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Mark Passerby <> has added a link on to his web site on rope which is worth reading.  The document can be found by going to then go to the left menu and select "Gear and Safety" and it is a subcategory link named "Ropes",  an investigation into items of equipment used for work at height in industrial rope access and arboriculture.  Techniques and equipment used in these areas have evolved rapidly in the last 15 years, opening up new working methods which are being deployed in equally rapidly expanding areas.  The investigation comprises tests and evaluations of ropes and associated items such as lanyards, cow's tails, termination and other knots, and rope protectors.  It proceeds to look at items of equipment which are attached to working and safety ropes to allow movement in all directions along them.  These so called rope adjustment devices include back-up devices, ascenders and descenders.  Testing included worst-case scenario dynamic loadings, some fall factor 2, and others fall factor 1.  Evaluation includes discussion on how rope access and work-positioning may be effected using the items tested to minimize or eliminate falls.

Cave Updates

Bowden Cave:  The front section of Bowden Cave is again open to cavers.  Much of the front section of the cave was closed due to an unstable collapse just upstream from the Water Course in 2002. The Forest Service, which owns most of the cave, closed their part of the cave for safety reasons until a barricade could be constructedThe barricade was completed in October 13 and the front section of the cave is again open. The barricade is located just upstream from the Water Course and the collapse is visible (but inaccessible) from it.  The private land containing the main Bowden entrance and the parking area has been leased by a hunting club and is now posted. However, the club president has said that the posting does not apply to the cave entrance or parking area, and that visitation to the cave is not affected.

Sites Cave:  Diane Zimmerman, owner of Sites Cave, has a new policy for access to Sites, Cave Rat and any other caves that may be found on her property.  From now on, folks wishing access to the caves must contact her in advance to request permission.  Her number at home is 301-937-0394, and email address is

McClung Cave:  As you may know, Mrs. Freeman's health has been declining over the past year.  She no longer resides at the farm and is being cared for by relatives.  She has also turned over the day to day operation of the farm to relatives and is no longer involved in any way.  The WVCC had a verbal agreement with Mrs. Freeman to manage the access to the main entrance for the last several years. This required giving prior notification and signing a consent form/release and being older than 18. The nephew that is now overseeing the farm is apparently letting anyone who asks, go into the cave with or without a release.  At the September  WVCC Board meeting, it was decided that the WVCC could no longer require responsible cavers to sign releases since Mrs. Freeman is now not in charge and the nephew is letting everyone in.  Therefore, consider McClung's open without any restrictions.  Of course, please ask permission from the nephew or whoever is there and always keep the gate closed. If no one is there you apparently can park in the normal place and just go on in. If in the future this policy changes, we will let you know.

Bill Balfour, P.G.
HC 81 Box 48
Lewisburg, WV 24901
304-647-5461 (H)
304-255-0491 (W)

That's all folks till next time.
Get out and have fun caving!


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