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Intercom is a publication of the Iowa Grotto of the National Speleological Society, Inc., an internal organization of the National Speleological Society (NSS). The Iowa Grotto, is dedicated to the exploration, study, and conservation of caves.
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Volume 51, Number 5 (September - October 2015).
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I N T E R C O M Volume 51, Issue 5 September October 2015 Iowa Grotto P.O. Box 228 Iowa City, IA 52244 Grotto Website: Coldwater Cave Project website: Membership Dues : due January 1, $15.00 per year, includes INTERCOM and Hotline subscriptions. INTERCOM subscriptions only are $13.00 per year. The Iowa Grotto reserves the right to decline membership during or after a probationary period. Due Dates : for submission of material for publication in the next INTERCOM is December 1st. Send material for publication, e mail, disk or hard copy to: Editor and Typist: Scott Dankof 515 986 3219 410 SW Hickory Circle Grimes IA. 50111 E mail Coordinate photographs for publication in the INTERCOM with Scott Dankof, the INTERCOM editor. Cave Rescue : Contact the Kentucky Disaster and Emergency Services Central Dispatch at 502 564 7815 for cave emergencies only in the NCRC Central Region of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Iowa Grotto Meetings : are the fourth Wednesday of each month, third Wednesday in December at 7:30 p.m. in Room 125 or thereabouts of Trowbridge Hall on the campus of the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa. Cover Photo: Blake Stone exiting the second eardip in Roasting Ear Cave, Arkansas. Photo by Scott Dankof. National Speleological Society P. O. Box 228 Iowa City, Iowa 52244 Chairman Ed Klausner Vice Chairman/Treasurer John Donahue Secretary Elizabeth Miller Volume 51 Issue 5 ______________C O N T E N T S _____________ Meeting Minutes 82 Trip reports: Mammoth Cave Natl. Park 82 Roppel Cave 83 Several Summer Trips 83 West 84 Dear Dorothy 86 Fall MVOR 88 89 Lava Beds National Monument 90 NCKMS and Mammoth Cave 96 Coldwater Cave 96 Roasting Ear Cave 97 Photo Gallery 98 81


__________CALENDAR___________ January Grotto Meeting Jan. 27nd Room 125, 7:30 pm, Trowbridge Hall. February Grotto Meeting Feb. 24th Room 125, 7:30 pm, Trowbridge Hall. March Grotto Meeting March 23rd Room 125, 7:30 pm, Trowbridge Hall. No September meeting minutes Minutes of the Iowa Grotto Regular Meeting October 28, 2015 The regular meeting was called to order by Chairman Ed Klausner at 7:45 PM with 7 members present. Prior to the meeting, Ed Klausner showed slides from several recent trips of grotto members. The minutes of the September meeting were approved as corrected. According to Treasurer John Donahue, the grotto has $5362.74 in the general fund $75.85 in the Coldwater fund and $52 in petty cash. Trip reports: Approximately 10 people attended the cave rescue training at Coldwater Cave in September. At the October Coldwater Cave trip, John, Mark Jones, Jordan Kjome and Elizabeth Houston went up to the second sump. It appears that we will be able to do survey work above the sumps this winter. Chris Beck, Ed and Elizabeth Miller surveyed on the tour route in Mystery Cave in Minnesota at the end of August. Ed, Elizabeth Miller and Mark spent a week surveying in Lava Beds National Monument in northern California in September. Last week Ed surveyed with several other people at a high lead near the Ruins of Karnak in the historic area of Mammoth Cave. They had seventy eight feet of new tied survey. Future trips: The next NSS convention will be July 2016 in Ely NV. It is unclear whether more surveying will be approved in Mystery Cave during the winter bat hibernation season. Contact Ed Klausner if interested. Old Business: Secretary Elizabeth Miller has taken over all of the webmaster duties from Joe Dixon and reported that things are now running smoothly. She has also sent out the small grant flyers to colleges, universities and Iowa environmental organizations. Several members mentioned that the University of Iowa Anthropology Department and the Office of the State Archaeologist should also receive flyers and Elizabeth agreed to do so. New Business: In November, Elizabeth Miller will talk about a proposed Iowa cave wiki for collecting information on cave biology and cave geology. The meeting was adjourned at 8:25 P.M but reconvened to discuss reapplying for nonprofit status for the grotto. A motion to have the grotto officers consider this carried. The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 PM. Mammoth Cave National Park East Salts Cave Edmonson County, Kentucky September 5, 2015 By Mark Jones Bill Broeckel wanted to do some resurvey and push some leads at the extreme end of East Salts Cave so along with Bill Steele and Matt Mezydio I checked out gear and suited up for the trip. After running the compass course we left Hamilton Valley at 9:30 a.m. and were in the cave by 10::00 a.m. From the gated entrance we climbed down to the borehole passage for the next several thousand feet before it terminates at a rock wall. Here we slid down a wormhole in a breakdown pile that dropped to a steep talus slope that we chimneyed to a lower level. According to Bill B. this route was developed to avoid a two hour detour that was required to access East Salts. Other than a few minor inconvenient crawls most of the first two hours of caving was in relatively easy walking over extensive breakdown with a few chimney climbs along the way. I was wearing only a t shirt during this portion of the trip since I would have overheated which much more clothing. 82


Other than some gypsum formations in a few spots the passage was devoid of secondary formations. Eventually we reached the top of a narrow forty foot high canyon that snaked around until we had to chimney down thirty feet to a lower level. Thankfully both Bill B. and Matt had experience in making this climb so it was much easier for Bill S. and me to wind our way down. Fifty feet further into the canyon we entered a huge dome room where we had to climb back up into the canyon. This section of cave had us moving up and down in all sorts of climbing conditions until we reached another dome complex. After a short snack break we began slogging through a stream that meandered in a small canyon before morphing down to a hands and knees crawl. The crawl funneled down to a rocky bellycrawl in the water that eventually broke into a muddy upper level. Squirming through this area we reached our first objective, the resurvey of a watercrawl loop, 4½ hours after entering the cave. For this trip Bill B. was taking book, Matt was on point, Bill S. set stations and I read instruments. The watercrawl loop was in comfortable passage although not altogether pleasant. Most of my shots were at least in the double digits so it wastook two hours to close the loop after which we took an opportunity to warm up and have some food. Following our rest Matt led us upstream to an upper level that we tied into our survey. An easy crawlway on the right terminated in four shots leaving a bellycrawl off to the left. Matt led, followed by me, Bill S. and Bill B. brought up the rear. I knew things were going to get interesting when Matt needed to back into the crawl to set stations and read backsights. Two chest compressors convinced Bill S. Bills turned around while Matt and I pushed deeper into the crawl. A hundred feet later I tuckered out so Matt soldiered on to the bitter end. He found a sand filled crawl that a smaller caver may be able to push. Wrapping up our work we retraced our steps to resurvey a dome complex and canyon. Unfortunately the compass had completely fogged up rendering it useless. With no other option we packed up the gear and headed for the entrance. The return trip seemed to take a lot longer than coming in. A total of 19½ hours was spent on this trip. Roppel Cave Edmonson County, Kentucky September 6, 2015 By Mark Jones Following the 19.5 hour East Salts Cave with Bill Broeckel on Saturday and Sunday I was ready to assist in lugging dive gear back from Roppel Cave. Twelve cavers acted as Sherpas along with the dive support team and the divers. We left Hamilton Valley at 6:30 p.m. and down the ladder around 7:00 p.m. We scurried down the borehole and in no time we reached Cumquat Passage. Five of us waited here while the rest of the team slugged through the muddy stoopwalk to the sump where the dive started. Thirty minutes later we saw the faint shadows cast from the team bringing out the first packs. From this point on we were shuttling packs of all kinds back toward the entrance. Alshare the divers and their support team excelled at carrying gear. In spite of their extended trip the divers were lugging three and four packs each. Moving the gear through the borehole proved to be the easiest reached the end of the borehole we switched to passing packs through the canyon and up the ladders. The entire operation took five hours. Several Summer Trips By Ed Klausner After the grotto picnic in August, I took two trips to Missouri to suvey with the Cave Research Foundation. 83


Mark Jones and I went on the first one in NE Missouri for three days and a week later, Elizabeth and I again went to NE Missouri for two survey days. Over Labor Day weekend, Mark Jones and I drove down to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Mark spent the first caving return until the following morning. I went with Eli Winkler and Lisa Troyer to Roppel Cave where we went to Lower Level Arlie Way to replace some surthe side leads mentioned in that survey book. The first three leads were only one or two survey shots each, but the fourth one turned out to be more extensive. All in all, we got about 250 feet of virgin cave and about the same in resurvey. The following day, Eli Winkler, Karen Willmes and I went to the Labyrinth in the historic section of Mammoth Cave to remove a bridge we put in about 4 years ago. The bridge was a piece of scaffolding about 8 or 9 feet long. Over the past few years, it picked up moisture from the humidity and the water dripping on it. It also swelled a bit. We used a rope with an ascender attached to keep it from slipping back down. Getting it up was not much of an issue, but getting it through the 30 foot crawl was a bit more of a challenge. We successfully got it through the crawl and then up to the old tour trail in the Labyrinth and finally to modern day tour trail and out to the parking lot. It is now in Hamilton Valley awaiting further use. That evening, both Mark and I returned to Roppel cave with 10 other people to help the dive crew haul out their dive tanks and the rest of their gear. They had a very successful trip and really appreciated the help hauling their gear out from the sump, through Cumquat Crawlway, Arlie Way, South Downey Avenue and then up the ladders to the surface. We all got a workout and removed all the gear. West Craters of the Moon, Idaho, Talus Caves in Wyoming and Lava Beds National Monument, California Sept. 12 28, 2015 By Ed Klausner Elizabeth Miller and I took some unusual caving gear with us on a trip to Lava Beds National Monument in northern California; a roll of plastic sheeting and a single pole deer stand ladder. The sheeting was to make it a bit easier to get through a 15 foot long low spot in Silver Cave and the deer stand ladder was to help us reach a high lead in Post Office Cave. Both worked well. On our way to California, our first caving stop was a bunch of granite talus caves between Laramie and Cheyenne Wyoming. Some of these talus caves were quite complex and would qualify as an actual cave by any Due to bad weather to the south of us, we headed to Idaho and went to Craters of the Moon National Monument. They have four caves (Dew Drop, Boy Scout, Indian Tunnel and Beauty Caves) available for easy access along a marked trail. They have good maps of the caves available as well. We had hoped to see the tree molds (lava surrounds the tree and creates a mold when the tree ignites) but it rained all night, we were wet, and it was a long hike to the tree molds in the rain. We finally got to Lava Beds National Monument and were joined by Dave West, Karen Willmes, Paul McMullen, Mark Jones, Rachel Bosch, Ken Walsh, John Tinsley and Bill Broeckel for a week of surveying. David Riggs was recently hired by the monument to be their cave specialist. Many of us knew David from Mammoth and east coast caving. David and Katrina Smith joined us at various time during the week. I spent the first two days in Silver Cave (first day with Elizabeth, Karen and David, second day with Rachel). The plastic was a big help getting through the fifteen foot long low 84


spot. It was too low to have our helmets on and the plastic did not fully protect us from the sharp lava hanging down from the ceiling or the sharp lava on the floor. We completed Silver cave by adding about 770 feet of new survey and made the connection to Post Office Cave. David rigged the drop while the rest of us were surveying and then dropped down to Post Office Cave. It was a very unstable slope leading to the hole in the floor (ceiling of Post Office). He found a piece of flagging tape on a station, B17. Great, we had the connection. When I got back that night and entered data, I could find no B17 or any B survey at all. After a few hours, Karen wrote B17 on a piece of paper and turned it upside down L18. That was perfect as L18 was in the right spot for the tie. We had one additional trip to Post Office Cave later in the week. David, Katrina, Ken and Paul joined me to check two leads and complete the connection profile sketch from the bottom. We hauled the 5 piece deer stand ladder to the bottom of from the entrance) and assembled the ladder. David climed first no go. I climbed to complete the sketch and all that remained was the last very small lead. Much to my surprise, this lead did go, but not very far. There were actually two tight spots and each seemed worse that the other. David and I were the only two who fit (Katrina had to return to work at the Monument). We started at the back and surveyed out. We found a room with a cloth. The room was not virgin. We got 58 feet of survey. John Tinsley worked for the US Geological Survey in California and is the CRF operations manager for Lava Beds. He graciously took a day off from his work and gave the rest of us a geology tour of the Monument and then took us to Medicine Lake Volcano that is responsible for the bulk of the bedrock in the area. I applied for and received a research permit to find and map the Trench is one of the seven flows from Mammoth Crater that are known on the geology maps as bmc (basalt of Mammoth Crater). These flows occurred about 35,000 years ago and only lasted 100 200 years. I had mapped a few caves in this flow several years ago as part of the Inventory and Monitoring program. There are about 85 known caves in the flow, but on our way to the first cave we were to survey, we found two more. Later we found another three, so the known caves will (hopefully) increase in the coming years. Rachel, Paul and I started the surElizabeth and I finished it the following day. Total survey length was about 500 feet. On the last day of our trip, ElizaBridge for a total survey length of about 260 feet. We plan on returning to Lava Beds in the spring and again in the summer of 2016. David Riggs and Ken Walsh in Post Office Cave, California. Photo By Ed Klausner. 85


(Ed. Note) The next trip report from Mike Nelson was submitted as a letter written to a relative. I decided it makes a interesting read this way and will leave it as is. The trip takes place in Northern Arkansas. Dear Dorothy, Sunday 9 27 15 Working for Ed Manor last Thursday brought me out of the funk I was experiencing. I had to focus so inany mood to persevere on my own work Friday, so I played with the wine instead for most of the day. I got that initial clarification agent into them off of their lees and get the second stage element in them before long. The primary stage of the second run of the last of those Frontenac grapes will go into a 5 gallon carboy before I see how much juice I can extract from all those apple I have prepped and frozen. Saturday, I decided that I had better continue to socialize, lest I revert back to my hermitic ways, so I joined up again with those doing that C.R.F. biota inventory for the National Park Service. Max White and Mat Bumgardner had gone to a Missouri speleological thingy someplace else this weekend, again, but the new folks I did cave with were just as much fun. Kayla Sapkota heads up this service to the Park Service. I had caved with her on a C.R.A.G. project cave. This was the first time I caved with her on a C.R.F. project. Scott Sutton is a Missouri caver that I had heard of or read about in trip reports previously, who has obabout 5 years, but was extremely capable. She did give us a bit of grief occasionally when we were trying to get her to tie some of the knots in our rappelling rope, but who knows, we may have been deserving of it. Blake Stone is a geology graduate doing an internship here with the Park Service, relating to that hog confinement feeding operation on a tributary of the Buffalo National Scenic River. His geology background naturally goes hand in hand with caving. We never really got him very far underground on his first real exposure to caving. The one cave we got into was on rope and quite tight in a couple of places. So Blake tended to the surface for us. eral months, I hope to run him through a good vertical orientation on rope in a tree. I believe that is a much safer way to get started than in a dicey cave. If things work out, cliff up there on our bluff line after that. Then the others with a far better understanding of up to date vertical techniques can help him build a system that will suit his needs. Blake also just got his open water Scuba certification. I hope that we get the chance to get him into a side mount rig and dive with it. Who knows, with his education and these practical skills, he may one day go to have helped mentor him. Drew Westerman was up from Little formation about M.O.L.E.S. (Middle Ozarks Lower Earth Society) meetings and events and news of interest. I had meet him some time ago at a by where we lived that first year we were down here. I got to the meeting place in Broadwater Hollow right on time. I got out my little folding chair and waited just long enough for the rest to show up to wonder if I had all the details right. We all introduced ourselves to gear into back packs. We walked down Broadwater Hollow to Cecil Creek and 86


off into the middle of a fairly cave rich environment. I had been to Sea Shell Cave with my Iowa friends years ago. We were just on a scouting trip and did not drop enter this cave or trip into my journal. But I did remember a tight vertical opening. So I opted not to use my chest harness as part of my vertical rig. I would be glad later on. Drew rigged the rope and dropped first. I followed him down when I got I was using my diving lights mounted on my hardhat. I had all these 1/2 up in Sea Shell, as I could not trust them for diving again. These big ole lights can be somewhat cumbersome out of the water and I had a helmet squeeze that just about hung me by my chinstrap on the first tight part of the drop. But I wiggled through and got my body weight back on the rope. The first drop was short, then one took a minor sidestep and dropped the rest of the way to narrow passage that led to a small room. I helped Drew tie a re belay around a very secure rock on that level. That way we could do the third drop while the others used the same rope to get down to this level. There was a tight squeeze out of this room, on rope, into the vast chamber beyond it. The floor of this dome room was a good distance below the portal and the ceiling a significant height above it. Suspended from the ceiling was a huge spiral drapstone feature. This was native rock that the dissolution of the cave had left up there. It made one feel like they where in the inside of a huge sort of drapery was also a common feature elsewhere in the cave. It looked like a dead end pit until Drew rolled aside a hefty rock obwas a horizontal slot that required removal my helmet again. Once we were all down and through the secret passage, we started to look things over and get serious about the biota inventory, though we had seen both bugs and bats in the entrance area. That bother to keep tracK of the info that the others were giving her. I had brought along my cave glasses so that I might inspect also, but I had a bit to learn about where to look, so I asked Jess. She pointed out that the most likely spot to spot cave critters was at the beginning of the cave food chain, anywhere that there was bat guano near water. I never did spot anything, but I kept hearing the others report in on their observations. Something struck me as odd about the cave bugs eating bugs that the bats had eaten and excreted. We had to rig another drop deeper in the cave that none of those others had been down before. We had brought a second rope for that one. I looked at a side passage while the others looked for critters elsewhere down on this level. Some things about the cave struck me as very odd. The caves here are much older than Coldwater Cave in Iowa. The speleogenesis is much more varied and complex. There were places with all kinds of surface rocks cemented in. Some filled old passageways. Some were actually suspended from the walls. I was more cautious about sitting down under these than some of cling there for half of forever, but neath when they let go. The side passage that I checked out was very tall, narrow and meandering. There was no evidence of a phreatic caves start. Water forms a tube gradually making it bigger until something changes and the water starts its downward cutting. The phreatic tube forms in a weak point usually where it intersects a vertical weakness, a joint that this downward cutting can exploit, that the caves grow into. But joints are usually pretty straight. I am still in 87


wonder about how these graceful meanders came into being. They were beauthey were a cast iron bitch to survey! The old footprints went further down this passage than I felt comsee any bugs, though I was bothering a bat. The bat would fly nearly into my face before turning around and flying back down the cave. Where I turned around, it flew at me again and passed through the little opening under my arm, between me and the cave wall, much to the relief of us both, I imagine. After we had given the cave and the bugs, bats and an occasional frog, believe it or not, a thorough inspection, we started our crawls and rope climbs back out. Without my chest harness, I was really just pulling my body weight up using my mechanical ascending devices. The chest harness would have kept me upright on the rope with less effort, but it would also keep the device closer to my chest. It was a fair tradeoff, as I could standup in the device that was attached to my foot and slide the unconfined one attached to my seat harness up and over the lips of these climbs, independent of where my chest was. This proved to be very beneficial on the climb out of the first big chamber, through the tight slot into the room where the re belay was. I could never had negotiated my chest through that in unison with the device. So this climbing system proved to be slow and Scott was very good at this vertical stuff. He was the last one out, keeping an eye on the others and especially me. I had, as of late, only been on rope those 2 trips to Bambi. That was a big, wide open cave. I was thankful for a guardian angel behind me in this one. So I was somewhat anxious when Scott had to use his experience and talents and no small from this spot. His climbing rig had one of the devices mounted right down respond in a proper manner to bite in when he needed it to. So there he was, half way out of the tight spot, with the pit behind him and no room for anyone to assist him. But he managed to worm his way up and out of it. We brought up all of the rope and rope pads and climbed out behind the others. Blake had waited patiently for us. I asked him to take my hard hat and handed it up through the place it had gotten stuck in on the way down. He lights off for me, before I was even out of the hole. Scott followed me out and we headed off for the next cave and inventory. We never found Fluted Maze Cave. We did stumble across a couple of things that we thought might be new finds. Subsequent investigations showed that they had been previously documented. The records showed that we wanted to look higher on the ridge for Fluted out there on another C.R.F. outing one of these days. We passed a couple more caves that we had hoped to inventory along the trail back to where we were parked. ture expedition. There were oatmeal cookies awaiting us all back at the car. These tided us over for the moment. We cooked up Chicken Alfredo and made a salad and breadsticks, back at the facilities the Park Service provides for these volunteer programs. The bottle of Pinot Grigio I had brought along was just the right selection to go with supper. That it was praised by all pleased me greatly. Fall MVOR Steelville, Mo. October 2 4, 2015 Brad smith and a little under 300 other people Brad and decided that since the driving time was not so bad we would leave Friday morning. We arrived in camp in ample time to find a camping spot and get set up 88


89 before the free dinner. We camped with the Windy City Grotto and we placated them with a bag of unshelled peanuts we shared. Dinner was riblets with bread and side dishes. No beverage was offered that did not have ethanol but fortunately we had stopped off at the Mark Twain Dinette and had bought a gallon of their fine homemade root bear so we had that. The camping was at the Birds Nest Lodge, a rather old campground. They did have showers and porcelain but the portapoties were limited. The grounds were next to a dry riverbed which we understand had been flooded most of the summer. The camping area were nicely wooded and since no rain was predicted for the weekend we felt okay camping on the riverbed. There was an old rickety bridge that divided the campground which we elected not to walk on. The other side of the bridge was the vendors row and the food serving area. The bonfire which was not lit until the Saturday night banquet was a crawl through building. This meant that before the lighting someone had to check to make sure no one was inside. The theme for the MVOR was old time Missouri cavers. Some like Jane Fisher are not longer among us but others were special guests and were introduced as a part of the program after the banquet. The program guide featured a picture of each from both the early days and now as well as a short statement about and in some cases by the honorees. I found it interesting. There was no auction and most of the door prizes were wine so we were glad that we did not win any (I cannot indulge because it disagrees with some of my meds and Brad feels that he can mess up a social situation easily enough without chemical assistance.) We did enjoy socializing at the bonfire. We also attended the business meeting in which bids were accepted for future MVORs including on in the spring in Kentucky at Lone Star Cave Preserve. On our way back we made a point in stopping in Hermann. They were having an Oktoberfest with music, and food. They have an old auto dealership that has been converted to a wursthaus. We also revisited the BBQ place not far from convention and got a bit of stuff to take home which we ate later on that week. It was a nice MVOR! Cole County, Missouri September 12, 2015 By Mark Jones Krista Bartel wanted to push the County Missouri so I joined her on my way out to Lava Beds National Monument in northern California. Our goal was to survey deeper into the watercrawl and ultimately closer to the narrow winding canyon beyond. The watercrawl survey stretches 860 feet from the entrance with a couple of stand up spots. Other cavers joining us slogging through the sewer passage were Chris Dopp and Barrett Barker. Chris wore cotton coveralls, Krista and Barrett had 3.5 mm neoprene wetsuits and I was decked out in my 7 mm lated shirt. It was a short hike from our campsite to the cave so we had no problem reaching the entrance by 10:00 a.m. The first two hundred feet of rocky bellycrawl was as fun as I had remembered it. After an otter slide through a sandy pinch the crawlway opens up into a fairly roomy hands and knees crawl for several hundred feet to a couple of mudbanks. Although raccoon ( Procyon lotor ) scat appear to be too recent. Past the third mudbank we found the last station A34 where we began our adventure. Krista and Chris took point, set stations and read backsights, Barrett read foresights and I kept book. Rather than follow the watercrawl on the left we stayed high on the mudbank off to the right for the first few shots. Other than a smattering of in the crawl we saw no secondary


90 formations on our survey until the final shot. The cave swung around from the northwest to the southwest and back north. We did tie in two either of these. Unfortunately the cave was becoming vertically challenged about a hundred feet into the survey so it was back down into the watercrawl for the remainder of the day. Chris was chilling out and opted to exit the cave while the rest of us trudged on. We did get a fifty foot shot but most of them were less than twenty feet as we twisted through the chilly water. By the time Krista had set station A47 the crawl full wetsuit since the upcoming passage appears to be a bit more challenging. Between A46 and A47 a nice out of nowhere to brighten the final shot of the day. When I looked at the sketches for the day it was amazing to find that our final station, A47, is nearly due west of our first station of the day, A34. of sewer crawl on the way out! According to a previous line plot of feet from the canyon. One more survey! After getting out of the cave we broke camp and I drove to St. Thomas to unwind at the local tractor pull, a nice way to cap off a day underground. Addendum: Cave fauna observed during the survey (A34 A47) included two flying bats of unidentified species and numerous flies ( Diptera sp.). Lava Beds National Monument Nirvana Cave Siskiyou County, California September 20, 2015 By Mark Jones I picked up Rachel Bosch Saturday afternoon in Reno, Nevada and drove up to Lava Beds National Monument in northern California for the Cave Research Foundation (C.R.F.) expedition. The rest of the team had arrived earlier to get a start on several of the ongoing projects. Sunday morning we split into three teams to address three major surveys. John Tinsley took Elizabeth Miller and Karen Willmes to Craig Cave to push a breakdown maze, Ed Klausner and Rachel went to Silver Cave to finish up the survey of this beautiful lava tube and Dave West took Paul McMullen and me to start the survey of Nirvana Cave. On our last expedition to Lava Beds in April of 2015 Dave had tied in Pango Ndogo downflow from Mouth cave. While doing the surface survey we located several other related lava tubes in the area. One of these lava tubes was Nirvana Cave below Boulevard Cave that I reconnoitered at the time. Dave led us out to the Balcony Flow at 8:00 a.m. to survey Nirvana Cave. A ten minutes hike north of the Balcony Boulevard Cave parking lot took us to the shallow ceiling collapse of Nirvana Cave. For this trip Dave kept book, Paul set stations and read backsights and I read foresights, all of us took photographs. To begin with Dave had us define the surface ceiling collapse before squirming down into the cave. est of the day with the remaining stations averaging thirty feet. Once underground we settled into a nice pace of surveying although Dave had quite a bit of information to record. The entrance room had a large area of organic debris (read woodrat ( Neotoma sp.) scat) that had accumulated over the years. Beyond this point there was no evidence of woodrat activity. The bulbous entrance tapered down to a standard lava tube with a width of twelve feet and a height of five feet. A nice pahoehoe floor made the next hundred feet relatively easy to survey before reaching a stretch of large raised rafted (?) blocks. For the next hundred feet we crawled over these raised blocks until the tube returned to the roomier pahoehoe floor. A hundred feet later we


91 reached an interesting lavafalls that dropped at a 12° slope for fifty feet. At the top of the lavafalls was another bulging room that had three passages leading off in different directions. The two outside passages appeared to be overflows that clogged with lava while the middle crawlway seemed to be a continuation of the main tube. A short bellycrawl in this middle finger opened into the final bulbous room and the end of our survey. The cracks in the floor near the bellycrawl held the only water we found in the cave. A search of the room also revealed the skeletal remains of bats. Although our survey ended here the cave does continue in a four inch pancake squeeze that has cool blowing air. We ended the day at 6:15 p.m. with 519 feet of quality survey. Addendum: We saw two unidentified bats in flight during this trip. Nirvana Cave (LABE B130) September 21, 2015 For my second day of Cave Research Foundation (C.R.F.) at the Lava Beds National Monument Expedition Dave West took Karen Willmes, Elizabeth Willmes and me back to Nirvana Cave to finish the cross sections and push the downflow collapse near the entrance. After touring Nirvana Cave Elizabeth and I returned to the entrance to do a surface survey over the cave passage. Setting off at 190° from the brass cap Elizabeth and I shot 5 one hundred foot shots across the sagebrush landscape. Unfortunately after entering the data we discovered that our bearing heading was off and will need to be reshot later in the week. After a lunch break Elizabeth and I cross sections that would be tied into the Balcony Flow. These three significant flow paths paralleled each other for over a thousand feet that warranted a map with all the cross sections included. From the upflow ceiling collapse we followed the left passage down to the lavacicles and lava drippings that constituted one to three inch formations alternate from black to white accentuating the experience of crawling through ing for several hundred feet to the pahoehoe choke where we began surveying. For this trip Elizabeth set stations and read Disto while I sketched. The first two cross sections were simple arched passages followed by a pancake passage which was easy to draw. The next four sketches were more challenging owing to either wide, breakdown or parallel passages. We finished the day with another arched tube. Total cave time for the day was eight hours. Six unidentified bats on the wing Mouth Cave along with oodles of woodrat ( Neotoma sp.) scat . Geology Field Trip September 23, 2015 John Tinsley led an excited party of nine cavers (Rachel Bosch, Ed Klausner, Paul McMullen, Elizabeth Miller, Dave Riggs, Ken Walsh, Dave West, Karen Willmes and me) on a geology field trip around Lava Beds National Monument as well as the surrounding Modoc National Forest. Starting at the patio at the Visitor Center of the Lava Beds, John described the Mammoth and Schonchin lava flows, pointing out the important features marking the western edge of the Klamath Graben), Fleener Chimneys, and Three Sisters Buttes. In addition he explained how lava with low silica content (less than 55%) such as basalt and basaltic andesite are low in viscosity while those high in silica such as rhyolite (over 70%) are high in viscosity. Along with other factors he told us this is the reason lava tubes are found in pahoehoe ba-


92 salt lows and not in rhyolite. This is why Lava Beds National Monument is rich with lava tubes and nearby Lassen Volcanic National Park is devoid of them. After quick stops at the base of stead overlook we drove up to Captain how the inflation and deflation of the lava terminus of the Mammoth flow created the perfect defense for the Modoc Indians during their fight with the U.S. Calvary in 1873. After dropping Dave Riggs back at work we went to Mammoth Crater followed by a stop at the Callahan Flow to the west of basalt flowed from Medicine Lake volcano covering parts of the Mammoth lava flow. Sixteen foot high gnarly, sharp rock would deter even the hardiest of hikers from attempting to traverse this ground. Thankfully lava tubes are not common in this around in this flow. From here it was over the rim of the Medicine Lake volcano, down the caldera to Medicine Lake Glass Flow which is a huge flow of rhyolite, the type of lava that forms obsidian glass. Rachel, Paul and Ken climbed of us wisely remained behind. Next we spectacular view of Little Glass Mountain and the surrounding landscape from this vantage point. Back down at the bottom of the caldera we stopped at Medicine Lake, walked along the pumice shoreline and attempted skipping stones. The final stop at Glass Mountain was the best of a great day. Glass Mountain consists of massive blocks rhyolite and beautiful obsidian that glistened in the California sun. This is certainly a must see when traveling in northern California. John wrapped up his tour at 4:00 p.m. to an appreciative audience that now has a much better understanding of the Medicine Lake area. Thanks John! Purgatory Cave September 24, 2015 After the geology field trip on Wednesday we returned to caving on Thursday at Lava Beds National Monument for the Cave Research Foundation expedition. I joined Elizabeth Miller, Karen Willmes and Dave West in surveying caves in the Balcony Flow. It took us a bit to get back into the rhythm of surveying but eventually got down to business. Elizabeth and I headed to the downflow section of Pango Ndogo leading to Purgatory Cave. For this trip Elizabeth set stations and read backsights while I kept book and read foresights. From the brass cap of Purgatory Cave we shot into the breakdown ceiling collapse and worked our way counterclockwise around the entrance area. Unfortunately the magnetism in the rocks between PU2 and PU4 were causing us consternation until we finally found numbers that would work. Between PU4 and the second entrance our numbers were much most of the magnetic influence. The poor readings affected the entire loop so these shots will need to be redone later this week. Following an hour lunch break we returned to surveying the upflow of Purgatory starting from station PU4. A shallow balcony served as a perfect woodrat ( Neotoma sp.) midden with evidence of both woodrat and pika ( Ochotona princeps ) scat covering the right brought us to a dusty entrance pinch that opened into the lower ceiling collapse of Pango Ndogo. Although it could be traversed, we opted to have Elizabeth remain in the cave and me drop into the shallow ceiling collapse to make the connecreturned to continue surveying from station PU4. This time we angled to the breakdown area into a smooth


93 where the left branch continued and the right branch terminated in a pahoehoe choke. A twenty foot shot down the alcove on the right lines up with the lower ceiling collapse of Pango Ndogo with only a few feet separating the two. With time running out we Disto shot up the other branch. Over stations. Roadside Cave Before heading back to the research center Elizabeth and I went to the newly discovered lava tube upflow of Balcony Cave that Karen and Dave discovered on Tuesday. I dropped down the entrance squeeze between the section that paralleled the trench collapse. In either direction it was a crawl in sharp, grabby rock so I decided to avoid scratching myself up and exited the cave. Thirty feet away I located another entrance to the cave where Dave was finishing up his sketch. Over a hundred feet of survey was recorded, but both Karen and Dave feel that no one else needs to exthis cave will help flesh out the Balcony Flow. Total cave time was seven hours. September 25, 2015 For my sixth day at Lava Beds National Monument I was to return to Purgatory Cave to finish the survey that Elizabeth Miller and I had started yesterday. Another goal was to remove survey tape from other caves as we hiked downflow. From the Balcony Boulevard Cave parking lot we cut over to the upper ceiling colup any flagging tape left from previous trips. Another benefit was that Ken got to photograph yet another fascinating lava tube in the Balcony Flow. Inside the ceiling collapse Ken found some interesting lavacicles to shoot before we moved downflow to the We exited through a roomy skylight conveniently located nearby. Thirty minutes was spent on this endeavor. Pango Ndogo It was a short hike downflow from that contained Pango Ndogo where more flagging tape was picked up. Ken was especially interested in the eight foot diameter skylight just downflow of the entrance. A little further on we crawled around a breakdown before returning to walking passage. We navigated over some more breakdown before a short hands and knees crawl to the downflow entrance. Purgatory Cave After exiting Pango Ndogo through the downflow ceiling collapse entrance Ken and I pondered the upflow bellycrawl into Purgatory Cave before deciding so use the lower entrance. On the previous trip Elizabeth Miller and I ran out of time to finish the where we tied in our first shot of across a smooth pahoehoe floor was a nice start. Unfortunately the next several shots were into a breakdown pile crawl that frustrated our readtered by excessive magnetism in the rocks which could have caused a lot of problems with the sketch. Weaving among the breakdown Ken found several spots where sunlight broke through indicating we were in a ceiling collapse. One of these windows was marked with flagging tape to tie into a surface survey if necessary. We returned to the entrance collapse to have lunch and then turned our attention to correcting a loop closure problem. When a loop is closed there should be a minimum of error to insure the most accurate map when the proud of the fact that over the years of surveying we rarely have unaccept-


94 able data, this was one of those times. Factoring in the distance and number of shots the loop should have less than a foot of error, this loop had over eight feet. Examining the data we felt that the two shots between stations PU2 and PU4 were causing the blunder. To remedy the problem we began resurveying the shots with slightly improved results until Ken mentioned that station PU3 could be eliminated. The readings between PU2 and PU4 were much better reducing the error to well within an acceptable level. With this issue addressed we continued surveying downflow beyond the entrance collapse along the edge of the lava tube. By this time Karen Willmes and Dave West had arrived to assist with the surface survey. Crawling through the breakdown we wove around a hundred feet for four stations to pop out another ceiling collapse and tie into the surface survey. The breakdown blocks in the collapse prevented further exploration past this point but more caves of the of cave survey was taken in 10 stations giving Purgatory Cave a total was bypassed those numbers were removed from the data set.) Total cave time was eight hours. Post Office Natural Bridge & Cave The full moon and clear skies offered the perfect opportunity for Ken Walsh, Rachel Bosch, Karen Willmes and me to do a photo shoot in the trench collapse in the downflow entrance of Post Office Cave. A fifteen minute hike brought us within sight of our objective but it is easier to access the trench past the Post Office Natural Bridge. Evidently Ed Klausner and I had not fully explained how massive the trench or the bridge were because everyone was agog at the size and scale of both. An easy climb down a breakdown slope took us to the bottom of a forty foot trench to the lower entrance of the natural bridge. Ken set up his first shot here with Karen shooting the flash and Rachel and me serving as models. Using the moonlight at his back he was able to frame a beautiful photo with the Big Dipper on the horizon and us at the entrance. Numerous bats swooped around us all during our time in the trench, Rachel even saw one capture a moth! Several shots were taken here using various lighting levels and angles. Continuing over massive breakdown we trekked six hundred feet through the natural bridge to the lower entrance of Post Office Cave for more pictures. The narrow walls of the trench focused attention on the night sky and the massive lava tube entrance. One again Rachel and I prowhile Karen remained behind the scenes. Thirty minutes was spent at this location. On the way back through the trench Ken captured another nice photo with Rachel using the evening sky and the natural bridge. Although others may claim that photography hocus pocus (i.e. Photoshop) was used to enhance these pictures I know better, Ken set up excellent shots and used his photography knowledge to create these great shots. We spent three hours on this trip. September 26, 2015 Returning to the Balcony Flow area for the last day of this expedition were Rachel Bosch, Karen Willmes, Dave West, Ken Walsh and me. Since to retrace the same route taken by Mouth and Pango Ndogo to better acquaint her with the Balcony Flow. Rachel was duly impressed with the pressed an interest in exploring the downflow at another time. Pango NDogo Earlier in the week Rachel had la-


95 to visit Fern Cave so I thought that Pango Ndogo would serve as an appropriate substitute. Twenty feet from skylight provided an ideal site for the right plants. Although not as ferns soaked up the sunlight streaming in through a skylight. Since this lava tube has many of the same characteristics. We exited through the downflow crawl to meet up with the rest of the group near Nirvana Cave. Himmel Cave Dave led Karen and Ken to start a survey deeper in Himmel Cave as Rachel and I began the survey of the entrance area with plans to tie into survey Rachel would be on point setting stations and reading backsights and I would read foresights and keep book. While surveying nearby Purgatory Cave on Thursday Elizabeth Miller informed me that Himmel is a Germanic word meaning heaven. To be quite honest I think they got the two caves mixed up because the start of way heavenly. Starting from the brass cap of Himmel Cave we shot to a second entrance six feet away that dropped down three feet to an amorphic passage that was all of two feet high. In addition the floor was covered in a fine dust which quickly became airborne, this was not my idea of paradise. Several shots under fifteen dence in this cave. Eventually Rachel wound around to tie in a third entrance although not humanly passable. Back at the brass cap we surveyed into the main passage with hopes of seeing a bit of heaven. Alas all we got was more of the same as we crawled around in more blobby, two foot high passage. About the time I was resign to spend the day wallowing around in a non descript lava tube Rachel broke into more promising cave. At station H14 we crawled down a rocky squeeze sixteen feet to an honest to goodness lava tube! Evidently we had surveyed a later lava flow that had oozed over the surface and broke through to an older flow that was more linear in nature. From station H16 Rachel set out downflow to the north over piles of breakdown that covered the floor. passage was a welcome reprieve from the dusty crawl overhead. The lava tube extended forty feet before the breakdown floor rose to the ceiling worry though, Last Call Cave is sixty feet to the northeast and trends towards Himmel Cave) After defining this area we returned to H16 to shoot down the main trunk to tie into HA1. A nice thirty foot shot took us within five feet of our goal. Large breakdown was scattered throughout this section of the survey. Rachel found a lead off to the right among the breakdown which will have to be investigated on a later trip. Just as we were tying into HA1 the other team returned from their tight bellycrawling ahead before actual walking passage is encountered. On the brighter side they had found a skylight which might give better access to the heavenly part of the recorded in the H survey in 21 stavery respectable start to another significant lava tube in the Monument. Upon exiting the cave Dave and Ken used our survey notes to find the skylight. Following a bit of buffoonery a course was set across the high desert that took us right to the skylight! A three foot diameter hole dropped thirteen feet to the pahoehoe floor. A rigging point was found rope however a ladder may work even better. Scanning the landscape Ken noticed a sign about two hundred feet away at the entrance to Boulevard


96 Cave! This will make locating the skylight much easier on the next expedition. Balcony Cave Since we were just below Boulevard Cave it was obvious that we would explore it as we hiked back to the vehicles. Dave and Karen and seen enough of the cave over the years so Ken Walsh, Rachel Bosch and I dropped down the rock lined trail through the ceiling collapse a hundred feet to Boulevard Cave off to the right. I waited at the branch while Rachel and Ken took a quick peek down the passage. Continuing upflow we followed Balcony Cave to a split where I went left and the others swung right. A bit of stoopwalking and crawling soon took me to the upflow entrance where I climbed out of my last lava tube for this trip. Total caving time for the day was eight hours. NCKMS and Mammoth Cave October 18 25, 2015 By Ed Klausner The 2015 National Cave and Karst Management Symposium (NCKMS) was held in Cave City, Kentucky. I attended the meeting and stayed for the CRF meeting the following weekend. It was fortunate that there were workshops as part of the NCKMS. I attended the Karst Geophysical Techniques one given by Brian Ham of EnSafe. We went over the theory behind, problems with, and advantages of electrical resistivity, microgravity, and cave radio. In the afternoon we took equipment for each of the three techniques and used them in the field to see how they worked. Later, we downloaded the data to see what the analysis looked like. Later in the week, I took off a day from NCKMS to go to Mammoth Cave with Mary Schubert and Joyce Hoffmaster. A ladder was already in place in the carry one in (or carry it out after our trip.) We quickly made our way to the bottom of a pit known as the Valley of the Kings. From there, we went up a deer stand ladder to a narrow canyon. Each of us was small enough to get through the tight spot and surveyed from there to the end of the canyon fifty feet away. The canyon opened up into the Ruins of Karnak near the tower. We hung the tape from the last station and held the end down with a rock. We then dropped the rest of the tape into the tour area. We then retraced our route back to the Ruins of Karnak. We carefully got the tape positioned on a survey station in the Ruins of Karnak without pulling it off our last survey station and got a distance plus the azimuth and inclination. Later, I entered the data and found the loop closed quite well. There was an open house at Diamond Caverns one evening during NCKMS. Besides a tour of the cave for those who wanted to go, Gordon Smith unveiled a recent purchase, the original Martel Map of Mammoth Cave from housed in the cave museum at Diamond Caverns upon completion. The ground breaking ceremony was the same night as the open house. Coldwater Cave Winneshiek County, Iowa October 17, 2015 By Mark Jones With the dry fall I was excited to return to Coldwater Cave in northeastern Iowa to attempt beyond The Spong low water crawl. John Donahue, Elizabeth Houston and Jordan Kjome joined me to push the low watercrawls that beckoned upstream. Both John and Jordan had the pleasure of exploring Coldwater Cave previously while Elizabeth was new to Iowa caving. Dropping the shaft at 10:00 a.m. we found the water level a comfortFrom the platform we


97 sauntered upstream past North Snake, Along the way we spotted several fish in the crystal clear water. Just Elizabeth discovered something moving about in the stream. Expecting it to be another fish I was completely surprised when she announced that it was a big salamander, and it really was! Unlike the caves in Missouri that are awash in fauna, Iowa caves and Coldwater in particular tend to be lacking in life. Surprised to find such a nice salamander I took several photos to share with others more knowledgeable in cave fauna. It turns out that it was a tiger salamander (( Ambystoma tigrinum ) one of the largest North American salamanders. Not normally found in caves this salamander eats worms and insects. mainstream we stopped to gaze at the Blue Room and the rare Barbie shoe formation (a plastic Barbie high heel shoe wedged between two soda straws). Beyond the Rock River Formation we turned left toward The Spong to a breakdown room to put our hoods on. Slipping into the water we duck walked in roomy airspace for a hundred feet before the passage close down. Since I was the only one having experience in The Spong I removed my helmet, turned on my headlamp and floated through first. With several inches of freeboard I quickly navigated to roomier accommodations a hundred feet later. In no time everyone had scooted through and we were on our way to the Norwegian Rock Dance Room. John waited here for us while we continued into the Tuna Sea all the way up to the Scandawhovian Sump. Flooding had shifted some of the mudbanks and sandbars since 2012, the last time the sumps were open. Jordan and I inspected the Scandawhovian and determined that it may be open later this winter. Satisfied with the trip we retraced our route downstream at an easy pace arriving at the platform five hours after entering the cave. It was another successful Coldwater trip. Roasting Ear Cave Searcy County, Arkansas October 26, 2015 By Mark Jones For the second day of Arkansas caving five hearty cavers (Scott Dankof, Mike Lace, Mike Nelson, Blake Stone and me.) met at 10:00 a.m. with the landowner just downstream from the cave entrance. We were given a basic description of the cave with a good idea of what to look for along the way. We had two goals for this trip, 1. Learn the route and 2. Photograph some of the more impressive formations. tween a watercrawl and muddy breakdown everyone opted to wear wetsuit bibs and insulated tops. In addition to my regular cave pack I was cases. To achieve the best results in the difficult conditions underground it is often necessary to have a variety of lighting options available. Scott is able to produce his high quality photos with the aid of the old flashbulbs that were once ubiquitous for any kind of photography. These one use bulbs create a with the modern electric flashes. It was only a short hike across the river and up the rocky slope to the three foot high by seven foot wide rocky crawlway that angled down a short distance before rising back up and then dropping down a cherty slope through a roomy tube down to the stream in a sixteen foot high canyon. Soon we were at a pool room with a steep, narrow formation slope rigged with a rope for easier access. At the top of the slope we crawled over to the other side of the flowstone slope and dropped back down to stream level. We wound around in a hands and knees watercrawl for two hundred feet until the passage choked out. Mike Nelson found the lead in a break in the flowstone that popped up


98 into an upper chamber. At first we pushing the perimeter I noticed a collapsed flowstone mound high on a shelf that opened back up. Mike Lace pushed a breakdown crawl off to the left but determined that the rest of the group should attempt to find an easier route. Poking around the right wall we found a window in the flowstone that offered a roomier stoopwalk that looped back to the watercrawl in the canyon passage. Worming our way through two hundred feet we eventually reached a mudslope into a well decorated room. Scott captured several photos of the beautiful flowstone formations using two slave flashes triggered by Blake and me. Scrambling over some slippery breakdown we squeezed through to a formation coated upper level that extended a hundred feet to a steep, twenty foot mudslope. Cautiously sliding down the mud at first we eventually hit a slick spot that whisked us into the stream. Another twenty foot mudslope awaited us just ahead that challenged our ascending skills. The passage continues back in a low watercrawl that pops through a breakdown chimney into a large room. With a better understanding of the route and some nice photographs we opted to end our trip here. Extensive cave lies beyond here day. A steady pace was set for our return trip although the convoluted route posed a few tests. A total of five hours was spent in this fine cave. Mike Lace exiting Roasting Ear Cave, Arkansas. Photo by Scott Dankof. Photo gallery


99 Gypsum Curls in Roppel Cave. Photo by Ed Klausner Paul McMullen at one of the many cave entrances in Elmer's Trench, Lava Beds National Monument. Photo by Ed Klausner.


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