Caving Experts Recommend Going with a Grotto
August 18th, 2005 @ 5:29pm
Ed Yeates Reporting
A Utah caving expert says the loosely named "Cave of Death" which claimed four lives today is not one caving organizations would go into. In fact, it's not even on their maps for adventurous excursions.
Utah caving clubs-called Grottos-have much bigger and more spectacular caves to explore than picking a mine opening with water that opens up only on a small, but dangerous chamber.
Jon Jasper is not only the physical scientist for Timpanogos Cave National Monument, he's a trained caver with Timpanogos Grotto. He told and showed us a lot of things. For examples, small caves have low oxygen. Some may have high levels of carbon dioxide - especially if a body of water blocks one of the chambers.
Jon Jasper, Timpanogos Cave National Monument: "If you actually run into these areas where they dramatically increase in concentration, you can actually walk into these rooms and more or less quickly pass out."
Jon has explored 50 caves around the Utah valley and hundreds back east. He's been in cold, wet, vertical, long mazy crazy caves - some more than a hundred miles long. He says a challenging adventure is not the issue here, but training, equipment, and wisdom. His advice to newcomers: train with a club and expand your adventure on a bigger, grander scale.
Jon Jasper: "Instead of going after these caves - these smaller caves that essentially have these really dangerous situations in order to have it be fun."
We learned a lot in our visit with Jon, even makeshift things you can do to save your life. In the late stages of hypothermia a garbage bag with a hole cut in it for your head can really help.
Jon Jasper: "Having something like a candle or a lighter - you can pull the bag out and light the candle - and essentially have a heat source to help build back your body heat."
Across the Wasatch Front there are probably more than a hundred folks who call themselves cavers. Out of the seven known deaths that have occurred say in the past fifty years - none of those death have involved caving organizations.