Hobsons Bypass Discovery
NPS cave map
1st Trip: On 3/4/00, Rod Horrocks led Joe Oliphant, Marc Pedersen, & John Citta on a 15-hour trip to the Pyramid Room area in the Club Room Section where they discovered the Dreamsicle Room.
Trip Report: Although, the Montana cavers wanted to go to the western edge of the cave for this survey trip, I convinced them that we would find more cave if we went to the interior of the cave. I explained to them that on the edge of the cave we would be lucky to mop up 100-200 feet of bellycrawls and crawls, but in the interior, we could make significant discoveries. I wasn't sure they really believed me. Anyway, we went out to Omnibus Hall and took off the north side, via the Mind Boggler area and the Pyramid Room, to reach the WX survey.
We started pushing leads off of the WX survey, surveying through the breakdown at WX17 to a small room underneath. We closed a loop between WX17 and 15. We then went down to WX18 and closed a loop with WX21. We found some beautiful frostwork in a crawl below WX18. In addition to Pisarowicz's 1988 WX survey, which was marked with Mylar stations, there was evidence of an earlier carbide survey down the main passage. However, we only found cairns and carbide dots, no station designations. We started a survey at WX22 and dropped into a tube pit that was blowing out strongly. It was almost cold surveying in the area.
We passed a virgin 2-foot high lead and headed down to the top of an unstable pit located in the upper middle level. We named the passage The Air Tube. Moving a rock aside, we were able to climb underneath a bridge and down the pit. A crawl located just below the chert level, extended NW and SE at the bottom of the pit. We named it Karelian Crawl, after Joe's dog. There were chert nodules scattered across the floor that really resembled bones. Karelian is a province between Finland and Russia. We passed a pool of water and entered a 90-foot long walking passage we named Crumbling Bridge Hall, which was named after a breakdown bridge over a pit that we had to cross. There was flowstone and sodastraws all over the SE section of this room. The area was very crumbly and had a spectacular chert ceiling.
Surveying up onto a slippery ledge and through a tight passage, we entered a room with dozens of beautiful 1 1/2 foot long stalactites and soda straws. They were pure white. There were a number of naturally broken sodastraws on the floor too. The ceiling was a spectacular display, the best I've found in Wind Cave thus far!! We named the room the Dreamsicle Room after the ice cream treats. The passage continued on to another formation room. However, the lead out the opposite side was too tight and floored with rimstone dams, so it was impassable. We then surveyed up through a hole in the ceiling of Crumbling Bridge Hall and into a parallel upper level that also had a chert ceiling. I was nervous surveying this wide passage as the difference between the floor and the underlying passage ceiling couldn't be more than two feet.
We surveyed the pit below the breakdown bridge that dropped into a flat, lower level boxwork crawl area that had some air. At station PA22, we tied into a pit just before the too tight delicate spot at the end of Dreamsicle. We left a couple of tight, grabby leads in this area. We then continued the Karelian Crawl survey to the SE. The ceiling was the flat chert layer again. We came out at the ceiling of the JF survey, just past the end of the Frostline/Nudist Colony area. Luckily, the climbdown was just doable. However, we couldn't find a JF survey station to tie into, so we left the survey hanging. We surveyed a total of 905 feet for the day. Of that, 680 feet was virgin. We used 84 stations for an average shot length of 10.7 feet. The Montana cavers were happy and want to come back again, but next time they want to go to the edge of the cave.
2nd Trip: On 5/29/00, Rod Horrocks led Steve and Sammi Langendorf to the Air Tube in the Club Room Section where they discovered Hobsons Bypass on an 8.5-hour trip.
Trip Report: We went to the Pyramid Room and surveyed a loop between a dome in the ceiling and the WX survey, for 60 feet of survey. We then went out to the end of the WX survey and pushed a delicate virgin lead over some dried and cracked flowstone. It ended in a dig. We then dropped into the Air Tube to push the lead at WX22D, starting at PA47. We surveyed an upper level crawl tube that was virgin and headed straight west. There was lots of air and we all got chilled. We named the crawl Hobsons Bypass, because it eventually intersected the AA route, bypassing the Frostline and Hobson Choice. At station PA77, we found a deep, free-hanging pit that we later learned connected to the Red & White trail just past the end of Hobsons Choice, via a 35-foot deep pit. It is un-climbable. At PA80, we found a 15-foot deep pit that connected into the southern end of the larger part of the AA survey. We then found three other pits near PA81 that also connected to the AA. We surveyed down each of these and tied them all into AA12. We named the upper level passage with the four pits, Cherry Pit Row, because it had both the sweet cherry (virgin passage) and the pits. Out of the 709 feet of survey, 313 feet was virgin and the remaining 396 feet had been scooped by a single small person, which we think was probably John Scheltens, as he thinks he remembers scooping the area when I described it to him after the trip. This brought the total survey in the Hobsons Bypass area to 1,807 feet.
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Did You Know?
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.