Cool Gang- sta

The Gangsta Mappers

Cool Gang- sta

Important! The Gangsta Mappers 2005 Survey Schedule is now available! Find out when we are where for the next year! (password required)

Who are we?

For anyone who is not familiar with the Gangsta Mappers, we are an informal group of folks from throughout the mid-Atlantic states who like to map caves. The group has mapped Paxton, Star Chapel, New River, and Bowden caves. We tend to be relatively old (one member has even described us as "semi-geriatric"), the group has essentially no structure, its membership varies as different projects are active, and we are not affiliated with any club. We try to do very accurate and complete surveys, and we are very willing to take novices under our wings to introduce them to cave surveying.

The Gangstas' desire to keep the organization as minimal as possible inspired Arnie Weisbrot to develop what he calls "The Milling-Around Theory of Speleogenesis." While the Gangstas have been remarkably successful in getting many caves mapped in a reasonable amount of time, we also specialize in practicing Arnie's theory whenever possible.

The line up

For detailed description of how the Gangsta Mappers organize themselves, see "The Gangsta Mapper Way of Picking Survey Teams" by Bob Zimmerman.

Bob Zimmerman has also compiled the attendance figures for the two active Gangsta Mappers projects at Cassell and Breathing Caves plus the last project at Bowden Cave. Find out how active a Gangsta you've been!

Current Projects

Cassell Cave

Cassell Cave is near the town of Cass in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. This 6.63+ mile cave was mapped in the 1960s, during the early days of cave mapping, but the map lacks detail with lots of known passage left out. The cave is rather sporting and has a number of potentially dangerous climbs, including a 96 foot drop into one entrance. We will be asking that only cavers with some survey experience come on the trips. Bob Zimmerman (your webmaster) will be doing the cartography. Surveying began on the weekend of April 15, 2000, and will continue on every other month thereafter until completion. For information about housing, contact Miles Drake (home: 301-350-6422, email: karstmd at [replace "at" with @]). For information about cartography, contact Bob Zimmerman (home: 301-937-0394, email: For information about which cavers are going where to survey with whom, contact Bob Hoke (home: 301-725-5877, email:

Some Historical Background
Websheet #1-February 10 to April 15, 2000 (password required)
Websheet #2-April to June 2000 (password required). See also Mark "Indy" Kochte's April 2000 trip report.
Websheet #3-June to September 2000 (password required).
Websheet #4-September to November 2000 (password required). See also Charles Danforth's September 2000 trip report.
Websheet #5-November 2000 to February 2001 (password required). See also Charles Danforth's November 2000 trip report.
Websheet #6-February to May 2001 (password required). See also Charles Danforth's February 2001 trip report.
Websheet #7-May to July 2001 (password required). See also Charles Danforth's May 2001 trip report.
Websheet #8-July to September 2001 (password required). See also Charles Danforth's July 2001 trip report.
Websheet #9-September to November 2001 (password required). See also Charles Danforth's September 2001 trip report.
Websheet #10-November 2001 to January 2002 (password required). See also Charles Danforth's November 2001 trip report.
Websheet #11-January to April 2002 (password required). See also Charles Danforth's January 2002 trip report.
Websheet #12-April to May 2002 (password required). See also Charles Danforth's April 2002 trip report.
Websheet #13-May to July 2002 (password required).
Websheet #14-July to September 2002 (password required). See also Charles Danforth's July 2002 trip report.
Websheet #15-September to November 2002 (password required).
Websheet #16-November 2002 to July 2003 (password required).
Websheet #17-July 2003 to February 2004 (password required).
Websheet #18-February to June 2005 (password required).
Websheet #19-June to November 2005 (password required).
Websheet #20-January 2005 until the cave survey is finished! (password required).

A Sad Note: Doug Williamson, discoverer of the Windy Entrance and one of the leaders of the first survey of Cassell Cave in the 1960s, passed away on July 30, 2001 at the age of 82. As stated in his obituary, "he was an avid caver. . .making a number of additions and corrections for the West Virginia Geological Survey."

A Happy Note: On November 1, 2004 the Virginia Area Region of the National Speleological Society awarded Charles Cassell, owner of Cassell Cave, its "VAR Landowner Recognition Award." On January 15, 2005 the Gangsta Mappers presented Mr. Cassell his certificate and plaque. As stated on the certificate, the award is given to honor those individuals who have the "qualities including, but not restricted to, the respect for caves and their environs, outstanding service to the appreciation of said caves, the nurturing of scientific inquiry, and the perpetuation of comradery between caver and cave-owner."

We cavers once again thank you, Mr. Cassell!

A Quick Summary of the November 19, 2005 Weekend at Cassell Cave by Bob Zimmerman:

Two teams went in and tried to finish the Notwurst section of the North Fork. Instead, we found more leads and will have to return!

However, Cassell Cave is now 8.02 miles long! The team of Bob Alderson and Edgard Bertaut surveyed 311.9 feet, while Bob Zimmerman, Patricia Bingham, and Ben Diedrich surveyed 156.5 feet.

For more detailed information, go to Cassell Cave Websheet #19 (password required).

For information about future survey trips, go to Cassell Cave Websheet #20 (password required).

new collapse New! Pictures by Bob Zimmerman of a second collapse at Cassell Pit.

Check it out at the Cassell Cave gallery.

A new pile of boulders

Breathing Cave

This is a very popular cave in Bath County, Virginia with a very old and inadequate map. Bob Alderson is the cartographer for this project. The first Gangsta Mappers survey trip took place on May 20, 2000, and will continue approximately every other month thereafter. Anyone who is a good caver and is interested in learning to survey is welcome to attend. Please note that we don't require cave surveying experience, but we are not prepared to train new cavers. We will supply survey equipment, but you must bring all the normal cave gear you will need for a relatively difficult trip of about eight hours. You should also be prepared to get wet and muddy. For more information contact Bob Hoke (home: 301-725-5877, email:

Breathing Cave Websheet #1-May, 2000 (password required)
Breathing Cave Websheet #2-June to July, 2000 (password required)
Breathing Cave Websheet #3-August to October, 2000 (password required)
Breathing Cave Websheet #4-November, 2000 to January, 2001 (password required)
Breathing Cave Websheet #5-January to April, 2001 (password required)
Breathing Cave Websheet #6-April to June, 2001 (password required)
Breathing Cave Websheet #7-June to October, 2001 (password required)
Breathing Cave Websheet #8-October 2001 to March, 2002 (password required)
Breathing Cave Websheet #9-March to June, 2002 (password required)
Breathing Cave Websheet #10-June to October, 2002 (password required)
Breathing Cave Websheet #11-October 2002 to August, 2003 (password required)
Breathing Cave Websheet #12-August 2003 to March 2004 (password required)
Breathing Cave Websheet #13-March 2004 to February 2005 (password required)
Breathing Cave Websheet #14-February 2005 to October 2005 (password required)

The March 19, 2005 Breathing Cave weekend by Bob Alderson:

We had a good turn out, 9 people came, enough for 3 crews. All of us went to Gremlin Alley. This meant we all did the ladder and etrier climb up from the Serpentine Way, which took up some time...

For Bob's full report (as well as reports of the February weekend), go to Breathing Cave Websheet #14 (password required).

Breathing Cave pics New! Pictures by Doug Viner of the March 19, 2005 Survey weekend!

Check it out the Breathing Cave gallery.

Past Projects

Bowden Cave

Thumbnail of Bowden Map The survey is complete, with over six miles of survey passage, and the map has now been printed and has been distributed. No more copies are available for sale. However, Bob Gulden has provided us a digital version of the map, incorporating many photos of the cave.

Bob has also compiled a summary of everyone who participated in the Bowden Cave survey, listed in order of number of trips. Find out how committed a Gangsta you really are!

He has also provided a breakdown of the project's different surveys.

Dusty in Bowden Cave Check out the gallery of Bowden Cave survey pictures, courtesy of Bob Gulden.

Arnie Weisbrot has also provided a list showing the origin of the names for many of the features in Bowden Cave. This list is still not complete. Send any revisions or additions to Arnie.

New River Cave

From September of 1995 until June of 1997, seventy-eight Gangsta Mappers had 18 survey weekends at New River Cave in Giles County, Virginia. Two of these weekends included trips on both Saturday and Sunday. The last trip was actually in November of 1998 when a party of climbers went to check out the last remaining "lead". Tom Spina did an outstanding job of preparing working maps for the group during this effort, but was really too overcommitted to fully complete the map. Dave West has now agreed to finish the map, and Tom has provided him with the original notes, sketches, as well as his original working maps.

As Dave works on the map, certain issues arise. You can find this stuff (including some graphics) if you go to:

New River Cave Websheet #1 (password required)

Dave West has also complied the attendance figures for the New River Cave project. These figures can be seen on the main Gangsta Mappers attendance page.

Paxtons Cave

Bob Hoke has provided us with his cogent article, Some Lessons in Running a Successful Survey Project, which he wrote in 1993 for Compass & Tape, describing the survey approach used during the mapping of Paxtons Cave, one of the earliest Gangsta Mappers projects.

Other Projects

Your webmaster would love to put some more information here about previous Gangsta Mappers projects, such as Paxtons, New River, and Star Chapel. To do so, however, requires some help from past participants. Please send me more information!

Future Projects

Future Gangsta Mappers project notices will initially be sent via email. If you want to be added to the distribution list, send your email address to Bob Hoke at

The Gangsta-Mappers Listserve

You can also subscribe to the Gangsta Mapper email listserver by sending an email message to with the body of the message saying "subscribe gangsta-mappers" (without the quotes). The subject of the message does not matter.

Noteworthy Links

Genesis book cover Leaving Earth book cover Last updated: December 18, 2005
Written by Bob Zimmerman, who is always reachable at Check out my other books and magazine articles at

Thanks to Ralph Hartley for providing the webspace for these pages. Thanks to Bob Hoke for providing me with an old but completely usable scanner so that I can easily place images on this page. Thanks to Dave Hollick and Indy for their suggestions for making this webpage look better, as well as Bob Hoke (again!) for providing some of the actual words and sentences that I used on this page. And thanks to Bob Gulden, Devin Kouts, and Rick Lambert for providing me with some images and other stuff.

This webpage was created using Xywrite 3.55, the best word processing program ever written. The webpage was also written to be as simple and as straightforward as possible, avoiding frames, forms, and gratuitous graphics. You want dancing arrows? Go to a dotcom.