Caving Narrative 1987 - November 2

Half-Mile Hall
Cavers travering Half-Mile Hall

Jim Nepstad, Jim Pisarowicz, Darren Ressler

Duration of Trip:
12 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
1063 feet

About a month ago I took a photography trip out to Half Mile Hall. Along on that trip was Andy Flurkey, part of the original exploration team from Chicago, who had discovered this largest room in Wind Cave in 1971. Andy indicated that there were several good leads in the north end of Half Mile Hall that had gone unchecked for the past 16 years.

We had a fairly fast trip out to Half Mile Hall and before long we were in the area with the supposed leads. Our plan was simple: get into the area, fan out checking leads, and then regroup to begin surveying the best looking passages. Like many simple plans this one had a flaw-none of the leads in this area went anywhere. We crawled into every little hole but everything was very tight and seemed to dead end within 25 to 50 feet. This was not were we wanted to be.

By the time we finished checking all these awful crawls it was noon and we regrouped in a larger part of Half Mile Hall. While I was changing my carbide, Jim Nepstad poked into a hole only to declare that it opened into two nice sized rooms. We decided to eat lunch and then survey these rooms before heading off to another area.

To our surprise, everyone on the trip had brought sandwiches for lunch made on bagels (these are tough pieces of bread well suited to the harshness of being carried all day in a caving pack). The new rooms where thus named the Bagel Ballroom.

While the Bagel Ballroom quickly dead ended, Darren spotted a hole in the floor which by unanimous consent became the Bagel Hole. I climbed down the Bagel Hole and reported that there was cave going all over the place at the bottom of the climb. The survey quickly followed me down the Bagel Hole.

These corridors were fairly large walking passages trending to the east. The large gallery became the Bagel Bowl and it seemed that everywhere we looked we were looking into holes going off into the darkness. We knew that if we continued east we would eventually run into previously surveyed passage unless the trend shifted levels. The passage stayed on the same level and before long we connected to a previously known passage.

From there we backtracked and started down a south bound lead that was changing from upper (smooth-walled) to middle (boxwork-walled) level cave. We called this the Obleo Passage because although large, the passage was very sharp and pointed with huge boxwork fins protruding up to two feet from the walls. This passage continued to go and go but it was time for us to begin the long trip out of the cave. Where we ended we were looking into a large walking passage with much blackness to beckon us on.

Upon plotting up this new area we discovered that we were going right under the Figure 8 Room. We will return next week to continue the exploration.

Report by: Jim Pisarowicz

Last updated: February 7, 2018

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