Caving Narratives

Caving narratives are short summaries of caving trips into Wind Cave. Most describe exploration trips, but some deal with significant finds or locations, science projects in the cave, or even trips where photography is the main goal of the trip.

These trips are organized by the zone in the cave where the caving activity takes place and date. The zones are: Historic, Colorado Grotto, the Lakes and Half-Mile Hall Zones (which includes the Club Room Area), North Zone, Silent Expressway and Southern Comfort Zones. Clicking on the link will take you to the zones listed. The section at the end of the list are the significant finds or locations that led to new discoveries or a better understanding of the cave. Many of these involve several trips to an area.

 

Locate Trip Report by District or Significant Finds Navigation

 

Historic Zone

Body TextParticipants:
Chris Amidon, Kali Leitheiser, Tom Jarvela
Duration of Trip:
7 hours
New Cave Surveyed:
251.85 feet
With an enticed survey team of small-bodied individuals aquired, we set out to push leads on the other side of "Brunnhilde's Delight", a small nasty body length squeeze at UH10-UH11. This squeeze leaves one bloodied and bruised, but the good potential for new cave on the other side makes it well worth the trip. Before jumping into a full report of the UH area, one thing must be made clear. Wagner's Brunnhilde, a robust and endowed Valkyrie, would never, ever fit through "Brunnhilde's Delight" How the previous survey crew decided upon this name I can only imagine. Perhaps it is because Brunnhilde ferried the dead from the battlelfield's of Earth to the hall of the Gods, Valhalla (see Norse mythology), and to fit through this squeeze you must practically expire. Or perhaps it is because Brunnhilde betrayed Wotan, the ruler of the Gods and her father, and was sentenced to a magic sleep surrounded by fire. After her crawlway, my body certainly feels as if its afire and sleep is strongly desired.
Wounds aside, the trip was a resounding success. All survey team members fit through the squeeze with relative ease, and after orienting ourselves on the UH route, survey began immediately. The first lead we chose popped into a large room which we named "Hollow Earth" (UH15C) after the odd cult of the same name which believes a race of humanoids live on the inside of our planet, and if you pay $25,000 to book passageway on a decommissioned Russian nuclear ice breaker, you too can sail to the North Pole, through a watery entrance into our planet's interior, and into Hollow Earth. We found our own "Hollow Earth" and no longer need to save our pennies for the Russian nuclear ice breaker experience.
We spent the rest of the evening surveying off of Hollow Earth. We mopped up three leads, one of which was virgin, and all had incredible displays of gypsum formations, mainly flowers. At UH15E, we named the room "The Leper Colony", because the thick crusts of gypsum on the walls were flaking away like skin on a leper. I had never seen anything like it inside Wind Cave. We tried to take pictures of some of these incredible formations, and if any of them turn out, I'll pass them along to the cave management staff. At UH15H we found a strange "fossilized" dog tooth spar geode in the calcified sediment of the floor. Fossilized corlas and worm burrows were also common through this area.
The 1974 team used carbide to mark their stations, and although common for that time, this particular survey team had a maniacal fondness for carbide arrows. Clearly excited by their discovery, they burned arrows into the ceiling everywhere. At UH15K, a dead-end crawlway with no possible route choice, someone burned a black arrow on white gypsum. Why? This doesn't make any sense. How can you get lost in a passageway that doesn't go anywhere? Further confusing things, around UH12, the carbide arrows do not point down the passageway to Brunnhilden's Delight and out of the cave. The arrows point down an unsurveyed passageway that appears to be another nasty crawlway. Is this some nasty joke? Or did the 1974 team find a bypass to Brunnhilde's Delight? Only another exploration trip can answer this question.
We left two going leads off of this UH15 survey, one at UH15P, and one at UH15Q. Knowing "Brunnhilde's Delight" awaited our return, we decided against pushing these crawlways late into the evening. The virgin crawlway at UH15Q I believe has good potential. UH15P has been entered by the 1974 team.
After some significant wound recovery time, Kali, Tom, and I enthusiastically desire to return to this area, even if it means pushing through Brunnhilde's Delight again and again and again. For those who can endure the pain, more cave awaits.
Report by: Chris Amidon
Participants:
Chris Amidon, Kristen Schulte, Scott Babinowich, Abby Tobin

Duration of Trip:
10 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
522.5 feet

Great Trip! Returned to NZ survey after a few months working another area. First mopped up a lead that was nagging me from the QC survey in 2004. It was pure mop-up--a 25ft belly crawl connecting two surveyed areas. Then went to NZ6 and started the QD survey as there was much to survey in the area. First lead went 90 feet and we named two rooms: Quick Discovery (QD3, QD7-QD8) because it was a quick find after a couple of shots where we could all stand. Then we pushed a belly crawl into a small chamber (QD6) where we could see an old yellow survey tag at the bottom of a small crack in the floor. I believe this is a 2004 QC survey tag, but I can't be certain. Abby crawled into the room, and then I followed to sketch. It was one of those moments of: "It seemed like a good idea at the time." There was decidely not enough room for two people. In order to get out the awkward crawl, Abby first tried pushing off my helmet with her feet. When that failed, she smushed herself against the wall, and I was able to slither out. For our struggles, we named the small chamber: "Quiet Desperation." We then went to NZ3 and mopped up a large lead. It dead-ended after one long 40ft shot. In the ceiling of NZ3 was a large difficult dome climb and a small hole on a ledge. After we climbed up the ledge and squeezed through the hole, we popped into some nice upper level domes along the chert layer. We assumed the dome and ledge went to the same place, but they did not connect; the dome did not connect into any of our survey, though we surveyed all around it. I presume, though do not know for a fact, that the done in NZ3 does not go anywhere. We named the small ledge and hole out of NZ3 "Paleo Falls" as when Abby climbed up there the first time, she dislogdged some chert, which caused a mudslide of paleofill over the ledge. At QD11-QD12, QD24-QD25, we named the area "The Minefield" as the area was riddled with chert blocks on the floor and ceiling. There were beautiful popcorn and frostwork crystals in these domes. We connected into many other surveys at NZ8, NF7A, and NZ25. We named the dome climb down into NZ8 "Spedoinkal Dome" as it was quite treacherous. "Spedoinkal" is a nonsense word from the musical "Hannibal the Cannibal". We felt "spedoinked" after the horrible climb down. Near the end of the trip, I misplaced my collection of maps and lineplots. Doh! We spent 30 minutes looking for it to no avail, retracing my steps. Losing the maps did not present a problem for exiting the cave as I know that area of the cave very well, but I was distraught by all the data I would lose. Just as I had given up searching, let out a loud sigh, and sat down depressed, Abby said: "I found it!" I thought she was kidding, but when she wasn't, I ran up and hugged her. We found the maps at NZ8. Abby said: "I don't know what possessed me to go up to that area, but I did, and there were the maps." Very starnge. I'm very thankful something did possess her to go up there. After having a good day of survey and finding the maps, we decided it was a good time to leave. Custer Pizza Works was calling our names.
Report by: Chris Amidon
Participants:
Chris Amidon, Erin Niedringhaus, Abby Tobin, Kristen Schulte

Duration of Trip:
5.25 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
157 feet

Returned to the good lead off of AJ43. After a tight squeeze and a few shots, the survey went where we did not want it to go: into UY11. The resurvey of the UY showed no leads so this connection was a little surprising. We then surveyed off of another lead in UY11 that was not marked. It was Kristen Schulte's birthday so we threw her a small party complete with party favors, leis, and a mini-cheescake eaten over trashbags. I also played a recording of Wagner's "Flight of the Walkyrie's." It was a fun trip, but discouraging as our good lead turned into mop-up. The line plot will be significantly improved though. We named "125 Mile Nook" at AJ53 as the cave is in its 125th mile. We named "The Archelon" at AJ58 as one formation looked like a giant turtle, and according to Erin, the Archelon is an ancient turtle. We named "Have Your Cake…" at AJ62 as this is the small room we celebrated Kristen Schulte's birthday.
Report by: Chris Amidon
Participants:
Chris Amidon, Erin Niedringhaus, Abby Tobin, Kristen Schulte

Cave Resurveyed:
425.75 feet

Resurveyed all of AG (1-23) with the AJ (21-40). The MC 7-9 survey was redundant with the AG and so those stations should be wiped from the database. This area has heavy historic traffic, lighting cables, construction debris, Alvin string, candle stubs, matches, newspaper and historic writing. Some newspaper between AJ21-AJ22 has been marked with blue and white flagging The lighting cables were not recorded in the sketch as they are scheduled for replacement soon . The AG14A-AG14E survey is no longer connected into AG14 (as that station no longer exists). That survey is scheduled for resurvey on 7/31/07 and will be reconnected into AJ29. It still is connected into AJ9. Handful of leads to mop up off of this resurvey.
Report by: Chris Amidon
Participants:
Chris Amidon, Erin Niedringhaus, Alison Carlyle

Duration of Trip:
7 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
165 feet

Returned to the NZ survey. Tried to squeeze through a tight lead left by previous survey with Bonny and Andy Armstrong (NZ21P). No could fit as the squeeze was around 7" with a slight bulge in the middle over the breastbone. The room through the squeeze seemed to dead end (but you never know). Checked a lead off of NZ21G which Bonny previously had said did not go. It did go and we surveyed a loop into NZ21E, then surveyed beneath the NZ18 room connecting eventually into NP5k. Named one room "The Solifluction Room" (NZ21Z). This is the geologic term for permafrost melting and ground slowly moving. For some reason all the breakdown goo reminded Erin of this process. Also found some slickensides in this room indicating fault movement, which is probably why the paleofill was so "goo-like". Lastly we surveyed off of NZ23. There was good airflow in this passage and beautiful popcorn. Named NZ21B-NZ21G "The White Whale" because of the beautiful white formations and the airflow led us on an exciting chase of cave passage before suddenly slamming shut. The air could fit, but we could not. We felt like Ahab chasing the fabled "Moby Dick"--constantly teased by the air, but to no great avail. We left two leads off of the NZ23 letter survey with decent potential. There's enough here for a return trip.
Note: There is a typo on the drafted map in the VIP Center. The VIP Map says NZ2Q instead of NZ24. I've crossed out the incorrect name in pencil and written in the correct survey designation.
Report by: Chris Amidon
Participants:
Chris Amidon, Erin Niedringhaus, Don Anderson

Duration of Trip:
6 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
165 feet

Returned to the NZ survey. Mopped up small crawl from NZ12 ro NZ9. Found a lead, a dome slope, literally standing at the NZ18 station. It was not marked on the map, but it had been marked in Marc Ohm's resurvey sketch. So we survey up a single tube, constantly moving up and down, up and down. Shots were never very long as the floor or ceiling kept raising or lowering just a tad too much. So we named the area: "La Scala" which is a Verdi opera that roughly translates as "Stairs". Left one tough crawling lead at NZ18k. It appears to go, but it will be tight. Nice layered paleofill in that upper level tube. Definitely more to mop-up and survey for another trip.
Also, on our previous Historic area survey (5/13/07), Erin Niedringhaus lost a flashlight on the way out of the cave. She believed it to be on the E survey. On our way into the cave, we found it along the E survey! One less lost flashlight inside the cave!
Report by: Chris Amidon
Participants:
Jim Nepstad, Jim Pisarowicz, Darren Ressler

Duration of Trip:
1-1/2 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
98 feet

It is misleading to think that all major discoveries at Wind Cave are made far into the cave or involve the discovery of new of different speleothems (cave formations). This survey, though short in terms of time and distance mapped, concerns a major discovery at Wind Cave.
For the past two months, work crews have been involved in a cave restoration project at Wind Cave. Basically this involved removing all the material originally left in the cave during the trail construction in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp. In addition to these materials, all the old wiring from previous light systems in the cave were removed and a new set of lighting fixtures is being installed.
During the process of tracing down old wires, a spot was found with a wire hanging out of a hole in the ceiling of one of the cave rooms. Del Hanni climbed up to remove this wire and found that is was coming out of a piece of conduit that he could not quit reach. From the location of the wire, it appeared to be coming out of a bank of loose rubble that was located under the walk-in stairs into the cave.
Climbing into the ceiling of this room revealed that the stairs into the cave were set over a 40 foot pit without the benefit of cement and rebar! After the removal of this fill (and subsequently the construction of a new set of stairs into the cave) we discovered that this pit was directly below the natural entrance from the surface into Wind Cave.
An examination of this pit showed an abundance of scuff marks on the walls. Given this pit's location we have determined that this was the ORIGINAL route taken into Wind Cave.
The first written record of a trip into Wind Cave was by Frank Hebert, a Black Hills pioneer who visited the cave in 1881. He was given the cave's location by Charlie Crary, believed to be the first person to actually descend into the cave. In this early party were Hebert, Jesse Girelle, his wife, the two Cole girls, and Mayme Sprague.
"I was supposed to lead," Hebert said. "We had to jump down a hole that I cold just about squeeze through, six or seven feet. I started down with my lantern. Had to crawl on hands and knees facing a terrible wind for about fifty feet, and then the main hole seemed to be going down at right angles and very steep, but it gave a good foothold.
"I waited for some time and yelled for the others to come, but the only one who answered me was Mayme Sprague. She said she thought they were coming. I found the twine that Crary left and made my way down."
After exploring for a time, Herbert and Sprague began the long climb back toward the entrance:
"We started on back, found the string and followed it. Those on top helped to pull us up. They went down as far as where the main part turned down, but got scared and went back."
With the new staircase into Wind Cave, park visitors can now see where Charlie Crary, Frank Hebert, Mayme Sprague, and other early explorers descended into the cave. This key passage which had been lost for over 50 years has now been rediscovered.
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants:
Shaun Larson, Erik Major, Jim Pisarowicz, Cindy Sperling

Duration of Trip:
2-1/2 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
136 feet

One of the major discoveries of 1987 was the Dreamland area in the northeast section of Wind Cave. This area yielded almost 3/4 of a mile of new passages. Unfortunately, the original route into this area involves some incredible squeezes and climbs. In one of these tight spots, a caver got himself stuck for 45 minutes. Needless to say, everyone hoped that a short cut could be discovered into Dreamland.
Upon plotting up the new Dreamland passages it was found that several areas of Dreamland were relatively close to known cave in the area known as the Attic. A previous survey trip to the Attic indicated a passage that was heading right for a portion of Dreamland. Seeing that the Attic is relatively close to the tour trail our crew headed into Wind Cave after work to push to survey this lead into Dreamland.
The trip was relatively easy and straightforward. Within half an hour of entering the cave we were surveying in the lead off the Attic. To begin with the passages were fairly large (7-15 feet wide) and dipping down. Only one obstacle was encountered...an eight inch high tight crawl. Because this was Cindy's first cave trip, she was somewhat apprehensive about that squeeze. Shaun provided motivation by quickly sliding through the hole and declaring that "any wimp" could make it through. We all quickly followed into the small room just beyond the squeeze. We named it Cindy's Cell because Cindy said that she felt like she was trapped in a jail cell after going through the squeeze.
From Cindy's Cell the cave zigzagged back and forth and went into a tight fissure. Erik crawled ahead and proclaimed that he had discovered a Dreamland survey marker. We had our shortcut!
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants:
Erik Major, Jim Nepstad, Darren Ressler

Duration of Trip:
6 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
551 feet

Along the tour trails at Wind Cave there are literally hundreds of dark passageways that took off in every direction. Quite often visitors will ask, "Where does that hole go?" More often than not the ranger relied, "I don't know. I've never been back there." Every once in a while it is nice to get into the cave and check out some of these passageways to see where exactly they do go.
Today we decided to head over to the Garden of Eden area to check out some of these mysterious "holes" that Jim and I have looked at for years-never knowing where they go.
After walking along the concrete path for about one minute we finally came to a likely spot about 20 feet off the trail. We checked out two different passages which both seemed to go back into chunks of unsurveyed cave.
We began the survey and before the day was over we had added over 500 feet to the length of the cave which was enough for Wind Cave to officially pass 51 miles in length. Everything we surveyed had been previously traveled but had never been mapped. We were never more than 5 minutes from the concrete trail. Along the way we saw some very unusual black frostwork and encountered an area where bats had roosted and left scratch marks in the limestone. We discovered high domes above the Garden of Eden itself and named one room. This particular room was a low 5 foot high, 30 foot wide room that had been discovered by the McDonald brothers (Alvin and Elmer) and C.F. McBride on July 10, 1891. This was scratched into the soft limestone of the ceiling. This small room was named McRoom in honor of the discoverers.
All in all a very productive trip that satisfied just a little of our "where does that hole go" curiosity.
Report by: Darren Ressler
Participants:
Shaun Larson, Jim Pisarowicz, Darren Ressler

Duration of Trip:
3 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
135 feet

It sure seemed like a long day. We had a blowing lead and all of us could not wait to get back into the cave. Six o'clock finally rolled around though and we were standing in the elevator building getting set for the next adventure up Plummer's Pit.
Shaun climbed the rope first into Shattered Hall. Darren would go in the middle since he had never climbed a rope with ascenders. In this way we would have cavers both above and below him in case he needed any assistance. Everything went smoothly and before we knew it we were all standing in Shattered Hall.
The climb out of Shattered Hall did not look as serious as the Plummer's Pit climb. I attached the climbing rope into my harness and with Shaun as belayer, began the climb. It was fairly easy and soon I was worming my way through the floor of another room. It was smaller than Shattered Hall, but just as broken up. I called it the Shattered Sky.
The others scrambled up into Shattered Sky, but unfortunately the passage ended in this room. The ceiling was a breccia of red clay, limestone, chert, and sandstone but did not go.
We then took out the survey gear and began the mapping of these rooms and the pits that eventually led down to the level of the tour trail. This was most interesting survey as we had to hang off our rope while we measured the distances or read our instruments. All the time we were doing this we were being showered by debris knocked loose from above.
Fortunately many of the survey shots were vertical and before long we were tying our survey into the previous point at the bottom of the drop. The only bad part of the day was that we had topped out Plummer's Pit.
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants:
Shaun Larson, Greg Nepstad, Jim Pisarowicz, Darren Ressler, Karen Rosga

Duration of Trip:
3-1/2 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
none

The trip of December 16th had surveyed to the bottom of Plummer's Pit but could continue no farther up the "pit" because of a lack of technical rock climbing equipment. As Wind Cave has few drops or climbs that require such equipment it is generally not carried unless the explorers know that it will be required. This short evening trip was planned to climb the "pit."
We began the trip by dividing up the climbing gear. We took a 150 foot climbing rope, a 150 foot caving rope, a dozen carabineers, half a dozen pitons, a piton hammer, an etrier, and a short aluminum rope ladder. Within half an hour of entering the cave we were stationed at the bottom of the pit.
Because of the severe rockfall problem in this area only myself as lead climber, and Shaun as belayer, stayed in the immediate Plummer's Pit area (Shaun called it the "Bowling Alley"). The others went off checking leads in the vicinity of the Lonely Palace.
The first part of the climb went relatively smoothly. In 1959, the National Speleological Society (NSS) Expedition to Wind Cave had placed expansion bolts in the lower part of this climb as they attempted to make their way up the pit. Secured by the climbing rope and using carabineers, the etrier and the aluminum rope ladder, I slowly ascended the hole in the ceiling of this room. Unfortunately the aid ended after only 25 vertical feet.
From the vantage point of standing in the etrier, I saw a chimney of flaky rock with a 2 by 6 jammed into the passage. I reached out to the board and literally stuck my finger right into the wood. It had rotted out over its years in the damp cave. After trying this climb I had almost resigned myself to heading down when I suddenly thought I had the pitch figured out. I wedged myself across the void and chimneyed up and up and up. There was no place to put in protection but I soon crawled through a hole above me into a small room. The rock in this room is completely broken up and fractured so I decided to call it Shattered Hall. The most surprising find in Shattered Hall was a piece of newspaper dated 1895. The rotted 2 by 6 had probably been in the cave for almost 100 years.
I tried to shout down to Shaun but was too far above him for him to hear (over 100 feet). I pulled up some slack in the rope, found a couple of large rocks to anchor the rope, and then rappelled back down.
As it was getting late, we decided that Shaun and I should reclimb the pit and rig the caving rope to be used by the others for a return trip the next day. This we did but not before Shaun and I found another climb continuing further up. This we will attempt on tomorrow's return survey trip. A trip up Plummer's Pit to Shattered Hall and into (we hope) a major new discovery.
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants:
Steve Dunn, Marc Lamphere, Ed LaRock, Shaun Larson, Jim Pisarowicz, John Scheltens

Duration of Trip:
12 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
515 feet

Silent Expressway represents the western edge of Wind Cave. For this reason it receives much attention from cavers as they discuss the possibilities of where new cave will be found. Unfortunately, a trip to Silent Expressway is no small undertaking as the travel time (for a fast group) is often in excess of 3 or 4 hours (one way). The last two trips into this area discovered no new cave. With these thoughts we headed into Wind Cave on the long trek to Silent Expressway.
The plan for this trip was somewhat different from previous tips to the Silent Expressway. Two years ago, on the last trip to map new cave in this zone, Andy Flurkey was lowered down a pit with pack straps. At the bottom of the pit he indicated that he thought the passage continued but did not want to push it because of his precarious position so far into the cave. On our trip we were carrying a rope so that we could negotiate this pit.
Three hours after entering the cave we were rigging our rope at the top of the once descended pit. After we had anchored the rope, I did a quick French arm rappel down the drop. Shouting up to the others that I intended to check ahead, I turned down the large fissure.
This fissure quickly ended at the level I was at but continued up a climb. Chimneying up into the ceiling about 40 feet I encountered a hole going down (again) but it had good air movement. I was really excited as I made my way down the tight hole expecting at any moment to pop into the large passage that was responsible for all the air flow. The passage continued down and continued to blow so I headed back to get the others.
Meanwhile, John had found an upper level above the hole I had descended. We decided to follow the air first with Shaun and I pushing ahead while the others surveyed what we had discovered. This worked extremely well except the passages shut down on us. All the wind dissipated through small cracks and fissures that we could not get through.
We regrouped at this point and began pushing into the upper level leads that John had first entered. These were low, wide crawls with yellow clay floors. This area is a maze of these kinds of crawls but by the time we had started surveying there it was time to begin the long trip out of the cave to meet our trip time table.
This new area has pretty good potential, especially considering that the previous two trips out here did not uncover any new leads. I am sure that we will return to continue exploring these new crawlways, following the wind to who knows where.
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants: Shaun Larson, Darren Ressler, Karen Rosga
Duration of Trip: 6 hours
New Cave Surveyed: 512 feet
Upon looking at a map of Wind Cave one of the things that is most apparent is the complexity of the maze of passages. Over and under, side by side, around and around and back again – there are not many places that distinguish themselves by being largely devoid of cave. So it was that the Egg Hatchery area caught my attention. One long, lone passageway somehow just does not look quite right on the map. With the intention of confusing the map in this area, Shaun and I took a short side trip the day before to check for leads.
After dropping into the Nudist Colony, we located the passage which leads off toward the Egg Hatchery. Notes taken during the original survey of this area indicated that this tall fissure had never been checked for leads going up. As there was no known cave above this area, we were hopeful that we could find a way to climb up into middle of upper cave levels. Luck would have it however that the first pit going down was where we found our best lead – a large walking passage heading off for hundreds of feet. We returned on December 6 with Karen to survey this lead and to see where it took us.
The first part of this passage took us through a narrow fissure 10 to 15 feet high with false floors and large amounts of popcorn on the floors and walls. Some of the popcorn was covered with very active flowstone. Because of the abundance of large popcorn in this narrow passage we named this The Knobby Gates. One survey station became Vundercorn Corner and another small room was dubbed P-U-Wazoo because every place that looked like a good place to sit was covered with more knobby popcorn. An area further on with very bristly popcorn became Karen’s Porcupette Passion in honor of December’s “Animal of the Month,” the ever popular pricklepig, Erethizon dorsatum. Throughout the survey we found actively dripping water and beautiful, delicate red boxwork on the walls and ceiling.
Herb Conn, a previous cave explorer, had been in some of this passage years before and had indicated on his map a small pool of water in a side lead. While we did not have time to locate the pool on this trip, it is only one of the things that remain to be done in this area. We never did get around to checking the top of the Egg Hatchery passage for higher leads. We were successful, however, in making the map of Wind Cave just a bit more confused.
Report by: Darren Ressler
Participants: Shaun Larson, Jim Pisarowicz, Darren Ressler, Karen Rosga
Duration of Trip: 2-1/2 hours
New Cave Surveyed: 108.5 feet
There are many parts of Wind Cave relatively close to the developed trails that are “known about” but have never been surveyed. Occasionally these areas yield up significant new finds but you never know until someone goes in the check out these territories. This trip was an after work trip to one of these areas that was known but never surveyed or thoroughly checked out.
By 6:30 pm we were all standing in the elevator building ready to head off into the darkness. Before long we had made our way through Hobson’s Choice and the Roadblock and were looking into the passage that had not been surveyed. Taking out the surveying gear we were ready to see what this passage would yield.
The first couple of sets of readings went pretty quickly but between the second and third station was a short climb. Karen was to be the second one down the climb after Shaun. Partway down the pit she decided that she needed to reposition herself. Unfortunately there just happened to be a small protuberance on the climb and she caught her coveralls on that rock. She could neither go up nor down. She did get herself off that rock but not before everyone (save Karen) ad decided to call the pit Caught Crotch Climb.
The passageway eventually closed down but not before we had seen and recorded some nice displays of cave popcorn and frostwork.
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants:
Mary Laycock, Jim Nepstad, Jim Pisarowicz, Darren Ressler

Duration of Trip:
2 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
206 feet

Alright, the invitations had been sent, "All you Wind Cave explorers out there are invited to join in the official 50 Mile Celebration on August 16 at 9:00 am. We will survey the 50th mile of Wind Cave right at the entrance. About 25 feet right at the very beginning of the cave has never been mapped and so..." - oops - What do you mean we are still well over 200 feet from 50 miles? What to do? Should we cancel the party? Alert the news media to our blunder? No!! Equip an expedition!! Carbide lamp, survey book, tape, survey tabs - check, check, check, check. Compass - check. Inclinometer - check, check, check already! Let's go! Off into the cave they went to hunt down about 200 feet of unsurveyed cave passage.
After almost 30 seconds of traversing a treacherous concrete trail they came upon the first likely spot. Right at the First Crossroads-a point that every Half-mile, One Mile and Candlelight tour passes-is an unassuming little passage that was about to get itself surveyed for the first time. Faster than you can say "Floyd Collins," Wind Cave was 100 feet longer.
At this point, Mary defected from the expedition to go cook some hot dogs. Undismayed by this sudden development, the remaining members of the force valiantly forged their way further along the concrete river-deeper they went, literally minutes from civilization, until what to their wondering eyes should appear but- yes! A jolly old elf and eight tiny-wait-wrong story-Yes! A passage waiting to happen.
Like a flash, out came the equipment. Through the passage like a bolt of lighting they went. Calling out the numbers in a staccato rhythm like a strobe, the explorers (by now blinded by all the light) pushed onward into the not-very-well-known until, faster than you can say "Who's Floyd Collins?", Wind Cave was over 100 feet longer.
A resounding cheer went up from our hardy explorers as the cave now stood at 50 miles minus 11.5 feet, ready and waiting for the big celebration. By now exhausted from the evenings exertions, all gear stowed away, they began the long journey back. Five grueling minutes later hot dogs and watermelon were being greedily consumed by all.
P.S. Cave exploration isn't always as easy as this trip, but the relative ease with which we mapped over 200 feet right off the concrete trail should give every visitor an idea of what a complex place Wind Cave is. There are many other places like this adjacent to the developed paths and, who knows, perhaps as yet undiscovered parts of the cave just down that dark passageway...that one right there...
Report by: Darren Ressler
Participants:
Jim Pisarowicz, Karen Rosga

Duration of Trip:
6 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
236 feet

Last Thanksgiving weekend, Karen, Dave Gerboth (MN) and I found a pit we called Five Finger Fall that led down to a maze of passages under the Fairgrounds. Later that winter Karen led several instructors from the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) into this area where they mapped 1100 feet of new cave. On that trip, one lead, going down another pit, was left unchecked as they were not carrying ropes with them. On this trip we were carrying ropes and other vertical equipment to descend this pit.
We began surveying toward the pit, lugging a pack containing 150 feet of rope, rappel racks, and jumars for climbing back up the rope. Ropes are not usually required in Wind Cave and when needed, more often than not, good rigging points are difficult to find. Fortunately we had to go back only 50 feet from the pit to find a suitable rock to tie off the rope.
After padding the rope at the lip, I rigged onto the rope and carefully began the rappel down the pit. Lots of loose rocks were along the 55 foot drop and after a few moments I was at the bottom. As Karen was getting set to come down I began checking out the area at the bottom of the pit which Karen christened Door #3 Pit. Soon I found evidence that we had descended into an area just off the Candlelight Tour route. We surveyed the pit, tied the survey to a previous point and then ascended the rope.
Another small passage was also entered but soon got too tight to continue. We named this The Sleeze because of its general nasty character.
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants:
Curt Broeker, Jim Pisarowicz, Darren Ressler, Karen Rosga

Duration of Trip:
8-1/2 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
330 feet

Since we had not been back to Dreamland for several weeks, we decided to return to the area to continue the exploration. We started by surveying the passageways leading off from the eastern end of the Cakewalk.
The first passage was pushed to the bitter end with any positive results. This passageway is blocked by an extremely tight contortionist crawl which has yet to meet the human body meant to fit through. Finishing this lead, we turned our portly bodies back to the Cakewalk to survey the lead which heads off to the north.
The first two times we had been into this passage it appeared to be a dead end, but today we found a tight hole which skirted a large piece of breakdown and popped out into a small room directly above a 40 foot pit. Curt thoroughly enjoyed this tight crawl. He enjoyed it so much that he proceeded to rip three pockets off his coveralls and discovered that when he emerged his coveralls were not coveralls any more. This became the 3-Pocket Hole.
The pit turned out to be another tall fissure passageway and also turned out to be a very interesting down climb. The ledges along the sides of the passage are all sloping steeply down and (to make it even more exciting) there is a thin layer of mud on the ledges and footholds. We dubbed this the Flaming Pick Tights Pit.
After carefully climbing to the bottom of the fissure we found that we were back in an area very similar to the Needle Nook with gypsum needles covering the floor. We crawled our way through a small passage at the bottom of the room and found ourselves back in the first tall fissure we had discovered back in March.
After making this connection with the survey we decided to head out. Even though we only surveyed a little over 300 feet, this new fissure holds the promise for a lot more new cave to be discovered. When we turned back we were in large passageway with many side leads. Another very productive trip to Dreamland.
Report by: Darren Ressler
Participants:
Greg Nepstad, Jim Nepstad, Darren Ressler

Duration of Trip:
6-1/2 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
400 feet

On tonight's trip we planned to survey more of Dreamland up into the Cakewalk area from the 50 foot fissure climb we had found two nights ago.
We got into the cave at 5:00 pm and arrived at the Gypsum Palace by 5:30. We made our way through the crawls and back to the 50 foot fissure. Surveying through this area went quickly and we found our way up into the Cakewalk by 7:30. Our first survey shot to the left, down the Cakewalk was 94 feet. Our second shot to the right was exactly 100 feet-the entire length of the tape!
After surveying in the Cakewalk we decided to push some of the leads which were headed to the east. Exploration in this part of the cave has, in the past, been stymied by a fault which cuts across the eastern part of the cave system and very effectively shuts down the passages as it intersects the cave. We believe that if we can find a route through the fault the possibilities of finding large areas of undiscovered cave is very high.
At the eastern end of the Cakewalk the passage is choked up with a large pile of breakdown. At this point, a large portion of the ceiling has collapsed totally blocking the passage. We found two leads headed off further to the east. We pushed both leads but both narrowed to a point where we could not get through. One of these passages still holds promise-even though it got extremely narrow, the right contortionist moves might get a small person through. The breeze continued to blow in our faces as we turned back to check other leads.
While Greg and I checked the area around the eastern end of the room, Jim went to the western end and crawled through a low passage and found where the Cakewalk continued on the far side. The passage at this point has one of the strongest breezes blowing though it that we have felt in this part of the cave.
After hearing this good news I climbed up into a side fissure which was leading away from the Cakewalk. About 30 feet down this passage I found another room very much like the Cakewalk. It was at least 150 feet long with even more side fissures headed to the south.
By this time we were all very tired as we decided to head out. So far, every trip into Dreamland has resulted in even more cave being discovered. This area appears to be extremely promising and we will return very soon to continue our exploration.
Report by: Darren Ressler
Participants:
Kevin Frasier, Greg Nepstad, Jim Nepstad, Darren Ressler

Duration of Trip:
6-1/2 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
200 feet

After getting back from last evening's trip, both Jim and I had eerily similar dreams that night. We both dreamed of climbing up, up, and up and finding a new entrance to Wind Cave from within the cave. While we knew that it was extremely unlikely that we would find an entrance we were both struck by the similarity of dreams and hoped it was a good omen for the trip ahead.
We entered the cave at 6:00 pm and quickly made our way from the Pearly Gates back to Gypsum Palace. We began by surveying through the 3-D Crawls which we had found on the previous trip. The crawls leading through this spot were as nasty tonight as they were last night. Squeezing through flat on our bellies-sharp knobs of rock ripping at our clothes-we surveyed through this area as quickly as possible. Having two extra people on this trip greatly improved our ability to survey. As Greg and Kevin went ahead to site the survey stations and take the tape measurements, I took the compass and clinometer sightings while Jim took all the notes and made the field sketches of the passageway we were moving through.
We continued to survey through the low room with false floors (which we named the Needle Nook) into the first fissure we had found last night. As Jim, Kevin and I surveyed, Greg went ahead to check some of the high leads in another fissure we had located directly behind one of the first ones we had found.
Greg had been gone for a short while when we began to hear him yelling and screaming from somewhere high above us. When he returned he told us of a ledge which he had crossed over and could see that the fissure passageway kept going on the far side. Since by now it was close to 10:00 PM we decided to stop surveying and check out some of the new area Greg had found.
We climbed 50 feet up the fissure to the ledge high above. Crossing over the ledge we continued down the fissure and then hung a sharp left through another fissure which intersected the main passage at a right angle. Coming to the end of this second fissure, we popped out into a smooth-walled passageway which took off both to the right and to the left. This passage we named the Cakewalk because it is easy walking passage with no breakdown. The Cakewalk appeared to be at least 200 feet long!
Jim suggested we name the whole new area Dreamland because of the way the trip had mirrored our dreams last night. This was agreed to and the new name was entered into the book. We were all very excited by our new discoveries but it was now close to 11:00 PM and we decided to head for home.
The small crawl we had found last night had broken through into a large area of new cave. We could still feel a strong breeze blowing through the Cakewalk so all indications are that there is a substantial amount of cave yet to be discovered in this area. Before tonight no one had ever walked in Dreamland but we knew we would be back soon to continue exploring in this new and exciting part of the cave.
Report by: Darren Ressler
Participants:
Jim Nepstad, Darren Ressler

Duration of Trip:
4-1/2 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
none

This trip was a short, after work trip. We were headed out past the Breezeway to the Gypsum Palace intending to check out some leads which Jim remembered from trips he made into the area last year.
The area is of particular interest because of the fairly strong breeze that can be felt as you move through the passageway. When exploring in Wind Cave these light breezes are one of the more important indications of large passageway (or simply a lot of cave!) Quite often in the past, by following the breezes in the cave, explorers have made important discoveries. Some efforts had been made in the past to find the source of the breeze in the Gypsum Palace and Blue Bayou Avenue area, but no one had been able to find exactly where the breeze entered the passageway.
Once we got into the Gypsum Palace, Jim climbed up into a chimney which he had noticed last year. While waiting for Jim, I decided to take a "I vote you do it!" From this 'group decision' the name Darren's Democratic Discovery was arrived at.
After pushing the lead some 40 feet through extremely low and nasty crawlways I entered a low room (3-4 feet high). From this room, after 30 feet of careful maneuvering over false floors, I found two large fissure passageways headed toward the south. Since I have been gone nearly 30 minutes I decided I should turn back and report the good news to Jim
Even though I have not seen anything extremely promising, there was probably at least 300-400 feet of passage. Something that, at least, had to be surveyed. One thing which did seem promising-I could still feet the breeze moving through the fissures when I turned back.
After I got back to the Gypsum Palace and took a short breather we headed for home. Plans were made to come back the next evening to survey what we had found.
Report by: Darren Ressler
Participants:
Warren Netherton, Jim Pisarowicz, Karen Rosga

Duration of Trip:
11 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
393 feet

In the first off-trail trip of 1987 we again proceeded to the rope drop and rappelled our way down into the part of the cave we'd been in two days earlier. Making our way to the muddy crawl under the false floor, we began surveying. Soon we began finding evidence (including much organic debris and fresh mold) of very recent flooding; possibly, we speculated, within the last year or two! This is particularly significant because this area maybe where mush of the runoff from the parking lot is going. (Previous dye-tracing attempts had not shed much light on the path of this runoff.) W mapped to a point where the fissure we'd been following branched and got very tight. Determined to continue, Jim climbed up through a hole into a parallel crack, which obviously continued but got so narrow that he was unable to get through. On the return trip he got wedged in tightly and, with a lack of footholds, slipped down and got temporarily stuck. He eventually found that the only way to get out was to climb through first, and pull his pants through afterward!
From here we proceeded to survey down under another false floor. This also got very tight, so we popped up through a hole in this floor and continued down the obviously well-traveled fissure. At the top of a short climb, Jim noticed a pieced of a broken helectite (a branching, bush-like cave formation), and in a crawl off the end of the fissure we found more pieces of others. We were in a specimen-collecting area of perhaps 90 years ago! In Alvin McDonald's diary he mentions collecting "giant cave coral"; could it be he meant these helectite bushes?
On the return trip to climb back up the rope, we at last discovered the passage we had originally been searching for two days ago, and in Elephant Hall, Jim and Warren found a few other likely-looking crawlways, a signature of J.D. McDonald, and the skeleton of some small rodent. A very, very interesting day of exploring to start off the New Year!!
Report by: Karen Rosga
Participants:
Warren Netherton, Karen Rosga

Duration of Trip:
7 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
none

According to notes made this fall by members of a National Outdoor Leadership School trip into the cave, there appeared to be some leads worth checking off of Elephant Hall. This is a section of lower level cave located almost under the southeast corner of the Visitor Center. The route used to get to this area may be one reason that it gets less travel than other parts of the "Historic Zone" of the cave; it involves rigging a rope drop and rappelling about 50 feet down the drop. (According to old diaries and publications, this was evidently free-climbed down and up in the 1890s!)
Armed with map sections and notes we elected to rappel instead of climb, and upon reaching the bottom found that the passageway headed only northwest toward Monument Hall. Elephant Hall, which appeared to head southeast form the bottom of the drop on the map was nowhere to be seen!
We spent some time searching for old survey stations that we could begin mapping from, and generally "getting the lay of the land." Warren crawled down into a fissure marked with old pieces of string, twine, and candles, and found that the passageway continued underneath a false floor. This crawlway was quite muddy and we decided that we must come back to this and map it.
In another area off the northwest end of Monument Hall we encountered still more vertical fissures. As we wedged our way along them we found at one point Warren was wedged into the same fissure as I, only about 20 feet higher!
We plan a trip back into this area soon to survey and map the areas we explored.
Report by: Karen Rosga
Participants:
Dave Gerboth, Jim Pisarowicz, Karen Rosga

Duration of Trip:
2-1/2 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
125 feet

Many people who visit Wind Cave believe that all the passages that they see along the tour trail have been explored and mapped. That is not the case.
While changing light bulbs I noticed a passage that did not appear on the maps of the cave. This trip was an evening, after work, trip to check out this lead.
The first chamber we encountered, though not mapped, had been entered before...it had many names written on the walls, some dating back to the 1930s. We called this area the Vandalism Room because the beautiful walls of the room had been vandalized.
Out of the Vandalism Room was a small crawlway that emptied over a 25 foot pit. Karen accidentally dropped one of her gloves down this pit from which we derived the pit's name-Five Finger Fall. The pit was unclimbable without ropes which we were not carrying.
From Five Finger Fall the cave popcorn looked like a miniature forest of trees so we dubbed this area the Popcorn Forest. Just a little further on the passage ended.
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants:
Greg Nepstad, Jim Nepstad, Jim Pisarowicz

Duration of Trip:
7 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
183 feet

Connection fever was running high as we entered the cave. From the previous trip, we figured only about 20 feet separated our new discoveries from known passages to the west. If we could connect it would be the first new route to the west since the original discovery over 20 years ago!
We headed immediately to the Laugh Track as that room appeared to be the furthest west. Greg and I went into a west trending passage but that soon got too tight.
Jim pushed into a lead going north which looped back into Happy Hollow. There he discovered another crawl. Moving aside a few chunks of chert that had fallen into the crawlway he squeezed his way through. There he found a rock that had an arrow smoked on it pointing west. Someone had pushed into this crawl from the other side but had not gone far enough!
Zooming back through the crawl we all were together again as excited as three people could be. Taking out the surveying equipment we went to work mapping the new route which we called the Happy Route.
Just beyond the arrow we entered a very large room where we tied our survey into a previous point-KY357. We celebrated by eating a short lunch and then took a couple of pictures of the historic connection. We then headed out of the cave for a real celebration with friends over a large pizza.
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants: Greg Nepstad, Jim Nepstad, Jim Pisarowicz
Duration of Trip: 12 hours
New Cave Surveyed: 578 feet
We began the survey at the south end of Fireball Hall. This led to some very tight crawls and then turned east. Before we knew it we were again entering Cave City. We had discovered another route into this room.
Heading back to Fireball Hall via The 500 Foot Pit (much easier than the new route), we found a high lead heading west. After some crawling along in areas that appeared to be fault zones, we popped into a large room which we called Happy Hollow (we were "happy" to find such a large hollow).
This was to be a day of large room discoveries because through a crawlway out of Happy Hollow we found another large room. Looking about in this room we discovered another crawl that led into a third large room. We were so excited that we did not even name the second room we found! The third room was called the Laugh Track because Greg got so excited that he caused Jim and I to laugh uncontrollably as we were crawling toward that room.
Plotting up the passages after the trip, we were surprised to find that we were only 20 feet away from connecting between the historic and western sections of the cave. We are very excited about the prospects of the next trip.
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
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
Participants: John Gookin, Jim Pisarowicz, Matt Soete, Goeff Williams
Duration of Trip: 10 hours
New Cave Surveyed: 558 feet
We began just off Room Draculum, about 5 minutes from the tour trail. The lead into this new area was discovered by John while teaching a National Outdoor leadership School (NOLS) course about two weeks ago.
The survey headed south and went fairly fast until the 8th station when passages seemed to be going in all directions. We initially chose to continue south and were rewarded by entering a room with flowstone cascading out of the ceiling. We named this room Flowfinger Falls because the soda straws looked like fingers hanging from the ceiling.
Returning to station 8 we turned west and surveyed down a steeply sloping passage to a large room (40 feet in diameter). Unfortunately the passage quickly got too small in this direction.
East of station 8 the passages were again very small but we kept on crawling and surveying. This eventually dead ended with only one room along this route. We called that room the SRO Room because we could actually standup in that area.
All of these new passages are directly under the parking lot just out the front doors of the visitor center.
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants:
Heidi Grengg, Jim Pisarowicz, Fred Roberts, Lars Virbeck (October 30)

Duration of Trip:
11 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
632 feet

Participants:
Shannon Block, John Gookin, Jim Pisarowicz, Mike Yeager (October 31)

Duration of Trip:
6 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
248 feet

Finally back into the leads discovered on 16 October! The passage we took first was a south trending fissure about 8-10 feet wide. This narrowed a bit and then opened into a room with flat ceilings and breakdown. Calcite rafts were everywhere and we had to move cautiously so as to not disturb the cave. We called this room Heidi's Raft Room as this was Heidi's first survey trip into the cave.
Next we squeezed through a small crack which opened into a passage about 50 feet long. Small dog tooth spar crystals were everywhere, causing Lars to comment that these must be "puppy teeth." The passage became Puppy Tooth Walk.
Further on we found a passage with small helictite bushes growing along one wall - The Helictro. Next we encoutered The Grunt and Groan which probably requires no explanation.
The next day had to be a short trip because of a program I was going to give that evening. We immediately encountered a false floor and dropped into a dead end passage with moist cave earth.
The rest of the day was spent mapping passages coated in calcite rafts. Travel was very slow and deliberate - we were infinitely more careful than most people can imagine making our way through these passages.
The best news was that we did not finish all the passages in this area and a return trip will have to be made!
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants:
Mike Laycock, Terri Marceron, Jim Pisarowicz

Duration of Trip:
7 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
581 feet

Began the survey in upper level cave just off the tour trail at the Coliseum. The passages here were very smooth and flaky. We could almost walk upright in these passages.
After about 10 stations, the passage changed as we began climbing higher into upper levels of the cave. Looking down this passage was like peering down a hallway filled with millions of small mirrors. The walls sparkled because they were covered with macro-crystalline calcite. Incredible!!
Next we came to a pit that descended about 20 feet, but the walls were too far apart to climb down. Terri poked her head through a small hole and discovered a crawl which allowed us to climb to the bottom of the pit.
We continued to descend into a small room. Terri was leading and carrying the survey tape. As she went to set a point she got poked in the rear by a rock sticking out of the floor-she let out a loud yell. We called that room Terri's Poke Pit.
From Terri's Poke Pit, we went under a chert bed and moved into middle level cave (boxwork on the walls and ceilings). Two hundred feet later we saw a light shinning up through a hole. We wondered where we were.
Looking down the hole we discovered we were about 40 feet above a trail, but which trail? After searching quite a while for a way down to the light, Terri finally found a way to climb down. We were above the Chamber of Bells, just off the Elk's Room.
Seeing where we came out it all made sense, but boy were we confused before then.
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants:
Tom Farrell, Jim Pisarowicz

Duration of Trip:
6 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
457 feet

Earlier this summer I had looked down a passage just off the Candlelight route only to discover that the passage did not appear on any of our maps! The passage had been traveled as evidenced by a string that wound its way down the passage. I wondered what other evidence of early exploration we would discover as we began mapping.
We began in a fairly large joint controlled passage. It was about 10 feet wide and 25 feet high. We easily surveyed this area and before long we crossed the trail at Union College.
Beyond Union College we ducked under a ledge that was completely coated with frostwork. What a fine display of crystals and just off one of the trails that thousands of people walk by every year!
Further down the passage we found old newspapers dated back to the 1890s. Early cave travelers had used these papers to wrap up frostwork crystals so they could be removed from the cave. The evidence of cave vandalism in this passage almost made me cry. Incredibly beautiful crystals, some of which took perhaps thousands of years to form, had been stripped from the cave.
We climbed a high lead and into a small room about 25 feet in diameter. As this was Tom's first survey into the cave I called this room T-BEAR's DEN. T-Bear is a nickname that Tom has acquired during his years working here at Wind Cave.
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants:
Jim Nepstad, Jim Pisarowicz, Glenn Raleigh

Duration of Trip:
7 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
613 feet

The day began as a routine inventory trip off the Cathedral area of the tour trail. We began down Mammoth Galleries when we looked to our right and noticed a large passage. Consulting our map we saw that no passage was indicated in this location. We took out our survey equipment and began mapping into the new lead.
This passage was classic upper level cave with smooth, flaky walls. Along this passage domes seemed to open above our heads and frostwork dotted the constricted areas. Before long we were down on our bellies crawling and the cave became wetter. This was surprising for most of Wind Cave tends to be very dry.
Then I heard Glenn shouting from ahead. He was saying that he had found some flowstone, stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and bacon draperies! What an exciting discovery.
The flowstone was pure white and provided a brilliant contrast against the bright red walls of the cave in that room. These types of speleothems (cave formations) are uncommon in Wind Cave.
An unbelievable trip. 613 feet of new cave was mapped only three minutes off the tour trail.
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants:
Mary Laycock, Tom Miller, Warren Netheron, Jim Pisarowicz, Karen Rosga

Duration of Trip:
4 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
none

This area was suggested by Tom Miller as one that needed surveying. On his previous trip to the area he said he had seen about 300 feet of passage with potential for more.
We took off near the second crossroads and made our way into the Attic. Except for the initial climb (which was pretty easy) the trip was very easy. We crossed the Attic, being careful not to slide into the deep pits further back in this area. Just off the pit area, Tom began looking for the right lead. After a few minutes he found it and we all crawled in after him.
This lead led to a fairly large area. There was string there and many fragments of newspapers. One had a date of 1895 on it.
To our disappointment, someone had already sent a survey line into the area. We found mylar reflective tapes indicating a relatively recent survey.
After looking at fossils, gypsum, calcite, and aragonite splotches we exited the cave. There are probably other leads to look at in the area.
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants:
Craig Detempe, Jim Martin, Diane McCain, Warren Netherton

Duration of Trip:
6 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
none

The purpose of this trip was to show Dr. James Martin (from the South Dakota School of Mines), Diane McCain (undergraduate student), and Craig Detempe (graduate student) some bones found in the Chamber of Lost Souls. The Chamber is an old specimen collecting room and a number of popcorn encrusted rocks lie on a table sized piece of breakdown encountered immediately upon entering the room. To the right or south of this rock at floor level, in a fissure is a white stalactite with angle wings. The stalactite is less than 6 inches long. Elsewhere in the chamber are some very good examples of popcorn and some frostwork. Some is exceptionally good. The room is in the upper (limestone) level of the cave and has weathered walls and ceiling plus exposures of chert beds. There are some chert rocks found here that are coal black with no evidence of banding. Slopes of uncemented rock extend from the ceiling in several places. The bones are located in this rubble. In a number of places there is weathered rock that has been washed down a surface and re-solidified to form jagged edges of material on the edge of the rock. Pictures were taken of all the features mentioned above.
Dr. Martin was issued a collecting permit and collected several bones. From initial in-cave identification, he recognized the following: bat bones (jaw bone and various others), gopher, toe bone from a bison, rabbit, deer and mice. He believed all these were no older than the Pleistocene. Some had been chewed on by carnivores. It is interesting to note how rapidly he located bones with his trained eyes. In an area I had examined carefully for some time and located 3 or 4 small bones, he observed many more within moments.
This area is five minutes off the tourist trail. An easy chimney about 15 feet high must be negotiated. Some mud is encountered.
Report by: Warren Netherton
 

Lakes District

Participants:
Earl Greene, Bob Kobza, Darren Ressler, Bill Swift, Dick Willis (July 19); Tammy Jebb, Tim Meikle, Darren Ressler (November 18)

Duration of Trip:
10 and 9 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
none

These two trips to the Lakes area were concerned with the continued monitoring of the water levels. On the July 19 trip Earl Greene of the US Geological Survey was along to "pull" data from the computer data logger unit that has been installed at Windy City Lake.

These trips with Earl are always fun. Batteries need to be replaced, so-haul batteries down, haul batteries out, up and down, back and forth, up chimney climbs, through the crawlways. Carrying an extra, heavy pack turns the Lakes trip into something resembling good exercise.

Our first look at Calcite Lake was something of a shock. It was very obviously down from where it had been in January-at least a half-foot. The subsequent check of the computer monitor at Windy City Lake confirmed a drop of 6 inches. A look at the data that had been gathered so far indicated that the water level was dropping exponentially and not at a steady rate.

On the return trip in November we visually checked the water level. Again, a drop of 4 to 5 inches since July was evident. This dramatic water loss (1 foot in 1 year) from the Lakes describes an incredible loss of groundwater if, as we believe, the Lakes represents the local (Madison aquifer) water table.

Hopefully, as the project continued in the years ahead answers to our questions will emerge. Why is the water level dropping? Does this accurately represent a drawing down of the entire aquifer? What, if any, are the connections to local drought cycles? How much of the water loss is due to overuse of the aquifer?

As groundwater resources are diminished throughout the Western states, the answers suggested here may help find solutions to water loss problems elsewhere. In the meanwhile, water conservation and a healthy, renewed respect for water as an irreplaceable resource is needed. Next time we take a drink of clear, clean water, we need to remember how precious and amazing a thing it really is.

Report by: Darren Ressler

Participants:
Bob Kobza, Darren Ressler, Michael Ryan, Jim Pisarowicz

Duration of Trip:
10-1/2 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
none

Because it had been well over a year since anyone had been down to what we call the New Lakes area, we decided a lead checking trip would be in order. We had a slow, leisurely trip down to City Hall - after two hours we stepped up to the shores of Windy City Lake. During our last trip to the lakes we discovered that our raft-the only way across the water (short of swimming)-had a fairly substantial leak in it. So after eating a little lunch and patching up our transport we hopped in and floated our way to the other side of the lake. At one point the raft no longer fits through the fissure and you have to climb out of the boat and begin straddling the water to get to the far side. After making the required fancy maneuvers we found our way to the White Guano Climb and Jim-Bobs Plunge where high climbs over the water must be negotiated to continue on. At one point where the way across involved skirting an exposed drop we paused to install a hand line to make the traverse a little less unsettling.

We then continued through the Mammoth's Backbone and on to the eastern side of the new area-sightseeing along the way. After checking a few crawls in this area (all of which dead ended) we decided to head for Atlantis and the northern section of the new area. The possible leads at this point also dead ended after short sections of tight and nasty crawlways.

Having been rebuffed in our attempts to find undiscovered new areas we began the long trip out-disappointed in a fashion but satisfied with the trip nonetheless. We had seen a distinct and incredibly beautiful section of the cave-an area where less than 10 people have ever been. Knowing this and knowing that the cave shares its secrets according to its own plans, we were reminded that our desire to discover some of those secrets is always of secondary importance. We wandered home with tired smiles on our faces.

Report by: Jim Pisarowicz

Participants:
Mark Anderson, Warren Back, Jim Basinger, Earl Greene, Jim Nepstad, Darren Ressler, John Zogorski (January 21); Earl Greene, Darren Ressler, Beth Ward

Duration of Trip:
10 and 8 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
none

Exploration of a cave involves not only the discovery of new passageways and adding miles to a map, it also means the search for and discovery of new information about the cave. Without that basic understanding, all the miles add up to very little. If you have discovered a world and know nothing about it, you are as lost as you were when you began.

Realizing all this, part of the exploration of Wind Cave involves the search for answers to some basic and some complicated questions. Wind Cave tends to be a very mysterious place. Trying to understand most aspects of the cave can be a very frustrating experience. In many cases what is lacking is some very basic and general research.

One of the more intriguing places in the cave is the Lakes area. Since they were discovered in the early 1970s, the level of the water has fallen dramatically. Why this is happening has never been understood but since this water has been believed to be the local water table, knowing the reasons why it is dropping could be of great value in understanding our drinking water supply.

The purpose of the trip on January 21 was to put in a gauging station which can continuously monitor the lake level, the temperature of the water and the air, and the barometric pressure. This was a fairly large group and as it turned out we needed every single person. We all became sherpas as everyone had to carry extra gear-large boxes of tools, 3 foot long packs full of plastic pipe and lots more-some of it weighing 20-30 pounds. After 4 hours of struggle we eventually reached the shores of Windy City Lake.

Wile Mark, Warren, Earl and John (who work for the US Geological Survey) went about putting the station in, the rest of us took turns floating around and examining the lake in the small yellow raft that is now a part of the scenery at Windy City Lake. After 4 hours of hard work the station was ready to go and so were we. A little over two hours later we were back on the surface hoping that the gauge would do its job for the next 6 weeks until we could get back to check on it.

On March 3 we returned to the Lakes to collect the data that the gauge had collected and stored in a microchip inside a small unit the size of a paperback book. After replacing the collection unite, adding more batteries, taking some photographs, we began the long uphill climb to the surface. While we were at the Lakes we noticed that the lake level was almost exactly what it had been in January and because of that believed the level had not changed. As it turned out we were mistaken.

The initial look at the data has indicated that not only has the level of the lake fluctuated as much of 4 inches, but the water temperature varied by as much as 2°C! This was a very surprising discovery that might help explain the origin of the cave itself. Right now, a small mechanical box sits 500 feet beneath the surface, methodically recording information that will help us someday answer some very important questions. At this point with only a very little data it is hard to tell exactly what it all means. It certainly has everyone scratching their heads and marveling about this place-Wind Cave.

Report by: Darren Ressler

Participants:
Shaun Larson, Jim Pisarowicz

Duration of Trip:
9 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
599.5 feet

One of the curiosities about Wind Cave is the passage that leads to the lakes. Unlike other portions of the cave this passage does not exhibit the complex three-dimensional characteristics of the other sections of the cave. Most Wind Cave explorers believe that this is only because the passages on other levels have yet to be discovered in this part of the cave. This trip was an attempt to find a way into these as yet to be found passages.

We began our search just beyond Gateway Hall. In Gateway Hall is a fault which seems to dictate the character of the cave to the southwest. This plan was simple, climb into every ceiling fissure along the passage from Gateway Hall down to the lakes.

Making this plan difficult is that these passages are often 50 to 80 feet high. For most of the day we spent our time like human flies chimneying high into the ceiling. Often times I found myself stretched out to the limits of my height with toes on one crumbly wall and fingers on another with nothing below me for 50 feet or more except open space.

Just like a fishing trip, the large fish always seemed to be the ones that got way. At one location Shawn saw what appeared to be a hole in the ceiling. I started up the climb and when I was within 10 feet of the ceiling, straddled 50 feet above the floor, I was still unsure whether the passage went or not. But at this point, to continue on would have required making a nonreversible move. In other words, if the passage did not go, I would have been stranded 50 feet above the hard rock floor of the passage. I opted not to make that move.

It was a frustrating day because despite much hard work and almost death defying climbing, nothing seemed to go. Every high lead and chimney we checked ended or we could not seem to continue any further up without risking our lives.

In frustration we began searching for other leads on the same level as the floor of the lakes passage. In several places we found some unmapped cave and decided to survey these uncharted ways. These too all seemed to end. At the end of the passage we did survey was a tight crawl that nobody could get through but did have an elusive breeze. We dubbed it the No Way Crawl and pack our gear to head out for the day.

Report by: Jim Pisarowicz

Participants:
Greg Nepstad, Jim Pisarowicz, Darren Ressler, Karen Rosga

Duration of Trip:
9 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
599.5 feet

The plan for today's trip was to return to the Superconductor area that Jim Pisarowicz and Jim Nepstad had begun surveying on May 6. After just a few survey shots we connected to a previously surveyed passage - the Fallen Leaf Room. We then decided to head for the Garden Gate area to check out some passageways that were marked as possible leads on the map.

As Greg and I poked around the east wall of the main passage, Karen and Jim crawled through two different holes on the other side. They soon found themselves connecting into the same tall fissure passageway. Shortly after coming back to tell us what they had found, we were off surveying down the Chicken Strut. We found it hard to believe that this room did not appear on the map - a tall fissure, walking passage with ceilings 30-40 feet over our heads.

On we went, following Karen as she pushed the leads ahead of us. We soon came to a high, exposed ledge from which Karen was not sure if she could go any further. She suggested that we name this the Chicken Roost. We call clucked our approval and continued on by straddling across the passage. At the end of the passage we again connected to a previously surveyed area. We did this twice more (connect to previous surveys) and eventually found our way back to the main passageway just south of the Garden Gate.

After making this final connection we found that we were all becoming delirious with the notion of eating vast quantities of tacos, so we packed up our toys and headed for home, quite satisfied with the day's efforts.

Report by: Darren Ressler

Participants:
Jim Nepstad, Jim Pisarowicz

Duration of Trip:
9 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
638 feet

On a previous trip to the Lakes area of Wind Cave, I had noticed a large passage leading off of the main route near the Garden Gate. Being curious as to where this passage went, I checked the map after leaving the cave. Much to my surprise, this passage was unmapped! The purpose of this trip was to push this exciting lead.

We were mapping into the lead only 45 minutes after entering the cave. The passage remained very large for about 175 feet. Being large and easy to move through, we named this passage The Superconductor. After following this route to a dead end, Jim pushed a side lead which led us past the BBC Alcove (for Big Beautiful Crystals), through a tight crawl, and finally to a nice sized room which we named the Nobel Prize. An intriguing hole in the ceiling frustrated us with its inaccessibility. Rather than risk life and limb, the brave explorers ate lunch.

From here we surveyed into several dead end side leads, the largest of which we named Alex Alley, in honor of Assistant Chief Naturalist Kay Rohde's one month old son. We also found a hole going up into the ceiling of one of the passages. Jim ascended this tricky climb first and called for the survey tape after finding out that it led to a large room. I attempted to throw the tape up to him several times (he was over 30 feet above me!). Once it came crashing down on my head! Fortunately I was wearing my hard hat at the time. After surveying to the top we named this hole Bonk Pit. The large room led to a few more passages, one of which ended in a particularly painful climb which we named Beyond Nasty. Persistent and uncontrollable thoughts of food drove us form the cave soon afterward.

Report by: Jim Nepstad

Participants:
Bob Kobza, Jim Pisarowicz, Karen Rosga

Duration of Trip:
12-1/2 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
none

The purpose of this trip to the Lakes area was to photograph the "new" lakes discovered in October, and to carry an inflatable raft to Windy City Lake. The raft will be used from now on to cross Windy City Lake instead of the time-consuming change into wetsuits and the swim.

On this journey we were really weighed down by all the equipment we carried: the rubber raft (stuffed into a somewhat large pack), photographic equipment (including 2 cameras, film, flash guns, tripod, and approximately 25 large flash bulbs), and of course, all the usual caving gear needed by 3 people for a trip of this length. Despite our heavy loads, we made it down to Windy City Lake in about 2-1/2 hours. Jim and Bob suited in wetsuits so they could pull Karen and all the equipment across the lake in the raft. Bob used his incredible lung power to inflate the raft, then we launched it, took a few photographs, and headed to the oppose shore and the "new" lakes beyond.

The actual photographing of the new area was a long process involving carefully coordinating flashes to fire at the same time, precariously balancing cameras on the tripod, and the frequent frustration of holding awkward poses for several minutes only to have the flash bulbs not work! But we managed to take a couple of rolls of film in about 5-1/2 hours, of which most pictures turned out.

After taking note of the water level on the gauge in Windy City Lake, we left the raft behind, packed up the wetsuits and other gear, and made our way back to the surface, arriving at about 11:30 pm.

Report by: Karen Rosga

Participants: Bob Kobza, Jim Pisarowicz

Duration of Trip: 9 hours

New Cave Surveyed: 532 feet

The purpose of this trip was to push and map the wet leads in the new lake area. We were in the cold (50°F) water for about 3-1/2 hours and mapped about 300 feet of swimming passage. Depth soundings revealed that the water was 12-15 feet deep all along these passages. Everywhere we looked we could see underwater passages and rooms going off in all directions.

After about 3-1/2 hours in the water we were really cold and decided to warm up by getting out of the water and our wetsuits to push dry leads. The most promising was out the Great False Alarm passage discovered two trips ago. This led to a series of torturous crawls we called Bloody Fingers. The passage continues to the east but we were blocked by a piece of breakdown naturally cemented in the floor. Beyond that one rock, it appears that the passage continues.

Report by: Jim Pisarowicz

Participants:
Bob Kobza, Jim Pisarowicz

Duration of Trip:
12 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
1032 feet

We had a very fast trip down to Windy City Lake. Before we knew it we were again in our wetsuits swimming across Windy City Lake. Half an hour later we began surveying into Atlantis.

The largest passages trended south and we took those passages first. They were high fissure passages with false floors broken through about 4 feet above the real floor. Bob would toss the measuring tape above the false floor and proceed below the false floor. We called this the Split Level Fissure.

The Split Level Fissure eventually tightened to a small hole that had a strong wind blowing through it. Even taking off my clothes, I could not get through. Our frustration is evident in the name of the hole - El Poop-O.

We started looking at side passages. One led to a high fissure (30 feet high) which we chimneyed along surveying. It eventually led to a hole in the ceiling that connected to the Great North Passage. The high fissure was dubbed the King Fissure.

North of Atlantis was a small room with several, small confusing leads. Bob accidentally smeared some red clay from the room on his face and that, along with the confusing nature of the room led us to call it the Ruse Rock Room

On the way out for the day I checked some of the wet leads. In one of these leads I swam about 100 feet down a tunnel passage in crystal blue water. Below me I could see boxwork in the water filled passage. It kept on going as far as I could see. The next trip will be a wet lead pushing trip.

Report by: Jim Pisarowicz

Participants:
Bob Kobza, Jim Pisarowicz, John Scheltens

Duration of Trip:
12 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
1150 feet

Back to the land beyond the lakes. This time we brought cameras to photograph the new finds. We packed the camera equipment in four plastic bags and floated them across Windy City Lake. On the far side of the lake, John's camera was discovered to be completely drenched. An expensive camera ($300) ruined!

The Mammoths Backbone led further east and then turned north. This passage was called the Gobi Desert because the floor of the passage looked like sand ripples. Unfortunately this passage soon ended.

A side lead led to another north trending passage. It started as a crawl but soon opened into a fissure passage 5 feet wide and 15-20 feet high. This too ended but just before it got too tight to continue there was a side passage. It led to a parallel north bound passage. As the passage kept going north we called it the Great North Passage.

At one point the floor in the passage broke away under all our feet. Luckily the drop was only 2 feet. We named the area the Great False Alarm.

The passage again became tight but again there was a side lead to a parallel passage. This tightened and we could find no side passage ...until we looked to the ceiling.

This high lead led to a crawl which opened up into an area with large passages going off every which way. John suggested we call the area the Lost Continent of Atlantis. It was time to regroup for the long trip to the surface. We will return next week.

Report by: Jim Pisarowicz

Participants:
Bob Kobza, Jim Pisarowicz

Duration of Trip:
13 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
1101 feet

During the early 1970s the Windy City Grotto from Chicago discovered Windy City Lake, the lowest point in Wind Cave. Since 1972, no one had been across this lake as it was thought that all leads there had been pushed. After looking over some notes left behind by those explorers I thought that another trip across Windy City Lake was in order.

Arriving at the shore of Windy City Lake we changed into wet suits for the swim across the chilly (50° F) water. We packed our dry clothes and gear in three layers of plastic bags which kept everything pretty dry.

Across the lake we changed back into dry clothes and went to look at a lead indicated in the Windy City Grotto notes. It was there but was only 2 inches wide. No one could squeeze through that!

In a last ditch effort I looked into a passage that the notes indicated dead ended. There in the ceiling was a lead. Apparently the person who check this passage had not looked up.

The passage immediately lead to a lake which I called Lake Land. Crossing this lake and up through another hole yielded a second lake we dubbed Evans Plunge after the hot spring in the town of Hot Springs. An interesting climb lead to yet another lake. Bob suggested we name the lake after ourselves. It became Jim-Bobs Plunge.

By now the passage was huge. Ceilings were 40-50 feet high and 60-70 feet wide. We called this big passage the Mammoths Backbone and the lake off the side of this the Inner Sea.

Passages were going off in all directions. Bob found a small lake which he called the Lovely Little Lake. Finally we had to begin the trip back to the surface. We turned around in a passage 50 feet wide and 30 feet high.

Report by: Jim Pisarowicz

Participants:
Mary Laycock, Jim Pisarowicz, Darren Ressler, Karen Rosga

Duration of Trip:
12 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
200 feet

Since the initial explorations in the area around the lakes (early 1970s) there have been no survey trips into the deepest part of Wind Cave. Reviewing notes left by those earlier explorations, it was noted that many leads had been left unpushed.

Moving very quickly we made our way down to Calcite Lake in only 3 hours. Arriving about noon, we sat by the shore of the lake and ate lunch. Karen had brought a can of smoked oysters which everyone, save Mary, decided to try.

Making our way toward the Land of 10,000 Lakes I spied a small hole which I wormed my way through. This opened into a small room with false floors which had been bowed upward. Our survey began at this point.

Surveying through the small hole we headed south into another small room (25 feet by 25 feet). Mary was reading instruments and Karen had the lead tape. The first station into the room used Karen's thumb for the survey target. We named the room Thumbs Away.

A small crack to the south took us out of Thumbs Away into a third small room. Surveying out of the third room, the survey shots were very short (2-3 feet). Mary ended up positioned between Karen and I and complained about the smell of oysters. We called the room the Oyster Trap.

The Oyster Trap eventually opened up into a large passage where we connected onto another survey. There are still many leads in this area.

Report by: Jim Pisarowicz

Participants:
Jim Chisohm, Chris Gerow, Jim Pisarowicz, Fred Roberts

Duration of Trip:
6 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
181 feet

The purpose of this trip was to check high leads along the route to the lakes. Looking at the map of the cave it was noted that there were no middle or upper level passages in this area. We began at the Garden Gate by climbing into holes in the ceiling along this route. Several of these holes extended upward 30 to 50 feet or more but none lead to any significant passages.

Next we looked around the helictite bushes just north of Base Camp I and discovered that a small room previously just sketched onto the map was more extensive than indicated. Taking out the survey equipment we quickly mapped this room and associated passages.

After finishing this area we began checking leads again. As it seems common on such trips, just about the time we had to begin out we discovered lots of new passages.

Just before Base Camp I we all began pushing leads off to the east. Everywhere we turned there were passages that did not appear on our maps! Unfortunately we had to leave as we were supposed to be out of the cave by 5:00 PM. We will return to begin the survey of this new area of parallel joint passages in two weeks.

Report by: Jim Pisarowicz

 

Colorado Grotto

Participants:
Greg Nepstad, Jim Nepstad, Jim Pisarowicz

Duration of Trip:
8 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
404 feet

Notes from a survey completed in the early 1970s indicated that there were going leads in the Salamander Room area. We began this trip by checking these leads but all seemed to dead-end within 50 feet. We decided not the survey these leads and left the area considering it well pushed and essentially finished.
Heading down to Independence Hall we tried a small lead that Jim had found on a previous trip. It was not pushed because one team member could not fit into it! This time we had a slimmer group and slithered our way down this vertical pit which we named Deep Throat.
The Deep Throat led to several parallel fissures which we began surveying. Most provided long, straight survey shots but most of the time we were on our hands and knees (or worse).
Eventually we came to a large room where we all could stand up with several leads going off of the room. The room was so neat that we called it the S'neat Room.
Climbing into the ceiling of the room yielded a passage coated with incredible cave popcorn. Up through another hole we connected back into the Popcorn Room.
Lots of leads remain to be checked and we will return the next time we can all get together again.
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants:
Mary Laycock, Mike Laycock, Greg Nepstad, Jim Nepstad

Duration of Trip:
6 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
461 feet

A trip the previous day had revealed several hundred feet of new cave in the area known as City Sewer. Absent-minded explorers had forgotten to bring a tape however, and were unable to survey their finds. As this area is only 30 minutes into the cave, we decided to survey the next day after work.
Following several hundred feet of very nasty crawls we came to The Manhole, a 40 foot pit leading down to the City Sewer area. After carefully negotiating this climb, we found ourselves in a series of low, tube-shaped crawls which give the area its name. From here it was only a short distance to the new area.
We began surveying a series of parallel fissures which ran northeast by southwest, an unusual direction for Wind Cave passages. Much of this was walking passage, but getting from fissure to fissure often required low crawls. Three fissures were surveyed and another was left for next time. As they all ran side by side, we named this new area in the cave the Side Roads. Lots of cave remains to be explored and surveyed in this relatively nearby part of the cave.
Report by: Jim Nepstad
Participants:
Larry Johnson, Jim Nepstad, Jim Pisarowicz, Darren Ressler

Duration of Trip:
11 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
729 feet

Finished off the passage we began surveying on the 27th of May. Most of the side leads quickly pinched and we netted only 55 feet of new survey in this area.
Concluding that survey, we decided to check out some leads on the map in the area of Atlas Underground Hemp Works. Wile making our way to that area, Jim and I noticed a small passage which we poked into and unexpectedly popped into Monolith Hall. As none of us had been into this large chamber, we abandoned plans for Atlas Underground and began looking for leads off Monolith Hall.
This quickly paid off and before long we were surveying through a virgin passage. The first room encountered was a fairly low room about 75 feet in diameter. On one wall of this room the bedding planes were very distinct so we called this the Bedroom.
Continuing down another lead we found a long passage during which one survey shot was as long as our measuring tape (50 feet)! This eventually led us to a vertical drop which we dubbed the Chimbelly as it was almost a vertical belly crawl down.
Forty feet down the Chimbelly we were again in a passage with may side leads. Darren crawled through a small hole and called for us to follow him. As we entered the new passage everyone let out a "Wow!" The passage went on as far as we could see and the ceilings were 50-80 feet above our heads. This we called the Wow Passage.
The cave continued to go on but as Jim and Larry were using miner's Wheat Lamps, which only provided about 12 hours of light, we had to start out. We will return next week to keep pushing on.
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants:
Larry Johnson, Jim Nepstad, Jim Pisarowicz

Duration of Trip:
8-1/2 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
604 feet

Headed back toward the Basket Room in the Colorado Grotto zone of the cave to check out a lead discovered last fall. After getting turned around for a bit we arrived in Mammoth Canyon.
From the bottom of the canyon we had to do a 40 foot climb out of the canyon passage up to the new lead. Once up the climb we began our survey.
We called the new passage Chasm City for we often had to crawl along a narrow ledge with a giant drop off to our right. We figured that the chasm was 70-80 feet deep so we carefully traversed this area.
We continued down this passage until it go too narrow to go. About 200 feet of new passage was mapped in this lead.
Returning to the bottom of Mammoth Canyon we headed into a small hole leading east and discovered many passages of which we mapped only 400 feet. These passages were narrow fissures containing walls and boxwork coated with translucent calcite crystals. An incredibly beautiful area of the cave. Still many more passages to be pushed and mapped in this area.
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants:
Warren Netherton, Jim Pisarowicz, Karen Rosga

Duration of Trip:
6 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
150 feet

Forty Miles and Beyond
Began survey at XX2 with the XQ survey. This was to be it-we were going for 40 miles! After the long trip of 8-9 June we were close. Starting that previous trip we figured we needed 792 feet. But the passages did not go well and after 16 hours we added up our distances and came short by around 250 feet. We decided to exit the cave.
Before this trip we refigured the distances by reducing slope distance to horizontal and discovered that Warren had missed an entire page of survey! We only needed about 116 more feet of survey to crack 40 miles.
With this in mind we started surveying toward a room previously entered by Warren, Barb Brutvan, Heather Pullen, and Greg Wright. The survey went smoothly and almost perfectly. At XQ10 we almost had our 40 miles and we were on the verge of entering a room.
Karen pulled the tape into the room, I read the instrument, and Warren sketched. XQ11 put us over 40 miles! We all let out hoots, I grabbed my camera and took pictures and then we got back to the work of surveying again. EXCITEMENT! All this occurred around 5:00 pm on June 11, 1984.
When we finished surveying around the room, we exited and checked leads near XX1-2. I found what looked like a granite boulder about one foot in diameter. Interesting.
The cave was over 40 miles and going for 50! We exited to a celebration by other staff (thanks for the champagne) and went to Tom Farrell's evening program on exploring Wind Cave, an appropriate end to the day.
Miscellaneous Observation:
Although there was lots of excitement in getting to and over 40 miles, the exploration and survey of Wind Cave has been a long and still ongoing process. I often like to compare caves with people. Everyday we get older, but only on our birthdays do we stop and celebrate the process of getting older. Caves are much the same. Each survey trip makes the cave a little longer, but only a certain points do we stop and celebrate the process. "Happy Birthday" Wind Cave.
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants:
Mitchell Fry, Warren Netherton, Jim Pisarowicz, Karen Rosga

Duration of Trip:
13 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
450 feet

Entered the cave to continue the XT survey at the Beanery. This room was previously referred to as the Capital but as there was already a room by that name we changed it to the Beanery (origin of name = the Bunkhouse seasonal housing unit has a sign in it that says: "First International Bunkhouse, Bank & Beanery" and so we decided to call the room the Beanery).
Off the Beanery we surveyed into a mud room we called the Dog Pound. This name came about because Warren had said earlier to Karen that he was so happy to be going underground that he was wagging his tail like a wolf. Karen, Warren, and I surveyed around this large room while Mitchell pushed leads. The Dog Pound ended up being 100 feet long and 60 feet wide. This room has very interesting mud cracks in the floor. These cracks are up to 3 inches in depth and 2 inches wide. Photos were taken. The mud was only disturbed around the perimeter of the room and the more central area was left undisturbed. A side area off the Beanery and Dog Pound was also surveyed and contained clay layers exposed like book pages with the limestone weathered out. Very, very interesting.
After finishing the leads in this area we returned to Garganell's Castle to push the low lead which we called Garganell's Dungeon. There appears to be airflow here and we thought that we might be able to get into lower cave by following this down trending passage. Unfortunately Karen and Mitchell could not get through into this passage that I pushed into. Thus the survey did not continue down this way at this time. Gypsum needles shaped like teeth could be seen in this area.
The survey then returned to connecting the Beanery back into the Smurf Path making another loop. Once completed we returned to the Beanery and surveyed back to XT1 completing another loop. The XK survey was used on this trip for the Dog Pound.
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants:
Mike Babbitt, Jim Pisarowicz, Warren Netherton

Duration of Trip:
13 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
450 feet

Continued the XU survey beyond the Wretched Hole. Also connected this survey into previous surveys. Tried to push east as much as possible. Got into several "large" rooms. Most notable is the Bunkhouse, a large room with high ceilings. Several unchecked leads go off this room. Continued survey down the Smurf Passage (named because of the blue and white flagging tape used, the same color as the cartoon characters called the Smurfs) and on into a smaller room named Garganell's Castle. There is a good lead in the floor of this room under the breakdown. From here we continued up a lead and eventually arrived at a room we called the Capital. This room is definitely upper level and contains a high dome (30 feet) and a side room which has mud cracks and is very moist. This room was not surveyed as our time limit was about up.
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants:
Mary Laycock, Warren Netherton, Karen Rosga

Duration of Trip:
8 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
none

This trip covers virtually the same ground as the May 21, 1984 trip that Andi O'Conor, Jim Pisarowicz, and I took. Since the area is unsurveyed, it is very difficult to describe where the features are. The passageway leading to this area extends off the west end of the Xerox Room.
A short belly crawl must be negotiated in order to get to this new section of cave. It is named The Wretched Hole. The problem in getting through is that the rock is sharp and clothing readily catches on protrusions. The tight section is only a foot or two long. On the other side of this hole is a lot of cave.
Passages appear to be at the contact of the upper and middle layers of the Pahasapa. In most places the floor is breakdown with calcite cementing the rocks together. Good airflow throughout the area.
On this trip we poked a number of leads. Most were too small to enter or looped around to the main passage. One however, led off 150 feet to a room 20 feet high, 20 feet wide, and 30 feet long. Passages extended off from there. Someone had been there before. The room has moist air and seems of a little different character than the other sections; less breakdown, well defined passages. It is interesting to note that the lead extending to this room is around 10 feet wide and 6 feet high where it leaves the main route, yet it was overlooked on several exploration trips to the area in 1982. It looks like it is part of the main route with a pillar of rock in the middle, but it is not.
Report by: Warren Netherton
 

Half-mile Haul

Participants:
Andy Flurkey, Mike Hanson, Darren Ressler, Dave Springhetti

Duration of Trip:
10 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
none

The purpose today was to check an area out of Half Mile Hall that Dave had in mind from a previous trip. When we arrived at the spot just beyond the Figure 8 Room we started checking leads. Andy got into a fissure with tight and narrow crawlways that seemed to be going the direction that we wanted to go.
Alright! Time to survey! Right? Well-let's see-here's the survey book-here's the instruments-here's the-tape? Where is the tape? Right were a certain party member had left it, back at the start of Half Mile Hall.
Well, what to do now? We decided to set the points and take the instrument readings and return another day to take the distance measurements and produce a field sketch. The passageway continued on and entered a room with outstanding aragonite frostwork crystal formations. The area was too delicate to enter and so we ended our FT Survey (Forgotten Tape) after an estimated 100 feet.
After our misadventure here we headed out toward Andy's Ice Box and the Deep Confusion area. Once there, we each found leads with hundreds of feet of unsurveyed passages. This entire area has been only lightly traveled and the possibilities to expand the mapped cave here remains high.
All-in-all a successful trip. It would have been more successful if the tape had not been left behind, but such are the breaks. We did gain a valuable piece of knowledge from our mistake. We will know in the future who not to give the tape to-right guys?
P.S. No, I'm not going to tell...
Report by: Darren Ressler
Participants:
Darren Ressler, Stacy Smyth, Brad Stephenson, Michelle Youngquist

Duration of Trip:
10 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
237 feet

It had been quite a while since our last survey trip and we were anxious to get into the cave. I remembered some passageway out near the Elephant Trunk that Jim Nepstad and I had located on an earlier trip. Jim had checked out the most promising lead and I had not paid much attention to exactly where he had gone. So, after our arrival at the Elephant Trunk on this trip, it took quite some time to relocate the right passageway. In looking around however, we all found other unsurveyed leads. After locating the correct lead we had a leisurely lunch in the Elephant Trunk. This passage is a huge lower level "bore hole" and is quite impressive. During lunch we played around with Brad's head. His shadow on the wall of the cave gave the impression that there were large holes in his head. He vigorously denied this.
After lunch and finally agreeing that Brad had only small holes in his head, we began our survey. The entire passage was a 25-30 foot tall fissure. On the floor were deep piles of loose sediment. At one point the sediment was swirled into designs where the water had flowed over it. All this sediment-this "stuff"-prompted us to name this the Elephant Stuff (ES) survey. The "river" of patterned sediment was named the Elephant Stream. To avoid leaving our tracks in the sediment we chimneyed (walked along the ridges of the walls) through much of the passage. Throughout the passage, on the wall shelves and false floors, were incredible gypsum star burst formation. These gypsum crystals, in flat star burst patterns were up to 5 inches across.
We continued on down the passage-a very straight shot. The compass readings never varied more than 15 degrees. After 2 short hours of surveying, we rejoined mapped passageway right at the main entrance to the Elephant Trunk. This was a relatively short trip but the ease with which we found unmapped areas of the cave demonstrated well the potential for cave explorers of the future.
Report by: Darren Ressler
Participants:
Bob Kobza, Marc Lamphere, Jim Nepstad, Darren Ressler

Duration of Trip:
12 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
420.5 feet

On our last trip to this area, Jim and I had found several walking leads that we wanted to return to. The leads seemed to promise at least several hundred feet of new cave. Once we reached our destination we began the survey by climbing straight up a narrow 20 foot tall fissure to the level where some of the leads were. After several minutes of poking around on this level, Marc spotted a hole leading up from the other side of the fissure. Bob, as our designated guinea pig, decided to give it a try. He made his way up and, in short order, disappeared. After several minutes we heard Bob yelling from above that he had found borehole or huge walking passage. We told him to go check the area out and to try to find another way up (since the rest of us did not care for the looks of the climb that Bob had done). We looked from below, Bob looked from above and after 30 minutes it became apparent that this climb was the only way up.
After Bob climbed back down and had a quick lunch, we all decided to give it a go and try to climb up. The climb is offset from the fissure below by just a few feet so as you look for footholds you are also peering down into the dark space 30 feet beneath you. By straddling the drop and traversing along shallow ledges on either side you come to a spot where you begin chimneying straight up. By pushing your back against one wall and your feet against the other, using these pressure holds and the little nubs of rock which stick out, after 15 feet you get to a spot where the passage begins to slope upward and you can scramble to rest of the way. Since we were using the letters TW to designate our survey and we had been discussing toxic waste disposal problems earlier (and considering the relatively scary nature of the climb) we dubbed this the Toxic Waste Dump.
At the top of the climb we were in a huge middle level room. This became the Big Sky Room-referring to a dream I had had earlier in the week where in I discovered a new entrance to Wind Cave and came out to the surface somewhere in Montana. The Big Sky Room was 25-30 feet tall, 40 feet wide and at least 60 feet long. Wandering off to the northwest through large walking passage we finally were stopped in a large room with a breakdown area at one end. This became the Hay Day Room since Bob said we were having a real "hay day" in the cave. As we surveyed back toward the Toxic Waste Dump we found a passage that popped out high in the ceiling of what appeared to be a huge room below. I was fairly certain that it was a room we had already been in. Bob swore up and down that it couldn't be. He was sure of it.
As we continued the survey, Bob went back the way we had entered and found that it was indeed a room we had gone through. We named this WFT Hall. Just another twilight zone experience in Wind Cave.
We continued back the way we had come, passing some amazing crystals Bob had discovered earlier. These dog-tooth spar impression had a crystal face on each facet impression and glimmered with rainbow colors when you played your light along the way. This was named the Rainbow Beehive-the impressions, in some spots, give the wall the appearance of honeycomb.
We were all relieved after successfully negotiating our way down the Toxic Waste Dump and connecting back to our survey. After analyzing the survey data we found that the drop down this initial climb was almost exactly 100 feet. Including the whole survey and climbs that we did not survey, the vertical relief in this area of the cave approaches the height of a 16 or 17 story building! This indicates that there might be a large area of undiscovered upper level passages in this part of the cave. Further exploration will try to see if the indications hold true.
Report by: Darren Ressler
Participants:
Jim Nepstad, Darren Ressler

Duration of Trip:
11-1/2 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
210 feet

One of the primary purposes of today's trip was to escape the 20 below zero temperatures that have been entertaining us for the last few days. Dropping down into the 53 degree warmth and the 90-plus percent humidity of the cave was a welcome change. Our plan was to head west-out to Half Mile Hall, on to the Elephant Trunk and then north to the Ghost Lake area and south to Mystery Lake. The idea was to push our way over to the Museum. If we made a connection here the trip out to the Silent Expressway could be shortened considerably-in both time and energy.
Our first "working" stop was a pit on the way-near the Wind Gate. This drop involves an incredibly long-legged stretch-one foot on each wall and a long step down. Even though a loss of footing here would not involve more than a 4 or 5 foot fall, any kind of slip this far in the cave is to be avoided at all costs. We had brought along several lengths of nylon climbing webbing to set up a hand line that cavers could use to steady themselves and for mental support on the way up or down. While sitting around discussing where we should tie the webbing at the top of the drop, we noticed a small crawl headed off behind us. After negotiating one belly-crawl and a short and easy down-climb we found ourselves at the bottom of the drop. This crawl had never been checked before and was a good reminder that it always pays to look around a little. We had a simple and safe bypass to what had been a potential hazard.
When we reached our destination both Jim and I found crawlways leading off from the end of the surveyed passage. Neither lead had been entered before. After we checked these areas for at least a half-hour we got back together and decided to survey the passage that Jim had found since it appeared to go in the direction of the Museum. This new passage had good examples of fossil coral, large dog-tooth spar pockets in the walls, incredibly delicate boxwork and "Hollywood rocks" (sometimes called "lunar rocks", these are rocks that look quite substantial but actually weigh next to nothing). After several shots it became apparent that we were headed more to the south and east than to the west. After 210 feet the passage pinched out. Time had marched on-it was about 6 o'clock now-so we decided that we should start our march back out to the cold. After nearly 3 hours, a gallon of sweat apiece and a stop in the Club Room for a lemonade we emerged out into the -30 degree "real world". Kind of made us feel as though we should go right back down into the cave-which we will do...very soon.
Report by: Darren Ressler
Participants:
Jim Nepstad, Darren Ressler, Bill Rodgers

Duration of Trip:
12 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
333 feet

In our efforts to slowly work ourselves into shape for a Silent Expressway trip we chose an area beyond Half Mile Hall for today's jaunt. The known cave south of the Elephant Trunk extended down what is known as the BW survey into a passage that went well past any surrounding area. We found our way relatively quickly out to where we wanted to begin-about 3 hours after entering the cave we were at the bitter end of the BW passage (having discovered along the way that the passage is much larger than it appears on the map). After lunching on bagels we found that the bitter end was not quite the end. The first crawl we tired led off under a false floor. Jim mentioned that leads under false floors "Never go anywhere"-so since the 706 feet we surveyed on this trip was found (more or less) from this crawl, we named the area Never Goes.
After the crawl was a small room from which another crawl followed by a short 7 foot climb continued on. As I was negotiating this climb Jim was beginning to come through the crawl beneath me. At what turned out to be a most opportune time, a large chunk of wall crust came off beneath my hand and crashed down straight on Jim's head. Jim was only partially through the hole so his hard hat took the full brunt of the falling rock. We all agreed that this was the largest rock we had ever seen fall on someone's head and that hard hats are certainly handy to have. We named this spot the Hard Hat Area. Recovering from this excitement, we continued the survey until we came to a T junction in the passage. Leads took off in both directions. As Bill was leading the survey with the tape and was the first to see this junction (which meant that we had lots more to survey) we dubbed this Bill's T.
Two leads off this passage connected back to the BW survey but the major passage-going through a very wet area with small pools of water-seemed to continue. At the end of the walking passage was a low belly crawl over a cracked, plated floor. After grunting my way through the crawl (not expecting it to go anywhere) I popped out above an impressive 30 foot pit. This pit became Belly Crawl Falls. After delicately down climbing the pit we were in large, walking passage with leads heading off in all directions. Surveying back and forth through this area we connected to the BW survey again, ran into the BX survey near the Elephant Trunk, and looped back on our own survey at one point. Many leads were left unsurveyed and not completely or even partially checked on this trip. Plenty of mystery for more trips in the future.
Report by: Darren Ressler
Participants:
Jim Nepstad, Darren Ressler, Bill Rodgers

Duration of Trip:
12 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
333 feet

Today's trip was interested in pushing the western boundaries of the cave. Jim had been in the northern end of Half Mile Hall two times in recent weeks and suggested the Sugar Shack area as a good spot to check leads. The Sugar Shack was one of those areas in Wind Cave which had seen only one other previous trip-the original discovery trip. We were all very interested to see the reason behind the name-visions of beautiful frostwork clusters danced in our heads.
After sweating our way out to Half Mile Hall and doing some minor route-finding at one point we finally began closing in on our destination after two and one-half hours. Then we promptly turned and went in the wrong direction ...starting our way back down another part of Half Mile Hall. As many times as this happens during our explorations of the cave it still surprises a little bit just how easily and quickly one can get disoriented.
Getting back on track we found the crawls leading off toward the Sugar Shack. Much to our dismay we found that the name was not in reference to great frostwork displays but rather to the powdery and sandy rock and soil in the area. This type of rock in the cave invariably winds up all over a caver's person. It is similar to crawling on a beach-with the beach being overhead as well as under belly. It crumbles and rains down the back of your shirt and pants-into your eyes and ears and everywhere else it can possibly get.
After crawling through the grit for an hour or so, checking leads, we finally found a crawl leading off to the west which dropped down a considerable distance. This first crawl and the room below we named The HMM Hole-the first expression at seeing the sudden drop below you was a concerned "Hmmm..." This first room was totally shattered; large blocks of breakdown hung unto the walls and undoubtedly would come tumbling down if used as handholds. To get down you have to cling to one wall-picking out the biggest loose rocks to hold onto, thinking light while looking down a twenty foot drop beneath you.
At the bottom of this first drop was a tight squeeze into the breakdown through which a caving helmet just barely fit and a caver's belly just barely fit as well. Bypassing a great aragonite frostwork display brought us to another room and through another crawl to a room with a 20 foot pit dropping down even further. Scrambling down the climb brought us to a hundred foot long horizontal passage with lots of frostwork and no way out. This last drop had given us a dead end.
Heading back out, we were satisfied with the 333 feet we had surveyed. We only had time to check leads at the very end of the Sugar Shack passage-which was probably the only area that the original surveyors had checked thoroughly. The rest of the passage is unchecked and remains for another trip on another day.
Report by: Darren Ressler
Participants:
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
Participants:
Bob Kobza, Jim Nepstad, Jim Pisarowicz, Darren Ressler

Duration of Trip:
10-1/2 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
1325 feet

With the excitement of the last trip's finds still fresh in our minds we had a rocket trip back to Half Mile Hall. With only a short rest stop at the end of Hobson's Choice and in the Club Room we were sliding into the south end of Half Mile Hall only an hour after entering the cave. Twenty minutes later we were in our new area trying to decide which way to go. We named that junction room Tough Decisions.
Like all good cavers we went for the largest passage with what looked like the most darkness. This lead us through a fairly nice sized passage which unfortunately connected back to the Figure 8 Room.
It seemed for a while that every hole we poked into kept reentering Half Mile Hall somewhere. One reentry point was up a crumbly climb that kept crumbling back down on those below the climber. It became Crumble Up, Crumble Down.
We had had it with this connecting and reconnecting to the same room so we backtracked to another area which our notes from the previous trip indicated had several leads. While deciding which of the really promising leads to push, Bob and Jim Nepstad poking into an obscure looking lead. Fifteen minutes later they returned saying that the passage just kept on going and they have even gotten momentarily turned around (i.e. lost) in one of the rooms on the way back. Without a second of hesitation we started into this lead.
This passage was fairly good sized but was coated with boxwork which had extremely thin fins and the walls were incredibly weathered. Traveling through this passage made one feel like the bull in the China shop so we called the passage Bull Run. In one section of Bull Run the walls were weathered in bands of brownish-red and black. This type of rock is occasionally found in sections of Wind Cave and is usually referred to as zebra rock. Because there was a large rock of this zebra rock in the middle of the passage we called it the Zebra Rock Rock.
By now it was past noon and we were all getting hungry. We all decided that the next room we came across we would have our lunch. Before we knew it we were in a sizable room and after taking our measurements and finishing the notes we all gathered for lunch. The previous week Darren had been in Phoenix and had brought back a large bag of bagels. We all had bagels for lunch with cheese. The bakery where he bought the bagels was called Chompies, so our new lunchroom quickly became Chompies' Shop.
From Chompies' Shop we entered an area with incredible frostwork. The crystals hung in wonderful cluster over 4 inches in diameter all over the boxwork and walls of the room. Because on this day in 1820 Antarctica was discovered we named the room Antarctica.
Everywhere we looked the passages just kept going off to who knows where. In one room Darren had crawled off, only to return several minutes later to declare that it "goes, and goes, and goes!" We named that room The G String and never even got into mapping that set of leads.
Later in the day we did reconnect to Half Mile Hall again but this time in the far northwestern part of the cave. Again it was not possible to survey all the new discoveries we had made on this trip. After mapping a couple more leads we decided to call it a day. Still lots of going cave and we will be back to continue the exploration in the near future!
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants:
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
 

North

Participants: Chris Amidon, Tom Jarvela, Kali Leitheiser, April Oesterling

Duration of Trip: 13 hours

New Cave Surveyed: 576.65 feet

A great trip. One of the best I've led. We bribed ourselves to start early, 7:00am instead of the usual 8:00am, so that we could try to be out of the cave by 8:00pm in order to celebrate our intended sucecss (which we achieved!) at Pizza Hut.

Having caved through The Happy Route 5 times, I've established a base timeline for the trip. With average cavers leaving from the Post Office:
  • To Cave City: 1 hour
  • To the KYY-WQ connection: 1.5 hours
  • To the Swiss Cheese Connection: 2 hours
Note: If travel is via the T survey, add thirty minuets of travel time.
Note: If travel is via the WU bypass, a tight constriction exists at the WU to WQ connection).
Note: On our return trip, travel time from Hotel Zebra, just beyond the Swiss Cheese Connection, to the Post Office took 1.75 hours.
As to the survey, first we began by mopping up the connection between HZ56 and KY466. Once that was complete, we moved to the scoped out lead that the initial explorers marked "Goes Ok" at KY467. The lead was sketched as a small crawl leading to a climb with two leads off of the dome (named "The Horrible Horta"). We surveyed this scooped passageway, climbing our way into the upper level along the chert layer. The climb, though not long, was extremely crumbly and precarious for that reason. At the top, after a modest room, the passageway became smaller though not tight. This is where the initial explorers stopped scooping and where our luck turned for the best. The upper level crawlway led to two pits, one small and climable, the other large and unclimbable (named "The 20lb out of Wedlock Awkward Baby Pit"). Both pits went to the same place, a large room with a beautiful collections of stalactites, ribbons, and flowstone (named "The Rite of Spring). Potential leads branched off in all directions, above, and below us. Sitting in virgin cave, with leads all around us, we revelled in the true excitement of Wind Cave exploration.
Continuing our survey, we pushed down a pit in the floor, carefully avoiding flowstone and into "grabby" middle level cave. The cave kept going and we kept surveying. We took our lunch in "The Borg Cube" and found a strange circular formation within a strange circular formation (we snapped a picture). Then we surveyed down another, deeper fissure, where our excitement momentarily waned as we discovered a KY582 station, to which we connected. We probably climbed near 100 feet of elevation change within the cave on a series of climb ups and climb downs. Pushing off "The Borg Cube" we found beautiful, delicate frostwork, clusters of which had become so big it had fallen over (named "The Gentlemen's Club"). This area began to look less pristine, and examining the map, I knew other KY survey was near, and sure enough, after a few more shots, we found KY588. The 1980's explorers had pushed some of these unsurveyed leads, but not very hard or carefully. Fortunately they didn't push them very far, and we snapped up some virgin cave with lots of potential for more.
Room Names:
"The Horrible Horta" (HZ62-HZ65) was named in reference to an original Star Trek episode where a creature makes caves by superheating and melting the rock as it moves through the underground. This climb up was extremely crumbly and annoying and it reminded Kali of this infamous Star Trek creature.
"The 20lb out of Wedlock Awkward Baby Pit" (HZ65) was named because one of our cave packs was incredibly heavy and awkward (too much water, a camera, and an unused deck of cards, sigh). We traded this pack from caver to caver during the trip, but it still caused significant grumbling, especially during climbs. This pit was christened in honor of this ill-fated pack.
"The Rite of Spring" (HZ67-HZ70) was named for the beautiful collection of dripstone formations, which reminded us of the dripping Spring rains. The Rite of Spring is also a refernce to an Igor Stravinsky Ballet premiered around 1915, at which during its world-premier, the audeience rioted at its strange visceral melodies. Later, The Rite of Spring would be used in Disney's "Fantasia".
"The Borg Cube" (HZ73) continues our Star Trek theme. This area was very cube-like in its survey and some of our light sources had a red spectrum, which looked eerily similar to members of the Borg from Star Trek the Next Generation. The Borg are aliens which seek to destroy or assimilate all inferior life forms (Humans, Vulcans, Bajori) Their spaceships are huge, hulking computer cubes.
"The Gentleman's Club" (HZ80) was named for the beautiful frostwork formations, some of which were growing out of a strange hump in the floor. The frostwork clusters grew so big that they had toppled over. It was definitely a "look but don't touch" atmosphere. A great trip with no incidents. A return to the Rite of Spring is being planned for September.
Report by: Chris Amidon
Participants:
Chris Amidon, Scott Babinowich, Alison Carlyle

Duration of Trip:
10 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
334.8 feet

"The Push to the North through the North"
I wanted to push myself now that I'm comfortable navigating, surveying, sketching, and leading cavers in the historic zone. I've been on a number of trips to deeper areas of the cave, but had not yet led such a trip. On this trip, I decided to push my route finding abilities. I decided to explore "The Happy Route", the second connection to the "Western Wilderness" of Wind Cave. To my knowledge, no one has traveled The Happy Route since 1987. Twenty years had elapsed since this route saw caving activity.
Not only did I want to push myself, I wanted to push some of the younger cavers I had trained over this summer season. With this in mind, I asked Scott Babinowich and Alison Carlyle to join the trip, which they both eagerly did. I would be pushing these two cavers too--neither had ever caved outside the historic area of Wind Cave. From talking to other cavers and examining survey notes, The Happy Route included significant crawling, minor climbing, and significant mazy passageway. I made it crystal clear that if at any time either one felt uncomfortable, we'd turn around and return to leads in the historic area.
With an atlas of survey notes and lineplots, the push to the north through the north began. The initial leg of the trip, from the Post Office to Rainbow Falls flew past in less than 20 minutes. After Rainbow Falls, I was in unfamiliar cave and the challenge began. Out of Rainbow Falls, we followed the NQ, which has good survey stations, but no sketches in places. We quickly found the T survey, which is fairly well marked with old carbide stations. It descends from the upper cave level down into the middle level through a fairly easy climb down (it was harder coming back up). However, there is a "ghost" NQ survey in this part of the cave with orange tags which can confuse things. These should be verified as "ghost" and then pulled at the next opportunity. The WQ survey has a good tag marked on the floor off of the T survey and it goes up through a vertical crack in the ceiling, a moderately difficult squeeze and climb. This was Alison and Scott's first real challenge and Alison flew up the climb without any trouble. For Scott, it took several tries, but after each attempt he calmed himself down, caught his breath, and tried again. On his third attempt, his foot slipped off its hold, and he caught himself with his arms, spread as if wings. His legs flailed beneath him, four feet from the ground. These are the moments all cavers fear. Finally he found a foot hold and descended safely to the floor. After a few minutes of contemplating the vertical crack, he made a fourth attempt and slipped vertically up the crack with little trouble! We were on our way through the Happy Route!
The beginning of the WQ survey, The Happy Route, twists and turns over itself like a plate of spaghetti, most of it on your hands and knees. This makes for difficult route finding. In addition to the difficult passage, only a few stations are marked! We tried just about every hole before finding the way on at WQ13. The "Cairn Crawls" are not too bad with only a few minor squeezes and plenty of places to sit up. However, the crawls are poorly marked. Often times you must pass by five or six stations before a tag is visible. This created problems. I would route find ahead, searching for stations, leaving Scott and Alison behind in case I had chosen the wrong path, but when the path turned out to be correct, I would should for them to follow me. However, as expected, sound travels extremely poorly in this cave. At times, I could see the light of Alison behind me, but she could not hear me. Once, for a few moments, when I crawled particularly far ahead of her, she panicked that I had disappeared. She couldn’t hear me, couldn’t see me, and didn’t know which way I had gone. Eventually I could see her light, but still she couldn’t hear me. I had to crawl a significant distance back in order to make contact.
The rooms after these crawls are significant, "Cave City", Fireball Hall", and "Happy Hollow". Travel time is much quicker from Cave City to the KY survey. The "500 Foot Pit" is an easy pit to descend. There is one tight squeeze after Happy Hollow and then we saw “The Cairn”, the same cairn the first explorers found in 1986, revealing they had found the second connection to “The Western Wilderness” of Wind Cave. When we finally popped out into the KY survey, we easily understood the excitement the first explorers felt at making this connection trip. It took us 3 hours exactly to traverse this section of cave, from Historic to North sections, which is the time I allotted--to the minute--to travel the route. On the way out, strangely, or maybe not so strangely, the same “group separation” occurred in the same exact place; this time Scott lost Alison's light and had a few moments by himself to contemplate the maze of Wind Cave. However, the hardest spot for us to leave was Rainbow Falls, a well traveled path! The first time we tried to leave the room, I traveled in a circle checking all the holes, yet not finding any tags or traveled paths that appeared correct. I had to scratch my head when I suddenly found myself staring at Rainbow Falls again. This just proves yet again that no matter how comfortable you are in Wind Cave, it will twist you around even in familiar passage!
On the second try, we found the NP route and made it to the Post Office without further incident. The return trip took us 2.5 hours. I surmise my next trip, having done the route once now, should take 2 hours, and eventually as little as 1.5 hours. This area of the cave twists and turns, but it was definitely not as nasty as I expected. I would go this route again to mop up leads off of the WQ and this area of the KY.
As to the survey, we mopped up leads off of KY355 and KY357. Nothing went anywhere significant, but we got some sizable shots and good sketches. Then we went to the HA to start mopping up leads. One went a short distance into a room we named "Rock Lobster" after an old song Scott knew, though he had forgotten the lyrics. There remain only a few nasty crawls to mop-up along the HA4A-HA4E survey. Two crawling leads still exist around HA4 as well as a Pit, which probably leads to other HA survey. Lastly we mopped up a lead at HA2 which the notes stated was nasty and crawling, but in reality was 4-5 feet high and simply connected back into KY359. There is still significant mop-up to do in this area of the HA and further along the KY. At some point it certainly makes better sense to take the Yellow Trail to get out to this area of the cave instead of traveling via the Happy Route, but I'm glad I challenged myself. I'm more secure in my route finding and caving abilities than ever. Even after some challenges, both Scott and Alison stated they would absolutely do this again (after significant rest). For two first time "deep" cavers into Wind Cave, I think that says it all about the trip. Cave on!
Christopher M. Amidon
Participants:
Stan Allison, Paul Burger, Brad Stephenson

Duration of Trip:
9-1/2 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
618 feet

It has been a month since Jim Nepstad, Tom Kopp, and Stan Allison had discovered going virgin passage off of the Chimera room. Several trips had been planned to follow up on this tantalizing lead, but none had materialized. On the appointed date of this trip our third person failed to show. Luckily we were able to convince Brad Stephenson that he would much rather spend his day off bashing his body underground, rather than relaxing on the surface.
So finally our long awaited trip began. We quickly made our way out past the Club Room and to the Chimera Room, arriving in one hour and fifteen minutes. Once in the Chimera Room we broke out the survey and inventory gear and began surveying and inventorying our way into the blank spot on the map east of the Chimera Room. After 200 feet of survey we reached the point of my previous penetration. Ahead lay virgin walking passage. This was not to be for long; as usual Wind Cave had other things in mind. The passage shrank to crawling size. Paul dropped down a tight hole and discovered the Jigsaw Puzzle. The Jigsaw Puzzle is a room with many breakdown blocks lying scattered about like a jigsaw puzzle waiting to be solved.
Exiting the Jigsaw Puzzle, the excitement of virgin passage was tempered by the need to be careful in a pristine area completely lined by frostwork up to four inches long! One misplaced hand or foot in this area could have obliterated these delicate formations never seen before by humans. After pushing all of the leads in this area to an end we decided to survey a side lead further back.
Shortly after beginning the survey of this side lead we came to a crawl with loose blocks of chert hanging menacingly from the ceiling. In order to pass through this it was necessary to crawl without touching the walls. I decided to name this hazard Can't Touch This. After roughly eighty feet of survey in this side lead we connected to station KYA-5 which is in a passage to the east of the Chimera Room.
On our way out I decided to check a lead heading northwest. After following approximately 200 feet of walking and crawling passage I came to a formation area with a three foot long soda straw stalactite, as well as many other formations. Due to lack of time we were unable to survey this area. It took us an hour and fifteen minutes to exit the cave. Once again we will anxiously look forward to the next trip to survey the tantalizing leads that are remaining in this area.
Report by: Stan Allison
Participants:
Jim Nepstad, Bill Rodgers, Darren Ressler, Joelle Selk

Duration of Trip:
10 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
186.7 feet

All things considered, the summer of 1988 has been a very slow one as far as exploration of the cave is concerned. Along with the normal busy summer season, Wind Cave was also an active participant in the largest national cavers convention ever. Along with special cave tours offered during the convention, filming projects, cave lighting and cave management work has tended to entice most of us to spend our days off out in the sunshine. As the summer continues however, the itch to get back into the cave begins to grow. Today's trip was meant to shake some of the laziness out and hopefully to find something new.
Since 1984 Wind Cave has had two usable "natural" entrance. Every half-mile and one mile tour begins by viewing the natural entrance near the visitor center. Half a mile away there is what we affectionately called the Snake Pit Entrance. Until this entrance was connected to a known area of Wind Cave in 1984, extremely little exploration was done in the far northeastern corner of the cave. Surprisingly, even the connection of this entrance has not resulted in increased exploration. Many areas in this part of the cave have seen only one trip (the original survey trip) of explorers pass through. Our goal today was to check leads indicated around the Chimera Room.
The Snake Pit Entrance involves about one hour worth of belly crawling, with occasional rests, before you enter the first larger room. This first larger room has basketball-sized clusters of frostwork which we paused to admire before continuing on towards our destination.
One of the leads indicated on the map got Jim out and crawling through into a new area. Since Jim was the only one in the group not wearing a yellow helmet (his was orange), we named this the OH survey (for Orange Helmet). We explored and surveyed almost 200 feet before our tape measure self-destructed on us and we were unable to continue. The passages continued on from where we left off and will have to be returned to.
The most spectacular discovery on this trip was the OH Flow Freeway. Moving through the first room (the OH Hole) we came to an area with a wall full of three foot long soda-straw stalactites, numerous stalagmites, draperies and flowstone columns. One column (a joined stalactite and stalagmite) was over 5 feet tall and 3 feet in diameter at the base. Stalactites and flowstone are very unusual in Wind Cave and this was the most amazing display any of us had seen in the cave.
After finishing our surveying we decided to make a little history. When the connection was made in 1984 the exploration party went back out the Snake Pit Entrance. Today we continued on down what is known as the KX Survey, over to the Club Room and then out to the Garden of Eden. From the Garden of Eden we walked back along the half-mile tour route to the man-made entrance. Since the natural entrance is permanently gated, we could not squeeze our way through that way. We succeeded, however, in accomplishing (as close as one could), a gate-to-gate trip-for the first time, after 10 hours in the cave, one entrance to the other.
Report by: Darren Ressler
Participants:
Jim Nepstad, Jim Pisarowicz, Karen Rosga

Duration of Trip:
9 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
617 feet

Back to The Pits!
We decided not to use the New Connection Route which is particularly nasty but instead made our way to the Coke Room via the Multi-Purpose and Bayberry Candle Rooms. This route would involve considerably less crawling but more climbing which is generally easier on your body.
While making her way up a short climb in the Bayberry Candle Room, Karen's pack strap broke and her pack fell to the floor of the room. Unfortunately the pack did not stop there and instead rolled down a small hole in the floor of the room and vanished. We all tried to recover the pack but it had fallen into a passage just under the Bayberry Candle Room. To recover the pack would have required a rope (which we did not have). Since all the other members of the survey party had extra lights, fuel, and supplies (and because Karen's pack did not have any of the essential survey gear) we continued on to the area to be explored and mapped.
Upon arrival at the Coke Room, we began surveying the new lead that lead to The Pits. These were really nice passages with high ceiling fissures (10-15 feet high) and were fairly wide (5 feet). It was fun, easy surveying and having just seen Pee Wee's Big Adventure the night before we called the new discovery Pee Wee's Playhouse.
Backtracking a bit from Pee Wee's Playhouse we started making our way down another lead and eventually found ourselves in a pretty good sized room with a high ceiling dome and a floor pit. The frostwork and popcorn in this area were really spectacular. We called this the Imagination Room and this was where we finished the survey for the day. Still lots of good looking leads in this area.
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants:
Jim Nepstad, Darren Ressler, Karen Rosga

Duration of Trip:
9 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
281 feet

Last year Jim and his brother Greg and Jim Pisarowicz discovered a new connection between the eastern side of the cave and the western side. This was only the second way found to cross from one side of the cave to the other. We decided to return to the western side via this route to check leads around the Coke Room.
We found our way around Lost Paradise and continued on through Happy Hollow and past the Laugh Track until we connected with the western side. This was only the second time that the full connection route had been done.
We stopped for lunch and after trading bagel, granola bars, and sour balls decided to begin surveying down a passage that Jim had located. Off we went through walking and almost-walking passage-passing some spectacular spar crystal along the way. We finally encountered an area with holes leading off in every direction. We each crawled off in a different passage to check the leads. After getting back together we found that each of us had located very promising ways to go. What a dilemma to have! New cave everywhere and only one question-where to start? Somehow I convinced Jim and Karen to go my way and off we went again.
We found tall vertical fissures and passages full of frostwork. The whole area had several deep holes-passages going down 30 and 40 feet and more. Because of this we named the area The Pits.
After surveying almost 300 feet we rearranged our priorities and began the journey back to home and pizza. Another promising area, headed out into a big open spot on the map.
Report by: Darren Ressler
Participants:
Jim Nepstad, Jim Pisarowicz, Darren Ressler

Duration of Trip:
8-1/2 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
502 feet

After procrastinating as long as possible we all sucked in our bellies and dropped down into the Blowhole. The Blowhole is the second known natural entrance to Wind Cave and involves about one hour worth of flat out belly crawling.
Last year when Jim and Jim attempted a Blowhole trip, they watched as a clumsy rattlesnake plopped right down into the hole and effectively cancelled that excursion. The memory of that incident is always in the back of your mind as you squeeze down through the entrance area.
We squirmed our way down into Santa's Frosted Forest and further down the passage into an area where a previous explorer had reported a large room headed to the west-off the map. We checked leads along the western wall of the passage only to find ourselves reconnecting to previously surveyed areas. Finding this hard to understand we finally decided to consult our compass. We had been checking leads along the eastern side of the passage-180° off! All three of us had been totally confused as to which direction was which. Wind Cave once again proved itself to be a very frustrating place.
We returned to an area closer to Santa's Frosted Forest and began surveying through a fairly large walking passage. We clambered down a 20 foot climb which we named The Flying Zambino-the walls were very crumbling and threatened to turn you into an impromptu acrobat. Continuing on through a crawlway which was covered with very soft and powdery soil (The Featherbed Crawl) we eventually found ourselves back in a previously surveyed room-a large room named House of the Fallen Snurd.
Altogether we surveyed a little over 500 feet of passageway in what was a relatively short trip. We wriggled our way back through the Blowhole emerging from the world of darkness out into the dazzling sunshine.
Report by: Darren Ressler
Participants: Bob Kobza, Jim Pisarowicz, Karen Rosga
Duration of Trip: 7 hours
New Cave Surveyed: none
This trip was an attempt to find an easier way into the interior of Wind Cave by using the Blowhole (Snake Pit) Entrance. Because of the cold weather and the snow on the ground, we figured that we did not have to worry about rattlesnakes in the cave.
Using the new plot of the cave based upon the radio location work on 1985, it appeared that the Blowhole route went directly under a large room just north of Santa's Frosted Forest. We trucked down the crawls to B-20 and then down toward B-24. This is a very interesting passage in that the lower sections are completely clay-filled. Bob and Karen initially checked the passage and indicated that it did not go. I then had a look at it and noticed that there was some air movement. I followed this air movement only to discover that all the wind went up through two small holes in the ceiling. One of these holes is large enough to look through into what appeared to be a large room. I am sure that it was the room just north or Santa's Frosted Forest. There is no way that a person could get through these holes short of blasting you way through. The only good point of the trip was that we confirmed that the maps were probably accurate in indicating that B-24 was under the WU survey in the large room.
We saw a bat above B-20, many small flying insects, some spiders and a few isopods all along this passage. There were small sections of tumbleweed blown all the way down to B-20.
The passage was very windy on the way out and everyone had their lamps blown out at one point or another. If the cave were inhaling cold outside air at such a force, the wind chill in the passage would be been -20°F or colder. This would be an important consideration on winter trips using this passage. The threat of hypothermia should be considered because the crawling is very slow in some places.
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants: Jim Nepstad, Jim Pisarowicz
Duration of Trip: 7 hours
New Cave Surveyed: none
On August 11, 1986, Jim Nepstad and I decided to enter Wind Cave via the Blowhole entrance. Since this route was established (October 1984) we had heard many stories about how terrible this route was into the cave. The passages were reported to be incredibly tight and that for all practical purposes this was not a usable entrance into Wind Cave.
As neither of us had been into the Blowhole and considering the stories we had heard about this entrance we figured about 4 hours would be required to route find and make our way down to the larger passages that the Blowhole route eventually connected.
To our surprise the Blowhole route was not as terrible as we were lead to believe. The entire route is crawling with occasional spots where one can sit up in and a couple of areas where it is possible to stand. Most of the crawling is upper level cave, fairly smooth or on floors of broken chert and small breakdown. In only two spots would I call the passages very tight and both of these are fairly short. Any person who had caved to any extent should consider this route a viable one into Wind Cave.
Travel time into Santa's Frosted Forest, including route finding, looking at incredible anthrodites and logomites (snurds) was only two hours. Just to see what the travel time would be after we knew the route we timed ourselves on the way out to the surface. From Santa's Frosted Forest to the surface (uphill most of the way) took 50 minutes. This route, as it stands, should be considered a usable entrance into Wind Cave.
There are several implications of this trip into Wind Cave via the Blowhole:
  1. The Blowhole entrance needs to be gated. Within an hour a caver could be back into some of the most delicate and sensitive areas of Wind Cave. Some of the anthrodites seen were 30-40 cm across. These were some of the largest anthrodites either of us had ever seen. The number of logomites (snurds) was likewise incredible. In one area alone probably 50 were observed, some perhaps 50 cm or more tall. The popcorn was some of the best in the cave.
  2. Gate construction should be relatively easy as the passages were fairly small. A simple bar across a passage would provide an excellent gate. Consideration must be given to wildlife in this part of the cave. The entire crawl had many insects including what appeared to be cave adapted crickets. A salamander was seen as far into the cave as B20. The gate should take the biota into consideration.
  3. On occasion it has been suggested that a new entrance could be dug into Wind Cave to provide an "easy" access into the northwestern part of Wind Cave. This is really not necessary considering that the Blowhole route should be sufficient to gain entry into this part of the cave. Fifty minutes of crawling (probably less once the route has been traveled several times) should not deter most active cavers considering the rewards that this effort brings. The Blowhole route should be considered the route into the northwest part of Wind Cave.
  4. Although the Blowhole route can be used by explorers to gain entry to the northwest part of Wind Cave, it could not be used as an evacuation route in case of an injury. In the event of such an emergency; then, and only then, should the previously suggested "new entrance" be dug into the cave. As this point is already radio located onto the surface and if an evacuation should be required an entrance could be quickly dug.
Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
 

Silent Expressway

Participants:
Steve Dunn, Marc Lamphere, Ed LaRock, Shaun Larson, Jim Pisarowicz, John Scheltens


Duration of Trip:
12 hours


New Cave Surveyed:
515 feet


Silent Expressway represents the western edge of Wind Cave. For this reason it receives much attention from cavers as they discuss the possibilities of where new cave will be found. Unfortunately, a trip to Silent Expressway is no small undertaking as the travel time (for a fast group) is often in excess of 3 or 4 hours (one way). The last two trips into this area discovered no new cave. With these thoughts we headed into Wind Cave on the long trek to Silent Expressway.

The plan for this trip was somewhat different from previous tips to the Silent Expressway. Two years ago, on the last trip to map new cave in this zone, Andy Flurkey was lowered down a pit with pack straps. At the bottom of the pit he indicated that he thought the passage continued but did not want to push it because of his precarious position so far into the cave. On our trip we were carrying a rope so that we could negotiate this pit.

Three hours after entering the cave we were rigging our rope at the top of the once descended pit. After we had anchored the rope, I did a quick French arm rappel down the drop. Shouting up to the others that I intended to check ahead, I turned down the large fissure.

This fissure quickly ended at the level I was at but continued up a climb. Chimneying up into the ceiling about 40 feet I encountered a hole going down (again) but it had good air movement. I was really excited as I made my way down the tight hole expecting at any moment to pop into the large passage that was responsible for all the air flow. The passage continued down and continued to blow so I headed back to get the others.

Meanwhile, John had found an upper level above the hole I had descended. We decided to follow the air first with Shaun and I pushing ahead while the others surveyed what we had discovered. This worked extremely well except the passages shut down on us. All the wind dissipated through small cracks and fissures that we could not get through.

We regrouped at this point and began pushing into the upper level leads that John had first entered. These were low, wide crawls with yellow clay floors. This area is a maze of these kinds of crawls but by the time we had started surveying there it was time to begin the long trip out of the cave to meet our trip time table.

This new area has pretty good potential, especially considering that the previous two trips out here did not uncover any new leads. I am sure that we will return to continue exploring these new crawlways, following the wind to who knows where.

Report by: Jim Pisarowicz
Participants:
Jim Nepstad, Jim Pisarowicz


Duration of Trip:
9 hours


New Cave Surveyed:
638 feet


On a previous trip to the Lakes area of Wind Cave, I had noticed a large passage leading off of the main route near the Garden Gate. Being curious as to where this passage went, I checked the map after leaving the cave. Much to my surprise, this passage was unmapped! The purpose of this trip was to push this exciting lead.

We were mapping into the lead only 45 minutes after entering the cave. The passage remained very large for about 175 feet. Being large and easy to move through, we named this passage The Superconductor. After following this route to a dead end, Jim pushed a side lead which led us past the BBC Alcove (for Big Beautiful Crystals), through a tight crawl, and finally to a nice sized room which we named the Nobel Prize. An intriguing hole in the ceiling frustrated us with its inaccessibility. Rather than risk life and limb, the brave explorers ate lunch.

From here we surveyed into several dead end side leads, the largest of which we named Alex Alley, in honor of Assistant Chief Naturalist Kay Rohde's one month old son. We also found a hole going up into the ceiling of one of the passages. Jim ascended this tricky climb first and called for the survey tape after finding out that it led to a large room. I attempted to throw the tape up to him several times (he was over 30 feet above me!). Once it came crashing down on my head! Fortunately I was wearing my hard hat at the time. After surveying to the top we named this hole Bonk Pit. The large room led to a few more passages, one of which ended in a particularly painful climb which we named Beyond Nasty. Persistent and uncontrollable thoughts of food drove us form the cave soon afterward.

Report by: Jim Nepstad
 

Southern Comfort

Participants:
Stan Allison, Paul Burger, Myk Coughlin, Kelly Mathis, Mike Wiles


Duration of Trip:
Long


New Cave Surveyed:
3223 feet


Trips to the Southern Comfort area of Wind Cave have slowed down to a mere trickle of one or two per year during the past four years. We had many excuses for making few Southern Comfort trips. Jewel was (and is) going BIG, certain two-wheeled contraptions were distracting me and we had no big going leads in Southern Comfort. What we did have was lots of airflow and small leads that had the possibility of leading to more cave if only someone could find the "right" lead. On September 13, 1997, we decided it was time for another look.

Kelly Mathis, Mike Wiles and I made plans to get out and see if we could track down the tremendous airflow felt at the Hole Thing in Route 66. Kelly was intrigued to see more of Southern Comfort as he had never been past Blind Faith. Mike and I were excited to return to this area and give it a thorough looking over. We spend over 3 hours pushing various leads at the bottom of the Hole Thing. One lead in particular had good airflow going towards known cave but got too tight even for Mike. Finally Mike and I decided to go look at a too tight lead at the end of an unpleasant snaggy crawl called The Skinner. Kelly wanted to look at a lead near the water collector so we split up. At the sigh spot in The Skinner, Mike felt airflow leading to new cave. He began chipping on a chert obstruction that prevented us from continuing. As he chipped he babbled along happily about various topics. Meanwhile I drifted in and out of consciousness until he made the squeeze large enough to pass. On the other side, Mike found a lead going north that had airflow and went 400 feet with more to look at. While Mike looked at this lead, I began making my way though a series of tight, snaggy crawls heading west. I must admit that my perseverance in pushing this tight crawl was with the hope that it would end and no one would ever have to return to its' ugliness. As luck would have it, after several hundred feet, I popped into a southwestern trending passage. Starting out as a stoopway, it soon became 15 feet high and wide! Running down it for several hundred feet I came to a junction. Taking the main passage I came to a breakdown obstruction after another 150 feet. Backing up to the junction I traveled down the smaller passage for 50 feet and found myself looking at a 20 foot tall 10 foot wide passage going both north and south! At this point I decided it was time to head back and hook up with Mike.

We made our way out of the crawls and met Kelly in Route 66. His leads had not gone and he had been waiting for us for 2 hours. I excitedly described the walking passages I had seen, and admittedly did not give equal time to describing the horrors of The Skinner continuation. We spent the next three hours surveying 372 feet through the discomfort of The Skinner. By the time we made it to the start of the walking passage it was getting late and time to go. Kelly was so disgusted with the crawl that he said he never wanted to go back it it! We made good time out of the cave arriving at the elevator four hours and 20 minutes after leaving the water collector in Route 66. This sixteen hour trip caused me to spend the next several weeks daydreaming about what was in store for us in the blackness of the passages I had seen..

Myk Coughlin, Mike Wiles and I returned on October 25th. On our way into the cave we could feel the cave inhaling strongly in the Looney Toobes. We began surveying south from our previous survey into the 15 foot tall and wide passage. Myk Coughlin made an observation that the airflow was coming from the south. We realized that somewhere behind us must be where the cave was going. Even though we were surveying towards known cave we continued our survey down the large passage. This area had 700 feet of mostly walking cave. Since it did not lead to more cave and was merely a distraction we named it the Tangent. Part of this area was on top of a previously surveyed passage and one tight lead has airflow coming from known cave. We have hopes of finding a bypass to The Skinner in this area.

After finishing up the survey of these nice walking passages, we headed back to the north trying to track down the airflow. Mike Wiles and I checked into some crawly maze areas with no airflow. Myk Coughlin, went up a climb and followed strong airflow through 400 feet of hands and knees crawls that led to walking passage. We surveyed the 400 feet of crawls, marveling at airflow that seemed to be as good or better than that felt in the Looney Toobes! Because of the airflow, Myk C. named the crawl The Wheezer. The crawl eventually popped up into a large walking passage surrounded by hydromagnesite and frostwork, both indicative of airflow! We suspended the survey and scooped about 700 feet of cave, finding some nice gypsum flowers and needles, but no obvious way on. Where was the air coming from? We were tired and decided that we would have to wait until the next trip to find out.

Paul Burger, Myk Coughlin, Mike Wiles and I returned on November 21. We surveyed the 700 feet we had scooped noting many interesting features that we had missed during the heat of the scooping moment. The bedrock in the area had cross-bedding and there were Jewel-like spar crusts in the ceiling of a dome. As we surveyed we checked leads heading away from the roughly square loop that the 700 fee of cave made. But we could not seem to find anything that was going away from what we already knew.

I was beginning to wonder where the air was going and whether or not we would be able to follow it. Luckily Myk came through for us again. He followed the air up a scary, loose climb with 30 feet of exposure, through a crawl and down a pit where he left leads going and returned with his light running very low on carbide. We began surveying up the climb which we decided to call Dangaroos Crossing after the tourist question to a ranger about the "Bison are Dangerous" signs along the highway in Wind Cave National Park. When we got to a place where the cave went both up and down, Paul tried climbing into a dome which did not go. I tried down, and found several hundred feet of going cave past where Myk had been, When I returned from my scoop, I immediately suffered from a case of instant karma as I got a painful piece of girt in my eye that took me several minutes to remove.

Most of the 1000 feet of cave that we surveyed beyond the Dangaroos Crossing was walking to large walking sized. Several of the lower level passages had calcite coatings and hydromagnesite growing in clumps found about every three feet along the floor. This made for an interesting game of caver hopscotch as we tired to avoid crushing these hydomagnesite clumps. We soon climbed up and the calcite coatings disappeared. Instead we found a layer of manganese that was one to three feet thick in the ceilings of many passages. Paul fond another interesting feature; a sediment floored passage that had signs of large amounts of water flowing across it. In the center was a channel one foot deep and one foot wide that drained a massive sediment pile coming out of a high lead. We were careful to flag a path on one side of this sediment feature preserving most of it untouched. We left the cave with several enticing leads in this area but not being sure as to where the elusive airflow was. Paul and I lagged behind the Mikes as we took pictures of Southern Comfort for an exploration talk Paul is planning for the 1998 NSS Convention.

So far we have surveyed 3223 feet of cave beyond The Skinner. Wind Cave is currently at 81.06 miles. Airflow in the area indicates that this is the place to find more cave in Southern Comfort. Our last survey is very high stratigraphically in the Paha Sapa Limestone. It takes roughly, and I do mean "roughly" 30 minutes to travel through The Skinner and The Wheezer. Mike Wiles claims that he would rather do the whole length of The Miseries in Jewel. The rest of us feel that it is definitely worse than the Mini-Miseries due to its snaggy disposition. Hopefully we will be able to find a bypass to The Skinner in the future. Big tight, nasty crawls are easily forgiven when they lead to lots of new cave.

Report by: Stan Allison
 

Significant Finds

Summary: On 8/11/2001, five survey trips were led into Wind Cave, elevating the Wind Cave survey past the 100-milestone. Following are the trip reports from the five trip leaders that accumulated enough survey to reach this historic milestone.

1st Trip: John Scheltens led Rod Horrocks, Mike Hanson, and Steve Baldwin to the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We surveyed along the BQ survey. The BQ is the old route that connects the Bachelor Quarters with the Chert Room. We found, but did not survey on this trip, a connection down to Monte Cristos Palace. We also found an Alvin McDonald signature at BQ34. We surveyed 454 feet and as of 6:45 PM on 8/11/01, the Wind Cave survey is now 99.99 miles long! The other four trips will definitely push the survey beyond 100 miles.

2nd Trip: Marc Ohms led Rene Ohms to the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We surveyed a lead off of the RS survey not far from the Caving Tour. We surveyed 187 feet up in a dome lead that died. Today the cave hit 100 miles!!!

3rd Trip: Pat Roberson led Evan Anderson, Derek Wolfe, and Stephanie Haderlie to the Half Mile Hall Section.

Trip Report: We went back to the BX survey and surveyed mostly tall narrow fissures. They tended to be tight with protruding boxwork. We tied into the BXA survey. There are more parallel fissures to survey in this area. We surveyed 1,046 feet for the day.

4h Trip: Tom Dotter led Karla Whittenburg and Kim McVey to the Club Room Section.

Trip Report: We found a lead over the NC survey that tied into WG1. We surveyed 211 feet for the day.

5th Trip: Dave Lester led Marjori Johnson and Tim Moreland to the Colorado Grotto Section.

Trip Report: We climbed up towards the STP Speedway, then north and east in an unsurveyed fissure. We worked across tops of areas until we were not able to continue. We then worked our way down. We surveyed 250 feet.

Trip: On 3/13/2002, Rod Horrocks led John Scheltens to the Phototropic Passage in the Historic Section where they surveyed Alvin McDonald's 1893 discovery, Alpine Way.

Trip Report: Went to the Phototrophic Passage to look for leads. We found that the current AT18A-F survey of this passage was actually a resurvey of the LK survey. We located all of the LK points but could not find any of the AT18 points. We started our survey by connecting the LK1 station to F8, which was only 12 feet away and in line of sight. We decided to continue with the LK designation. We established our first station (LK10) at the top of an unclimbable fissure that opened into a room below. We found a parallel fissure that was climbable at LK11. At the bottom of this 20-foot climbdown, we found stair steps cut into a sloping calcified floor crust. The fissure had been heavily traveled. I realized this must be the "Alpine Way" named by Alvin McDonald in 1893 and the route he used to get from the Pearly Gates Route up to the Fairgrounds. I was surprised this hadn't been surveyed before. We then dropped another vertical shot down the unclimbable fissure. This shot was 26 feet and landed in the Council Chamber. We then surveyed a nearby passage that angled down into a low area with thick floor crusts. This area was heavily vandalized in 1897 or soon thereafter, based on the dated newspaper fragments we found there. Although this area ended, there are several nearby passages to survey. We'll continue the LK survey into those passages on a future trip.

1st Trip: On 1/29/2003, Rod Horrocks led John Scheltens and Steve Baldwin to the Attic in the Historic Section, where they discovered an Alvin McDonald signature in a dome lead they named High Hopes.

Trip Report: We went to a lead at MU5 in the Race Track and surveyed a low, wide room and pillar type maze, connecting to UN43J and then UN43L. We then abandoned this area with 192 feet of survey and went to the end of the Attic. After shooting up into a dome, which goes up another 70 feet and opens into a maze, we decided to hold off on surveying this until we find out where it is on the lineplot. We then shot into a tube at the end of the dome. It was virgin, but ended after 46 feet. We then dropped a shot into a very deep floor slot. We put a vertical shot down 33 feet (about 1/2 way down the slot) at the level between two stations (MU12K and L). It drops from there into a deep fissure, that isn't surveyed. We then went to find AT16, but couldn't find it. So, we resurveyed AT15 and 16 and then shot into a couple of dead-end passages. We left a couple of leads at AT15A. We surveyed 417 feet for the day.

2nd Trip: On 2/22/2003, Rod Horrocks led Seth Spoelman, John Scheltens, & Steve Baldwin back to the High Hopes area in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We went on an evening trip back to the dome we had found in the Attic on January 29th. We started at station AT14. The dome climbed up 54 vertical feet. At the top we found a "2.H,Q June 30th 1892" signature written in the corrosian residue. We then surveyed a little maze of passages, some with gypsum needles and cotton and frostwork. At station AT14N, we found a soft dirt dig that Alvin and Roy hadn't gone through. We were pretty sure that nobody had been in this dome since 1892. Steve moved some dirt aside and found some larger passages. A mudcracked floor with gypsum cotton went a couple of shots to the east. A larger passage went north. We found some larger needles, some 4-5" long below a dome that went up an additional 20 feet. This must place the dome very high in the cave? We found some arrows and initials "J.S." in this area. We wondered if it was John Stabler? Steve crawled through a tight squeeze, following the arrows. He was able to finally connect with the Lonesome Place dome area found by Stabler off of the Attic in 1895. Although, we didn't find any new cave, or break out to the east as we had hoped, the connection and the historical facts were interesting. We named the area "High Hopes" because I hoped the lead would head eastward over the lower cave along the eastern edge of the cave. We didn't finish surveying the connection to Lonesome Place because of two very tight squeezes, ones that only Steve could fit through. We surveyed 237 feet for the evening.

Trip: On 8/8/2009 Rod Horrocks led Ken Geu, Scott Babinowich, & Garrett Radke to the Dragon Room area in the Historic Section where they found an Alvin McDonald signature in a passage they named Shirk Street.

Trip Report: We went back to the Dragon Room to continue surveying side leads off of an old 1973 survey. Starting at PR22, we shot two shots into a side passage before it became too tight. We could see that the passage opened up after the tight spot, but it was impossible for a human to get through. Moving back to PR3 in the Dragon Room, we shot to the south into a maze of passages. We found a small virgin crawl that Garrett crawled into first. This led to a small room and a tight bellycrawl that became too tight just before a second room. We abandoned this passage and shot to the east, where we connected to PRE11. Dropping back to a side passage, we shot up into a side passage with an obscure fissure in the ceiling. Shooting up into the fissure, we surveyed to the east down a straight passage. This passage continued straight for some distance before suddenly turning north and reconnecting to PR25. About half way down this passage we found a small dome that Alvin McDonald and Joe Shirk had written their names in the corrosion residue on 7/17/1893. Unfortunately, they had also heavily vandalized this passage. Dropping back to a slot in the floor, we reconnected to PRE13. After shooting into a dead-end side lead, we went back to the side lead and shot into a wide passage that hadn't been surveyed. Although, this quickly reconnected into the PRE survey, we didn't close the loop. We then shot to the west into a passage that paralleled the PRE15 survey. After closing a couple of loops with that survey, we called it a day. We surveyed a total of 453 feet for the day, leaving several leads for a future trip.

SHIRK STREET: Joe Shirk and Alvin McDonald signed their names in a dome in this passage on 7/17/1893.

1st Trip: On 11/11/2000, Evan Anderson led Derek Wolfe and Shawn Kramer to the Bucking Horse Canyon area in the Half Mile Hall Section, where they discovered the Ballot Box area.

Trip Report: The KP Pit is the only way that I know to get into Bucking Horse Canyon and it is over 100-feet deep and exposed at the top. Surveying into a nearby virgin walking passage, we named several new areas, including the Campaign Trail, Battle of the Bulge, and Split Vote. We also named a 20 x 40-foot room the Ballot Box and a large balcony, the Gore Hole. All the names were in reference to the on-going

Florida presidential election contest. We surveyed 1,203 feet, leaving numerous great leads in an exciting new area. While surveying a bellycrawl, Derek had a false floor break and he fell eight feet, but was OK. We name it the Kamikaze Crawl. We surveyed 1,203 feet, leaving much to do.

2nd Trip: On 1/13/2001, Evan Anderson led Steph Haderlie, Pat Roberson, and Steve Lester back to the Ballot Box area.

Trip Report: Our first lead was along the red/white trail on the west side. We tied into the KKL survey. We then surveyed a pit lead that I had found previously. It tied into the KKL survey again. We surveyed 1,680 feet.

3rd Trip: On 4/14/2001, Evan Anderson led Tonya Potts and Paul Mozal back to the Ballot Box area.

Trip Report: Began surveying where we left off last trip. Tied into CT8. Found west going leads that popped into the BV survey. Surveyed some mop-up around Bucking Horse Canyon. We surveyed 1,020 feet.

Trip: On 2/21/2000, Marc Ohms led Rene Rogers, Matt Truitt, and Nick Myers to Browns Canyon in the Historic Section where they discovered button popcorn.

Trip Report: We entered the cave after dinner at 6 pm and headed in along the Fairgrounds route to Brown's Canyon where we left the trail and headed north up Brown's Canyon. At TT7 we surveyed 260 feet of pretty easy going passage. We found some button popcorn, the first that I know of in Wind Cave.

Trip: On 6/13/08, Carl Bern led Andrew Blackstock, Evan Blackstock, & Larry Shaffer on the first camp trip to Camp Cosmos in the Southern Comfort Section.

Trip Report: June 13, 2008

After meeting with the Park cave staff, and taking before-trip photos of the team, we headed into the cave. We stashed the key to the elevator and some bottles of Gatorade on top of the elevator structure for when we returned. All four of us were using the two-pack system for carrying our gear into the cave and we found this to be a great strategy for traveling the route out to Camp Cosmos. A small side pack, typical day-pack sized, is worn close to the body and loaded with heavier items. A larger pack (most of us used the Monster TAG pack) loaded with less dense items is worn as a backpack. The small and delicate nature of many passages on the route to camp necessitates removing the backpack frequently. Keeping the large pack as light as possible reduced the strain on our arms as we rolled or slung it forward. Having the heavy items in the little side pack is nice because they essentially move with the caver's body, and that pack only rarely has to be removed to fit through a constriction. Neoprene sleeves over the shoulder strap of the side pack worked nicely to keep our necks from being rubbed too raw over four days of caving.

I led the way in, and kept the pace moderate, to preserve energy and let everyone get used to moving with the two packs. Andrew took over after the BM1 climb-down to get more familiar with the route. We stopped at the Pile-Up water collector for a while to shore up this key link in our water supply. By adding a small funnel and rearranging the plastic sheeting, the 1.5 gallon water collector has been restored to reliability. The 1 gallon jug and funnel collector remains reliable. We filled and stashed a 1 gallon cubetainer of water at the Pile-Up as well, to be an ultimate safeguard against collector failures.

The unstable slope with the handline in Rt. 66 continues to shed small rocks and requires caution. We arrived to find the Rt. 66 water collector full to capacity! Even with slumping of the containers, approximately 16 gallons of water had been collected, in addition to the 7 gallons previously stashed. We got a quick drink and proceeded to camp. Total travel time to camp was about eight hours.

At Camp Cosmos we dropped our packs on the staging area tarp. Andrew and Larry returned to Rt. 66 to get water for camp and transfer water into the stockpile. Evan and I found a spot for the latrine around station LO51E. We used the same orange flagging tape used to mark the rest of camp to flag a narrow path from camp to the latrine. The path keeps cavers off of delicate features and on the smoother parts of the floor most friendly to cavers wearing thin aquasocks. Evan and I then used green flagging to improve the trail between Camp Cosmos and Rt. 66, but quickly ran out of flagging. We stashed some emergency freeze dried food in the camp.

Andrew and Larry returned with water, and we quickly packed up for a couple hours of survey. At nearby LO55F we found the northern lead more promising and started a survey. The lead was virgin, but generally small and slow to survey, a common theme on this trip. We pushed along, encountering lots of rock flour. At 20:30, our pre-determined quitting time, Andrew found the crawlway blocked by a nice display of coral that would be difficult to squeeze past. Our last station (LO55R) plots near passage we later surveyed on June 15.

We returned to camp, shed our dirty clothes in the staging area, and changed into clean polypro and the aquasocks that stay in camp. Here we found the only item that had been missing from Larry's exhaustive camp-trip checklist, a stuff-sack for shuttling between the staging area and the main camp. Juggling Ziploc bags, we settled into camp.

Camp Cosmos is quite pleasant, and compares favorably to the camp in Jewel. We found it warm enough to lounge around on our foam pads in polypro and balaclavas without benefit of sleeping bags. That makes life more convenient, and should save wear and tear on the bags. The Trangia alcohol stove worked like a charm; while the titanium Decagon stove proved a bit slow to boil water. I took the position next to the kitchen, and due to the linear nature of the camp was in charge of the stoves. We found several sharp pieces of floor hiding under the camp tarps. Some were dispatched with blows from the fuel bottles, others will require a hammer. This task needs to be done soon or the tarps will degrade quickly. After dinner we agreed to an eight hour block of sleep time and turned out the lights.

June 14, 2008

Got up at 06:45 We packed for a full day beyond the Skinner, the primary focus of this trip. At Rt. 66, we found that approximately 4 gallons of water had accumulated in the collector in the 14 hours since emptying it. Fresh from a night's sleep and breakfast, we also found the Skinner to be quite tolerable. I located the hammer near the end of the Skinner and we went to our first lead at ER29. Two shots finished that lead. We backtracked to the leads at ER26 and mapped over to LLB31. This is a complex area with connections between the parallel ER and LLB passages and another parallel between. More could be surveyed here, but the area is bounded.

We traveled south to the LLB37 area, the one area beyond the Skinner I had never visited. The marked lead south of LLB33 is really an alcove. At LLB37 we found a very promising lead headed south off the map with air movement that Larry enlarged at two spots. It ended in contorted passage, too tight to continue. We mapped two shots and Larry sketched the rest. Another lead curved north before becoming too tight after three stations. I poked down to LLB41 and found two connected pools there. These are likely part of the same water table observed out near Vega that has risen since the original exploration. Scouting north to LLB34A we noted a sketchy climb of dubious potential on the west wall, north of LLB34.

Next we checked the area from LLB33A-D. Evan and Larry checked the lead out at LLB33D, which had small leads up, down, and to the east that were quickly choked with red sediment fill. Andrew and I checked around 33A. There are numerous holes in the ceiling accessible by loose climbs here. Some on the north side of the passage have aragonite lining, but quickly become very tight and contorted and end in brown mud chokes and constrictions. And others loop back to the main passage. On the south side, where a dome is marked there are some crumbly loop passages in the ceiling. Andrew kept track of my location as I checked these by noting where sand and rubble were gushing from the ceiling. As all these leads would be either dangerous or tediously slow to survey, with no potential for expanding the cave, we left them.

At LLB33A we mapped three stations north in a marked lead before it became too tight. A little hammer work could continue the passage. The passage heads straight towards a 'too tight' lead at LDL10F, and could provide a bypass to the Skinner. Checking the LDL10F side can be accomplished on the first day of the next camp trip.

We mapped two stations in the LLB32 lead before it ended. From there we returned to LLB29B. Low crawl leads heading southwest from here looked better than I remembered, even though they head towards the Gas Chamber. We started mapping. The crawls are low and slow to survey, but air moves through them, and we encountered several junctions. At 20:30 we quit for the day. We left the hammer at station ER102 and retreated to LLB29B to pack up. Here we discussed what to do with the tape. The 100' open reel did not fit well in anyone's pack for the return trip through the Skinner. Confident we would be returning the next morning, we left the tape behind.

June 15, 2008

Around 04:00 Andrew awoke and became violently ill. For the next two hours he was vomiting and dry heaving. We brainstormed what might be causing him to be sick. One guess was an allergic reaction to some antelope billtong (jerky) that I had brought along as a treat and shared around at dinner. Evan and I had eaten more billtong than Andrew and suffered no effects. Larry did not eat any. The only other thing Andrew ate for dinner was freeze dried food and that seemed an unlikely cause. There was little we could do for Andrew except reassure him that a gallon cubetainer could transport the vomit out of the cave, and then wait to see if he got better or worse.

We slept in by an hour after the restless night, giving us nine hours of sleeping bag time. Andrew was only feeling tired and queasy by now, but did not feel like eating. Taking Andrew beyond the Skinner was obviously unwise, but surveying close to camp seemed feasible. Luckily we were not scheduled to exit the cave this day, because hard travel would have been an issue. I decided that Evan and I would and retrieve the survey tape. We packed a single day pack to travel through the Skinner. Larry, the other designated trip leader, remained with Andrew. If Evan and I did not return in three hours, Larry and Andrew would come after us at whatever pace Andrew could manage.

Evan and I breezed through the Skinner, grabbed the tape, drank some water, and made the return trip in about 1 hour 20 minutes. Andrew was definitely on the mend when we returned, but needed an easy day. We decided to map leads 5 or 10 minutes away near the DOH Room. We left camp at noon telling Andrew to expect someone at 14:00. At that time he could join us on the survey, or continue resting in camp.

Larry, Evan, and I started mapping a lead headed north from NG10. The passage contains impressive boxwork more than three feet deep, and many large pillowy vugs that are only occasionally broken open to reveal spar-lined interiors. The ceiling, walls, and particularly the floor are sharp and snaggy. The calcified sediment floor of the belly crawl passage has lots of little vermiform features to hook on clothing. At 14:00 Larry went to check on Andrew. Larry made sure to tell Andrew about the unpleasant nature of the survey passage, but Andrew joined us anyway. We found dusty, rounded aragonite features around stations NG10H and J suggesting airflow from the end of our survey back towards camp and we could feel air moving that direction.

At NG12 we mapped another lead into punky rock and rock flour lined passage. Everything ended in digs and constrictions without airflow. We looked at the south trending lead between NG9 and 10 and deemed it too horrible to enter. The floor resembles large calcified sediment fishhooks.

The largest and most pleasant leads of the trip were off the north end of the DOH room, where we went next. It was a challenge not to shed rock flour from our clothing on the relatively pristine calcified sediment floors. We mapped a marked lead into a low, wide basin of a room to NG7C. We then mapped a lead that had been missed into two branches of passage. The north trending passage eventually came to a climb that led upward into a chimney with middle cave characteristics and ended. Andrew checked holes in the breakdown floor of the DOH room and found a system of crawls that seemed likely to yield good footage, but we were out of time for the day. Back at camp we organized our gear a bit and Andrew was hungry enough to eat dinner. Evan stitched a hole in his pants.

June 16, 2008

We got up at 06:00 with the hope of leaving camp by 07:30. Sleeping bags and the bag containing the first aid kit were stowed with fresh desiccant. Waste was collected from the latrine. I swept debris from the tarps in the sleeping area into a Ziploc bag and obtained less than a teaspoon of sediment and a single piece of food debris. In contrast, the staging area tarp was covered with perhaps half a cup of sediment and absolutely filthy. We poured this dirt into the same Ziploc and packed it out.

Having a staging area for dirty clothes and gear was a great idea. We all commented on how clean the sleeping area remained even though the majority of our gear was covered with dirt and dust.

We left camp at 08:00. Although we were tired from three previous days of caving and fully burdened again, we were now fully accustomed to moving through the cave. The trip out went fast. Larry led from Camp to the Pile-Up. There are a few places where an additional flag would help a person not familiar with the path. Evan, Andrew, and Larry led various parts of the rest of the trip out. We arrived at the elevator around 14:30, after a 6.5 hour trip from camp.

Summary and Conclusions

The first camp trip to utilize Camp Cosmos was a success. All team members exited the cave safely and without more than the usual scrapes and bruises. The camp itself has minimum impact on the cave, and the utilization of a small team, properly equipped, has barely more impact on the route to camp than a day-trip. All trash and human waste was packed out of the cave. The camp itself is pleasant and provides the intended benefit of allowing explorers to rest and recuperate and extending time available for surveying. The water collector at Rt. 66 provides ample water to support exploration, and currently recharges faster than a team of four cavers consumes water. The Pile-Up is also now a more reliable water source.

Having a team member get sick in camp was a reminder of just how self-reliant we must be in Southern Comfort. The camp affords us options and margins of safety we did not have before, but avoiding illness and injury must remain a top priority.

This first camp mapped 1,166 feet of passage, all south of the Delusions of Grandeur. While we might have hoped for more footage, the nature of the cave is a major control on the pace of exploration. No 'easy' leads remain in Southern Comfort. Virtually all marked leads were checked for some distance by the original explorers. The best strategy now is to methodically check areas, always with the mindset that we might be the last explorers to pass judgment on whether any potential remains. We are looking for marked and unmarked leads and casting our eyes high on the walls and ceilings, noting leads that might require climbing or digging.

My strategy of focusing effort on a south to north sweep of the area beyond the Skinner was hampered by having an ill team member. However, we still made measurable progress out there. We checked/mapped 9 marked leads in the area, and left a promising system of crawlways to explore on the next trip. Additionally, in the vicinity of the DOH room we checked/mapped 5 marked and 1 unmarked leads. By crossing leads and areas off the map we eliminate possibilities, allowing us to focus on areas where potential remains. Only by such methodical work can we answer the question, does another breakout exist in Southern Comfort?

1st Trip: On 9/22/07, Rod Horrocks led Roger and William Harris to the Bishop Fowlers Loop in the Historic Section where they discovered the Chertstone Connection.

Trip Report: We went back to the lead at BFL14G on the Bishop Fowlers Loop that we had left from a trip a few months before. A light tap on the rock on the floor that prevented me from entering the lead on our last trip dislodged the rock on this trip. We picked up the survey at BFL14H and surveyed into some Upper Level tubes. We passed five side leads before we dropped down a pit and through a chert ceiling and into an Upper Middle Level passage. The entire ceiling of this lower passage was composed of a chert layer, which I assume is the same chert layer found in the Chert Room on the Fairgrounds Tour Route.

Since we obviously had an extensive area to survey, we started a new survey designation, the IJ. Because this passage eventually connected into the IZ survey and the Fairgrounds Tour Route, we named the passage CHERTSTONE CONNECTION. There was very little evidence of previous cavers in this passage, except for an A.F. McD. signature in candle soot on the ceiling. The floor was covered with fragments of chert rinds. After surveying a side passage that had a very large slab of chert lying on the floor, we surveyed to the SW down the main passage. We passed three domes that appeared to go and a series of three pits that all connected into a large area below us; something for a later trip.

Passing another Upper Level passage, we dropped into a pit with a lead heading back underneath us towards the pits we had crossed. We noticed that this part of the cave was much more traveled. At floor level a large passage continued to the SW. We later determined that this was the IZ passage (IZ19). Continuing into a passage at ceiling level just past a Z.U.Q. signature, we surveyed up into a junction and connected into IZ18. We couldn't find IZ17 or any evidence of IZ18A-B, which should have been in the passage we had just surveyed from the pit. Determining that there were a couple of unsurveyed passages that headed NW off of this junction, we started surveying those. We surveyed the first until it dropped down a tight slot in the floor. The second was a fissure passage that led to a climbup where we had to chimney 15-feet up into an Upper Level passage.

We found some signatures in the corrosion residue in this upper passage that said, "A. F. McDonald, William Ranger, R.N. Norcutt" and the date of July 17, 1891. We named the passage the JULY 17TH PASSAGE. Later, after looking up that trip in Alvin McDonald's diary, we learned that they had found some good rooms off of the Marble Quarry on the Summer Avenue Branch of the Sampson Palace Route. After surveying back over the rift until it got too tight, we surveyed up a dome above the climbup. We took a vertical shot of 15 feet and could see that the dome continued to a deadend another 20-feet overhead. We then connected our survey into F*4 and IZ5 before calling it a day. We left three other good leads in that area for a later trip. We surveyed 480 feet for the day and left numerous good leads for a future trip.

2nd Trip: On 10/2/07, Rod Horrocks led Henry Bruns and Claire Allum back to the Chertstone Connection area.

Trip Report: I took a couple of Alberta Canada cavers on a survey training trip. I decided to push leads off of the F* survey, since it is so easy to get too and it connects to the Chertstone Connection area we recently found. Since the F* survey was on the list of surveys that needed to be resurveyed (no sketch), we decided to go ahead and resurvey it and then survey the side passages off of it. We started at F*4 and surveyed into the room with the Elmer, Alvin, & JD McDonald signature on the ceiling. Elmer's and Alvin's name were written in code (YXJ and ZUQ). That signature, dated March 20, 1892, is talked about in Alvin's diary. In fact, he has an entire page about that particular trip. We decided to name the unnamed room the McCode Room, after the coded McDonald signatures. We then shot a single shot up into a sloping dome and left a point (IJ23) at a small continuing upper level tube.

Once we resurveyed the F* and tied into FL49, from one of my early trips, we backtracked to IJ25 and shot into a side passage heading west. This looped around and reconnected back to the northwest corner of the McCode Room. We then surveyed into a crawl we had spotted earlier behind a breakdown block. This virgin crawl entered a complex area of tubes. After shooting straight ahead and putting a point on the top of a tight pit that led down into a lower passage that eventually reconnected to IJ4, we shot up into an overhead tube. After a 20-foot shot up a sloping four-foot high tube, we left a station a little ways before a constriction that was too tight for two people on our team.

Claire squeezed through the constriction and confirmed that it went, eventually connecting into a stoopwalking passage. I was wondering if she had reconnected to the Bishop Fowler Loop, but she said she didn't see any survey stations. She did see a scuff mark, so there must be some other way into that passage. We just have to find it. We then moved on to the next station on our baseline (IJ26) and surveyed into another western side passage that split, with the southern passage looping around and reconnecting to IJ29 and the northern tube reconnecting to the first side passage we surveyed off of IJ25. The last thing we did was to go back to the McCode Room and shoot up into a balcony to see if we could tie into the IZ survey. After some fruitless searching for stations, we had to use the survey data to recreate the IZ17 to IZ18 shot. We were then able to find the IZ17 tag sitting on a ledge near a ceiling tube. We connected into it and called it a night, leaving 15 leads for a later trip. We mapped 450 feet for the day and left a few leads for a later trip.

3rd Trip: On 12/8/07, Rod Horrocks led Roger Harris back to the Chertstone Connection area.

Trip Report: Roger was the only Colorado caver that attempted the snowy drive up from Denver this weekend. Since Ken Geu had cancelled, Roger and I decided to head back to the Chertstone Connection area. After some survey off of the IZ survey we started at IJ5 in the Chertstone Connection area. We mapped into a lead heading underneath the IJ survey where we found an old rusted nail with a dark red flag labeled Z9 next to some black spar. Since, that old survey is not on the lineplot, we decided to continue the survey. We found several more of these tags as we surveyed down the main passage. We passed several unsurveyed leads as we went.

After 7 shots we entered a 27-foot diameter, low-ceilinged room. Boxwork was cemented to the floor and everything grabbed and ripped at us. We decided to name the room the GNARLY ROUTE because it was so difficult to move around in that area. We passed several more leads as we closed a loop. We looked down a deep fissure that probably connects with the underlying TT survey (Browns Canyon). After shooting into a crawl, we decided to call it a night so I could get to my work Christmas party. We surveyed 446 feet and left lots of leads for a future trip.

4th Trip: On 12/22/07, Rod Horrocks led Roger Harris back to the Chertstone Connection area.

Trip Report: We went back to the IJ survey to mop up more side leads. Starting at IJ27, we shot a couple of shots into a side lead, leaving a tight lead unpushed. We then jumped up to IJ29 and shot a single shot into a dome. From there, we went to the dome room at IJ30 and shot into a couple of side leads off of that 19-foot high room. After we found a Bill Eibert signature in the corrosion residue, we decided to name the room EIBERTS DOME. We then dropped into a pit at FL49. After surveying into a short side lead that looped back to the floor of Eiberts Dome, we shot down the main passage into what we thought was a blank area on our map. However, we found a Y6 survey tag that we realized must have been from the resurvey that Marc Ohms had done a couple of days before, where he started surveying from the Temple. Apparently, the old survey was in the wrong part of the cave, making us believe we were surveying into a blank part of the map.

We then went back to the FL survey and shot into a couple of side leads. At FL41, we shot into a dome that connected to FL39B in a parallel dome. Moving to the last lead on the FL survey, we shot up a dead-end dome at FL45 and then into a bellycrawl across the passage that immediately branched. Taking the right hand pit lead, we dropped 16-feet down a chimney, where we tied into station 15D, a side passage off the Bishop Fowlers Loop. We then climbed back up to the left hand bellycrawl. This connected to BFL25I, another passage off of the Bishop Fowlers Loop. We then shot up into a dead-end dome and a short pit off of FL46. Deciding that we were finished with the FL survey, we retreated to IJ1, where we shot a couple of shots down a pit to close a loop with IJ62.

Checking the pit at BFL14O and finding that it was a short dead end passage, we jumped back to IJ4 and shot into the upper parallel passage. After a couple of 20-foot shots this dropped back down to IJ2. We then went back to BFL14 survey where we had left a couple of leads. Although the first got too low after a couple of shots, it did continue. We then shot into a side passage that looped around to BFL14L. We left a tight downward sloping lead that opened up after a restriction. At this point, our longest surveyed lead for the day had only gone 157 feet, with the others taping out at 36', 12', 48',13', 19', 79', 35', 62', 16', and 68' respectively. It truly was a mop up day. We decided that this was a good place to call it quits for the night. We surveyed 552 feet for the day, leaving leads for a future trip.

5th Trip: On 1/12/08, Rod Horrocks led Ken Geu and Duff McCafferty back to the Chertstone Connection area.

Trip Report: We went back to the IJ survey to push side leads. The first three leads were short side shots. The fourth, at station IJ64, branched in several directions and even looped around; it just didn't go very far. However, it did go up into a small virgin room. We then moved on to IJ65 and shot up into a dome. This just reconnected to BFL14O in Chertstone Connection. We then continued the IJ survey past a 40-foot deep pit. When Duff was in the middle of the pit he dropped the Disto. We decided to name the pit, DISTO PIT. Duff climbed down a little ways, but decided it was too risky to free climb to the bottom. Luckily, Ken had a tape with him so we could continue our survey. Past the second pit, we surveyed up a chimney and into a passage that after a half dozen shots, ended. We had surveyed 360' by this point and had left five tight leads for a later trip. Since Disto Pit was directly above TT7, which was in Browns Canyon, we decided to go back to the tourist trail and go to Browns Canyon and search for the Disto.

We traveled to TT7 and found the Disto six feet beyond that station in a pocket at floor level. It had fallen out of its carrying case and had slid another couple of feet. The most amazing thing was that it still worked. So, we decided to continue surveying off of Marc Ohms' TT7 survey. Starting at TT7B, we shot into a pit for 50 feet of gnarly passage that splayed in several directions but didn't go anywhere. We left a narrow slot lead for a later trip and continued down survey until we reached TT7G, where there appeared to be several leads. The first four-foot high side passage turned out to be a single 20-foot shot that intersected a parallel survey. We then shot from TT7M into a couple of side passages. The first looped around back to G. The second went 30-feet before getting too tight. Ken tried to push a slot in the floor, but it was too tight. After surveying another loop, this time connecting to H, we continued south until we tied into TT3. Since it was 9:15 PM by this point, we decided to call it a night. We surveyed 582 feet for the day. This brought the total survey in the Chertstone Connection area to 2,336 feet.

Trip: On 1/14/2012, Ken Geu led Rod Horrocks to the IZ survey in the Historic Section where they discovered crinoid fossils.

Trip Report: We went on a resurvey trip to the IZ survey in the Historic Section, so Rod could train me how to sketch. However, we didn't achieve his original goal of completing the resurvey of IZ11 through IZ31 because of the additional new survey that we surveyed. We ended up only resurveying IZ11-19. We found and photographed a crinoid stem fragments that Rod found while waiting for me to sketch a room. These were the first crinoid fossils found and documented in Wind Cave. We photodocumented them. We left several leads that were not feasible to survey today, notably off of IZ54, IZ56, IZ46, & IZ12, some of which are tight. We resurveyed 163 feet (from IZ11-19) and then added 194 feet of new survey in side passages.

Trip: On 9/8/07, Rod Horrocks led Ken Geu and Duff McCafferty to the IZ survey in the Historic Section where they discovered a passage they named Crumble Lane.

Trip Report: Since nobody has been back to the IZ survey since 1987, we decided to see what we could find. Starting at IZ35 and 38, we surveyed into a dead-end passage and into a small dome complex. Skipping up to IZ30, we then surveyed into a large unsurveyed lead. This led into a 60-foot long hall with a pit in the floor. There was an electric light next to the pit. The pit turned out to be the dome visible between the Temple and the Elks Room. The light was out. We named the room THE LIGHT HOUSE. From there we surveyed into a side lead that came out above a lighted area between the Temple and the Elks Room. We left the tie in for a latter trip. We then continued down the IZ survey looking for unsurveyed leads. We found a large lead at IZ28 that was not on the original sketch. We surveyed three shots up this lead until the ceiling got too low. We then shot a couple of shots in a side passage that looped between IZ28C and D. Since the delicate floor was virgin, we shot the loop from each side and didn't do backsights. Moving up to IZ24, we noticed a pit and a fissure that wasn't surveyed. We started with the pit. Although we could look through a tiny hole in the floor of the pit and see a tour light 40-feet below, we were only able to take a single shot off this pit. We then surveyed up into the fissure that wasn't shown on the original sketch. This opened into several passages. On the flat chert ceiling there was some very large carbide graffiti from 1925. We then surveyed to the SW through a very tight squeeze that only Ken could fit through. He squooze through the virgin squeeze and found himself in a low-ceilinged room that had been visited from another passage across the room. We'll have to try and find the other way into this room on a future trip. We then shot the opposite way and up through a hole in the chert ceiling and into a long hall that we named CRUMBLE LANE, due to all the chert and quartz rinds fragments that littered its floor. After surveying to the NW end of the hall, we surveyed to the SW end of this 70-foot long stoop walk, where the passage spit into four smaller passages. Surveying up through a narrow fissure, we surveyed underneath a couple of unclimbable domes to a point that the floor was covered with frostwork and was too delicate to continue. We backed up and shot part way up the first dome and into a side passage that looped back down to the end of Crumble Lane. There was a really good looking virgin crawl heading off of station IZ24T, which we decided to leave for the next trip, since it was the end of the day and we wanted something to look forward to on the next trip. Backtracking to our first station in Crumble Lane, we shot two shots into a short parallel passage and called it a night. We surveyed 654 feet for the day.


Trip: On 3/13/12, Rod Horrocks led Adam Johnson, & Aaron Mullins to the NM survey in the Historic Section where they discovered an area they named Dreamscape.

Trip Report: Before the trip, I was actually a little nervous because I had dreamed two nights previously that I was in Wind Cave crawling across a huge boulder as it shifted and rolled under me. I avoided being hurt in the dream by splaying my arms and legs out and riding the boulder as it rolled. Since that had never happened to me while caving, I forgot about the dream. Right before the trip, I decided that I was going to mop up the leads along the start of the NM survey, leads that I've passed dozens of times before and which bothered me every time I passed them. Starting at NM3, we shot into a couple of bellycrawls that ended after a single shot. We then shot up into the top of the NM fissure and down a crawl to the SE that connected to CV170, one of my surveys from 2005. Now that I've been reminded about that area, I'll have to go back and finish that area on another trip. We then shot in the opposite direction in the upper passage to the NW, where we connected to NM5B. Dropping back down to the NM survey we shot into a couple of crawls opposite of NM4. Deciding that we had mopped that area up sufficiently (with 123 feet of survey), we continued on to NM7, where we found an unsurveyed crawl heading SW. After lunch, we found that that area had sticky clay covered floors and is one of the muddiest places I've seen in Wind Cave. Although the mud was terrible, the soft crawl was nice. It immediately branched into a NW-SE trending passage. We shot a single shot to the SE, before it made a 90-degree turn into a six-inch high bellycrawl. We abandoned that lead and backtracked to the junction and shot a connection shot to station WO7. We then turned our attention to the overlying passage. It ended after a couple of shots. Continuing down the WO survey, we stopped at WO9 and shot into a ceiling channel to the NE that connected up to NM10D. Dropping back down to the ceiling channel, we shot to the NE again, this time down a wide bellycrawl that looped around and connected to the start of the WO survey, at WO2.

Moving on to our main target lead for the day at WO10, we shot into a belly crawl that intersected a wide, low passage running NW-SE. Apparently, only a single person had previously entered this unsurveyed passage. We were excited about our prospects. We started by shooting to the NW, which connected to the Colonade Room at station NA17. We then went back to the junction to survey to the SE. As I crawled across a four-foot diameter breakdown block, it shifted and started to slide into a shallow pit. The front edge of the block caught my shirt and pulled me with it. I couldn't do a thing but splay my arms and legs like I did in my dream a couple of nights before and ride it out. Luckily, I was able to keep on top of the boulder and not get pinned between it and the walls of the pit. Luckily, my shirt stretched a lot and luckily for me the block stopped when it hit the bottom of a small pit and didn't continue to roll over, or I would have been in a heap of trouble! I immediately unhooked my shirt and rolled off the boulder and said to Aaron, who watched it happen, "I just dreamed about this two days ago." He admitted that he thought I was dead as I was going to get pinned or crushed by the boulder. It certainly got my adrenalin going! I've never had a dream that then happened in real life, so it was a strange experience. Backtracking to the junction, we shot to the SE, but it became too tight after a couple of shots. We were very disappointed that the passage ended.

About 60 feet from that site, Aaron was standing on a breakdown block that rolled and dumped him onto the floor, scrapping some skin off of his shin. Luckily, he also was not pinned or crushed by the large block. The fact that this happened twice on the same trip, the fact that I had dreamed about it a couple of days before it happened, and this had never happened to me before during hundreds of trips into Wind Cave, was a little unnerving. I decided to name the area Dreamscape due to this incident, which was named after a science fiction horror movie with the same name. After shooting up into a couple of dead-end domes, we called it a night. I realized that there are definitely many leads in the area to return to on a future trip.

We surveyed a total of 424 feet for the day and left several leads for a future trip.

1st Trip: On 7/13/2007, Rod Horrocks led Art and Peg Palmer to the Ever Ending Room area in the Historic Section where they discovered abandoned sticks of dynamite.

Trip Report: I led Art and Peg Palmer on an off-trail geology trip to look at the excavated stopes that I had rediscovered a few years before off of the Fairgrounds Tour Route in the Historic Section. The Palmer's were at Wind Cave studying paleofill and were anxious to see them. I figure that the stopes were excavated in the early to mid 1930's, probably when the CCC was looking for a location to dig a new elevator shaft. We started at Two-Cent Stope, where I showed them the spoil pile, the tool marks in the paleofill on the walls, and the discarded wood that the CCC had obviously used for shoring. I then took them to a second nearby stope to look at some spectacular laminated paleofill.

When we got to the unnamed stope, the Palmers were thrilled with the paleofill and started photographing it.

While they were photographing, I started looking around. Noticing something artificial looking on a ledge, I took a closer look. There were two cylinders sitting on some cloth. The cylinders were tied with string and the ends of the stiff paper cylinders were folded in. There was something printed on them, but I couldn't make it out. I wondered if they were dynamite and asked Art what he thought of them. He immediately said, "That looks like dynamite". Since we know that the Two Cent Stope was excavated before 1935, it makes sense that this second stope was excavated at the same time, probably in connection with the search for a place to put the elevator shaft. I hypothesized that they must have put the bag, with 1 1/2 sticks of dynamite, on the ledge and forgotten about it.

Art suggested that we name the stope Dynamite Stope. I told him that I would when I map it. We then had a discussion of whether or not the dynamite was inert. Although, we thought it probably was, we decided not to touch it nevertheless. Art took some high resolution digital photo of the dynamite before we left.

1st Trip: On 2/9/08, Rod Horrocks led Roger Harris & Duff McCafferty on a trip to the WB survey in the Historic Section where they discovered the Fissure Kingdom area.

Trip Report: We went back to some leads left from a 2000 survey I had done off of the Frostwork Ledge area. Our dynamite recovery trip this last summer in that area sparked my interest in finishing up those leads. We started with a dome at TD46, where we found a Roy McDonald signature. Surveying up that dome, we reconnected at a couple points to the Ever Ending Room. We found that all of the 2000 survey tags in that area were completely unreadable. Apparently, we had used a bad Sharpie on that trip. We then went to DYNAMITE STOPE to finish surveying that room and see if we could climb the stope. We couldn't, so we surveyed a lead at F12M, where we found another excavated stope. We named that 28-foot high stope, RUBBLE STOPE. We now know of four of these excavated paleofill stopes (including Two Cent Stope and Plummers Pit). We surveyed a couple of other misc. leads and gave up on the area after 239 feet of survey and went to the WB survey, which is located below the stairs in the Fairgrounds.

After tying the hanging WB17 station into F11, we started down the WB looking for unsurveyed leads. Noticing a parallel canyon passage at WB16, we shot up to a fissure that was chocked with trail construction debris, presumably from the Fairgrounds Tour Route overhead. We then surveyed down a fissure pit in the floor, where we found passages radiating off in all directions 14-feet below the WB survey. We started by surveying into the largest passage, which headed SE. We found a 19th century candle and some string that was only marked by a black stain that snaked across the floor. This passage quickly connected into a large unnamed room that had been partially surveyed with the WH survey designation. Backtracking, we shot into a side passage heading NE. This ended after a couple of shots. We then shot into a parallel side passage that although virgin, looked unpromising. However, after three shots in a bellycrawl, it opened up. One passage reconnected back to the passage we started in via an unobvious bellycrawl and the other went NW.

The calcified floors and boxwork in this area tore us up. When the survey opened into a room with a fissure pit in the floor, we decided to name that room, the BOX CUTTER ROOM, after all of the spectacular boxwork and the sharp nature of the floors. Roger climbed down a 22-foot deep vertical slot in the floor and found the UN survey. We were able to connect to UN58, which was located in Big Mac Canyon. The fissure Roger climbed down into that canyon, was actually a lead I had noticed on one of my previous surveys, but hadn't gotten back to yet. Big Mac Canyon connects to the Union College Room along the Candlelight Tour Route. Continuing our survey in the Box Cutter Room, we shot into a crawl on the west side of the room that ended after a couple of shots. We then shot up to a small hole in the NE corner of the room that opened into another deep fissure. We left that lead for a later trip and shot into a floor-level crawl heading west. This looped down to the SW and headed towards the WH survey.

I decided to crawl back around the way we came and see if I was right about that potential connection. When I got back to the WH survey, I could barely hear Roger and Duff talking. Heading into the NW corner of the room, into a 4-foot high unsurveyed passage, I could hear them a little better. Going to the apparent end of that passage, I noticed that their voices were coming from a small hole at floor level. Pretty quickly we had made a light connection, but it was way too tight for humans. I then noticed that a fissure in the ceiling was parallel to their location, so I instructed them to backtrack and look in the ceiling for a fissure connection. They quickly found the other end of the tight fissure I was looking down, putting us just 20 feet from each other. After they surveyed the connection to WH8, we ate dinner in the unnamed room.

While Roger and Duff went back down the fissure to survey a room they named the TILLER ROOM, I started looking around for leads to survey off of the unnamed room. While searching, I found a gastrapod fossil in a boxwork vein in the ceiling of that room. This was one of only a handful of gastrapods I know of in the cave, so I had Roger take some pictures of it when he returned. During my poking around, I found the route the WH survey took and four additional unsurveyed fissures heading off of that room. I decided to name the room, FISSURE KINGDOM, after the multitude of fissures in the area. Once they had finished mapping the Tiller Room, which was named after a boxwork fin that resembled a tiller on a boat, we decided to call it a night. They told me that they had left four leads in the Tiller Room area, while we had left two leads in the Box Cutter Room and four leads in the Fissure Kingdom area. We knew we were having a good survey day, but we were surprised that our total for the day added up to 801 feet, my fifth longest survey ever in Wind Cave. We will definitely be back to the Fissure Kingdom area and the WB survey!

1st Trip: On 10/3/2006, Rod Horrocks led Vickie Siegel & Bill Stone to the AL survey in the Historic Section where they discovered the Flatlans.

Trip Report: We went to the AL survey, which hasn't seen any trips in over 30 years. There were lots of leads shown on the sketches, so I had high hopes for the area. The first lead we checked, at AL14, led to over 400 feet of survey. After leaving a tight pit for some future small person, we surveyed up into an upper level dome. We were able to climb into a fissure/dome in the ceiling from one end of the room. This led to an upper level crawl that reconnected to our climb. However, it also continued as a crawl that opened into a junction room.

A steeply sloping fissure that was heading north, opened into a free-hanging drop. We later decided that this pit probably connected into lower passage between AL20-21. A crawl on the west side of the junction room eventually reconnected to AL29, at another one of the leads shown on the old sketch. The next lead shown on the old sketch was a walking passage. At AL58, we found a 25-foot deep free-hanging pit. We later surveyed to the bottom of this drop (station AL71). At AL60, we found an upper level dome that had moonmilk runners on the wall that resembled hieroglyphics. We named it HIEROGLYPHIC DOME.

After finishing all the leads in that area, we dropped to a lower set of passages and started surveying a side lead at AL20. This turned out to be an extensive area with lots of leads. We eventually reconnected to AL25 in a large flat room, which we named the FLATLANDS. There was a wide level passage that continued off this room. After one 35-foot shot, we ran out of time in big going cave. We will undoubtedly be returning to this area many times in the future. We were able to survey 570 feet for the day.

1st Trip: On 3/24/2007, Carl Bern led Mike Wiles and Nick Smith to the Skinner area in the Southern Comfort Section where they discovered the Flour Box North area.

Trip Report: Did some scouting for a possible location for a camp site. Not much in the way of good flat spots. Returned to a short pit beyond the end of the Skinner on the ER survey. Enlarged a small hole so that we could fit. Felt some weak air flow and I think we are on the right track. We surveyed 331 feet. Although we did not pass the edge of the cave, we left several crawling leads that are continuing SW towards that edge. Because this passage has air and is 30-feet higher than passages on the edge of the cave to the south and 30 feet lower than passages on the edge to the north, there is great hope for this lead.

1st Trip: On 1/12/08, Jim Wilson led Howard Bartlett, Tim Moreland, & Skip Withrow on a survey trip to the PC survey in the Club Room Section where they discovered the Fourteeners area.

Trip Report: We were heading to the PC survey just past the Woodpile when we found a small hole at SL5 that was not marked as a lead on the map. It kept us busy all day. The survey was in small, gnarly, virgin passages until the end of the day when it opened into a large room with several leads. We named it the Fourteeners, after the 14,000+ peaks in Colorado. We climbed down a deep pit in the floor to SCB5 and DK43A. The lead we climbed out of in the ceiling was totally unobvious from below. We surveyed 530 feet for the day's effort and many leads remain up high.

2nd Trip: On 2/9/08, Jim Wilson led Howard Bartlett, Tim Moreland, & Skip Withrow on a survey trip back to the Fourteeners area.

Trip Report: Returned to the QJ survey via the Boxwork Chimney and the SCB survey. The climb up into this area is exposed. We named the fissure pit connection the Coulair. The Founteeners is located between the Lower Level and the Middle Levels. We surveyed all leads out of the large room we found last time- all dead-ended. We surveyed 837 feet for the day, bringing the two trip total for this area to 1,267 feet.

1st Trip: On 2/11/2006, Carl Bern led Derek Wolfe and Larry Schaffer on a 17-hour trip to the Skinner area in the southern Comfort Section, where they discovered the Gas Chamber.

Trip Report: Spent the whole day mapping in a new area on the SW edge of Wind Cave. Found a fairly large room, which we named the Gas Chamber. Surveyed 809 feet of new passage. This is the largest discovery on the edge of the cave since Marc Ohm's 1999 discovery of Pizza Hut off of the Colorado Grotto Section.

Trip: On 5/3/2005, Larry Shaffer led Jason Walz & Sara Booth to the NF survey in the Historic Section where they discovered the Ghost Town area.

Trip Report: Jason found a lead that went into large blank area on map between Historic and North Sections. Continued to follow the old ghost NW survey. The park doesn't have any record of a NW survey. Found lots of cave! Named one sandy-floored room the Make-out Room. Surveyed 535 feet. Left numerous leads. Named whole area Ghost Town.

Trip: On 2/18/2001, Marc and Rene Ohms went to the north edge of the Historic Section where they discovered an area they named Hades.

Trip Report: We finally went back out to the leads in the northern Historic Section that we call Hades. It is a miserable trip of crawling to get there. We started our survey at V75 and went west. We passed many leads heading south but were determined to get further north. The passage did end up heading north but ended with one lead. A pit down into a large room! The bad part is it will require rope. Crap! However, it is the furthest northern point in the cave. We backtracked a bit and surveyed south and tied into NN24. We followed the NN survey to its beginning and then jumped on the NM survey trying to find our way out without returning the way we came. Two hours later we were on the tour route. After punching in the data the pit is in the middle of nowhere to the north! We surveyed 304 feet for the day.

Trip: On 12/3/2011, Rod Horrocks led Oscar Calhoun & Ken Geu to the Fairy Palace in the Historic Section where they documented helictites.

Trip Report: We started by picking up the survey of the pancake style room below the NFP survey, which we named Gastro Flats because we found dozens of gastropods in the bedrock, which were differentially dissolved out of the bedrock, and laying on the floor of this room. Some of the gastropods were quite large (from 1 3/4" to 2" in diameter). This area has the most and largest gastropods I know of anywhere in Wind Cave.

Starting at NFP2B, we tied into NM4T and tried to tie into NM5F, however we couldn't find where the station actually was. We then jumped ahead to the lower Fairy Palace area and surveyed that previously unsurveyed area. It was a little tricky getting across the flowstone, but we managed. We found several helictites in the ceiling of this area, which we photo-documented. I had heard rumors that there were helictites near Fairy Palace, but we had no pictures of them to prove it. We changed that. We then climbed up to the NPA survey and started surveying Fairy Palace. Although, it had a line running through it, the western and southern portions of the room had never been surveyed. We found two more pockets of great helictites in this area, which we also photographed.

We then picked up the survey of leads off of Fairy Palace, starting at NCP1. Shooting into a sloping slot next to the white columns, this quickly reconnected to Jason Walz's WO survey. We left NCP17 hanging, since we found the WO40 station marker lying on the floor and no station marked in the cave. We then surveyed a dome above WO38.

This area is fairly complex and has similarities with a boneyard area. Abandoning this area, we went back to the four leads from our last trip (on 12/1/11) and picked up the survey off of NFP32. Two of the leads connected together and quickly deadened. The third reconnected to the NFP survey near NFP9, which we'll be resurveying next week. We decided to call the trip at this point. We surveyed 432 feet for the day and left leads for a future trip.

Trip: On 2/27/2010, Rod Horrocks led Roger Harris, Ken Geu, & Janice Tucker to eastern edge of the Historic Section where they found a historic specimen label from the 1890's.

Trip Report: We went to the east edge of the cave to push the PRC survey, which showed some leads on the map. We started at PRC3 and shot up into a dome that opened into a small spherical room that dead-ended. We then looked at a belly crawl at the base of the dome that was heading off the eastern edge of the map. Unfortunately, the ceiling drops to 4-5 inches before opening back up and continuing out of sight. We had to abandon the lead. We then resurveyed PRC4-5 and shot eight other shots to complete the area. We named this area, the PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF CHINA. We choose this name because Roger asked what the survey designation was when we started and we said "PRC" and he responded, "Is that "Peoples Republic of China"? We also choose this name since China had done well in the Winter Olympics last night.

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.

Trip: On 1/8/2000, Evan Anderson led Pat Roberson, Micah Ball, and Shawn Kramer to the Easter Basket area in the Western Fringe Section.

Trip Report: We pushed leads near the Easter Basket. We surveyed into a nasty breakdown crawl that led into large cave that we named Hoo-Pnew, which looks to be the other half of Deep Confusion. We were soon getting 40-foot shots and named another large room the Mosaics! We mopped-up all the leads off of the big passage. We surveyed 1,055 feet total and left a few leads.

Trip: On 1/10/2011, Rod Horrocks led Ken Geu & Duff McCafferty on a trip to Browns Canyon in the Historic Section where they discovered horn corals.

Trip Report: We went back to Browns Canyon to continue surveying side leads off of the TT survey. We surveyed some parallel fissures and side leads and then tied into TT11, where there were a bunch of side leads. At TT11E we abandoned that bellycrawl because the floor was too delicate. We continued the TT11 survey into a little maze area underneath the old TT12 station and above the TT13 station. From TT11R, we surveyed down a fissure into a small hour-glass shaped room. We then surveyed up into some crawls where we found the first absolutely confirmed horn coral fossil in Wind Cave. We had found several suspected horn corals in the past, but they were badly recrystallized and difficult to confirm they were horn corals for sure. Ken took numerous pictures of these two excellently preserved (unrecrystalized) horn corals. I was very excited to find this confirmation that horn corals are found in Wind Cave. We then continued surveying over to a fissure and down to the room TT14 is located in. After surveying into a side passage from TT14, we surveyed up into a fissure above the main Browns Canyon passage and then to the south up a sloping passage that reconnected to the crawls we had been surveying earlier near the horn corals. As it was 9:00 PM by that point, we decided to call it a night. We surveyed 711 feet of passage for the day and left numerous leads for a future trip.

1st Trip: On 4/13/2003, Rod Horrocks led Dan Wray and Tim Moreland to the Amphitheater in the Historic Section where they discovered some black filamental iron fixing bacterial strands.

Trip Report: We went to the CM2 survey off the Amphitheater to start surveying the numerous leads that we found on a previous survey to the area. Starting at CM2R, we surveyed south into a virgin crawl. However, it reconnected to the CM2 survey after seven shots. We then went up to CM12E and surveyed SW past a rock covered with specimens collected in the 1890's and connected to station CM9. After shooting a shot into a dead-end room from CM8, we surveyed NW from CM8 towards a large blank area on the map. A choked passage continued west, but the main passage turned NE. This virgin passage has some nice mud crack curl ups. We mapped up a couple of parallel passages with the CM survey, tying into the C' survey at C18. We noticed that the CM and the C' surveys are actually in the same passage. I'll have to deal with this latter. We then surveyed up into a dome, where we connected to NB27. We ran out of time at this point. We surveyed 461 feet and left numerous leads along most of our surveys. Needs another trip.

P.S: At CM8, we found some very strange things. There is a small patch of black needles hanging straight down, about 1/2" in length. They look like an upside down pin cushion. Some of the larger needles, 1 1/2", have some web-like filamental loops and connections between them. Very interesting looking.

Trip: On 11/11/2000, Jim Wilson led Greg Glazner, Barbara Smith, & Skip Withrow on a survey trip to the Elbow Room area in the Historic Section where they found an extensive area they named the Kneebone Room.

Trip Report: We returned to the lead off of the Elbow Room that we found on 6/10/2000. We surveyed 646 feet of virgin cave, following a windy passage across one of the biggest holes in the Wind Cave survey. We named the Pelvis and Clavicle Rooms. The trip was cut short when Barbara was setting a station and fell between two breakdown blocks about 4 feet, injuring her mouth, knee, and chin. We bandaged her and headed out, luckily she was able to get out of the cave under her own power. We left tons of leads.

Trip: On 12/3/2007, Marc Ohms led Sara Booth, Andy and Bonny Armstrong on a trip to the lakes in preparation for an upcoming dye tracing project.

Trip Report: We went to What the Hell, Rebel River, and Calcite Lake to download and retrieve dataloggers. Also placed a dye bug in Rebel River and Calcite Lake for backgrounds levels prior to upcoming dye trace.

2nd Trip: On 2/26/2008, Jason Walz led Rene Ohms, Andy Armstrong, Ken Buhler, Charles Michael Ray, & Joel Rische on a trip to What the Hell Lakes to dump dye.

Trip Report: We took along the State Hydrology Engineer and a PBS reporter and cameraman that wanted to do a story on the water issues in the park. We traveled to What the Hell and left the dye there and then continued on to Calcite Lake, with Jason and Rene going to Rebel River to change out the dye bug there. Once at Calcite Lake we changed dye bugs and did some filming. On the way out we dumped 1 gal of Flourscene dye into What the Hell.

3rd Trip: On 3/26/2008, Marc Ohms led Jason Walz on a trip to the lakes to check for dye.

Trip Report: Replaced dye bugs in Rebel River and Calcite Lake. Most of What the Hell Lake was green, and Rebel River was flowing bright green. Calcite Lake appeared to have a green tint to it but the lab will have to confirm this.

Also downloaded data logger in Calcite Lake and took staff gage readings in What the Hell and Calcite Lake.

1st Trip: On 9/2/2000, Rod Horrocks led Derek Wolfe and James Lawton to the Club Room Section where they discovered the Loose Cannon Run area.

Trip Report: We went to the Karlian Crawl area to push a tube in the ceiling above WX22H. The tube zigzagged up into a dome with five passages radiating off of it. The first ended after a few shots and one had air but was too tight for me to fit. Another passage paralleled Hobson's Bypass heading east. This tube followed a series of paleofilled domes. We quit surveying at PA110. Our thinnest member said the crawl connected to PA50 a few shots ahead.

We then left that soft-floored crawl and climbed down to PA93 along the AA survey. We shot a couple of shots into an upper and lower crawl heading south. Both ended quickly. We then surveyed into a pit I found along the east wall. This dropped to a chockstone floored passage with 50-foot deep pits in-between the blocks. These pits were unclimbable without ropes. They presumably connect to the Multipurpose Room area. After finding some clear 1 3/4" nailhead spar, the largest I've seen in Wind Cave, I named the area Spar Heights. Surveying around the biggest pit to the south, we followed Derek into a tight vertical slot that we named Woop-Dee-Do Crawl. When it opened up, Derek took off and was gone for 20 minutes. I decided to name the passage he ran down Loose Cannon Run after him. This passage parallels the Loose Screw Room. We ran out of survey tags and time after two long shots in this new area. We left five continuing leads in a mazy area. We also left a tight lead at the end of Spar Heights that Jim and I couldn't squeeze up through. We'll be back next month to continue the survey of the bigger leads.

Trip: On 11/17/2012, Rod Horrocks led Ken Geu, Mathias Oppolzer, and Duff McCafferty to the Candlelight Tour Route where they rediscovered a passage they named the Lost Fissure.

Trip Report: We went to the north end of the Attic to the start of the MY survey in order to survey side leads. Starting at MY1, we shot into a parallel side passage. After seven shots, we closed a loop with MY3. Moving down the MY survey to MY7, we then shot underneath a ceiling ledge on the west side of the passage and into a large, smooth-floored room that reminded the surveyors of a giant toilet bowl, so we named it the Great Flush. I can think of at least four round, smooth-floored rooms such as this one that I've found in Wind Cave over the years. It was a nice surprise.

We left a tight lead at the bottom of the pit located at the back of the room. Moving to the east side of the MY survey, to MY7A, we shot up a fissure and into a passage that just reconnected with the unnamed room that MY35 and 43 are located in. Moving to MY83, a station in a high fissure off of that same room, we shot into a phreatic tube in the north wall of the fissure. Unfortunately, it just looped around in three shots and reconnected to the fissure we were in. We could see another tube, this one larger, about 12-feet higher up the vertical wall, but there was no way to climb to it. A lead for the future generation. Moving on to MY88, a station I left along the east wall of the unnamed room during my last trip to the area, we shot into a wide, flat-floored passage heading east. There was nothing at that level to the east of us, so were excited.

The Cakewalk area is located at a lower level to the east and the MY survey is located at a higher level, but nothing at our level. Unfortunately, the nice passage ended after three stations. We did find one small hole in the floor that went to a dead-end room, but that was it. We then went to the west side of the big room and shot into a side passage from MY35 that ended after three shots. Moving down the MY survey to the north, we shot into side crawls at MY39 and 40, however, both leads only went two shots. In order to avoid a mutiny at that point, I decided to abandon the MY survey. When we got back to the Attic, we had a group discussion of which leads we wanted to check next. Mathias was really interested in surveying the tight pit lead next to the Candlelight Tour trail in the Chamber de Norcutt that I had showed him a couple of months previously. That sounded like a great idea to me, so we headed there.

Once we got to the pit in the Chamber de Norcutt, we could see the red tobacco tin that we first spotted in 2009 when we uncovered the entrance to this pit during some cave restoration work. So, I suspected that the pit had been previously entered. However, there was always a chance that the tin had been dropped down the pit. Mathias was able to squeeze down the slot past a chockstone and confirm that the area went and that there were 1890's artifacts down there. The pit had been blocked with trail construction debris, probably from the 1930's until we rediscovered it in 2009. Since Duff and I couldn't fit past the chockstones at the top of the pit, I wanted to see if I could remove the debris that was wedged at the top of the pit. After a little pounding with a hammerstone-sized piece of trail construction debris I found alongside the trail, I was able to pull out a 20 pound and then wrestle out a 50 pound chockstone. We started our survey from the brass cap at L27 near the top of the stairs in the Chamber de Norcutt. Since I didn't have a lineplot of the area with me and I couldn't remember how many L27 stations I had previously used, I sent Ken down the L27 survey to see how many stations there were. He only found stations A through G. However, just to play it safe, I started at L27P instead of L27H. That was because I really didn't want to come back and re-label the stations on Monday if Ken had missed some stations.

After Duff climbed down the pit, we realized that the huge 500-pound boulder he had climbed over was actually a large piece of trail construction debris that was precariously wedged at the top of the pit. That made us sufficiently nervous that we decided that only one person at a time would climb the pit. At the bottom of the trail debris covered slope, the passage opened into a flat-floored walking passage with a low room extending to the NE. I decided to name the area Tobacco Flats, after the historic red tobacco tin we found. The main passage headed NW where it briefly restricted down to a bellycrawl and then opened back up. After 50 feet, we encountered a deep fissure/canyon. The narrow fissure dropped stair-step fashion down 16 feet to a point that it constricted to 10 cm and then dropped out-of-sight another 20+ feet. This would make this fissure the deepest thing in that region of the cave. There was air coming out of the pit, so I know there is more cave down there. The question is how to get there.

The 30-40-foot high fissure went 45 feet and then opened into a flat-floored room and then narrowed again into a fissure. After one more shot, we decided the fissure was getting too tight for our group. About half way back the main fissure; there was a 7-foot climb into a side passage that went to a pit that would be a very difficult climb down. We skipped that lead and backtracked to a lead that went south at the beginning of the fissure. We knocked that one off in two shots. Since we got to L27Z, I decided to leave the six remaining leads in the area for a future trip, when we know for sure if we could use L27H-O. I decided to name the fissure, The Lost Fissure, since it had been lost somewhere between 70-120 years. It was interesting to think about the fact that no one currently alive had seen this passage.

To give Mathias a chance to practice his sketching, we then went to the Pebble on the Fairgrounds Tour Route to survey some passages underneath the Pebble that I remembered seeing on a previous trip. We started at UY1 and shot up to UY1F with six shots, when we closed a loop with UY23. We left one lead in the breakdown before calling it a night. We ended up surveying 646 feet for the day.

1st Trip: On 9/21/1999, Rod Horrocks led Larry Spangler to the Omnibus Hall area in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We took line plots and survey data to Omnibus Hall to find the JK survey. However, we were unable to find it. After extensive searching, we did find the SPH survey in Upper Level cave off the north side of Omnibus Hall. We quickly found an unsurveyed passage off of SPH14 and started a survey, beginning at SPH20. We surveyed 236 feet and left four low-ceilinged leads and the main passage still continuing. I'll return in the near future.

2nd Trip: On 11/27/1999, Rod Horrocks led an 8-hour trip with Marc Ohms and Brad Oen to a bellycrawl lead he had discovered near Omnibus Hall in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: I returned to a lead in Omnibus Hall I had found on my last trip on 9/21/99 with Utah caver, Larry Spangler. The right fork connected with Jim Nepstad's WX survey within 40 feet. Surveying into the virgin left-hand crawl, we surveyed along a sixty-foot long bellycrawl that broke out into upper-level cave that had been partially explored (from another route) by either Herb or Jan Conn or John Scheltens on a single trip. I hypothesized that they had probably come from the AA survey in the Club Room Section. However, that person had only checked the initial 220 feet of passage, leaving the rest unscooped and virgin.

While surveying up a debris slope, we found an interesting boxwork type of feature that appears to be composed of some red, fibrous, spiky material. In hindsight, I suspect that they are stylolites, a bedrock pressure feature that dates back before the limestone was lithified. We mapped a total of 900 feet in the area, most of it (530 feet) in virgin cave. This included the 200-foot long, mostly walking passage, we named the Mind Boggler. This passage was partially floored with mud cracks and calcified mud cracks. Since the Wind Cave survey arrived at the 86-mile mark as we surveyed up into a 22-foot high dome, we named that dome, 86 Mile Dome. We then surveyed into a beautiful gypsum passage above the Flower Shop that we named the Triple Crisp Passage, after three silver-dollar sized loose gypsum snowflakes on the floor in the middle of that passage. We left two tight leads off that passage. We then returned to the end of the Mind Boggler passage and continued our survey in walking passage that ended after 125 feet above Upper Rome. We found a total of three rooms and left numerous good leads for a return trip. Our average shot for the day was 15.1 feet in length.

3rd Trip: On 12/11/1999, Rod Horrocks led a 7-hour trip with Marc Ohms and Rene Rogers back to the Mind Boggler area in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We went back to the Mind Boggler area to survey the side passages, all of which were virgin. Starting with the last lead at the end of the Mind Boggler passage, we worked our way back towards the Omnibus Hall connection pit, surveying 600 feet of cave. We found some spectacular spitzkarren, slickenside boxwork, speckled manganese dendrites that look like pepper, and styolites. There were lots of gypsum in patches, some calcified mud cracks and lots of domes in the Upper Level. The domes all quickly ended. This trip brought the total Mind Boggler discovery to 1,736 feet of survey, with a handful of un-pushed tight leads left. Our average shot for the day was 13.3 feet in length.

4th Trip: On 3/25/2000, Rod Horrocks led Richard Downey and Dave and Debbie Herron back to the Mind Boggler area in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We attempted to define the southern wall of Omnibus Hall on this trip, starting at the Conn's survey station, JF7. We connected through a bellycrawl to AI9 in the Spillway. We then took the survey across the southern portion of Omnibus and tied into SPH137 in a dome that led up into the Mind Boggler passage. We left two low-ceilinged, downward-sloping leads off the south end of Omnibus.

We then went up into Mind Boggler passage to survey a dome lead. We surveyed 34' up into a small room with a tight bellycrawl with slight air movement in it that was heading northward. We then surveyed a bellycrawl above the entrance dome (SPH54) that reconnected into Omnibus Hall. Giving up on the Mind Boggler area, we headed to the Newspaper Room area and started the JH survey. We surveyed a large walking passage at JD 20F that connected to JDB4. As it turns out, JH1-5 were a resurvey of JDB4-6. However, there were no stations in existence until JDB4. We surveyed a few side passages in the area, connecting to JD20N in a side passage out of the Newspaper Room. We quit the survey when one caver became fatigued. This survey brought the total survey in the Mind Boggler area to 2,297 feet.

1st Trip: On 2/21/2002, Rod Horrocks led Nick Myers and Belinda Fox on a survey trip to the Room Draculum area in the Historic Section, where they discovered the Mock October Room area.

Trip Report: We went to survey a lead I had spotted while working with Dr. John Moore's biology students a few weeks ago. Because it looked good and it was heading into a blank area of the map, especially at that level (NE corner of Room Draculum), I decided to start a new survey designation, the "NS", which stood for the "no suck" survey. We had high hopes for the lead. After passing a couple of leads on the north wall, we surveyed onto a balcony where we found a strip of white flagging with pink poke-a-dots, draped across the lead. Not sure what it meant, we proceeded cautiously. At a small dome room, we had three choices. We chose the NE lead, a squeeze through some breakdown blocks, because it looked like it entered a room.

The area has some interesting dissolved paleofill, which consisted of some angular chert frags that had been fallen out of the paleofill and with the empty "sockets" smoothed out by dissolution. It produced an interesting effect. The lead did open into a 20-foot diameter room with 8-11 foot high ceilings. A strip of flagging was found draped across a breakdown block. It was labeled "Mock 10/22". Since this was the date, 10/22/89, that NOLS held their mock rescue, where Rachael Cox got lost, we decided to name the room "Mock October Room". We then realized the white and pink flagging were markers showing which leads had been searched for the victim (Rachel). We chose one of the ten leads exiting this room, one that went steeply up to the NNW.

The initial 20-foot climb up the dome was tricky. At the top, an upper level tube continued northward and then back down the other side. We named the tube, Over the Top. We also found dry desiccated flowstone and draperies in this tube. At NS16, we encountered a strange pile of breakdown in a smooth-walled tube? This tube then opened into a 10-foot high dome. Another tube continued to the north from here. After a couple of shots it started corkscrewing downward.

As we were running out of time, we decided to call it a night. The continuing 2-foot diameter tube is dropping steeply into a blank area of the map. After a couple of shots to flesh out the survey of the Mock October Room itself, we headed home with numerous leads to return to. We also found a moldy NPS pocket notebook at the top of the dome climb (NS12). Probably the most significant thing was that the dome went up 55 feet above the Mock October Room. This is higher by 15' than any other dome in the Historic Section, and the same elevation as the Natural Entrance!! We surveyed 262 feet for the trip.

2nd Trip: On 3/5/2002, Rod Horrocks led Nick Myers and Belinda Fox on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We went back to Mock October Room to push side leads. The first went NW two stations before the continuation was blocked by a large boulder. The lead on the east side of the room immediately opened into a NW/SE trending passage. We surveyed NW. After passing a 7-foot deep pit with an apparent lead at the bottom, we dropped down to the NE into a parallel passage. We then surveyed NW from a small dome that led up into upper level cave.

The main NW tube ended after seven shots. We had hoped it would continue as we were headed for a blank area on the map. We then shot a single shot into the largest of four tubes at the top of the dome (NS41). It became too tight after 11 feet. Returning to NS37, we shot into a side parallel passage that dropped into a parallel rift that also dead ended. We then surveyed SE until it turned into a crawl, when we backtracked to a larger side lead. We ran out of time as we arrived at a junction between a dome and a continuing tube. For the evening, we checked two of our 13 leads off the Mock October Room. We also ended up adding another 8 leads, bringing our total to 19 now, with 611 feet of survey in the area.

3rd Trip: On 5/7/2002, Rod Horrocks led Jason Walz on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We went back to the Mock October Room to push more of the side leads. We started at station NS29 and surveyed SE. After squeezing down a floor slot, we found a 35-foot diameter room we named the "Mock Rescue Room", because it is adjacent to the Mock October Room and because we found white and red pokadot flagging in the room marking off side leads that were checked during the 10/22/89 mock rescue conducted by NOLS, where Rachael Cox was lost for over 32 hours. After surveying a NE side lead, which connected back to the start of the NS survey and bypassed the tight squeeze into the Mock October Room, we surveyed around the perimeter of the Mock Rescue Room. We then shot into a south east trending passage. We quit when we ran out of time. We left two going leads off this passage and 8 leads off the Mock Rescue Room for a future trip. That brings the survey in the Mock October Room area up to nearly 900 feet.

4th Trip: On 7/18/2002, Rod Horrocks led Ben Tobin and Ari Juhala on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We went to the Mock October Room area to continue pushing leads. The first one was at station NS4. We were stopped after a couple of shots by an exposed pit into Room Draculum. We then went to the Mock Rescue Room to start pushing leads along the SW wall. We started at NS80 at what I thought was a two shot deadend side passage. However, the complex spongework maze had a surprise for us. We wound through a crawl and dropped into a small virgin room. After shooting up to the start of the crawl, we dropped down a small pit into another spongework maze area. We left four leads and a deep slot blocked by breakdown in that area for a future trip. We also left two leads in the overlying room and several leads along the SW wall of the Mock Rescue Room. The survey was mostly all virgin, with 167 feet in new cave. However, it was some of the smallest cave I've surveyed in Wind Cave, with an average shot length a piddly 7.8'.

5th Trip: On 1/10/2003, Rod Horrocks led Barry Oost and Ryan Brown on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: I wanted to see if I could connect a pit lead at NS86B to a couple of domes we could see in the ceiling of Room Draculum, but we couldn't climb to from the lower room. The pit turned out to be virgin and we were successful in connecting to both domes. We didn't climb down and survey into the first, although it was doable. The second was overhung and unclimable. We found an upper level dome with bat scratches that turned into a tube with soft mud cracked floors. There was also an old pool level that ringed the walls of the tube. The strange thing was that the overflow into the pit seemed to be at a lower level than the pool level on the wall?

We left one squeeze at NS86L that looked very tight for a short distance but opened into a crawl. We then dropped under a ceiling ledge on the edge of the Mock Rescue Room. After squeezing under some frost work, we found a small room with untracked mud floors. A small tube continued to the SE, but it looked pretty miserable. We've now surveyed 1,305 feet in the Mock October Room area. We continue finding small virgin crawls and spongework mazes. There are a lot of leads left in the area.

6th Trip: On 1/25/2003, Rod Horrocks led Jay Kennedy on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We went to the Mock October area to continue pushing and surveying leads. We started with a lead in the Mock Rescue Room. We found several deep and unclimable pits into a larger room below, which turned out to be the Cataract Room. After five shots, Jay felt the flu coming on and we abandoned the trip.

7th Trip: On 7/16/2003, Rod Horrocks led Chris Amidon and Meredith Dreyer on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We went to the Mock Rescue Room to continue pushing leads that I had started surveying on 1/25/2003. Starting at NS64E, we surveyed down a popcorn encrusted crawl. It doubled back over itself and continued to the SE. We surveyed past two side passages at a junction and into a room. None of the cave was virgin, as we saw a single set of tracks and scuff marks in the crawl. We named the flat chert ceilinged room "The Chocolate Shop", due to the chocolate brown color and Meredith's favorite bar at Perdue University, "Harrys Chocolate Shop". We left a crawl continuing SE and surveyed into a pit on the west side of the room. It dropped into the start of the Overland Trail. We connected to station UQ77A. This survey now brings the total survey in the Mock October Room area to 1,576 feet. We started the day by checking one lead, and added six more to the lead list for this area.

8th Trip: On 2/14/2004, Rod Horrocks led Jay Kennedy on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We went to the Mock October Room area to wrap up various leads. We started with NS68. Surveying straight ahead soon became too tight. We then turned our attention to the dome above NS58. It was too small for Jay, so we moved on to NS53. It was also too tight for Jay, so we went to a pit lead at NS32. After 3 shots it also became too tight. I scouted ahead to the next junction to see if it goes. It does and I'll be back. We then checked four leads off of the Mock October Room. They were all too tight, so we went to NS64A to survey a crawl. After a couple of stations the crawl got too tight. However, it looks like it is just going to reconnect near NS87. Moving on to NS87, we surveyed that four-foot high crawl for a couple of stations. When the passage hooked a right and got small, Jay decided he had enough of tight passages for the day, so we abandoned the survey at that point.

9th Trip: On 3/17/2004, Rod Horrocks led Jay Kennedy and Alexis Brooks on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We went to the lead that stopped Jay on our last trip to the Mock October Room. We were able to move some loose paleofill rubble in a parallel tube to get Jay through. We then picked up the survey at NS32O and continued it to U, where it got tight and awkward. We passed 4 leads along the way, so we retreated to the fourth, an 8-foot pit, and surveyed down into a small Upper Level room. There was lots of paleofill and chert, and some slickensides. We surveyed a parallel passage that quickly ended. We noticed two digs that we left. The one heading west looks real good. We also left a tight, upward sloping tube heading west and a pit underneath a breakdown block that looks like it might go too. We decided to name the upper tube the "Stop-N-Go Tube", because it kept on looking like it was going to end, but then it kept going on again and again. We finally stopped surveying it when it got too nasty, but, it didn't stop. This trip puts the Mock October Room survey over 2,000 feet, with most of it crawling and squeezing!

9th Trip: On 4/7/2004, Rod Horrocks led Alexis Brooks and Vickie Seigel on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We went to the lead we bypassed on our last trip, at NS32F in the Stop-N-Go Tube. We surveyed into a virgin area, mapping 86 feet of passage. The most significant find was a thick deposit of manganese. One area, about 1' x 1.5' was completely covered in 1/2" thick manganese. It was jet black. I've never seen a deposit of manganese in Wind Cave even remotely approached this deposit in significance. We decided to name the area "The Manganese Stop". This of course references the incredible manganese and the fact that not only did the passage stop shortly thereafter, but this was a good place to stop by to see manganese. Backtracking to NS3, we surveyed the rest of the Draculum Balcony. We found a dome that I think might connect to the small pit at NS86J. We also found a tube that dropped into a room, but it was blocked by a pendant. The room must be next to the Mock October Room. We left one lead in the Manganese Stop that was tight (NS145). This survey brings the total survey of the Mock October Room to 2,295 feet with about 15 or so leads left. Unfortunately, they are all tight. We taught Vickie how to do instruments tonight, so we did foresights and backsights on most of the shots. Although this slowed us down, I feel good about the quality of the survey (which is better than quantity any day).

10th Trip: On 1/13/2007, Rod Horrocks led Ken Geu on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We went back to the Stop and Go Tube in the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section to complete the leads in that area. I purposefully went with only two people, because the nine leads I had were all bellycrawl leads and the Mock October Room is 90% crawls. We started at NS32O and shot into a pit, which just reconnected to NS141. I noticed that there was a mineralized and brecciated fault in the ceiling of that passage with altered bedrock up to six feet on each side of the fault. The bedrock had been turned all different pastel colors. It was quite colorful. I'm going to have to show this alteration to Art and Peg Palmer.

After some photos, we shot up into a dead-end dome. Both leads only produced one to two shots each. The third lead turned out to be a deadend alcove. The only lead we had left at that point in the Stop and Go Tube was a very unobvious hole behind a rock at NS139 that I had noticed on an earlier trip a year and a half ago. To my surprise, it dropped down a narrow slot and into an extensive maze area, with passages going in every direction. We immediately found evidence that the mazey area had first been explored in the 1890's and then had a survey through part of it in the 1950's. That survey is no longer used, as there was nothing on my lineplot in the area. The surveyors had marked their stations with a bolt in the rock with a hanger and a metal survey marker and a red square.

After finding a five-foot long walking stick that someone had drug all the way in there, probably in the 1890's, we decided to name the area the WALKING STICK MAZE. We were curious at that point, because both of those groups certainly didn't come the same way we had, as the Stop and Go Tube area was all virgin when I found it a couple of years ago. We started surveying the maze by heading to the southeast. At NS153, we turned south and dropped into a room. That room, at NS159, was 16-feet in diameter and 15-feet high. However, it felt a lot roomier than the dimensions sound. We named the room the Tin Can Room, after an old tin can we found in one corner.

There were a couple of leads out of the southern end of the room and a couple out the eastern side that we left for a later trip. There were also a couple of unclimbable dome leads in the ceiling. After lunch, we surveyed into a passage that was heading up to the west. We passed a couple of side leads and shot up into a dome that had passages radiating off in every direction. We choose a bellycrawl that was heading north. This connected into another room that we had looked into earlier from NS152. Before surveying that room, we went back to NS153 and surveyed to the southeast into a smaller room.

A lead to the south reconnected to a fissure lead on the eastern side of our first room. We then jumped back to the second room that we had looked into earlier. This room also had passages radiating off in every direction. Surveying northwest, we suddenly connected to E16, a resurvey project that Marc Ohms had done last year from the Juice Room. We then knew which direction the party with the walking stick had come from. We then dropped back to the room and surveyed west and up into an upper middle level slopping passage that went north and south. We shot north to the entrance of a crawl and then south until we reconnected to the top of the dome at NS163.

We decided to call it a night at that point. We'll definitely be back soon, as we left numerous leads. At the beginning of this trip, I had thought that we might finish the Mock October Room survey on this trip (which then had 2,295 feet of survey and 9 leads). Instead, we added 380 feet of survey to the total and another 21 leads. This brings the Mock October Room survey up to 2,674 feet and still going. Yea!

11th Trip: On 2/10/2007, Rod Horrocks led Ken Geu, Roger Harris, & Duff McCafferty on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We went back to the Walking Stick Maze from last trip to push the side leads. Starting at NS171, we surveyed NW into a boneyard type of maze. This reconnected into E14. We decided to leave a tight pit lead in the top of the maze for a later trip. We then jumped over to NS164 and surveyed a side passage for a couple of shots, before it reconnected through a too tight hole to the room we started in. We then surveyed a crawl at NS177. This immediately connected to NS172. We then dropped back to NS175 and surveyed into a tight virgin bellycrawl. This dropped down to a low room over the top of the Tin Can Room. We could look through a window into that room. Although the drop was only 20-feet and free hanging, it looked very impressive from above, probably because of the sloping floor of the Tin Can Room.

We then dropped down a tight squeeze and reconnected with NS167, from last trip. We then backtracked to NS175 and dropped into a nearby pit. This went down into a small room with great mud curls that curled downwards, instead of up. We then shot into a crawl on the east side of NS175. This opened into a small maze that reconnected with NS169. There were also two small pits in this maze. We surveyed one of them, which connected to a fissure/dome we found on our last trip on the edge of the Tin Can Room (NS158). The other one probably reconnects to the other fissure/dome on the same side of the room. Roger then did a climb (about 5.0) up the SW wall of the Tin Can Room. This lead just reconnected to NS164F.

We then surveyed into a crawl at the floor of the same corner of the room. This wrapped around into a small room where we found some of the best fossils we've seen in the cave. Several juvenile colonial corals had completely dissolved out of the rock. They were very delicate and absolutely breathtaking. We got lots of pictures. Roger (the geologist) was ecstatic about his fossil find and is determined to find out which species they are. We then surveyed into a side passage off of NS161. Roger noticed a hole in the ceiling that reconnected to NS164F. While we were shooting the connection shot, he noticed a dome in the ceiling that we hadn't seen when we surveyed that passage earlier. We were surprised when this opened into a muddy, upper level area. We surveyed into a walking height, 40-foot long hall with a couple of crawls leading off of it. This hall has to be directly above the Tin Can Room.

We were surprised there were no other connections between them. We named the room the Brown Sky Room. We also noticed some mud hodoos, which we photographed. We then shot a connection between the hall and the point where Roger first found the dome lead. When we ran out of time, we had to leave two crawls heading SW, into a blank area of the map for our next trip. We're excited to return to these virgin leads next trip. We surveyed a total of 137 feet of virgin passage on this trip. The majority of the Walking Stick Maze had been explored in the 1890's and then again in 1959 (probably by the South Dakota School of Mines geology students). This brought my total survey in the Mock October Room area up to 3,170 feet (and it's still going!). This area will easily become my largest single surveyed area in Wind Cave.

12th Trip: On 3/24/2007, Rod Horrocks led Ken Geu, Roger Harris, & Duff McCafferty on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We went back to the Walking Stick Maze to continue pushing one of the most complex small mazes I have seen in Wind Cave. We started at NS162 and shot up into a small room with beautiful white sodastraws, flowstone, and a nice four-inch high stalagmite. There were two small leads heading SE from the room into a blank spot on the map, but they were too tight. We then dropped back to NS162 and surveyed into a tight bellycrawl. This dropped into a small room with a couple of tight leads. The first dropped down a short pit and went one shot to the NE. The second was squirrely and tight and we skipped it.

Returning to NS162, we shot into a virgin bellycrawl that only went one shot. We then climbed up above NS161 into the Brown Sky Room and the lead we were most excited about. This area is the highest area in the Walking Sticky Maze. Starting at NS210, we shot to the SE towards a blank spot on the map. The floors of this area were covered with damp clay. Unfortunately, all of the passages in this area quickly ended in this same fill. A very unusual area. We then dropped down to NS213 and shot into a boxwork-lined crawl that quickly became too delicate. It was headed right towards something we had already surveyed anyway. We then started at NS207 and shot into a bellycrawl heading NW. This ended after two shots, completing the Brown Sky area.

Everyone was most disappointed that our good leads did not go. We then went over to the walking stick and shot up a passage that reconnected to the largest room in the maze, at NS170. Looking at the walking stick, I noticed that one end was saw cut and the other end was partially burnt. I'm pretty sure this artifact dates from the 1890's. We then went to a pit lead that we had left from the last trip (NS188). After some negotiating, this dropped down through a lead we had skipped from a couple of trips before, landing Roger right next to the pit that Ken and I had found the Walking Stick Maze from. We then hopped over to a lead heading north from NS152. Although, this only went three shots, there was some three-foot high floor to ceiling boxwork pillars that were quite spectacular.

The last lead I knew of in the Walking Stick Maze was a side crawl where NS186 intersected the E survey (at E14), so we headed over there. This only went a couple of shots before becoming too tight. Having finished the Walking Stick Maze (which brought the total Mock October Room survey up to 3,625 feet), we decided to go over and check out the nearby Whisky Bottle Room, which I had never been too.

I was surprised how very close the Whisky Bottle Room was to us and how large it was. After a little poking around, it was obvious that there were three leads on the south side of the room, so we got our survey gear back out. The first was a fissure/dome that opened into a passage that reconnected to a lead in the ceiling of the Whisky Bottle Room. We noticed the whisky bottle on a ledge right under this point. After tying into QC113, we shot the opposite direction into a small dome with lots of white sodastraws. We then dropped back out of the fissure and surveyed a cut around back into the Whisky Bottle Room. We decided to start heading out of the cave at this point, looking for leads as we went. Noticing that there was an unsurveyed lead at E12, we decided to survey into that. This just reconnected to the Whisky Bottle Room after a couple of shots. We tied into E16G and called it a night.

Trip: On 3/14/00, Rod Horrocks led a 5-hour trip with Nick Myers, Belinda Fox, & Caity Czaja to find the source of the bones found in the Chamber of Lost Souls in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We went to the Chamber of Lost Souls to continue the CV survey from leads that I had found on 8/4/99 and to specifically push the domes above the bone site excavated by Dr. James E. Martin from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City in the 1980's. We were trying to find the paleo entrance that the stream-worn and woodrat chewed bones originated from. The first dome we checked went into a spongework belly crawl and led to 215 feet of survey. We found a shallow lake (2-3" deep) that was twice the size of the more well-known Silent Lake. We then found a room with roots in it. They ranged from hair-like to 1" in diameter. Some of the hair-like roots had calcite crystals growing on them. To the best of my knowledge, this is only the third time in Wind Cave, roots have been found penetrating into the cave. This indicates that we had reached a shallow point below the surface.

We found a passage that had a cone of dirt and rocks pouring out of it that we thought might be the actual paleo entrance and the source of the bones. I'm now calculating that this area is about 6-feet below the surface, based on a radio location done in the Chamber of Lost Souls. Another side passage in the area led into a small (18-foot diameter) room with lots of formations in it. This included one massive stalagmite, flowstone, popcorn, draperies and dozens of soda straws. The second dome we surveyed went up through a mass of choke stones and into a room right above the Chamber of Lost Souls. We ran out of time and were only able to survey the room itself. Four phreatic tubes exited the room, one off each side. They continue in the NW-SE trend of the Chamber of Lost Souls. We surveyed a total of 330 feet, with an average shot length of 10 feet. We left seven leads for a return trip.

Trip: On 10/31/2006, Rod Horrocks led Seth Spoelman, Erin Niedringhaus, & Bjorn Zindler to the UD survey in the Historic Section where they discovered paleo flood debris in Mud Peel Alley.

Trip Report: We went in to resurvey UD1-6 and survey any side passages off the main survey line. Only 96 feet of the 241 feet was actually resurvey while the rest was new in side passages. All the side passages quickly chocked with mud, except one, at UD12. Looking down a six-inch high bellycrawl, we could see that it opens up and continues on to who knows where. This passage is at the very edge of the cave at this level. Pretty good-looking lead! Unfortunately, the floor and ceiling are all calcified and it's too small for even the smallest caver.

The rest of the UD survey area had been flooded sometime in the past, with organic debris and mud on everything. Because there is calcite popcorn and flowstone on top of the mud, I assume it was from a fairly old flooding event. There are lots of charcoal bits (up to 1 cm in diameter) everywhere in the mud. Water is dripping and seeping everywhere and unlike most of Wind Cave this is a very muddy area. The 1 1/2" thick mud deposit covers a fine sand or silt deposit on the floors. The mud layer easily peels up.

We named this interesting area Mud Peel Alley. We could see a water line in the ceiling fissures that marked the upper flooding limit. In one area, near UD1, we could see where air pockets had been trapped in small domes in the ceiling; kind of cool. The bedrock walls in these pockets were still white, while everything else around them, even above them was brown. We found some graffiti scratched in the mud at UD4 dating from 1934-35. One note said, "Stop, no go". After some debate, we decided the explorer was saying that the lead stopped and didn't go. We found some little tiny spiral snail shells (they are actually hard to see because they are so tiny) that obviously lived for a while on the organic debris underneath a ceiling ledge at UD9. There are also some types of organic fibers/stringers that are mud covered and are hanging down everywhere, especially underneath ledges. They average 1/2-2 inches long. These sway when blown upon. Some of these fibers at UD2 have small calcite popcorn balls on their ends. We got pictures of everything unusual in this area.

1st Trip: On January 23, 1999, Marc Ohms led Rene Rogers and Paul Burger to the boundary between the Historic and Colorado Grotto Zones where they discovered Phantom Lake.

Trip Report: We surveyed leads left from our last trip on the 1st (HO survey). We found low muddy passages with flood debris consisting of small pieces of wood and pine needles that led to a 20-foot high canyon with a large lake! Paul and I pushed beyond the lake which was up to our belly buttons- and cold!! Much passage beyond!! Paul found a set of footprints in the mud coming from a different direction from where we came from?? The lake was about 200-feet long, 10-feet wide, and up to 8-feet deep. We named this Phantom Lake after the mysterious footprints. In hindsight, we think the footprints may be Alvin McDonald's footprints and the lake "Wind River," which he talked about in his journal. Everybody always dismissed his Wind River as fiction. Because it is so long, I could see how it would look like a river to Alvin. We surveyed 500 feet.

2nd Trip: On 4/17/1999, Marc Ohms led Rene Rogers, Mike Wiles, and Paul Burger back to Phantom Lake.

Trip Report: We returned to Phantom Lake to survey the lead heading west that we left on the last trip. It started out as a small crawl, then into a mazy area of crawls, then into a large, muddy, north-trending canyon. Eventually that ended in a small passage that only Rene could fit in, so we backtracked checking leads as we went. I climbed up into a high lead and after a few hundred feet and a bellycrawl, I popped out in the Assembly Room on the Natural Entrance Tour Route!! We surveyed a total of 658 feet and left many leads.

3rd Trip: On 4/25/1999, Marc Ohms led Kelly Mathis back to Phantom Lake.

Trip Report: We went to the Flood Plains area on the HO survey to mop-up some crawls remaining above Rene's Plunge. We retrieved the webbing handline on Rene Plunge, since it is no longer needed. We surveyed 130 feet of low, mud-covered crawls. Finishing those leads, we went to the AD survey and surveyed 87 more feet. We left one nasty lead.

4th Trip: On 7/19/1999, Marc Ohms led Rene Rogers, Courtney Harlan, and Erik Sikora back to Phantom Lake.

Trip Report: We mopped up four side leads along the HO survey. A lead heading off to the southwest had airflow but pinched to four inches high, not big enough even for Rene. In a parallel canyon to the main passage, we discovered a pool of water in the bottom that had not been present when the passage was discovered a few months prior. We surveyed 275 feet.

5th Trip: On 9/11/1999, Marc Ohms led Rene Roger, back to Phantom Lake.

Trip Report: Today we took it easy and did not get in the cave until late morning. Our main mission was to tie the HO survey from Phantom Lake tied into a survey around the Assembly Room. We started our survey at the last HO survey station and surveyed out into the Assembly Room and tied into an old survey. We then found several unsurveyed passages and surveyed them for a total of 350 feet. We even found a little virgin cave within shouting distance of the tour route!

6th Trip: On 8/11/2000, Marc Ohms led Joel Despain & Merrilee Proffitt back to Phantom Lake.

Trip Report: This trip was to mop up the remaining leads in the Phantom Lake area. However, we were unsuccessful, because Phantom Lake had mysteriously risen five feet, the first recorded lake level rise since the lakes discovery.

7th Trip: On 12/3/2010, Marc Ohms led Kelly Mathis & Maike Norpoth back to Phantom Lake.

Trip Report: We surveyed three leads along the HO survey that were under water when we first discovered the area in 1999. Now that the lake has disappeared, the leads were enterable. Very muddy! We named two passages Fudge Alley and Wonkey Way. We surveyed 296 feet and left a few leads.

1st Trip: On 4/9/2005, Jason Walz led Dan and Sean Foster and Peggy Renwick to the Peteys Puddle area in the Club Room Section where they discovered pink bacterial staining.

Trip Report: We surveyed 741 feet off of the DA, CC, DE, and LL surveys. We found some pink residue on the moonmilk at station CC10. We photodocumented the residue and the calcite rafts at Peteys Puddle.

2nd Trip: On 5/2/2005, Jason Walz led Marc Ohms to the pink residue discovered on his previous survey trip.

Trip Report: We went in to obtain a sample of the pink stuff I found on my last survey trip, so Dr. John Moore, from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, could examine it for DNA.

1st Trip: On 12/5/1998, Marc Ohms led Mike Wiles, Myk Coughlin, & Rene Rogers to the Forty-Mile Hall area in the Colorado Grotto Section, where they discovered Pizza Hut.

Trip Report: We pushed the lead we found on 11/3/98. It broke out to the east past the supposed fault and into a big room, 100 x 60-feet! We named this room Pizza Hut since that was all Myk could talk about all day. We surveyed 565 feet. A few leads remain. There is lots of airflow. We have high hopes this leads to the eastern half of the cave.

2nd Trip: On 4/3/1999, Marc Ohms led Mike Wile, & Rene Rogers back to Pizza Hut.

Trip Report: We finally returned to Pizza Hut to push the remaining leads. We pushed everything very very hard. We surveyed whatever we found, which was not much. The only lead we surveyed was one found on the previous trip. This passage headed south out of Pizza Hut and opened up briefly before ending in a 20-foot deep pit named the Deep Dish. We mapped 240 feet.

1st Trip: On 11/9/2002, Carl Bern led Mike Wiles, Doug Pflugh, & Derek Wolfe on a trip to Blind Faith in the Southern Comfort Section, where they discovered the Rio Colorado.

Trip Report: Checked leads along the LOG survey in the OK Coral area in the Southern Comfort Section, but they did not go. Went to Blind Faith to check leads. We surveyed into a lead with flowstone and stalactites all over. Very pretty! The only lead past this is right over the flowstone. We then found a small river off water that we named Rio Colorado. We survey 282 feet.

2nd Trip: On 1/11/2003, Carl Bern led Mike Wiles, & Derek Wolfe back to the Rio Colorado.

Trip Report: We carried Tyvek suits, aqua socks, clean gloves, etc to explore past the flowstone at Rio Colorado. Derek went thru first and report only one small room with a danergous climb lead out of it. We took a bunch of photos or the area. We surveyed 124 feet in another lead.

1st Trip: On 8/5/08, Chris Amidon led Tom Jarvela, Kali Leitheiser, & April Oesterling to the Swiss Cheese Connection area in the North Section where they discovered the Rite of Spring. This was a very productive and fun trip for this group and the area.

Trip Report: It took us 2 hours to get to the Swiss Cheese Connection in the North Section via the Happy/Cave City Route. On a previous trip, we had been able to find a shortcut out to the Happy Route that will shave up to 30 minutes of travel time when traveling to the North Section. However, this new route does involve a couple of tight squeezes. Started by mopping up leads along the KY survey. Found a lead that went. Surveyed up a climb that went to a large room we named the Rite of Spring. Had passages radiating in all directions. Found rooms with dripstone and frostwork. We then surveyed a pit that reconnected into the KY survey. We surveyed 576 feet for the day and left lots of leads for a future trip.

2nd Trip: On 9/2/08, Chris Amidon led Tom Jarvela & Diane Broyhill back to the Rite of Spring area in the North Section.

Trip Report: We returned to the HZ survey off of the Rite of Spring. Our first lead kept us busy all day, even though we reconnected to the Rite of Spring twice. The lead took us into a fissure paralleling the Rite of Spring, and then into upper level cave along the chert layer. We discovered a nice room with several leads out of it that we named the CAVING SPREE. The pits in the floor did not go, and most of the other leads simply connected into the Rite of Spring. We surveyed 514 feet, finished three leads and left several leads for a return trip.

Trip: On 4/14/2007, Rod Horrocks led Ken Geu, Duff McCafferty, & Roger Harris to two climbing leads in the Whiskey Bottle Room area in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We went back to the Whisky Bottle Room to survey the fissure/dome lead above station E16F in the Whiskey Bottle Room that we had looked at on our last trip to the Walking Stick Maze. Roger was able to squeeze up a nearby fissure into an upper level and then crawled over to the balcony lead that overlooked the Whisky Bottle Room. He then rigged a webbing etrier for the rest of us that couldn't fit up the tight fissure so we could climb into the unsurveyed area. It was about a 11-foot climb. Surprisingly, we found some evidence of 1890's exploration in that upper area. However, at one point, we found a virgin bellycrawl. This led into a sandy clay floored passage with drip cups and mudcracks. Unfortunately this ended after four shots.

We then surveyed into an upper level above another window in the Whisky Bottle Room where we found a spectacular 14" long stalactite above a 4" stalagmite, both amid some other soda straws. Ken got some good pictures of the formations. Surveying into an upward sloping passage above the second connection, we were stopped by a small window in a chert layer. We could look through the window into a 1-foot high bellycrawl over the top of the chert layer. However, we couldn't tell if it went or not. With 249 feet of survey and that area essentially finished, we rappelled out of the balcony lead down to the Whiskey Bottle Room. Ken got lots of pictures of the event since rappelling isn't something we do every day in Wind Cave.

We then went down to the LJH survey to push side leads. We found a fun little climbdown into those lower passages. We were surprised how spacious some of the passages were. We started with a dome lead at LJH9. Roger did the lead climb up the dome/fissure and rigged an etrier ladder for the rest of us. Without the etrier, I would have skipped that lead. At the top of the 22-foot high climb, the fissure continued horizontally. After a single shot we tied into LJH42, a lead left from a survey a couple of years previous. We then shot in the opposite direction a couple of shots before the fissure pinched out. Dropping back down the climb, we found the downclimb much easier than the climb up, which was surprising. We then surveyed a two-shot side lead at LJH10, which completely ended before jumping over to LJH22, where we shot into a small dome lead.

After climbing above the chert ceiling of the LJH22 passage, we found two short branching passages that ended after a single shot in each direction. We then dropped down to LJH24. From 24 we shot into a bellycrawl heading SW. This pinched in a too tight pit. We then shot straight ahead to the SE into a virgin room with a soft dirt floor. There was only one lead out of this room and unfortunately it was too tight. Backtracking, we shot into a short corkscrewing passage that pinched underneath LJH24.

We then surveyed into another short side passage that ended after a single steeply sloping shot. Leaving that area, we jumped back to LJH 25 and surveyed into a bellycrawl that opened into a parallel fissure. We found evidence that someone very small had pushed a body tight tube off this fissure in the 1890's (we suspect Alvin McDonald). This ended in a too tight fissure that dropped into a lower passage that headed into a blank area on the lineplot. It was frustrating that we couldn't get through. With 318 feet of survey, we decided that the LJH area was finished and we headed out of the cave. We finished the day with a total of 567 feet of survey.

Trip: On 10/9/1999, Marc Ohms led Rene Rogers and Joann Vokoun to the Lakes Section where they heard an earthquake and discovered Seismic Hall.

Trip Report: We ventured into the Lakes area to push leads and hopefully find the elusive upper level cave that is missing from this part of the cave. Our first lead was just beyond the Garden Gate and only gave us about 100 feet of survey. While we were resting during a break, we heard the low rumble of an earthquake! My first in Wind and the third heard this summer. We then went further south a few stations before finding a lead not on the map. It went east into a large room. We named it Seismic Hall, after the earthquake; it is about 100 feet by 60 feet in diameter. We surveyed one lead off of it to its end and left several for a return visit. This room and passages were in the middle level, which indicates there is more of this to be found. We surveyed 560 feet for the day.

Trip: On 2/11/2006, Marc Ohms led Andy and Bonny Armstrong and Rene Ohms to the Key Room area in the North Section where they discovered the Stalactites Galore area.

Trip Report: We started with a lead at WS42 that dead-ended after about 100 feet. We then headed to the PB survey, south of the Key Room, where we found much to survey. At PB15 we surveyed a connection to KYB2, which was very well decorated with all sorts of pretties. We named it Stalactites Galore. We surveyed 802 feet.

Trip: On 8/25/07, Rod Horrocks led Roger and William Harris to the Long Loop area in the Historic Section where they discovered Stargazers Hall.

Trip Report: We went back to the Long Loop to continue pushing leads. Starting at FL5, we shot into a side passage that went up a dome after a single shot. At the top of the 10-foot high climb, we found station F27F and connected into it. Sandy Kramer and Pat Jablonsky showed up at this time to survey the leads off of F27F, so we retreated and went to our next lead, at FL8. We closed three loops while surveying this dome complex. We left a lead near FL8D. Although the traverse and bridge into the lead didn't look too bad (exposed though), it looked like it would be difficult to get back out of.

Near FL12, Roger found four historic cave tickets sitting next to the wall. We could still see the printing on one of the tickets, which said, "ADMIT ONE, TICKET 50cents, TAX 10cents, TOTAL 60cents". Apparently, whenever the cave tickets were only 60cents, the guides would take people off trail too. Or maybe, the guides went exploring after the tour, leaving the tickets for others to find; who knows. Near FL8F we found some nice mud curls, moonmilk blebs, and frostwork. We then shot up into a dome above FL12 and shot three shots in an upper level passage that reconnected in three other places. After tying into FL14, we went to our good lead at FL21. Surveying down the pit, we entered a passage that had some IZ41-44 survey markers in it that were not on our lineplot. One of them said, "IZ44 2-2-87". These markers are interesting because that IZ survey, done by Jim Pisarowicz, was never used for some unknown reason.

Passing under some very nice quartz rinds, we dropped into a long hall. We quickly found station UY10D above a small pit on the southern end of the hall and tied into it. I was disappointed because I had hoped that we had found an unsurveyed room. Going down the hall to UY18, we were getting ready to survey some unsurveyed side leads when I happened to look up and was blown away by the ceiling. The entire ceiling was a flat, sloping chert layer that was covered with a thin black manganese film. Small white concentric moonmilk rings covered much of the ceiling. It looked like stars against the night sky. Will suggested that we name the room "STARGAZER HALL" if it wasn't already named. I assured him that the passage was not named. I liked the name. After shooting into four dead-end side passages, we moved ahead to FL8F, which we had set earlier, and shot across a passage and into an unsurveyed side passage. Shooting down a steeply sloping tube, we connected to AJ99, a survey Chris Amidon had just done in the last couple of weeks. After Shooting in the opposite direction, we connected into F28B, which was located right next to the paved trail.

As we had made a loop back almost to our starting point, William asked if we could call it a day, even though it was only a little past 4:00 PM. I assured him that the leads were not going anywhere and that would be fine. We ended up surveying 403 feet for the day. I've now surveyed just over 2,000 feet in the Long Loop area. Until next time.

1st Trip: On 2/10/2012, Rod Horrocks led Everett Brill to W.C.T.U. Hall in the Historic Section to study the stream cobbles for his Senior Geology research project.

Trip Report: I took Everett Brill, a SDSM&T geology student, to W.C.T.U. Hall on the Garden of Eden Tour Route to begin work on his Senior Geology Thesis project studying the five known cobble sites in Wind Cave. We decided to start with the most easily accessible site first, just in case our initial work found that we had to return to the site a second time. This proved to be a wise decision. We found two deposits of cobbles in the room, one in the NW corner of the room and another in a small passage underneath Silent Lake. The two are obviously related and resulted from the same flood event. We theorized that the source of the cobbles might have been from the dome above Silent Lake. Crawling into the site underneath Silent Lake, we characterized 100 cobbles. Although, we found that much of the site had been disturbed when it was surveyed, some deposits were still untouched. There was also a large calcified siderite concretion that was broken in half and some concrete on it right at the entrance to the crawl.

The task of characterizing the cobbles was made more difficult due to numerous pieces of paleofill and associated rubble that had fallen off the roof and got mixed in with the cobbles. We found that most of the cobbles were either white sandstone, light colored sandstone, dark quartzite, quartz, or limestone. We also noted that most of the cobbles at this site were 64mm or smaller with only a couple almost 128mm.

We then went over to look at the other site in the NW corner of W.C.T.U. Hall. We found a complete silicified siderite concretion sitting at the entrance to a side passage I had never noticed before. The size of that concretion tells us that the old paleo entrance was pretty good sized to allow a 2 ½ foot concretion to wash down it. Looking into the crawl, we saw extensive cobble deposits and an area that I'll have to return and survey. The plan is to return next Friday to map the deposits.

2nd Trip: On 2/17/2012, Rod Horrocks led Everett Brill to Cobblestone Crawl in the Historic Section to study the stream cobbles for his research project.

Trip Report: I took Everett Brill, SDSM&T Geology student, to Cobblestone Crawl to look at another cobble site for his Senior Research Project. It was immediately obvious that the cobbles in Cobblestone Crawl area are related to the cobbles in W.C.T.U. Hall. The composition of the cobbles were the same, however, they were generally smaller and more rounded than the cobbles in the W.C.T.U. Hall area. We assume this means that Cobblesteone Crawl is farther from the paleo entrance or source of the cobbles, while W.C.T.U. Hall cobble area is closer. After characterizing 100 cobbles, which we accomplished in half the time that it took us the previous Friday, we mapped out the cobble deposit and called it a day.

3rd Trip: On 2/18/2012, Rod Horrocks led Kenny Slocum to W.C.T.U. Hall in the Historic Section to survey the Cobble Maze area.

Trip Report: We went to W.C.T.U. Hall to survey a lead I had spotted the previous week when looking at the stream cobbles in the crawl underneath Silent Lake. Starting at RS10C, a station that Marc Ohms had surveyed a number of years ago and left hanging, we surveyed down a tight crawl and to our lead in the NW corner of W.C.T.U. Hall. The lead surprised us as it turned into a little maze area with sand and stream cobbles everywhere. We named it the Cobble Maze. We eventually popped out of an obscure hole along the Wild Cave Tour Route and reconnected to station RS10A. From there we backtracked to RS10G to a lead we had bypassed earlier. However, after two shots we called it a night, primarily because I couldn't fit through a tight squeeze just before our last station. We'll have to return another night with skinny people to finish up the last few shots in this area. We ended up surveying 122 feet for the evening.

4th Trip: On 3/6/2012, Rod Horrocks led Kenny Slocum & Matthew Chuvarsky to W.C.T.U. Hall in the Historic Section to continue the survey of the Cobble Maze area.

Trip Report: We started our evening trip by continuing the RS10 survey in the Cobble Maze area just off of W.C.T.U. Hall on the Garden of Eden Tour Route. Although we only took two shots, we discovered numerous small bones in the flood debris on the floor. The bones were mixed in with the sand and charcoal and are apparently part of the flood debris. There were also several dead insects mixed in. Boy, would I love to carbon date that charcoal! Such a date would give us a date when that paleo entrance, which must have been located near the Elevator Building, was open to the bottom of Wind Cave Canyon. The charcoal also indicates that the flood happened after a fire had burned the vegetation in the area.

1st Trip: On 5/11/02, Tim Moreland led Paul Fowler, Marjori Johnson, and Jason Walz on a survey trip to the North Section where they found the Task Master Room.

Trip Report: We went up to the north edge of the North Section, where we found stuff to survey off of KY254. We tied into GR34 in a room with some nice formations. Surveying further north we tied into KY243. Just as time was running out, we found a huge room off of GR46, which is 40-feet wide, by 60-feet long, and up to 20-feet high. We named the room the Taskmaster Room after the way Paul had been running the survey. At some point during the day Tim injured his little finger.

2nd Trip: On 7/13/02, Tim Moreland led Paul Fowler, Jason Walz, & Marjori Johnson on a survey trip back to the Task Master Room.

Trip Report: We returned to the Taskmaster Room and did a detailed sketch of the room. We then surveyed a lead to the south but it pinched off after a few stations. A lead to the north lead us 125 feet into a small room with a pool of water. We surveyed several dead-end leads until reconnecting to known cave to the south at station GR32. We surveyed 581 feet for the day.

1st Trip: On 3/15/2001, Rod Horrocks led a Utah crew, Dave, Ryan, and Jordan Shurtz to the New Beginnings Room area in the Historic Section where they discovered the Terra Cotta Trail passage.

Trip Report: I took an old Utah caving friend and his sons to the New Beginnings Room area to push leads. We started by shooting up into a dome. After shooting up into a paleofill crawl, we surveyed into a rift passage, which reminded me of the rift passages in Lechuguilla Cave in New Mexico. Crawling along the top of the rift, we could see 30-40 feet down the steeply sloping passage to Lenas Arbor area along the Natural Entrance Tour Route.

Continuing down the virgin crawl, we wound through some breakdown blocks. When we got to a corkscrewing squeeze that I couldn't fit through, I left the others and climbed back down to Lenas Arbor in an attempt to find another way into the continuing passage past the squeeze. Climbing up to the base of the rift, I went right into the C36 survey. When I heard voices, we found a squeeze and pit at C36M that allowed me to rejoin the group in a virgin room they had just surveyed into. Everything was in the upper middle level. We named the rift "Arcane Rift", since only a few people (us four) know how to get into the obscure rift.

After surveying a small room in the middle level, that was located directly underneath the upper room, we continued on to the north. We left six leads in the rift to survey later. After squeezing through a nine inch window located near the ceiling at station L'5Z, we found ourselves in a large passage with a 20-foot pit. We were able to traverse a ledge on the right side and continue to the NW. The passage headed north, 50 feet above the paved Natural Entrance Tour Route.

We surveyed under a dome that opened into an upper level and to a junction covered with popcorn. Taking the left-hand tube, we found a dry pool of yellow subaqueous pool spar (we took a picture). After a bellycrawl, we rejoined the right-hand tube and surveyed under another dome that opened into the upper, parallel tube.

We decided to name the passage "Terra-Cotta Trail" because of the brownish orange calcified sediment floors that reminded us of Terra-Cotta tiles. Continuing straight ahead, we passed some flowstone deposits (got a picture of that too) and then we found a pocket of purplish brown, dark dogtooth spar with small, clear spiraling crystals off the tips. Continuing to NE, the passage finally ended after 320 feet. We found a very tight hole through the chert roof near the end that led to an upper virgin level that goes all over. All together, we left plenty of leads in this area and surveyed a total of 626 feet.

2nd Trip: On 5/29/2001, Rod Horrocks led Dave, Ryan, and Jordan Shurtz back to the Terra Cotta Trail area in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: A couple of months after our discovery of Terra Cotta Trail, the Shurtz's came back to the Black Hills to continue our survey. Starting at the first pit, we surveyed down a fissure passage that had some candle wax drippings, candles and an 1892 date at the bottom. Curiously, they hadn't made the easy climb up into Terra-Cotta Trail. We then surveyed a side passages at CQ64. It connected via a tight bellycrawl to C39VD. We then closed a loop between CQ64 and CQ66 and surveyed up into a fissure with two short side passages at the top. Going on to CQ67, we surveyed up another fissure in the ceiling. Interestingly, there are four levels in this area, each right on top of the other. The top level was in the Upper Level and was accessed via a very tight vertical squeeze. Everything got too tight at that level.

Dropping back down to the 2nd level, we surveyed a couple of short passages extending both ways (NW-SE). We then dropped down to the 2nd level and surveyed NW along a comfortable passage that led to a room we named the Map Room. We named it this because the flat chert ceiling was covered with large (4-6 feet long) dendrites that resembled the line plot of Wind Cave. It was also a play on the Map Room in the movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark". A passage headed west from this room, which interestingly is the only westward trending passage in the whole Terra-Cotta Trail area. After a short dig through a complete choke, we found a decorated area and a tight squeeze that continued to a 30-foot deep pit with boneyard maze at the bottom. It was all very nasty cave!! We abandoned the area and backtracked to the NW trending passage. This continued for some distance before becoming too tight. We left 2 good leads, 11 tight leads and a couple of digs. We decided to name the pit the "Well of Souls", again with the Raiders of Ark theme. With 851 feet of survey for the day, this brought the total survey in this new area to 1,615 feet.

3rd Trip: On 6/25/2001, Rod Horrocks led Jake Turin and Stephen Smith back to Terra Cotta Trail.

Trip Report: We went to push leads in the Terra-Cotta trail area, but it turned out to be a mop-up trip. We pushed numerous small virgin leads, but nothing went any distance. At CQ73, we surveyed up a dome, connecting to the Tannis Passage. At DW8, we surveyed up a small dome with slight air. It got too tight. We surveyed some leads at DW8, one of which looped back to DW6. We left one going lead at DW8 that continues to the NW. This may go. We were able to mop up 293 feet in several small leads, leaving several leads for a return trip. This brought the total survey in the Terra Cotta Trail area to 1,907 feet.

4th Trip: On 8/2/2001, Rod Horrocks led Dave Fairfield, Graham Hogg, and Rainer Engler back to the Terra Cotta Trail area in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: Graham and his Canadian caving friends came down to help me continue pushing the Terra Cotta Trail area. We started mopping up side leads along the main Terra-Cotta Trail passage. A lead at CQ72 dropped into a very small room and promptly ended. A tight dome nearby connected up to the Tannis passage, where we tied into DW10. Moving on to CQ75, we surveyed down into a pit that doubled back underneath itself. Squeezing underneath a loose rock in the floor that was holding up other rocks, we entered a large rift passage. The squeeze was a little dicey. Looking down a pit, we could see tour lights 30-feet below. We dropped a Mylar tag down the pit so we could go down to the tour route later and determine where we had connected to the Natural Entrance Tour Route. Surveying across the pit, we stopped at a tight vertical squeeze. Looking through it, we could see that the passage continued beyond. We left that lead for the next generation. Returning to the paved trail, we walked up the Natural Entrance Trail until we found our Mylar tag at Miltons Study. The Canadian cavers on the trip decided to name the connection the Alberta Connection, since they are from Edmonton, Canada and they found the pit. The whole Terra Cotta Trail area is about 50 feet directly above the paved trail.

5th Trip: On 8/16/2005, Rod Horrocks led Andy and Bonny Armstrong back to the Terra Cotta Trail area in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: I took the Armstrong's to the Terra Cotta Trail area in the Historic Section to specifically push leads that I haven't been able to fit into. We started by surveying up a dome that connected to the Tannis Passage at CQ67C'. We then went to the end of Terra Cotta Trail to push the area past the tight chert squeeze at CQ77. The Armstrong's both fit thankfully. They surveyed up to the NW, where they hit a dead end. They then surveyed to the south and then east where they connected to TZ36, a lead from one of my previous surveys in the Twilight Zone area. They then surveyed up a dome to a passage that connected into another lead I wanted to check today off of the Tannis Passage, where they tied into DW21. Once they rejoined me, we then surveyed a small dome lead off of CQ75A. I noticed some flexible boxwork located nearby. It was white with frayed edges. We've now found flexible boxwork in three areas in Wind Cave that I know of. We then climbed up to the Tannis Passage and surveyed a dome at DW4. We shot to the NW and SE. The passage going SE actually constricted down before opening up into a small room. However, the constriction was too tight. We then checked the dome at CV67V, but it was too tight, even for the Armstrong's. With this 210 feet o survey, the total survey in the Terra Cotta Trail area stands at 2,359 feet.

Trip: On 7/14/2001, Carl Bern led Christa Schneider, Kirk Digby, and Amy Bern to the Mule Creek Junction area in the North Section, where they discovered the Ton 80 Room.

Trip Report: We returned to our FQ survey to the three unpromising leads we left on our last trip to the area. The second lead went into a large room 90 feet by 40 feet!! We named it the Ton 80, which is the highest score a person can get in darts. We then surveyed into a 40-foot deep canyon. We left lots of leads and surveyed 450 feet.

Trip: On 1/25/2006, Rod Horrocks led Derek Marohn to the Isolation Room area in the Historic Section where they found a 2-foot long fossil burrow.

Trip Report: We went to resurvey the UE & UEA surveys done by Jim Palmer in 1973. We noticed that some ceiling pendants were blasted at UEA1. There was a pile of bowling ball sized blasted rocks scattered down the slope all the way to UE3. There was also a pile at UEA20. We left a fissure/dome lead to survey at UEA1 for a later trip.

At UEA4, we surveyed down the plugged connection to Phantom Lake, mainly because Derek dropped his camera down the hole and he had to go and retrieve it. Luckily, it stopped at the edge of a too-tight hole that he wouldn't have fit into. We noticed lots of web-like material strung all around that area. Some of it is apparently calcified. It is unclear if it is an insect web or a type of fungus. I've seen similar webs near areas where organic flood debris is found in Wind Cave. We also noticed white material that looked like moonmilk flowstone. It may be biological in origin. We took pictures of both.

We then found an inscription at UEA20 that read, "Radiators installed 8-18-35". Apparently, the radiators had been installed in this area just after the elevator shaft had been excavated in 1934 and before the elevators were completed in October of 1935. The CCC had excavated the passage between UEA5 and UE5 from a crawlway to a flat-floored walking passage. They also excavated the floor between UE5-6 and built a rock retaining wall in the Isolation Room. In some areas the excavation was at least 6-feet deep. They had excavated a tremendous amount of material and went to a lot of work to create a place to cool the power plant water! The radiators were a system of pipes that wound back and forth through the room that cooled off the water from the diesel power plant on the surface that was pumped down the elevator shaft and through the pipes, before being pumped back to the surface.

We left a climbing lead at UEA20. At UE4, we surveyed up into a sand-floored fissure bellycrawl underneath boxwork. At UE4F, we found a 4' x 1.5' pool of water that was 2" deep. The passage continued beyond as a belly crawl. The most interesting thing was a spectacular burrow that is roughly horizontal, parallel with the beds, and about 2-feet long. This burrow has some small spike-like branches or chambers off of it and is connected into the wall at both ends. It is definitely the longest fossil burrow discovered to date in Wind Cave (by a long shot). We got several pictures of it. After surveying a couple of dead-end side passages, we called it a day. For the trip, we resurveyed 275 feet and added 155 feet of new passage to the Wind Cave survey.

Trip: On 8/5/2002, Rene Ohms led Jewel Cave employees Erik Karff, Jared Howell, & Tammi Skalitzky on a survey training trip to the Juice Room area in the Historic Section where they discovered a waterfall.

Trip Report: We had surveyed 87 feet when just after 9pm we heard the sound of rushing water and quickly discovered a large amount of water entering the cave from a dome at station E4F. We decided to abandon the survey and found it raining hard outside. (A subsequent cave radio test determined that the top of this dome is 3-feet below the sidewalk and the bottom of Wind Cave Canyon).

Summary: On 1/8/2005, five survey trips were led into Wind Cave, elevating the Wind Cave survey past the Lechuguilla Cave survey and moving Wind Cave up in the rankings to the fifth longest cave in the world. Following are the trip reports from the five trip leaders that accumulated enough survey to reach this milestone.

1st Trip: Rod Horrocks led Ryan Sprouse, Ben Shouse, and Duff McCafferty on a survey trip to the E' survey in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We were one of five teams in the cave that were each trying to get at least 350' of survey each, so Wind Cave could move up from sixth to fifth longest cave in the world. I decided to go to the E' survey to continue pushing off of that canyon. None of our nine leads that we checked went far. The longest was a virgin bellycrawl off of HD55, which was only 50' long. All together, we surveyed 378 feet, mapping up most of the leads off of the E'. On the way out, we relocated the G' survey, and surveyed up onto a balcony. We left station EK101 where it could be tied into when the G' is resurveyed.

2nd Trip: Ben Tobin led Andrea Croskrey and Carrie Musick to the Wall Street area in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: This group of Kentucky cavers surveyed leads off of the NYY survey. We named the Chocolate Sprinkle Junction after the wood rat pellets scattered around the area. We must have been near a blowhole entrance that the woodrats are using. Our survey eventually connected to the bottom of Quicksilver Pit (the NM4 survey). We mapped 460 feet. There are more leads left.

3rd Trip: Jim Wilson led Tim Moreland and Greg Glazner to the Elbow Room in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We went back to the area we discovered in December off of the Elbow Room. We cleaned up most of the leads we left along the VW survey. We finished the gnarly area, mapping 394 feet.

4th Trip: Jason Walz led Ben Hutchins and Sara Booth to the Base Camp area in the Club Room Section.

Trip Report: We surveyed some Lower Level leads. The area around JB'18 is mazy and there may be a lot of passages to survey in the area. We surveyed 633 feet, including one 77-foot long shot. We left a few leads to return too.

5th Trip: Marc Ohms led Larry Shaffer and Rene Ohms to the House of the Fallen Snurd in the North Section.

Trip Report: We headed out to the North Section to some leads north of the Polar Ice Cap. We discovered what appears to be a small helictite bush about 10" high. We surveyed several leads for a total of 830 feet. There seems to be lots to do out there. It was Wind Cave Weekend and everyone surveyed enough to pass Lech!

Trip: On 2/11/2006, 6 survey trips were led into Wind Cave, which elevated the Wind Cave survey past Holloch Cave in Switzerland and moving Wind Cave up in the rankings to the fourth longest cave in the world. Following are the trip reports from the 6 trip leaders that accumulated enough survey to reach this milestone.

1st Trip: Rod Horrocks led ken Geu and Dean Faust to a passage they named End of the Road in the Historic Section during an 11.5-hour trip.

Trip Report: After renaming the stations at CM12 to their correct designation (correcting mistakes from a previous survey trip), we climbed up towards the NB survey, which can be accessed from the C' survey. We stopped to survey a side lead at CM45 for one shot. Continuing up past a tight squeeze, we surveyed another side lead off of CM48. This eventually connected with NB22 and then 24. We left a good dome lead at 22 for a later trip. We then surveyed a side lead at 24 that connected to CN13.

Next, we surveyed a dome complex along this route. At NB24F, there was a tight squeeze that I couldn't fit through, so we backtracked to NB24 to survey a parallel dome to see if it might connect to the same area. Luckily, it did. We were then able to survey the walking passage off of NB24F, much to the delight of the survey crew. There was a single set of footprints down the main passage? I suspect it was scooped during the 1991 survey of the NO DON'T STOP passage (the NB survey). This went for about 100 feet of really nice passage before it terminated in a calcified breakdown collapse; bummer. We named this passage, THE END OF THE ROAD.

We then backtracked to a dome lead at NB24T. This went up into a virgin upper level dome that branched into several short passages and ended. Backtracking to NB24G, we shot up into another dome that had a tight lead that connected into something above NB24F. We left that tight lead and called it a night. With 551 feet of survey, we did our part in helping the Wind Cave survey pass Holloch Cave of Switzerland today and become the fourth longest cave in the world.

2nd Trip: Bonny Armstrong led Marc & Rene Ohms and Andy Armstrong to the Key Room area in the North Section during an 11.5-hour trip.

Trip Report: We started with a lead at WS42 that dead-ended after about 100 feet. We then headed to the PB survey and found much to survey. At PB15 we surveyed a connection to KYB2, which was very well decorated with all sorts of pretties. We named it Stalactites Galore. We surveyed 803 feet for the day.

3rd Trip: Jim Wilson led Howard Bartlett, Skip Withrow, and Tim Moreland to Loose Screw Room in the Club Room Section during a 12-hour trip.

Trip Report: Went to MP survey via the Loose Screw Room. Went down a pit at MP7 and found a little at first then found a pit that really went. We finished the area and surveyed 620 feet.

4th Trip: Amy Bern led Jason Walz and Sara Booth to north end of the Club Room in the Club Room Section during a 12.5-hour trip.

Trip Report: Surveyed leads off of the north end of the Club Room. They were mostly hands and knees crawls. We surveyed 501 feet.

5th Trip: Jeff Goben led Christa Schneider and Rick Speaect to the BBD19 survey in the Club Room Section during a 12-hour trip.

Trip Report: Surveyed a lead at BBD19D for 260 feet and found a dome lead to return to.

6th Trip: Carl Bern led Larry Shaffer and Derek Wolfe to ER survey in the Southern Comfort Section during a 17-hour trip.

Trip Report: Spent the whole day mapping in the new area. Found a fairly large room.

Trip: On 4/8/2006, Rod Horrocks led Erik Kurth, Duff McCafferty, & Ken Geu to the NB survey in the Historic Section where they discovered a woodrat skeleton.

Trip Report: We went back to the No Don't Stop passage to continue checking my list of leads. We first determined that a 52-foot shot between CSE10 and NB27 was bogus and could not possibly exist. There was no passage between those two stations. We found this out by surveying a small dome complex off of NB27. There is a small crawl at NB25 that connects through a body tight tube to CSE10, but there is definitely no connection with NB27!

We then surveyed a dome above NB22, which went up into a small room. A tight virgin belly crawl continued out of the room and reconnected to NB25. We then jumped up to NB29 and shot into a short balcony over the main passage. We surveyed in the opposite direction into an upward-sloping crawl in Upper Level cave. It reconnected with the NB survey in three places. In a crawl off of NB31 we found what looked like a woodrat skeleton. I suspected it came from a nearby blowhole along the north edge of the cave and not from the Natural Entrance area, as that would have been too difficult of a route for a lost woodrat to traverse.

We had too large of a group to survey this small tube, so we'll have to return later and survey the lead with just two people. It continues past the bones into a blank area on the map. We then surveyed two domes, one on each side of the passage at NB33. We surveyed into a side passage that dropped into a low room. Backing out of that delicate area, we surveyed down into a small pit. It dropped into a low-ceilinged room that may continue. However, it would be tight. We left another crawl that headed SW that was too small for our large group. We'll have to return to that one later too.

We then jumped ahead to NB36 and surveyed up through a hole in the chert ceiling and into some upper level tubes. At the top of the tube we found some strange piles of what looked like pigeon poop on a couple of ledges. They were roundish and 1/4" to 1/3" in diameter. One thing that I'm sure about is that they were not woodrat, bat, or porcupine poop. The largest pile looked like a liquid dribbled down the pile, washing rivulets into it. The blobs were soft. I tried to make them into something mineralogical, but I couldn't imagine what?

The domes above the piles were smooth white walls and showed no signs of where the blobs came from? Strange! Looking back, I think that they may have been corrosion residue that was washed off by condensation water that dripped off of the ceiling. We called it a day at this point with 372 feet of survey.

1st Trip: On 1/12/2000, Rod Horrocks led Steve Baldwin and Sammi Langendorf to the Overland Trail in the Historic Section to push a lead Steve had discovered during the Rachel Cox rescue in 1989.

Trip Report: We went to the Overland Trail to find a room that Steve Baldwin had found during the 1989 Rachel Cox rescue. We started surveying at UIA5 at a bellycrawl that had seen little traffic and was nearly virgin. This started as a sandy calcite floor that turned into a tall fissure passage that followed a fault and then went into a low, wide bedding plane crawl with gypsum sand floors. We found a dome in a large walking canyon we named Lycos Hall, which opened into a 40-foot diameter virgin upper level passage that we named Yahoo, which we didn't have time to survey. We found lots of frostwork and moonmilk in the canyon and left a dozen leads for a return trip. We surveyed 419 feet, using the YH1-25 survey designation. We closed a loop with AU1, a short side passage near the Cairn Room along the Overland Trail that was surveyed back in 1970.

2nd Trip: On 1/29/2000, Rod Horrocks led Steve Baldwin and Sammi Langendorf back to the Yahoo area in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We went back to leads off of Overland Trail to survey the Upper-Level room Steve Baldwin named Yahoo. We surveyed up a couple of fissure climbs into virgin Upper Level cave. We found flowstone, cool air and lots of bat scratches. There was also lots of gypsum popcorn. We then surveyed into 30-foot diameter room that Steven Baldwin had climbed into from Lycos Hall and named Yahoo. We then surveyed into a 40-foot diameter virgin room connected to 1st room, where we found an upper-level fissure that skirts the edge of half of the room. We connected the survey into the PMC survey. We found a tight lead that takes off of PMC11 that opens up and goes into a large blank area on the map. We left three good leads and four tight leads. However, we didn't connect the Yahoo into the underlying Lycos Hall. Much of the cave in the area is tight, grabby and nasty. We surveyed 572 feet, bringing the total survey in this area to 991 feet.

3rd Trip: On 9/20/2000, Rod Horrocks led Steve Baldwin and Steve and Sammi Langendorf back to the Yahoo area in the Historic Section.

Trip Report: We went to Yahoo to push the last lead. It made a 100-foot loop connecting to the Dry Oasis of the PMC survey. Yahoo area is now finished. We then went to Whitney Ave to survey the pit that parallels Brown's Canyon. The canyon turned into a crawl before ending. This survey brought the total survey in the Yahoo area to 1,352 feet.

Trip: On 6/6/2006 Rod Horrocks led Joey Feaster & Ajax Dalman on a survey trip to the Muddle Room in the Historic Section where they discovered some fantastic examples of zebra rock.

Trip Report: We went to the Muddle Room to push leads. We started with the JDB1 survey and surveyed a passage that paralleled the Muddle Room, ending in a balcony above JD14. We found the best zebra rock I've seen in the cave to date in the ceiling above station JDB7. This section of zebra rock was a foot high and about 5-feet long and well developed. The only place I've seen better zebra rock was outside of the park, in nearby Onyx Cave on U.S. Forest Service land. We took several pictures.

We then jumped up to JD14AB and surveyed a side lead heading south towards JDB3. We connected in between JDB2 and 3 and shot into two upper alcoves. We left a 2-foot high going lead for the next trip. We then returned to the Muddle Room and shot a short side passage from JD15. We then jumped down to JD18 and shot into upper and lower side passages that both quickly ended. We left numerous other leads just like the ones we had surveyed for a future trip. We surveyed 202 feet for the trip.

 

Last updated: February 14, 2019

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