Sunday, September 24, 2006

[trip] Clover Hollow at Fall VAR

This past weekend was the 2006 Fall VAR, hosted by the VPI Cave Club in Glen Lyn VA. Judi led a trip into Pig Hole on Friday, but I didn't arrive until late Friday night. We didn't actually go to VAR itself until Saturday evening, and it rained the entire time we were there.

On Saturday morning, we took a trip into Clover Hollow, one of the classic Virginia caves. Ray Sira and Judi Wasilewski led the trip; also along were Alice and Brian from VPI, Rich and Eric from the Front Royal Grotto, Josh from BATS, and Terry from Raleigh NC.

The cave entrance is an oblong-shaped pit about 60' deep, and at the end of a small blind stream bed. Even though it rained intermittently, the main entrance didn't take any water while we were there. After rigging to a large tree at the lip of the pit, we rappelled into the entrance room, then headed down a hallway shaped drain corridor.

The Clover Hollow entrance pit as seen from below.

We did a short crawl and then came to a 3' wide straddle pit with about 15' exposure at the far end. It took a bit of people shuffling, but everyone made it across fine. There's a nuisance hand climb, then a short 20' nuisance rappel followed by another short rappel. We finally came to a big drop - around 90' - into some big passage with an audible waterflow below. Except for the drainage at the entrance of the cave and the bit of water falling near this big rappel, the cave was completely dry. We ditched our vertical gear and headed through some mazey anastomotic passages and a few climbdowns.

We eventually made it back to a dead-end room in some steeply-dipping passage called the library. This is where VPI stores all their top-secret training documents. I believe it also doubles in function as a time capsule for future civilizations to discover.

"I swear, I only go caving for the articles!"

After grabbing some lunch, we headed back out - taking a different route back. This way led us through the "mud river", a bone-dry crawl which is only about 12 inches tall and seems about 100' long while you're traveling it. We took a small detour to check out a passage loaded with formations and an amazingly-tall rimstone dam. Everyone ascended back up the big pit, up the nuisance climbs, and headed back out. We were in cave for about 5 hours.

Judi and I pose in the entrance room.

See my Clover Hollow photos.

No comments: