Your State's Toughest Cave

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Postby bill fish » Feb 16, 2007 9:27 pm


Bufford... I noticed in the FSS trip reports you folks had found a blowing dig on the far side of the big hill that the far reaches of Warrens are heading towards...

Has there been anything else done with that dig?

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Postby Buford Pruitt » Feb 16, 2007 9:53 pm


I can't believe I left that out! Well, as much as I wrote earlier, maybe it's better that I did.

I was contacted by an environmental consulting friend I hadn't talked to in 20 years. He has a client with property on the same ridge that Warrens is under. He and his client want to protect any caves or other access to the aquifer on a property slated for development, and my friend had noticed some sinkholes and a disappearing stream there.

Mike Gordon and I met him on site, and after digging out some rocks and mud from the bottom of a small sinkhole that was blowing a little air, suddenly we were standing in front of a hole blowing a LOT of air. In fact, it was howling! Exciting! My old friend who had never been a caver before suddenly started talking about joining TBAG (he lives in Tampa).

Unfortunately, after removing the clastics we were left with a very hard siliceous limestone. Possibly, it is chert under the weathered surface.

We need some bang to go further, and we have local cavers who love to play with fire in the hole, but after informing his client at the end of the day, our permission to proceed was withdrawn. Sir Client is afraid for his development.

The ridge is not small by Florida standards - rather, it is >10 miles long and 3 - 5 miles wide. The entrance to Warrens is several miles away, many times the crow flight distance from the entrance to the Thank God Room. Even if we do return to Warrens Ridge Dig I doubt we will ever make a through trip to Warrens Cave entrance. But who knows? Mammoth to Flint Ridge...

A few weeks later I heard about the property's karst from a local county environmental permit field inspector. We may gain access via that door. It is likely that the sinkhole and disappearing stream will wind up within green space in the development, but unlikely that the landowner will donate it to a govt agency or NGO. I am working on getting back in there, but it will take patience.

But do we want two Warrens Caves? Oh, my aching hamburger knees!
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Postby bill fish » Feb 16, 2007 10:13 pm


Thanks for the update....nothing gets a caver/digger more exited than blowing air!

Any other major ridges with big potential in the nearby Warrens area?

I seem to recall hearing about a blow lead in San Felesaco? Hammock State Park...maybe 2 of em actually but the names escape me at the moment...

Any other blowing leads that arent a big secret?

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Postby bill fish » Feb 17, 2007 10:58 am

Hi guys...

Just want to thank you all for the write ups you have done on this thread.....and Roppelcaver and Buffords stories had me dreaming of hard leads, blowing digs and virgin cave all night long....a somewhat sleepless night but what a pleasant one....

Reminds me of when I first started caving....the local library had "The longest cave"....I couldnt stop reading till I finished it and I reread it many times over...

A few years later on tv I remember a show about the crew that actually made the flint/mammoth connection.....they had short interviews with the cavers and a few pics taken of the special occasion...your typical after cave muddy cavers with smiles on their dirty faces...

I remember it literally bringing tears of joy? to my face....and its even doing it now just typing this...

Guess I am just a old sentimental caver at heart...

thanks again guys and follow that air!

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Postby Caver1402 » Feb 20, 2007 9:44 am

Oh, Roppelcaver ... I am in such cave withdrawal right now! So much so I might be coming down with a case of delirium. I'll go to Clap Canyon. :rofl:

Seriously though, I am willing to go. Maybe not in May on my first caving trip since last July (I had a baby in November), but I would do it, er- try it. I suppose it could still be many years before a trip is put together for going there though as there are so many leads still. In the meantime (and this I think you already know), I'm open to going other places in Roppel. I may not be able to get down to Mammoth as often as I'd like, but don't worry, I CANNOT be scared away. Do with me your worst! Hehe, keeping in mind my current longest trip is 18 hrs. I still need to work up to those 30 hr trips, yikes!

... my 2nd expedition sent me to Wilson. :laughing:

Concerning this thread ... I live in Illinois. Hard caves? <<giggles>> There may be some, but I've only been in one Illinois cave and it was easy. Oh wait, I think it means hardest cave for you period, regardless of whether it's in your home state. Hm ... maybe Sullivan Cave in Indiana then? My first trip there included a lovely squirm through a passage called The Side Crawl.

Here's that part of my trip report. Now it doesn't seem as bad because we ended up having to go back through it. A lot of the fear came from not knowing how it would end.

Then we came upon complete and pure torture. Even writing about it now I can feel the icy tendrils of fear grip my heart. The Side Crawl. 200 feet of inching along through a passage roughly 12 to 14 inches wide on our sides! We were able to keep our helmets on, but packs were a no-go. I hooked my Swaygo to my ankle and dragged in behind me. Jeffery pushed his ahead of himself and Ralph also hooked his behind himself over his foot. Ralph led with me in the middle and Jeffery sweeping. Knowing that according to the map this spot of hell would eventually end we pushed on, but with the growing minutes my heart thumped in my chest and several times I had to fight down panic, something I have never had to do before. For the first time in a cave I could only think about getting out, being above ground, climbing to the car, falling into a soft bed, soaking in a hot tub, eating a good meal, etc. In the past I’d always loved being in caves, being able to forget the world above with all its worries and tasks and responsibilities. Knowing that panicking would only make things worse was probably the only thing that kept me from freaking out. I flung questions at Ralph intermittently inquiring as to the space ahead. Was it getting better yet? How about now? What’s it like up there? Finally, the passage opened up enough for us to sit up. We emerged into much larger area that had a lot of breakdown in it.
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Postby ExtremeCaver32 » Feb 20, 2007 10:48 pm

I have been lookin and trying to find a deeper cave here in Tx.
The deepest one I can find here on the net is Sorcerer's Cave Terrel,Tx
- 570 ft deep.
Does anyone know of any sites that may give a listings of natural cave pit entrances in the state of Tx.
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Postby Wayne Harrison » Jun 20, 2007 7:19 pm

I'd like to revive this thread because we've had a lot of new posters since February. Anyone else have any invteresting toughest cave in the state stories?
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Indiana Caves - Come To Convention.... and suffer!

Postby myotis » Jun 23, 2007 12:33 pm

I am not exactly the most knowledgeable person out there to come up with anything approaching a comprehensive list of Indiana's worst or most difficult caves, but if you are wanting to test your mettle, I'd suggest.....

Vertical - Parker's Pit - Not having been in it myself I'd say it's mostly noteworthy for a pendulum you have to make across the pit some 3/4 of the way down just so that you can then experience a series of very tight crawls and multiple drops, requiring more gear than I'd want to be in charge of co-ordinating, much less carrying. God help you if you get hurt back there. Rescue would be very difficult if not impossible.

Horizontal - Wayne Cave - 400 feet or so of easy Old Wayne for you to enjoy, then it gets interesting. about 3,500 feet of crawling just to get to the borehole, then depending on where you decide to go, another 8 hours to get to the back of the cave. Then you have to do the crawlway again just to get out. It can be a very, very grueling experience. The crawlway isn't as bad as it used to be however, hundreds of bodies sliding through it have trenched it out somewhat. It's still quite a treat, however. The crawlway will weed out the whiners in your group in pretty short order.

Hanging Rock Drop - The Cat Run comes up pretty quickly in this one. Only 250 feet long, but it drops 110 feet in that distance. Nasty stuff. It's all crawls and twisting, tortuous canyons for the bulk of that distance. It's our 4th deepest cave in the state, and once through the Cat Run it gets easier, though there are still some serious bits you could encounter, including a blind pit at the back, depending on where you wanderings take you. Despite it being 4th deepest, only a handline is required to do it. Don't get too overconfident, though. It sounds easier than it really is.

Enjoy. :grin:
Is this really necessary? Really? Ok......
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Convention 2007 Opportunities to do Indiana's Toughest Caves

Postby Ronaldo » Jun 28, 2007 12:24 am

Hi All,
I would like to expand on Myotis' comments about IN caves. They mentioned Parkers Pit, a really tough cave, I wanted to elaborate on the famed S-bend and Z-bend squeezes await you after the pendulum into the lead. These are for thin people.... This cave is featured in the con7 guidebook.

Ah Yes, and Hanging Rock Drop, a cave that has the feel of a TAG Ridge cave that's going down, It has a tight spot that is very tricky about 2/3 of the way to the bottom. It is like a barbed hook, when heading in through the squeeze, your chest is compressed by a smooth slope and you exhale and ease over it and pop through the tight spot, but on the way out you are pushing against the grain and your body weight is pushing you down into the barb of the fishook. I have a larger chest and I was compressing rib bones to get out. HRD Also a featured cave in the guidebook.

Sure, we have easy caves and easy pits featured, but we also have a led trip to Two Bit Pit Cave (Trip Leader Sean Lewis) mentioned earlier in this thread by Bruce White, one of IN's toughest trips. A trip to the bitter end is 20+ hours by the experienced. Seans' trip will not go through the 1200ft water crawl. He plans on stopping after bottoming the 6th (last) drop, which is the nicest drop in the cave. At the 1992 IN convention we led a trip there to show some TAG folks our discovery, Marion Smith, Marc Tremblay (sp?) Theresa Williams are a few of the folks I remember being on the trip, Marion is still having nightmares about that trip. Not too often do you see Marion unwilling to head out by himself when he is ready to leave.

After the third pit in Two Bit, there is a canyon crawl series where you are canyoning 30 ft. up in a wide spot in a tall canyon, 3 places the canyon gets wide exposing you to the fall, and several other places its' wide enough to travel safely but your pack could still drop through to the bottom. or just wedge part way down where it would not be retrievable, eventually the floor fills the canyon mid way and you come to a tight canyon crawl with 2 tight spots, the Terminator and the Eliminator. I always dieted before the trip so that I was 175 lbs or less, I would want to lose 10 to fit now.

I once was stuck behind Rusty Riley for 5 hours while he tried to get out of the canyon, moving about 25 feet an hour. He would say, my arms, they have no strength left, I was behind saying, FIND THE STRENGTH..... That cave really zaps you on the way out after surveying beyond the water crawl. You have to carry 2 packs through the tight spots, one for your wet suit, one for your mud caked vertical gear, Oh, and the ropes.... whoops, I might be saying too much, I don't want to ruin all the surprises.

At Convention, 2 of IN's longest Caves will have trips led, the Binkley system and the Lost River Cave System are both over 20 miles long and still being pushed.

Jay's Pit Cave is a multi drop that has 5 drops. Gory Hole, an hour North of the con7 camp is our deepest free drop at 140'. There are many pits, many as deep as 100', and multi drops within a half hour's drive from camp. There are also easy to access horizontal caves. We will feature several led trips daily, so come to IN and Get Underground!!!!

See you there!!!

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Re: Indiana Caves - Come To Convention.... and suffer!

Postby Adam Craig » Jun 28, 2007 5:59 am

myotis wrote:
Horizontal - Wayne Cave - 400 feet or so of easy Old Wayne for you to enjoy, then it gets interesting. about 3,500 feet of crawling just to get to the borehole, then depending on where you decide to go, another 8 hours to get to the back of the cave. :

Waynes has 3500ft of crawlway?!?! :shock: Did someone stretch it out in the past few years? It may seem like 3500ft, especially on the way out, but the references I have mark it at 1250ft.
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Re: Indiana Caves - Come To Convention.... and suffer!

Postby myotis » Jun 28, 2007 9:51 pm

I stand corrected. Don't know what I was thinking of.
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Re: Indiana Caves - Come To Convention.... and suffer!

Postby Ralph E. Powers » Jun 29, 2007 8:48 am

myotis wrote:I stand corrected. Don't know what I was thinking of.
Long crawls often get exaggerated by the people doing them while they're doing them so it seems a lot longer than they actually are... what?
The miscalculation isn't intentional but it's certainly understandable, especially on the way out after a long trip, dragging your now heavier pack which seems it gained 7-8 pounds though you put nothing in it, except dead batteries and your water bottle is now 1/4 away from being empty, crawling, crawling towards the entrance where you're already near the bottom end of your energy reserves and you just want to get out and back to your bed at home. It kinda sucks but you always end up with a smile on your face when you're driving/riding home.

It's what (part of) caving is all about.
Without the possibility of death, adventure is not possible. ~ Reinhold Messner
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Postby ljthawk » Jun 29, 2007 11:17 am

Waynes? I’m sure there are harder caves in IN. Just in my limited experience the trip to Sullivan’s Rise is more taxing.

That said, I do need to get back and go to the last camps in Wayne’s, last time we had to cut out because we spent too much time (worth it) in the RPI area and route finding to fit it within our schedule. Fun cave.

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Re: Your State's Toughest Cave

Postby hoosiercaver1 » Jan 9, 2008 11:59 am

I like hearing everyone talk about Waynes, because thats all Ive been to so far. I went once with my family and once with the CIG. I loved it even though the crawl does suck. More so on the way out than in. If anyone hasn't be to the RPI disc. I really reccomend it. I thought it was awesome. I cant wait to try more caves so I can get some horror stories to tell :laughing:

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Re: Your State's Toughest Cave

Postby ian mckenzie » Jan 9, 2008 7:32 pm

I'm not in a 'state', but our region's toughest vertical cave is undoubtedly Close To The Edge, a 470m deep cave with an initial pitch of 254m that's usually overhung by a giant icicle.
Horizontally, probably Castleguard Cave, over 20km long, mostly in a single passage including two sections of 1km long rift where you seldom touch the floor. Many cavers take three days to the back end and out. And, it's a 25km ski across a glacier to get there, since it floods unpredictably and is only safely visited in winter.
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