2009 Spring VAR - Grand Caverns, Grottos VA

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Re: 2009 Spring VAR - Grand Caverns, Grottos VA

Postby Carl Amundson » Apr 8, 2009 1:13 pm

An update from Carol Tiderman:

In a little over 2 weeks the Spring VAR will be held at Grand Caverns. The host cavers are really looking forward to seeing you there. We have a lot of activities planned for the young in age & the young of mind. There are led caving trips planned, as well as self led trips, however some of them are contingent on the moratorium being lifted on April 15th. There will be vertical training on site, rock climbing trips & classes, canoe & kayak races, water races for the kids. Grottoes have been adopting a hole at the put-put & creating a Speleo course. There may still be a hole or two left open for adoption by a creative or conniving group. More activities are popping up every day, so there may be a few surprises still to come. Tours of Grand will be available at a reduced rate of $5.00 - you will receive an identification band as part of your registration package

For the project oriented, we have a sinkhole that is way overdue for a cleanup. No telling what treasures we may find at the bottom of the pile. We have a dump truck available to haul away what cannot be recycled. Also there will be a Kabota to help remove heavy items from the pit. A haul line may also be rigged.

On Friday night there will be lots of music, movies & old friends to catch up with. Despite any rumors you have heard, there will be plenty of camping space. Saturday morning, there will be free coffee available to get you primed for the days events. Saturday night there will be a great feed, followed by door prizes, presentations, more music & movies & the usual caver beverages.

Sunday, some folks plan to go caving. You may wish to attend the business meeting where, under new business, there will be a lot of information regarding WNS. Several VA DRN representatives, & others in the know, will be there to provide the latest information available & to answer questions.

If you made up your mind if you are going to attend yet, I encourage you to do so. True, there will not be as much caving as we would all wish, but we all are trying to adapt to the new environment & offer you a lot of fun activities and projects that will offer their own reward. We may have plan our meetings this way for a while, so lets get good at it. Think outside the cave, plan to have a great time, see your old friends, & make new ones. See you there.
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Re: 2009 Spring VAR - Grand Caverns, Grottos VA

Postby mcjames » Apr 13, 2009 1:51 pm

SPRING VAR 2009 SINKHOLE CLEANUP PROJECT

Image


The VAR has a long history of conservation and exploration on Cave Hill in Grottoes, VA. One family that owns part of the hill has been has been a particularly good friend to Region cavers for several decades, supporting our conservation efforts and even helping us dig open caves on their property.

To their dismay, a sinkhole on their property, which has a nice limestone headwall and probably drains into a cave, has been filled by unknown vandals with everything from water heaters to palettes to barrels over the last several years. To help thank them for their years of friendship and to keep the runoff from going into the potential cave or the South River, we have organized a cleanup of their sinkhole at this year's Spring VAR.

We have trucks, loaders, and disposal all lined up, now all we need is YOU to help us make this project a success.

Meet at Registration at 9 AM on Saturday the 25th of April and we will walk or carpool to the sinkhole. We will be back in time for dinner. Don't forget we actually have hot showers, too!

Bring:
Boots & Gloves & Sun protection
A helmet and/or safety glasses if you prefer
Rakes, pruners, come-alongs, and other implements of destruction
A chair
All your friends!

Lunch and fluids will be provided for all workers.

http://www.varegion.org/var/events/Spri ... anup.shtml

Please come out and help us with this worthwhile conservation/landowner relations project!
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Re: 2009 Spring VAR - Grand Caverns, Grottos VA

Postby mcjames » Apr 14, 2009 3:46 pm

Last week for pre-registration!

All pre-registrations for the Spring VAR 2009 must be postmarked by this coming Saturday, April 18th. Please write your checks (to Sligo Grotto) and put them in the mail with your taxes today. If you get stuck, though, don't despair, the price is no higher at the door.

Thanks to all the hard workers at this past weekend's VAR Grand Caverns Easter Restoration Field Camp, the mini-golf course has a fresh, bright coat of paint and is just dying for cavers to decorate it! Adopt your Hole (http://www.varegion.org/var/events/GrandCaverns/MiniGolf/MiniGolf.shtml) while there are still some left.

VAR promises to be a lot of fun - See you there!
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Re: 2009 Spring VAR - Grand Caverns, Grottos VA

Postby VACaver » Apr 15, 2009 4:16 am

Spring VAR at Grand Caverns is only 9 days away! In addition to all sorts of fun activities, it's the perfect place to wear the numbers off your credit cards with our loyal vendors!

We have three confirmed vendors. If you have anything specific in mind that you want to buy, shoot them an e-mail with your "wish list" so they'll be sure to have it. If you're not quite sure what you want, take a look at their websites to help you decide.

Cavers Connection: http://www.caversconnection.com/ e-mail: formations@earthlink.net

Inner Mountain Outfitters: http://www.innermountainoutfitters.net/ e-mail: imo@caves.org

Speleobooks: http://www.speleobooks.com/ e-mail: speleobooks@speleobooks.com


Looking forward to seeing you there!
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Re: 2009 Spring VAR - Grand Caverns, Grottos VA

Postby mcjames » Apr 16, 2009 9:17 pm

8 days and counting to Spring VAR 2009...

The Virginia caving moratorium was lifted yesterday, in deference to the US Fish and Wildlife's voluntary moratorium on the east coast. Several cave owners have indicated that their caves will remain open regardless of any government advisory. There will be caving trips at VAR, including a wet trip to Cave Springs Cave and a vertical trip to Sites Cave. We are trying to arrange easier trips to Glade and Porters - if you know these caves or any others well, please volunteer to lead a trip!

That being said, all State and Federally-owned caves will remain closed, as will the NSS-owned Trout Rocks Caves. WNS-positive and significant bat caves are also off-limits. We ask that all Region cavers observe all cave closures, and thoroughly decontaminate their gear before going to any caves that are not closed.

Carol Zo posted a link with an excellent summary of the restrictions and which caves are closed just a few days ago:

http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_her ... for_va.pdf

And for those who chose not to cave, we have a sinkhole cleanup project and many other fun activities planned to occupy your time at VAR!

See you there!
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Re: 2009 Spring VAR - Grand Caverns, Grottos VA

Postby VACaver » Apr 17, 2009 9:04 pm

***IMPORTANT SPRING VAR INFO****

Susan Burr of the Blue Ridge Grotto just posted this to the VARListserv. Note the deadline...APRIL 20! There will NOT be a sign-up at the VAR...if you are even considering going on this trip, contact Mike Frazier immediately!

From Susan:

Well folks, the VAR weekend is quickly approaching. Plan to attend this Spring VAR, April 24 - 26, 2009 at Grand Caverns, in Grottoes, VA. We have many above ground activities planned one of which is a trip to Nelson Rock Preserve to do the Via Ferrata.

What is the Via Ferrata you ask? Good question, which I didn't know the answer too until I looked it up. To me it's a real scary rock climbing adventure, but I'm going to try it! Below is more information from one of the leaders.

Susan Burr


I have a non-caving trip planned for VAR on Saturday, April 25th. We are going to climb the Via Ferrata at the Nelson Rocks Preserve in Judy Gap, West Virginia which is approximately an hour and a half drive from Grand Caverns. Here is a short article about this beautiful climbing course using excerpts from their web site.

"A Via Ferrata (Italian for "iron way") is a type of mountain climbing route which has a safety system permanently installed, making the climb suitable for persons without prior training and using minimal equipment. The climber is attached at all times to a steel cable which runs along the entire route. No climbing rope is generally required. Steel rungs, ladders, bridges and similar installations are used. This helps keep the physical difficulty of the climbing well within the ability of reasonably fit first time climbers, while providing access to high, vertical faces and extreme mountain terrain which would otherwise be accessible only to experienced, roped climbing parties.

Built in 2002, the Nelson Rocks Via Ferrata was only the second of it's kind to be established in the United States. The route gains hundreds of vertical feet of elevation over half a mile of climbing, leading up to a thrilling, exposed summit with unforgettable views of the Allegheny Mountains.".

I have personally done the course a dozen times, and Matt Lair who is co-leading this trip has done it many times as well. The climb consists of two huge parallel rock fins that run from the base to the summit of the mountain. We will climb on all four faces, which will require us to cross a cable suspension bridge that is 200 feet long and 150 feet off the ground. There is a lot of extreme exposure on the course, but you will be safely clipped in at all times. This climb is truly one of the most exciting adventures you will ever have, and the sense of personal accomplishment will be immeasurable.

The trip is limited to 12 participants, and we already have 7 confirmed, so if you are interested, contact me ASAP. The deadline to sign up is Monday April 20th. We have to confirm our numbers with the Nelson Rock Preserve at that point. We will leave the VAR site at approximately 8 AM and will return in plenty of time for a shower and dinner.

If you are interested, please click on the Via Ferrata tab on the neslonrocks.org web site for more information including the fees. You can contact me to get your name on the list at:

Cell # (434)609-3423 or email me at director37429@aol.com

Hope to see you all at VAR.

Mike Frazier
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Re: 2009 Spring VAR - Grand Caverns, Grottos VA

Postby Squirrel Girl » Apr 18, 2009 9:30 am

I went to register last night (hah--I'm early for last day of pre-registration). Oh, but I have to MAIL my check.

So the check went in the mail this morning. I sent an email yesterday to Jim McConkey (SP?) and I got a message back saying it's got a mail delivery error.

See ya'll next weekend!
Barbara Anne am Ende

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Re: 2009 Spring VAR - Grand Caverns, Grottos VA

Postby mcjames » Apr 18, 2009 10:07 pm

Barbara, I got your e-mail, despite what it told you. No problem as long as the check gets here by Thursday, which should not be a problem.
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Re: 2009 Spring VAR - Grand Caverns, Grottos VA

Postby mcjames » Apr 18, 2009 10:07 pm

[Reposted from Scott Davis' original message to the VARList:]

Do you still want to go underground while at VAR and not go caving?

There is a trip to the Crozet Tunnel planned for Saturday at 9am. Due to the limited parking available, Nelson County has asked us to limit this trip to 20 people. To give folks time to get to the VAR site, I will put out the sign-up sheet at 10pm Friday night and will be available at registration.

This trip will be lead by an employee of Nelson County Parks and Rec. A description of the tunnel will follow this message.

All WNS recommended procedures will still apply to this trip as well as normal caving procedures (helmet, three sources of light, etc...).

Please fell free to e-mail me any questions,

Scott Davis
karsthuntr [at] comcast.net

When railroads in Virginia were beginning to expand to the western part of the state in the mid-1800s, the Blue Ridge mountains stood as a formidable obstacle to their progress. In 1848, construction began on a series of tunnels (Crozet Tunnel being the longest) to link the Shenandoah Valley to the eastern part of the state. The tunnel was engineered by Claudius Crozet, and stands as one of the great engineering wonders of the 19th century.

The tunnel itself is 4,281 feet long (that's almost a mile!) and for many years it was the longest railroad tunnel in the world. It was also the longest tunnel drilled without the aid of vertical shafts. When the two ends of the tunnel met on Christmas day, 1856, they were a mere ½-inch out of alignment, an amazing testament to Crozet's engineering skill. The tunnel opened to rail traffic in April of 1858, and was in use for almost a hundred years. In 1944 C&O opened a new tunnel nearby to handle taller freight cars, and the Crozet Tunnel was abandoned.

In the early 1950s, a plan was proposed to use the tunnel for natural gas storage. Two 14-foot thick walls were constructed within the tunnel, but the project was abandoned before the concrete was completely sealed. There is still plenty of debris from this project left over in the tunnel, such as rusty pipes and paint cans.

The western entrance to the tunnel is a stone arch, about 20 feet tall by 16 feet wide. The tunnel is lined with several layers of brick. The top layer of brickwork has fallen from the walls in some places, leaving piles of rubble on the tunnel floor. About 1,500 feet into the tunnel, the brick lining ends, and from here on the tunnel walls are natural rock. Marks from the hand-powered drills used by the Irish laborers are still visible in places. At the point where the brick lining ends, a veil of water cascades from the ceiling. It was here that Crozet devised an 1,800-foot siphon to carry water away during construction, supposedly the longest siphon ever used.

A short ways after this, the first wall in encountered. Water dripping from the ceiling puddles up against this wall (heading east, the tunnel slopes downhill), and drains through a 24-inch pipe near the base. The pipe is 16 feet or so long and is the only way through the wall. The stretch between the two walls is much like a cave—the floor is rough, jagged rock and there is a lot of water. There are rusted metal brackets coming out of the floor every 10 feet or so, probably to hold pipes for the natural gas storage project. The echoes at the halfway point between the two walls are simply amazing. Eventually the second wall appears—it has a long, knee-deep puddle of water before it and yet another pipe to crawl through. This wall is close to the eastern end of the tunnel, so light from the entrance comes through the pipe.

After the second wall, it's just a short walk to the eastern entrance. Water pours from the tunnel walls at one spot, and collects at the entrance of the tunnel, forming another long, knee-deep puddle. The eastern tunnel entrance isn't nearly as attractive as the western entrance, being carved through rock instead of having a stone and brick archway.

Planning is reportedly underway for turning the Crozet Tunnel into a public biking and hiking trail, to be open before 2010. Some funding and land has been secured, but the future of this project is still up in the air. The two concrete walls in the tunnel would have to be removed, the brick lining may have to be repaired or reinforced in places, but otherwise this seems like a great idea. Everyone should have the opportunity to safely see this engineering and historical marvel.

(Reprinted from VT Underground website. Material used with permission of author Mike Hutchison)
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Re: 2009 Spring VAR - Grand Caverns, Grottos VA

Postby VACaver » Apr 20, 2009 1:16 pm

*** SPRING VAR UPDATE***

Posted by Susan Burr on the VARListserv:

If doing the Via Ferrata isn't your thing, but you enjoy rock climbing or just
want to try it, Ken Mays is leading a trip to Hidden Crack/Hidden Rocks near
Harrisonburg, VA on Saturday, April 25th.

He will take anyone from beginners to advanced rock climbers, with climbs from
easy to very difficult. If you are a beginner he will give instructions on basic
skills, knots, quick anchor assessment and set up, belay techniques, and
climbing communication. There will be a trip limit of 12-15 non experienced
climbers, but as many experienced climbers that want to come can. He will have 3
climbing ropes.

You will meet at 9:30AM and be back in plenty of time for dinner. Parking is
limited, so carpooling is a must. There is a beautiful hike to reach your
destination with 3 stream crossings; you may wish to bring your camera.

Sign up will be available at the VAR Friday. If you have any questions or wish
to sign up in advance, contact Ken Mays at maysken72@yahoo.com

Look forward to seeing you all there.

Susan Burr
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Re: 2009 Spring VAR - Grand Caverns, Grottos VA

Postby VACaver » Apr 20, 2009 5:28 pm

It's looking to be a GLORIOUS weekend at Grand!

From the National Weather Service:

Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 73.

Friday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 49.

Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 80.

Saturday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 52.

Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 79.

It's gonna be too nice to stay home! Do your spring cleaning some other time! Come to Grand Caverns this weekend and have fun!
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Re: 2009 Spring VAR - Grand Caverns, Grottos VA

Postby mcjames » Apr 21, 2009 12:43 pm

Only 4 days left to VAR!

We have a host of fun activities lined up to keep you occupied and distracted from caving...

Cave movies will be shown Friday night, first for the little ones, and later for the larger ones. South Park goes to Cave of the Winds after midnight.

Sinkhole Cleanup: In the spirit of service to caves without fear of spreading WNS, a major sinkhole cleanup is planned on Cave Hill Saturday and we can use plenty of help.

Vendors: Replace your old, worn out gear or stock up on multiple new cave outfits at the Vendors. Inner Mountain Outfitters, Caver's Connection, and Speleobooks will be there for your purchasing pleasure!

Speleo-putt-putt will be all the rage at VAR. It is still not too late to Adopt a Hole and promote history, your grotto, or an upcoming event.
http://www.varegion.org/var/events/Gran ... Golf.shtml

Volleyball and horseshoes are also available on-site. Sorry, but the pool is off-limits to cave divers.

Geocaching: Over a dozen geocaches are located within 5 miles and several are located right on the property within walking distance. Search Zip code 24441 on http://www.geocaching.com or see the activities kiosk.

Watersports: From 10:00 a.m. till 12:00 noon on Saturday, we will have kayak/canoe races at the VAR. There will also be balloon races for kids (floating balloons down the creek). All events take place on the South River, immediately adjacent to the VAR camping at the park. If you have any questions, please e-mail Anya at: suburbgirl [at] comcast.net

The South River is a popular fishing spot. Bring your tackle!

Crozet Tunnel: There will be a guided trip Saturday through this nearly mile-long ex-railroad tunnel on Saturday. Sign up Friday night.

Via Ferrata: Mike Frazier is leading a death-defying climbing adventure to the Via Ferrata at Nelson Rocks on Saturday. Sorry, this trip is full.

Rock Climbing: Ken Mays will be leading another rock climbing trip on Saturday.

This weekend's weather is supposed to gorgeous! Sunny and mid-70s all weekend. What a better time to get out of the house and have some fun!

See you there!
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Re: 2009 Spring VAR - Grand Caverns, Grottos VA

Postby Carl Amundson » Apr 21, 2009 1:09 pm

There will also be a vertical workshop running all day Saturday.
Bring your vertical gear to practice change-overs, passing knots and what ever else you want to try.
If you don’t know how to do a change-over, we will teach you.
If you are getting ready for NCRC, we can help you work on your entry skills.

The weather should be great, come on down and play.
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Re: 2009 Spring VAR - Grand Caverns, Grottos VA

Postby Squirrel Girl » Apr 21, 2009 5:36 pm

VACaver wrote:Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 80.

weather.com has it 86°!!
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Re: 2009 Spring VAR - Grand Caverns, Grottos VA

Postby mcjames » Apr 21, 2009 9:56 pm

Oops! Sorry Carl, I did not mean to exclude you and the vertical training! There will be something for everyone!
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