CCC Annual Landowner’s trips into Carroll Cave

Observations and Lessons Learned

Four Fredericks, a local family that built our new road, and Danny Schupbach, a gentleman who provided great assistant during the construction of the shaft, and two of his friends saw Carroll for the first time. They made their trip to Thunder Falls, the Carroll Passage and Angel Pool Passage without a problem. They enjoyed their trip and were very complementary of our effort. Three other locals that had planned to participate were not able to make it this year.

Most of the 23 other participants were CCC members with about 10 new members making their first trip.

Four trips were conducted.

Trip #1

Entry Time: 9:45am, Exit: 2pm

Trip Leader: Richard Cindric (see Richards trip report in a separate post)

Participants: Jackson Bush, Mackenzie Desautel, Kyle Weber, Alyssa Weber, Mike Boyd, Dallin Miller, Emily Miller

Trip #2

Entry Time: 10:15am, Exit: 12:30pm

Trip Leader: Rita Worden

Participants: Martin Carmichael, Nick Kennedy, Tyler Skaggs, Edie Jackson, Abby Fletcher

Trip #3

Entry Time: 11:15am Exit: 2:30pm

Trip Leader: Rick Hines

Participants: Lisa Behymer, Trenton Behymer, Daniel Schupbach, Kristen Godfrey, Rick Godfrey, Jeff Shouse

Trip #4

Entry Time: 2:15pm Exit: 4:30pm

Trip Leader: Bill Gee

Participants: Troy Frederick, Lynn Frederick, Lane Frederick, Randall Frederick, Terri Wynne, Joe Wynne

On the four trips we had a total of 29 participants in cave and Dr Jay Kennedy helped on the surface, primarily getting people safely on and off the ladder, bringing the total to 30. Additionally, Jim Stamper, the well driller that drilled the 9” pilot hole for our shaft, stopped by in the morning to say hello.

Daniel Schupbach was one of our greatest supporters during the shaft construction providing a large compressor, pneumatic drills, construction materials and even a crane to construct the silo. Troy, Lane and Randal Frederick built our new road and got it finished before the 28th as promised.

Richard Cindric and his crew were the first to arrive Friday night and soon thereafter Kristen Godfrey, Rick Godfrey, and Jeff Shouse joined the campers.

The Kennedys battled rain and hail as they traveled from Lawrence to my home, just south of Kansas City, to spend the night. Bill Gee, Edie Jackson and Abby Fletcher met us at my place for a 5:00am departure. Since my truck was loaded with steps and lumber for the sky crapper, and because of the potential of additional rain, Bill offered to drive his truck with a covered bed to keep critical gear dry. We made good time to the silo arriving a little before 8:30am.

I assumed we would have time between trips to work on the sky crapper and other projects but I never had a spare minute all day. So, the sky crapper completion will have to wait for the next work day. Anyone want to lead that project?

New Rope Lights: Nick Kennedy taped the rope lights to a nylon rope so they could be lowered down the shaft without damaging the internal LED connections. Martin was the first down the shaft to help string the new modified 150-foot LED rope light. The lights worked! I had modified the rope light by cutting 9-feet from the end and splicing in about 30-feet of wire between the two sections. When we get our new plaque honoring Danuser, Fry, and Jaeger mounted near the base of the ladder it will be backlit by the 9-foot string of lights. Just before lunch Bill Gee repaired a few of the wall anchors and zip tied the LEDs in place in the shaft. Mounting the plaque and stringing the extension wire and the 9-foot section will wait for another work day.

Body Harnesses: I purchased, and donated to the CCC, three new body harnesses. Our new safety sleeves are intended to be used with a chest connection to a body harness. I wanted to see how the sleeves worked with the chest connection and I thought the body harness would be more foolproof for our novice visitors. Danny Schupbach and his two friends used the body harness on their trip and reported that they worked great. Also, I thought they would be good to have on hand if needed for a rescue. (Little did I know that one would get used Saturday for rescue.)

We used the safety cable and our new cable sleeves exclusively for the four trips. Several things about the use of the sleeves became apparent.

  1. They do not work well when packed with mud. We own 12 sleeves and I thought I had left them all in the silo but only eight were there. I had the other four at home. Most of the sleeves in the silo had been used on prior trips without being cleaned. They still worked fine on the first trip. On the second trip one was drop in the mud and was no longer usable. As the remaining seven were recycled they picked up more mud. If we would have had all 12 this would have been less of a problem. By the end of the day some were getting difficult to remove from the cable. After each trip the sleeves should be cleaned and oiled. I have a hand pumped pressure washer that I will take down and leave at the silo for cleaning sleeves. It may also be used for restoration. Trip leaders wishing to use the sleeves will need to bring water from home for the sprayer. Also, a 5-gallon bucket below the bottom edge of the shaft will be a good place to clean dirty sleeves before climbing out. The bucket would also be a good place to clean gloves to keep the ladder cleaner.
  2. As Richard Cindric reported, Bill Gee dropped one of the sleeves down the shaft as he was removing it from the cable. Fortunately, no one was hurt but a two-pound hunk of steel falling 120’ could be a serious problem that must be minimized in the future. Here’s the procedure we will evaluate next to see if its workable and fool-proof.
    1. As a climber, in the basement, approaches the shaft they would be tethered to the basement wall by the safety assistant.
    2. A safety sleeve would then be connected with its attached carabiner to a second carabiner on the climber’s seat harness before the climber gets over the shaft.
    3. The climber could then open the gate on the sleeve and while holding it open with one hand step to the ladder and attach the sleeve to the cable. If the climber is not comfortable getting to the ladder with one free hand, he/she could step to the ladder and then the safety assistant could connect the sleeve to the cable.
    4. With the climber attached to the safety cable the assistant would disconnect the wall tether from the climber. The process would be reversed to get the climber off the ladder at the end of the trip. With this procedure the safety sleeves would be attached to the climber whenever over the shaft.
  3. Some climbers had problems down climbing because the sleeve hit a rung of the ladder and locked up. I did not understand how this could be because we previously blocked the cable out so that the sleeves could fall freely. Then I watched Jay attempt to down climb the ladder with multiple hang ups in a short distance. I then tried the same sleeve and climbed down to the cave without a single hang-up. I believe the problem is having one’s chest close enough to the ladder to push the cable toward the ladder resulting in the hang ups. We’ll test this theory on future trips.

Rescue Safety Winch: We got to test our safety winch, twice! One KCAG member, Edie Jackson, got exhausted during the cave trip and needed an assist up the ladder. Terri Wynne, another KCAG member had suffered a spider bite on her leg earlier in the day and it shortened her trip and kept her from climbing the 120’ ladder.

Trip leader Training: Since we had given everyone a demo on the safety sleeves using our new demo cable in the silo and most got to see the safety winch in action I asked Dr Jay if he would go over the safety cache in the silo and other items normally covered in our trip leader training. Kristen Godfrey, Tyler Skaggs, Rita Worden and Martin Carmichael have now completed or updated their Trip Leader Training.

New Culvert, Gate and Road: Troy and Randall Frederick completed our new road as promised before the September 28th event. I was very pleased with the road. We have a nice wide level entrance off Mill Creek Road. The gate does not swing away from the road without dragging due to the hill. Open it toward the road. Frederick provided a post to attach it to so it will stay open. With time we may need a little more gravel but it looks fine for now and is a great improvement over what we had. I have talked with Rusty Clark and he would like for us to add a combination lock and keep the gate locked since it is not visible from his house.

Overall it was a great day and we got to introduce a lot of new people to Carroll Cave and the Carroll Cave Conservancy. Hopefully some of our new members will stay active in the Conservancy. Thanks to all who helped, including trip leaders, Richard Cindric, Bill Gee, Rita Worden and Martin Carmichael. Thanks to Jay Kennedy and Kristen Godfrey for getting people safely on and off the ladder. Thanks to KCAG, Jack Peters and Heidi Fletcher for loaning us helmets, lights and harnesses. Thanks to Nick Kennedy and Abby Fletcher for helping with the release forms and paperwork. I would also like to thank our neighbor, Rusty Clark, for moving his longhorns to avoid any potential conflicts with our campers.

I look forward to doing it again on the last Saturday of September next year.

Rick Hines