Saturday afternoon, November 10, a group of four Canadian cavers entered the Bone Cave Entrance to the Bone/Norman System in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, with the intention of doing a crossover, exiting the Norman Cave Entrance. The leader was an experienced caver, and had done the crossover some three years before. Two were novices and for the one, it was his first cave trip. Their ages were estimated to be from the late teens to early twenties.
Bone/Norman is a 14-mile extremely complex system; the Bone Cave portion is quite dry while Norman has a very active stream. The crossover normally takes about six hours with the connection being a very tight squeeze.
It rained all night Friday and many planned cave trips into wet caves had been aborted. The group of four proceeded through Bone Cave, through the connection and to the point in Norman where one leaves the stream and ascends into a huge breakdown passage that leads to the entrance. There are several routes through the breakdown from the stream up into the passage, all involving constrictions between the breakdown. The Canadians took a route that led to a small breakdown room beneath the main borehole. At this point the beginner was out of light and the leader was apparently confused as to the route. They hesitated.
At midnight, their friends came to the WVACS Fieldhouse to report them overdue. Cavers responded and soon located the group. They were not totally out of options, but with a little extra light and guidance were soon out. The last rescue group was out and back to the Fieldhouse by 6 a.m.
NSS News, December 1990 (Part 2) V4N13, Page 350-351.
George Dasher, Personal Communications November 18, 1990; November 26, 1990.
Al Stubbe, Tidewater Ooze (Tidewater Grotto), December 1990.
It may well be that this was a non-incident. It is reported that the Canadians had slept in and not entered the cave until late -- thus they may not have been "overdue" and might have gotten out quite well on their own.