02/03/07 – Surveying Upper Thunder beyond the Breakdown Barrier (Lerch)

Carroll Cave Survey Trip Report

Submitted by Bob Lerch CCC#140

Date: February 3, 2007

Areas Mapped: Upper Thunder beyond the Breakdown Barrier

Cavers: Dan Lamping, Andy Lerch, Bob Lerch, Ben Miller, Amber Spohn, Jeremy Stayton, Rita Worden

Time In: 12:00p       Time Out: 3:00a on 2/4                   Duration: 15 hours

One of our goals for 2007 was to push to the end of the three major trunk passages (i.e., Natural Entrance, Upper Thunder, and Lower Thunder). So, to begin a new year of caving, we decided that the first of the three termini (or is that terminuses?) we would push was Upper Thunder, well beyond the Breakdown Barrier and to the end of known cave. It’s a solid 2.5 to 3 hours of caving at a steady pace to make it from the Backdoor entrance to the beginning of the Barrier. We suited up for the Barrier, and of course, there was plenty of water pumping through it, and everyone got nice and wet right from the get-go. After some grunting and groaning, we all made it through without much problem, but we enjoyed the large, walking passage on the upstream side of the Barrier. Our tie-in station was still about 25-30 minutes more past the Barrier, with one awkward climb along the way.

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With 7 people, we broke into three teams: Team 1 – Amber, Andy, and Rita; Team 2 – Ben and Jeremy; and Team 3 – Dan and Bob. The tie-in station was U237, and we had a good way to go to the known end, so it promised to be a long day of surveying. Fortunately, the conditions in this part of the cave were really quite pleasant, with large, dry trunk passage, the occasional stream crossing, and some sand instead of the usual clay! Dan and I went to the cairn at the known end and began surveying back into the cave towards Ben’s team. We noticed that the very small stream that goes low just beyond the cairn had very little flow compared to the large amount of water going over the 7′ waterfall we saw just a few hundred feet back. We scratched our heads about it, and began surveying. After about 3 shots, we noticed the same low-flow stream was now visible under a low ceiling ledge on our left (west). We had been heading north and at a bend to the east, we realized we had been following a tributary that now entered the main stream. Dan ducked under a ledge and followed the main stream, which was heading northwest, just long enough to know that another trip with wetsuits was going to be required to survey it. We did our usual hot meal break, got the three teams tied into each other, and realized we still had more work to do out here. Not only does the main stream go, but there are a couple of decent side passages that need to be mapped. So, we have at least one more trip to this part of the cave. Footage totals: Team 1, 365.45 ft; Team 2, 227.8 ft; Team 3, 313.5 ft; Total, 906.75 ft.

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