Kentucky Expectations?

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Kentucky Expectations?

Postby davantalus » Jul 8, 2015 4:59 pm

I need help from the caver hive-mind!

I'll be attending NCRC Level 2 in Kentucky this year and don't have any idea what to expect from Mammoth Cave NP.

So. What should a 34yo, 6'3", 205lb, male, Californian who's relatively experienced at caving pack in his Northface duffel? I'm looking for stuff like this:

• Typical cave clothing? (I've caved in everything from t-shirt to wetsuit, but don't really know what to pack.)
• Gear OTHER than typical frog/rescue items? For instance does everyone in KY use a Pantin for some reason?
• Descender of choice? Do folks use fullsized racks because of mud or something?
• Flora / Fauna issues? What's the best way to deal with ticks? I'm pretty sure I'll spot poison ivy (rather than oak?) a mile away?
• Mud? What's the best way to deal with it?
• Comfort items? Bug nets? Small items that improve your quality of life?
• Will I see another bat sticker on the freeway? That would blow my mind.
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Re: Kentucky Expectations?

Postby Caving Guru » Jul 8, 2015 7:53 pm

Here is the link for the NCRC Level 2 Student Preparation Guide (which includes a required personal equipment list on page 2):
https://caves.org/commission/ncrc/natio ... 140308.pdf

Their list includes a climbing helmet, 3 sources of light, boots, rugged clothing, 6 locking carabiners, a descent device, a sewn seat harness, an ascending system, gloves, water bottles, a small first aid kit, a cave worthy watch, paper, a pencil, a small heavy duty pack, and 2-20 foot pieces of webbing.

The only additional suggestions that I have are to bring bug spray and trash bags for dirty cave gear.
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Re: Kentucky Expectations?

Postby davantalus » Jul 8, 2015 8:19 pm

Yep. Those items are already as good as packed.

I was hoping to find more specific information. I'm trying to be a little more... optimized.

Have you caved in or around KY? Can you answer any of my questions? :)
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Re: Kentucky Expectations?

Postby Caving Guru » Jul 8, 2015 9:36 pm

I am sorry but I have not caved in Kentucky before. Kentucky caving is probably a mixture of cave suit caving and t-shirt caving depending on where you are caving. But it will probably be hot outside traveling to and from cave entrances so lighter clothing options other than a cave suit might be the best option.

What I usually use for cave clothing is a poly pro long sleeved shirt and poly pro pants with a cave suit on top of that, work gloves, ski socks to keep my feet warm, and hiking boots.

Most of your other questions I don't have an answer for.

For mud, at least for me, I deal with it by having boots with lots of laces so it makes it pretty much impossible for my boots to fall off and the gloves that I have are good for mud because they are a loose fit so I can put them on and take them off without getting my hands all muddy in the process of taking them off.

For your question about comfort items, all I can come up with is what I bring to eat and drink on a cave trip. I bring fruit bars and water.

I am sorry that I am not able to answer all of your questions. I am sure that others here will be able to answer them.
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Re: Kentucky Expectations?

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jul 8, 2015 10:26 pm

• Typical cave clothing? (I've caved in everything from t-shirt to wetsuit, but don't really know what to pack.)
KY cave temperatures are in the mid-50s. I don't have a "cave suit" and I'm a skeleton man, so I can't tell you exactly what to wear. I wear thick polypro top and bottom under ratty clothes when I'm surveying. When I'm only touring a cave I wear what I have on.

• Gear OTHER than typical frog/rescue items? For instance does everyone in KY use a Pantin for some reason?
I don't know, but there is no need for you to use one if you're not already. Frogging is frogging.

• Descender of choice? Do folks use fullsized racks because of mud or something?
I don't know, but there is no need for you to bring one if that's not your preference. Descending is descending, and any of the devices allowed by NCRC will be fine.

• Flora / Fauna issues? What's the best way to deal with ticks? I'm pretty sure I'll spot poison ivy (rather than oak?) a mile away?
There are some who claim that DEET based tick repellents are ineffective, and to an extent they are right. There has been an incredible increase in the number of larval ticks in eastern US forests over the past five years. These little tiny things don't mind swarming over DEET-soaked clothing and skin. I have not used supposedly more effective Permethrin-based tick treatments because they are expensive. I spend a huge amount of time in the woods, and have come to accept that ticks will get on me. You can normally catch the adults with a careful check, but if you get into larvae you will have perhaps hundreds of almost invisible ticks crawling on you, and can only wash thoroughly and hope for the best. In the worst case, these larval ticks, which are unlikely to carry disease at this point in their lifespan, will have their meal and drop off to molt and you'll be a speck of blood less.

• Mud? What's the best way to deal with it?
I have found DEET-based repellents to be TOTALLY useless for keeping mud away. Wash it off of you with water.

• Comfort items? Bug nets? Small items that improve your quality of life?
Nothing comes to mind. I don't like to be comfortable.

• Will I see another bat sticker on the freeway? That would blow my mind.
I doubt it. Around here they're most commonly found on the backs of cars.

My turn. Is there really no mud out there? Are you only doing lava caves?
Have fun in KY.
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Re: Kentucky Expectations?

Postby caver.adam » Jul 9, 2015 12:09 am

If you're in the normal areas of Mammoth you should be fine with anything that can handle 58 degree temperatures (I cave in short sleeves and pants). Most trips in there don't get wet (but I don't know enough about your potential trips). There are wet caves in Kentucky, but most are dry.

No body cares what vertical system you use. They might request that you use a steel descender to keep aluminum from getting in the sheath of their rope. The biggest open air pit in KY is 170ish feet and is fairly close to Mammoth. There are also a bunch of shorter pits You can figure out your descender based on that.

As for bugs...find the best tick repellent you can and pray. Then when you get out of the woods do a thorough tick check. Ticks in Kentucky are known to harbor multiple nasty diseases.

I imagine the group at Mammoth can help with Mud. I also imagine they will have a mandatory WNS station for cleaning gear (but I haven't been to the event and don't know for sure).

I frequently see bat stickers. Probably twice a month when I'm not spending time with cavers.
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Re: Kentucky Expectations?

Postby Scott McCrea » Jul 9, 2015 9:02 am

davantalus wrote:• Typical cave clothing? (I've caved in everything from t-shirt to wetsuit, but don't really know what to pack.)
• Gear OTHER than typical frog/rescue items? For instance does everyone in KY use a Pantin for some reason?
• Descender of choice? Do folks use fullsized racks because of mud or something?
• Flora / Fauna issues? What's the best way to deal with ticks? I'm pretty sure I'll spot poison ivy (rather than oak?) a mile away?
• Mud? What's the best way to deal with it?
• Comfort items? Bug nets? Small items that improve your quality of life?
• Will I see another bat sticker on the freeway? That would blow my mind.

Hi Dave,

I'll be instructing at NCRC. Not sure what level, but it could be level 2. I don't know yet...

Cave clothing, bring layers. Depending on your job you could be sweating your butt off or sitting on a rock freezing. Both situations are temporary and you'll likely experience both multiple times during the week.

Gear, use what you are comfortable with. Same with descender, use what you know. The ropes will be muddy, but they should be relatively short—50' or less.

Ticks, Deet, stay covered and find someone to check you. :woohoo:

Mud, just accept it and love it. It's just part of it. It will affect everyone. We can all suffer love it together.

It's going to be hot and humid. During the day and night. If you are camping, might want to get a battery powered fan. Pro tip: take a talcum powder bath before bed. Keeps from sticking to yourself. Bring good sunscreen and a hat.

Stickers, you'll see 'em. On my way to one of the conventions, I met a guy wtih a caving shirt in the next urinal at a rest area.

Can't wait to see everyone in KY!
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Re: Kentucky Expectations?

Postby CaverScott » Jul 9, 2015 9:47 am

I caved in Mammoth at least two dozen times over the years. Very nice conditions overall.

• Typical cave clothing? (I've caved in everything from t-shirt to wetsuit, but don't really know what to pack.)
If water is not a factor, polypro, pants and long sleeve shirt. For surveying, I would bring an extra shirt or poly top for the slow moving times.
Water socks were always helpful to keep the feet dry.

• Gear OTHER than typical frog/rescue items? For instance does everyone in KY use a Pantin for some reason?
Frog is perfect.

• Descender of choice? Do folks use fullsized racks because of mud or something?
Whatever is safe works.

• Flora / Fauna issues? What's the best way to deal with ticks? I'm pretty sure I'll spot poison ivy (rather than oak?) a mile away?
do what the other said and find a tick removal buddy. :yikes:

• Mud? What's the best way to deal with it?
Enjoy it. Overall, not that much actually but it depends on where you go. I caved in Lilburn before Mammoth and didn't notice much mud; however, Kentucky has plenty to go around! :big grin:

• Comfort items? Bug nets? Small items that improve your quality of life?
Beer (the county is dry)
Allow enough time to cross the green river on the ferry if you staying on that side of the river. :doh:

• Will I see another bat sticker on the freeway? That would blow my mind.
Possible. OVer 30 years and I have seen about 20.
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Re: Kentucky Expectations?

Postby davantalus » Jul 9, 2015 12:16 pm

caver.adam wrote:If you're in the normal areas of Mammoth you should be fine with anything that can handle 58 degree temperatures (I cave in short sleeves and pants).

Scott McCrea wrote:Cave clothing, bring layers.

Nobody has mentioned a cave suit. Sounds like I wouldn't need it until I'm entrance control? Leave it at home?

GroundquestMSA wrote:There are some who claim that DEET based tick repellents are ineffective, and to an extent they are right. There has been an incredible increase in the number of larval ticks in eastern US forests over the past five years. These little tiny things don't mind swarming over DEET-soaked clothing and skin. I have not used supposedly more effective Permethrin-based tick treatments because they are expensive. I spend a huge amount of time in the woods, and have come to accept that ticks will get on me. You can normally catch the adults with a careful check, but if you get into larvae you will have perhaps hundreds of almost invisible ticks crawling on you, and can only wash thoroughly and hope for the best. In the worst case, these larval ticks, which are unlikely to carry disease at this point in their lifespan, will have their meal and drop off to molt and you'll be a speck of blood less.

Wow, thanks for the lowdown. I'll find a tick-buddy and pay for the best tick repellant I can find.

GroundquestMSA wrote:I have found DEET-based repellents to be TOTALLY useless for keeping mud away. Wash it off of you with water.

:rofl:

GroundquestMSA wrote:My turn. Is there really no mud out there? Are you only doing lava caves?

In the Mojave (which is a lot of our caves, and include the lava) its more of a dust/respirator situation. We have some granite and boulder caves, active water, no mud. You'll find some mud in the Sierra, but its forms more of a surface layer than boot-suck.

caver.adam wrote:The biggest open air pit in KY is 170ish feet and is fairly close to Mammoth.

Excellent. I'll make do with a hypermicrorack and my fancy new Sqwurel. :woohoo:

Scott McCrea wrote:I'll be instructing at NCRC. Not sure what level, but it could be level 2. I don't know yet...

Perhaps you could be the ghost who unlocks carabiners and ties overhands at the start of webbing chains. :wink:

Scott McCrea wrote:Mud, just accept it and love it. It's just part of it. It will affect everyone. We can all suffer love it together.

LOL. That's what I needed to hear.

CaverScott wrote:I caved in Lilburn before Mammoth and didn't notice much mud; however, Kentucky has plenty to go around! :big grin:

Exactly. I know there are caves with more mud further north, but Lilburn is the extent of my mudding. And that is, I realize, insignificant.

CaverScott wrote:Beer (the county is dry)

Best advice in the thread?

CaverScott wrote:Allow enough time to cross the green river on the ferry if you staying on that side of the river. :doh:

Hahaha. Sounds like you learned that one *first*hand.

Scott McCrea wrote:Can't wait to see everyone in KY!

Been looking forward to it all year.
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Re: Kentucky Expectations?

Postby CaverScott » Jul 9, 2015 3:29 pm

Bring the cave suit. If you know water is involved, it would be nice to have. :cave softly:
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Re: Kentucky Expectations?

Postby Caving Guru » Jul 9, 2015 4:08 pm

Scott McCrea wrote:I'll be instructing at NCRC. Not sure what level, but it could be level 2. I don't know yet...


According to the NCRC National Weeklong Training Seminar Facebook Page (posted on April 21st), you will be instructing TOFE (Team Operations and Field Exercises).
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Re: Kentucky Expectations?

Postby Scott McCrea » Jul 9, 2015 5:18 pm

Caving Guru wrote:
Scott McCrea wrote:I'll be instructing at NCRC. Not sure what level, but it could be level 2. I don't know yet...


According to the NCRC National Weeklong Training Seminar Facebook Page (posted on April 21st), you will be instructing TOFE (Team Operations and Field Exercises).

TOFE was cancelled yesterday. Not enough signed up to efficiently and safely run evolutions and scenarios. Oh well, maybe next year.
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Re: Kentucky Expectations?

Postby Caving Guru » Jul 9, 2015 9:49 pm

Scott McCrea wrote:
Caving Guru wrote:
Scott McCrea wrote:I'll be instructing at NCRC. Not sure what level, but it could be level 2. I don't know yet...


According to the NCRC National Weeklong Training Seminar Facebook Page (posted on April 21st), you will be instructing TOFE (Team Operations and Field Exercises).

TOFE was cancelled yesterday. Not enough signed up to efficiently and safely run evolutions and scenarios. Oh well, maybe next year.


Well, that would certainly be a bummer for whoever registered and paid to do TOFE for the NCRC. I remember signing up and paying for an NSS Convention Session called Speleology for Cavers a few years ago and being pretty bummed when I was told that it was cancelled because of low sign ups. Do you know, Scott, if there is the possibility of Level 1, 2, or 3 being cancelled because of low registration numbers?
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Re: Kentucky Expectations?

Postby NZcaver » Jul 10, 2015 3:55 am

davantalus wrote:I'll be attending NCRC Level 2 in Kentucky this year and don't have any idea what to expect from Mammoth Cave NP.

Hey David, long time no see! :waving:

With all the plentiful advice you're getting here I won't add anything, except to say I'm sure you'll have a blast doing level 2 in Kentucky. I can't make it this year so you'll have to do without the benefit of my instructional wisdom. :big grin: Have a good trip!
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