Notes from the “Deep south 97/98” Syracuse University Outing Club (SUOC) TAG caving trip post-Christmas ‘97 and New Year ‘98.
Arrival at Cloudlands Canyon
My car arrived at a snowy Cloudlands Canyon campground a fair bit earlier than Rob’s truck. We put up the tent but wished we hadn’t sent all the sleeping bags in the truck… brrrr.
Sherwood Mountain Pot
In the early afternoon of the last day of 1997 we started thinking that we didn’t have a good enough plan to celebrate New Year. We were only 7-8 hours drive from New Orleans so we decided to go there. There was some excitement with my car being unreliable but we packed into a motel room just out of town, and then into one car to go find the party…
Swimming in the sea (gulf)
On the morning of January 1, 1998 we went briefly to the beach and the first ever swim in the sea for Julie.
A navigational error had us in the wrong bit of cave so the long drop would have to wait for another trip…
People and timing
Steve will drive to Rob’s in Philly. Rob will have already taken the bulk of the kit in his truck. Steve and Rob will leave from Philly in Rob’s truck on Dec 27th.
Audrey and Julie will get buses or whatever to Syracuse on the 26th (from Mass and Buffalo respectively). Audrey, Julie, Jeff and Simeon will leave from Syracuse in Simeon’s car on the 27th.
Gas. About 750miles one way => 1500 miles round trip, allow 200 miles per day buzzin’ about for 8 days => total 3100 miles. If we have 3 people in a vehicle doing 25mpg that is $42 per person. So, lets allow $50.
Food. We’ll cook basic food as a group, Jeff if coordinating. Say $5 a day each for 10 days, that is $50.
Camping, say four people on a site at $10/day, that is $2.50/day each so for 10 days that is $25 (should be less).
Basic minimum cost about $125.
Extra stuff - you may want snacks (like a buck a day for cave candy) and other food/drink. Maybe we’ll go somwhere with entrance fees, maybe you’ll take photos.
I guess allow nearer $200 if possible but you should be able to scrimp if that is a problem.
Cloudland Canyon State Park (NW GA) - Booked 1 site (max 6 people, 1 big tent + 1 small tent (max 2 person)) for Saturday 27th December – Sunday 4th Jan (8 nights). Paid for first night ($13??, then $15 per night) non-refundable. Site has water and electricity (normal socket). Campground has hot showers and laundry facilities.
Stuff to take
Camping kit (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, eating utensils, washing stuff or very strong deoderant, clothing suitable for WET and COLD).
Caving kit (clothes including polypro or similar underwear, lamp (carbide or petzl style), spare lamp (petzl style or carbide), second spare lamp (eg. 2AA maglite), helmet, vertical kit (see below), gloves for rappeling and maybe general caving - thing of having 7 times the number of abrasions you get on a normal caving trip, shoes/boots that will be okay for longish hikes to caves). I would also recommend gloves for caving, these are nice for long rappels and trying to preserve your hand from the rigors of a weeks caving.
Sense of humor.
Training and experience
- Be happy caving in general
- Be happy with filling, fettling and fixing lamps
- Know how to do vertical including:
- how to rappel
- how to ascend (including self starting)
- how to change over; rappel to ascend
- how to change over; ascend to rappel
- how to pass a rebelay
- how to pass a deviation
- Be relatively fit (if you aren’t generally then it would be worth trying to take a little exercise for a few weeks before the trip!)
Note that you should also work on being fast and efficient with vertical kit. Chew on this: if 10 people each take 20 minutes climb out of a 100’ pit then it would take over 3 hours to get out (and this is just a short pit!). Everyone should be able to climb a 100’ rope in 2-4 minutes (the best people can do it in is about 30 seconds) so it should be possible to reduce the total time of putting kit on the rope, climbing and getting off the rope to less than 10 minutes per person (still 1 hour 40mins for 10 people!). If we could do it in 5 minutes each then that is just 50 minutes (which is perfectly possible).
As the calculation shows speed is not irrelevant. Speed on the ropes comes partly from fitness, partly from technique. Speed getting on and off the rope come only from practice. Speed gives us safety (less hanging around getting cold) and more time to enjoy the caving.
One of these options and the knowledge of how to use it effectively:
- System 1 - trad. club system - Harness, Rack + biner, Foot Gibbs, Knee Gibbs, Shoulder Gibbs (stainless steel shell).
- System 2 - improved club system - Harness, Rack + biner, Foot Gibbs, Knee Gibbs, Chest roller, Free sprung Gibbs (on tape/rope to harness) + biner.
- System 3 - Double bungee ropewalker (not club kit) - Herness, Rack, Foot jammer (Gibbs/Petzl), Knee jammer (Gibbs/Petzl), bungee cord + pulley, chest roller, Free sprung Gibbs (on tape/rope to harness) + biner.
Simeon: Guide books, Ropes, Webbing, Ladder, Tackle bags, Carbide, Carbide bottles?, First aid kits, Extra lamps, Communal tent
Jeff: Stove/s, Pots and pans, Lamps, White gas
Photos copyright Simeon Warner (1998).