Chertstone Connection Discovery

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.

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Last updated: December 28, 2017

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