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The Butler Cave Evasor Gallery Trip Reports


Return to the Cock-Eyed Climb July 3, 2011

Hello all! John Groh here with a report from a trip into Butler on July 3rd.  Tony Canike, Maret Maxwell, and myself went in around 11am with packs full of bolting and climbing gear with the goal of finishing the bolt climb in Evasor Gallery.

The trip was fairly uneventful until we got close to the climb.  Once we got to the Presidents’ Regret section, though, we hit a tricky canyon that slowed us up for a bit.  It would have been fine with less gear or more people, but we just didn’t have the manpower to pass all the packs across.  We rigged a handline across the canyon that we were able to use for balance and pack-sliding.  A note of caution to anyone who may use the line in the future, though: please be cautious.  The rope rests on a few not-very-smooth rocks, and it is a static line.  A fall on it could be very dicey.  Use it for balance and packs only.

Anyway, after braving the canyon, we arrived at the climb and set to work.  Tony did the climbing with Maret belaying.  He extended the climb a bit more and found that the passage-looking lead to the left wasn’t anything.  However, the void continues upward for another 30 or 40 feet with a few more possible leads.  And fresh air, too.  However, the limestone rock started to become riddled with thin, weak, muddy layers that wouldn’t have been safe to anchor in with our short bolts.  Any further work on the climb will probably require longer bolts and experience in bolting bad rock.  After coming down, Tony belayed me up to get a second opinion on the climb as well.  Some of it looks chimney-able, but the next section of rock above has so many of those thin layers that a free climb would be way too dangerous.  Above it, the rock becomes a bit more usable, though.

 Anyway, that was all we were able to do.  There’s still potential there, but it’s quite a hike just to get to the location.  Our trip back went fine, and we had hot showers waiting for us! Thanks Scott!

 That’s all I’ve got for now.  Happy caving!

John Groh 7/13/2011


Cock-eyed Climb Part 1 - Butler Cave - January 8, 2011

Just before noon on Saturday 8 January 2011,  Jean Hartman Vargas, Brad Cooper, Nate Walter, and myself (Tony Canike) entered Butler Cave.  We had been delayed by sleeping in, a misbehaving Sten light, lazy conversation, and a general reluctance to leave the warm cozy homestead.

Our objective was a potential bolt climb that was found during the 20 November 2010 survey of nearly-virgin passage in Evasor Gallery by Nate Walter, John Groh, and Terrence Lovell.  Their survey pushed the "Presidents' Regret" passage that leads off the west dome area of Evasor Gallery at station T11.  Near the end of their survey, Nate reports that he felt air reversing, and it may have been from the reversing fan in the entrance of Backyard Cave that day in November.

We arrived at T11 in just under 2 hours; a very leisurely pace due to the late night of conversation around the wood stove the evening before.  After T11, the passage got more difficult, with crawling, chimneying, canyon-bridging, squeezing, and lots of pack-passing.  We took it slowly due to the depths beneath us in the canyon.

We arrived at the base of the climb just before 3pm, and I was immediately dismayed by the sleaziness of the situation.   Standing around in 2" of muddy water, we peered up into the darkness trying to decide the best approach to the climb.  The passage was high canyon, narrow and slanted.  I decided to start the climb at the highest point, on top of a 3' high ledge.   It was a very muddy climb.  I had to peel 4" of plastic-y mud off the rock with my hands to find places to put bolts.   But when I peeled the mud properly, a thin layer of limestone dust came with it and the rock was clean.    Gloves on, peel mud, gloves off, set bolt, repeat.   I did not neglect to share with the team my moments of mud-induced frustration through vocalizations at an appropriately satisfying volume.  After gaining about 15 feet, I decided to come down and rearrange gear (and my head.)  I found Nate comfortably seated, Brad sipping on a can of soda, and Jean cocooned up in a corner with her boots off, taking a nap.   These people are smarter than I am.   And then Brad offered me a hug.   "AGHHH! Get away from me dude."  But it did make us all laugh.

Well, I got myself back together, put in a million bolts, and got up high enough to see the way on.  Or two or three.  This canyon must be at least 50 feet high!  At the far end of the passage, across a traverse and up another 15-20 feet I saw a 2' by 4' hole up high that looks promising.   But by this time is was after 7pm and I was concerned about getting back accross the canyon to T11 before we got tired.   So we called it a day.  It was a good call, as we didn't get back to the homestead until almost midnight.   Special thanks to Scott Olson, who had the homestead warm and his delicious homemade turkey corn chowder on the stove for us.

We will be back.

Tony Canike 1/13/2011


The Bolt Climb That Wasn't
Evasor Gallery, Butler Cave, November 20, 2010

Trip Leader and Reporter: Nate Walter
Participants: Terrance Lovell, John Groh, Maria Andrews.

The plan was to take a team of bolt climbers from the Nittany Grotto into the cave to work on a potential high lead in the Evasor Gallery area. We entered the cave at the same time as Tony's group and Nevin's airflow team. We maintained a quick pace and headed directly to Evasor Gallery. The last time I had been to the lead there was air and water coming from somewhere in the ceiling of a dome-pit. This time it was dry and we didn't notice a significant amount of air. Terrance was able to chimney up high enough to see that the only possible lead was too small to enter. Our back-up plan was to check out several domes and small passages in the area. The original survey notes mention a high lead and a couple of "crowbar leads". The other high lead also looks to be too small to enter. We proceeded to check everything in the vicinity and didn't find anything worthwhile. Also, no airflow was noticed in this immediate area.

The original plan was to meet Tony near the start of the Crisco Way and re-organize into two survey teams to complete some survey and add detail to the map. Since he wasn't there yet, we prepared to start surveying as a team of four. He and Lisa Lorenzin arrived shortly thereafter. John, Terrance and I continued to survey a small passage that I had dug into several years before. This quickly tied back into the room near T-11.

Tony then left with Lisa and Maria to re-survey in another area while I took John and Terrance to finish the survey of the President's Regret passage. Ours was the third attempt to survey this passage. It starts out as a wide chimney/canyon passage which quickly narrows to 18-24 inches. After a couple of shots the passage widens and develops an actual floor. While sketching near station A-10, I noticed some air movement. After a bit it seemed to reverse. Nevin did have a fan running at the entrance to Backyard Cave as part of his airflow experiment. There appears to be an upper level and, considering the airflow, this might be a good area for a future bolt climb. We soon completed the survey of this passage. As we started out we ran into Tony, Lisa and Maria near the Crisco Way turnoff and we all headed out together.

Survey total was almost 300 feet, including some tie-in shots and re-survey.


Evasor Gallery Air Experiments - November 20, 2010

Participants: Nevin W. Davis, Mike Broome, and Paul Winter

The purpose of the trip at least for this reporter was to further tie down where the air from the previously traced air connection from Back Yard Cave was entering Evasor Gallery.  To this end early that morning I had placed an automatically reversing 1/2 hp. fan in the entrance of Back Yard Cave along with a data logger to record the reversing action of the fan, timing it to the nearest second.  To Evasor Gallery in Butler I carried a very sensitive ultrasonic anemometer and another data logger.  Paul and Mike carried Tony's rotary hammer and other equipment to set up a plastic curtain to limit the apparent size of the passage to the movement of the air.

The graph "Evasor Gallery Air 1" shows that the air entering at the end of the left hand passage from the 4 way junction follows the Back Yard Fan.  That is when the fan is blowing into Back Yard Cave it blows out of the end of this passage and visa versa.  The time delay is about 15 sec. more or less.  The fuzziness seen on the graph is air "noise" due to turbulence and digital quantization error.



The graph "Evasor Gallery Air 2" shows the results of our set up near the entrance of Crisco Way just before the passage size changes from walking height into a large passage.  At this location a plastic sheet was erected to block all air except that passing through a 2' x 2' opening at the top of a dirt bank.  We used a 25 ft. long steel spring wire and plastic concrete anchors to secure the plastic sheet.  Here the results are similar to the previous set up but with more noise on the signal.

Nate Walter thinks that the air, at least near Crisco Way, is coming from a dome he mapped into this expedition.  A bolt climb is needed to verify this possibility.  The air at the end of the left hand passage at the 4 way junction is coming from a dig we worked on many years ago but it's a nasty place to dig since it's unstable and there's no place to put the spoils.

Many thanks to Mike and Paul for carrying the heavy equipment and coming up with ideas on how to secure the plastic sheet.  When we left Evasor Gallery, Lisa Lorenzin accompanied us to the Butler entrance carrying the rotary hammer much of the way since Mike was nursing a sprained ankle from running a marathon the previous week.

Nevin 11/24/2010