Trip Report for 1/11/2003

By Ben Miller

Others on Trip:

Dan Austin

Roger Brown

Heather Levy

We entered the cave around 1:30 PM on Saturday and began our trip going upstream in Thunder River.  We passed Tom, Randy, and Bill who were working on the transit survey. Informing them of when to expect us out we continued on until reaching our side lead past the Round Room.  After putting on some additional layers and getting the survey gear out we headed towards our end.  Dan and Heather went to go check a pit off the side of the passage, which we had discovered on a previous trip.  Dan thought it might be able to be down climbed with a handline.  Unfortunately this was not the case as they found out but the handline did allow for a closer inspection of the passage below which is walking sized passage.  Vertical gear will be needed to access this portion.  We continued on to UL2-25 and picked up the survey.  The passage started out as a six to eight foot tall narrow canyon that was trending south-southeast. This went for a few hundred feet before entering a small room 15 feet tall and 30 feet long.  There were multiple small passages leading off from this room, a few making a loop, one dead-ending and the final passage was the one we continued the survey down.  We left one other “open” crawling lead as well.  We took off east from the room and the passage transitioned from walking to stooping to hands-knees crawling and eventually to bellycrawling before popping out once again in walking/stooping-sized passage.  This area had a couple of leads as well, one leading to the north that lead back to known survey and a high lead the was hands-knees crawling that no end was reached.  We surveyed again to the south and up into a sizable room 15-18 feet tall, 20 feet wide and 70 feet long.  Not big by Carroll standards but for the area we were in a noticeable change in the passage.  This room was filled with breakdown sloping up and away from where we had entered the room.  One interesting point in the room was the south/east wall was eight to ten feet tall and composed entirely of solid clay fill.  From this room we entered a small hole in the floor which lead down to a small pit.  The climb was short but the walls and lip of the pit were of somewhat questionable stability so we rigged a handline we had brought for checking a previous lead.  Roger down climbed the pit and confirmed that passage went on in some small stream passage.  We surveyed down into the pit and started upstream into the stream passage that Roger had found.  The passage was walking height with a clean gravel floor showing some sign that it must receive some occasional water. There was one small crawling loop that was found on the left side of the passage up on ledge beside the pit.  While completing the first few shots I noticed there seemed to be something underneath a ledge on the opposite side of the pit from where we were now surveying.  I crawled underneath the ledge and immediately popped back into walking stream passage.  I walked around the corner and the ceiling rose to 20 feet tall.  I told the others that they might want to come check this out.  To say the least the area exploded into a complexity of interconnecting stream trunk passages.  90% of the area was walking sized passage 15-18 feet tall on average, the floor was composed of clean gravel and cobbles with interspersed clay banks with cherty fill.  We quickly turned the main survey towards this new area.  Multiple leads were found and noted.  All leads continued strong and there is much potential in the area for big discoveries.  The area was near pristine with only one set of footprints seen coming and going.  One of the most exciting discoveries was a large overlook that Dan found.   The overlook was a high ledge about 30-40 feet off the ground looking into 50-foot tall passage with a stream.  After surveying over 600 feet and being in the cave for 11 hours we decided to turn around and head out.  Our end stations were well marked so as to be easily retrievable on returning trips.  We reached the entrance about 1:30am and everyone had exited by 2:30am.  We exited the cave to a horrifyingly cold night but still excited about the day.

Total hours in cave: 13 hours

Cave fish seen: 6-7