Attendees – John Plyler (Vice Chair), Kathy Thompson, Matthew van Fossen, Samantha Keating, Pete Hertl, Dave Duguid, Mike Broome (Editor), Howard Holgate (Chair), Hayden Holgate, Ken Walsh (Secretary), and Will Summer

John Plyler called the meeting to order and initiated introductions of those present. He announced that we’d be holding the meeting after the meeting at Armadillo Grill.

Mike Broome announced that Matt Jenkins’ great photo gallery site for the TriTrogs was not going to be available any longer because the server was gone. Mike had them all on CD and agreed to look into options for getting the photos on another site linked to the TriTrog web site.

Mike had also received an email from Duke’s TIP program looking for caves to lead teenagers to in the NC mountains; he pointed them to the Flittermice Grotto for more information about the appropriate cave to visit in that area.

We scheduled a vertical practice for 10/25/2007 at 7 PM at John’s house in Raleigh (Will and Ken joined John for the practice).

Pete Hertl shared his trip report about his VAR/MAR trip. After prerigging the day before, he ran a five-hour trip for seven people. They didn’t have to rush through the cave and went to the back where he saw more bats than he’s seen in the last few years combined. He also described large salamanders at the bottom of the drop and a climb on a static rope that almost imitated a dynamic’s spring.

Ken talked about his VAR/MAR trip that no one wanted to join him on (survey in Middle of Nowhere Cave), so he signed up instead for the through trip traveling to Alpena Cave. Barry Horner had surveyed, modified, and explored the new sections of the cave, so he led an excellent tour for six along and in the stream that is Alpena Cave. Ken mentioned that the delay in putting out signup sheets until 10 PM allowed people to arrange their own trips before the signups went out, but Pete thought that the mad rush at 10 PM was a bit extreme.

Mike and Pete also described their rappel at New River Gorge that went smoothly with no incidents.

The featured video was The History of Vertical Caving from the NSS Library.

Attendees – Mike Broome, Hayden Holgate, Howard Holgate, John Plyler, Ken Walsh, Matt Jenkins, Diana Gietl, Dave Duguid, Vincent Santagata, Patrick Kraft, Mark Little, Matt Meyer After introductions, Howard jumped right into the Trip Reports part of the meeting. John Plyler described the contests at Old Timers Reunion. John won or placed in four contests (cable ladder, obstacle course, and 2 vertical competitions). Pete Hertl came in second on the 30-m climb. Anne Kehs placed in two of the beer chugging contests. Hayden and Howard Holgate described their trip to Hancock Cave and told everyone how dry the cave was. The entrance slope was just sticky at the bottom with no pools. The new people (Heather and Scott) caved just fine. Patrick Kraft described his survey trip to Perkins Cave. Robbie, Jason, and Patrick went surveying, but by the time they reached the lead two miles back, Patrick needed a nap while they surveyed. Perkins is located above the North Fork of the Clinch River. Diana Gietl described Big Run Cave as a nice little cave for an OTR Friday survey trip. She shared accounts of lots of slave failure and mentioned that the batteries were all likely bad. Those flashes have been sent to California for further testing. On Saturday Diana and Ken Walsh went with Bill Storage and Doug Medville to the Elk River area. Fortune Radish Cave was once again blocked with sediment. We went to Falling Springs Cave. Bill described the ceilings as 20 feet high when they surveyed the cave, but we were crawling because logging followed by a flood filled the cave. Near the back Bill said “Picture this: You’re in this large room and then there’s a pit here.” Now we stood near the ceiling with not so much as a depression. Diana described a beautiful entrance sinkhole with a waterfall that looked as though it dropped over tufa. However, the back entrance required us to dig our way out. Although Bill and Diana could’ve escaped in minutes, my size would’ve required hours for an extrication. Diana also spoke about her trip to Nelson Cave on OTR Sunday. They photographed this fracture cave with great success that day. John Plyler also talked about the vertical practice at Whitesides with 30 other people. Five ropes were rigged and looked as though they were hooked to the sky. Thick clouds made it easy climbing for those with acrophobia. Mike Broome had trouble with his access line and started to invert but managed to forget about hanging 650 feet in the air. The second day afforded plenty of sun and spectacular views. Dave Duguid described his trip to Grand Caverns with his two older boys. He described the damage to the cave lighting systems by a recent lightning strike. It blew out most of the lights inside and melted the transformers. He arrived late Saturday while the others were ridgewalking so was unable to cave that day. Sunday Scott Davis took them into Fountain and Madison Caves. Heading back home, they stopped at Crozet’s Tunnel. In terms of business, Mark Little described the TriTrog donation of door prizes for the VAR/MAR (four $50 donations to a conservancy/cave foundation of the user’s choice). Mark suggested that we might be able to find four different prizes, but no one presented any suggestions that gained strong support.
Ken requested that TriTrogs sign up for volunteer activities at the VAR/MAR.
Dave Duguid is renovating his house and was looking for volunteers to take over housing the library. Mike Broome volunteered. In terms of Upcoming Trips, John Plyler posted announcements for TAG Fall Cave In, the VAR/MAR (Howard, Hayden, John, Mark, and Ken all indicated their plans to attend), Bridge Day, Hancock Cave survey this weekend, and Rowland Springs Cave with Dave Duguid on October 27. After a short break, Ken Walsh shared a short presentation and quiz about identifying Eastern Cave Bats. Vincent, Howard, Mike, Mark, Matt, Matt, and Diana were all rewarded with cookies and a bat-danna.

With Howard Holgate presiding, the meeting began with a listing of upcoming trips:

  1. Anyone interested might still be able to make the last three days of the NSS Convention in Indiana if they hurry.
  2. Ken is planning a novice trip to Buckeye Creek Cave July 28.
  3. Keith and Lea Turner have invited the TriTrogs to join them for Wormfest with the Kentucky cavers, staying at the WVACS field station near Renick. It will be held August 17-19.
  4. OTR is coming up Labor Day weekend (Aug 30-Sept 3). Details at www.otr.org.
  5. The Fall TAG Cave-In will be held Oct 4-7.
  6. October 12-14 marks the dates for the Fall Joint VAR/MAR cosponsored by the Philly Grotto and the Triangle Troglodytes. Several hundred cavers are expected to attend, and the TriTrogs are responsible for making sure that anyone wanting to cave Saturday can find a trip. Lisa Lorenzin is coordinating trip leaders and the caves, so contact her now to ensure you can be paired with the cave trip you want to lead.

New faces at the meeting included Lee Marchman whose last wild cave trip was about 25 years ago and Ray Solo, a cave diver from Durham. Old faces at the meeting included Howard Holgate, Dave Duguid, Vincent Santagata, Matt Jenkins, Hayden Holgate, Mike Broome, Hilarie Nickerson, Ken Walsh, John Plyler, Linda Waters-Lindquist, Diana Gietl, Mark Little, Melanie McCullough, and Brian Bolt. Trip Reports began with Ken’s description of caving with the girl scouts during their summer caving camp. He met them during their wild tour of Appalachian Caverns, taught them a little bit about sketching cave maps in Renfro Cave, and showed them how to clean graffiti in Worley’s Cave. Dave Duguid and Diana Gietl described their photography and exploration of Rowland Springs Cave. Diana shared her preliminary photographs and described that she’d like to take a fall trip there to capture the natural light from the entrance. Dave Duguid described the survey down a pit into a stream passage. When the stream ended, the team headed up a slope into a fair-sized trunk passage where they stopped the survey and exploration. Good thing we surveyed down the pit on the way in. Mike Broome discussed his non-caving trip to El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. He, Lisa Lorenzin, and Peter Hertl rappelled and climbed the half-mile cliff in June. Mike talked about standing on the edge and the speed bumps along the rope splices. Pete Hertl climbed the rope in 67 minutes 3 seconds. Mike offered these teasers and promised a presentation about the trip in September. Linda Waters-Lindquist offered to re-solder Ken’s carbide lamp. Ken added an upcoming trip before the break. On August 11, he’ll lead a survey trip to Hancock Cave. Dave Duguid will lead a survey trip to the nearby Rowland Springs Cave on August 12. After the break Dave Duguid described cave diving, the equipment involved, and the safety measures he takes. He presented the information in a way that made us actually believe that sane people may choose to cave dive.

Participants: Mike Broome, Lisa Lorenzin, Ken Walsh, Howard Holgate, and John Plyler

The agenda was set to discuss programs, VAR, and money allocated but not spent last year.

Regarding the May meeting, John discussed the plans for the vertical training at his house. He will send out an email the Friday before telling people when and where to come and what to bring. He will put a notice with directions to his place on the museum after 5 PM. He plans to include Knots stations (double figure 8, bowline, and prussiks), climbing along the rope on a pulley, switchovers to stationary rope with rappel, and call signals for belay. He plans to make it available from 5 PM until 12 midnight. People will be encouraged to bring what they want to cook, and the officers agreed that the grotto can fund the cookout.

Regarding the Fall VAR/MAR event, Lisa is on the mailing list and following the Port-a-Potty discussions. The responsibility of the TriTrogs is the guided trips. Lisa is forming a list of cave trips, but the grotto members didn’t volunteer to help out. Lisa will continue to ask people to volunteer. Howard and Hayden will lead a trip to Mystic Cave and get in touch with the landowner in advance. If Philly Grotto wants to make trip signups available to preregistrants, Lisa will provide the lists to them. Ken told Lisa to contact Jim McConkey or Carol Tiderman to get the list of contacts at the I/Os when she asked. John Plyler volunteered to lead a vertical trip to Cass Cave but only if he can find a 200-foot rope. Ken agreed to lead a short survey trip to Middle of Nowhere Cave. Lisa will make sure that the signup list will likely go up with the setup. Regarding the cave guidebook, Lisa is getting Philly Grotto the descriptions but not the directions to the caves.

Ken brought up the topic of the things that the TriTrogs allocated funds for last year but never spent. The officers unanimously agreed to spend the following after a brief discussion: $150 for the Eight Rivers Safe Development Inc. (www.8riverssafedevelopment.com/main/index.php), $100 for the Southeastern Cave Conservancy, $100 for the West Virginia Cave Conservancy, affiliate membership up to $50 for the NCSU Outing Club, two new Apex LED headlamps (4 AAs and not as water resistant as Duos) for up to $140, and around $70 for the Cave Minerals of the World book Dave Duguid requested for the library.

Mike was concerned that the library usage wasn’t substantial, and he agreed to get the library list up on the web site. Dave Duguid should get the book, Howard will handle the lamps, and Mark Little can handle the charities and NCSU (check with Matt Jenkins for the NCSU contact person). Mark may donate some headlamps, but we still could use at least one new bright light. Mike reported that the helmets are still serviceable.

We also discussed the program for the June meeting. We have the Grand Caverns video as a backup and discussed the possibilities that were discussed in last year’s officer meetings. Hopefully Howard can talk Dave Duguid into giving a cave diving presentation in June.

Introductions of the fifteen attendees went quickly and smoothly once we determined that Howard was unlikely to show up.

Regarding the old business of redefining the officer’s role, the officers reported that it was a work in progress begun on email thread with a knot tied in the end. Howard had proposed a conference call defining officer’s roles and conducting other business. He apparently skipped the meeting for a cold.

It was suggested that the annual TriTrog trip should be held in late July or early August.

Next month the meeting will be held at John Plyler’s house instead of at the museum. Folks will learn to tie some knots (including a double figure 8), climb rope, switch over, belay, and cook out on a grill. Look for an announcement from him with times and directions.

Diana Gietl and Dave Duguid went caving with Tanya McLaughlin to Rowland Springs Cave. Dave wanted to confirm the upper connection, and they found a big room in the cave. They surveyed a lot of side passages. After the mapping, Diana would like to go back for a photo trip in this dolomite cave. There was a 48’ drop, and the rope was just long enough. Tanya had no vertical gear with her, so Dave and Tanya left Diana at the bottom while they left the cave and went around the other way. They let Diana rig the cable ladder and drop it down to them from the middle level. Cave access is very convenient, and there are probably at least two more survey trips to go.

Upcoming Trips
Spring VAR (April 27-29)
Memorial Day trip likely organized by Ken
[SERA Summer Cave Carnival (May 31-June 3)]
[Weeklong NCRC training in Salem, VA (June 16-23)]
July 14-15-Girl Scout camp—Blountville, TN area. Saturday on a wild trip into Renfrew Cave. Graffiti cleanup. Slides of bats Saturday night. Spend the night in Lost Sea Cave. Ten girls signed up.
Indiana Convention—Diana described the convention experience in detail and how it’s about learning. John mentioned the vertical climbing contest.

As the program, John Plyler shared his slides from the high and low points in Mexico. He described the accommodations and costs in a handout and shared his driving routes. Between his three-LED light and the GPS, John found his way solo up to the glacier at 2 AM to get an early start before the faster hikers. Other groups said that it was too icy, too soft, or too cloudy as reasons why they skipped climbing to the peak. John found that the clouds on the glacier helped avoid sunburn. He also shared photos of the concrete gardens that were obviously built by someone on drugs, all the way down to the concrete bamboo. At Golondrinas Pit, the locals brought you morning coffee for a fee. It only cost five dollars to camp and drop Golondrinas. One of the amazing sights were the chimney swallows and parrots.

Howard Holgate presided over the meeting. Attendees included Mike Broome, Lisa Lorenzin, Matt Westlake, Matt Jenkins, Gordon Bolt, Melanie McCullough, Mark Little, Hillary Nickerson, Chris Richter, Dave Duguid, Dawson Duguid, Ken Walsh, John Plyler, and Hayden Holgate. To begin, Howard announced that tonight’s program would be Caves of the World from the Planet Earth series, to be aired in April in the USA. Mark passed around a contact information sheet so that people could update outdated information.

Matt Jenkins described the cave trip that didn’t go. First Douthat Campground was flooded, then the cabins weren’t available, then they found a campground buried in three inches of snow. Linda Waters has threatened to reschedule her trip with the NCSU Outing Club, so everyone should beware of that weekend.

Matt J. and Gordon then described their trip to Hancock Cave. The group entered the cave, headed to the Octopus Room, and turned left to head to the Funnel Tunnel. There was little to no air space in the Funnel Tunnel, and Bob Alderson began digging out the stream while the teams relaid their plans. Ken had left the survey notes for that side of the cave back at Tanya’s house, so the leads were less obvious.

Fortunately Matt, Gordon, and Bob found that ladder acrobatics weren’t necessary to cross Not-in-the-Face Pit. They covered just sixty feet of survey in seven hours of a passage that Gordon thought they were smart to mark as just a lead eight years ago. The drop was miserable and not quite vertical. It led to a very muddy passage with dripping water.

The topic then turned to crossing You-Don’t-Know-Jack Pit in Hancock Cave, and Matt and Gordon described the need to pound rebar stakes into the mud for the crossing. Matt and Mark reminisced about crossing the pit with an ice axe and a “for-comfort-only” belay.

Dave Duguid and Ken Walsh then described their descent down Hickory Dickory Pit in Hancock Cave as an annoying set of lips, and they descended about ten feet too far. Dave then stated that the Whine Cellar is an aptly named pit. He traveled up and down it until convinced himself that the crack at the bottom was the way to go. He slipped out of his vertical gear and descended the last ten feet in a ten-inch wide hole. He found that it connected to Linda Waters’ fist lead.

Dave Duguid also talked about the survey trip to Rowland’s Spring Cave. He, Tanya McLaughlin, and Ken Walsh surveyed the grand large entrance at the top of the cave. He mentioned that there were still a couple of leads left to survey, and it should take at least one or two more survey trips. When Lisa asked, he mentioned that the tight lead at the back is still there to be surveyed, but the low area at the top is surveyed.

Howard mentioned the article in Sunday’s News and Observer and the Science Night presentation at Wiley Elementary School.

We then moved to introductions. The new folks have caving experience, Chris Richter from his middle school days and Hillary Nickerson recently in a lava tube at Mount Lassen. Dawson Duguid described what he saw in the caves as well.

Next month John Plyler will present slides from Mexico. After the break, we watched a well done film that exposes us to many cave creatures around the world that most of us have never seen.

(minutes recorded by Mike Broome and transcribed by Ken Walsh)

Sixteen TriTrogs attended the February meeting, welcoming new member Erin Amadon from Hanging Rock. She joins us from NNJG.

Mike Broome mentioned the updated web site. Many are impressed, but others lamented losing the bouncing bats. Mike will look into the possibility of a cookie that will allow users to turn on/off the bats.

In her final act as Treasurer, Lisa Lorenzin shared the Annual Treasurers Report. It took almost four hours to compile, partially spent finding the bank statements. The TriTrogs Treasury holds a balance of $2169.97 currently.

Lisa also shared details about the Fall VAR/MAR that the TriTrogs are co-sponsoring with Philly Grotto. The celebration of Philly Grotto’s 60th anniversary will be held at the TRA site, and the TriTrogs are responsible for finding trip leaders. Philly Grotto requested that the TriTrogs man a security gate, but no one at the meeting felt that the TriTrogs could pull this off (and didn’t know if a security gate was necessary). Lisa still needs to discuss whether the TriTrogs might receive a cut of the proceeds, but we would likely just earmark it for a charity.

Howard discussed the Wiley Elementary School’s Science Night and the fact that he, Diana, and Ken will be manning a cave station there. He discussed the planned demonstration for March 15.

Some survey notes from Worley’s Cave in Rich Valley, Virginia were returned to Ken last month, and this should allow continued exploration and mapping of this cave. Anyone interested in leading the novice cartography effort should contact Ken.

There was a prolonged discussion about the traditional TriTrog format of meetings and the executive board’s role. We discussed the NSS requirements, low meeting turnout, the possibility of alternate social occasions, how to inform people about alternate meeting places, why it’s good to have officers handle business, and our relationship with the museum. The consensus of members present at the meeting was that monthly meetings should be continued with the existing format and officers should start to define the executive committee roles differently in the electronic age. This will be handled by an interested group at a future date.

After a short break to pay dues, we discussed upcoming trips:

  • Aqua Cave with Matt Jenkins on Mar. 17
  • Rowland Springs Cave and Hancock Cave on Mar. 10 with Dave Duguid
  • Spring VAR in Durbin, WV on April 27-29
  • Girl Scout trip on July 15
  • Fall VAR/MAR on Oct. 12-14
  • Grand Caverns survey on Mar. 3
  • Easter Restoration weekend at Grand Caverns April 7-8

Cave trip reports were then shared:

  • Howard Holgate described his trip to Mystic, New Trout and Hamilton Caves with Ken, Hayden, Rick, Ericka, and Steve.
  • Ken put off his discussion of Australian caves to the program.
  • Pete Hertl and Mike Broome discussed trips to Organ and Grapevine Caves with Bob Handley.

Officer elections were held with the following slate winning by acclamation: Mark Little (Treasurer), John Plyler, Mike Broome (Editor), Howard Holgate, and Ken Walsh (Secretary).

Ken shared a program called Summer Caving in January, with cave slides from his trip to southeastern Australia and Tasmania.