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Main Drain being visited by out-of-staters...

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Joined: 13 Dec 2005
Posts: 61
Location: Provo/Orem Utah

PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2006 12:20 am    Post subject: Main Drain being visited by out-of-staters... Reply with quote

Some other folks are exploring Main-Drain as this trip-report from the USCavers Forum are writing about. A couple of lines seem to state they didn't want anyone else to know they were exploring the cave... or did I read it wrong? The report is written by forum member mikegreen.
While no, the cave isn't exclusive to us (Utah) cavers but somehow the mention of waiting til the group that was in the cave was out before they can "leave their mark" made me pause and have a bit of concern as to what exactly that line meant.
From their description they were able to do the cave okay. And why not? They did Nielsens, Poligamy & Poligamy's End a few days before that (Tony Grove Trip #1) .
Day three of the ACES Tony Grove Project, Brian and I woke up early to the sound of Ranger Rick’s vexing words as he hassled us for three days worth of camping fees. After giving him some gruff, an empty promise, and a couple of bucks, we routed to the limestone hillsides of Tony Grove. It was nice to see that the sun was shining and the sky was cloudless. A pleasant change from the overcast and rainy weather we had experienced the previous two days. We decided to take full advantage of the good weather, and look for Main Drain (1200’+ cave). Neither Brian nor I had very much information on the newly discovered and not fully explored cave, but we had some clues to follow. We spent most of our day exploring the area in addition to humping gear further and further away from base camp. In the process, we managed to categorize, map, and organize every karst feature and cave that we came in contact with. After approximately fifteen miles of ridgewalking, Brian froze as he caught a glimpse of something in the distance. I then realized that Brian had caught sight of color on the grey hillside. At that moment, we knew that we had stumbled upon another caving group in Tony Grove. Before the trip began we had caught wind that Main Drain’s chief survey and push team were going to be in the area on that particular day, and with the dimensions of the cave entrance, we concluded that this must be Main Drain.
We left the gear and surrounding area untouched, as to not reveal the existence of two Tennesseans on the mountain. We would later return the next day to leave our mark in Main Drain.
The following day, we returned with vertical equipment and adequate cold-weather gear for the harsh conditions of alpine caving. After locating the stashed entrance rope, we proceeded to descend the broken, 230’ pit. On repeal, we passed over two gigantic snow cones that, at one point, had completely covered the entrance of the cave. The icy tops of the cones are most interesting due to the twisted and radical shape formed by the heavy airflow that permeates the bottom of the drop. With Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir blazing on the iPod, we proceeded to the lowest part of the pit where we found the Ice Passage which consist of 10’ tall gates of ice that must be traversed in order to get to the rest of the cave. After a short, rigged climb-up, we reached the Leaky Faucet Pit. This pit is intriguing because it is a fissure with constrictive yet consistent dimension as it drops well over 250’. The bottom of this pit is named the Black Rain Canyon due to the dark, jagged walls and the appearance of “rain” from the Leaky Faucet. After some horizontal traversing, we encountered the most decorated portion of the cave. The rightfully named, Caviar Canyon is littered with giant, white flowstone drapes and most impressively, cave pearls. These pearls were unlike any I had witnessed before them. Hundreds of pearls of pinhead-proportions hold up much larger pearls all of which are glistening white. Moving forward, we continued down the stream passage with climbs, stooping, and walking passage until reaching the third drop, Frayed Knot Falls. This pit is massive in all dimensions: 222’ deep with a base that is hundreds of feet across. At the bottom, there is a rock dubbed the Mega Boulder which is the size of a three story house! Anyone wishing to go beyond this point must climb a 30’ rope to get around the side of this monstrosity. After a little bit of route-finding, we located a small hole on the far side of the boulder that leads to the rest of the cave. This is approximately 750’ below the surface. After a few tricky down climbs, the next series of pits was reached with the deepest just slightly over 50’ deep. By this point, Brian and I theorized that there could not be too much more cave to traverse, but that assumption would prove to be completely wrong! Just beyond the bottom of the 50’ pit and at a depth breaking 1000’ below the surface, lays the final drop, Kilo Pit. 30’ down from the lip is a rebelay that puts you in the center of a very large breakdown room with a drop of 150’. The cave continues on from this point as a sinuous, canyon passage until “There Just Had to Be a Low Spot Crevice.” The name speaks for itself, but I’ll explain. The water follows into a conduit that is little over a foot in diameter, and continues with this dimension for over 50’. In addition in the near-freezing, cold water (~35 degrees), the depth of the cave forces a large amount of alpine air (low 40’s) through a very small hole, and therefore, super-cools the water so that it is ready for a couple of dumb cavers to wade through. After completely soaking ourselves in the low, stream crawl, we continued through breakdown to the Overflow Hall. This hallway is extremely interesting and I regret not having a camera. With a ceiling of approximately 20’, the passage is perfectly cut through layers of rock that I could not hope to identify. Segmented layers of purple, orange, red, and other earth tone colors made this even more appealing than pearls we encountered earlier. From this point, we continued downstream toward the lowest recorded point of the cave which is called Deeper Than Neff’s Pool (Neff’s Canyon was the deepest cave in Utah until the discovery of Main Drain). At well over 1100’ deep, this sump is of massive proportions. A waterfall comes in from the left wall and falls 50’ into an area bigger than an Olympic-sized swimming pool. This dropped was rigged with only a traverse line. It is with this traverse that the Main Drain team is attempting to continue pushing the cave’s already renowned depth. It was here, at the bottom of the ninth deepest cave in the United States, that our adventure both ended and begun. We now had to climb back up the pits that we had so blissfully repelled (187’, 50’, 40’, 222’, 250’, 230’; however, the total trip time was only 9 hours! This has to be a record or something…
With leads unchecked and domes unclimbed, Main Drain has much more to offer than has been pushed by the crazy Mormons explorers who became to be known as "Utaharded" due to the abnormal rigging styles exhibited throughout the cave. Two young Tennesseans went to the ninth deepest cave in the United States, and prevailed where few others had been given the opportunity to fail or succeed. I hope that this report has stirred up interest in this cave because it is possible that all further exploration will be halted due to friction in the Mormon caving group. This is a project that all who read this post should consider “next on the list”.

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. ~ Mahatma Ghandi
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Joined: 09 Dec 2005
Posts: 54
Location: St. George, UT

PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2006 12:49 am    Post subject: The response Reply with quote

Peter has handled the situation extremely well by inviting some other out- of-staters to see the realities of Main Drain.

I have also contacted the fellow's friend and Andy Howe, who gave them the some beta. They were both a bit embarrassed by his TAGnet post.

His friend is impressed and seems eager to move to Logan next summer to help with the project. And in all the post was very weird and surprising. I believe he did more harm to his reputation than the project's.
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