Monday, August 07, 2006

[trip] GVKS Survey 2

Another survey trip for the GVKS again last week, this one 16 hours with zero feet surveyed!

Terry McClanathan and I ascended the Southwest Dome, currently the tallest known pit in WV, to get an accurate measurement of its height. There's a rebelay about 185' off the floor; it's at a small loft so you can get off rope onto your feet when you cross the rebelay. The loft is large enough for a couple people to stand and keep clear of rockfall from above. You pendulum about 10' to the left and continue upwards, the top of the dome slowly getting narrower and narrower to the point that there's a nice "helmet check" shelf to avoid near the top.

The very top of the dome is really just a mud-floored shelf; another pit is visible to the left, and there's no obvious passage from there, though I never unclipped from the safety line to check. There were several small solutional passages intersecting the pit on opposite wall on the way up, but no water was noted from below the rebelay to the top of the dome.

The rebelay pendulum was a bit tricky on the way down, but from there you've got a straight rappel down the rest of the pit - at least, you would if the rope weren't so muddy. I had to feed my microrack most of the way down because it was so gritty! The last 75' of rope seemed clean, presumably from the small amount of spray present (we did not get wet on rope). The pit measured 247' from bolt to floor, 240' from the upper ledge.

It was amazing to follow the bolt route up this huge dome, what an incredible effort it must have been!

Frogging up the tallest known dome in WV... 20' off the floor, only 220' left to go!

This cave is NOT open to the general caving public. It is only open for survey by the Germany Valley Karst Survey under contract to Greer Industries. OTHER CAVING IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN.

Photos by Brian Masney

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