Nearly trapped in Ellison's

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Nearly trapped in Ellison's

Postby blitz134 » Oct 22, 2007 4:00 pm

I figured I would post about this just as a reminder to folks out there...

Three Georgia Tech friends and I went to Ellison's this past Saturday (10/20) to go down Fantastic and explore down bottom. Trip was pretty uneventful, although we barely missed making it to the North Pole.

On the way back out, I was first down the Nusience Drop and headed over to Warm-up Pit to get on rope while the others were coming behind me. When I got to the rope I noticed that it had obviously been tampered with. We had rigged the 125' drop with a 180' rope from the two bolts located on the lip in the ceiling. The rope was hanging with the end entangled about 40' up from the bottom forming a loop that was hanging down. Luckily this loop reached to just above head height when standing on the large rock at the bottom of the pit.

I had a plan to tug the rope to make sure it was secure then clip in and climb up on the side that I thought was the "good" side. While doing so, I would run my quick-attach safety up the other side to prevent me from cratering on the bottom incase the snarled rope came lose while I climbed to untangle the mess . I would have effectively ensured I would not fall if the snarl came loose. Luckily I tugged on both ends of the rope for a couple seconds and everything came loose and fell to the bottom. Two of us grabbed the end of the rope, clipped on and tugged like hell to make sure the rigging was as good as could be. I clipped in and climbed out quite nervously.

We were lucky on two accounts: first, that we could actually reach the rope and secondly that it fell free from being tangled. We could have easily been trapped in the cave for a while. We had a call out, but it wasn't needed.

This leads me to what I wanted to mention/warn folks about. Don't screw around with someone else's rope.

Its not too often we run into other people in the same cave that we are in, but there are usually ways around having to mess with someone else's rigging. I think a group came in to bounce warm-up and pulled up our rope to get it out of the way for their rope, and possibly used our rig point, and just tossed it back down the pit when they were done. I would have much rather them just use our rope (which I know is questionable for some) than being careless and just tossing our rope back in. In the past I have tied the first rope in a cave down to something solid to make sure it can't be pulled up, but didn't do it this time. I will in the future.

-Chris Goodman
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Postby Scott McCrea » Oct 22, 2007 4:54 pm

:yikes: Glad you made it out safely. Was the rigging (top of the rope) messed with? Did they rig it back as you had it?

BTW, where did you get turned around on your way to the North Pole? That place is soo confusing sometimes. I got really confused coming out of Angel's Paradise one time.
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Postby cavercrew » Oct 22, 2007 11:50 pm

Interesting, I had considered going to Ellison's this past weekend but instead went to Pettijohn's. I didn't like the idea of hiking up there with it being a scheduled firearms deer hunt. DNR allows caving but pretty much nothing else except hunting during a scheduled hunt. Yes it's good to tie your rope off at the bottom because you never know who might come along. I always feel a little nervous climbing out on a rope that has been un-attended for awhile. Seems there were some reports sometime back about people getting stranded in Cemetary Pit because the entrance rope had been pulled and taken, never to be seen again. That would kindly piss someone off. Messing with somebodys rope is akin to messing with their life... Don't do it.

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Postby Ralph E. Powers » Oct 23, 2007 10:51 am

On TAG-NET there's a story about similar happenings.
I've read about "rope-tampering" in Mexico because the backwoods natives are superstitious enough to believe anyone going down a pit/cave is communing with the devil and therefore should be left down there. They'll help the "devil worshippers" by simply cutting the tied off ropes with a machete' ... doesn't matter if there's a caver on rope or not. Thus it's a good idea to place an (armed) guard at the tie off point.

Are we going to have to do this as well for the caves in the states? Bring a non-caving buddy along to sit for hours by an entrance to keep potential rope tamper-ers out? Seems like this is an increasing occurrence and we're going to be reading about this more often. I hope not.

I've met non-cavers at the entrance of whatever cave we were in as we were exiting but they didn't tamper with our rope. They were lost hikers and we were glad to help guide them back down to the main trail.
Without the possibility of death, adventure is not possible. ~ Reinhold Messner


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Postby Stridergdm » Oct 23, 2007 12:56 pm

In one of our old club newsletters, some members (and it may have included Bill Stone) were down in Mexico when the Federales (sp?) decided that whatever they were doing just HAD to be illegal and so pulled up the rope and arrested those on the surface. 2 days later a translator finally explained to them that they had to put the rope back down the hole at least long enough to let the remaining cavers get out.
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Re: Nearly trapped in Ellison's

Postby justinmiller » Dec 31, 2007 6:29 pm

has anybody been to incredible and seen the stone pillar that is there at the bottom of the waterfall?
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Re:

Postby Squirrel Girl » Dec 31, 2007 7:15 pm

Stridergdm wrote:In one of our old club newsletters, some members (and it may have included Bill Stone) were down in Mexico when the Federales (sp?) decided that whatever they were doing just HAD to be illegal and so pulled up the rope and arrested those on the surface. 2 days later a translator finally explained to them that they had to put the rope back down the hole at least long enough to let the remaining cavers get out.

I believe that incident was because the US instructed the Mexican authorities that youthful gringos were druggies.
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