Participants: Greg Nepstad, Jim Nepstad, Jim Pisarowicz
Duration of Trip: 13 hours
New Cave Surveyed: 671 feet
For more than two decades, the only route from the eastern parts of Wind Cave into the vast portions to the west has been through Omnibus Hall. This is believed to be due to a minor fault which runs in a NW-SE direction. An alternate route has always been dreamed of, but attempts at connections (most notably a connection attempt near Disappointment Chamber, in the extreme north-central part of the cave) have always failed.
Reports from leaders of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) indicated that the area near Lost Paradise was not fully explored, and that unmapped passages were leading off to the west and northwest. This sounded promising enough to plan a survey trip to the area.
After we found our way through the incredibly complex cave on the way to Lost Paradise, we began our survey. As the reports had indicated, the cave headed roughly west. After surveying through some tight crawls which dead ended, we found our way to the Cairn Crawls, named for some rock cairns built by some unknown explorers before us.
More tight crawls followed, but we continued on. We were rewarded for our persistence when Jim P. discovered Cave City, a large upper level room with leads going in every direction. Now we were in unexplored territory! We continued on, passing up many promising looking leads, and came to the 500 Foot Pit, so named because our survey went over 500 feet in length there (its actually only 14 feet deep!). By this time it was getting late. As we were preparing to leave, Jim N. checked a side lead which led, after a short crawl, to Fireball Hall, a large middle level passage with many more leads.
When we plotted our finds in this area, we found that we were within 100 feet of connecting with the western part of the cave! The long dreamed of second connection may exist! We can hardly wait to get back to this exciting part of the cave.
Report by: Jim Nepstad