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:

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