T-rev's Blog

16 2004-12-25 22:55 cave cont'd

i actually have a couple other somewhat freaky stories from that cave that i didn't even include. well, one isn't really a story, 'cause it happened really fast (at least, the exciting part did).

it was when carl and ian and i did the route, the first time. at the "wetter crawl" place you can optionally go up and over. so i went first and did that, but it was a tough climb down. i got part-way down and then i was just slipping and knew i couldn't hold on. so i jumped, without seeing in advance where i was going to land. i mean, i had already seen how far down it was and roughly the shape, but i wasn't looking (or at least, my light wasn't yet pointed there) when or just before i jumped. and the shape was not a flat, dry floor, it was a round, sloping wet floor. anyway, i sort of knew what direction had looked the flatest, and on the way down i pointed my light and i managed to land without slipping and not damage myself. but i strongly encouraged ian and carl to take the wet way instead. they begrudged me my dryness a bit, but were persuaded to take the safer way.

i have since learned that headlamps are a good way to see without having to hold and point a flashlight.

the other story happened was before i had done the birth canal, the night phil and i were in the cave after dark and had half-eaten acorns thrown at us from the trees (presumably by annoyed squirrels) when we went back out to the truck to get my few scraps of rope, which i then proceeded to patch together and use to lower myself down at the rappelling place. i got to where the wall had fallen away from me, hanging free, but from there i decided the rope wasn't long enough. but although descending was easy, going back up was not, and i was quickly tiring just maintaining altitude. but i didn't know where i would be if i dropped. (plus it was a pretty long drop, though it looked doable, maybe. plus there was a coleman lantern hanging from me.) so i decided i'd better do something quick. the rope was too small to grip (i had fashioned myself a seat-harness and as i recall was lowering myself pulley-style with a mechanical advantage of two, plus friction) so i just started wrapping it around my wrist to ascend. when i put my feet on the wall above/in front of me it caused my back pocket to empty itself of my mag-lite. and after i unwound the rope from my hand at the top, my hand was tingly for a week.

yeah, it was a bit harder to climb that rope than i had thought. and yes, it was a kind of dumb stunt and i'm lucky i didn't get hurt. keep in mind though that it wasn't really very far down. (and i must say i think i could have caught the rope and climbed back up if i had to. it actually would have been easy to reach if not from directly below then at least by jumping from the uphill side of the floor. i just didn't want to have to do that.) i would have felt better about the option of dropping down there if i had known the birth canal route. or--if i had still climbed back--at least i would have known how to retrieve my flashlight, if i thought it was worth an hour or two more and a lot of crawling. (one more narrative note: later that same night we built raccoon booby traps at our campsite.)

the lesson learned: from the fact that you can climb a thick rope without difficulty it doesn't necessarily follow that it'll be easy to climb a thin rope.

anyway, both of those were "hmm, maybe now i should start worrying just a bit" moments. more worrying in fact than the cave-in, if not quite as freaky.


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