Area Mapped: Round Room and UL3
Cavers: Bob Lerch, Dave and Kristen Levy, and Ben Miller
Time In: 10:00a on 3/15 Time Out: 1:00a on 3/16 Duration: 15 hours
We did a mid-week trip for the first time in my experience with Carroll because my friends, Dave and Kristen, came to Missouri for a week of Ozark caving, with me as their guide to the underground. We worked it out with Ben so that he could join us, giving us the minimum number of people needed for a permit. We had two objectives for the trip: 1) re-shoot some shots near the Round Room, where we had a loop error problem; and 2) push the last remaining lead in the south east arm of UL3. We made good time to the Round Room and re-shot the loop quickly as all the stations were well marked. We took a short break before heading into UL3, which was sure to be a tough trip.
The route to our lead in UL3 is nice walking passage at first, but after about 30 minutes, the passage becomes wide and low. The floor also becomes a mix of chert and sand, much like a surface stream bed. At this point, there is a series of three crawls to get back to our lead. The first crawl is long, but the ceiling height is consistently 1.5-2 feet high. The second crawl is shorter, but narrows down to less than 1 foot for about 30 feet before popping into a small room where you can sit up. The third crawl is very low, with <1 foot ceiling height for more than 50 feet. At the end of the third crawl is a very tight squeeze that pops out at the base of a 10’ tall dome (named Buttertop Dome because of the extensive popcorn throughout this area). Then, you must climb the rather tight Buttertop Dome which goes to more passage at the top. The passage at the top of the dome is a series of small canyon passages (about 4-5’ tall) with mud banks flanking both sides of the passage. Our lead was about 200 feet from the top of the dome. We mapped a series of small meandering passages, none of which broke out. Instead, they all got miserably low and either pinched out or went too small to continue. We got about 130’ of hard earned passage and saw some really weird passage. We were actually down under the flood plain of Traw Hollow and it was clear that we were in old drainage conduits of Traw Creek, but there was no getting under the Hollow. Nonetheless, the passage at the top of Buttertop Dome yielded over 700’ of new passage, and we had now finished the southeast section of UL3, leaving only two leads in the south-central section of this extensive side passage.