Neversink

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Neversink

Postby Batgirl » Jan 20, 2011 1:01 pm

I don't know how many people are aware of this but Neversink is in bad shape. The area around the rigging tree has been severely impacted and is now no longer safe to rig from. The erosion around the rigging tree has produced huge boulders that are now protruding from the walls. It is heartbreaking to see such a beautiful place that we all love beginning to die. We are loving it to death. Bolts have now been installed and anyone visiting this pit is required to use these from now on. You are no longer allowed to rig from any tree at Neversink.

I am not an SCCI Director nor am I speaking for them, but I am imploring each of you to make a conscious, conservation minded decision to stop visiting this pit. I understand that those that do no live in TAG and have never been to Neversink will want to visit when they come down, but if you have dropped this pit before, please find another place to go. The SCCI will be doing some restoration work along the impacted areas this spring, but we as the caving community need to let this place heal and cave elsewhere.

This should be a wake up call to us all about our impact on these beautiful places.

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Re: Neversink

Postby Chads93GT » Jan 20, 2011 1:10 pm

Well thats too bad. personally I dont like rigging from that tree. Neversink is one of those pits that can swallow a tree like that, if the roots fail in the wind. I perfer to rig further back. I guess the other reason its impacted so bad is people dont want to carry a bag of mulch up there to lay down? Too bad. I've only been there once.
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Re: Neversink

Postby graveleye » Jan 20, 2011 1:58 pm

I've only been once as well. It's a shame to have to stay away.

I have something to say on the subject that has been bothering me for a few months now.

Something that batgirl didn't mention that I will bring up is that the erosion due to overuse at Neversink has been blamed on an influx of new cavers. This sort of thinking rather blew my mind and frankly doesn't make sense. If someone can somehow prove to me that Neversink is being destroyed by new cavers I'll be a believer. But seeing as people have been dropping this pit in droves for many many years, I hardly see how the blame can be put on the new generation. If anything, it's the older generation of cavers who started the erosion (remember Providence Canyons were started by a scratch in the soil). They also made the pit popular by displaying its beauty to the world. I have no doubt that the pit receives more traffic today than it did twenty years ago, but it is completely unfair to blame all this on one generation of cavers over another.

We all know people who drop Neversink several times a year and probably some who go more than that- they aren't all the rookies either. They're TAG cavers and many of them have been around a long time. I hate to say this, but if anyone can be blamed for at least starting the decline in condition of the pit, it's the older generation. The newer generation and ones to follow have to pay the price though.

Now, I'm going to take some flack for saying this and that's fine. I just have noticed this pervasive attitude towards new cavers lately, and I have to point out that the older generation is not free of sin either. My main point in bringing this up is to stop this little generational blame-game before it takes root.

All that being said, I'm staying away from Neversink and many of the other "classics", and unfortunately this means staying away from ones that I haven't had the privilege of visiting yet. Yet, I'll lend my hands to help restore these places as well.

I do agree that we give Neversink a rest, and suggest we all do just that. It's a beautiful place that we would like to preserve for many generations to come.
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Re: Neversink

Postby self-deleted_user » Jan 20, 2011 2:15 pm

I've never seen many TAG caves...or many caves in general. I appreciate the nod to "if you never see it, we understand, just be extra cautious and use the bolts". :) That is much nicer than this whole "you young'uns get off my lawn!" approach I have seen (probably like what graveleye was talking about?). So thanks! Yeah in the cave up north there is an entrance closed due to erosion issues, luckily there are three entrances though so we just use the other two.
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Re: Neversink

Postby wyandottecaver » Jan 20, 2011 6:31 pm

I too have been to neversink once and we rigged the tree. However this thread seems strange to me. I am assuming we are talking about obvious human induced foot traffic and rope burn damage not the "normal" erosion that happens everywhere. Boulders hanging out of open pit walls aren't necessarily unnatural.

However, assuming there is a people problem:
1) Once damage is done, even NO visitation probably won't matter to the rain. The erosion will just progress anyway.
2) asking for voluntary abstainers is great. But It simply wn't work. Not at Neversink.
3) The obvious answer seems to be: Harden the site. Pick a rappel point, create an anchor system, harden the lip if needed, and then make it too dang much trouble to get to the rest of the rim. A few big tree tops would probably be a good start.

This is one of the top TAG Classics. Any solution that results in less access is not only going to be unpopular, but probably isn't even in the long term interest of the caving community.
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Re: Neversink

Postby KeyserSoze » Jan 20, 2011 6:47 pm

It's funny to me to hear cavers talk about the negative effects of erosion next to a giant pit in the earth that is entirely the product of erosion. Is it not a viable option to simply lay down a rock patio at the rigging area? Sure it isn't natural, but it's less impactful than the modifications that have been made to so many other natural areas that receive a lot of traffic; think about the permanent overlooks and walkways that are constructed at state parks. Of course I understand that cavers are not big fans of modified natural areas, it's part of why we love wild caves, but surely there can be exceptions for a few areas that receive more traffic. In any event, I will be visiting Neversink this spring for my first time and I will take care to limit my impact as much as possible, regardless of my opinion that the reactions I've heard thus far are a bit silly.

edit - I didn't see wyandottecaver's post before I typed this. Just wanted to say that I agree with him completely.
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Re: Neversink

Postby Chads93GT » Jan 20, 2011 7:04 pm

Mmm gravel down around the lip. nothing like a bunch of 127 mph bullets whizzing down at you when you are at the bottom of the pit ;)
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Re: Neversink

Postby Batgirl » Jan 20, 2011 7:30 pm

The damage is occurring in and around the rigging point, including the slope area. While I agree that some erosion is normal, this is not. It's a serious issue. I personally have only been to Neversink twice and I live in TAG. Last time I was there was last summer for a night climb to enjoy the glow worms. I saw Buddy on NYE and he showed me the pics that he took of the damage and my heart just sank. The protruding boulders are coming out of the slope area and according to him, that occurred within the previous 30 days.

I know that the SCCI is not closing it because like Todd said, closures are just not feasible or enforceable. I'm sure they are considering many other options. They do have a management strategy in place and they have installed anchor bolts which you are required to use now. You can read the management strategy here: http://www.scci.org/News/newsletter/Jan ... #neversink

All I am asking is to please put conservation of the resource above your personal wants. If traffic could be curbed at this site by 80%, then that would be substantial. There are more than 10,000 caves in TAG. I am sure that you could find another place that is equally as fun and equally as beautiful. You can argue all day whether its human or natural induced. It doesn't matter. The point is that this place needs time to heal and we should respect that.
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Re: Neversink

Postby Cody JW » Jan 20, 2011 7:40 pm

I have been several times . I miss the old rig tree that was cut down right at the edge of the pit. I will just stay away as there are many other TAG pits to see that I have not yet seen. You get more of the feeling there of doing a cliff rappel than a cave shaft. The Sinkhole in Tennessee was closed for the same reason. I wonder about erosion there because anytime I have seen water falling in it has been on the other side of the pit from the main rig area.
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Re: Neversink

Postby speleo » Jan 20, 2011 9:46 pm

I am going to agree with Kevin. It isn't fair to blame the newer cavers ( I am one of the old ones. ) for the overuse of some TAG classics. I can't believe how many people go to the same caves and pits over and over. I am not saying there is anything wrong with that, but there are so many caves out there. TAG alone has nearly 15,000 known caves and over 400 pits over 100 feet deep. Some of these are really nice and get very little visitation. Of course we don't want to over do it and wear out our welcome with land owners. Posting trip reports would serve the purpose of letting people know more about what is out there as well as let people know if a place is getting too much use. Plus, they are interesting to read. TAG-NET used to have great trip reports every week. They are very rare now. Perhaps more could be posted on this board. It would be nice to hear about other parts of the country.

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Re: Neversink

Postby cavercrew » Jan 20, 2011 10:08 pm

Delineating some dedicated rig points was a good idea. Too many times I have seen large groups at the pit and many ropes going in from all directions. In the past if we went there and folks were using the main rig point we would either wait or leave and go else where. Does it not make sense to use established rig points and not create new ones just because you can't wait! Same goes for foot traffic in cave, if you see an established trail, stay on it, don't just wander here and there making new paths so you can see this or that. Give the cave some respect.It seems lately that folks would just find a tree and throw a rope down and not be concerned with trashing the vegetation and thus creating a "new" rig point. Another problem I have seen is the failure of many folks to not pad the trees they rig to. I'm quite sure if I rigged a rope around your neck you would prefer I pad it well! Please use common sense folks, pad your trees, don't make arbitrary new rig points for your convenience, and please, please don't trash the plants growing around the top of these pits. Some of these plants may never recover or take many years to grow back and thrive. I have not been to the pit since maybe 2009 so I can't comment on the recent damage but I will make it a point to at least check it out.
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Re: Neversink

Postby Cody JW » Jan 21, 2011 8:49 am

I always prefer to use an "established" rig point for safety reasons. I figure an established rig point will have smoother less dangerous rub points. Of course I bring lots of pads for the trees and the lips but sometimes you will run into a rub point futher down that cannot be seen from the top and may not be easy to pad. In this case your rub point will be smoother if you are at an established rig point. When I get to a pit I have not yet seen the first thing I do is loom for rub marks on rocks to see the established rig point.
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Re: Neversink

Postby UnderGroundEarth » Jan 21, 2011 3:09 pm

What most people don't realize or think about is - it is not just cavers visiting some of these classics like Neversink and Stephens Gap. A lot of hikers and other outdoor enthusiast know about and therefore visit these pits, not to bounce them but just to simply visit them and see their beauty.

Kevin, regarding the issue of blaming newer cavers for erosion... It simply is not responsible caving to have a group of 20+ something people at any pit, especially if it is a grotto trip. I believe some felt that it was or is newer cavers that are visiting these pits in large droves. You certainly don't ever see a large group of Old Timers at one cave/pit... There have been several DCG trips that have gotten way too large and in some occasions 4-5 ropes rigged at one pit just for these grotto trips. it is the responsibility of the trip leader to keep the trips to a manageable size and turn people away if need be. Some people have expressed that caving is a social event and it is perfectly ok to have you and your 20 best buds at a pit. For me, no way. I'm not getting hit by a falling rock. If I visit a pit and there are a large handful of folks already there and several ropes already rigged, you better believe I will leave and go somewhere else for my own safety.
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Re: Neversink

Postby graveleye » Jan 21, 2011 5:00 pm

Kelly, I know at least one trip you're talking about, and I can tell you right now that of all those people about 5 were cavers who had been caving under 4 years. I have the sign-up sheet as well. Most of the cavers who were there that day had been caving for over 10-15 years. It was NOT a group of rookies. I can sit down and name to you everyone on the trip if you would like. More than just names, I have tons of pictures as well. I'm limited in time, but totally willing to go the distance to prove it at least on the trips I've been on.

Don't get me wrong... that trip was out of hand in terms of numbers and I know it. There were way too many people on that trip, BUT they were almost all seasoned cavers and most of them didn't even sign up - they just showed up uninvited. I believe you were there too.

ALL of the last 4 larger-party pit bouncing trips I've been on consisted of mostly long-time cavers with a handful of newbies. They've all been heavily weighted with folks who have been doing it a long time. My one and only time to Neversink there were about 13-15 people. Of those, THREE were "new" and two of them were my wife and myself. (although we may not classify as new anymore - semantics) There has not been one single trip that I've been on, with the exception of maybe Signal Light (which was planned specifically for new vertical cavers) that new cavers outnumbered the older ones. Whoever is telling you otherwise is flat out wrong.

See, this is the misconception I am trying to point out right here and now. I can speak for the trips that I have been on that consisted of a lot of people and what you are saying about them being made up of rookies simply is not true. Depending on what you consider an "old timer" in terms of years, some of these trips were mostly old timers.

Now I'm totally with you that the parties have grown too large. I agree with that and they should definitely be scaled back, not just the DCG but for any grotto. But making it seem like they've consisted of large groups of roving, destructive new cavers is a completely unfair and untrue position.
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Re: Neversink

Postby self-deleted_user » Jan 21, 2011 8:31 pm

Just a thought...as a no0b...(7 months now) that coming in now, at this time (I figure "new" caver is probably 2-3 years or less?) all I hear about is conservation. Okay, not all. But, this is coming in after WNS. I think that WNS has given a huge "heads up" to how we might be affecting the cave environment (whether or not you buy the "cavers can transport the spores" story or not is irrelevent) because fact is, it's talked about ALL THE TIME. There are warnings posted. Cave closures. Advisories. And it makes you think and be careful. Before I set foot in a single cave I knew more about how to "cave softly" than I did about what was inside a cave! The younger people I cave with seem to be much more conservation minded than the older people, in general.

Of course, I'm one person and my sample size is small and all that. But my experience, the new cavers are much more upfront aware of how to take care of caves and it almost seems like it's as one gets more experience people figure out which "rules" can be "bent". Which, really holds true for a lot of things in life - when you start out in something new you tend to follow all the "rules" and not screw up because you want to be accepted into whatever community it is. It's as you get comfortable and learn which "rules" don't matter as much that they get bent or broken, which can sometimes lead to a slippery slope.

Just some food for thought...I'm not saying the "old folks" are to blame either so please don't hear that. That's not what I mean at all. This post is simply about what this certain no0b caver has seen.
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