Your State's Toughest Cave

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Postby Doug McCarty » Oct 3, 2006 8:48 am

There are two caves in north central WV that we are currently trying to connect that are pretty nasty--Druid Cave and New Years Day Cave.

Druid (2.31 miles long and going) is vertical, wet, tight, windy and has crumbling walls. It has long been known for chewing up and spitting out cavers. New Years Day Cave (3040 feet long and going) is a result of our trying to find an upstream entrance to Druid--and they are currently parellelling each other. New Years Day starts out nice (relatively speaking) and gets tight, wet and generally nasty. You have to practically tip-toe through the biggest room in the cave because it is so unstable.

After a survey trip into New Years Day Cave this past weekend, Bob Griffith said, "This cave sucks. It sucks in more ways than one would think one cave could suck. It's a veritable smorgasbord of suckiness."

After an earlier survey trip, Alan Grubb called it "The cave trip from Hell". Rocky Parsons merely described it as "brutal".

To read Greg Springers article about the early exploration of Druid go to
http://www.bedrockstreams.org/reprints/ ... rticle.pdf

To read Aaron Bird's recent article about Rigging Druid for a possible through trip once the 2 caves are connected go to
http://www.caves.com/articles/druid.pdf

For some early trip reports and photos from New Years Day Cave go to
http://caves.org/grotto/mongrotto/New%2 ... 20Cave.htm

Doug Mc
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Postby onearmdscissor63 » Oct 3, 2006 10:30 am

Howe's Cavern, in NY
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Postby Ralph E. Powers » Oct 3, 2006 12:30 pm

onearmdscissor63 wrote:Howe's Cavern, in NY

Ok... but WHY? and if it's a tour cave it don't count.


(all due respect to tour caves that are there for the rest of the world).
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Postby onearmdscissor63 » Oct 3, 2006 12:40 pm

I've heard its pretty treacherous in the gift shop during peak caving hours.


Haha I'm actually only half joking. The farthest reaches of upstream howes (Barytes) are still being pushed today. Right now, only 4 people have been to the newest discovery. Waiting for weather to support us so someone can man up and push the going low airspace passage. Real low airspace, not just a lame air dip. I've been told that 6 hour trips up the S-B drain are more gruelling than 14 hour trips into mcfails.
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Postby hewhocaves » Oct 3, 2006 8:38 pm

Sean Ryan wrote:
Ralph E. Powers wrote:But what I am looking for is the toughest cave YOU'VE (the reader) done so far in the state that you live (or frequent for your caving trips) ... personally... both Horizontally and Vertically (meaning you had to put on a harness and use vert gear to get in and out of the cave).


In that case, I switch New Jersey's hardest cave to Leigh Cave, which is essentially the only cave in New Jersey anyone visits. Everything else is of Beaver Valley quality (no offense, Delaware).


ha! If it's a Jersey cave, i've probably been in it, lol. (there's a dubious honor).

The trouble with Jersey Caves is that they're relatively small (on the order of hundreds of feet long rather than thousands) so they are one trick ponies for the most part - and you are comparing apples and oranges. So it winds up being a matter of personal distaste. Therefore, CS has your low and nasty crawls (ask Maurice Dubois) whereas Leigh has exposure.

Interestingly, some of the smaller caves are literally one trick ponies. All they have is the one problem area and that's the cave. Some examples:

Wormscrew Cave - has a fissure entrance more annoying than anything in Leigh. Twenty feet of upwards chimenying through very smoothed walls.

Mud Pond Cave - has an unusual corkscrew passage which opens up into a nice room, but four feet off the floor! I don't know why, but I can never do it feet first (it wouldn't matter, as there's nothing to push off of. You basically have to drop in three quarters of the way and then grab onto a projection to sort of climb upside down into the room).

Kerregenot Cave - is a simple phreatic tube, but the really annoying thing is the glass. People have been throwing beer bottles in it for years and the first hundred feet is an all glass floor. So you wind up chimenying in a crawlway to avoid cutting yourself.

Having said all that, the most aggravating cave in NJ has to be (envelope please)

Van Syckles Cave.

Van Syckles is about 300' of the worst crawling / stooping I have ever seen. First off, the cave is a stream passage so you're in water the whole time. Now during most spring and summer (and fall months) the stream's high enough to flood the cave, leaving only the coldest months (and consequently the coldest water) to explore the cave. Brr! And of course everything washes into the cave from garbage to dead animals. Yuck!

But that's not enough. Lets talk about the cave. Half of it's length is in hillside breakdown. This is recent stuff, which has eroded sharp, jagged edges that rip into clothing and flesh. Halfway through there, there is a squeeze through the water - riiiiip!

Past the squeeze, you can actually stand for a moment in a spot where the stream disappears under a ledge. You can follow it for the other hundred or so feet , half in the water, on your side, wedged (at last) in a good tube. There's no room to turn around in and the stream slopes down a bit, so you're backing up uphill through winter water. There's a zig-zag at the beginning where it's really helpful to have someone spot you. The one time I did it, it took about a half hour to go the length, check the end and come back. It's truly miserable.

So what's the kicker? The cave blows lots of air. The stream resurges eight tenths of a mile away and over a hundred feet lower in elevation (you can't even get in that end). The miserable passage ends in large breakdown overhead (you'd be digging overhead, in cold water, with nowhere to go if something should shift). But beyond it you can see about three feet of airspace!!!

Odds are, it's New Jersey's largest cave, with the possibility of a mile of passage, but there's little chance of getting at it from within. So it's sad.

And that's what makes it the most toughest cave in NJ. You know you're so close to having a good time and you get stopped at the last minute.

John
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Postby Uncle Muddy » Oct 8, 2006 10:33 pm

Brian Clark, the superintendant of Mulu National Park, spoke of a cave in his native Australia that tops any tale of subterranean derring-do I have ever heard. The entrance at the bottom of a wide sheep-station doline leads to a large lake room. Exploration requires one to crawl across a hardened, floating mat of sheep dung. As one aproaches the first rimstone dam the mat becomes thinner and will no longer hold the explorer's weight. Eventually, the dung becomes gelatinous, trending to syrupy. Brian claims that there is much to reward any who are courageous enough to go beyond that rimstone dam. Ozark mud seemed so much sweeter after hearing his story.
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Postby NZcaver » Oct 9, 2006 12:17 am

Uncle Muddy wrote:...Exploration requires one to crawl across a hardened, floating mat of sheep dung...

:shock: Reminds me of 'quickpoo'... http://www.caves.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=6910#6910 :hitsfan: :help:
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Postby fuzzy-hair-man » Oct 9, 2006 12:53 am

Uncle Muddy wrote:Brian Clark, the superintendant of Mulu National Park, spoke of a cave in his native Australia that tops any tale of subterranean derring-do I have ever heard. The entrance at the bottom of a wide sheep-station doline leads to a large lake room. Exploration requires one to crawl across a hardened, floating mat of sheep dung. As one aproaches the first rimstone dam the mat becomes thinner and will no longer hold the explorer's weight. Eventually, the dung becomes gelatinous, trending to syrupy. Brian claims that there is much to reward any who are courageous enough to go beyond that rimstone dam. Ozark mud seemed so much sweeter after hearing his story.


Iv'e heard of it, it's on the Nullabor a friend from the club has been over it, I don't know for sure but they may do it in an inflatable boat now (PLEASE PLEASE don't get a hole) :pray:
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Postby Lava tuber » Oct 24, 2006 3:19 pm

From what I hear Coddie Borehole here in central Oregon a very very step crawl and very tight on all sides in most parts you half you bury you self in as you move sand out of the way. If something were to happen to you its to bad so sad. The hole time you can hear you heart beat echo of the walls very loudly. We had some very experience English cavers come here and members of our grotto took them there after completing it with fear in there eyes one girl sad that is the most evilest cave I have been to. My friends always joke about taking me there but I know I will never ever enter the Coddie Borehole
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Postby barcelonacvr » Oct 24, 2006 9:24 pm

http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=3798112

Ontarios worst cave dive.Zero viz all the time.16' high and 5 to 10 ft wide.Very unstable flakes etc.We are digging underwater to proceed.This is the resurgence for the 1.8 km from sink to resurgence system I found.Dr.David Sawatzky and I have been diving it.Dr.Sawatzky doing the bulk of course but I have had a couple solo forays and a bit with him.Unfortunately I have a 48" chest and it is only 16" high so I have a hard time. An article on this system I wrote was published in Canadian caver magazine recently.


Our worst "dry" cave is debateable.I will post a bunch of standard caves we have and a nasty passage in one of our nicest.

The glaciers were NOT kind to Ontario.We love the caves anyhow.


http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=3798109

One of our nastier sections in one of our nicest caves.A new cave with 4 km plus passage so far.This passage leads to the back of the cave where a dig got them thorugh to much more cave.This is so far Ontarios second longest and may surpass the longest.It is a complex maze cave.



rock "adjustment" http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=3798111


http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=3798118


http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=3798117


http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=3798116


http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=3798115


http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=3798114


http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=3798113


One of our nicer ones in Marble
http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=3221218


http://www.putfile.com/pic.php?img=3798112


each photo has a description
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Postby FiddleCaver » Oct 25, 2006 10:39 am

Holy crap, that mud in the second photo is awesome. :kewl:
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Postby hunter » Oct 25, 2006 11:14 am

:exactly:

So are the C clamps in the last photo for dragging blocks out?

James
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Postby barcelonacvr » Oct 25, 2006 1:13 pm

hunter wrote::exactly:

So are the C clamps in the last photo for dragging blocks out?

James


Yes indeed.I have a small tank operated chisel but clamping the block(rope connection) and dragging was faster due to the low head space.Dr.Sawatzky had to pry the breakdown slabs from the clay with a crowbar and keep lifting them as I winched them along. Biggest so far is 5'x4x'5" thick.

The biggest -problem is going to be mapping.We are looking at a cave radio set up but that may not work because of the tight situation.An alternative i am looking at is from my field of work.On sewer snakes we use radio locator's that are good down to 40 ft or so.That may be the only way.The survey certainly won't be grade 5 for that section LOL


Here is a photo of the spring running and this was before i removed 5 ft of glacial debris plugging it.Now at full flood it gets a boil 6 ft high~~

http://cavediver.net/photopost/data/500/DSCF0016.JPG
Last edited by barcelonacvr on Oct 25, 2006 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby barcelonacvr » Oct 25, 2006 1:18 pm

FiddleCaver wrote:Holy crap, that mud in the second photo is awesome. :kewl:


Yes,I love that shot.The people who are pushing the back of the cave are looking at using those neoprene web handed type gloves to help in propulsion.You NEVER come out of that cave clean but it has at least a couple of kilometers of walking passage sprinkled in.

I am glad Nina gave me permission to post it as I feel it shows a true love of caving.

Thats the one photo I can't take credit for as I was severely injured in a work accident a couple of years ago..Between that and my size I cannot even begin to approach that part of the cave.I am also unable to do much in the way of digging etc anymore and run the winch or ridge walk more than anything..a bummer but I do what I can to contribute.
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tough caves

Postby fr73ed » Nov 4, 2006 5:30 pm

I dunno, but this seems like a possibility of a tough cave...
3 or 4 miles (cain't remember, but surveyed)
of 2 to 20 cfs river cave with 50 some drops rangin from 20 foot nuisance drops to 100 foot plus. As I recall , seems like damn near ever one was in the river an inta a pool, with suck holes that tried ta pull ya down an grind ya up.
Turbines, river canyons 100 feet high by 10 feet wide , 1200 foot swims when the cave was dry. Floods ? Sorta dangerous. Unsettlin...

And all this was below , or hydrologically downstream from town. ..
The cave is the local sewer.
Exit in a river canyon, then walk back.
Ther's only 6 or 10 cavers who know this to be so ....

an then there's the only pull down trip thru all this .... gotta think those 2 really had the ability to do somethin tough... specially since neither one was on the connection trip. Gutsy. An never got wrote up, far's I know.
They just did it for grins.

hardly ever think about this... good thread
fr73ed


Then ya got those real deep caves furthur south what are serious .
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