Father's Day Caving (claustrophobia free trip report)

2:28 p.m. on June 16, 2014 (EDT)
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I know some have expressed "stress" when I post some of my more "crawly" trip reports. Be at ease! There is nothing tight in these two videos.

The morning of June 14, folks from the Near Normal Grotto (caving club) did the trip from Bronson Cave entrance to Donaldson:

In the afternoon, we bounced Freeman's Pit Cave:

It was a great time!

7:26 a.m. on June 17, 2014 (EDT)
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Nicely done!

With the current heat wave gripping the area I live in, those wet caves look pretty good to me!

7:45 a.m. on June 17, 2014 (EDT)
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Patrick, you're smack in the middle of cave country! You should find someone to take you.

8:37 a.m. on June 17, 2014 (EDT)
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I've been a few times but not like you do it!


You know, you are kind of swaying me towards giving it a go....

10:26 a.m. on June 17, 2014 (EDT)
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Wow Goose, very cool stuff. 

The brake bars for your rappels are interesting.  I thought those were mostly for rescue professionals, are they commonly used in caving?  Seem awful bulky/heavy. 

9:32 p.m. on June 17, 2014 (EDT)
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Jeff, what you're seeing with the rappel racks are the norm for a few reasons....

1. Rappels can be 1,000' or more in some caves. Except for the top bar, the bars are arched 1/2 bars. This allows heat from the rappel to be dispersed.

2. A Figure 8 device will curl the rope. That's not a big deal on shorter drops, but on long rappels a rope can get really kinky. I know some cavers who absolutely refuse to let anyone use a Figure 8 on their rope.

3. ATC's are not a good choice, as the rope will get gritty and swell from high humidity and exposure to water. I've seen videos of guys not able to get their ATC on a cave rope.

4. Racks allow far more adjustability. When I started on that crappy rope in the video, I couldn't get any movement. So I popped off a couple of bars and spread the remaining four bars to reduce the friction. Once I was on and moving, I was able to slide the bars closer together to increase friction and snap a bar back on.

5. Racks are the only belay device (that I know of) that allow you to take it on and off rope without detaching the device from your harness. This is crucial in rebelays and change-overs, which are very common in caving. You can't drop your descender if it's always attached to you.

Now, they do make "micro racks," but they aren't recommend for folks over 150lbs or on excessively long rappels.

7:44 p.m. on June 18, 2014 (EDT)
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Cool stuff @Goose!  I never have been caving unless you count the ones at Pinnacles National Park (used to be Pinnacles National Monument).  Thanks for sharing!

7:37 a.m. on June 25, 2014 (EDT)
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Wow, Goose, thanks for sharing those videos.  It's a little disconcerting to think that there is a 100' (or is it 90'?) deep hole in the middle of the woods.  Do animals (sometimes people?) fall into it.  I'm going to start hiking with my headlamp on, even in the middle of the day; just in case I fall into one.

7:05 a.m. on June 26, 2014 (EDT)
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Well, MPaint, many landowners put fence around pits, but there are pits called "Lost Bovine" and "Dead Horse" for a reason.

Just don't walk into any holes and you'll be fine. Besides, if you fall into a 100' pit, you probably will never use that headlamp. R.I.P.

May 24, 2018
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