The Kentucky Caver Quarterly Proceedings of the
Bluegrass Grotto: the North Central Kentucky Area Chapter of the National Speleological Society
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 vol. 41. iss. 2, June 2006
onto a dangerous path.  If there had been even one solid caver, with gear, on the surface and just a pittance of life jackets it would have been possible to avoid the full-scale rescue that was conducted.  The problem was not that a rescue had to be initiated, but that our group was put into a position without safe issue.  In addition to a standard trip report I am going to highlight the decisions that set us on our course, decisions that I made, but now know to avoid, and if need be, to abort the trip.


(
Steve Gladieux)

A Brief Background
The original trip plan involved four people spending two days climbing in the Red River Gorge and then heading to Sloan’s Valley on Friday.  We were supposed to rendezvous with two more friends and spend Friday evening and Saturday caving. Then we were planning to return to the Red River Gorge for two more days of climbing.  This would have given us a total number of six people for the caving trips, of which two could be considered solid cavers who had  

experience in SVCS. The first mistakes happened before stepping foot inside Sloan’s.  A friend of one of the newer members of our group wanted to come along; furthermore, they had had plans to go to Ohio with one of our group members before the plans were canceled in favor of this trip.  Our group total was now one higher.  Furthermore when we met our last two group members at our campsite near SVCS they had two additional friends with them whose presence had not been approved by me, but who had driven 6 hours to get there.  The group total was now up to nine.

Friday Night
Friday night I had intended to lead a short round-trip through the main Minton Hollow entrance to acclimate the new cavers to what the following day would be like.  Let it be said that it is very difficult to find this entrance in the dark, in the spring, with all of the distractions of a large cheerful group behind you.  We never actually found that entrance that night, although I had been through it plenty of times before.  The result was a relatively sleepless night spent in a dry riverbed.  No one was discouraged, everyone enjoyed Friday night’s adventure but it left the group as a whole much more fatigued on Saturday than if we had all slept well.  It meant that I would be awake for 46 hours before everyone else was safely out of the cave.  In addition to the lack of sleep, we had intended to eat a late dinner after caving and we were thus bereft of a meal as well. Sunrise came and we were shortly back at camp where some of our members managed to catch a little sleep, yet if we were to do the intended through trip (Post Office to the Garbage Pit) and get back to the Red (River Gorge), we needed to get started soon. Some people managed to get four hours of sleep; I stayed awake and fended off the stray  

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