Non-caver from California

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Non-caver from California

Postby LBShelley » Jul 14, 2010 12:06 am

Hello, I am a new member, and I am a non-caver. :) That is, I've been through a lot of show caves in the western USA and a few unimproved lava tubes and rockfall caves. I'm interested in geology and especially in cave formations, but I am also moderately claustrophobic and don't like the dark. I don't even get into the crawl space under my house. So though I've been in places where I needed a helmet and headlamp and good boots, no belly crawls through the mud for me and no long expeditions. My husband loves that kind of thing, however -- I just let him take our skinny 17-year-old son along on the tight squeezes while I stay behind with our 12-year-old, and everyone has a good time.

I decided to sign up since I have been lurking for months anyway. Since my family had just visited Timpanogos Cave for the first time only a short while before the tragedy at the Nutty Putty cave in the same area, I was very upset by the news reports about the death of John Jones. Although I didn't know anyone who was involved and of course the family and the rescuers went through unimaginably worse experiences than I ever could have, I was having a hard time personally with claustrophobic nightmares. I knew that getting more specific information about the accident would help. Obviously that had to come from real cavers and from people who knew the territory rather than from news reports or morbid speculations, so I ended up here. It was hard for me to read the details, but the facts were what I needed to work through my emotional response to the tragedy. I'd like to thank those who took the effort to keep others informed and to clear up the many misconceptions that circulated in the mainstream media.

I'm very glad that such a wonderful resource is freely available online and is not locked off from the general public. Thank you to everyone who maintains the forum and the site. Since I originally came here I've enjoyed reading all sorts of posts and articles about caving trips and equipment. I have learned a lot about the current issues in caving, even though I doubt I will ever go on a serious caving expedition myself. I'm a fiction writer, and I am now working on a story that involves amateur caving. So I will probably be asking a few technical questions of the experts here -- I can't imagine a better place to get good answers.

-Laura Shelley
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Re: Non-caver from California

Postby Squirrel Girl » Jul 14, 2010 4:04 am

Welcome to Cave Chat!!
:waving:
Barbara Anne am Ende

"Weird people are my people."
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Re: Non-caver from California

Postby Caverdale » Jul 14, 2010 10:30 pm

Hi Laura -

Although I did not participate with the Nutty Putty Cave rescue (because of age and being unable to squeeze less than 8-1/2 to 9 inches) I am quite familiar with the cave and have had conversations with almost all of those cavers who were directly involved. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, none of them are members of this forum. The story is long. One caver wrote a 14 page report! However I do know enough about the circumstances and what occurred that I could probably answer some of the specific questions about those aspects that bother you the most. It's doubtful that my reply will be more than a few paragraphs. If this is sufficient, feel free to PM me at pakrat7j (at) burgoyne (dot) com.
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Re: Non-caver from California

Postby NZcaver » Jul 15, 2010 1:37 am

Caverdale wrote:I am quite familiar with the cave and have had conversations with almost all of those cavers who were directly involved. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, none of them are members of this forum.

FYI - two of our active forum members were directly involved in the Nutty Putty rescue. See this topic.
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Re: Non-caver from California

Postby Caverdale » Jul 15, 2010 9:46 am

NZcaver wrote:
Caverdale wrote:I am quite familiar with the cave and have had conversations with almost all of those cavers who were directly involved. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, none of them are members of this forum.

FYI - two of our active forum members were directly involved in the Nutty Putty rescue. See this topic.

Yes, of course I knew about Andy and Bonnie. The cavers I was referring to were the ones directly at the victim and talked to him. None of these, Dave and Ryan Shurtz, Spencer Christian, and Kirsten Kohlway are members of this forum, to my knowledge. (I could have made it in as far as Andy.)
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Re: Non-caver from California

Postby DansRock » Jul 15, 2010 1:02 pm

I hope the Nutty Putty rescuers are doing OK after the unsuccessful effort at freeing John Jones. I had read that PTSD counseling was offered to them and I hope they took advantage of it. Like Laura I had several panic episodes associated with what happened and I've stopped caving because of it. I imagine time will solve that but I'm surprised my fear and interest in what happened has lasted so long. Is there any new news about the release of the resuce report or is that never going to see the light of day?

Cheers.

Dan
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Re: Non-caver from California

Postby NZcaver » Jul 15, 2010 2:24 pm

Caverdale wrote:Yes, of course I knew about Andy and Bonnie. The cavers I was referring to were the ones directly at the victim and talked to him. None of these, Dave and Ryan Shurtz, Spencer Christian, and Kirsten Kohlway are members of this forum, to my knowledge. (I could have made it in as far as Andy.)

Yes, of course. Your definition of "directly involved" in a rescue obviously differs from mine. Thanks for clarifying.
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Re: Non-caver from California

Postby Caverdale » Jul 15, 2010 3:09 pm

DansRock wrote:I hope the Nutty Putty rescuers are doing OK after the unsuccessful effort at freeing John Jones. I had read that PTSD counseling was offered to them and I hope they took advantage of it. Like Laura I had several panic episodes associated with what happened and I've stopped caving because of it. I imagine time will solve that but I'm surprised my fear and interest in what happened has lasted so long. Is there any new news about the release of the resuce report or is that never going to see the light of day?

Cheers.

Dan

In the past couple of months I have met with two of the people mentioned, one of them on a 4-day trip, and they seem to be OK. The county sheriff's department said they were going to issue a press release and an incident report, but no one has heard anything more about them. I do know that there have been some submissions to the NSS's cave accident report editor by persons fully qualified to know what took place. These will probably explain most of what happened and will be accurate. You will probably just have to wait for that publication.

I have been actively caving for over 50 years and have never read or heard of a similar 'accident' that John Jones got himself into. Most of us feel that there was a lack of simple common sense or perhaps a panic situation causing very bad judgment and making him push into a place where most would realize there was no return. If you feel you have a "lick of common sense" there is no reason John's demise should make you stop caving.
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Re: Non-caver from California

Postby DansRock » Jul 16, 2010 8:57 am

Thanks Dale. I'm glad to hear the rescuers are doing well. I like to think I have common sense in droves, but my wife doesn't think so ever since I took up caving. :) Truth be told I've been developing claustrophobia ever since I had an MRI a year ago, so I think my days of tight spaces were limited anyway. I'll leave the tight stuff to all you braver and skinnier cavers!
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Re: Non-caver from California

Postby LBShelley » Jul 16, 2010 8:26 pm

Thank you for the welcome! Caverdale, I appreciate your offer. My own emotional reaction to the Nutty Putty tragedy was considerably tempered once I read the posts here. The underground environment is so alien to most non-cavers that it's difficult to visualize what happened from first principles (unlike, say, a car crash or a climbing accident). It was obvious that most news reporters had no more clue than I had why it wasn't even possible to remove the victim's body. It was even hard for many cavers to understand, I think, since it WAS such an unusual type of caving accident. Looking at detailed maps of the cave passages and seeing descriptions of exactly how John Jones was stuck made everything much clearer to me, and so the whole situation, while no less a tragedy, became easier to process.

It was also good to learn that there were such things as trained cave rescue squads, and to hear in detail about their efforts in this case. The rescuers seemed so dedicated, even at what must have been considerable personal risk, that I felt a great deal of empathy for them.

-Laura
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