• Wind Cave National Park - Two Worlds

    Wind Cave

    National Park South Dakota

Caving Narrative 1987 - December 9

Half-Mile Hall

Half-Mile Hall

Bob Kobza, Shaun Larson, Jim Pisarowicz

Duration of Trip:
11 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
1027 feet

When the Bagel Hole was discovered on the 2nd of November the explorers began surveying a large passage to the east at the bottom of this hole. A less inviting lead was noted that went to the west. This trip began by traveling to the Bagel Hole, climbing to the bottom of this drop and heading off into the crawls to the west.

These crawls soon opened into fairly large chambers but the rooms were not very high (only 3-5 feet). These rooms were coated with spectacular displays of aragonite frostwork. Some of the clusters were 4-5 inches in diameter. A small crawl was then encountered with a purple coating on the floor and walls. This is probably a manganese compound and because of this coloration we called the passage the Purple People Eater.

The Purple People Eater opened up and almost immediately closed down to a tight squeeze. We named the squeeze Slide-In which quickly led to spacious passage 25 feet wide and just high enough to walk through. Unfortunately, this quickly connected back into Half Mile Hall. A common occurrence in this part of the cave.

Frustrated by the unwanted connection to Half Mile Hall we went back to a small lead by Slide-In. This small crawl was called Slide-Out and before we knew it we were heading north and away from Half Mile Hall. This passage was first entered by Shaun so we named it the Shawnee Path. It is coated with a gypsum luster and an abundance of frostwork.

At one point, Shaun and Bob were checking leads and they both returned to say that their respective leads went. Bob convinced us that his was the way to go (we have yet to survey and push Shaun's lead) and we were off into the Porcelain Passage. This passage was entered through a round hole coated in white frostwork, gypsum, and moonmilk. This totally white passage soon opened into a large room (60 feet in diameter). We called this the Right-On Room because of Shaun's exclamation to Bob about the find.

There were many large leads leading from the Right-On Room. One was over 20 feet wide which we did not even check. We decided to follow the main trend that we were in which had leads going off right and left. We were in caver heaven and named the passage Seventh Heaven.

One of the side leads going west of Seventh Heaven was pushed and mapped. This was another incredible "frosted" passage with frostwork covering nearly everything. So much frostwork was found here that we had difficulty moving through the passage and had to curtain exploration because of the amount of frostwork. We called this area the Cactus Patch because of the sharp-pointed nature of all the frostwork.

The number of leads left in this area is really amazing. After three trips into the area we have mapped 2/3 of a mile of cave, pushed the cave past the 51 mile mark, and have moved Wind Cave from the 8th to the 7th longest cave in the world.

Report by: Jim Pisarowicz

Did You Know?

fire on the prairie

Fire is an important factor in protecting the prairie. Historically, fires burned across the prairie every 4 to 7 years. Fires burn the small trees that would otherwise march across the prairie and turn the grasslands to forest.