Germany Valley Karst Survey February 2003
Germany Valley Karst Survey February 2003
by Devin Kouts

A larger than usual turn out at Germany Valley this month with several new people left us scrambling to cover all the projects and make sure the new folks would have some fun. It was a challenge because most of the in cave work was beyond the reach of your average size caver. The weather was very cold, so most people wanted to get underground. Many teams did just that but a few worked on or near the surface on digs or ridge walking.

Rick Lambert, Rocky Parsons, Erik and Tab Tesnau and others from the Highland County crew went back to Apex cave where they spent the day digging. The cave gets deeper with each digging weekend and we hope it all pays off soon. They saw some minor payback this weekend when they broke into the top of a small canyon, a few feet wide by ten feet deep. All the air disappears through gravel in the floor, so that's where they'll go next.

Jared, Tom Barton and Sharid at a promising lead in Germany Valley. Copr. - D. S. Kouts, 2003

Another crew led by Tom Barton went to visit an airy hole that was recently brought to our attention by a local caver. Their work managed to clear the hole of trash and some rock protrusions. They worked on the crack at the bottom of the cave for most of the afternoon and made some progress, but it will require a return trip before this cave gets us anywhere.

The Memorial Day survey crew, Ralph Hartley, Miles Drake, Rick Royer and Pete Penczer had another bang up weekend. They knocked off more than 2450 feet to bring the cave to just over 1.6 miles in length. They set 59 stations that day, and their average survey shot was 41.5 feet! A second crew, Bob Zimmerman, Bob Robins, and Chris Newton, doing some mop-up survey were disappointed when their lead dried up in just one station, however.

Barry Horner, George Dasher, Bob Alderson and I headed over to look at something a landowner had shown us last month. It's known to cavers as Carcass Cavity, but it hasn't been entered in a long while. We were forced to dig through the brambles, snow, mud and rock to gain access to the top of the pit. After all that it turned out to be nothing more than a 25 foot dead bottom. Yet at the same time George and Bob did a little surface walking in the area and came up with a few nice potentials to check out in the future.

Barry Horner works to clear the entrance of Carcass Cavity. Copr. - D. S. Kouts, 2003

Mike Frisina, Kevin Flanagan and one other went back to Coon to continue the efforts they started last December. They pushed the tight blowing crack as far as they could and stopped at a narrow point. They could see 30 feet ahead, but all of it just as narrow as where they had stopped. The air moves, but the logistics of getting to the site make it a pretty poor quality lead, indeed.

And finally Gordon Brace led a crew of Rick Orbin, Charles Kahn and Ben Madore to continue work on a large dig in the middle of a wind swept pasture. It's a promising thing with steam coming up from the dig face, but still no cave yet. Here's what Gordon had to say ...

"The ... dig is now around 12 feet deep. Still blows excessive amounts of air. I can't see it getting much deeper without hitting a solid wall. As it is we are going to have to put in shoring next month just to keep it safe from wall collapse. The tripod that Tom Barton brought worked great once we removed the leg extensions. When they were attached it could not hold the weight of one of the heavier loads, and collapsed. One of the legs bashed Rick Orbin in the head. If Rick was not so thick skulled it could have been a disaster. In the same collapse my foot got bashed by the pulley. I now sport a beautiful 3 X 4 inch bruise on my right foot.

A crew removes the bottom of a Germany Valley sinkhole, February 2003. Copr. - C. Kahn, 2003

I spoke to [the landowner] about getting a backhoe in to start the third promising dig on his property. He does not think it will be much of a problem getting his neighbor to drive it over. It will cost us about 100 - 125 bucks for the rental. The amount of time it will save is well worth the expenditure. We will pass the hat much like when Pete was renting the air compressor during the initial MDC rock removal efforts."

On Sunday a group got together to check out some leads found by local caver Steve Rhodes. Here's what Gordon had to say ...

"On Sunday morning Tom B., Mike F., Steve and myself went to check out the new finds of Steve's in the extreme southern end of the valley. Yep, the man has a real cave with REAL potential. The top of the ravine is located in the lower Nealmont Formation. A few snow melting sinkholes were observed, but as with all Nealmont sinkholes I would not spend much time on them. Nealmont grows a great sinkhole, but a lousy cave. Just down from the rim of the steep sided ravine we encountered the McGraw/McGlone formation. It was in the McGlone unit that Steve found his new cave. Located about thirty feet above the contact with the Big Valley Formation. Much potential here. The ravine bottoms out in the Lincolnshire Formation. The whole ravine is very reminiscent of the ... Ruddle Cave ravine, but much steeper sided. What is really neat is to have that big of a chunk of the strat column visible all at once. Impressive."

Standing by 'til next month.