Through most of 2019, as typical of recent years, Snowy River (SR) was flooded, preventing exploration due to closed sumps. By late summer it began drying out to produce a refreshed hard calcite floor and October was deemed the optimal time for exploration. A year earlier, a climb above SR had broken out into a new upper passage, Gold Rush. The first October 2019 expedition continued at one of the significant unexplored leads at Tetlin Junction.
It has been 40 years since the destruction of May 18, 1980. In the years since, a natural laboratory has sprung forth from the devastation and Mount St. Helens is now one of the most intensively studied volcanoes on Earth. Episodic unrest in the crater between 1980 and 1986 brought forth a new series of lava domes that grew to 350 meters tall. Another period of unrest started in September 2004, when a second lava-dome-building eruption initiated in the crater.
During a 2019 survey expedition in the Mystery Room section of Carlsbad Caverns, a team noted a couple of technical leads above the Mabels Room drop, measured nearby ceiling windows topping out well over a hundred feet high, and figured these might all connect. In March 2020, an expedition pushed these leads; made the hoped-for connections; surveyed nearly 900 feet of ledges, domes, and passages; and reached 192 feet above their starting point on the Mystery Room floor.
Exploration and geology of Vermont’s newest longest cave, with 3300 feet of surveyed passage, located in the Taconic Mountain Range in Southern Vermont.
For several decades, the Cave Research Foundation has worked with the National Park Service (NPS) on the Buffalo National River in northern Arkansas to document, monitor, and map its over 750 cave and karst features. The Buffalo National River, established in 1972, is popular for camping, hiking, and floating along its 135 miles of unrestricted waterways with picturesque bluff lines. This presentation serves as a 5 year update of this project since the 2015 NSS Convention presentation, discussing progress, data and training, educational activities, and developed efficiencies
Situated in the Caribbean Sea, Isla de Mona presents an opportunity in perseverance in the exploration efforts of the cavers who step on the island. Locating caves in the north cliff of Isla de Mona requires constant planification. Each corner of the island embodies its particularity and adaptation is a must for the cavers exploring it. Here, we will be addressing the initiative, achievements, and the learning experiences of our cave exploration team on the north cliff of Mona since 2016.
Wind Cave is the seventh longest cave in the world, with one of the longest exploration histories in the US. Exploration began in 1891, when Alvin McDonald explored almost 10 miles of cave using string and candles. In the 1960s and 1970, major new discoveries by Herb and Jan Conn, Dave Springhetti, and John Scheltens pushed the cave to 50 surveyed miles.
Since 2018 Tumbling Rock Blowing Cave, a “horizontal” cave with an aid climbing history, has been the center of one of TAG’s larger aid climbing projects, led initially by Lee White. This presentation will cover the climbs and the passages accessed, as well as show photos of two of Alabama’s new climbed domes.
Newberry-Banes is a cave with a long and storied history, having been initially explored with the help of Bill Cuddington, at the forefront of American vertical technique. Modern vertical techniques, namely aid climbing, have facilitated the discovery of a large new pit and virgin passage, and revived work towards a connection with another significant Virginia cave. Reilly Blackwell will talk about her project with Phillip Moneyhun to push the new area of this well-known cave.
A decade of intensive exploration in Wayne County, Kentucky, presented in US Exploration sessions of the National Speleological Society Conventions in 2015 and 2019, focused on what became the Sulphur Mountain System, comprising both Bowman’s Pit and Skert Well. At present, that system remains the longest cave in Wayne County at 8.6 miles on five levels expressive of the paleo-hydrology of Beaver Creek. The connection between those two caves is a vertical miasma of canyons and shafts, and cave of similar character encompasses many remaining leads.
Since 2005 cavers have been returning to the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana to try and find the bottom of Tears of the Turtle Cave, currently the deepest limestone cave in the US. A tight, difficult, alpine fissure cave, Tears has so far resisted those efforts. This presentation covers the 2019 25‑person, 2‑week expedition. Come find out how deep they made it.
In 1960, cavers checked out a small cave on a ranch near San Antonio, Texas. Other cavers had been there before, but they pushed harder, and made the discovery of some of the largest, best decorated cave passages in Texas. A few years later it opened as a show cave and is well known and very popular. No new passages had been discovered in the cave since the late 1960s.
A special introduction to the gypsum karst landscapes of the Black Hills of South Dakota. This presentation highlights a recent set of trips into a couple gypsum sinkholes that were discovered when a neighborhood in Black Hawk, SD, started to fall into some rapidly forming karstic collapses. The presentation details the work of the Paha Sapa Grotto to explore and then map the sinkholes and caverns in this neighborhood.
Project cavers know, after years of mapping any cave system, it develops a life and mind of its own. A small group called Karst Terrain Explorations (KTE) has spent decades pushing the Roppel Cave–Logsdon River dive lead, following up on the ground work provided by our predecessors—our goal being to gather volumes of data and then systematically pass it forward to the next group involved.
In 1988 I published Sea Caves of Santa Cruz Island, with descriptions of 113 caves of which over 100 had been mapped by members of the California Sea Cave Survey. They were of impressive length and the combined surveys totaled over 5 miles of cave! Some were never completed due to their orientation towards the most prevailing swell conditions and some we had simply missed .
In the early 1970s, Caves of Montana author Newell Campbell began exploration of the caves of Green Fork and the 6 square mile alpine karst plateau. Forty-eight years later, exploration is ongoing and new discoveries are made on every trip.