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Battered Bar Cave

Trip Report for July 31, 2010 and October 30 2010

Report By: Tommy Shifflett

On July 31 2010, Mike Ficco, Nevin Davis, and Tommy Shifflett entered Battered Bar to explore a high canyon, located at the bottom of a steep climb beyond The Stone Rainbow. On a previous trip with Nevin, Nathan Farrar, and Virginia del Rosario, Tommy noticed that the canyon ceiling goes up quite high and perhaps, had the chance of continuing southwest in the direction of Blind Faith. Out of curiosity Tommy climbed about 15’ off the floor for a more advantageous look, however, found the continuation up becoming too exposed to climb further. While climbing up and looking higher he spotted some natural anchors that, with a sling, would be perfect for tying off as protection.

For the return Mike carried in a 40’ piece of dynamic rope for a belay. Tommy brought some dyneema slings and carabiners, and his bolt kit for setting protection. Also brought was a 50’ piece of static rope. Tommy led the climb while Mike belayed. Because of the short dynamic rope it didn’t take long before there was the need to establish a higher belay stance for Mike, in order to continue the climb upward. Mike climbed up to a narrow ledge about 15’ off the floor. After another 20’ or so vertically Tommy came to a sloping ledge, another good belay stance for Mike in order for the climb to continue upward without fear of running out of rope at a bad location. Tommy placed a couple bolts and Mike was soon up. Tommy climbed up about 15’ more and then spotted a good size piece of breakdown in a corner slot where he would need to climb. The only way past this obstacle would be to knock it down, which it would then surely fall on Mike. At this point Tommy was an estimated 60’ vertically off the floor. Tommy & Mike on climb   Ficco & Mud The ceiling was spotted 20’ above Tommy, however, it was difficult to discern whether or not a passage continued horizontally, or back down. Mike also shined his light up so that both lights could illuminate the area better. A couple shadows obscured being able to fully assess what was up there. A decision was made that most likely nothing went. Of course that loose piece of breakdown hanging up there had influenced their decision. Tommy tied off a sling and with a carabiner for looping the rope through for a pull-down, rappelled back down to Mike. The static and dynamic ropes were then tied together so the two of them could rappel back to the bottom.

Heading back out Tommy wanted to show Mike a high lead he was planning to aid climb. The lead offers another possible chance of connecting to Blind Faith. On the way out and prior to coming to The Big Step, a side ramp leads steeply up into a short piece of large passage. While examining the high lead Nevin remembered seeing a pit on the northeast end. This had not been explored. They had the static rope and decided to look at it. Getting to the pit was not straight forward. It required climbing down some very muddy, and treacherous, sloping breakdown. Upon reaching the pit Mike rigged the rope and headed down the pit. Tommy followed while Nevin stayed behind. The bottom was anything but pleasant. The most horrible mud in the cave is located here and that is saying something, considering how muddy the cave is at other locations. From the bottom of the pit Mike and Tommy could see up into a nice size passage, however, there was no way to enter from below. Climbing out they could both see that there is a passage on the opposite side of the pit, some 30’ or more from where the rope is rigged.



On October 30, 2010, Brad Cooper, Virginia del Rosario, and Tommy Shifflett entered Battered Bar Cave to return to the pit described in the July 31 report. In order to improve climbing of the entrance pit on the exit Tommy hauled in a bucket half filled with water in a plastic bag. A brush for scrubbing ascenders was also left at the bottom of the pit.

On the way to the lead and prior to reaching The Big Step the team encountered many Big Brown Bats in the same location as had been seen before. As many as a 100 may be using the cave either as a roost or hibernacula.

Upon reaching the small passage leading to the pit the team organized for the traverse by taking out climbing gear. A tie-in station was spotted in case the lead went and they needed to survey. Same as before, the muddy climb down and moving forward proved to be tricky, including the need to squeeze through a tight, dropping slot, and down over a steep, suspended muddy piece of breakdown. Soon they were there looking out over the 35’ deep pit to the opposite wall. Tommy had in his mind before the trip that the best approach would be climbing the right wall, looking toward the lead (north). The right side however is more overhung and bends to the right not allowing one to see what it does. On the far side a small island separating the pit is located against the far wall. It is best approached from the left wall which slopes on a steep angle, allowing one’s feet to be planted against the wall. Tommy chose the left wall for the approach.

Using the rigged rope into the pit, Tommy attached his upper ascender and croll ascender to the rope, and then worked his way out leaning over the pit to set a bolt. Once set the climbing rope was tied to the anchor using a butterfly knot. This pattern was used until the island was reached. At this point it became evident that the rope length was nearly reached. On the far side wall Tommy set two bolts to anchor the traverse line. From this vantage point he could see a large passage continuing towards the North, and best accessed from the right side of the isle, formed by wedged breakdown. What would be needed to access the passage is a short piece of rope of 15’ to 20’ in length, and a sling or short ladder to assist climbing up (about 7’ vertical) while attached to the rope for safety. Another 3 or 4 bolts placed would also be required. While there Tommy set a strategic dry bolt for the next attempt to reach the passage. During this time Brad crossed over to the island to look for himself at the going lead. Tommy & Brad on Traverse Upon looking up he immediately replied he was ready to return the next weekend. Of course this sentiment would wane somewhat after having to negotiate and fight the nasty mud in getting back out.

Back at the packs Virginia spotted what she thought was another high lead on the right wall of the large passage at the end of the ramp, on the south end. With everyone focusing their lights at that spot the ceiling was illuminated clearly, revealing a passage at the ceiling. Approaching closer Tommy surmised that the lead could be reached using a free climbing approach with protection to within a few feet, and then changing to aid for the remaining way, which would allow for quick access.

After a meal the team headed out. They exited near midnight after nearly 11 ½ hours underground, excited about a return trip in the future.