlie video t aped it a nd Jeanni e conduct ed it. There was n o qu est i o n however, as to w h o was in c harge---Do n Cayetano. His recollectio n s of the early d ays a t th e cave are recounted in a mixt ur e of fact a nd m yt h that ca n only b e described a s m ag ical re ali s m W e s tart e d a t th e beginnin g with the s t ory of how the cave was di scove re d a nd it run s somethin g lik e this: Ju a n Gomez worked in th e m o unt ains aro und Bu s t a m ante, ga thering firewood a nd building m a t eria l s s u c h as roof beam s and palm thatch to t ake to Bustamante t o se ll. He h a d h acked o ut a tr ail w ith a m ac h e t e t o get further up the m o unt ain, a nd h e n oticed as h e went up a nd d own the m o untain path with hi s burro and hi s comp anio n R a m o n Rodri g u ez, th a t when h e s t eppe d in a cert ain spo t o n the trail in hi s hu arac h es h e felt a cool se nsati o n o n the und e r si d e of hi s a r ch. Ramon was n t c uri o u s but Juan Gomez was a nd o n the d ay of the di scove r y Th e TEXAS CAVER 82 h e se t down hi s l oad so h e could inve stigate the cool ai r comin g through a pinhole in the p at h The terrain was le ve l a nd th e r e was nothing t o indicat e a n yt hin g o ut of the ordinary. H e sc r a t c h e d the dirt with a stic k a nd opened up a tiny h o l e with s tr o n g a irflow, a nd th e n h e st uck a bigger st ick in the h o le a n d wiggled it so me and a hu ge well fifteen met e r s deep a nd a b out thre e m e t e r s across a ppe a re d. It turned out there was jus t a thin l aye r of dirt and rocks on the p a th a nd wh e n Ju a n scra ped it with the stick h e opened up a manholes iz e d entrance, causin g a colla p se of the ce ilin g Th e gro und was so thin in that spot th at it could have collapsed und e r th e m at a n y point in time. Unsure of what h e h ad found, Ju a n called R a mon over, saying R a m o n leave your m a teri a l a nd come over h e r e I found so methin g. R a m o n who was collectin g m ateria l s, came over, a nd h e was a m aze d. How did yo u di g s u c h a big well so fast?" h e aske d. D o you remember feelin g the cool air o n the bott o m of your foo t when we passed by?" Juan asked. "Yes," R a m o n sai d Bu t I didn' t think anything o f it. "Well," Photo by C h arlie Loving Jua n told him. "Thi s i s what I discovere d. They se t a bout gat hering p a l m fronds a nd bundl e d t h e m all t ogethe r t ying them to a big piec e of firewood f r o m th e burro s, a nd lit them and threw the m int o the cave o penin g. And that s how the cave was firs t lig ht ed w ith pure p a lm fro nd bundles. They had never been in a cave before, a nd didn t know what it was L et s go in a nd see what we find ," Ju a n sa id. Ram o n wanted to e nt e r th e cave but h e sa id ''I'm n o t br ave enough to go in th e re." S o Juan told R a mon to t ake th e l o n gest ropes from th e burr os a nd tie th e m to ge ther so they could dr op the m down int o the h o l e ''I'm go in g in," Ju a n told him I don t know what I'll find but if I don t return, l et th e m k n ow a t my h o me a nd a t the presiden cia where I went in. Then h e went down on the bare ropes carrying a lig h ted p a lm fro nd w ith a bundle of the m dr a p ed over hi s s h o uld e r lig htin g the n ex t one with th e flames of the l as t o n e. H e w e nt d ow n past where the entrance i s today Thi s i s very pr e tty ," h e t old R a m o n a nd h e walked int o the main ro o m H e turned back w h e n h e was halfway throu g h the palm fronds so h e wou l d h ave e n o u g h t o return. He climbed b ack up the rope h a ndover -h a nd a nd said to R a m o n Let' s go t ell th e m at the presiden c i a tha t I h ave di scove re d a pr e tty cave a nd that the re is a l ot of water. Th e n ext n otewo rth y eve nt h appe ned during the Mexican Revoluti o n ten years l a ter, and that will h ave to wait for the n ext report. Stay tuned t o find o ut why General N a r anjo after s p e ndin g d ays in the cave, ran from the cave a nd never return ed a nd why the m a p s of t h e cave, includin g th e de f initi ve m a p by Orion a nd Jan Knox, are wro ng. May D ece mber 1997


Caving in Chiapas by Rebecca Jones Part I: My First Virgin Cave In March 1996, Joe Ivy and I went to Chiapas for the Soconusco Project. The Project is sponsored by Ruben and Michelle Com s tock Americans from the TAG area who spend part of the year at the Yerba Buena clinic in Pueblo Nuevo Jolis t a huacan (on Hwy. 195 between Tuxtla Guiterrez, Chiapas and Villa Hermosa, Tabasco) Some years before Ruben had re a lized the caving potential of the area and has been encouraging cavers to join him ever since. The project has taken off and Ruben built a caver hut up the road near the town of Soconusco Joe and I arrived during a lull in the action. A large group of cavers had recently left and everyone else was off in Tuxtla picking up the next wave After the long drive from Austin, we were anxious to get underground but not overly energetic. We found the lead list and decided to do something easy. "Mule trail at bend in road with sinks and pits on both sides ." That s ounded fine: it was near the road there was a trail. There wouldn't be anything spectacular since someone had pas se d it by and left it for the lead list. Off we went with some short ropes and a lunch. The mule trail left the road about a kilometer from camp but we decided to drive anyway. We parked at the trailhead liter ally ten meters from the first s ink. Since this was my first real trip to Mexico (I'd been to Me xpe leo three months earlier, but that was just sport caving.), I was a bit faster than Joe I checked the nearest sink to the left of the trail: blind By the time I got b a ck to the trail Joe was working his way to the next s ink or g ully as the lead list called it. The vegetation was dense ; we c hopped a path to the edge but still couldn't get a good view. It wasn t until Joe got on rope and asked me Could you go b ack to the truck and get that spool of 9mil we brought ?" "The whole s pool? " Yep. That s when I got the idea we were looking at a s ignificant pit. I realized then that a fence around a sink meant there must be a hole big enough to endanger live s tock. The truck was all of SOm from the pit but by the time I returned with the rope, Joe had placed a bolt and was ready for more rope. I rigged the rope from the spool and he took the original 30m piece down with him. Shortly I heard faint curs ing from a long way off, then s ilence occasionally broken by more cursing. Joe eventually got to the top Collapsing and gasp ing for the thin air at 2000m, he said he'd tied the extra 30m to the long rope but was still at lea st 30m from the bottom. I took two 30m pieces, (all we h a d left in the truck,) and rappelled into my first virgin pit. Joe s estimate had been good I used both ropes and had about 20m on the floor This was cool. That d ay I ran downstream les s th a n lOOm to the top of the next drop before I returned to report to Joe. By the time we g ot back to camp, others had arrived. Over the next week Joe and I were joined by Marion Smith John Stemble and Susan Sanders to s urvey the cave Tentatively we named it Deje Los Debiles Morir (Leave the Weak to Die). That turned out to be too much trouble to say so it was shortened to Darwin. The entrance pit is 180m deep and the cave continues 600m as a tall, tightly meandering canyon down five small drops to a sump May-December 1 997 83 at -271m. After seeing the line plot with the rest of Sima Soconusco we realized our downstream sump was jus t meter s away from the Soconusco upstream sump. With some scary climbing we made the connection, helping bring the length of Sistema Soconusco to over 9km During the rest of our time in Chiapas we completed the survey of La Pedrada. The entrance to Pedrada is I OOm up slope from the Darwin entrance Intere s tingly Pedr a da does not connect to Darwin. A ground water divide separates it from the Soconusco system. After the 217m entrance pit a s maller 26m drop opens into canyon pa ssage. Pedr a da run s down dip for 1500m to a formidable s ump at 300m. J oe I vy at the downstream sump, Danvin. Pho t o R ebecca J ones Part II: Including the Zapatista Story In January 1998 we returned to the Pueblo Nuevo Jolist a huacan area of Chiapas, Mexico Two years before we'd had a great trip to the town of Soconu sco just up the road to the northwest. Our intention was to work toward connecting the two main cave s ystems : Aire Fresco and Sistema Soconusco Joe Ivy and Rebecca Jones from TX and Alan Adams and Nate Newman from VT, joined Canadians Taco Van Iperen and Kurt McGregor and a group of Italian cavers. As usual we all based at the home of Ruben and Michelle Comstock a t the Yerba Buena Clinic. As we arrived, another group ofTX cavers were l eaving. As before we chose to do a n easy first trip to acclimate Rebec ca, Alan N a te and Kurt went to Soconusco to check a high lead l eft by the TX cavers. Thi s le a d ended soon after the end of survey but the trip was a plea sa nt intro to caving in the area. The Soconusco caves all have pit entrances 1 00-250m deep leading to tall sinuous canyon pass age. The canyons are inter rupted only by s mall e r pits. The whole sys tem drain s toward Aire Fres co The next morning we were enthusiastic to tackle the con nection push. By the time we d h ad breakfa st a nd s t a rted rum maging around preparin g gear, the first of the other group was beginning to s tir Taco and the Italian s who d been in the area for a while had gone to check a difficult le a d the day before Taco who s been involved with the Soconu sco Project for m any years had sworn he d never return to thi s particular area of the cave (Taco is famous for this so rt of foolish b e havior ) Amaz ingly the l ead was good (Well grim but it went.) De s pite sev Th e TEXAS CAVER


era! attempted mutinies by survey team members they made the connection. Sistema Soconusco is 22km long and 51 3m deep This was astounding What were we going to do now? The connection had been the goal of the trip ; we were at a loss Its one thing to do long miserable trips to uninspiring leads in search if an important connection. Those same horrible leads have very little appeal once the goal is removed. This may not sound very noble or dedicated, but it 's the truth. The Americans and Canadians let selfish motivations alter their plans. Sisters. near Guayaba. Photo taken surreptitiously from the truck by Joe Ivy. On previous trips, Joe and Taco had both noticed a huge karst massif a few kilometers further south. Both were so in trigued they d acquired the topos. Without another look at Soconusco, we packed up and headed deeper into the Chiapas highland s Our first ridgewalking excursion was to the area east of Jitotol de Zaragoza. We talked to people along the new road through C a rmen Zacata!, Ejido Calido and El Duraznal. While we did see a few nice sinks and small caves, nothing was terri bly attractive. The best lead is in Calido it se lf. We were shown a large, deep sink with an opening at the bottom. The 1 0-meter diameter entrance room drains through a clean-washed hole a bout I m wide. The passage continues two meters square for five meters to another small climbdown, after which it opens into dry meandering stream bed. This was followed for -lOOm and shows no signs of ending. The Calido council had easily agree d to show us their caves, but further negotiations were needed before we would be permitted to explore. Waiting in the square for the key players to be summoned, Taco towered over the locals. Thi s is nothing unu s ual in Mexico but something see med off. The percent age of cross-eyed children and slobbering drunks was unusually high. As Taco was escorted into an empty storeroom for high-level negotiations, I said quietly: These folks just ain t right." The talks seemed to take forever Joe nervou sly said that he s hould have gone with Taco Eight indians vs. the two of the m would be a fairer fight. Personally I was glad Joe had stayed with the truck. He was the best off-road driver in the group, and we might need to leave quickly. There were a few hus hed disc u ss ion s about how long we'd wait before we d go in after Taco and what exactly we'd do if there were trouble. Fi n a lly Taco emerged and we ha st ily drove out of town Joe de c ided to park facing the homeward direction in the future. Th e TEXAS CAVER 84 It turns out the people of Calido are just weird. Taco had offered school supplies, the council had asked for 5000 peso s ($600US) for a new church bell; all agreed to think about it. They really wanted cash. Nice cave, but it was nothing special especially considering the negative atmosphere and the caving potential elsewhere in Chiapas. The next day we decided to head right for the best karst. We drove South past the Army checkpoint at the Simojovel turn off and on to Bochil. We left the highway stopped briefly at Santo Domingo where a huge resurgence cave is described (closed by the local government). We went east to La Guayaba 300m above the resurgence cave. From there we could see some incredible karst. A new road continued and we followed it to the end at Chuchilton, another 400m higher. At first the town seemed deserted, but eventually a group of women came to greet us. They were friendly and confirmed that there were caves in the area. But the people would need to agree to let us look around. They d tell us their decision tomorrow On the way back to we were asked by a farmer to tak e some corn down to Guayaba This turned out to be six 50 kilo sacks of corn. He was very pleased and talked about the caves in the area. We had fun learning the names of the local caves in Tzotzil. The largest, which sounds like Chen ugk G'ung, mean s Big River Cave. We saw se veral caves with larger entrances but this appeared to be the best prospect. Loc a ls have been in with torches and report a n endless cave with a strong river go ing in both directions. Again, the people would need to decide if they would allow us to explore. We made plans for the next day: we'd ask permission and our new friend would show us around. Encouraged by our success we returned the following morning. A work crew blocked to road to Guayaba but we'd need to wait until evening to talk to the officials anyway. We took the turn to Monte Grande and spent the day with an ami able guide who showed us several nice caves including a through trip. Again, before we could actually explore the caves, the peopl e would need to talk ; we would return later for permission Thes e arrangements made we drove back to Guayabajust before dark. The ambiance in Guayaba had changed in 24 hours. While people were polite, they were no longer welcoming. We did our best to be friendly: buying cokes in the store, sharing our animalito cookies with children, smiling at everyone. Someone went to find the presidente and returned with the news that we'd have to wait. A crowd of boys had gathered around the truck, so Kurt and I want back to watch it. Despite our attempts to en gage them they were more interested in the truck than in us. The suburban often draws a crowd of young men in small vil lages but these boys were intent on shaking the grill, kicking the tire s, and generally testing how stout it was. It was getting dark and the re s t of our group was still waiting patiently by the store. While the villagers weren't hostile we were getting uncomfortable. Choir practice was starting in the church and they were singing hippie folksongs in a mix ture of Spanish and Tzotzil. As I considered whether joining in would help our cause or be an intrusion, the others finally re turned. The people had decided not to allow us into their caves. We thanked them and left quietly. A short way out of town we s topped to pee and unanimously agreed that perhaps this was not an a uspicious time to go into the Chiapas highlands May-December 1997


Driving down the narrow mountain road, we remembered Ruben 's w a rning not to drive in the hills after dark (Bandits in the area work by killing the driver then picking through the wreckage at the bottom of the hill.) Rounding a sharp bend, we were s tunned to see men in black mask s lining both s ide s of the road. Joe was suddenly accelerating toward a man standing be hind a closed gate. Evidently he d decided that running through the gate, over the man, and escaping down the mountain was the most prudent course of action. Taco was shouting : "It's alrig ht. They re Zapatistas. They're OK. I had the wits to say, 'This is bad. Joe noticing the high-tee radios they were carry ing, decided they probably weren't bandits. He skidded to a halt inches from the gate. We were surrounded immediately and told that they would not harm us. The Zapatista s asked us to get out of the truck so they could searc h it. They were careful not to point their weap ons directly at us but formed a double perimeter with armed men facing out. Everyone was frisked except me and knives were taken. The burban was searched more thoroughly than baggage in the Jerusalem airport. The angry leader was certain that we mu st be either drug runners or government agents Ei ther way we were not welcome in thi s area. Finally so meone found a caving helmet. There was a moment of stunned s ilence as it sank in that we really were crazy gringos looking for caves. Thi s see med to make the leader even angrier. He told u s to leave then changed his mind and demanded a thou san d pe sos. The robbery was obviously not pmt of the pla n The seco ndin-command whipped his head around and said, Hombre, es muy caro." ("Dude, that's a lot of money .") But Kurt was al ready reaching for his wallet. He pulled out all his cash and handed it to the nearest ma s ked man. Now we were all s hocked The Zapati s tas just stared a t the 600 pe sos. Who carries that much money ridgewalking? We asked if the rest of u s could keep the change in our pockets for gas a nd food. The leader agree d provided we leav e and not come back. We left. The next day, we bought commerative Zapatista dolls in a tourist market. We have no further plan s to cave in the high lands of Chiapas until the revolution is over Th e auth01; with roo muc h ve rti ca l gem; at Soconusco. Photo by Jo e I vy May-December 1997 News & Notes Complied b y Jim K en ned y John Moses of the Greater Houston Grotto ha s recently been named International Secretary of the NSS In a ddition to correspondence duties the Intern a tional Secretary makes arrangements for international visitors to the United State s, repre se nt s the NSS Pre s ident for meetings coordinates U.S. Participation in international caver exchange and recommend s participation grants for U.S. Expeditions to other countries. He can be reached at . Big accident occurred in West Virginia's famou s Hellhole Cave. In July during one of the two annual permitted survey trip s Bob Anderson fell four to five feet while attempting an easy climb, suffering a compound fracture of the tibia approximately four inche s above the ankle. The accident occurred II hour s into the trip, so me 3000' from the entrance Two cavers went for help exiting at 3: 15 am. Because of the severity of the injury di sta nce into the cave and difficulty of the passage, assistance was reque s ted from a multis tate area. Re sc uers began arriving by 6:00 a.m. Fortunately Anderson was in excellent physical s hape and was able to move himself through most of the cave with assistance being hauled in the litter only for short pitche s and the cave s 153 entrance drop He was finally brought out 12 hours after the accident to the relief of the 135 rescuers on sce ne. If he h ad not been s uch a good caver, the rescue would have taken much longer a nd required more personnel. C a n you see this happening here ? Even Bigger Accidents: On August 30, Karen Prowett r a ppelled off a short rope rigged in the entrance of Alabama s Stephens Gap Cave, dying upon impact with the floor 143 feet below. There was no knot at the end of the rope And on November 2, Alexia Hampton died from injurie s sustained in Alabama s Fern Cave. Alexia was 67 feet above the floor of Surprise Pit when her rappel went out of control. She s ustained multipl e injurie s including a compound fracture to the lower left leg and a nkle a nd a fractured right femur. Rescuer s had her just about out of the cave ten hour s afte r the incident when she went into respir a tor y arrest. Let's s t a te the obvious for newbie s and old-timers alike: Vertical caving i s dangerou s so be extra careful! Not everything from TAG is doom a nd gloom. For instance the extremely active Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc. has been buyin g and leasi ng caves right and left. So far, SCCI owns or lea ses I 0 propertie s containing 18 caves or entrances on 622 acres. One is th e biggest roost for endangered Gray Bats in Georgia, but many of the others are a mong the most popular recreational caves in the area and me m a n age d for caver access Some of the more famous caves cunently owned or m a naged by the SCCI are Neversink, part of the Fern Cave property, Kennamer Cave. Cemetery Pit, Hurricane Cave, Rustys Cave, and one entrance to Howards Waterfall Cave. They are always looking for t ax -deductibl e donations and member s hip s or you can even "buy a piece of the cave!" Contact SCCI Chairman Bill Putnam or Trea s urer Buddy Lane for more info or check out their Web site at http://www.scci .org. Their motto : Buying Caves for Cavers." 85 The TEXAS CAVER


More Trip Reports COLORADOBENDSTATEPARK San Saba County, Texas 11-13April, 1997 by Butch Fralia I returned to CBSP this past weekend to locate Gorman Sink and Copperhead Cave in the Gorman Falls area. I left camp around 9 :00 am and locat e d the two caves in short order. For those of you who did not receive a corrected trip report l ast month what I thought was Gorman Sink was the entrance to EI Solano Lodoso. If you ever see the entrance to Gorman Sink then El Sotano you'll agree there s a mega difference. After locating these two caves t aking GPS data then more data on El Sotano, I moved on to locate Climbup Cavelet and Skull Cave. I got in the area but did not get location data becau se I didn't feel comfortable hanging off a led ge with one hand while working the GPS. I' II mark the approximate location s on my map derri ved from the Kastning map I started walking around the area and located two fissures (one is a cave for s ure don t know abo ut the other). I took d a t a on th e m (see below ) These are n o t s h ow n on the Ka stn in g map an d a r e loc ate d eas t of the other fissures It was about I :00 pm a nd I returned to camp for munchies a nd a s hort re st. On a recent trip, I went back to Beginner's Luck Cave, SAB 211 and Danny's Carlsbad Connection to check the UTM coordinates. Beginners Luck was fine but SAB211 wasn't a nywhere close to where it 's s uppo se d to be I opted to try and s tr a i g hten out that area and arrived about I :4 5 for the hunt. I s h ould have known fate was agains t m e when I noticed the dog bolt. As I sc r ea m ed NO! NO! NO! at the top of my lun gs he proceeded to place o n e of his l arge feet o n th e back of a sk unk a nd turn her over. I know it was a her becau se s he was well ex po sed. The dog didn't want t o hurt the s kunk and was jus t c uri o u s She see m ed to sense thi s a nd after one hiss, growl a nd s h owi n g of teeth allowed him to s niff for a s hort time before deciding that e nou g h was enough a nd gave him somet hin g to ILLUSIVE PIT & GRUTAS de CARRIZAL Nuevo Leon b y Da v id Locklear Last weekend II cave r s from four different grottos m ade a trip to Illusive Pit. Thi s report de s c ribe s what h a pp e ned. I left Hou sto n Friday afternoo n an d drove to San Antonio to m eet so m e cave r s there. They were Oren Tranbarger James Loftin Linda Streckfus, Ann Murphree Christ i Bennett a nd Neal (?) We l eft imm ed i ately for Candela Mexico. Th e pla n was to caravan and cross the border at Colombia. Unfortunately, we b eca m e sepa r ate d s hortly after leaving San Antonio. W e tho u g ht the Columbia bridge was open until II, but it c l osed at te n tha t day My tru ck a rriv ed before te n and we c r ossed the border with n o problem Th e other truck arrived at I 0 :15, but the bridge was closed a nd the y were forced to go back to Laredo a nd cross there. Unfortunately, one of the cavers in their truck l eft his I.D. in my tru ck They experienced the B o rd e r Crossing from H ell," but fortunately the y eve ntu ally go t across. Meanwhile, we a rriv ed in Candela aro und midni ght, where we found L a r e do cavers : Michael P ort m a n a nd Michael Short se ttin g up ca mp We set up ca mp and the ot her truck arrived at 3 : 00 in the morning. N eed l ess t o say they were tired. Th ey s e t Th e TEXAS CAVER 86 sme ll! Fortunately it wasn't as s ignificant a sample as it could h ave been The dog got a s light sce nt that easily washed off today After that incident, I decided something wa s wrong with the SAB211 location and decided to try Danny's Carl sbad Connection I immediately located SAB211 where Danny 's was s uppo se d to be Look s like the l ocat ion for SAB211 got tranposed with a nother overland survey point and the locations wer e skewed. "No problem, says I and proceed to take the data. Suddenly the sa tellite s decided it was time to go crazy! My GPS loc a tion shifted over 150 kilometers and lo s t sate llite lo ck I reinitialized on a nearby l ocation a nd got thing s back to norm but the reading s were jumpin g all over the place I took som e d a ta but don't tru s t a n y of it so won't report it. I'll get it s trai g htened out later. B ac k at camp, Keith Heu ss and I took Jim Kennedy to the e ntrance to A Mother Pit. I've got updated UTM coordinates for it. We didn t overland s urvey to it and guessed a t it s location on the map. We mi sse d b y 200 m e ters. Sunday mornin g I h e lped Keith and hi s boys mark a trail to Gorman Spring fo r ne xt weekend's Earth Day project. Several thin gs were disc u ssed this weekend and hopefull y decided There was a recent disc us s ion of how to h a ndle old cave numbers when a cave ha s been redi scovere d a nd a new number applied. I believe the new number s hould be retired o r assigned to another cave and the original TSS number for the cave be retained. Thi s i s because old documentation like "Th e Caves of San S a b a County references the cave to that numbei. No one protested, so I m assuming that we re in agreement. Keith Heus s ha s agreed (act ually volunteered) to make up a bunch of SAB tags by next trip I 'll se nd him email later thi s week with a list of tag numb ers n eede d for older caves recentl y 'rediscovered' an d the number of tags above SAB264 (la s t assigned number ) tha t we 'll need to cover the unt agge d cave s i e. two caves in Lively Pa s ture, and the McLarrin Fissure System. In addition I' II se nd Keith a s pread s heet of all the known caves on the park a nd their locations. up ca mp and we all tried to sleep We were s urpri se d by a co l d wind that blew all night. I wa s not expecting this and only had a lig ht s leeping bag Saturday morning Austin cavers: Ernie Garza and Jennif e r Townsdin a rrived We h ea d e d for the ranch and were able t o acquire the key to the ranch by 9 a m Unfortunately, w e e ncountered severa l places in the road th a t were difficult t o n egotia te becau se it h a d rained severa l days before. We de c ided that we would hav e to abandon our plan s to do Illu s ive Pit. We returned to Cande l a a nd got the key to the gate at the ranch were a there is a cave called Grutas de Carrizal. W e ar rived at the cave Saturday after lunchtime. We s pent seve r a l hour s in the cave. Only four of u s had been to the cave before so this turned out to be a fun trip for most. Michael Portman had not been in the cave in 25 years. After caving, we relaxed for a while a nd then headed for Bu s tamante Canyon. At the canyon we cooked dinner swa m in the spri ng and enjoyed relaxin g around camp. Sund ay mornin g we all went our separate ways. Most of u s headed home, but Ernie a nd Jennifer headed for other de st ination s in Mexi co. There will probably be two trips to Illu s ive Pit in 199 8 M ar k yo ur calenders for M arc h 7-9 a nd September 25-28. All future trips to Illu sive pit will be three day trips. We will meet in Candela on Friday and get th e key to the ranch on Friday afternoon ca mping two nig ht s on the ranch. May-December 1997


NATIONAL CAVE RESCUE COMMISSION Level 1 Training Rockcastle County High School Mount Vernon, Kentucky June 14-21, 1997 by len Richards caving, of course! Some went to Great Saltpetre Cave. We Texans, with a few privileged others, went Sinks of the Rounds tone Pit a II 0-footer. We were guided by a local caver, one of my Level I buddies. The pit was a straight drop with wide-open spaces and scalloped walls The bottom was muddy and the walls were marked and gouged by swift water. There was an area where you could lay down and listen to the water running down the walls and then under you. What a wonderful world. Our afternoons spent in the caves were fantastic. The caves A week of caving, camping, and good friends." These were cold wide, and wet--a far cry from the Texas caves I was were my thoughts as I made my way across the country to used to. I began to see the big picture of cave rescue operations participate in this summer's NCRC course. It was more than I after the second day. Our morning classroom lessons were made e ver expected. ,. real every afternoon. By the time As a ftrst-time, Level I student of our culminating mock rescue, we I really didn t know what to expect. .. l t, Level Ones had become a cohesive I knew my knots, anchors, and pickteam. We were all there for each offs. Could there possibly be more? other. You bet there was! My mornings The mock rescue challenged w ere filled with nonstop lectures on everyone. All Levels worked well s ubjects like Litter Handling and together and got the patients out Incident Command. After classes of the caves. The last one rescued we all scrambled to get changed, was the furthest back in the cave. ea t and get on the bus. Every We were advised by the "higher afternoon we would practice what officials at 6 pm that we were to w e were taught in the morning. let him go through our rigging but A fter one day of this routine 1 was then we were to evacuate the area pumped The fear and questions as soon as possible. A rainstorm h a d subsided and now I was just a was coming our way and a flood sponge waiting to soak up watch was in effect. Our mock knowledge given to me every rescue was finished with all morning. personnel accounted for by 8 p m Close friendships began to What a wonderful high! form from the first day. We learned Everyone from the National that we could only achieve our goals NCRC staff was wonderful. if we joined together and worked Diversity, teamwork, and open-a s one unit. Our common bond was mindedness are the building blocks that we were Level Ones. Our that the National Cave Rescue s trength was our diversity. Commission is built upon I also Every morning we had our wanted to say thanks to my fellow Checkoffs. This year's class John Green and }en Rtchards. An o n y mou s photo. Texans who made me feel finished checkoffs one day ahead of schedule. Because of this comfortable so far from home. I can t wait for the Level Two w e were allowed a free night. What did everyone do? We went class in Boerne this September! Hooyah! PROYECTO ESPELEOLOGICO PURIFICACION SummerCamp 1997 b y Peter Sprouse Over the July 4th holiday the first of a planned "PEP Summer Camp series was held. A primary goal was to provide an introductory project trip for students and new cavers. Of the 19 people attending, about half were high school a nd college s tudents. This was a successful trip, with some good exploration breakthroughs made as well as a new room added on to the project Fieldhouse. The long-running dig at the bottom ofSotano de Ia Cuchilla finally bore fruit spearheaded over the years by diggers Charley Savvas and Bev Shade. The tight Hurricane Crawl opened up into larger passage, with another 214 meters being surveyed. Exploration stopped at another pinch, not nearly as serious as the previous one, and prospects look good for a connection to Sistema Purificacion. Cuchilla is now 21 09 meters long and 207 meters deep. May-December 1997 87 Just up the hill from Cuchilla lies Cueva Nadolig, which was pushed down the fourth drop to pinch out in a hopeless bedding plane at minus 74 meters. On to the south beyond Revilla a handful of pits were surveyed one of which went fairly deep before pinching a s well. Grieta de Luis had six drops and reached 96 meter s depth. On a trip into the Brinco entrance to Sistema Purificacion the survey was continued of the incoming stream way at Eternity Junction Over !50 meters were mapped here mostly small floodprone maze. Another trip into the system, this time via the France ses entrance succeeded in bypassing the upstream sump in the V a lkyrie River. This sump had blocked exploration to the south in this part of the cave since 1979. Altogether 277 meters were added to the survey, making the system 90,204 meters long. Tha nk s go to Gill Ediger for masterminding the construction of an addition to our Fieldhouse in Conrado Castillo. With the increasing popularity of project trips in recent years we have been bursting at the se a ms. Th e TEXAS CAVER


0-9 Well Survey Trip Crockett County, Texas by Terry Holsinger Personal : Lucile Berrones Oscar Berrones Walter Feaster, Eric Flint, Terry Holsinger Joe Ivy Vico Jones Bonnie Longley, Patrick Lynott Hunter Phillips Charley Sav vas, Rachel Savvas, Jennifer Townsdin. All per so nal arrived without any hitches on Friday night, May 4, 1997 Walter a rrived aro und 7 :45, followed by Joe 's truck around 8:00, and the bu s at 3:00a. m In the morning we awak ened to the s ight of the whole area covered with green plant s and wildflowers something not expected in west Texa s in May After bre akfas t people s t a rted to gear up No haste was needed as the temper a ture was only in the 60's. It was soon noted that Charley h a d left his caving gear in Austin in his Scout. After a bit of scro un g ing Charley h ad a full se t of gear Jo e and the riggin g /down s tre a m s urvey team (Rebecca, Hunt er, Eric, & Patrick ) were the first into the cave, around II :00. They rigged the entrance and headed downstream to re place a bolt. After setting a new stainless steel bolt they went to the mudroom and s tarted s urveying out of the cave. Around 3:00 they he aded out of the cave for lunch restroom break etc. They re-entered at 5:30 to finish the survey around 9:00. They se t 31 s tation s for a l e ngth of 235 meters and depth of 54.94 meter s, from the bottom of the entrance drop to the sump. The first upstream s urvey team Terry Bonnie, O scar, Lucil e, a nd R ac hel entered the cave around 12 :00, and s tarted their s urvey at the bottom of the entrance s haft at I :30. They starte d at the windmill and s urveyed up st ream for 25 sta tion s, a length of 196 meter s and a depth of 38 meter s Terry exited the cave at 5:00, while the rest of th e team (sans R ac hel ) headed downstream to vis it the cave Thi s was the first visit to thi s cave for everyone on thi s team A s mall ske leton was found calcified into a rim sto n e dam and a good climb lead was noted at the tiein with the other up s tream team. Thi s lead look s like the entrance does from below The l ast of this te a m exited the cave aro und 9:00 to a cool clear wind-free night. The final and farthest reaching up s tream s urv ey team Charley, Yico a nd J e nnifer, entered th e cave around I :30 due to gear so rtin g and h e lpin g people unfa miliar with rebelays. Th e ir s tart of s urvey was a bout 270 meters into the upstream sec tion. But first they head e d up stream in an attempt to pa ss the farthest point Charley h a d been. They went far e nou g h that they got out of the ca ny o n passage int o the original conduit passage They noted a s m all s ide l ead that will be s urveyed in the future. Also they noted a flowing infeeder which they followed a s hort dis tance before returning to the main pa ssage. They then sur veyed back until they e nc o unt e red the other up st ream team 's survey marker They set 15 s tation s for 75 meters Charley l eft the cave aro und 6 :00, h e lpin g his daughter, Rachel with the climb. Yico a nd Jennife r toured downstream before exiting. R obe rt Campbell the projects' co-instigator, was unabl e to m ake the trip si nce h e h ad stra ined hi s back at work On Sunday morning Joe Hunt er, a nd P atr ick e ntered the cave aro und I 0 :00 to de-rig. They left for Austin about 2 :00. Th e bus team left for Austin around 1 2:00 a nd arrived there a t 6 :00, in time to The TEXAS CAVER attend a caver p a rty On the way home the bus's rear differential s tarted to make noi se, and may need another $300.00 ring gear set. Thi s was a bad ending for Charley as his Harley was stolen the Thursday before the trip The time h as not been set for the return trip to continue the up s tre a m survey. The total surveyed length for this weekend was 506 meters and the new depth i s 93 meters. The old length i s 1372 meters The old depth is I 0 I meters We will be rechecking the depth on a future trip until then I feel it is appr o priate to continue using the old depth of I 0 I meter s. Ever yone who attended this trip is interested in continuing the project. Charley Savvas will be drafting the map 88 Whirlpool Cave Preserve Travis County Texas 19-20July, 1997 b y Ja y Jorden A quick weekend trip to Whirlpool Cave Preserve in Austin confirmed th a t the property needed both grafitti removal and surface cleanup, along with other work. On the weekend of July 19-20 I met Bob Zimmerman and Ellen Bernstein in Sout h Au s tin Bob who lives in the New York City area, had been pl a nning the trip for several weeks. Ellen is a friend of Bob s and a reporter for the Corpus Christi newspaper I had called Nico Hauwert, th e Texas Cave Management Association man age r for Whirlpo o l and sec ured the new gilfe combination. Nico already had plans for a weekend trip elsewhere, so I arranged to meet Bob a nd Ellen at Gill Ediger's. When I arrived Saturday afternoon, I he a rd that a group had l ef t Gill's earlier that day for 0-9 Water Well another TCMAmanaged cave. Nico had said that Whirlpool remained a popular cave for the city of Austin's youth caving program and had received much visitation. Since Ellen h a d not been on a noncommercial cave tri p Whirlpool seemed a good introduction for her. Some crawlin g and other moderate challenges with a littl e walking pa ssage would give her a reali stic ta s te of what it 's all a bout. After parking at the compound, we geared up a nd entered Ellen 's bigge s t worry had been varmints in s ide the cave, but Bob and I were able to lay those concerns to rest. And, when the gate was opened, the cool bla s t of air hitting u s on a hot day m a d e for a quick deci s ion not to linger around at the entranc e too long Locking the gate behind u s, we proceeded down the l adder, through the entrance room and into the sq ueeze to the l o wer level. Ellen had a few question s about how to best proceed and chose the be st one. It was a learning experience for her. Bob i s a member of New York's Met Grotto a nd i s used to colder. wetter caves. So Texa s s tyle caving in T-shirt and jeans wa s a novel experience for him as well. Along the way to the Travi s County Room, we not e d grafitti that someo ne ha s scratc hed into the cei lin g in an alcove a l on g the m ain route. Some other minor vandalism was noted for a po ss ible restoration trip in the future. Bob Ellen, and I signed the regi s ter before continuing from the Travi s County Ro om int o the South pas sage, which contains a fair assortment of formations Among changes noted s ince the l as t trip to Whirlpool a r e h eavy grafitti on concrete beams a nd supports under the bridg e which h as obviously become a hangout for kids and gang wanna bes. Signage at the cave i s still problematic. The origina l metal sig n s till le a n s against a tree a nd needs to be replaced We als o need a s mall s turdy kiosk for TCMA brochures a nd other inform a tion Once a new sign and kiosk a re ready for placement it 's a relatively stra ightforward matter of sc heduling a day or so when TCMA folks can meet at the preserve to ins t all them May-Dec e mber 1997


Cueva del Rio Rocja Pemech by Rebecca Jones Driven from prime caving in the Chiapas highlands by armed men in black masks, we struck out for Guatemala. They' re the same mountains, right? It's the same virgin karst, right? They ve finished their revolution right? Joe Ivy and Rebecca Jone s from TX, and Alan Adams and Nate Newman from VT, joined Matt Oliphant and Nancy Pistole from CA. We had planned on four weeks. Matt and Nancy have traveled extensivel y in Guatemala and we were all seduced by their stories. They fee l Guatemala is God's Country. Our reality turned out to be somewhat different. Matt had told us: "Guatemala's so small you can drive across w ith one tank of gas Maybe you could if th ey ever built a road that didn't wind through every small village and valley in the country. Matt had said: "It's a third world country it s cheap." Cokes were a dollar, gas was $2.60/ gallon, a filthy hostel room was $15. M a tt had said: "There are ATM s everywhere." Well ev e r y where in Guatemala City but none that accepted our cards N one of this would have been a problem if we'd been prepared but four of u s (in a Suburban getting 13 miles to the gallon) had l ess than $200 between us. We spent $45 of that for insurance Our budget was suited for Mexico, not Switzerland. So the tr ip began with some negatives but we were eager to put that behind us and go caving. Matt had said: "the whole country's karst most of it's never been checked." Unfortunate l y w hat we found helps expl ain why no one's bothered. After doing the tourist thing in Antigua for a few days we drove to Coban with some promising cave l eads. There were two areas we wanted to check. Matt and Nancy took off with Bruce Dunlavy (w hom they d acquired from his group of PA cave rs) for a l ead they'd left the trip before. Joe Alan Nate and I hoped to follow a map to the seductive Rio D esa par ece e n S i g uan and corresponding "Resurgimiento D e l Rio." Photo Rebe cca Jones. It was right there on the topo: the river went underground on one side of the ridge and e m erged on the other. We were dreaming of cool river through trip s. We drove out t h e windy road and asked the first folks we saw. Sure there 's a cave ," they sa id. "The big cave up there. Some Italians exp l ored it. But what about the river that goes under ground here ? We asked. Yes, they all agreed there was a river that went underground but they seemed bewildered that we d want to see it. Friendly and helpful they gave u s good directions through a dense car damom plantation. The Rio turned out to be a small stream. It sank into a muddy little hole and came out a see p spring on the ot her side of the hill. We all peed in it. In Guatemala siguan can describe anything from a major ins urgence to a tiny drain. Per hap s we shou ld pay closer attentio n to the locals' confused looks. A bit discouraged we caught up with Matt and Nancy Their lead had turned o ut to be a nice cave, Cueva Del Rio Rocja Pemech Finally! The four of u s s tarted to survey that evening. The next day we leapfrogged with Matt Nancy and Bruce. By mid-afternoon we'd s ur veyed I 200m of pretty river cave to a substantial upstream sump. Matt was determined to push further and conned Nancy Cueva del Rf'o Rocja Pemech into belaying a bolt climb that yielded a nother I Sm of small muddy passage '-.a--... .{)0 1\ -:-7 !( a. May-December 1997 Alta Vert1pu, Guatemala ,.......,lonf!l' : l m '-89 With no more cave l eads onl y Matt and Nancy really wanted to stay in Guatemala. The re s t of u s, faced with the grim prospect of starving penni l ess in some touri s t trap decided to rout. We drove away in the morning, leaving Matt and Nancy camped a t the side of the road. After one hungry night in a Guatemal a City h ote l (not onl y we r e we poor we were afraid to go o ut after dark ) we went back to Mexico We all have a n even greater appreciation of Mexico's cheap hote l s, good food, a nd great caves. Th e TEXAS CAVE R


Ima ges B e low. A Manu a l of U nde rground F l as h Ph otog r a phy. C hri s H owes. Wild Pl aces Publi s hin g Cardiff, U nit e d Kin g d o m ; 1 99 7 xii+ 268 pp hardb o und 24 b y 1 7 e m illu s I S B N 0-9525 7 01-1-9 U .S. Distribu to r S p e l eo b ooks. $40. Thi s i s a s uperb comp re h e n s i ve m a nu a l of cave ph o togra phy. I d o n't think th e re's a t r i c k o f cave ph o t og r a ph y I've heard of th a t isn t m e nti o n e d in thi s b ook. It i s heavily illu s tr a t e d w ith black a nd w hit e exampl es oft e n severa l p e r p age. These includ e num ero u s ph o t os s h o t es p ec i a ll y t o illu s t ra t e p o int s in th e book as well as m a n y oth e r s th at i llu s tr a t e t h e p i t falls a nd were pro b ably t ake n f r o m th e l arge collectio n of imp e r fec t ph o togr a ph s th a t even th e b es t ph o togr a ph e r w ill soo n acc umul a t e. The r e a r e a l so a l o t of C hri s s goo d s h o t s, t oo. The r e a r e only a few col o r ph o t os s e l ec t ed t o illu s tr a t e a few p o int s w h e r e co lor i s really esse n t i a l but t h e bl ac ka ndw hit es d o jus t fine fo r m ost purp oses Indeed co l o r mig ht di s tr ac t f r o m th e f in e p o int s of lig htin g a nd ex p os ur e. Howes i s o n e of th e few cave ph o t og r a ph e r s w h o s h oo t s a l o t of b l ack a n d-w hit e; h e h as pr act ically own ed th a t catego r y in th e a nnu a l N SS ph o t o sa l o n fo r th e p as t few yea r s. As m os t of th e ph o togr a ph s in th e book wer e p ro b ably orig i nally s h o t as bl ac k a ndw h i t e n o thin g h as b ee n l os t in printin g th e m th a t way. The m ain sec r e t s of cave ph o t og r a ph y a r e, of co ur se in th e lig htin g a nd lig h ting w ith b o th s t ro b es a nd flas hbulb s in b o th s i n g l e a nd m ultipl e flas h a rr a n ge m e nt s i s th o r o u ghly di sc u sse d a nd illu s tr a t e d The m a t eria l o n flas hbul b s w ill cau s e a l o t of fru s t ratio n I im ag in e becau se Howes corr ectly says th a t th ey h a ve m a n y a d va nt ages f o r cave ph o t og r ap hy, but th ey a r e n o l o n ger m anuf a ct ur ed. I ve h e l ped o ut o n p h o t o trip s w h e r e t e n o r fiftee n doze n flas hbulb s were u se d The r e wo n t b e m a n y more of th ose. A di sce rnin g reader w ill quickl y n o t e th a t Howes i s p a rti a l t o b a c kli g htin g a nd h as littl e int e r es t in bri g htl y a nd uniforml y lit s h o t s of b ig roo m s a nd passages but th e infor m atio n in th e r e th a t i s n ee d ed for all so rt s of s t y l es Oth e r part s of th e book g i ve l o t s of po inters for s e l ec tin g cam e r a s a n d o th e r eq uipm e n t b es t s uit ed t o cave ph o t ograp h y di s c u s s th e s p ec i a l require m e nt s of ex p e diti o n ph o togr a ph y a nd d e s crie d t h e s p ec i a l p roble m s a n d p rocedures f o r closeup flas h p h o t o g r a ph y The r e are even bri e f intr o du ctio n s t o und e r wa t e r s t e reo a n d video ph o togra ph y a lth o u g h th e s e a r e really b eyo nd th e scope of t h e book. There i s a s h o rt bibliogr a ph y a g lossar y a n d a n ind e x L es t a n yo n e think I m ge ttin g soft I w ill p o int o ut a few g lit c h e s T h e d a t a in t h e t a bl e of d e pth s of f i eld f o r close -up work l ook f i s h y t o m e and t h ey a l so confli c t w i t h a state m e nt in th e imm e d i a t e l y a djacen t text. C hri s refe rs t o film r ec i p r ocity as a probl e m in se ve r a l pl aces. In r eality of cour se i t i s th e recip roca l r e l atio n b e tween ex p o s ur e tim e a nd bri g htn ess th at i s th e w h o l e b as i s of practical p h o t og r ap hy, a n d th e pr oble m a ri s e s w h e n rec i pr ocit y fails w h e n p u s h e d to ex tr e m e s It t ook m e q u it e a w hil e to un d e rs t a n d th e so urce of th e slig ht a n o m a l y p ointed o ut in th e ph o t og r ap h o n page Ill, a n d I r e m ain q uit e uncon vince d th a t th e s u gge s t ed r e m e d y would m a k e a n y diffe r e n ce. Beg inners mig ht prefe r t o read Howes's s m alle r a nd c heaper Cav e P h o to g rap hy. A P raCli c a l G uide, pu blis h ed in 1 98 7 a nd s till a v aila b l e fro m s o m e s o urces o r S heen a Stodd ar d 's 1 994 In t r odt1 c tio n r o Cme P h o t og rap hy But a n yo n e really seri o u s a b o ut th e m atte r s h o uld b u y a nd read Im a ge s B e low, whic h w ill s ur e l y be th e bib l e o n th e s u b j ec t fo r m a n y years t o com e. The TEXAS CAVER 90 Book Reviews b y Bill Mi x on Cave Minerals of the World. Carol Hill and P a l o Forti. N atio n a l Spel eo l og i c al Soci e ty Hunt sv ille Al a b a m a; 19 97. 8 5 x II inch es 4 63 pp h a rdb o und. ISBN 1-879961 0 75 $7 0 Second e diti o n rev i se d Thi s monume n ta l wo rk cont ains o v e r twice th e m a teri a l tha t w as in th e fir s t e diti o n whi c h w as publi s h e d in 1 986. The r e a r e now l o t s m o r e col o r ph o t os, a b o ut o n e p e r page. M a n y of them a r e s m a ll s o th e book d oes n t really qu a lif y as a pi c tur e bo o k but th e r e are s till num e r o u s clear ph o togr a ph s of ex tr e m e l y cu r io u s a nd b e a uti f ul s p e leoth e m s It i s n o t s urp r i s in g th a t a few of th e ph o to s a r e n o t too wonde r f ul th e r e not h aving b ee n a b i g c h o ice of ph o t os but o n e reall y aw ful ph o togr a ph in f i g ur e 22. of ex tr e mel y ordin ary s t a l actites a nd s t a lagmit es. I w i s h I could thin k o f some o th e r reason fo r it s inclu s i o n th a n th a t it was t a k e n b y the hu s b a nd of o n e o f th e a uth o r s It i s m a dd e nin g that so m a n y of th e ph o t og r a ph s cont ain n o clu e e ith e r in th e pic tur e i t self or th e ca pti o n a b o ut scal e The two m a in sectio n s of th e book c l ass i fy a nd di scuss s p e leoth e m t y p es a n d s p e leoth e m m i n e r a ls. The a uth o r s b e g i n th e di sc u ss i o n of s p e l eo th e m t ypes by p o in t in g o ut the flaws inh e r e nt in atte mptin g t o cl assify th e m b y m o rph o l ogy origin or c ry s t a llo g r a ph y and so th ey d e cid e t o di sc u ss them in alpha b etica l o rd e r b y t y p e s a nd s ubt y p es, s ur e l y a n even worse c hoice. Y o u can find so m e thin g only if yo u h a pp e n t o know w h at t h e MayD ecembe r 1 997


authors call it (they use cave cones for what everybody else calls r a ft cones and ji-ostwork for what most people call anthodites ) and whether they consider it a type of merely a subtype, a rather a r bitrary decision at least a s the authors make it. Would you l o o k for selenite needles under spar? They seem to imagine that t h e y are creating an official list of speleothem types but the terms they re using are just common names which means they a r e not all analogous to things like binomial names in biology of mineral names, which are governed by international committees and rules of precedence. Common speleothem n a mes m e a n what people use them to mean despite, for example, the fact that anthodite was first used for clusters of helictites rather then aragonite frostwork. The descriptions of cave minerals in the o ther main section do follow a common and sensible classi f'c a tion scheme that is often applied to minerals which puts the m in such classes as carbonates and silicates Since the ac names of minerals almost never imply which class they f all to, someone looking for a particular thing will in this section .:'J, likely resort to the glossary or index Once past the organi. < i onal hurdles the reader will find generally reasonable dis ss ions about the origin of speleothem or the mineral in caves w ell as information on morphology localities and so on. T hese main sections stagger, though under the weight of : i r scholarly baggage. There can be little reason except show"!; o ff to list the 99 references on goethite or 235 references ut s talactites. Most of these references are not actually men 'lle d in the text so the reader ha s no clue as to their impor "tc e although he has plenty of reason to suspect it. I doubt if e n a professional mineralogist would bother to seek out the s t majority of the references becau s e most of the total of nearly t y -five hundred are in literature s o gray as to be practically 1 c k and unobtainable if at all through inter-library loan from ms. The authors are the sort of people who consider ice to be ; a ve mineral in the oxide class. In addition although they ';e pains to assert that all 225 known cave minerals are sec d a ry deposits that owe their existence to the c a ves in f a ct -ry many of them including ice are what biologists would call s identals, minerals that just happen to have stumbled into : e or more caves but whose speleologic a l significance is zilch. he ir paper catalog of cave minerals has the scientific impor L,n c e of a nineteenth-century collection of butterflies The most interesting parts of the book page for p a ge are the chapters on special topics most of them written by other These add up to some hundred pages and include a fasc inating historical introduction in which Trevor Shaw survey s ancient theories of speleothem formation. Some of the other c h a pters review crystallography sources of speleothem colors, l u m inescence, speleothem dating protection and restoration and microbiology and even archaeology in relation to speleothems. And finally there are des cription s of the authors list of the worlds t o p ten caves, mineralogically. These include some fascinating but little-known caves, such as Mbobo Mkulu C a ve in South Af rica and especially Cupp-Coutunn Cave, Turkmenistan. The U nited States' representatives in the list are Lechuguilla and Karchner Caverns. I suspect the inclusion of Karchner says more a bout who compiled the lis t than th e cave. While minor imperfections are not hard to find the book has been more carefully produced then other recent NSS books. May-December 1997 91 Even the cover is more attractive Allowing for the s ubject mat ter most of the text is clear and read a ble. Fortunately the au thors apparently didn t need the editori a l help th a t the Speci a l Publications Committee showed it self so spect acula rly incapable of providing in On Station and On R o p e For a bo o k of such large size and specialized nature printed entirely on a four color press the price of s eventy dollar s is not unrea s onable and l don t doubt that enough interested cu s tomer s will be found But as was the case with the huge and expensive On R o p e, l can't help wondering whether a smaller, simpler, a nd cheaper book that more cavers might actually read would not have been a better use of NSS resources. Assuming of course that some body had come forth to write such a thing Sotono de Sylvestre Municipio EI Salvador Tamaulipas Mexico b y Rebecca Jones On a trip to Venadito in December 1997, a local rancher showed u s a ne a rby pit. He told us that some pro s pector s for a flourite mining compan y had entered They had been una ble to re a ch the bottom but reported hearing a river. We found th e pit to be blind and mud-floored It does not take significant drain a ge. Intere s tingly the bottom of this pit i s far below the w a ter level in nearby D o n Broussard on rop e in Sotano d e S y l ves tre. Pho t o b y R e b ecc a Jon e s Th e TEXAS CAV ER


CAVER Post Office Box 8026 Austin, Texas 78713 BULK RATE U S Po s t age PAID Au s tin Texas Permit No. 1181

Contents: Are you a
"Spelunker?" / Gil Ediger --
In Search of the Origin of the Word Spelunker / Bill
Mixon --
What's a Cave? --
Cave Leads Need Checking in Burnet County / Jerry
Atkinson --
Texas Cave Literature from TSS --
Interview with Don Broussard / Aimee Bereridge --
Bindseil's Well / Rick Corbell --
Gunnels Cave / David Locklear --
Caverns of Sonora Restoration Project--1996 / George Veni
Trip Reports --
1997 TSA Convention / Gill Ediger --
Bad Air / Jim Kennedy --
Tarbuttons Cave / William Russell --
The Problems of Cave Hunting / William Russell --
Endangered Karst in the Public Eye / Kristen Tronvig
& John Mylroie --
Photo Tricks / John Chenger --
Trespassing / Gill Ediger --
My First Caving Trip in Mexico / Dale Barnard --
Gruta del Palmito / Jeannie Lovirig --
Caving in Chiapas / Rebecca Jones --
News & Notes / Jim Kennedy --
More Trip Reports --
Book Reviews / Bill Mixon.