The Month's Guano

July/August 1999
Kansas City Area Grotto
Volume 13, Issue 6/7

July Minutes
Why 1K?
My First Caving Adventure
Three Cheers for Roubidoux

July Minutes

  • KCAG Meeting Minutes July 14, 1999 Meeting called to order at 7:00 p.m.
  • Trip Reports
  • On July 10 Mike McKinney, Kyle McKinney, Regan Youngman, Barry Godsey and several members of MCKC made a trip into Skaggs Cave with a reporter and camerawoman from Channel 4 TV. The segment was featured on the news at 9:30 pm July 14 - it stressed cavers' conservation philosophy and the joys of finding hidden beauty underground for those who are not too claustrophobic for caving.
  • *On June 25 & 26 Bryon Carmoney along with other KCAG members hosted a novice trip to Little Smittle and Lowell. A trip into Roubidoux took place on June 27. These were some well attended trips and novices report they now have a much better understanding of the rigors and challenges of caving. *On June 25 & 26 Bryon Carmoney along with other KCAG members hosted a novice trip to Little Smittle and Lowell. A trip into Roubidoux took place on June 27. These were some well attended trips and novices report they now have a much better understanding of the rigors and challenges of caving.
  • Caroll Dig
  • Rick Hines drew a diagram of the dig illustrating the progress to date. Consult the Dig Report for full details. Steel for reinforcement is still needed.
  • OHG is hosting a party at Ennis on August 28 & 29. KCAG is invited
  • On September 10, 11 & 12 Kathy Carr is hosting a novice trip for 8-10 boyscouts ages 10 & I I and approximately 6 teenagers. They will camp at Meremac Park and visit nearby caves. Kathy welcomes KCAG members to attend - anyone interested please contact her.
  • The Fall MVOR Convention is reportedly being held across from Onandaga Park on October 23 & 24. However some members have heard that the dates are October 30 & 3 1. Bryon will be on the lookout for the definite dates.
  • Peddgie Heinz is hosting a New Year's Party at Ennis. The Millenium celebration will take place regardless of rain, sleet, snow or dark of night.
  • Several members suggested that in light of the OHG party at Ennis in August, and the late October dates for MVOR -- perhaps this year we should forgo the Annual Fall CaveIn at Ennis and focus on the TURN-OF-THE-CENTURY celebration at Ennis instead. No one present objected to this slight break 'in tradition.
  • Richard Cindric reminded members about choosing a date for the Christmas Party. Michelle Lowe will check with the Shawnee Civic Center to see if they can give us a better price the Merriam Community Center.
  • Regan Youngman reported that there is $511.71 in the treasury.
  • Bryon is getting pricing information on T-Shirts for a fundraiser. Some members expressed the desire to see T-Shirt samples to check for fabric acceptability.
  • Bryon also asked for feedback on selling a new "Techni-Ice" product at an MVOR Convention Booth. Other members suggested selling KCAG's discounted batteries at a booth as well. Jeff Page will check into booth fees for the next MVOR.
  • ln August Terry DeFraties and Mike McKinney will attend a week long NCRC training in West Virginia in further preparation for KCAG hosting an NCRC training next Spring.
  • Terry asked for feedback on KCAG acquiring military field phones for communication into the cave during rescues. Bryon reported that he found out that KCAG is last on the NCRC callout list due to the distance of KC from most of the areas that may have need of a rescue.
  • Meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m.


    Dig Report
    Carroll Dig 34
    July 17 and 18, 1999

    Breakthrough ! ! ! Eighty feet of virgin cave and strong air flow

    Diggers: Greg Buckley, Andy Free, Greg Fry, Marty Griffin, Jim Hedrick, Peddgie Heinz, Rick Hines, Martha Hoegler, Ron Lather, Jeff Page.

    Depth: 78 feet

    Jim Hedrick and I were the first in the hole. After removing the few loads of mud that had washed in during the past month we noticed a small opening at the west end of the lower horizontal passage. Jim's light revealed a floor about 15 feet below. Jim was the only one in the crew optimistic enough to bring climbing gear. While Jim road the board topside to retrieve his climbing gear I open the hole to the room below. The room below seemed spacious enough to except the rock and mud I pushed in with the pry bar. A very strong flow of air was moving into the room below. The volume of air moving indicates that we are connected to a large cave system.

    Jim returned and rappelled through the opening into the room below. He slid down a 15 ft. high mud and gravel bank into a 20 ft. wide room that extended 30 feet to the north. We soon placed a ladder through the opening to facilitate access for those of us without climbing gear. We examine the room for exits and found the air to be moving through a very small stream passage to the west. After a little digging and probing with the pry bar Andy Free was able to open a hole to a second room.

    The second room extended basically west or northwest for about 50 feet. The floor of the room consisted of loose breakdown. Just inside the room we could see a void between the rocks extending down six or eight feet. As we move northwest through the passage we climbed over one breakdown pile and then over a second. We tended up in elevation approximately 10 feet as we move toward the end of the passage. Even though the air velocity was high at the two-foot diameter opening into the room it was difficult to track the airflow in the room. A smoke test indicated air movement to the northwest toward the back of the room. We could not locate where the air was exiting the passage. Next month we will have a more sensitive anemometer to follow the air.

    On Sunday Greg Buckley, Marty, and Ron removed a few rocks to open up the hole just inside the second room. The two-foot diameter hole spirals down for at least 15 feet to reach the lowest elevation obtained, approximately 78 feet below the top of the steel pipe. That puts us 57 feet above the estimated Thunder River water level and very near the elevation of known cave passage just beyond the dig. We are close!

    We need steel plate for shoring the south side of the horizontal passage. If you can help with steel or labor for the next dig please call or email.

    Digs are scheduled the third weekend of each month.

    Dig 35 Aug. 21 and 22
    Dig 36 Sept. 18 and 19

    Report submitted by Rick Hines.

    Why 1K?

    Richard Cindric is going to have a 1000' drop weekend. The minimum requirements for anyone going on the trip are that he/she should have his/her own gear (no sharing), be skilled in simple self-rescue techniques (changeovers, etc.), and this can not be a first-time vertical trip. We'll need a bunch of ropes so everyone who has 'em should bring 'em.

    Camping will be near Mountain View on Friday night and at Kyle's Landing (located between Jasper and Ponca) on Saturday.

    My First Caving Adventure
    by P. Rader

    My first taste of caving came with Wayne and Randy. I was graciously included in a trip Randy put together for 14 UMKC students. The adventure started with me finding my way from KC to Feakes' Peak. Mike M.'s wonderful directions got me to my destination without a wrong turn. I arrived just in time to take part in a very short caving journey, which could be classified as a flashlight-caving trip. Randy walked those of us that were eager to start our adventures to a small cave just down the road from the Feake's place. The story was shared about why the cave was so black (from tires burned in front of the cave), and tried to calm some fears that bat's don't run into you, but at that precise moment a bat collided with my chest. Randy laughed and said I had been blessed with a kiss from a bat, and had just been given their blessing as a future caver. The cave also was home to orange and black salamanders. As I looked in awe at the wonders Randy shared that if I continued to look up at the ceiling with my mouth open I would soon get a not so pleasant surprise ;) .

    The next morning we departed for Big Smittle cave, unknown to me at how much of an honor it was for me to go into it to begin with. Once arriving there, as we prepared to enter I had a feeling of such humility. The grate to the large gate is opened and as I pass through it I felt as if I had passed from one world into another.

    The entrance to the cave is dry to the left with a pool of water to the right, which was actually a stream leaving the cave. A little ways back you can see the path built for when the cave was open to the public as a commercial cave. At that point you start to walk in water about up to your mid-shins. Feeling in front with each foot so as to not fall into a hole. It is quiet a walk back to where you come upon a big passage to the right and a little passage to the left. The passage to the left takes you to a formation known as "The Queen's Chair". This passage is full of formations, lots of flowstones, stalactites and stalagmites, plus a few others of which I don't know the names of yet. The passage I think had the most formations for such a small space that I was able to see while in the cave. Not a lot of clay and the floor was still wet as well as part of the walls so it was still very much alive.

    After the Queen's chair we made our way to the Baseball Diamond. This was a huge room with a stream that ran on one side, to the back was a large pile of bat guano and a cluster of bats. If you looked up all you saw was this black spot on the ceiling that seemed to be moving. This very large room had many small brown bats hanging from the ceiling. The stream passage in this area was breathtaking with all the soda straws, stalactites and stalagmites.

    At this point of the journey we took a short break and ate lunch. Several people actually took short 10-15 min naps. I, myself was to anxious to rest. As we were preparing to enter the passage that takes you to the Registry Room, a group of boy scouts exited from the passage covered in mud from head to toe, faces included. Remember this is my first trip and have no real idea what to expect. Several members, Randy included, decided not to attempt this passage. I on the other hand thought I would give it a try, so off we went sludging through the thick clay and water I went. I soon learned why the boys got so dirty. There were spots in which you had to wallow through thick deep sticky clay, shelves to pull yourself across to get to the next area. For a person who has never set foot in a non-commercial cave it was very un-nerving. The downfall for me was the pool of clay that was approx. waist deep (at least that is how far one of the kids sank before he got out) that you had to get across and shimmy up a shelf without falling back into the pool, but to get to the shelf you had to balance yourself on a skinny ledge covered in slippery clay. You had to balance yourself on this slick spot and find a way to climb up the ridge without slipping into the pool of clay. If you were unfortunate enough to fall into the pool of clay , you had to swim to get back out, if you didn't follow these instructions you continued to sink in the clay. I add this info now, but at the time we didn't know about swimming so those of us that did fall in panic set in thinking we were going to become permanent visitors to the cave. We started calling the pool "The Pool of Death." I was hoisted up onto the ledge by the push of a hand on my butt. The guy who did it apologized for touching my butt. I told him he could touch me anywhere providing he didn't let me fall into the clay pool. Once I made it up onto the shelf I started to slide down the ledge toward a tight crack. I tried to stop myself by digging my hands and fingers into the clay but it was like trying to grab a stick of melted butter. Finally I stopped, but not before my mind started playing all kinds of tricks that I was going to slide into this crack to never be seen again. Panic started to build in my stomach. I started missing the sunlight and felt the air becoming very thick. I slowly climbed my way back to the edge of the ledge and it hit me that I was going to have to climb back the way I came. Again the panic hit me and the thoughts of needing to leave right now set in. I verbalized these thought to several people around. It was passed down and in a flash here came Wayne. He helped me get back to a spot to gather my thoughts and I decided I wanted to leave RIGHT NOW. After the fact I apologized for panicking, but Wayne said I didn't panic, I was just un-nerved. Randy's son-in-law agreed to take me and one of the instructors back to the baseball diamond. As we made our way back my apprehension slowly decreased.

    Once back at the baseball diamond. We discovered Randy resting his eyes. He then offered to take me on another excursion. So after a brief snack and break, off we went. As we made our way back toward the exit Randy turned and led me into a small passage I hadn't even seen the first time by. After a brief walk we came upon a shelf that was a good 4-5 feet high. Randy skimmed up it without any problem. I looked at it and thought "no way." I then was to learn my first caving trick. I learned how to roll up a ledge. We did more walking then I came to another test of my mental ability. Randy wanted me to crawl into a tight spot face first going down hill. The mental conversation started in my head that I could do it. Once through this tight squeeze Randy looked around and said, "Wrong room." We turned around went back and crawled into another tight squeeze, which was well worth it. Once in the room your eyes fell upon a huge flowstone with a stalactite above it. The water dripped from the stalactite to the flowstone, which had a pool in the middle and drained down into a flowstone dam formation. It was beautiful. Behind the flowstone was a forest of soda straws stalagmites and stalactites. As we left this room we agreed to head out of the cave. The trip out was uneventful, but once I was out I realized how dirty I was and I didn't have any clean clothes. A lesson quickly learned by this novice. Thank God for Wayne, who let me borrow warm up pants or I would have had to drive in my underwear. I walked down to the stream to clean up and the water in the stream was a little nippy, but it felt good to be clean. As we left this wonderful cave I am for sure bitten by the caving bug and can't wait till my next adventure.

    Three cheers for Roubidoux Cave!
    By John McGuire

    Three cheers for Roubidoux Cave!! (aka: Pike's Peak Cave, aka: Indian Cave, aka: Clark's Cave, etc.). It is once again hosting numerous bats, salamanders, and a yet-unidentified pair of shrimp-like critters in a clear pool of the cave stream. Plus there are plenty of pure-white soda straws "budding".

    Five of us had a good time on a leisurely trip in the cave on Saturday the 31st of July. My wife Cheri Ann, her cousin Brian Waldrop (imported from Arnold MO near St. Louis), my brother in-law Dan Johnson, his son Dustin, and myself pushed a little bit past the MEATGRINDER squeeze. This cave seems to be making a good turn-around from the condition I last saw it in approximately three years ago. I'll never forget the trip in the cave in 1992 when our party of four found two Big Missouri Brown bats dead, one with a blow-gun dart next to it. We couldn't positively identify the cause of death, but it seemed apparent.

    Thrill-seekers of the non-experienced spelunkers variety have been seen coming and going at this cave on numerous trips from Kansas City, including three guys from the local Fort Leonard Wood Army Base, who were practicing rappelling from the top of the cave mouth. My wife and I found a wallet in the cave on another trip. It turned out to belong to one of the enlisted men from the base.

    Basically, this cave has always been the first one we will visit on a weekend tour of the "Pulaski County cave circuit" when guiding a group of novices. It was thought of as a lost cause that couldn't be damaged any worse by mis-use after its history of abuse. After we had shown the results of high-traffic and irresponsible cavers would take the group to a cave that was managed better.

    Now, though, with a new owner and a gate at the parking area, there is abundant life for the early stages of recovery. Steve Church made a visit to the cave while we were there. He owns the cave and the dozen or so acres that it is on. He mentioned a willingness to find an organization or an individual to purchase and care for the cave & property.

    Two trash bags were used to carry other people's trash out. Approximately 15 pounds of plastic, broken glass, and beer cans were removed (including four beer cans that were wedged under the stream ledge within two feet of the mysterious cave stream critters). I would like to point out these "shrimps" to someone on a return trip for positive identification. Their appearance made me wonder if they are of the "blind" variety.

    spelunkingly yours,
    John McGuire

    July/August 1999 Vol. 13 Issue 7/8
    The Month's Guano is published on the second Wednesday. Twelve issues annually.
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    President: Byron Carmoney
    Vice President: Regan Youngman
    Treasurer: Regan Youngman
    Secretary: Kathy Sumner
    Editor:Byron Carmoney
    Asst. ED:Kate Johnson
                Wayne A. Burnett
    E-mail adress:

    Kansas City Area Grotto is affiliated witht he National Speleological Society, The Misouri Speleological Survey, and a Founding Member of Misouri Caves & Karst Conservancy.

    Meetings helf every second Wednesday at 7p.m. (alternate site in May), Magg Hall, behind Spencer Laboratories, Volker Blvd. & Cherry, Kansas City, Misouri. Annual Dues: $10 for Full Members (3 caving trips with KCAG, nonmination and vote of membership required.)

    NCRC Callout number Emergency use only

    Central Region 502-564-7815. This number may be used for cave rescue emergencies in the states of, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Misouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin.