How to Build a Stalactijack

On Wednesday at the NSS Convention, I took a morning class in speleothem repair practices. It followed all the steps from inventorying, matching puzzle pieces, drilling holes for support pins, building supports and splints from PVC pipes, and then mixing and applying epoxy. The class was led by Mike Mansur and Kirsten Bahr, and he brought along a full set of wooden blocks and cement pieces that we had to repair to create speleothems in a vertical box. Emily thinks that the instruction manual is well produced and certainly inspiring.

In the afternoon we took off for the entrance area inside Hamilton Cave on the NSS John Guilday Cave Preserve to try our hands at our recently learned skills. Although my big role was discovering stalactite pieces that had no matching pieces on the ceiling, the group did manage to repair four formations that afternoon. It was definitely a class that I learned a lot in and was excited by the prospect that other people might repair broken speleothems. It is exacting, patient work, and I hope to be able to support such repairs in the future.