Trip Leader name: Bill Gee
Trip date: 4/4/09
Project manager: Bill Gee
Trip purpose: Student biology
Areas of Cave visited: CarrollPassage
Trip participants: Suzanna Langowski, Pam Rader, David Ashley, Students
Entry Time: 10:30am
Exit Time: 5:30pm
The trip report: Whenever he gets enough students to sign up, David Ashley at Missouri Western State University teaches a course called “Intermediate Cave Exploration”. This year we arranged to take his students on a short trip in Carroll Cave to practice some biology work and learn about other projects in the cave.
Pam Rader participated as the second trip leader, and Suzanna Langowski helped with cave experience. The ten students were:
Gemmell, Summer (2)
Kukuc, Laura (1)
Levy, Sandra (2)
Robison, Scott (1)
Stehly, Matthew (1)
Unzicker, Chelsea (1)
Voltz, Michael (2)
I arrived at the schoolhouse Friday night about 6:00pm. Just before sunset Summer, Sandra and Fred (a non-caver) arrived. They had bad directions and had been driving around for over an hour trying to find the schoolhouse. The four of us talked while they pitched tents in the schoolhouse and grilled some steaks. After I went to bed Dr. Ashley and several more students arrived. Suzanna and Pam got there about 11:00pm with Suzanna’s camper.
In the morning most of us went to Richland for breakfast. We got back to the schoolhouse shortly after 9:00am. The remaining students had all arrived, so we had a full crew. We packed trucks and drove up the hill.
It took most of an hour for everyone to gear up. David, Pam and Suzanna checked out all the students for proper harnesses and other vertical gear. Mike Voltz, who has been in Carroll Cave before, went down the rope first at about 10:30. I stayed in the tank to help everyone get on rope safely. Mike assisted at the bottom, and Pam and Suzanna checked everyone out before they got into the tank. There were no incidents with the rappel. I was the last one down at about 11:30.
After some introductory remarks and group photos, we split the students into two teams. The list of students is labeled with the team numbers, as best I can remember. I demonstrated how the data loggers are downloaded using the barometric pressure logger at the ladder.
We took everyone over to Thunder Falls for the usual tourist stuff. After a few minutes and many photos, Suzanna and I left with Team 1 to go to the Rimstone Room. Pam, David and Team 2 started an isopod survey going upstream from Thunder Falls.
It took us about 45 minutes to get to the Rimstone Room. This is the last big room before the crawlway and the Water Barrier. I downloaded the data logger, then we had a sandwich lunch. After that we examined the bait sticks. They are well populated with mites and several kinds of springtails. Everyone took a look at the dry rimstones, then we headed back.
We arrived back at the ladder about 2:30 to find Team 2 having their lunch. They had counted and measured isopods in three riffles, and they had examined bait sticks near the ladder. Pam and I swapped student teams, then we each repeated what we had just done. Suzanna and I took Team 2 to the Rimstone Room while Pam and David did more isopod counting in Thunder River.
Team 2 moved faster than Team 1, with the result that we were back at the ladder shortly after 4:00pm. Team 1 was not around. About 10 minutes later they arrived, having been upstream in Thunder River to the first shower head.
We all geared up for the climb out. I went first so I could help everyone get off the rope and out of the shaft safely. The students climbed in groups of three.
There were two minor incidents during the climb out. One student started suffering an asthma attack from the exertion of the climb. She had an inhaler with her, and another was with her friend who was in the same climbing group. I could hear her whistling for the last 40 feet or so of the climb. As soon as she got out of the shaft she dug out her inhaler and got a nice big breath. Within 5 minutes she was breathing more or less normally, and had no problem getting out of the tank.
The other incident involved the safety attachment to the rope. About half of the students used a handled ascender rigged as if it were a chest croll. It was fastened to the seat harness with a carabiner, and a light line around the back of the neck held it up so it would go up the rope easily. This worked well, except for one student who was wearing a light rain jacket. A fold of the jacket material got sucked into the ascender. She finished the climb but was in semi-panic mode when she got to the top. Once we got a tether on her, she calmed down and there was no problem getting out of the shaft.
On closer examination I saw that the material was wedged in the shell side of the ascenter, not in the teeth. Had the ascender been called on it would have functioned. Also, she was the top climber in a group of three. Had she slipped, the other two would have blocked her from a major fall.
Everyone was out of the cave by 5:30. We were changed, packed up and the cave locked by 6:00pm. Back at the schoolhouse I downloaded cameras to my laptop, then made some CDs for several people. All the students and David left to drive home. Suzanna, Pam and I went into town for dinner at Senor Pepper’s where we found many of the others!
Suzanna, Pam and I camped Saturday night. I was packed and on the road shortly after 8:00am Sunday.