Sunday, May 1, 2022

Skert Well - Brian Devine & Lee Florea

Skert Well
Report by Brian Devine & Lee Florea

On a perfect early spring weather Saturday, March 26, Lee Florea, Sarah Burgess, Nathan Canaris, and Brian Devine entered the Skert Well entrance to the Sulfur Mountain System around 11am. The goal was to revisit leads in the Moonage Daydream Borehole. Nathan had some residual leads checks to do dating from some 2017ish trips, and Sarah and Lee had been availing themselves of multilevel passage to survey for several trips by this point.

We added almost 1,300 feet of new survey, bringing the total of the system to 9.24 miles (9.5 miles with Eaton Spring and Red Altar added). At present, the cave is ranked 86th in the US and 17th in Kentucky. None of the 2017 revisited lead developed enough to do more than just need survey from Nathan and Brian, and team 2 had targeted a big bunch of stuff previously on visits, and contributed the lion’s share of footage.

At the last waterfall in the Lost World, Nathan and Brian spend a bit of time installing a quasi-Tyrollian webbing traverse with the single bolt brought, to help reduce water saturation. Note...this works better on the way down. Climbing up still presents some challenges, and in fairness it needs to feel like you’re doing the Fosbury Flop going up the rope & it’s abnormal feeling. 

Lee and Sarah started from where they ended their survey in January. Starting at F25, they added another 419 feet in the Moonage Subdream GF13-GF22. This passage flirts with the F survey above and eventually merges upstream near UF2. Sarah pushed a lead at GF21 with a chert ceiling that needs modification. This lead was trending downward and east of known cave.

Next, Lee and Sarah returned to GF5 and surveyed the active stream level, the Moonage Wetdream. In this GU survey, they added 525 feet. Downstream, this ties into the G survey from years ago that leads toward the terminal sump. Upstream, this passage weaves below the F and GF surveys. At GU 14, ponded, deep water prevented further advance. Dry season work with expectations of immersion should tie this passage to the cascading water observed at UF5 and from the Lost World at F13. Back at GU8, an infeeder, the GT survey likely carries the water coming in from the FU survey at F25. This needs survey.

In the meantime, Nathan and Brian appended more than 350 feet ahead and above the end of F35 in an infeeder above a flowstone mound. Both the FU and F35x surveys appear to bringing additional water from the northwest, a great direction to keep pushing further. At a streamway near their EOS it was possible to hear the other team through a wet crawl neither duo tackled. Lee/Sarah had already qui the area by the time N & B began exiting. I/Brian was last out at maybe 9:15pm, dragging behind Nathan by 40” in large part due to time to peel a base layer before I got sweat-logged after topping the rope out of the 1st dome room. I thereby avoided a serious bleed of electrolytes that can typify heavy perspiration, and the awful cramping that can then kick in during sleep after trips.

Author’s note/Brian: 

Lessons learned:
  • A rubber band that keeps Velcro sleeve cuffs static would be smart, to thwart mud.
  • BRING a PANTIN with any amount of rope this adjacent to walls, not to mention the long, penultimate climb heading out.
  • Yoga is pretty good mindfulness training to keep the old wits when no hard cave trips for two years FYI  
A movie clip from the trip:

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

From the Chair...

From the chair:

Greetings! I'm Aaron Deal, the new chair for Central Ohio Grotto trying to carry on the great work done by Kim Deal in her 2 years as chair (my editor told me to add that bit). See this post for some fun facts about Kim and I with one big addition of our son Elliott that keeps us on our toes. He's almost two now and showing signs of being a great caver (probably hear his scream throughout the cave if he got even slightly stuck though).

I just wanted to take a couple minutes to discuss my thoughts and goals for the grotto in 2022 although somehow it's already the middle of February. 

The first goal is to keep everyone safe and healthy, which is why we will continue to have a virtual option for all meetings. For those who have joined virtually in the past, we've recently upgraded our virtual setup that has greatly improved the ability for folks to participate and hear the meeting. 

Secondly I'd like to increase the number of grotto planned events and trips including the central Ohio area. The increase will provide more opportunities for current members to mingle, exciting opportunities for interested members, and visibility to the public. This goal will be aided once again by the Caving Stimulus program that provides $50 to trips (up to 4) that Post the trip, have at least 2 grotto members, and report the trip at a meeting. 

The last goal is to increase membership although we did rebound well in 2021 with roughly 40 members. I like Kim Deal's idea of 75 members by our 75th anniversary in 2027, which only requires each current member to get 1 new member. Along with increased events, other ideas to recruit new members is workshops at REI, flyers at outdoor gear stores, or hand out "ask me about caving" stickers. A larger membership will provide more folks to fill volunteer opportunities, create more exciting events, and hopefully work into the executive committee to provide new ideas for the direction of the grotto.

I would encourage everyone to checkout the updated website ( and to provide feedback on how it could be improved. I'm especially looking for someone that can provide good content for the "About Us" section as we have a much longer and interesting history than the 2 sentences currently written. In the process of updating the website, I noticed how the old newsletters provided an archival of our history and was especially cool to see some of the hand drawn cover pages from the early editions. Hopefully this post will be the first of many that archive the fun events of COG in 2022.

Let's make 2022 the year of mud! Feel free to reach out with any feedback, questions, or concerns (

Your Chair,