General Meeting Minutes 3/25/2008

Dave Duguid passed out the agendas and skipped the introductions (we went back to these later when all had arrived). Dave went straight into Business.

Dave shared that the Family Science Night at Wiley Elementary School was a success. The Veeliminator is a force to be reckoned with and attracted so many kids that we ran out of Pop Rocks in five minutes. Steve Simmons made the squeezes easier for some kids and nearly impossible for others. Hopefully the kids had a good time.

As a birthday treat, contributions to Susanna Clark’s annual dues were received by Mark Little.

Mike Broome had no statement to make about the web hosting transition but indicated that it should be pretty easy. Mark agreed to invite Mike to GoDaddy again. Mike will also look into the possibility of integrating the TrogBlog with the mailing lists so that a script will be sent out when an update is made. With the new web host, Mike may start to use alias email addresses for officers.

Dave will be working on a letter to be sent to lapsed members still living in the Triangle area, listing dates for big upcoming trips (Annual trip, conservation weekend, SERA/VAR, etc.).

Mike has made significant updates to the TriTrog web site, most of which are made on the Members Only page. That page now includes access to the membership list, library list, cave maps, and the available grotto gear (will be updated soon). Some of these may be moved out of the Members Only section, and Mark will update the membership list. Regarding the photo gallery, Mike fixed the dead link and is exploring ways to get the photo gallery back online.

Dave mentioned that he’d like to get more members involved with activities like the Annual Trip and caving. Ken Walsh offered a talk to a Raleigh Boy Scout troop to anyone interested. If not, he’ll plan his standard slides for April 21. If anyone has issues that they’d like brought up at the NSS Congress of Grottoes meeting this summer, bring them up with Dave.

Unlike the TrogBlog, Ken described the Shakespeare Caving weekend without subjecting the attendees to rhyming couplets. He talked about his cave restoration efforts at Grand Caverns Park, as well as the trips to see productions of Volpone and Macbeth at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton.

In terms of Upcoming Trips, the March 28 sport trip was cancelled because only three who prefer surveying had signed up. Dave will lead the April 5 survey trip to Rowlands Creek Cave (vertical experience required). For the April 19 weekend, Ken, Mike Davidson, his friend, and some Duke students are planning a novice trip (likely to Breathing Cave).

TriTrogs are planning to descend on the VAR/SERA event (June 3-5 in Bristol, TN-VA). The best parts are the caving equipment vendors, and Dave may tow the Veeliminator up for the event where up to 800 cavers are expected. Ken may head off July 4 week to join the Mammoth Cave CRF expedition surveying the park caves. Susanna agreed to put together a cave conservation effort this year, likely to Hancock Cave. Dave is still working to pick dates for the grotto trip, and the NSS Convention will be held in Florida in August. There will also be an NCRC weeklong training class from May 3-10 in Alabama.

After a short break Matt Westlake presented the group with 11-12 questions about caving safely. He drew some of the questions from the 2006 American Caving Accidents report just published by the NSS. A lot of discussion was going randomly around the table, so I’ll just give you some bulleted highlights (and preserve the anonymity of the commenters):
· Accidents in cases of insufficient light were common
· One “experienced” group carried just two flashlights for a group of five
· To find your way back out of a cave, feed your puppy cyalume sticks
· “Extra batteries aren’t necessary for trips under 100 hours if you use Petzl Myo LED lights” (pretty sure this didn’t come out the way it was intended as a discussion of emergency lamp settings)
· Strobe effects from weak batteries can create dangerous conditions
· No one presented an answer to the question about when to stop when you’re pretty lost but not completely lost in a cave. There was consensus that everything starts to look very familiar the fourth time you’ve passed it.
· An extended discussion found most in agreement that someone should always know when to expect you back from the cave and which cave you’ve gone to
· Matt suggested that a logbook outside the cave would be useful, and Ken thought a car served the same purpose. Others disagreed.
· One officer sometimes asks people about their medical history and first aid skills before trips because it’s worth knowing who can help him.
· Don’t drink cave water. Not as silly a statement as it sounds.
· Carry enough water with you. One current grotto chair recalled running out of water during a survey trip; fortunately Will Summers had ten gallons to loan him some.
· Kneepads are crucial.
· It’s wise to contact people before you leave for the cave area. Cell phones don’t always work near cave entrances.
· Where are the car keys? Everyone should know.
· Most caves were formed by water. Passages do flood. Cold water causes hypothermia. From the ACA reports, a pull-down vertical cave trip in a wet cave led to an accident.
· Army surplus wool pants are better than jeans. Long-sleeve shirts and layers—synthetic instead of cotton. Nylon works okay and helps one officer slide through passages. No clothes will be good enough to wear outside again.
· No Tevas.
· What goes into your first aid kit? Sterile gauze and bandages, tape–medical tape, CPR mask, gloves, handwarmers, old tube of triple antibiotic, ibuprofen, allergy medication, pencil and paper, shears, and alcohol wipes.
· Communication equipment discussion: at pit drops, you may need whistle systems and walkie-talkies.
· Leave a cell phone outside the cave for rescuers. They can determine how long you’ve been missing from the last made call.
· Backup equipment that is carried: extra polypro shirt, 2 extra light sources, piece of webbing (at a minimum 30’), carabiner, emergency harness, waterproof lights in wet caves, heat source such as a candle or carbide, handwarmers, extra gloves, 1-3 garbage bags as wind and mud barriers, space blanket, knife, leatherman mini, and spare glasses
· Duct tape is stylish
· A compass isn’t useful without a map. Flagging tape can help you recognize places after you’ve gotten lost, but wooden dowels are not recommended.
· When you enter a room, turn around and look.where you just came in.
· Carry a pack that doesn’t rely on zippers.

After-the-meeting meeting held at Armadillo Grill