Cave Rescue, July 20, 1979
Hellhole Cave, WV


REPORT

On July 20, several groups of cavers, including a survey party and a push team were in Hellhole Cave, Pendleton County, West Virginia.

As one caver was ascending the triple entrance pit, the sewn harness of his foot Gibbs ripped apart but the foot was held on the rope by a chicken loop. He continued out with no problem, along with the rest of his group.

Meanwhile, a thunderstorm developed, sending torrents of water down the entrance drop. Several cavers had emerged just before it struck and reported that one of their party was still below, safe at the bottom of the drop but too tired to make it out. It was assumed that the still absent push team would join this caver at the base of the drops. Nevertheless, preparations were made to descend and render aid once the rain stopped. One caver finally volunteered to descend. The stranded caver was then able to ascend under his own power. The push team eventually exited at around midnight.


References

NSS News, May 1981 (Part 2) V39N5, Page A68.

John Powers, et. al. "A Trip Report" Subterranean Sun 9:8 August 1979 p. 3.


Analysis

The sewing of any harness for vertical work must be carefully done and with synthetic thread. The chicken loop backup should always be used. Better to be stranded at the bottom than part way up a flooded drop.