It was a good weekend for alphabet caving, Dunham on Saturday, Esslinger on Sunday! It was a longer hike up than I anticipated, but the weather was pretty nice for it. We thought we had found it only to turn out we discovered a false little hole, apparently this confuses many. Eventually we found the proper hole, and there was dancing for joy with the rope!
We rigged to a tree higher up on the mountain, and where the pit splits into two we let the rope go naturally through the narrower side so it avoided some of the sharp rocks we would have had to contend with otherwise. I wasn’t too concerned, I’ve been in tighter spots on rope. I was, however, happy to have my ropewalker with me as I had debated only bringing my frog. For me, narrow spots on rope are easier on a ropewalker.
Once in, it turned out to be a pretty cool pit. Flowstone lined the walls, and there was a pretty little pool. Troy and Doug climbed up into one of the domes, finding Bill Torode’s name scrolled in the mud. For those who don’t know, Torode is a famous local caver who has discovered lots of caves and done lots of mapping projects. Sometimes, he would find the nastiest, craziest, oddest little places in a cave he figured no one else would ever go and put his name in the mud. While some argue this goes against conservation to scrawl a small name in mud and is not recommended by cavers these days to do, it is still interesting to find one of these historical marks that are relatively non-intrusive in rare hidden areas and not permanently marring.
I climbed up into a different dome, almost breaking my foot! The rock seemed a bit crumbly so I was testing holds before committing, and a hold I thought was good broke off a 15-20lb chunk when I committed my hand to it, falling and almost hitting smack on top of my foot. So I didn’t luck out with finding a famous Torode mark.
We started to ascend back out of the pit, and I grabbed a quick shot of a little tiny carved hole in the rock, with a beautiful crinoid fossil inside.