Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby Caving Guru » Mar 19, 2014 6:42 am

Caverdan, Cheryl Jones, and anyone else who thought my intention was to ridicule solo cavers, I am sorry if it seemed like my intention was to ridicule solo cavers. My intention was never to ridicule solo cavers. I never meant to ridicule solo cavers. This is part of what I sent GroundquestMSA in response to his PM that he sent me (which should clear things up):

"I never intended on ridiculing you and I never intended to deride solo cavers which includes myself as I have done solo cave trips. I was just making a comparison not necessarily good or bad with Floyd Collins who I had just been reading about and I am sorry that you took it that I was criticizing you which was never my intention. I am fine with people solo caving and like I was saying I just think solo cave surveying is more risky than solo caving in general with there being a higher chance of loose rock falling being the first one in a cave. By saying that solo cave surveying is more risky, I was not implying that solo cave surveying or solo caving in general should not be done. Usually, when I say something it does not have a hidden implication and it is just me saying whatever pops into my mind which in this case was the connection to Floyd Collins which I tried to phrase so it would not be offensive."
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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby Oddball » Mar 19, 2014 7:43 am

I may consider this a "solo" vertical pit because I was the only one that had any vertical experience or gear. It was open air and I had been wanting to do it and talked my friends in going with me just so one of them could go get help if necessary.
I am very guilty, as my caving helmet is always in my truck, seeing a karst feature, pulling over and doing a little expedition to see if it has any merit. Most of the time not. But sometimes I'll stay an hour or two... unsafe in my opinion as it is a "spur of moment" caving opportunity, no one knew of my whereabouts (I usually always let someone know, give them a time when I'm expected to return. And tell them if after I don't show up after that, wait 12 hours, and if not after that wait another 12....I enjoy exploring leads...so my trips never are as short as I expect them to be.) Hopefully if I saw the feature from the road and my truck is parked right next to it, that would be the searchers first option.
Regardless. I do not believe caving alone is necessarily taboo unless you get into situations that are technical or at the least have no chance at self rescue. I have turned back from that and came back to visit.
But I know it is not the subject of the thread, but isn't caving about doing something you love? And why not share that with people who share the same feelings, safety or not?
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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby trogman » Mar 19, 2014 8:58 am

Not sure if "ridicule" is the correct word. I know when I mention solo caving, I get a "you ought to know better than that" look and attitude. And I do know better, as I am the first to acknowledge that it is more dangerous than caving in the company of others. But there are times when you just can't get anyone else to go with you, for whatever reason, so you just go by yourself. My ridgewalks are almost always solo, because nobody wants to get up and be at the meeting spot at the crack of dawn when it's 20° outside. So if I find something, I will usually explore at least some of it, and then try to get fellow cavers to go back later.
I also second what another poster said about how it really heightens your sense of caution, and makes you seriously double and triple check everything. We should really be that way when we're not solo, but the realization that "if I screw up here, I'm totally screwed" makes one have a much more sober mindset than usual.
By the way, when solo caving, it is my usual practice to tell someone (usually my wife) where I will be, and when to call out the S & R. Of course that might be a specific cave, or it might be just a general area on the side of a mountain. I also make a habit of putting something bright-colored in a small tree nearby, so if I do need to be rescued, searchers will be able to find me more easily.

Trogman :helmet:
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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby GroundquestMSA » Mar 19, 2014 7:55 pm

Since Greg mentions our earlier conversation, these are a few thoughts on the subject that I expressed.

"Is solo caving more dangerous? Obviously. Is that a good reason to deride solo cavers? No! Motorcycles are far more dangerous than cars, (and much more dangerous than caving) must we dismiss their use as inappropriate? No, it's a different experience than driving a car, and the risks are known and accepted by the riders. The same applies to solo caving. Some are not willing to accept the added risk, and that's fine. Others are, and we should respectfully allow them to do so."

Obviously there is a point where continuing alone becomes blatantly reckless. I can't respect the actions of someone who is simply begging to be killed, but I don't know where that boundary is, and I suspect that it migrates, depending on the abilities of each caver.
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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby DawgsgoCaving » Mar 19, 2014 11:07 pm

GroundquestMSA wrote:I think that more people should try solo caving, vertical and otherwise. It is a completely different experience than caving with company and while potentially more risky, it's extremely fulfilling.


I was thinking how it could be a cool experience for that reason. I think it is also a chance to see how much you really know about negotiating the environment and how comfortably you can react to it. I could even see how some might consider solo caving as another opportunity to become one with the environment --almost like a form of meditation.

Still it is very risky, and if I were ever to do it, as stated above, I would take measures to ensure people knew where I would be and how I could be found. It is not something I would try to do to prove anything to myself or anyone else, but rather a means of attaining an even greater level of appreciation for caving itself.
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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby Shane S » Mar 21, 2014 3:24 pm

I know one person who has solo'ed Ellisons. The clossest I have came to that is a two person trip through Ellisons.
Initials are E.H. The solo caver. hehe.
I've been guilty of a few solo trips myself.
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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby PatB » Mar 21, 2014 9:46 pm

I think bennettbike's real original question may be more of who could actually carry that much equipment in and back out in the same day. I think it goes without saying that it takes a set of 'nads to solo this. But, it would take a mighty fit lad to carry the three ropes to do the Pocket side drops, pull them all back up, and hike it all back out to your car. I am sure that in the late 60's and 70's when the survey was on-going, when the ropes were semi-permanently left rigged, there were a few locals that satisfied their curiosity with solo trips. It took just about all my two buddies and I could muster to rig/de-rig all of this in a day's time. We're all out-of-shape wusses though, powered by Advil and Snickers bars, I couldn't imagine the strength required to doing it alone.
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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby Cheryl Jones » Mar 22, 2014 3:18 pm

I think bennettbike's real original question may be more of who could actually carry that much equipment in and back out in the same day.

It's been done. Heavy pack, multiple trips down passages to move gear, no standing lines or stashed gear.

And I do know better, as I am the first to acknowledge that it is more dangerous than caving in the company of others

Others who will knock a rock or pack down on your head? Others who force you to wait in the wet cold while they futz around climbing the rope for what seems like forever?

"Danger:
1.liability or exposure to harm or injury; risk; peril.
2.an instance or cause of peril; menace."

Solo caving undertaken by a person not qualified and prepared to do so of course may mean that person has a higher risk of injury or other misadventure than if he/she had been underground with a group of competent cavers.

However, I propose that someone who has competently prepared for the trip and has the skills, experience, judgement, and equipment to traverse the obstacles and face the mental challenges the cave presents is not necessarily less safe or in more danger than he/she would be if caving in a group (particularly a group of cavers who were less skilled, prepared, and focused). The solo caver risks waiting longer for medical care, equipment replacement, and rescue should he/she not be able to exit or return to the group, however the trip itself isn't necessarily more dangerous.

Of course, solo caving is not for everyone, nor should it be. But we shouldn't be too quick to pass judgement based on our own fears, inadequacies, and "conventional wisdom." Aside from cave divers and Floyd C, my memory of caving accidents over decades is that the deaths that have occurred and the rescues that been necessary were for cavers (not talking about spelunkers and landlubbers) who were part of a group, not for solo cavers.

If solo cavers were more dangerous/less safe than when caving with a group, I'd expect to have read about a lot of solo caving accidents, for I know that cavers have been going solo for generations.

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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby Caving Guru » Mar 22, 2014 10:05 pm

Another notable cave death that sticks out in my mind was the man who died in Nutty Putty Cave in Utah in 2009. He was with a group of eleven others and had not done much caving before I believe. He got trapped at a 70 to 80 degree slope with an L-turn at the bottom of the slope. His death resulted in the cave being closed which was one of the most popular caves in Utah at the time open to the public. At least in my opinion, this is a lesson that in general for caves when there is a steep slope it is usually best to go feet first so you are able to get back out the way you came.
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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby GroundquestMSA » Mar 23, 2014 6:37 pm

Cheryl Jones wrote:I propose that someone who has competently prepared for the trip and has the skills, experience, judgement, and equipment to traverse the obstacles and face the mental challenges the cave presents is not necessarily less safe or in more danger than he/she would be if caving in a group (particularly a group of cavers who were less skilled, prepared, and focused). The solo caver risks waiting longer for medical care, equipment replacement, and rescue should he/she not be able to exit or return to the group, however the trip itself isn't necessarily more dangerous.

Of course, solo caving is not for everyone, nor should it be. But we shouldn't be too quick to pass judgement based on our own fears, inadequacies, and "conventional wisdom."


:exactly:
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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby Billy » Mar 23, 2014 9:13 pm

Not long after I first met Don Coons in college, he wrote an article called "SOLO - An Alternative". It was in the February 1991 NSS News on p. 64. I still have the copy of the article which is how I know the pg. I thought he may have been slightly crazy at the time (I'm happy to have been proved wrong). If you're an NSS member, you can read it by going through the member portal on the main page and going to the NSS News section. Gotta know your NSS # and zip code.
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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby Leclused » Mar 24, 2014 8:10 am

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.
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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby caverdan » Mar 24, 2014 1:33 pm

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.


Excellent video. :kewl: I love the perfect, Madrat style ending. :woohoo: :clap:

Find um, scop um, bury um......cuss it's my cave now. :shhh: :wink:
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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby BrianC » Mar 24, 2014 2:48 pm

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.


Well worth watching! Puts me right back inside mother earth!
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Re: Solo Vertical Trips (Ellisons)

Postby ohiocaver » Mar 24, 2014 6:33 pm

I was on the backup team for Pete Carter, then of Lancaster, Pa. and York Grotto who soloed Schoolhouse, front to back, in the late 1970s, probably summer of 79 since it was after Three Mile Island went down. There were four or five of us on standby at the cave in case he did not meet his callout time. He got in and out again just fine and ahead of schedule. We then did Schoolhouse ourselves and checked the register to "confirm" Pete's solo (not that it needed verification...we just wanted an excuse to do the drops and climbs). With some effort, I could confirm the date if needs be. If I knew how to attach a photo of the second group at the register, I'd dig it up and do so. :cavingrocks:
[url=http://postimg.org/image/lex35gcbv/][img]http://s9.postimg.org/lex35gcbv/curt_Bryants_Cave_Indiana.jpg[/img][/url]
[url=http://postimg.org/image/eta4ctvar/][img]http://s21.postimg.org/eta4ctvar/cn_oh_isl_coils_cave_curt_sketch.jpg[/img][/url]
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