Virgin Cave, VA

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Virgin Cave, VA

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jun 11, 2013 4:17 pm

Being unaffiliated with a grotto and having no other means to publicly document our work, however insignificant, here's a little trip report on our weekend efforts.

We began by relocating two entrances with the help of a local man who had explored them in the past. One has a steep sided sink entrance and consists of one large room with a couple of drains and a small amount of breakdown passage. The second cave is large and downsloping after a crawl in entrance but is blocked by collapse after only 207'. While surveying out of this cave, a very small passage with airflow was noticed. Returning with a mini shovel and hand pick, we dug away 6"-10" of sediment and clay from the floor over a length of 20'. This gave access to a small canyon 1'-3' wide and 15' high and choked with flowstone and clay at floor level after only another 20' or so. At the top of the canyon, though, onward passage could be seen beyond a mass of drapery and flowstone. After some consideration, a small amount of drapery was removed to allow passage. Beyond this point the cave was highly decorated, with much rimstone of various sizes and colors, white flowstones, and a massive column. The passage is awkward and delicate and after struggling through it for a short distance a small pit was reached. We returned the next day, rigged the pit and dropped 19' into a perfectly round dome floored with fantastic rimstone. The lead out of this room is extremely tight but was pushed for another 80' or so with the help of a little more digging. There remains at least one diggable lead with good airflow.

Being short on time, we surveyed out from the bottom of the pit, tallying a measly 137' of new cave, with around 80' more explored but unsurveyed, and good potential for more. This experience has convinced me that a better camera is well worth the money I'll have to spend. If I ever remove more formations or am forced to crawl over pristine rimstone, I'm determined to take quality photos first.

Bad photos coming whenever I can get them to upload.
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Re: Virgin Cave, VA

Postby Scott McCrea » Jun 11, 2013 4:54 pm

Formations can be so rude. Blocking passages and filling in perfectly good caves.

You can join the Virginia Speleological Survey. They collect all the data for VA caves and are great people.

Great work!
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Re: Virgin Cave, VA

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jun 11, 2013 6:29 pm

I thought that VSS didn't accept "members?" If that's not the case, how does one "join?"
Whatever the case, I've submitted several things to VSS in the past and will likely continue to do so.
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Re: Virgin Cave, VA

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jun 11, 2013 8:07 pm

The lead before we started digging:
http://i1241.photobucket.com/albums/gg5 ... tMSA/4.jpg

The draperies blocking the passage (the one we removed is just out of the photo):
http://i1241.photobucket.com/albums/gg5 ... 39e4f4.jpg

Some of the rimstones and such in the new passage:
http://i1241.photobucket.com/albums/gg5 ... tMSA/2.jpg
http://i1241.photobucket.com/albums/gg5 ... tMSA/3.jpg
http://i1241.photobucket.com/albums/gg5 ... tMSA/5.jpg

The handsome lad in the second photo is my little brother, whose Spark is floppy because he has just removed it from his HELMET:big grin: for some squeezin'.
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Re: Virgin Cave, VA

Postby Scott McCrea » Jun 11, 2013 8:47 pm

Cool stuff! Keep pushing!

I don't know the details about VSS, but I bet they are in the nets somewhere.
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Re: Virgin Cave, VA

Postby trogman » Jun 12, 2013 10:12 am

Nice new virgin cave- thanks for sharing!
It is a often dilemma deciding whether or not to break formations in the pursuit of more cave. One cave I found here in AL had a room that I could see through a row of jail-bar-like columns. The room is about 8' in diameter, is profusely decorated, and has a sparkling pool in it. There was no air flow, and from my limited perspective, it did not appear to continue. I decided not to try to bust through, but I think about that little room often.

Trogman :helmet:
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Re: Virgin Cave, VA

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jun 15, 2013 11:12 am

This from the VSS website.

Q #3: How do I join the VSS? What are your membership requirements?

A #3: The VSS isn’t that kind of organization. We do not have members; however, we welcome contributions of Virginia Cave data from all sources. If you would like to join a caving organization, it is best to contact your local Grotto or the NSS (see above).



In fact, I've gotten a whole lot of nowhere with the VSS. This may not be intentional and they likely have different priorities than I, but my experiences so far have been a bit frustrating. I have contacted three different directors while trying to determine if particular caves were already on file and have either been ignored or given innaccurate responses. I spent 9 hours surveying in a cave that I was told was undocumented, and then saw a photo of it on their website and learned that it was very well known. Four other caves that I've been working on also turned out to be old news, though I was told otherwise (in one case it was admitted that a misplotting of the coordinates I provided was responsible, so I understand that one). I've also requested to purchase back issues of their publication, as offered on their website, and have been rejected.

I'll continue to contribute data, but I feel like I'm more of a nuisance to the VSS than anything. I'm not sure how they benefit anyone other than their members, who don't exist.
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Re: Virgin Cave, VA

Postby Scott McCrea » Jun 15, 2013 12:55 pm

Don't worry. This is not uncommon and not really a problem. It's just the way it is. Cavers aren't really hand holders. You are expected to do some work, earn your stripes, etc. But, doing duplicate work is not fun.

Have you joined a grotto and the NSS? You need to meet more cavers and go caving with more cavers. That is the next step in building of a caver.
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Re: Virgin Cave, VA

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jun 15, 2013 1:14 pm

Scott McCrea wrote:Don't worry. This is not uncommon and not really a problem. It's just the way it is. Cavers aren't really hand holders. You are expected to do some work, earn your stripes, etc. But, doing duplicate work is not fun.


Understood. Unfortunately, I'm not in a position to easily meet or go caving with other cavers. I have done so several times over the last few years, but not enough to "earn my stripes." Even so, I think that being ignored is much better than having my time wasted with incorrect answers to my questions, which is a problem.

Scott McCrea wrote:Have you joined...the NSS?

In 2011. That's how I got that spiffy NSS# :tonguecheek:
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Re: Virgin Cave, VA

Postby Cheryl Jones » Jun 16, 2013 1:37 pm

Which county is the cave in?
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Re: Virgin Cave, VA

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jun 16, 2013 1:52 pm

I assume you're asking about the one I originally posted about and not the others I've been whining about :oops:
It's in Tazewell County.
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