Jim Discovers a New Cave!
Jim discovered a new cave in September 2004. He was alone and the entrance was vertical, so he could only mark the location on his GPS and start counting the days! The initial trip happened a month later. Due to sensitive landowner relations, the cave has been closed and is off-limits. Its location and name will not be mentioned here. It sure was fun while it lasted!
The cave is basically one large room about 50' high, with a triangular cross section. Most of the cave is filled with breakdown, leaving only 10-20' at the apex and a little slanting space along the walls. After negotiating the entrance drop, the cave opens up immediately. The first major obstacle is The Saddle, where the floor drops off on 3 sides of a big piece of breakdown in the middle of the floor. The only reasonable way to go is to make a leap onto the rock and ride it like a horse. You jump off to the left, go around the end, come back halfway on the other side, drop into a space below the rock, and continue in the original direction under the rock until you emerge onto the Zebra Rock. If you have enough light (Jim's 50 watt video light sure did a good job!) the Big Room starts to become visible.
The cave drops off steeply from Zebra Rock into the Big Room. Good breakdown climbing skills are essential! The Big Room is the most decorated part of the cave, with columns, a prominent Almost-Column, flowstone, helictites, evaporites and shields galore. It seems to be the end of the cave, but we didn't have time to push it. Surface features indicates the cave continues in the opposite direction, but we never found a way into that part. A total of three trips were made in the cave. The first two trips netted us over 600' of survey. The last trip was fortunately a photo trip, so we can share a little bit of the cave. Maybe someday we'll get to return!
Photos by Jim McConkey (JM) and Keith Christenson (KC). (Click on each thumbnail for a full-sized picture.)