Ghosts in caves?

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Ghosts in caves?

Postby Elliott-Hellmann » Mar 24, 2013 9:15 pm

Had a very stressful experience and thought it is was worth sharing. Missed out on a good caving trip yesterday and decided to make up for it by trying to find my way around the bottom of Ellisons. With all the rain, Fantastic was too wet so we went down smokey 1. Everything started out really well, I've spent hours studying the survey and brought a compass. Finally figured out how to get through the confusing section past TAG hall and made serious progress westward. After hours of exploring we made it back to TAG hall and tandemed up Smokey 1. On the climb we talked about how good the meal was going to be when we got out of the cave and debated which venue to choose. That was short lived. When we got to the 40ft Smokey pit the rope that had been there was not there anymore!!!! My first thought was that whoever put it there had come back for it. The thing that didn't make sense is I know whoever left the rope in Smokey pit is from the same group that left Smokey 2 rigged. Smokey 2 is still rigged. Plus, surly they would have at least decended the pit and checked to make sure no other groups had used it.

To our good fortune, NOSS #5 was still rigged from the vertical mile so we decended Smokey 1 and climbed it. Even more fortunate, "Ghost Falls" never actually crossed the rope path so the climb was completely dry. The top of this drop was really neat looking where Ghost falls comes in. It was kind of sketchy having to climb through a keyhole that was barley wide enough to fit through and I have a 31 inch waiste. I've read that the guy who bolt climbed and discovered the attic also discovered this drop and insisted on using it everytime he came in the cave. That must have been all ego because that key hole sucks! Anyway, we went back to Smokey pit to confirm that the rope had been taken. The rope was still there! Somehow when the last guy got off it bounced back up and got hung on the wall near the top. I've never heard of this happening. Sabotaged by ghosts?

I've learned two things from this experience that will be put into practice into all future trips. The first is to REMEMBER to tie the rope off on the bottom after the last person makes their decent. We usually do this but forgot this time and paid for it. Another is when I go to a cave where a rope is already there, bring a printed or written note that lets whoever left it there know that it's being used and the planned exit time.

Even if there hadn't been another way out, this was not a life/death situation. Rescue would have been called had we not reported back by the time given to outside contacts but it would have been an big embarrassment. Just thought that I would share this experience because it made for a good story and to prevent whoever reads thsi from making the same mistake.
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Re: Ghosts in caves?

Postby caver.adam » Mar 25, 2013 6:55 am

Great tip to be careful about the rope bouncing. Never heard of this happening before, but i usually use ropes that are too long.
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Re: Ghosts in caves?

Postby trogman » Mar 25, 2013 12:16 pm

Assuming this took place this past Saturday, you would have been waiting quite a while for rescue. As you probably know by now, many of TAG's cave rescue personnel were tied up with two other rescues.

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Re: Ghosts in caves?

Postby Anonymous_Coward » Mar 25, 2013 12:17 pm

I'm sorry but I am having trouble figuring out what happened here. The last guy got off the rope and it bounced back to the top of the pit? How would the last guy off rope not notice that this had happened? It seems like it could not happen unless the rope was just long enough, under tension, and pulled through the descender under tension. Did you ask the last person down if they remembered anything weird happening?
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Re: Ghosts in caves?

Postby Elliott-Hellmann » Mar 25, 2013 12:42 pm

trogman wrote:Assuming this took place this past Saturday, you would have been waiting quite a while for rescue. As you probably know by now, many of TAG's cave rescue personnel were tied up with two other rescues.

Trogman :helmet:



I was actually on my way to meet up with a group that was going to Iron Hoop and got rear ended near Kimball. The group I was supposed to go with was not the one the rescue was called on though. The accident turned out to be a blessing in disguise for me.

No this happened yesterday (Sunday). I put this trip to Ellisons together at the last minute to make up for missing out on the Iron Hoop trip.
Last edited by Elliott-Hellmann on Mar 25, 2013 12:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ghosts in caves?

Postby Elliott-Hellmann » Mar 25, 2013 12:46 pm

Anonymous_Coward wrote:I'm sorry but I am having trouble figuring out what happened here. The last guy got off the rope and it bounced back to the top of the pit? How would the last guy off rope not notice that this had happened? It seems like it could not happen unless the rope was just long enough, under tension, and pulled through the descender under tension. Did you ask the last person down if they remembered anything weird happening?



That's why I title the thread Ghosts in caves. We can't figure out how this could have possibly happened. The rope is just long enough for the drop and has a figure 8 tied at the bottom. The figure 8 was wedged in a crack in the side of smokey pit somewhere. We're not sure how high up it was because I shook the rope free from the top and felt it fall then heard it smack the bottom. From the amount of time it fell I'm estimating it was closer to the top. The rope was not visible at all from the bottom of the pit.
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Re: Ghosts in caves?

Postby LukeM » Mar 25, 2013 1:09 pm

Maybe someone came by and inspected the rope and then left? They could have accidentally lowered it into the crack when they put it back.
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Re: Ghosts in caves?

Postby Elliott-Hellmann » Mar 25, 2013 9:15 pm

LukeM wrote:Maybe someone came by and inspected the rope and then left? They could have accidentally lowered it into the crack when they put it back.


That's possible. Someone could have looked at it and didn't lower the rope all the way down. This is not my rope and it's just long enough for the drop. Depending on which angle you descend, the rope is either barley touching or slightly off the ground. It's also caked in mud and blends in perfectly with the wall. It could have sprung back up but the last guy down didn't remember that happening. For a static rope to spring that high and happen to catch on the wall is still a pretty remote chance.

What a mystery. Glad for whoever left the rope on the other end.
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Re: Ghosts in caves?

Postby jsteed423 » Mar 26, 2013 2:55 pm

i was the last off rope and didnt see it spring back up but the rope missing isnt the worst our water source went bust too and our little stove stopped working as well was a great time but something was working against us on that situation. To whom ever left the extra rope in the ghost fall elliott was speaking of they are life savers no doubt
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Re: Ghosts in caves?

Postby Elliott-Hellmann » Mar 27, 2013 1:43 pm

As Justin said, it was as if there were ghosts trying to sabotage us. I forgot the water filter so we stopped and picked up two gallon jugs of water and a case. Anyone who has been to this cave knows that it's very physical in comparison to others and hydration is important.

That was actually a dumb idea. The weight all that water added was rediculous. It was funny, we lost the first one gallon jug just 20 ft into the hike. I had all the water in the gear bag (which is actually a 700' rope bag). After walking 20 ft I quickly realized that it was way to heavy to tote up the mountain and set it down to redistribute the water in other bags. One of the gallon jugs must have been at the bottom and when I sat the bag down the immese weight of it crushed the jug.

Before decending Smokey pit I accidently clipped the lanyard to a side strap of the bag instead of the top. When I got to the lip the bag turned sideways and there went the other gallon as well as half the case. All of them busted. I was upset about this and my reaction was a little immature. There are now rocks and the bottom of Smokey 2 that were not there before courtesy of being kicked or thrown. The big toe in my right foot is still a little sore.

We found a nice little spot by the stream junction to eat. This cave uses a lot of energy so we came prepared with 5lbs of ravioli, ramen, and a coleman stove. The Coleman stove that functioned completely fine before the trip now decided it wasn't going to work. The cold raviloi and crunchy Ramen wasn't terrible but the plan for this trip was not being executed like it was supposed to. Then there was the big scare with the rope vanishing on us when we got back to Smokey pit. I've now pretty much posted a trip report on a public forum. I always try to keep a trip diary and journal (usually just for myself and the memories) but thought this one was worth sharing. It makes the experience more valuable when it's over. Hopefully someone on here has gotten a good laugh at our misery.
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Re: Ghosts in caves?

Postby trogman » Mar 27, 2013 2:16 pm

:laughing:

Better to have us laughing at you than crying about you! With all of those things going wrong, it's a wonder something worse didn't happen. Thanks for sharing the story with us. I know we can all identify with you regarding your kicking the rocks- at least I can. Maybe not the most mature and reasoned way to react, but understandable nonetheless.

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Re: Ghosts in caves?

Postby Jeff Bartlett » Mar 27, 2013 3:18 pm

Elliott-Hellmann wrote:crunchy Ramen wasn't terrible but the plan for this trip was not being executed like it was supposed to.

Crunchy ramen is the breakfast of champions, man! I've always wondered how much of the caloric content of a package of ramen is in the packet and how much is in the noodles, and whether I'm missing out on some of it if I just gnaw on the unhydrated noodle block while cave camping or backpacking.
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Re: Ghosts in caves?

Postby graveleye » Mar 27, 2013 6:01 pm

Jeff Bartlett wrote:Crunchy ramen is the breakfast of champions, man! I've always wondered how much of the caloric content of a package of ramen is in the packet and how much is in the noodles, and whether I'm missing out on some of it if I just gnaw on the unhydrated noodle block while cave camping or backpacking.


The only guy I know that consumed an entire ramen noodle brick got really sick. I'll spare the symptoms he described. :shock:
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Re: Ghosts in caves?

Postby Myrna Attaway » Mar 28, 2013 2:55 pm

Uncooked ramen noodles are one of my favorit snaks. I may just be weird.
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Re: Ghosts in caves?

Postby Elliott-Hellmann » Apr 2, 2013 3:24 pm

Jeff Bartlett wrote:
Elliott-Hellmann wrote:crunchy Ramen wasn't terrible but the plan for this trip was not being executed like it was supposed to.

Crunchy ramen is the breakfast of champions, man! I've always wondered how much of the caloric content of a package of ramen is in the packet and how much is in the noodles, and whether I'm missing out on some of it if I just gnaw on the unhydrated noodle block while cave camping or backpacking.


Jeff, I just recently read your report on the re-measuring of mystery falls. It was in an older copy of Tagline Kelly Smallwood emailed me. Good stuff. Bounced it for the first time this past Jan and landed in 3 ft of standing water. I swam growing up and still do regularly with a local master's group and would say the water was close to 75-78 degrees. That's a real mystery considering the TN river in Jan. and the ambient temp of the cave were both at least 20 degrees below the water temp.

The flavor packet used conservatively improves the uncooked noodles but really boosts the sodium content. I ate 2 bricks lightly seasoned and didn't get sick or feel fatigued at all.
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