Monday, June 1, 2009

Desert Destination: Down into a Deep, Dark Cave

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to meet up with some other cavers and go to a deep pit in Nevada. It's been a few months since I've been on rope, so I was excited to have a chance to go into a cave that was reportedly 160 feet deep.
We hiked up into the pinyon-juniper forest, and then the cave just suddenly appeared. There wasn't a big cliff with a gaping hole. Instead we found a small limestone outcrop with a gaping hole, but it wouldn't have been visible to anyone unless they happened to walk by it. I can only imagine the reactions of the first person who found it--and the first person who entered it, not knowing if he had enough rope to reach the bottom.

We had some clue how deep the cave was, and we brought two ropes for safety sake.

We also did some rescue practice before we went into the cave so if someone needed to be pulled out of the pit, each person would know how to do it. It's always good to practice these things before you need to use them.

On the way down we wanted to check out a lead that went behind these formations. It looked intriguing, but unfortunately didn't go too far.

There was an interesting moth hanging out there.

And part of a jawbone of a small rodent next to some rodent scat.

Bill rappelled down to join me and take a look around. Then Tom came, and then we went down even further into the cave.

I stopped to take a look at this lizard, which I thought was dead. But Bill later saw it twitch and considered doing the great lizard rescue. 

I rappelled down to the bottom--well almost to the bottom. I ran out of rope, and it was 200 feet long. Fortunately, the rope ran out on a steep slope that I could walk on. So the cave is definitely deeper than the 160 feet we had been told about--and deeper than 200 feet!

At the bottom were some large formations in a room that was about 60 feet in circumference and 60 feet high. There was one small passage off to the side, but it didn't go too far.

There was a lot of popcorn and what sort of looked like aragonite.

And a poor snake had fallen into the cave and decayed there.

In a little side passage we found a tiny cave shield, only about six inches across.

Here's Tom, who was happy to make it to the bottom. He didn't have such a big grin when he first got out of the cave.

Here's Tom coming up the last section. He had worked up quite a sweat. It's not so easy hauling your own weight up 200 feet of rope, especially when you only move about a foot or so at a time.

He's slowly making progress, escaping from the deep void and into the fresh air.

Go, Tom, go. He manages to pull himself up the last bit.

And then he steps off to the side and can get off rope and relax.

Although it's always thrilling to go into a cave, especially one that's deep, and especially into one you haven't been into before, it's really nice to get back to sunlight--or clouds--again. 


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the experience of going down into the unknown. I could never do that, even if I was 30 yrs. younger!


Caroline said...

I can’t believe the things you do!!! I'm happy you like to, and get a thrill out of descending into the mysterious bowels of the earth, but that is NOT for me.
I'm glad you made it out safe and sound.


Theresa Ragan said...

That looks incredibly scary. I'd much rather jump out of a plane again...but thanks for sharing all of the amazing pictures!!! I felt like I couldn't breathe as I was gazing at the pictures. wow.

jendoop said...

That would be pretty intimidating to me to! If I didn't have to go first, or last, and had alot of expert help I might be talked into it.

Carol said...

All I can say is WOW! I need to follow your exciting.

The Incredible Woody said...

What a wonderfully exciting experience!

holly said...

Hasnt anyone noticed all the orbs in these pictures?? There are dozens of souls floating all around!

Anonymous said...

Looks familiar :)

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