Nutty Putty Cave



The University of Life website gives this 1999 description of the cave experience...

NOTE: Access Permits & Helmets are now required in the Nutty Putty Cave.

Melissa makes her way through Nutty Putty's birth canalNutty Putty Cave

One of the neatest and most popular caves around (around Utah Valley at least) is Nutty Putty. If you haven't been there, though, and aren't going with someone who has, you'll have a tough time finding it. These directions should help:

GETTING THERE: due to the increasing number of serious search and rescue incidents at Nutty Putty Cave, I've removed the directions. Go with someone who knows the way and be careful. Bring extra lights and batteries, water, and don't go anywhere you can't back out of. If it gets too tight, stop before you get really jammed or you may spend eight or twelve hours in that position. There were moments during one recent rescue where search and rescue began to question whether it would even be possible to extract someone who had crawled headfirst down a narrow slot. If not for a small 10-year old son of one rescuer who squeezed through another passage to get below him and push up, it may not have happened.

Christel slips in through the cave entranceCave Description:
At the bottom of the initial hole, you experience the first tight squeeze. Most people who have any interest in caving will fit through this fine. There could be some water there.

The cave immediately opens up wider and slightly higher for 15' where you can actually stand (watch your head!). Now that you're inside, you have two choices.

If you don't drop down and turn immediately left (west) near the entrance, you'll find yourself in the "Maze." This area doesn't get terribly tight (relatively speaking - it's certainly possible to get stuck if you don't use good judgment) and you can explore around in circles (don't worry about getting lost, though; or if you do and keep moving, you should eventually find your way out).

Somewhere down there is a feature called "Bell Rock" which reportedly sounds hollow when you strike it.

Natalie nears the bottom of the cave.If you drop down (and north) and continue going down, you'll use the ropes and drop into a straightforward hole taking you perhaps 300' below the surface.

This is the widest section of the cave and you can stand up most of the way, with occassional crawls and minor climbing skills required as you proceed downward.

Once you reach the bottom end, backtrack 40' and crawl through a fairly tight squeeze for two feet, which quickly grows wider again (known by some as "Paul's Push" or something). 25' later, you can crawl into a hole in the ceiling and experience the "Birth Canal." If you wear XXL shirts, you may not want to try this.

Shaun threads the birth canalJust last week (August '99) two people got stuck here for 15 hours until they were rescued by Serach & Rescue. There are usually around three rescues there per year, though most aren't complicated.

I (Shaun) have to reach one arm out in front of me for the last 20' (the entire birth canal lasts over 100' with one possible turn-around spot) because both arms wouldn't fit next to me, and I'm fairly skinny (6'1" 160 lbs).

Chantal in the birth canalIf you are claustrophobic, the Birth Canal is your ultimate nightmare. If you're not claustrophobic, it's worth your time to pause and think about what an earthquake might do down there.

If you're with a large group, you'll be happiest if you only send half a dozen at a time. There's plenty of air down there...but it might not feel like it if you pack too many people in at once.

If you decide to explore the side tube half way along the birth canal (a good spot to turn around if you're freaking out or let people pass by), do so feet first or you'll have a difficult time crawling back up backwards.

Nutty Putty Cave: Chantal climbs down inside the aorta.At the end, make an awkward right turn (a common spot for people to get stuck - or think they're stuck) into a medium size cavern (the aorta).  There's not a lot of standing room due to the hole that drops down in the center. It's more like "wedging" room.

If you do get stuck in the awkward 90-degree corner on your way out, just relax, take your time, and move forward a quarter inch at a time. Soon you'll be past the hard part and the slight downhill exit makes the going a bit easier.

A few feet from Nutty Putty's dead end.The hole in the aorta's floor continues for about 40' to where the cave dead ends in small tubes.

Expect to spend from 45 minutes to 8 hours inside if you plan to take a look around everywhere. Bring extra flashlight batteries, use the restroom before you go down, and watch your head! Wear clothes you don't mind getting dirty (you'll be a walking dust cloud when you exit) and don't worry about getting cold inside, it's always warm and humid. Please haul your garbage back out with you! If you bring a camera, make sure it's plenty warm so your lens doesn't fog up every time you take it out of the bag. Also know that everything is going to get very dusty. Radios work surprisingly well inside the cave, depending on where you are - the maze is worse than the deeper hole. A harmonica can be a nice touch in the darkness.

If you want to appreciate the stars and moon more, spend some time underground and schedule time to just lay on your back and stare upward at the sky after you're out.