Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Discuss vertical caving, equipment, & techniques. Also visit the NSS Vertical Section.

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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby ohiocaver » Mar 24, 2014 6:46 pm

BTW, if we are trying to define a new version of Games Cavers Play, I'd expect that Cheryl is right that bouncing an outdoor pit is common (I've done that, too, although they've been <100 foot jobs...most in the 35-50 foot range).
Doing a pit as part of a longer trip through a cave certainly adds a degree of difficulty.
Doing a complex, multi-drop cave solo is yet another degree of difficulty.
Having someone "in the cave at the same time" is irrelevant unless those people travel along with the "soloist" and/or appear at key points in the trip to give advice or help while the soloist is in the cave. This could range from leaving their rigging for the soloist to providing light or whatever to speed the soloist along. At that point, I think the game is somewhat different and diluted.
Leaving behind a team at the entrance or having a call-out to a friend or family member should not DQ the solo. But if anyone accompanies the soloist through the cave, I think the concept has been bent a bit too far to be called a "solo".
What about a soloist who goes into a cave, rigs a pit and comes back; then returns next day to drop the pit solo and then does yet another drop farther along? Does the break in the trip in any way change the game?
What if his wife tells him she'll kill him if he ever does it again and he survives the solo only to face an enraged spouse?
[url=http://postimg.org/image/lex35gcbv/][img]http://s9.postimg.org/lex35gcbv/curt_Bryants_Cave_Indiana.jpg[/img][/url]
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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby Elliott-Hellmann » Mar 24, 2014 9:47 pm

bennettbike wrote:I can tolerate one safety post for the new cavers to read but I am trying to ask an actual question.

After learning of a person who solo rigged Ellisons, all the way to the incredible pit, dropped it, de-rigged it and went home I was curious as if that person may be the only caver who has even completed such a task?

Even if you know of someone who solo dropped a pit elsewhere do chime in.

Thanks.


I'm curious if you learned of this through reading the register or through word of mouth?

I did not pull the big rope on the solo trip. I did return and pull the rope solo but I had a someone who was not vertically trained who waited at the top of the warm up pit and helped carry it down the mountain. My curiosity and fascination with Ellisons was and still is unusually high. The solo trip through the cave was not planned. I dropped Smokey 1 the weekend before with two others and returned alone to pull the rope (they bailed on me when it was time to do work). A good friend of mine initials (P. W.) had recently emailed me the Schrieber map and the Dogwood City Grotto survey of the upper level passages. When I started to pull the rope a thought hit me that I could use this time to go down and try to look for the way into the fault line. I had failed to find it on previous trips giving me more incentive. I knew from looking at the survey which direction it ran and had a compass.
I was blown away by how much this cave has to offer. This is a very public forum. I don't want to share to much but the passages in Ellisons are everything I could have hoped for and more. The biggest blunder is that I was so infatuated and excited by the cave that I didn't pay attention or mark the passage from the golf club room to the Devil's trap door climb. I spent almost an hour in the golf club looking for the way out. I was not in a panic but I was starting to get there when I finally found it. That was the only time I felt foolish for being alone. As mentioned by someone above, when your alone in a cave (especially vertical) you are aware that there is no margin for error. If you make a mistake or get hurt you are in serious trouble.
Some people think this a a form of exhibitionism, showing off, ego trip ect.... What they think is none of my concern or business. Explorer types and egos go hand in hand but that's only one piece of a much bigger puzzle they don't see. Through my trips to Ellisons I've met, been invited on trips, and caved with what I think are some of the best active cavers in TAG. That was another motive, I hoped to get the attention of people who shared my level of interest and curiosity so I could join them.
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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby Shane S » Apr 3, 2014 9:36 am

Looking forward to another return to Ellisons on April 12th comming up soon. We are likley going to try to find a passage from the ledge in the all in one drop back down to the stream. This is a multidrop down Fantascit pit, and the back side of Tag Hall. :kewl:
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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby DawgsgoCaving » Apr 4, 2014 4:17 pm

Shane S wrote:Looking forward to another return to Ellisons on April 12th comming up soon. We are likley going to try to find a passage from the ledge in the all in one drop back down to the stream. This is a multidrop down Fantascit pit, and the back side of Tag Hall. :kewl:


:kewl: That's cool. In the future I hope to take the multi-drop route starting at smokey 2 ending at the bottom of nice pit. It'll probably take some time, though.

A few cavers more experienced than myself have said All-in-One to TAG Hall is there favorite drop in the whole system.
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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby Shane S » Apr 8, 2014 12:53 am

Thus far All in one has been my favorite drop. Out of The Attic, NOS-5/Inturupt pit and All in one. I still need to try the smokies though.
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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby Oddball » Apr 12, 2014 3:13 am

Leclused wrote:A bit off-topic but the film "Solo" is now available on You-Tube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=y ... pp=desktop

A film about solo caving / exploring.

Awesome video...
I know this is off topic, but what was the method on pulling down his rope?
I see what seems to be a figure 8 (or another on bight) knot tied and looped through and connected by a carabiner to the other side (after around the fixed point)
What is the name up this setup? And how does it work?
My only guess is the whole system at the mounting point acts as a "noose" when loaded. It is unclear what side was loaded though and also the safety of rigging this way
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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby paul » Apr 22, 2014 6:32 am

Oddball wrote:
Leclused wrote:A bit off-topic but the film "Solo" is now available on You-Tube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=y ... pp=desktop

A film about solo caving / exploring.

Awesome video...
I know this is off topic, but what was the method on pulling down his rope?
I see what seems to be a figure 8 (or another on bight) knot tied and looped through and connected by a carabiner to the other side (after around the fixed point)
What is the name up this setup? And how does it work?
My only guess is the whole system at the mounting point acts as a "noose" when loaded. It is unclear what side was loaded though and also the safety of rigging this way


The setup works as you described. It is often used, in the UK at least, on "pull-through" trips where cavers enter at one entrance and after abseiling on or more pitches, exit via a different entrance as the majority of descenders used can only take a single strand of rope. I don't know of a name for this method.

The rope is placed around an anchor (or through a thread or artificial bolt anchor). One side has a small loop tied in it and a carabiner is clipped to this loop. The same carabiner is then clipped to the other half of the rope. Now when the half of the rope passing *through* the carabiner is pulled, the carabiner slides *up* this side of the rope and tightens the rope over (or through) the anchor. This is the side of the rope the caver would clip his descender to. When the other side of the rope (the half with the small loop tied in) is pulled, the carabiner travels *down* the half of the rope it is clipped to and that then travels up and over the anchor just as if the small loop and carabiner weren't there. This allows the rope to be retrieved.

Of course there is the danger that a caver could clip to the wrong side of the rope and come to grief. This can be mitigated by coiling the half of rope to be pulled down at the top of the pitch or even better, if using a bolt anchor, by clipping the carabiner into the anchor as well. The last person to abseil them attaches his descender as normal and then throws down the side of the rope to be pulled down and unclips the carabiner from the anchor (if there was one).

Of course if you have a descender which can take both sides of the rope, you need not do this, but you still need to ensure both halves of the rope reach the ground for obvious reasons (the short side passes through the descender entirely and your weight is then only supported by the longer side causing the rope to pull through.
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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby eyecave » Jul 9, 2014 9:35 pm

solo caving has always been a passion for me and when ellison's was permanently rigged i probably did more than two dozen trips....some on nights with a full moon......i have also done thru the mtn trips solo several times....valhalla, neversink, stephens gap and other open air pits i have also done.....my hundreth bounce of fantastic was solo.....

why you ask?......because i am stupid i reply......but let me tell you what i discovered.....ALL fear comes from within....and let me tell you what i learned......the value of being deliberate and aware.....solo caving is very capable of suddenly turning very bad......an unexpected fall, light failure, being seperated from needed equipment, becoming confused...emergencies can't occur, having good judgment, which..if you are solo is already suspect is essential.....

but,....you can't beat the feeling it gives you.......
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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby Caving Guru » Jul 10, 2014 4:45 am

I actually went on my first real solo (vertical) caving trip recently. Before this trip that I am about to share, the closest I have been to absolute solo caving is where different people were with me to help me find different caves on different trips and waited outside the cave entrance after we found the cave.

So for starters, I did not want to be doing this trip by myself. I desperately was asking every single person at SERA (if they wanted to go with me) even if there was a very small chance that they were going to say yes (every single person ended up saying: no)

So it was during SERA (this past SERA of 2014) at the site where this year's NSS Convention is also being held. After failing to find anyone willing to go with me after asking pretty much every single person at SERA, I started hiking up the mountain by myself. I ended up searching for, finding, and exploring by myself the four caves on the property of the new NSS Headquarters and taking pictures all the while of all four of these caves.

I forgot to mention that before I went on this hike, I wanted to make sure that I was prepared for what I was in for. So I talked with Bill Torode for a good while who discovered all four of these caves to learn more about what these caves were like. Bill Torode told me that he had discovered Reel Drop (a 30 foot entrance drop) and Nature Trail Cave the month before in April (of 2014) and that he had discovered Blue Balloon Cave in July of 2008 and that he had discovered Tree Root Cave in November of 2008. He then went on to tell me in detail what each of the caves was like. One crucial piece of information that he gave me was that he said that for Tree Root Cave there was only one drop where a rope was required and that the drop was about 60 feet deep. I told him that I had my 200 foot PMI Max Wear Pit Rope and he said that I would be good with the amount of rope that I had.

So I strategically went to the smaller caves first that had their entrances a shorter distance up the trail and then to the ones farther up the mountain next. I ended up saving the best for last. Tree Root Cave. I have to say that Tree Root Cave has to be my favorite cave in TAG so far because of its technicality. I made it more difficult than it had to be but in my opinion that made it funner (that's how I put it (in other words: more difficult)). So for the 60 foot drop there is actually a second option. You can rappel down from the top of the tight canyon/crevice for about 40 feet to the bottom. Then, after following the canyon for a little ways there is a 6 foot or so climb up which also makes things fun in my opinion. Then after doing the 6 foot climb (which I usually round off to 10 feet when I have told people of this trip before), I rappelled the 50 foot drop to the bottom of the main canyon. The main canyon had a 60 foot tall ceiling and had many side passages. Bill Torode's map shows that the cave has only 592 feet of passage. This may be true but it sure did seem like a lot more than that because I was in there for several hours checking out everything before I felt like I had sufficiently explored the cave. I would love to go back to Tree Root Cave such as during the NSS Convention.
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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby chh » Jul 11, 2014 9:51 pm

No way Ellison't has only been soloed once. No way.
Your words of caution are no match for my disaster style!
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