The passage I would never send my friends to.

Last Sunday Dave Duguid and I headed out to Horseshoe pit. We were there to finish the last good lead in that cave. It was exactly one year from the last time we visited this cave. Part of the reason it took so long to get back inside was due to all the other good caves we started surveying last summer. The other major reason was a lack of gear. Bolting gear to be more specific.

On our first trip there Brian Williams set a bolt by hand to get things started up to a nice looking high walking passage, but bolting this whole traverse by hand drill would have taken forever. One year later, having acquired all the hardware and electrons necessary to get this traverse done right we headed in just the two of us. We’d had a much larger group for the survey the day before, but most were not vertical and those who were left early to get back to NC. This left just two of us hauling in 300′ of rope along with everything else needed to make a bolting+survey trip happen. 100′ static for the traverse, 100′ dynamic for the belay, and 150 (way to much) for the Heinous Complainus Pit. This isn’t counting the rope needed for the 50′ entrance drop. In summary, a lot of heavy stuff.

Working the traverse was a challenge. It was my first time bolting a traverse and it was exciting. I set 5 bolts to get safely to the other side and another two at the end for a final solid anchor. Not a ton of bolts, but I was fighting mud much of the time. Once across, I got off belay and checked to see if we would have the great going lead we hoped for. Alas, as expected, shortly around a bend the passage abruptly ended. although it was open walking passage the floor was ankle deep wet mud and the passage only went for ~70′. We surveyed three shots for a grand total of 886′ in the included survey length. Derigging the dynamic line and retrieving all he quickdraws also required a fair amount of ingenuity and speleoacrobatics.

So why would I never send my friends to this passage? Well it’s not just because it went no where. Everything starting at the Heinous Complainus pit is not much fun. Lot’s of loose falling rock at the Complainus pit, gross nasty mud everywhere in that passage. On the traverse much of the material that looks like rock is just mud in disguise. Coming out we were exhausted.

This exhaustion was probably due to a multitude of factors including the fact that we’d had a full day of non-trivial survey the day before. Both Dave and I could have eaten and drunk more that day as well. I guess we were both trying to conserve a little weight. I wasn’t hungry at all, but when we stopped at subway afterward I devoured a footlong sub even though I’d intended to save half when I ordered it. I’ve decided my body was probably sending mixed signals due to the “fun” I’d just had. Still want to see the new passage I bolted into? We left a static line for the traverse, but if you ask me, don’t bother.

(Sorry for no pics this time. It was a beautiful day on the surface, but I didn’t want to haul any extra photo gear for this one. Matthew may have a good story about photo gear to share on this blog soon though.)