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Your Story.....(and suggestions)

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Joined: 07 Feb 2006
Posts: 60
Location: SLC, Utah

PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:07 pm    Post subject: Your Story.....(and suggestions) Reply with quote

This topic is an "Introduce yourself" list, ideally with a few extra pieces of information.

I am working on a couple of ideas for redesigning websites, helping new people find the grotto's, etc. In order to do this effectively, I decided it would be helpful to understand how people have historically found the Grotto's, what their initial experience was, and why they stayed(or left).

I will post my own information here shortly as an example.

Ideally it would be nice to have a record usable by all. If there is any reason you prefer to not have your name or story public to all, it can be sent to (Myusername), with "Caving Story" in the subject line. I'll make sure the info is considered and used to improve, but not publicly linked to any one person.


Jasonbx (Which is my username...)

Last edited by jasonbx on Wed Jan 27, 2010 10:28 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Joined: 07 Feb 2006
Posts: 60
Location: SLC, Utah

PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(This is probably on the longer end of what I'm really looking for, but had some time to simply write, and kept on going.)

I had some incidental caving opportunities prior to finding the Grottos in 2005. Nutty Putty with scouts, Logan Cave before permanently closed, Paris Ice Cave, some lava tubes. But only what I would randomly stumble across or friends would introduce me to.

In 2005 my sister visited a well known Nevada cave with some friends and later was so excited about it she took me out there. After I ended up going out to Goshute multiple times with different friends and family in a few short months, I decided there had to be a similarly interesting cave closer to SLC. About the same time my grandfather stumbled across a pit in the mountains above Cache Valley and was asking if I knew anything about it since I'd been visiting caves recently, and spent much time hiking up there. I started looking around online and found information about the NSS and Grotto's. I sent an email to the contact listed for Salt Lake Grotto, asking questions about every cave I knew about. It turns out that contact was Dale Green, and he provided me not only names of the caves I wasn't sure on, but a quick overview of their known history. I was impressed enough with that response that I decided to try going to some of the Grotto meetings.

I ended up going to a July Wasatch Grotto Meeting and in August made it to both Wasatch and SL Grotto.(Eventually adding Timp into the rotation as well.) Conveniently there were several planned trips going on, that folks were willing to have me tag along. My first day on a "Grotto" trip was actually spent helping carry rope and gear for Brandon Kowallis and another caver, and while they dropped a pit to finish a map I semi-randomly wandered the area looking for other pits. (I had no vertical caving experience at the time, and it is a vertical world up north.) The following day I was given a crash course in basic ascending using borrowed gear, and surveying basics. But I knew I was hooked after that.

Conveniently I was unemployed in late 2005, so I had nothing but time to go on every available trip that fall using beg-borrow-steal methods to get gear needed. I also took a couple of friends and family back to some of the easier and more accessible caves I was introduced to. It also helped that we had the 2005 regional that fall, so I quickly met many of the cavers statewide, and visited a cave a day during the regional. This helped me realize there were caves worth seeing that I needed to improve my vertical abilities to be able to visit.

I honestly don't remember if Wasatch or SL Grotto had websites at the time I found the Grotto's. I think I found the Timp website and got the contact info and meeting times for the other Grottos off of that. I also read everything I could find online the first few years, simply trying to catch up on all the information that was known and what was being done by different people. I also quickly learned how much trip planning and idea generating was done after the meetings, when everyone was hanging out and eating food at a local fast food place.

By about 1 year in, I had come close to logging more cave trips than the following 3-4 years combined. (Getting a new job helped my gear situation tremendously that first year, but cut back on free time also.) The biggest challenge I found early on was finding someone willing to lead trips, since I didn't yet have any idea where to go to see caves on my own. I also wasn't confident enough in my own vertical skills to be a trip leader responsible for signing paperwork for the gated caves that I did know about.(There is always room for improvement in vertical skills.) Somewhere during the first year or two of caving I started getting nominated for officer positions, which felt like a trail by fire since I didn't yet know how the Grotto's really operated or what people were looking for.

My biggest complaints early on were the limited number of previously planned trips, but I was able to overcome that somewhat with my higher than average schedule flexibility at the time. I have seen that situation ebb and flow a little over the years, and the grottos are looking at some ideas to improve the number of announced trips in the future. I also felt like I was training myself on vertical work, because without those skills under my belt already I had difficulty getting onto trips with people that were knowledgeable and able to teach me further. (My first few trips with people with a lot of vertical experience were immensely helpful.)

Now that I have been involved with the Grottos for about 5 years, I am starting to feel like I have more projects and things to follow up on than I will ever get back to. For every new project I am able to "finish", I am introduced to several new possibilities. (Cave digs, high leads, ridgewalking, and simply known caves I have never before seen.)

Thanks for all the fun folks, and I'll try and keep bringing new places to see and projects to do for others... Very Happy
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