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POC: "We Got Retarded"

Ryan Moran, Brian Ade, Paul Klinker, Sean Lewis and myself found ourselves

meeting in southern Indiana exceptionally early to get ridiculously

retarded!  The plan was to have two bolt climbing teams:  Ryan and Paul,

Brian and myself.  The amount of gear needed for just one team is insane, we

were going to have TWO!

 

http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~newkirkn/Gear.jpg

 

The above picture is probably only 1/3rd of the gear we took into the cave.

There was quite a bit of retardedness throughout our trip.  How did we

survive this trip!?

 

 

 

Bolt climbing is considered a dangerous adventure.  Bolt climbing in caves

can be deadly.  It has been called one of the most dangerous adventures in

the world.  Few attempt it.  I never really knew if I?d ever do it.  I have

helped with several dome climbs in the past, but never had I actually aide

climbed myself.  Here?s my chance, the cave was filled with climbs that

needed bolted.  The leads oh so good, they must be climbed!  Too many for

one team, and the entrance crawlway to horrid for multiple trips.

 

 

 

We hauled all our caving gear and packs to the bottom of the massive

sinkhole.  The gear was divided up amongst everyone so that we could get it

all in the cave.  Each person hauled huge/heavy packs.  The entrance

crawlway is only a 3 foot wide belly crawl in some of the muddiest mud I?ve

ever seen before.

 

http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~newkirkn/Crawl.jpg

 

The mud is almost soupy in places.  You and the packs get 100% slimed.  The

entrance passage opens up into a narrow canyon passage eventually.  The gear

must then be maneuvered through the vertical canyon drops.  Finally, you

jump 10 feet down into the main walking passage.  Brian and I headed to our

first climb.

 

 

 

I think Brian grew a bit concerned when I informed him that I needed to go

downstream to talk to Ryan about how to bolt climb!  We headed downstream

and found Ryan and Paul almost ready to climb.

 

http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~newkirkn/Ryan1.jpg

 

I told Ryan I wanted him to go over bolt climbing with me.  He asked what I

needed to know and I said ALL the steps.  Everyone got a kick out of that.

It?s not like I went into the cave totally unprepared for it, but I still

wasn?t confident I could do it.  Ryan, in a previous trip, had already bolt

climbed up the wall.  What he needed to do now was traverse across this very

dangerous false floor once at the top.  He had the rope rigged as a pull

down.  This means that there are two pieces of rope coming down from the

ceiling, if you ?pull? on one of them it will pull the entire rope down; if

you pull on the other rope, it?s a safe anchor.  We couldn?t remember which

was which.  Ryan started climbing up on the one he ?thought? was right.  He

got to the top when we heard, ?Guys, we have a bit of a situation here?

 

http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~newkirkn/Ryan2.jpg

 

Ryan climbed on the wrong rope!  That picture is actually Ryan hanging on

the wrong end of a pull down!  He grabbed the other rope at the same

instance it gave way.  The knot was wedged in such a way that allowed him to

climb on it, making it ?seem? like it was the right one.  Pretty damn scary!

He lowered himself down and climbed up again only on the right one this

time.  Ryan started going over all the steps when his hammer drill battery

died.  Luckily, I brought in two batteries and our drills accept the same

type of bits.

 

 

 

As Ryan was going over all the steps and mentioned tightening down the nut

on the bolt.  ?Shit!?  I just remembered that I had forgotten to bring my

wrench for tightening the bolts.  Ryan?s wrench wouldn?t work as a

substitute for me.  His wrench was for 3/8? bolts.  I got screwed when I

bought my hangers and 3/8? bolts don?t fit on them.  Ideally 5/16? would be

the next best size down for my hangers, but they don?t make that size.  Yep,

I was going to be climbing on ?? bolts!  It was scary, especially since I

don?t really trust bolts set in caves.  I did happen to bring a Leatherman

into the cave with me

 

 

 

 

I felt up to the climb and headed back to it to start the daunting task of

gearing up.  Not only do you have to wear full vertical gear, but you are

loaded with all the bolting gear as well.  It?s hard to even walk once

everything is on you.  Brian had some fun getting back up the waterfall

climb-up but, met back up with me soon with the hammer drill.  With Brian on

belay, I started setting my first bolt.

 

http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~newkirkn/Nate1.jpg

 

Yep, climbing on ?? bolts and tightening them with the ?needle? like pliers

on a Leatherman, this could be a worlds first!  It was funny, Ryan passed by

after his climb and said that he had to leave a few hangers because he

couldn?t loosen them.  That wasn?t going to be a problem for me!  I could

almost loosen them with my bare hands

geez

what the hell was I thinking!  I

quickly realized how tiring bolt climbing is.  I remember Ryan talking about

how his whole body was shaking and being exhausted after previous climbs.

 

http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~newkirkn/Nate2.jpg

 

I kept climbing and setting more bolts, praying they would hold.  Sean

showed up and informed us that his dig had yielded 60 feet of virgin passage

but then mud filled completely.  I could almost see down the passage I was

trying to climb up to.  It looked like it might go.  I set one more bolt and

could then look into it.  It went 30 feet and then pinched.  I now had the

fun job of cleaning the route and hammering in the bolts.  We packed up and

headed to the last climb.

 

 

 

The last bolt climb was pretty treacherous.  To save time, I could actually

free climb up a good portion of it to a steep mud slope.  There was another

10 vertical feet up from there where the lead was at.  It was tricky just

trying to stay on the steep mud slope.  It was mucky mud, my boots were

sunken down about 4 inches into it while working.  I was exhausted from the

other climb and didn?t feel like doing a true bolt climb.  Since it was only

10 feet that needed to be climbed, I opted not to be on belay.  I quickly

realized why bolt climbing in caves is so dangerous.  I took my rock hammer

and started hammering around on the rock to find good solid rock.  The

hammer was either hitting mud or this chalky type rock that was easily broke

with a single hammer blow.

 

 

 

I was starting to get a bit nervous now.  I was already pushing my luck with

the crappy ?? bolts and Leatherman pliers, but to be also setting them in

such poor rock.  If they broke or didn?t hold, I would easily fall off the

slope and freefall down into the main passage.  But the lead looked so

promising!  Whispering to me, ?come to me?.  I set what seemed to be an ?ok?

bolt and attached into it.  Climbing up on the etriers, still wasn?t enough

to get me into the passage.  I would need one more bolt.  The quality of the

rock now went from poor to deadly.  There basically wasn?t any rock, it was

all just mud.  I could drill a hole in it without actually drilling a hole!

I spent a good deal of time hammering every inch of that mud face trying to

find solid rock.  Just as I thought it wasn?t going to be possible, I heard

the distinct sound of the hammer blowing solid rock.  Yeehah!  I set the

bolt and climbed up into the passage.  It just ended up being a dome room

and didn?t go anywhere.  To make getting down easier I rigged a pulldown.

 

 

 

The trip out was hell.  The gear from that last climb was now completely

covered in mud, adding significant weight to the packs.  We were also

fighting gravity on the way out, up the entrance crawlway and climbs.  Brian

and I complained many times throughout our exit as to how heavy and big the

damn packs were.  We exited the cave and I put all my gear into a single

HUGE pack.  The pack was so heavy it ripped the shoulder straps right off!

No POC trip would be complete without somebody locking their keys in the

car

 

 

 

 

Push?em Till The END,

 

 

 

Nate

 

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