Sunday, May 30, 2010
Kim’s Venturing Crew had caved with Philly Grotto before. While talking with her she told me she would like to talk to and set up a caving trip for the Venturers Officers Association. She spent considerable time and effort talking to the VOA and setting up this trip for them to Frustration Pit and Corker Hill. Their plan was to meet Philly Grotto at the Morgantown McDonald’s on Saturday morning.
I’d like to say the usual were there, but we were missing a few. Steve, Hanna, Paul, and I were there. I was able to borrow an extended cab truck from a friend so we could all ride together in relative comfort. The VOA was ready to go when I got there. They had a couple people drop out at the last minute, but we still had a good group. We loaded all the grotto and personal gear in the back of the truck headed off to the caves.
When we arrived at the property, the other Steve, his son John, and his son’s friend Kevin were ready waiting, and suited up to cave. The rest of us got suited up and we handed out helmets and headlamps to the VOA and they divided themselves into two groups. One group was lead by me, Steve (the other one), John, and Kevin. We had 4 youths and an adult leader from the VOA in our group. Steve, Hanna, and Paul lead the other group with 5 youth and an adult as well. I started in Corker and Steve stared in Frustration Pit. The plan was to swap caves after a few hours.
I went first and sat at the bottom of the entrance to put light into the hole so the group could see what they were getting into. John went next and waited halfway to help guide our guests down. As our guests came down to the bottom of the entrance, they seemed a little apprehensive. One even expressed concerns of possible claustrophobia. So as they came down I talked to them and described exactly what they were going to do and see. They decided they wanted to continue and I proceeded through the pinch and to light up the next room and guide them through it. As I’m counting them coming through, my sweep, Steve, came through before I expected. Yup, one dropped out before entering the cave. I guess it’s better to decide there than in the cave.
I have unsuccessfully tried to describe this cave before, so I won’t bore you with that again. What I found inspiring was the effort of these young folks to overcome a fear and proceed, not just with enduring the trip, but with an enthusiasm of wanting to poke in every hole and thoroughly enjoying the trip. They really developed their team and helped each other through the tight stuff and over the high stuff, smiling all the way.
After a few hours we exited Corker to take a break and try Frustration Pit. What was actually kind of nice was that the folks who were not caving set up a stove and had hot drinks waiting for us. This was a real pleasant surprise.
As we went off to find Frustration Pit, one of our group decided they were too tired to try the second cave that day. It takes courage to realize and voice your limits. Of course Steve had to show them the original entrance and asked “who’s first”. As they looked down that hole and listened to his description they looked at each other then back at Steve. “Just kidding”. Off to the entrance we were going to use. As we looked in this one and described the entrance, we asked again, who’s first. This time with out hesitation the one who had expressed concerns of claustrophobia jumped in and slid down after the leader like a pro.
We covered just about every inch of that cave we knew of and pocked around a little more. John volunteered to slide in a hole none of us had been in before and shouted back reports of more cave. Next time we’ll have to look more into this part. After a few hours we exited the cave.
Over all it was a good day caving. Some people knew their limits and when to say “when”. Other’s made significant personal gains that day. I think that everyone enjoyed the day out, whether they got underground or not. These youth, being representative from different Venturing Crews, where taking back first hand information to their home Crews on planing and executing a safe, ethical, and fun caving adventure. That was my goal.
Report From Steve,
I went in first and helped guide the scouts down as they came into the front end of the Halloween room. Soon enough Hannah, who was sweeping at the time, showed up short one adult leader. We then did the standard tour of
Frustration Pit, including the cellar where we did the Wint-o-Green
Lifesaver bit. As we slowly climbed our way back up and out of the cellar, I let Paul take one of the Venture scouts, I think it was Gary, up to the bottom of the smaller entrance. They both climbed up and out.
As we got the rest of the pack up from the cellar, we all moved up to see that small opening as well. We then went to the bottom of the original entrance. Hannah chimneyed up most of the way to the top and found out exactly what makes the pit so frustrating! We then turned to exit. I let
Paul and the scouts lead. They did a fine job. Although there was a little disagreement at first when we returned to the junction room, one of them quickly pointed out that we were supposed to climb up at that point.
I was in the middle. As we moved up, a very large rock sitting on the slope decided that friction was no longer sufficient to hold it in place, and it slid a foot or so. That put it in a spot where it was more likely to fall the last little bit and hurt somebody, so we helped it over the edge once everyone was out of harm's way. Then we exited to warm beverages and a rapidly cooling wind. One other lesson learned by the scouts was that Tyvek does not good caving coveralls make.
As with your group, we lost one more scout before going in the second cave. Going down went smoothly. We poked around pretty thoroughly, seeing just about everything except the A3 lead. A couple of the scouts,
Gary and Molly (the tall, thin one), even went up into the Stairway to
Heaven with much more ease than can I. This was our last stop before exiting. Hannah (with Paul sweeping) took most of the scouts up over the rock to just below the plug hole, while I took one other guy around the way we had come. I then spotted for the scouts as they climbed over the rock and went up through the hole. Soon enough, the last scout and I were all that remained. He tried to get up through the hole about three times, but kept having difficulties. As I could hear the tension in his voice rise, I suggested he back off and watch me go up through it to see how
I moved and where I placed my legs. After I popped up and out, he went at it again, and with a little help pulling on my arm made it up and through the hole. He then went up and out, spotted below by Hannah.
Meanwhile, I rolled up the ladder and started up and out myself. We then all went quickly back to the cars, as it had gotten quite cold by that time.
For more pictures from the photo album click here.
Back to Dragon Breath Grotto Venturing Crew 9 Home Page.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
It’s been over a year and a half since I’ve been underground. We have some new blood in the Crew and they are ready to go,op6 too. We met up at the McDonald’s at Morgantown. Pete, Katie, Steve, and Andy were there before me. Marcy, Matt, and Andrew showed up just after I got there.
Pete’s been on two caving trips with us. Katie caved with another group once. This is the first for Matt and Andrew. Along to help out was Mindy, Steve, Andy, Ed, and Marcy, so we were well covered.
We arrived at the cave around 11 and were underground by 11:30. Took a moment to get our eyes adjusted then went to the first room. From here on in we pushed all the tight squeezes we could find. Did a little bloudering and scrambling, too. I think we covered almost every part of that cave. Over all it was over four hours and everyone was whipped by the end.
There was lots of mud on this trip. With all the rain we’ve been having and all the snow over the winter, the water table is a little high. Normally things are a little sticky and there were times when this cave was actually dry. But this time there were even standing puddles, which made it a bit more challenging and fun.
We need to compile and exchange pictures and see what everyone has. Hopefully there’s plenty to show off to friends so they can see what they missed out on. Maybe the next trip we’ll have a few more new people. If you’d like to join us, let us know.
For more pictures go here.
To Dragon Breath Grotto Venturing Crew 9 go here.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
I was there to promote caving, and in particular Dragon Breath Grotto, which has recently been chartered. Amos brought the Philly Grotto Squeeze box and I had set up a “dark” obstacle course. Terry was over at the C.O.P.E. Course demonstrating vertical caving skills.
In the begining a few people just walked by looking at the squeeze box kind of puzzled. I was able to talk a couple people into try it set up high at 12 inches. Once they got the knack of it, there was a continuous line to try it one more notch lower.
By the middle of the afternoon I had to take off, but we did have a three way tie for six inches. Here's a video of one of the those.
Most people did seem to enjoy it and most who tried were challenged by the tight space. I hope that some will look us up in the future and take us up on our offer to take them caving.
Here's the rest of the pictures I have for the day. Enjoy.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
The purpose of an NSS Youth Regional Coordinator is to provide informational assistance to cavers, grottos, and youth group leaders so they may conduct safe and appropriate cave-related experiences. In addition to caving trips, these experiences may include presentations on ethics, geology, biology, techniques, and safety, as well as other topics of speleology.
- adhere to all guidelines, policies, and requirements of the National Speleological Society (NSS).
- adhere to all guidelines, policies, and requirements of the appropriate youth group organization.
- treat all youth groups with equal consideration.
- make themselves available to grottos within their region, to assist them in working with youth groups.
- make themselves available to youth groups within their region, to assist them in conducting safe caving trips and learning about caves.
- promote responsible caving practices for youth groups.
- promote responsible caving practices by grottos and cavers when working with youth groups.
Regional Coordinators do not:
- receive any certifications in horizontal or vertical caving techniques that are recognized by the NSS, and that would allow them to promote themselves as specially qualified to lead youth groups caving on behalf of the Society or for any other organization.
- conduct activities as a Regional Coordinator.
- have any obligation to take youth groups into caves.
- have any obligation to give presentations to youth groups or grottos.
- pressure grottos or cavers into working with youth groups.
- set policy for grottos or for youth groups outside of those established by the NSS and the appropriate youth group.
- receive compensation or require donations for time, equipment, land use, or expertise for themselves or for any other individual or organization. However, individuals who are also Regional Coordinators may decide for themselves whether to accept meals, lodging, and gas from youth groups to help offset any trip expenses they incur.
- take youth groups into a commercial cave before entering a wild cave.
- learn how to conduct safe and responsible wild-cave trips for youths
- know and adhere to the national and local policies and guidelines established by their parent organization and the National Speleological Society.
- follow responsible caving practices.
- develop a policy on youth group caving
- Does the grotto take youth groups into caves?
- Is the grotto willing to give presentations about speleology?
- Establish a grotto contact for youth groups.
- What, if any, equipment does the grotto provide?
- How often will the grotto work with youth groups?
- How, if at all, will the grotto work with the Regional Coordinator?
- Establish any specific requirements for working with youth groups.
- Dedicate a portion of the grotto Web site for Youth Group inquiries, including a policy statement:
- State the grotto policy for working with youth groups
- List a contact person (this could be the Regional Coordinator, especially if the grotto does not take youth groups caving)
- Include a link to the NSS Youth Group Liaison Committee Web site.
- Include a link to the Youth Groups section on the NSS discussion board
- Include a link to local commercial caves and those offering "wild" caving trips; perhaps linking to the. "Wild Cave Tours and Sightseeing Trips" section of the NSS Youth Groups Web page.