Participants: Jason Lachniet (sketcher), Emma Wyatt (Instrument Reader), & Hunter Wyatt (Scout)
Date: Black Friday, 2019
Wow, isn’t it a great feeling to finish, what felt like, a never ending survey project? After 6 trips spread out over almost 5 years, Hunter, Jason, and I finally finished our continued survey from the VPI Cave Club at DDBC located outside of Glade Spring. The last time we visited this section of the cave was in 2015. We left this section for another day because it had some pretty exposed vertical passage that we wanted to have climbing gear to traverse.
The vertical section that we were starting at was fairly close to the cave’s entrance- probably only 10-15 minutes, but boy oh boy was it some difficult caving! There wasn’t a single bit of walking passage between when we entered and when we exited the cave. The route we took had a lot of climbing (up and down), crawling, and shimmy-ing through very sticky mud.
In 2015, Jason had left webbing tied at our first station on this trip. After an impressive climb and squeeze by Jason in 2019, however, Hunter and I felt better with bringing out our climbing gear and using our ascenders to make the ascent. We took 4 shots for a total of 67 feet in this section.
We then moved to the section of the cave that held the climb Jason had been dreaming about for 4 years. With Hunter on belay, Jason climbed up the exposed flowstone. Although there was nothing to survey at that level, we did manage to connect the passage to a junction room closer to the entrance. Jason brought his drill in order to rappel down.
We exited the cave in about 5.5 hours. The final cave length ended up being 4,005 ft, the final cave depth was 124 ft, and the final amount that the three of us surveyed was 1,548 ft. Most impressive of all, our caving gear was cleaned and organized in less than a week.