What's your most technical Vertical cave?

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Re: What's your most technical Vertical cave?

Postby Pat Kambesis » Aug 5, 2009 1:01 pm

Most technical vertical cave for me was Sistema Cheve in Mexico - it required a combination of 65+ pitches (most rebelayed, lots of redirects) and traverses, and even a "leap of faith" , all with a camp pack- to get to below 1000 meters. Most deep caves (I guess nowadays that means >1000 meters), require a lot of techincal rigging and I'm sure there are others more complex than Cheve. Just the thought of Krubera gives me a headache...

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Re: What's your most technical Vertical cave?

Postby Caving Guru » May 7, 2014 9:40 pm

I have been looking back at different topics and this one caught my attention. So the most technical cave I have been in and done as far as number of drops is Clover Hollow in Giles County, Virginia which has 5 drops to reach the bottom of the cave. But the most technical cave in my area (so by my area I would say that would include Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia) I would have to say Hellhole/Memorial Day Cave in Pendleton County, West Virginia which has over 50 pitches over 100 feet deep. Hellhole and Memorial Day Cave have not been connected yet but I expect them to be connected soon. They have many rebelays and other technical rigging.
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Re: What's your most technical Vertical cave?

Postby GroundquestMSA » May 7, 2014 11:50 pm

I rigged a climb with a dead cedar tree once. It was very technical. I had to drag it into the cave and then I had to lean it against the wall, and then someone else had to "hold it," a very advanced technique that involves grasping the the trunk with an ungloved hand, while I climbed up. The ongoing cave led to pinches, but no more pitches, and I retreated. When I got back, my "grasper" had wandered off, and I started down without. When my tree started shifting, I performed a hurried changeover, which is surprisingly easy when using TOTYCFTWRT. Back at the top, I yelled for help, and hearing no reply took a technical "leap of filth" onto the slimy clay below.

But the most technical cave in my area (my living room, front yard, Lowe's, and the better parts of Quebec) is probably Fern Cave. It has 3 pitches of over two feet and a moderate slope. Fern Cave has not been connected to Mammoth yet but I expect to go eat a cookie here in a minute. They have lots of butter.

(The Only Tree You Can Find That Will Reach Technique is an undertaught discipline that would benefit many cavers who can't afford fancy stuff like Pantins and 1964 Plymouth Valiants and Rope. I recall many happy hours spent sitting around cheery tire and mattress fires and discussing the intricacies of the Hardwood Highway. When to back up your Poplar pole with a grapevine, why Sycamore stakes make poor primary anchors, how to prepare a Honey Locust for safe ascension, the load dynamics of Rotting Maple, and the grave dangers of static cowstails...)
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Re: What's your most technical Vertical cave?

Postby nathanroser » May 8, 2014 6:09 pm

There's a seldom visited cave in New York called Stairstep Shafts. It's only 125 feet deep but it has four rope pitches, all of which are constricted at the top and require lots of chimneying to avoid getting caught underneath an overhanging tight slot. All natural anchors with no bolts. So no redirects or rebelays, just pads and thick ropes for it. Takes on plenty of snowmelt in winter, floods completely in heavy rains. Fun place to teach people rigging and the joys of wet vertical caving when it's 10 degrees outside.
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Re: What's your most technical Vertical cave?

Postby Caving Guru » May 8, 2014 9:27 pm

I see that you changed your username from "muddy face" to "nathanroser". I didn't even know that it was possible to change your username.
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Re: What's your most technical Vertical cave?

Postby Caving Guru » May 8, 2014 9:54 pm

So Nathan, you would say that Stairstep Shafts is a more technical vertical cave than when you were at Hellhole and Memorial Day Cave?
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Re: What's your most technical Vertical cave?

Postby CaverCSE » May 9, 2014 1:37 am

I guess I'm responsible for some of the more complex ones near me...

"Happy Top Horror Hole" is one of the gems I found.. It has a 71ft entrance pit where you have to rappel through 10ft of mud and tree roots followed by on rope vertical slime tube squeeze down half way down. This pit lands you in about a foot of slime. From there you have a muddy 15ft belly crawl, which goes to a 30ft drop that you rappel down 10ft of and reach a 80ft long bolted rope traverse (you're 20ft to 30ft off the floor) down a slimy, drippy and jagged canyon passage which leads to a nice 45ft drop. At the bottom of the 45ft is a narrow keyhole shaped crawl in crumbly clay and concrete like slime (you can't drag packs thanks to the keyhole shape) that you follow while pushing your pack in front of you for around 500ft that then opens up to a larger canyon passage with a 30ft drop rigged to a huge slab wedged in the top of the drop. This 30ft drop leads to a 10ft slick climb up followed by a 50ft long horribly exposed bolted (60ft above the floor of a 20ft wide canyon) belly crawl traverse in 1ft deep slime and of course is jagged. This leads to a 30ft drop that lands on a large ledge 30ft off the floor of the 60ft canyon. From there is a narrow gear eating jagged exposed (non rigged) canyon chimney that you follow for 50ft to another 30ft drop which drops into a room with a 10ft climbdown. After the 10ft climbdown theres over 1000ft of off and on crawling jagged stream canyon passage.. This leads to a halfway submerged 7.5in wide belly crawl on top of a dipping layer of sandstone for 120ft. Then it opens back up to walking passage which has a 10ft drop and then a 20ft drop that I haven't had the pleasure of doing yet (I took a break since I feared that the cave would destroy my knees). The last push trip turned around in going crawl passage with a dipping sandstone floor, lots of water, and air roaring through it... So that means that the horror keeps going and going... We haven't reached the end yet and we've surveyed it to roughly 2000ft long and 300ft deep so far (though the survey hasn't caught up to the exploration yet). It's spring is 1000ft below the entrance, so there's only 700 more feet of horror to go.. Oh yea, the cave is so muddy that we cant hardly even see the bolts, hangers, or screw links anymore... Most of my lengths and drop depth are estimates since I haven't seen the actual depths yet (the 71ft entrance pit was taped though)..
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Re: What's your most technical Vertical cave?

Postby Stridergdm » May 9, 2014 1:14 pm

nathanroser wrote:There's a seldom visited cave in New York called Stairstep Shafts. It's only 125 feet deep but it has four rope pitches, all of which are constricted at the top and require lots of chimneying to avoid getting caught underneath an overhanging tight slot. All natural anchors with no bolts. So no redirects or rebelays, just pads and thick ropes for it. Takes on plenty of snowmelt in winter, floods completely in heavy rains. Fun place to teach people rigging and the joys of wet vertical caving when it's 10 degrees outside.



I've actually been thinking about getting back into Stairstep. It's been FAR to long (as measured in decades) since I was last there.
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Re: What's your most technical Vertical cave?

Postby nathanroser » May 9, 2014 2:30 pm

I got some beta if you want to try to contact the new owner. There's another multi-drop with a similar description called Austin's I want to check out north of Richfield Springs.
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