People Underground

Newsletter of the Human Science Section of the National Speleological Society

Volume VIII, Number 1, Fall-Winter 1994-95

TABLE OF CONTENTS Fall-Winter 1994-95

  • TABLE OF CONTENTS Fall-Winter 1994-95
  • RELATING PEOPLE TO CAVES OR VICE VERSA
  • Information about Section, People Underground, etc.
  • Editors Column
  • Minutes of the Section Annual Meeting
  • Response to Anderson Letter
  • DO THE RIGHT THING
  • "Lost in Caves" Questionnaire
  • Anti-normative behaviours (flaming) in computer mediated communication
  • CONSERVATION EFFORT CAN BE ENJOYABLE
  • REPORTING SIGNIFICANT CAVES
  • EDUCATION AND KNOWLEDGE SEEN AS KEY
  • WRCRC BECOMES WRTC
  • INNER CITY YOUTH PROGRAM AT CARLSBAD
  • PREHISTORIC FINDS IN ALASKA
  • COLOSSAL CAVE REVISITED
  • GIRLS IN THE WOOD
  • Lady-J. Training and Use.
  • WHY DO WE DO RESCUES?
  • COOPERATION REPLACES COMPETITION IN KENTUCKY
  • A CAVE SOMEWHERE IN THE DALES: SECRECY SOMETIMES JUSTIFIED
  • SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: THE NEW TREND IN CONSERVATION
  • MAKE YOUR TRIP COUNT
  • I WAS A TEENAGE YAHOO CAVER
  • MEMBERSHIP FORM
  • RELATING PEOPLE TO CAVES OR VICE VERSA

    Some thoughts on "Caving for Pay" and related issues

    Assembled and edited by Evelyn Bradshaw

    There is a dilemma here that is as old as recorded time. Early Hebrew writers had their solution (Genesis 1:24-28):

    And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind; and God saw that it was good.

    And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

    So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him, male and female, created he them.

    And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that creepeth upon the earth.

    Three other translations of the Old Testament also give man dominion over all other living things. Nowhere, however, does it mention "under the earth."

    The native Americans who inhabited North America before the white man came had a somewhat different attitude, as Stewart Udall, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior put it in The Quiet Crisis, 1963:


    continued below, Relating People to Caves.


    Section Officers                           
    Chairman: Dave Lemberg                     
    7563 Como Way                              
    Goleta, CA 93117                           
    (805)968-8734                              
    
    Vice Chairman: Bill Bussey                 
    120 Manhattan Court                        
    Cary, NC 27511-3258                        
    (919)460-8968                              
    
    Secretary: Evelyn Bradshaw                 
    10826 Leavells Road                        
    Fredericksburg, VA 22407-1261              
    (703)898-9288                              
    
    Treasurer Rob Stitt                        
    1417 9th Ave. West                         
    Seattle, WA 98119                          
    
    Editor and Publisher: Rob Stitt            
    1417 9th Ave. West                         
    Seattle, WA 98119                          
    (206)283-2283                              
    rstitt@halcyon.com                         
    
    Director at Large: Caroline Brown          
    
    People Underground is published by the     
    Human Sciences Section of the National     
    Speleological Society.  Correspondence,    
    membership dues, requests for information  
    and material for People Underground        
    should be sent to the Editor or            
    Treasurer, as appropriate: Rob Stitt,      
    1417 9th Ave. West, Seattle, WA 98119.     
     Copyright Human Sciences Section of the  
    National Speleological Society, 1995. All  
    rights reserved.                           
    Original material is copyright by the      
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    is given to the author and People          
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    is sent to the editor.  The opinions       
    expressed in articles appearing in People  
    Underground are not necessarily the        
    opinions of the Human Science Section or   
    the NSS.                                   
    Printed by members of the D.C. Grotto and  
    the Potomac Speleological Society.         
    People Underground current and some back   
    issues are posted on the Internet World    
    Wide Web at                                
    http://www.halcyon.com/samara/nsshss/welcome.html.                                   
    The Human Sciences Section (formerly the   
    Social Science Section) was chartered in   
    1974 and has struggled to stay together    
    since that time.  The Section holds its    
    annual meeting at the NSS Convention,      
    usually scheduled as an informal           
    luncheon.  The Section welcomes all        
    individuals who are interested in the      
    human sciences.  At this time the Section  
    plans to publish newsletters               
    semi-annually.  People Underground is      
    sent to all members of the Human Science   
    Section.  Membership dues are $5 per year  
    and may be sent to the Treasurer's         
    address, given below.  For your            
    convenience, a membership form is          
    included on the inside back cover, page    
    17.                                        
    POSTMASTER:  Send address changes to       
    Evelyn Bradshaw,. 10826 Leavells Road,     
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    Editors Column

    The Human Sciences Section is now up and running on the Internet World Wide Web! We have a home page, information about the Section, membership information, and the last issue of People Underground posted at http://www.halcyon.com/samara/nsshss/welcome.html. In case that doesn't mean much to you, more information can be obtained at your local book store. If you have a computer, and an Internet connection-get logged on, get a browser such as Netscape, and check us out.

    If you are not a computer user don't worry. I'm sure we'll continue to publish on paper for the foreseeable future.

    The latest issue of People Underground will usually be posted on the Web about the time I send it to the printer. If you have a web browser, you might check for it occasionally. If you'd like to contribute, send in your article via the Internet or via regular mail. If you send a disk it will help, but I can retype or scan things on paper, so don't worry.

    The publication frequency of People Underground is dependent on what materials are received. If you'd like to see more issues, then send us more material. It's as simple as that.

    Rob Stitt, Editor


    Minutes of the Section Annual Meeting

    NSS HUMAN SCIENCE SECTION

    Annual Meeting, June 23, 1994

    The annual meeting of the NSS Human Science Section was held on June 23, 1994, at Fort Clark Springs, Texas, during the NSS Annual Convention. The meeting was called to order by John Wilson, chair, at 12:36 P.M.

  • 1. MINUTES of the 1993 annual meeting were approved as corrected.
  • 2. ANNUAL REPORT John Wilson announced that the annual report of the Section for 1993 had been completed and sent in to NSS.
  • 3. DEMOGRAPHIC SURVEY The demographic survey of the NSS membership was finally completed last summer and is expected to be published in the NSS News. We can consider this a major significant accomplishment for the Section. The project was carried out by Robert Stitt and John Wilson. It was noted that age was not one of the factors collected during the survey and that it could be a significant factor for various studies. Evelyn Bradshaw said she may have some files that show both NSS numbers and dates of birth for a number of NSS members.
  • 4. FINANCES Robert Stitt, treasurer, announced we have $351.91 on hand including $45 dues received this year. The report was accepted. We accepted the treasury of the Women's Section when it disbanded and extended Section membership to their members. By now it is time to hope that they will renew and become bona fide Section members.
  • 5. PUBLICATIONS An issue of People Underground is ready for circulation.
  • 6. LEMBERG PROJECT Dave Lemberg reported that he is developing a survey on the subject of being lost underground, for which he has a grant from the university. He and already has received about thirty questionnaires at this convention to help develop the survey forms. He also has several hours of taped interviews and took a professor to Lilburn Cave over Labor Day to show him what being lost is like. There is a long list of projects that can be done with the data.
  • 7. SECTION BROCHURE Evelyn Bradshaw said she will update the brochure describing our section and circulate draft copies to the Executive Committee for comment.
  • 8. MEMBERS' MANUAL It was noted that the NSS Members' Manual contains several errors in the listings of committee heads and others. The fact that the Manual is published about the time of the convention, and a number of important responsibilities including the NSS officers often change at convention is a problem worth study.
  • 9. ELECTIONS John Wilson reminded us that since he has now been elected administrative Vice-President of NSS he is not under NSS bylaws eligible to serve as an officer of an internal organization. The following officers were elected/re-elected to serve for the coming year:
  • Chairman, Dave Lemberg
  • Vice-Chairman, Bill Bussey
  • Secretary, Evelyn Bradshaw
  • Treasurer, Robert Stitt
  • Director-at-large, Caroline Brown
  • 10. CAVE GUIDE PROJECT The Section sanctioned the study project inaugurated by Evelyn Bradshaw as a follow up of this year's Great Debate, "Caver-for-Pay." It is to study the feasibility of an establishment of an Association of Professional Cave Guides as a way to improve the qualifications and reliability of cave guides. It would be somewhat analogous to the NSS Cave Diving Section with its own standards.
  • Adjourned at 1:23 P.M.
    Minutes by E. Bradshaw


    Relating People to Caves

    Continued from page 1.

    The most common trait of all primitive peoples is a reference for the life-giving earth, and the native American shared this elementary ethic: the land was alive to his loving touch, and he, its son, was brother to all creatures. His feelings were made visible in medicine bundles and dance rhythms for rain, and all of his religious rites and land attitudes savored the inseparatable world of nature and God, the master of Life. During the long Indian tenure the land remained undefiled save for scars no deeper than the scratches of cornfield clearings or the farming canals of the Hohokams on the Arizona desert.

    The modern conservation movement may be said to have begun in the Nineteenth Century, and in the Twentieth Century people began to wake up to the fact that our natural resources are finite in quantity. Most of them were underground and out of sight: oil, water, coal, other minerals. And even as they were becoming depleted, man himself was multiplying prodigiously, thus compounding the rate of depletion of resources.

    Against this backdrop the earnest speleologist sees a major threat to his beloved caves from the ever increasing crowds of experience-hungry tourists seeking adventure and willing to pay for a few careless hours underground in the care of a guide who may-or may not--know how to guide them safely through the cave and out, without accident or fatality (both have occurred).

    A current chapter in the speleological aspect of the problem began last summer with the Great Debate at the Texas convention, when Dwight Deal pro and Emily Mobley con ably argued about allowing responsible cave guide to conduct for-pay trips into caves. Some of the impetus for facing the dilemma came from some cave fatalities highly publicized in the media.

    One of the first question we have asked ourselves is whether our goal is to protect caves from the depredations of unnecessary intruders (unnecessary in the sense that if no caving trip had been promoted they would probably have gone rafting or canoeing or something else above ground) or is it to set up better opportunities for people to visit caves and avoid hazards?

    At the picnic breakfast table the morning after the Great Debate, some of us rehashed the topic and there emerged a possible solution, namely, forming an association of professional cave guides. The rationale was that the word would get around and soon irresponsible guides would be out of business as commercial operations found it wiser (and probably cheaper with the insurance companies) to hire only Association members to do guiding for them, whether in show caves or wild caves. Market pressure could persuade those running cave trips to select qualified guides and advertise the fact, the better to compete with other outdoor entrepreneurs.

    Responses have come in from some articulate people. Also, representatives of some 200 I/Os were asked about the importance of this issue. Many most considered it "very important, " adding phrases such as "No one likes idea of caving for pay," "The liability issue concerns us," and "The non-renewable nature of caves makes caving for pay unacceptable" This does not mean that everyone responding took such views. Many simply said that the issue was "very important" or "quite important," without indicating their attitude.

    A few sent lengthy responses, including Warren Anderson of Lander, WY, whose letter also appeared in the February 1995 NSS News (see below). Some of my further thinking prompted by these letters is also included.

    Tom Morton, Missouri:

    Jon Beard and I have been guiding caving field trips in this area for many years. We have guided speleology students from local colleges and universities, students from high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools, church groups, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, girls from a local corrections facility, interested adults, novice cavers, friends, and family. I long ago lost count of how many people we have led through caves. I also guided for a full season at Fantastic Caverns and have assisted Tom and Cathy Aley on field trips into Tumbling Creek Cave in Taney County. We have never charged for our services on trips to wild caves and I personally would not want to charge.

    Over the years we have perfected our methods. We limit numbers and usually meet with the groups beforehand to prepare them for the trip and try to recognize problems and solve them before we go underground. I always have a couple of grotto members back me up so there is a team of experienced cavers with each group.

    I don't know what effect an Association of Professional Cave Guides might have. It could be a good thing or it could put me out of business. It depends on the cost of membership, what kind of training is required, and where this training is completed. Also what kinds of rules and regulations will be established? What about the question of liability?

    It seems to me that if someone died or were injured on a trip guided by a "professional certified" guide, the affected parties might be even more inclined to sue. Jon and I have never carried liability insurance. We have often required releases and always make people aware of the inherent danger of caving. We have been fortunate that we have never had any serious injury or one of our trips.

    Jon and I are so well known in this area and so often sought after for field trips, I doubt that much would change for us if such an association were created. We are the whole ball game around here.

    If an APCG is formed, membership must be affordable, training must be easily accessible, and the rules and regulations must be realistic and sensible-and the liability issue must be addressed. I will reserve judgment until I can see the final form of such an organization.

    Charging a fee might drive groups to inexperienced guides or make them not go at all. That possibility must also be looked at carefully.

    Details are not yet in hand, but Tom Herron in Georgia indicated that they wanted to outfit an Explorer Post to undertake caving. A non-profit group was formed for the purpose of raising money for this cause. Whether the non-profit then branched out to provide the same kind of support to others is not known pending further report from Tom.

    Gary Nussbaum is on the teaching staff at Radford University, Radford VA and informs me that they offer a program for recreational workers that include a specific emphasis on caving. This was worked out after consultation with the Virginia Cave Board and the Virginia Outdoor Recreation people. A certificate is earned by completing the program. He has been asked to give a talk at the Conservation/Management session at the 1995 convention, to provide more details.

    Bill Frantz of California, currently chairman of the Congress of Grottos, notes that caving-for-pay may be on the COG agenda this year and comments:

    I have spent some time trying to figure out what will be the best way to deal with the problems of incompetent cave guides taking members of the general public caving. The goals seem to me to be (in no particular order):

    (1) Protect the public

    (2) Protect the caves

    (3) Teach the public about caves

    (4) Teach the public about cave conservation

    Having a professional organization to teach and certify cave guides would seem to promote all of these goals except perhaps number two. I can hear the argument that a professional organization would promote caving and increase impact on the caves. Certainly, regular guided trips will impact the caves they visit.

    Members of the San Francisco Bay Chapter have had a long-term relation with a caving-for-pay operation, the Fairchild family, who own Moaning Caverns and California Caverns. In addition to standard tours, they offer wild caving trips in both caves, and an approximately 200-foot repel into Moaning. The wild tours always take the same route through the caves, and are much like traditional cave tours, except for crawling and mud, and the lack of lighting. I have been on both tour routes and, although the routes themselves are heavily impacted, there are pristine places just a few feet off the routes that show tourists what caves should look like. The rappel is a different matter and I was there when Ethan [Bill's son] had to talk a young boy down the rope. (His rack was providing so much friction that he had trouble moving.) In this case, the tourist seemed to be inadequately supervised.

    If the tourists are interested in going further with caving, the Fairchilds refer them to local grottos. This has both its advantages and disadvantages. The principal disadvantage is that the SFBC gets people who expect to be guided through caves. Our response has been to emphasize that we are not a guiding organization and that trip members are responsible for being competent for the trips they go on. We have always had this approach, only the emphasis has changed.

    I think that some of the strengths of the Fairchild operation are:

    (1) They offer a limited number of trips, so guides can be familiar with the specific hazards without a broad range of experience.

    (2) They offer tours in their own caves, so they do not impact caves that other cavers use.

    (3) They have good mutual relations with local cavers, providing a path for tourists who are interested in going further with caving.

    (4) They are very conservation-minded and quite knowledgeable about caves, which shows through in their tours.

    It occurs to me that Steve Fairchild (NSS #19491) would be a good person to talk to about forming an Association of Professional Cave Guides. He has had a lot of experience running caving-for-pay operations and is, in general, a smart 1 person.

    Chris Thibodeaux NSS 29482 from Texas writes to say:

    I have been conducting trips and educational and training activities for three years through the University of Texas at Austin informal class programs. These classes are open to the general public and not restricted to only students.

    My courses are designed to introduce the beginner to equipment and techniques for cave exploring in Texas with an emphasis on safety and the inherent dangers involved. Around three hundred people have taken this course since its inception, with zero accidents. (I have kept fairly accurate records pertaining to the people who have passed through this course.)

    Until recently I have chosen to remain outside of the political realm because of the controversy involved. However, many of my former students have gone on to become a significant part of the political scene here in Texas. I still view my course as an outward bound activity for "yuppie singles." I call them yuppie singles but in actuality I have had an extremely diverse segment of the population in this course. Anyway, I find myself more involved in caving politics and would be happy to exchange ideas and information.

    Gary Bush of Florida, chair of the NSS Cave Ownership and Management Committee, surveyed the Preserve Managers [of NSS cave properties-owned or managed] about their policies on allowing "Cave for Pay" groups onto the properties, as requested by the BOG. To gain an outside perspective, he also discussed this issue with the Nature Conservancy's Legal Department. The report:

  • McFails - Emily Davis Mobley said they allow such groups only if they show an "event" liability insurance policy that specifically covers the NSS and local Management Committee for the period of the group's use of the property. Scout troops usually have their own liability policies covering their people. They must show a "rider" covering the NSS and Management Group. While fees are NOT collected to use the properties, small donations to care for the campground facilities are accepted.
  • Guilday - On at least one previous occasion, after consulting with Joel Stevenson (NSS legal chairman), Dave West has forbidden a local "adventure tour guide" from using the Trout Rocks properties for his "caving adventures." Legal action was threatened if the individual didn't stop using the caves. Dave's letter evidently halted the trips.
  • The Russell Cave Preserve - has generally restricted access to protect the biota in the cave, so "Caves-for-Pay" use is out of the question.
  • Warren's Cave - Bill Oldacre reports Warren's cave policy forbids trips led by other than Florida Speleological Society or NSS members. No pay to the trip leader is permitted, other than perhaps buying her/him a meal after the trip. Groups can make donations to the FSS or to the NSS, but none are requested or required. In a mutually cooperative effort, FSS allows local Fire Department groups to use the cave for rescue training. Such training occurs during "working' hours (i.e., they're being paid), but no money is being paid expressly for the cave usage or instructions. Their state employee insurance is in effect for such training periods.
  • Alachua Sinks - Lamar Hires, the Cave Diving Section liaison here, reports that paid, guided cave diving is a common practice down there but they are not allowing paid guided trips into Alachua Sinks. No compensation is asked from entrants to the cave. Trip leaders are limited to twelve specific individuals.
  • In summary, the NSS Preserve Management Committees are prohibiting, or generally discouraging, paid trip leaders into their caves. Specific insurance for outside groups is apparently required only at the New York Preserve. Remuneration for cave trips or use of the caves is limited to voluntary donations to the NSS or the management group.

    A talk with Paul Flint of the Legal Department of The Nature Conservancy elicited this information:

    The Nature Conservancy does allow such groups on their lands. In cases where the terrain is particularly difficult, they expressly make use of Tour Operators. They even promote their tour offerings in a low key way. TNC requires any Tour Operators to carry insurance. They also try to insure that participants on non-paid group trips have some form of insurance coverage to minimize liability to TNC. In most cases, where possible, they notify their issuance carrier of outside activities occurring on the properties.

    Mr. Flint felt it was important that all trip leaders be required to be trained in First Aid and CPR. Furthermore, all requirements for trip leader qualifications and for outside group access should be fully documented in advance, to show adequate precautions had been exercised, prior to allowing such trips.

    Now for Warren Anderson's well thought out critique:

    For the purpose of this discussion I will refer to all cave for money organizations as commercial outfitters. This includes cave guides, outdoor education institutions and organizational groups such as the Boy Scouts of America. The impacts of these groups on caving are the same for all of them.

    In considering the impacts of caving for money we need to think about three issues. They are safety, conservation, and access to caves.

    Commercial outfitting in caves will never be safe. Safe caving is the result of being in good physical shape, being experienced, having good equipment, and having good sense. Anyone who had guided the public for money has experienced the challenge of trying to keep people without these qualities from killing themselves. This is why even the best commercial outfitters have a mediocre safety record at best.

    Even experienced conscientious cavers cause degradation of the cave environment. Environmental damage in caves will always be proportional to use. When non-cavers visit caves, conservation problems are magnified. Anything that increases the use of caves is bad for cave conservation particularly if the visitors are inexperienced. Commercial outfitting has the potential to destroy caves.

    Commercial outfitting in caves is a tremendous threat to the continued reasonable access to caves by private parties. In the east most caves are on private land. Having commercial outfitters guide the public to caves provides protection from liability through insurance and pays money. This is why in Europe caves that are on private land are accessible only to clients of commercial outfitters.

    In the west caves are on public land. Commercial outfitters are businesses. Businesses own the U.S. Government. To enhance their political power even further, commercial outfitters have organizations that lobby the government successfully in behalf of their industry. This will undoubtedly be the main function of the proposed "Association of Professional Cave Guides." Theoretically commercial outfitters are regulated by the land management agencies but in practice there is almost nothing they can't do. In cases where there is a conflict between commercial outfitters and private users of public land, the commercial outfitters get most of the access with a pittance given to private users. An example of this is river access. If you want to run the Grand Canyon with a private party you have to put your name on a waiting list which is currently about fifteen years long. If you want to pay a commercial outfitter for a trip you can go any time you want. This is because most of the available visitor days are automatically given to commercial outfitters.

    To make money commercial outfitters need to take anybody that will pay and they need to take large groups. This exacerbates all of the above problems.

    The National Outdoor Leadership School (an NSS member) in Lander, Wyoming, is an example of what we can expect from commercial outfitting in caves. The Congress of Grottos passed a resolution encouraging caving for pay by responsible commercial outfitters. NOLS is arguably the most responsible commercial outfitter in America. They have good instructors and visit the safest horizontal caves. But they still have had some searches and rescues. They have been responsible for a tremendous amount of traffic in the caves they use for their courses. Some of these caves are environmentally sensitive caves which have been harmed by these activities. Since they started caving trips in the early 1970s they have had an unnatural relationship with the Bureau of Land Management. Dubious interpretation and enforcement of regulations by the agency have given them privileged access to caves at the expense of private parties. Despite pressure applied to land managers by cavers, including intervention by the Wyoming congressional delegation, these practices continue. NOLS has played political hardball when land managers have written plans that would restrict their activities. For example, a recent back country travel plan in Canyonlands National Park that would mandate groups smaller than the thirty clients that NOLS says is financially feasible. NOLS is sensitive to these issues but they have to make money.

    Fear of the relationship between commercial outfitters and corrupt land management agencies is one of the reasons that the inventory of significant caves in the Federal Cave Resource Protection Act will fail.

    Caving for pay is bad and should be universally condemned by the NSS.

    You recently wrote about the crisis in the NSS in the NSS Administrative Memo. If the Society endorses practices that are bad for its members then this crisis will get worse. Don't blow it again on caving for pay.

    I reply, in part:

    Ignoring the manipulative device of lumping the Boy Scouts and educational institution in with commercial outfitters, I admit that Warren has pinpointed the problem of how influence gets results. Better known is that timber is sold off public land at below market value and the government even pays for roads to get in and get the timber out. Cheap lumber from Alaska to Japan. Another good point in the Anderson letter is mentioning the difference between Eastern and Western cave realities.

    It's too soon, however, to conclude that the Association of Professional Cave Guides will be just another lobby for big moneyed interests. It could be just the opposite and on the side of the angels who want to do the Right Thing. I've often hypothesized that it might be similar to the NSS Cave Diving Section, except outside NSS. Or the recently formed group of foresters, which was formed precisely to maintain fair use and standards in the Forest Service.

    But time out. Listen to my fantasy. I'm been dreaming about putting the wonders of modern electronic technology to work and creating a Lechuguilla (in Disney World fashion only let's push 'em through crawls and up and down over breakdown so they end up as bruised and dirty as after a "real" cave trip. And the sights and sounds we will see and hear will be as fantastic as those that only the few now see. Having seen the cave in the Desert Museum in Tucson AZ and visited Disney World in Florida, I don't think this is at all farfetched. Too bad Disney had to let the site in Haymarket VA go; that should have been a real drawing card so close to the nation's capital, as opposed to the America theme selected.

    Now what's your opinion?

    Opinions should be addressed to Evelyn Bradshaw, 10826 Leavells Road, Fredericksburg VA 22407-1261. No, I don't have an e-mail address but I'm working on it.


    Response to Anderson Letter

    Al Krause, recently retired NSS Conservation chair, responded as follows to the Anderson letter (see previous article):

    There is a real need to develop serious guidelines for cave access and use, including:

  • 1) A philosophical statement or guideline as to who should/should not have access to what kinds of caves or cave situations (especially on public lands).
  • 2) A set of criteria by which to assess who should be allowed to do what in caves and under what conditions.
  • 3) A set of criteria or guidelines for assessing the acceptable human load capacity, activities, and activity levels in caves under discrete circumstances.
  • 4) A certifiable and consistent set of skill/experience criteria and qualification levels for basic caving and cave trip leadership skills. Like apprenticeship programs, perhaps we need a combination of basic measurable skills, on-the-job experience, and peer review/supervisor evaluations.
  • Cave-for-pay is real and as valid (if done well) as our own "no charge" trips to introduce novices/scouts/conservation groups to the world of caves. Cave use is cave use, regardless of whether it's for fun, research, or profit. As you point out, the functions are different, but, really, the effects have much in common. Cave owners (and the NSS) need the protections afforded by understandable gate-keeping standards. Since anyone with a few bucks can join the NSS, membership alone is meaningless. Experience, skill, and a reputation for concern, safety, judgment, and integrity are what count when you allow someone to take responsibility for a cave or a group of cavers.

    In this regard, I believe the NSS has to clarify its own purpose. Are we a professional organization of cavers, a non-judgmental social organization of people interested in caves, or an ardent conservation advocacy organization? We can't be all three simultaneously without serious internal and external conflict. We must decide who we are. We can stress responsible caving and cave research and be smaller and more selective in our membership (American Medical Association model); we can be caves first, people second preservations (Sierra Club/Greenpeace models); or we can strive to be an essentially social, neutral, non-judgmental interest group which focuses on caves and caving.

    If we're to be the latter, then we should acclaim all who do interesting things related to caves in a uniformly positive way (explorers, researchers, photographers, cave owners, and commercial operators), report on interesting findings and events, and be relatively neutral on most political issues, while gently advocating good practices. If we are to take on professional and hard conservation issues, then we are going to have to cater to a more restricted audience and turn away from purely recreational cavers except as contributors toward the achievements of more focused activities.

    Much as I hate certification and rules, the guy who can provide guarantees and can document experience holds the edge. If the NSS does not lead, it will be shouldered aside by those who do and should be prepared to adapt to that. Landowners and cave managers can't take the time to "test" everyone who comes to them, nor can they justifiably exclude qualified members of the public without just cause. The easiest just cause is to ask for proof of qualification. Cave and caver qualification criteria are going to be written. We (the NSS) could be the ones to sponsor that job. We have the expertise. I think we also, now, have the need. Unrestricted sport caving is going to have to conform or die.

    Some philosophy:

    "Better to bite the bullet than eat lead."

    "The man who brings his own dinner is always welcome at the table."

    "You can have your cake and eat it, too . . . . "You just can't have it all and eat it all. (Something has to be saved)"


    DO THE RIGHT THING

    By Richard Rhinehart, Rocky Mountain Caving, Summer 1994

    An interesting rumor in caving circles these days is the story of a remarkable new cavern that has been found in a well-known caving area in the American West. We've all heard the stories, whether around a crackling campfire after a caving trip, during a red-eyed never-ending midnight run or while munching pizza at the local parlor after a grotto meeting, the excited whispers of cavers hot on the next major discovery.

    Much has been debated in recent years on the secrecy issue, but little has been decided. Many of us in the West are firmly entrenched in the policy of secrecy and for good reason--it has worked particularly well in situations when the cave is isolated and unlikely to receive accidental visitation. Perhaps not surprisingly, it is also in the West that this nation's biggest cave publicity in modern times has been generated, with the work of the Lechuguilla Cave Project.

    Some caves, it seems, are destined to be secrets, to be firmly held by their discoverers for months, years, even decades. Other caves are secrets for a varying period of time, then slowly released to an ever-growing circle of friends until they are common knowledge. Almost never is a cave immediately released to the general caving public, particularly if it holds any promise whatsoever. Only once in a generation, with world-class caves like Lechuguilla, Carlsbad Cavern, Wind and yes, even Colorado's Cave of the Winds, is a cave discovery widely trumpeted to the public, and then generally in an effort to make a profit.

    For most cavers, new caves are treasured secrets. Depending on whom you know, typical cavers will learn of and participate in the exploration of only a few significant caves during their active careers. Only a lucky few ever get invited to more than a handful of new discoveries (how many of you have had a chance to see Arizona's Kartchner Cavern, perhaps America's best known caving secret?).

    Despite noble statements by many that secrecy has no place in modern American caving, there's little chance that anytime soon we'll see the secret caverns of this nation thrown open to the caving masses. The Lechuguilla experiment has turned many off from revealing their caves to anyone but their closest and most trusted friends. In the last four years, the fallout from the Lechuguilla publicity machine has impacted at least three significant secret caves in the American West-one of which is heralded as the new Lechuguilla's by those who have seen its potential. Perhaps Lechuguilla's legacy will not be its majestic lengthy passageways or unusual geology, but the icy chill of secrecy that has cloaked Western caving since. So deep does this new cold war run that even the federal government is said to be keeping at least one new significant cave secret to the point of denying its existence even to those who stumble across its formidable steel gate.

    For now, we can't ignore the rumors. We can, however, do the right thing, and let the explorers have their day with their cave. The excitement of a new discovery is contagious and most likely, they'll need others to help with the exploration, survey, scientific study and documentation of the cave in the future. By giving your colleagues a chance to determine the future of their cave, you might just have an opportunity to participate. That is, if you can keep a secret.


    The following is a copy of the questionnaire produced by Dave Lemberg and his professors to gather data about being lost in caves. Hopefully we will see a paper based on this research in a future issue. - rs


    UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA

    BERKELEY DAVIS IRVINE LOS ANGELES RIVERSIDE SAN DIEGO SAN FRANCISCO SANTA BARBARA SANTA CRUZ

    DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA 93106-4060


    "Lost in Caves" Questionnaire

    Age: __________ Today's Date: __________________

    Sex: F M Your Occupation: ____________________

    This survey is part of some research being conducted at The Department of Geography at UC, Santa Barbara on experiences people have had getting lost. Your response to this survey will help us learn more about such experiences in the context of caves, a particularly disorienting environment. This research could prove useful in designing cave maps, training courses, and emergency assistance procedures. Your response to this questionnaire is completely anonymous-please do not put your name on this form.

    Geographical disorientation (getting "lost") occurs when people are uncertain about where they are or where they need to go to get to some destination. Some people frequently get lost, others rarely do. It ranges from being brief and minor to being serious, even lifethreatening. This questionnaire asks you to think about an episode in which you got lost while caving. In particular, try to remember the episode when you were the most severely lost in a cave that you can remember, even if that was not very severe. Please take a few moments to think back to that episode and then answer the following questions about the experience. If you believe you have never been lost in a cave, even in a very minor way, please check this box and return the form:

  • 1. What was your age at the time? What time of the year did it happen? About what time of the day or night?
  • 2. How long had you been in the cave when the episode began? How far were you from the cave entrance?
  • 3. Was your planned trip a "through" route (entrance/exit at different places), a "loop" (entrance/exit same, little backtracking), or a standard "backtrack" (entrance/exit same, half of trip backtracking)?
  • 4. Describe the cave in which this occurred: What was the ambient temperature in the cave? How many vertical drops or climbs did you make before getting lost? How severe was each pitch (in feet or meters)? How many squeezes (constrictions) had you passed through?
  • 5. Circle all of the following terms that apply to the cave:
  •  a. limestone    e. long                i. mazey/highly        1. wet (standing       
                                            branched               water)                 
    
     b. marble       f. short                                      m. dry                 
    
     c. sandstone    g. much breakdown      j. unbranched          n. Other               
    
     d. lava tube    h. little/no           k. muddy                                      
                     breakdown                                                            
    
    
    
  • 6. How many times had you visited that cave prior to this episode, and how familiar were you with the particular area in which you got lost?
  • 7. How many people were you with, if anyone? Who were they (no names)?
  • 8. Describe what you were doing and where you were going before you got lost.

    9. Describe the moment that you first thought you were lost, including what made you think you were lost. How did you feel at that moment?

    10. What did you do to try to find your way again?

    11. Specifically describe all the different feelings you had while you were lost.

    12. Describe the moment that you realized you were no longer lost, including what made you think so. How did you feel as soon as you realized you were no longer lost?

    13. How long did the whole episode last, from the moment you first thought you were lost to the moment you found your way again?

    14. Were there any extenuating circumstances that contributed to your getting lost? (Circle)

    a. emotional stress (sad, angry,      g. confusing passages/cave structure         
    nervous)                                                                           
    
                                          h. bad directions                            
    
    b. preoccupied                        i. overconfidence, mistaken/incomplete       
                                          knowledge                                    
    
    c. illness                            j. unexpected obstruction or detour          
    
    d. drugs/alcohol/medication           k. changed landmarks/markers                 
    
    e. sleep disruption/lack of sleep     l. bad or misleading markers                 
    
    f. mental/physical fatigue from       m. bad maps                                  
    caving                                                                             
    
                                          n. Other  ________________________________   
    
    
    
  • 15. Was there anything about the structure or appearance of the cave that made it especially disorienting? If so, what?
  • 16. Did this episode change the way you travel or maintain direction in caves? If so, how?
  • 17. How good is your "senseofdirection" in caves? (circle a number)
  • very poor 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 very good
  • 18. How many years of caving experience did you have at the time of the episode? How many different caves had you been in?
  • 19. Have you had any special training in navigation or way finding in caves? Please explain.
  • If you are interested in further information about this project, contact Professor Daniel Montello at the following address:
  • Dept. of Geography phone: (805) 8938536
    University of California
    Santa Barbara, CA 93106
  • email: montello@geog.ucsb.edu
  • Thank you very much for your help!

  • Anti-normative behaviours (flaming) in computer mediated communication

    by John Wilcock (from the Internet Cavers Digest)

    Editor's Note: A common phenomena on the Internet is the process called "flaming", where a large number of intense messages containing material critical of someone else may be sent to an individual who expresses something disagreeable. This is not a new phenomena, at least in the caving community. When I moved to New Mexico over 25 years ago I became aware of a voluminous correspondence that was in progress among the cavers in the Southwest, which could only be described as a "flame war". Over the years a number of articles have been published in People Underground regarding conflict resolution among cavers. The following short note, sent to the Cavers Digest by a British caver in April 1995, is included here to stimulate further discussion on this topic.

    Here's a new thread to start off the ranters: Recent publications concerning the social psychological processes underlying "anti-normative behaviours (flaming) in computer mediated communication (CMC)" suggests that flaming is due to "deindividuation". However, recorded discussions in face-to-face (FTF) groups and CMC groups have not supported this claim. Comparisons were made of levels of Private and Public Self Awareness, Deindividuation, Individuation and Satisfaction during instances of flaming. The results showed no significant differences in levels of deindividuation, individuation or satisfaction between the FTF and CMC groups. The Individuation scale did not appear to differentiate between the two groups, and there was no evidence that subjects were attempting to individuate themselves. I don't know how we would go about proving this for the cavers digest, since cavers all have strong individualistic personalities in any case. Higher levels of flaming (significant at the p=0.001 level) were observed in the CMC group, along with significantly increased levels of Private Self Awareness, and significantly decreased levels of Public Self Awareness. These findings do not support Deindividuation Theory, but do support Disinhibition Theory (which states that a lack of accountability leads to decreased Public Self Awareness which may lead to aggression). A further series of experiments involved different groups: Accountable, where the subjects knew they were being observed and recorded; and Non-Accountable, where the subjects were not informed that they were being recorded until the experiment ended (when they were given the option of destroying the records, but none wished to do so). The prediction that the Accountable group would flame least was strongly supported in both FTF and CMC groups, and the Non-Accountable group flamed significantly more in CMC. Why do users flame so much more frequently in CMC than in FTF? Do they perhaps have no other means of expressing the strength of their feelings? Or do CMC systems cause emotional changes in users? It would be interesting to know why some cavers, who have proved generally civilized in FTF discussions, often lose their rag and flame in CMC discussions.

    Thanks, John.

    Dr John D. Wilcock, Reader in Computing, Staffordshire University, P.O. Box 334, STAFFORD ST18 0DG,
    UK Tel: 01785-353446,
    International +441785353446 FAX: 01785-55334, International +441785353497
    Internet: j.d.wilcock@soc.staffs.ac.uk


    CONSERVATION EFFORT CAN BE ENJOYABLE

    The following is condensed from an account written by Ernie Coffman of more inventory, sketching, and grunt work carried out by two grottos of the Western Region (Shasta Area Grotto and Southern Oregon Grotto). This was done at Oregon Caves Monument, with John-the head ranger at the Monument-coordinating the day's work. Appeared in Devil's Advocate February 1995.

    John met with us after our arrival, gave a presentation on the inventory, along with a slide presentation. John had some interesting shots of the various items to look for, along with our chores for the day. There were a number of folks going this way and that but finally everyone was suited up and ready to go into Exit 110, where we entered, so that we could meet in the Ghost Room to have our pictures taken for a newspaper article.

    Finally we were all going off in various directions-some to do some vertical inventory, some to do some rock removal, and then two teams to do sketching and surveying. These two teams were all heading for portions of the South Room to do a survey and sketching of areas that needed to be updated for the new CAD program of John's. We were no sooner into doing our project when it was announced that it was time to have lunch outside at the Chateau. The writer wasn't used to all of these services, he opted to stay inside and explore on the tourist trail, along with some off-trail visiting of different grottos.

    While exploring at a leisurely pace and not leaving the main trail very far, he found three entrances (two of which were locked), some vertebra bones, and an old piece of glass mug. He also noted the new concrete tourist trails which the park is working on for the upcoming season.

    A couple doing the vertical inventory worked in the North Dome area. It was real nasty. It hadn't been surveyed, either, so that needs to be done in the future.

    John worked with a number of the cavers on the grunt project.

    The writer's survey team of three went off into the snow above Exit 110 to try and locate another cave called High Hopes, said to be only a short ways up the mountain. For older people, like the writer, it was not easy. Wished he'd had a video of the group climbing in the snow, sinking up to their crotches. The team did find the entrance, which possibly is another entrance to Oregon Caves.

    Returning to the Chateau, they found John was putting on a slide show. His background is in anthropology and he had put together a show that was out of this world on "the little people" and their relationship to caves, nature, and the universe. A fascinating show. After a sumptuous dinner some went back to explore in the cave and others sat around the fireplace telling stories etc.

    John complimented the group on Sunday as he remarked to one participant, "You guys were the 'workingest group we've seen."


    REPORTING SIGNIFICANT CAVES

    Understandably cavers have some reservations about this invitation to give agencies of the federal government names of significant caves in their area. Some fear that this will become a channel through which cave locations will become better known and the resulting increase cave use will threaten the resource. Others hope that by providing the information we can expect the government agency to cooperate in adequate protection of the resource. Below is how Ray Keeler of the Central Arizona Grotto prefaced their submission of significant caves (copied from Jan. 1995 Cave Crawler's Gazette):

    Enclosed are nominations for the caves the Grotto would like to submit for inclusion on the Significant Caves list. The Grotto began this process in July 1994 with the creation of a Significant Cave Nominating Committee. The committee defined criteria necessary for this initial submission. These criteria are: caves perceived to be in danger and in need of management, caves on maps, and caves with gates. All of the enclosed cave nominations were approved at the October 1994 Grotto meeting. Of the five federal land management groups, the Grotto restricted itself, with one exception, to Forest Service and BLM lands, leaving out Indian lands, National Parks/Monuments, and Military Reservations. The committee voted to place copyrights on all materials submitted by the Grotto.

    Specifically omitted were caves that were personal project and both secret and non-secret caves that were not considered to be in danger. Individuals may of course submit caves on their own. Some members of the Grotto are adamantly opposed to this process. Many others want to make the effort to determine how well this process will work. Despite assurances of the nominating process, there is concern as to the distribution and storage of the information in either physical files or computer data bases, thus leading to increased traffic in the caves. Why? We have two instances this year in Arizona, where cave files on two different Forest Service districts were copied or stolen.

    The second major concern has been the limited resources available to manage these caves currently known by the land managers. We hope that once some of these non-renewable resources are brought to the attention of land managers, additional dollars will be allocated to impose proper management. In many cases the better known caves have been poorly managed, though there are a couple of wonderful exceptions.

    Good luck in your efforts to help protect these fragile resources.


    EDUCATION AND KNOWLEDGE SEEN AS KEY

    A video on the Caves of Southeast Alaska is available from Marcel LaPerriere, President of the Glacier Grotto, Box 9062, Ketchikan AK 99901 for $15 plus $2 shipping. Checks should be made payable to the Glacier Grotto. Delivery should be two to four weeks.

    This is an extremely well done 14-minute video, cosponsored by the USFS Ketchikan Area and the University of Alaska Southeast. The cost of producing was a bargain at $6,000. Production was undertaken in the realization that the only way we are going to protect the extremely valuable underground resource is to educate the public, with a particular focus on educators. The video has already reached many people with a positive impact. The next step in the education process is the production of an auditorium level multi-image slide production, which has already been initiated.

    Recently the USFS in the Ketchikan area of the Tongass National Forest commissioned a study of the caves and karst of that area. This study was conducted by four world renowned karst experts, headed by Thomas Aley of Ozark Underground Laboratory. Others members included Catherine Aley, William Elliott, and Peter Huntoon. This Blue Ribbon Team found that the caves of this area have eight attributes of international scale significance and nine attributes of national scale significance. The Glacier Grotto had for many years realized the importance of these caves and has worked hard to protect them. After the Blue Ribbon team's findings, it became even more obvious how imperative it is to protect them. Unfortunately, there is tremendous pressures by the forest product industry and many politicians to harvest millions of board feet of timber off the karsted areas of the Tongass. Already many caves have been severely impacted if not totally destroyed by timber extraction.

    (Source: December 1994 Alaskan Caver.)


    WRCRC BECOMES WRTC

    The Western Region Cave Rescue Commission (WRCRC) held a meeting January 29, 1995. After considerable discussion with Bill Maher, NCRC Western Region Coordinator, they decided to work more closely with the NCRC. As a consequence, the WRCRC changed its name to the NCRC WRTC (Western Region Training Committee), an unincorporated association. Its purposes are: to provide operational support to the NCRC Western Region Coordinator; to facilitate NCRC rescue training in the NCRC Western Region; to promote rescue competency at all levels; to provide liaison among cavers, SAR's, and local/state/federal agencies; and to provide a forum for discussion of cave rescue-related concerns.

    [Ed.-More coordination among rescue-oriented organizations has to be a Good Thing for all. Sometimes it has seemed as though controversy was rife in rescue circles. Good to see a new day in this very important field of caver emphasis.]

    Source: Flyer circulated with Fall 1994 California Caver.)


    INNER CITY YOUTH PROGRAM AT CARLSBAD

    The El Paso Regional Group of the Sierra Club has an Inner City Outings Program that helps not only inner city youth but also will be helping Carlsbad Caverns National Park (CCNP) and other similar park and wilderness areas.

    The youth and their adult leaders volunteer their time to do conservation service projects. Working in groups consisting of eight youths, paired one-on-one with eight adults, the volunteers will be working with the CCNP cave resources office to help restore natural conditions in parts of Carlsbad Cavern altered over the years by lack of care in development of the cavern for visitor use, as well as inappropriate use by some visitors. The work will involve removal of discarded construction debris, removal of trash and lint, washing tracked mud and boot marks off natural flowstone formations, cleaning up loose energy chips along trails, and algae removal around lights.

    Leading the Sierra Club sponsored youths during work at Carlsbad Caverns will be Sondra Denny. Before moving to El Paso, Denny worked with the Carlsbad NM volunteers known as the Carlsbad Cavers who were recently recognized for donating over 2,500 hours doing similar work at the park.

    Source: News Release from Bob Crisman of National Park Service, 1/31/95, picked up from Cavers Digest by Oren Tranbarger and reprinted in March 1995 Maverick Bull


    PREHISTORIC FINDS IN ALASKA

    The pre-history of Alaska may be rewritten. In an article in The Anchorage Daily News, paleontologist Dr. Timothy Heaton tells of discoveries on Prince of Wales Island that enhance speculation of coastal habitation and a migration route for bears and possibly humans during breaks in the Ice Age. The most recent bones from a Prince of Wales Island Cave come from a 35,000-year-old bear. Other fossils from black and grizzly bears found in the same area, date at 9,000 to 12,000 years ago, while marmot teeth are older than radiocarbon dating could determine which would make them more than 44,500 years old, according to the article.

    The last glacial period is believed to have begun 60,000 to 70,000 years ago and to have reached its glacial maximum 17,000 to 20,000 years ago.

    (Source: The Alaskan Caver, February 1995)


    COLOSSAL CAVE REVISITED

    By Mel Park

    A copy that appeared in Troglodyte Tribune, Dec. 1994, and earlier appeared in March/June 1994 Massachusetts Caver.

    I just received my copy of Apprentice, the CD of source code put out by Celestin Company. My CD came so soon because I am one of the hundreds of authors whose work is contained within. Looking through the CD's contents, I was pleased to see that the source code for Advent is on the disk. Advent is the successor to the game of ADVENTURE, which in one form or another has been known to the computing community for thirty years.

    On one hand, having ADVENTURE still distributed in 1994 pays homage to the tradition of this first of all the text-based computer games. On the other hand, I am pleased even more to see it because of my close association with the real cave on which the game is based and because of the tradition within the caving (call it spelunking if you must) community that the game ADVENTURE represents. How many know that the world you explore in ADVENTURE is a real place?

    The online help for Advent gives this brief description:

    ***THE HISTORY OF ADVENTURE (ABRIDGED)***

    **By Ima Wimp**

    ADVENTURE was originally developed by William Crowther, and later substantially rewritten and expanded by Don Woods at Stanford Univ. According to legend, Crowther's original version was modeled on a real cavern, called Colossal Cave, which is a part of Kentucky's Mammoth Caverns. That version of the game included the main maze and a portion of the third level (Complex Junction-Bedquilt-Swiss Cheese rooms, etc.), but not much more...

    *According to legend*-Hah! ADVENTURE is based on a real cave, one that is, indeed, now part of the Mammoth Cave System in Kentucky. The cave is not Colossal, however, but Bedquilt Cave. In our small circle, Willie Crowther is a famous, as was his wife then, cave explorer of the 60s and 70s when Colossal, Bedquilt, Salts, Crystal, and the other caves under Flint Ridge, Kentucky, were mapped together to become the longest cave in the world.

    Bedquilt was Willie's favorite part of the cave system. I still have a copy of his map of it. Computer types who grew up exploring ADVENTURE don't realize how accurately the game represents passages in Bedquilt Cave. Yes, there is a Hall of the Mountain King and a Two-Pit Room. The entrance is indeed a strong steel grate at the bottom of a twenty-foot depression.

    On a survey trip to Bedquilt, a member of my party (Bev Schwartz) mentioned she would one day like to go on a trip to Colossal Cave, where she understood the game ADVENTURE was set. No, I said, the game is based on Bedquilt Cave and we are going there now. Excitement! Throughout the cave, she kept up a constant narrative, based on her encyclopedic knowledge of the game. In the Complex Room (renamed Swiss Cheese Room in Advent) she scrambled off in a direction I had never been. "I just had to see Witt's End," she said upon returning. "It was exactly as I expected." When we finished with our work, I let her lead out, which she did flawlessly, again because she had memorized every move in the game. Believe me, the cave is a real maze, and this was an impressive accomplishment for a first-time visitor.

    A second funny incident also reminded me of the game. About three years ago, a party was returning from a survey trip in Bedquilt. When suspended in space at the most awkward point in the climb out of the Hall of Mists, one party member, Roger, noticed to his horror a copperhead snake (was it THE SNAKE?) on the ledge next to his right hand. This climb is more difficult than just typing "up" or "down" at your computer terminal. At the top of it, you are stretched all the way out, pressing against the other wall with outstretched legs, while fervently searching for a place to put your butt or back in order to support your weight. You can't move anywhere quickly in that predicament. Confronted by the snake, Roger was so beside himself that all he could do was yell "Strike, strike" as the copperhead proceeded to do just that. Tom, the party leader, had already made the climb up (and not seen the snake). Looking around for something to do, he found a stick (was it the MAGIC WAND?), in the Bird Chamber (the room with the rivers of orange stone, actually a beautiful column of orange travertine). Wand in hand, he moved the snake away. Fortunately, the snake lacked energy from having been in the 55-degree cave for a while, and Roger was wearing gloves and heavy caving attire. None of the snake bites penetrated.

    As a final irony, the Apprentice CD contains a small map of Bedquilt Cave and it happens to be from Willie Crowther's mapping data. It's in the About box for Vectors, my cave-mapping application that I had on the CD.


    GIRLS IN THE WOOD

    By Ann G. Mathias from The Explorer, newsletter of Pittsburgh PA Explorers Club (March 1995)

    When I first began rock climbing I was often the only woman in the group on Seneca weekends. This usually did not present a problem, at least not for the men. Those were the days prior to the construction of Seneca Shadows and its luxurious facilities. The National Forest Service had a small campground with limited amenities but at least it had some facilities. At that time, the "campground" of choice (at least for the guys) was Yokum's field. The only "facilities" at Yokum's were trees-most of which were along the highway. This was fine for the guys but my Methodist upbringing did not allow me to make an open field my bathroom. As I was rarely able to convince the group to camp elsewhere, I was usually very anxious to get to the Rockview Restaurant for breakfast-the bathroom there had a door!

    Seneca has not been the only site of my dilemma. When it is snowing outside I absolutely hate to get out of my cozy sleeping bag and venture forth to my favorite tree. Again, many of my companions do not have this problem-with the assistance of a bottle, they had indoor plumbing with no leaks.

    Over the years I have tried a variety of methods to solve this problem with varying success. I was quite amused when I came across an essay on the topic in 1994 Women Climbing Calendar. Reading the essay reminded me of a story I have heard Leslie Evans tell on several occasions. It is a classic.


    Lady-J. Training and Use.

    By Leslie Byrd Evans

    The Campmor catalog advertises that the Lady-J "allows women to urinate with a minimum amount of exposure." Newer catalogs refer to an updated version as the Freshette Complete System, "the palm size portable restroom for women."

    Both designs have an oval cupped area that fits over the pubic bone, collects urine, and directs it through a long plastic hose slightly bent or "J-ed" so that the liquid pours out from the body and onto the ground rather than down on the shoes and into the pants. In 1990 there was only the Lady-J design.

    In most situations-mild weather and private tent sites-a good low squat can satisfy you and your neighbors. But if you don't want to expose your butt to an entire base camp or male rope team or take the chance that wind or leg cramps might leave your innermost layer wet and frozen, then Lady-Js can be practical.

    Be realistic with your expectations, however. You cannot write your name in the snow. You cannot use it as a sex toy. You can experiment, but satisfaction cannot be guaranteed. It is also not advisable to use a feminine urinary director for the first time roped up on a glacier in the wind.

    Lauren Nelson Ward and I discovered a design flaw after extensive training in the privacy of our own bathrooms: the plastic hose or extension was not long enough. Many women have complained about the same design flaw in the more flexible human prototype. But here's the problem with the hard plastic kind. If you make it too long, it is not easily packed. If you make it too short, the liquid will spill onto clothes that you may be wearing for one week to two months. The angle was inadequate for proper clearance. We used duct tape to extend the plastic extension to a more desirable length. The additional four to six inches satisfied our needs.

    To prepare for the McKinley's West Buttressway up the Kahiltna Glacier, the Laurel Mountain Hiking Trail tested our stamina, the Cathedral steps increase our heart rate, and the home toilet challenged our accuracy. To feel comfortable about control, you may want to practice in a secluded outdoor area. Privacy is a concern because witnesses not familiar with the purpose of the device may call the police, ask for your phone number, or tell your mother.

    The day after we perfected our modifications and form, events occurred beyond the correctional powers of duct tape. Lauren's husband Blake was seriously injured at the Gunks where he was tuning up for the Cassin Ridge route. Lauren had to stay behind in Pittsburgh to help Blake recover from his fall. The device and I had to take Denali alone-in the company of three men.

    My first morning at the 14,300 camp was clearer and colder than when we went to bed. The storm that had punished us through Windy Corner had subsided. I would have liked to stay in bed until the sun creeping over the top of Denali cut the sub-zero temperature from the double to single digits, but the swollen bladder spoke louder than the freezing toes.

    I already had on everything I brought with me: two expedition weight longjohns under complete body pile layered under thick down that filled out a drab brown expedition packet that I had borrowed from Blake. With oversized wind parka and pants as the final wrap, I looked rather burly from the back and felt rather top-heavy from the inside. I would never have been able to pull on my boots so quickly if I didn't have to go to the bathroom so badly.

    Latrine areas are established at the large camps and even foreigners are expected to expel liquids only at that area; clean snow around tents is used to melt and drink. Solids can be dropped directly into two relatively comfortable wooden thrones, one at base camp and one at 14,300. At other altitudes you use plastic bags which can be slow-pitched into any deep crevasse. This latrine ditch at 14,300 was in full view of every tent site. I grabbed my device.

    As I huffed and puffed my way through thin air, I passed nine tents sheltered by snow walls, bunkered against the relentless wind. This camp was a well-populated area where climbers acclimatized. I followed a beaten path of bootprints toward the foot of the camp. I stopped and waited until someone in the distance finished. I have no idea what the proper etiquette is but when there's one woman to every twenty-five men on the mountain, it seemed like a good idea.

    Today was a day of rest when I would decide whether to attempt the steep headwall that led to the 16,000 ft. buttress crest. The icy crust looked down and taunted me and my too flexible, too flimsy footwear. That decision could wait but nature could not.

    I headed for the yellow tinted area to the right of the throne and below a shelf of boot marks. I unzipped my windpants, spread my feet apart, put the device in place and let her rip. The great view of Farraker rising from a sea of clouds like a revived Atlantis, the thin air and the surging relief created a euphoria that is a little embarrassing to describe. And then I head the slow crunch of boots move up behind and then beside me. I tried to concentrate on the angle of the flow and the effect of the wind. I was going to look up and wave a greeting or warning, but it was too late.

    By the time I looked up a large man in Gore-tex blue had stepped next to me before the watering hole. We were elbow to elbow. He said something in French as he unzipped. I tried to translate and look straight ahead at the same time. My own stream looked wimpish and noodlely next to his morning offering. He was going to take a long time, one or two water bottles' worth, and I was finished. I could see his head tilt to check out the sunlight reflecting off my duct tape.

    After the last drip there was nothing more I could do to delay blowing my cover. The Frenchman visibly jumped when he saw me detach the device from my body. His morning ritual became unruly and flustered. I had passed standing urination exam and could shed my disguise like a victorious Portia.

    I shook off the device with an unnecessary flourish as if it were commonplace on American peaks to share this event with all the boys. The Frenchman stared in awe. I smiled, winked, and said "Au revoir," waved the device and walked away, confident master of the Lady-J.


    WHY DO WE DO RESCUES?

    Quoted from article by Aaron Bird, Elkins WV, as part of his description of his involvement in the rescue at Barberry Cave, as printed in April 1995 West Virginia Caver.

    By now many of you may be sick of hearing about the Barberry incident. Personally I am too, but I need to let some of you in on the rescuer's point of view. It seems from reading letters on the Internet, that some people have a misguided opinion of those who do rescues here on the East Coast. There may be even some rescuer or overdue caver bashing going on, so I hope that I will be able to clarify what went on prior to the rescue, and what goes on prior to many rescues, so that anyone ignorant of the roles of a cave rescuer will be ignorant no longer. . . .

    I spent much of the time I was on site inside the management bus. I could see very plainly how decisions were made, and what rationale was used to make them. I know that had anyone else been in the position of making decisions for this particular incident, the same conclusions would have been reached, and therefore the same decisions would have been made. The rescue part of the incident was done superbly. I'm not saying this because I'm some ego-bloated rescue-head. I'm not. I'm saying it because it's true.

    My dedication to helping keep people alive is deep rooted in my soul. Personally, I hate rescues and even incidents. They're too scary, and it would suck if we cavers lost another of our brothers or sisters because we didn't do enough to help. That is why many of us go to help cavers who need it. Please don't bash NCRC, the rescuers, the local rescue squads, and especially don't bash the cavers who were trapped.

    We're all human, and we made decisions based on only a little bit of information. If you do bash rescuers or even some of the rescuees, then that means you're perfect and will never need assistance from your fellow cavers. I bet you'll feel guilty if you ever do. Please don't take our community of cavers, rescuers, scientists, conservationists, or speleo-politicians for granted. We need each other far more than we know and bashing one another only divides us.

    Most of us now know that the overdue cavers were very instrumental in removing themselves from the cave. In fact, the question has arisen, "Was the rescue necessary?" Perhaps not, but what we see in hindsight is not always what we see in foresight. And, because we can't see into the future, it is foresight that leads us through such things as cave rescues, and it's our brother and sisterhood that keeps us together as a community. Please open your hearts to each other and help make this community of cavers a better family.


    COOPERATION REPLACES COMPETITION IN KENTUCKY

    Plans are being made for another Global Positioning session on Fisher Ridge. This time, thanks to Steve Miller, much effort has gone into the proper planning of a differential positioning session. The GPS units will be downloading all data on a real time basis into laptop computers. Fairly sophisticated post processing software has been obtained. This session should result in very accurate locations for whatever points we decide to try to nail down, entrances, etc.

    . . . I received a copy of the latest CRF newsletter. After skimming through this, it became apparent that a lot of the mapping being done in the near park vicinity, stuff outside the park in caves like the Roppel section of Mammoth and in Hidden River Cave was being done by the CRF. It appears that the CKKC has by and large been absorbed by the CRF. Most of the active CKKC members participate on many of the CRF-sanctioned survey trips. I guess it is good that folks are cooperating and intermingling in the various caving endeavors in the region, even though I sort of miss the competitive urges that used to drive the Fisher Ridge Project so hard in the days of old.

    Source: Excerpted from Dug Scoops, March 1995 (newsletter of Detroit Urban Grotto, article by Peter Quick.


    A CAVE SOMEWHERE IN THE DALES: SECRECY SOMETIMES JUSTIFIED

    (From Caves & Caving, Spring 1995, publication of the British Cave Research Association.)

    From time to time we find some really important bits of cave; sometimes the clubs who make these finds for one reason or another keep their finds a secret. This is not usually because they do not want other cavers to know, especially, it's normally a thing alien to most cavers most of the time . . . diplomacy! In this case we have been given a brief description of the cave but have been asked to keep its location a secret for now. There are a number of people who will know about this system already. They have all been asked to stay away until we get the 'go ahead.

    The entrance shaft was excavated for 17m to 60m of downstream passage to a large abandoned passage which is choked at both ends. Below this there are 6m pitches to an active streamway. 120m downstream the passage sumps and due to adverse weather conditions and lack of time it has not been fully explored. Upstream of the pitches a 30m sump was passed to reveal 180m of passage followed by a 8m sump and another sump, yet to be fully explored. The total of surveyed passage is approximately 1000 meters and at its lowest point the system is 30m deep. The water feeder has been located 1000 meters away and over 180m higher.

    Unfortunately, exploration has had to stop pending rather delicate negotiations and the entrance has been totally back filled!

    We will report on any improvement in access as information becomes available. Please be patient.


    SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: THE NEW TREND IN CONSERVATION

    Excerpted from an article by John C. Sawhill, President & CEO of The Nature Conservancy.

    I view the Conservancy's work with what has been called "sustainable development" as an investment in the brightest hope we have for ensuring a healthy future for all of the Earth's living things. Because, unless we can discover ways of living that integrate the competing imperatives of economic opportunity and environmental protection, we will never be able to reverse the alarming decline of species and natural habitats.

    . . .

    Let me tell you why I'm so optimistic. Earlier this year I visited one of the Conservancy's most innovative "Last Great Places" projects, the Clinch River valley of southwest Virginia. Nestled deep in the rugged mountains of Appalachia, this valley is also home to people, the residents of small communities with names like Dante, Hamlin, and Castlewood.

    Many of these communities have fallen on hard times. The area's traditional economic base-coal and tobacco-has been declining steadily, leaving local residents with limited opportunities and little hope. This is an all-too-common pattern in rural communities across America: the difficult transition from old, resource-based economies to something new. And too often the environment pays a heavy price during that transition.

    This is where the Conservancy can play a critical role working in partnership with local communities to help build sustainable economies that protect both the rural way of life and our natural heritage.

    In the Clinch valley, for instance, we have joined in a partnership with a man named Dick Austin. Once a pastor to coal miners in West Virginia, Dick is now working with the Conservancy, community groups and his neighbors to find ways for the residents of the valley to prosper without harming local rivers and forests. Together with unemployed lumbermen, Dick is reviving the traditional Appalachian method of logging with draft horses. This technique offers multiple benefits-the loggers selectively cut timber to sell to furniture and craft makers, helping maintain the integrity of the forest, while using horses greatly reduces the soil erosion that poses such a threat to the health of creeks and river.

    Of course, Dick Austin and his draft horses won't solve the sustainability puzzle alone. We must also explore new technologies that may help us achieve leaner, more compatible growth. The forest products company Westvaco, for example, is developing new varieties of trees with higher yields, which will mean lower levels of harvesting and more land left as natural areas. At the Conservancy's Diamond Y Spring preserve in Texas, Exxon-which owns the mineral rights there-is using new technology that permits oil drilling at a minimum risk to the ecological integrity of the preserve.

    (Source: Nature Conservancy, January-February 1995.)

    [In case you wonder what all this has to do with caving, just remember that industrial and suburban home development and landfills to care for the trash the ever expanding population require are a direct threat to caves and groundwater resources. The kind of projects described can give us all hope for the future.]


    MAKE YOUR TRIP COUNT

    In a recent issue of the Cascade Caver, the editor discouraged "tourist caving." This may seem a difficult stance to take, especially with new members of the grotto. But for those who have never seen a particular cave, "touring" can still be accomplished while carrying on other worthwhile projects.

    Servicing cave registers, litter clean-up, surveying, etc. can be carried in conjunction with a tour of the cave. Not only will we be teaching proper caving etiquette, cave conservation, and getting the "tourists" involved in a work-related project but we will also be setting a good example by doing something we should have been doing all along ourselves. Hopefully this will become the norm rather than the exception.

    (From editorial comments by Larry McTigue, editor, Cascade Caver, March-April 1995. )


    I WAS A TEENAGE YAHOO CAVER

    By Diane H. Peapus, Cleve-o-Grotto News, January 1995)

    After spending all of my childhood years in New Jersey, I had become fairly familiar with all the wooded places that a kid could get to on her bike, so when my best friend, Christine, told me that she had heard that someone else had read an article in the newspaper about some Rutgers student who died in a cave in State-owned land, I was perplexed. I had spent many a truant afternoons roaming every square foot of that land and knew of no such cave. I knew where all the wild asparagus plants were on that land. I knew the berry patches. I knew the best coves for fishing in the reservoir. I even knew the trails to the back country campsites. How did I miss a cave? Moreover, the article indicated that the State was planning to explode the cave's entrance closed in order to prevent further incidents. Certainly, if there was a cave that I didn't know about which was to be exploded closed forever. I'd better find it fast before I lost the chance to go into it. There were only a few areas on that particular state land that I wasn't familiar with, and based on the account of the newspaper article, I had a good idea of where to look.

    A friend and I headed out in the late morning of one summer day, riding our bicycles about 45 minutes, and carrying absolutely nothing. When we arrived at the place which we had decided to look first, we found, not surprisingly, a small parking area and a trail leading into the woods. We headed up the trail just a short way and, almost as if we had been there before, we found the cave in the exact place we had anticipated. We ventured in a few feet before the small cleft in the rock curved downward and to the left. As I bent low and peeked down the passage, I came to the most incredible realization. I discovered that caves are dark. Hey, we were only young teens. What did we know? My friend kept saying something about having the creeps, and I kept wanting to go in further. But without a flashlight, we weren't going anywhere other than back to our bikes. We biked back to our homes, found some old flashlights which worked intermittently when banged on the kitchen table, and headed back to the cave. Our second time in, we went a little farther. I squeezed through the bend and discovered that the floor of the cave dropped out. I realized that we should have brought some old rope. I suggested going home and taking my mother's clothesline down, but my friend was getting a little anxious and we had already ridden our bikes for ages that day. She convinced me that we could come back another day, but we never did.

    It wasn't until years later that I discovered the NSS, joined and looked back at my first caving trip. I have since found out that the cave in question, Leigh Cave, has been gated ever since the event which had led me to it, and is now managed by New Jersey Cave Management. I'd like to go back now that I have a different perspective on caving. Leigh is apparently not a vertical cave, so the place where I thought the floor dropped out is either my teenager sensationalist memory or simply do-able without rope. I'm sure a trip to Leigh Cave now would result in a far different report. The account of my youth presents a mixed moral in the low/high profile debate.

    On one side of the fence may be those who would interpret the newspaper article as high profile publicity that led two unprepared teenagers into a place where someone with more experience and better equipped had already been hurt. The black and white of that camp may be that the article should have never been printed in a public forum, and cavers should never have talked to the reporters. Of course, no one can prevent newspapers from publishing news stories, and the reporter's information may have come from police or hospital reports or the family themselves, who may have felt they had something that needed saying when the "explode the cave shut" option was heard. The clear interpretation from the other camp may be that the reporter was ill informed and the article was ineffective if it didn't include a conservation and safety message and/or a reference to a local NSS grotto where interested but ignorant adventurous teenagers could have learned a healthy respect for caves and caving. After all, I eventually found the NSS some fifteen or so years later, and could now be sporting a much lower member number in my byline if an education-minded grotto member had cooperated with the reporter.

    Whatever your opinion of my first caving trip, the debate will continue. Different caves may require different management plans, and secrecy may be a part of some of those schemes. While publishers, producers, mass media marketers and even museums will continue to look for new products to present to the public, which may be arenas where the low profiler's attitude could backfire far enough to explode cave entrances closed forever.


    MEMBERSHIP FORM

    If you are not already a member of the Human Science Section of the National Speleological Society, you are invited to join. Dues are $5.00 a year, payable to the NSS Human Science Section. Members receive the newsletter periodically, and have the right to vote at the Annual Meeting, held at the NSS Convention each year.


    r      Yes, I would like to join the Human Sciences Section.  Here are my dues in      
           the amount of $________                                                         
           (dues of $5/year may be prepaid for up to three years).                         
    
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    Please send this form with check/money order made out to NSS Human Sciences Section    
    to the Treasurer:                                                                      
    Rob Stitt, 1417 9th Ave. West, Seattle, WA 98119                                       
    
    
    


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