2003 LECHUGUILLA CAVE SURVEY, EXPLORATION AND
INVENTORY SUMMARY by Stan Allison
2003 exploration and survey in Lechuguilla Cave focused onfixing bad
loops and resurveying surveys that had sketches notup to Carlsbad
Caverns Survey Standards. Along with thefixing of past surveys, much
new survey was accomplishedwith the discovery of a half-mile of new
passages on the western edge of the cave called The Promised Land.
New discoveries were also made in other areas of the cave. As
ofJanuary 2003 Lechuguilla survey was 109.23 miles long. By December
the survey had grown to 111.92 miles in length.Over 2.8 miles of
resurvey was performed and 2.7 miles ofnew survey was done. The
number of loop closures that exceeded 2 standard deviations was
reduced from 312 or 17.2% to 267 or 14.2%. The overall standard
deviation of the cave improved from 1.376 to1.264. All survey and
resurveys done in Lechuguilla Cave are required to have an inventory
done in conjunction with survey and resurvey. A total of nine survey
and exploration permits were granted for 2003.
The first trip into Lechuguilla Cave for 2003 was a survey,
exploration and inventory expedition to the Far East section. Peter
Jones and Dan Legnini were the leaders of this January11-17
expedition. Trip participants were: Dave Jones, Rich Sundquist, Kent
Taylor and Charley Savvas. Most of their time was spent in
resurveying to fix survey loops with badclosures. A few climbs were
done that led to small sections ofpassage. A return was made to the
optimistically named“Other Side” passage discovered in October,
2002.Unfortunately it proved not to be the other side and led to
onlya couple hundred feet of unexplored cave.
January 22-24 was a trip to sample for total coliform and fecal
coliform at Deep Secrets, Lake Louise and Red Lake. Whilewaiting for
the samples to incubate, some survey was done inthe King Solomon’s
Mine area of The Chandelier Graveyard. 433.5 feet was surveyed in
some breezy passages that becametoo tight to follow. A few hundred
feet of resurvey was doneand several small but breezy leads were
noted. Park Hydrologist Paul Burger, Cave Technician Stan Allison,
Jewel Cave National Monument (JECA) Cave Specialist Mike Wilesand
JECA Assistant Cave Specialist Rene Ohms all participated in the
Hazel Barton led Amy Bern, Paul Burger, John Cassidy, TamaCassidy,
Lee Florea, Jennifer Foote, Peter Haberland and PatSeiser on a trip
to the Western Borehole from May 25-30. Work focused on resurvey and
survey in the Chandelier Graveyard which Hazel put to good use by
updating her very detailed map of this area. A total of 1,748 feet of
new cave was surveyed and 3,082 feet of resurvey was accomplished.
Art Fortini led Cathy Borer, Ron Miller and Daniel Chailouxon a
survey trip to the Nativity Chamber area from June 28 through July 6.
This trip was made to an area that was originally discovered in 1999.
At the time of discovery, Art Fortini, Cathy Borer and Daniel
Chailoux made the decision that the Nativity Chamber was too delicate
to explore withoutfirst consulting with the Cave Resource Office.
Just before arriving in the Nativity Chamber is a room called
Christmas inAugust which has grimy corrosion residue necessitating a
fullchange of clothing before entering the pristine flowstone area of
the Nativity Chamber. Beyond the Nativity Chamber it is necessary to
perform two more clothing changes to get to the current end of
exploration as one transitions from “clean” to “dirty” areas. A total
of 2,616 feet was surveyed in severalpassages. One passage, named the
Congo pushes the knownedge of Lechuguilla Cave 850 feet further west.
The area beyond the Nativity Chamber is called The Promised Land. On
the second to last day Cathy Borer fell and injured her elbow in the
Western Borehole. Suspecting a possible broken bone, an EMT on the
trip splinted her elbow and a self-rescuewas affected. Since the
group had been expecting to make another return trip to the Promised
Land, some photographicequipment was left in the cave when the
accident occurred. Stan Allison, Ron Miller and Daniel Chailloux
returned to the Promised Land to retrieve the photographic equipment
andsurveyed 400 feet of cave in a 26 hour caving trip. For
moreinformation on the Nativity Chamber and Promised Land see Canyons
& Caves NO. 30, Fall 2003.
The first of two Lechuguilla Exploration And ResearchNetwork (LEARN)
trips was August 16-24. Ron Miller ledBob Biddix, Chuck Cummings,
Paul Fowler, Steve Maynard,Patrick Roberson, Rich Sundquist, Peter
Tschannen, Doug Warner, Bruce White, Dean Wiseman and Mike Zawada.
Twoteams performed climbs and did resurvey in the SouthernBranch. One
team performed survey and resurvey in the Western Branch. 400 feet of
new cave was surveyed in theParis Texas area which had been
discovered in 2002. Oneteam worked in the Far East performing survey
and resurvey.This team attempted to locate some rustcicles that
werediscovered in 1991 near Lake of the White Roses, but
neversurveyed. Although they did not find the rustcicles, they did
survey 500 feet of new cave in an area above Lake of theWhite Roses.
A total of 2,537 feet of new survey was accomplished with 4,413 feet
Joe Sumbera led a trip to resketch the Underground Atlanta area from
September 15-19. Terry Burgan, Jon Cradit and Jack Johnson
participated in the trip which produced a verydetailed sketch of
The October 25-November 1st LEARN expedition was plagued by last
minute cancellations. Fortunately, VivianLoftin managed to lead a
successful expedition in spite of these problems. Participants were
Jean Krejca, Carl Reuter, Simeon Warner, Peter Bosted, Ron Bourret,
Bill Frantz andRandy Brown. One team worked in the South and another
in the Far East. The South team spent quite a bit of time doing
resurvey, but also surveyed 400 feet of virgin cave in the Lechy’s
Lair area. The East team spent most of their time working in the La
Morada area which is very complex and haselusive airflow. A total of
1,207.6 feet was surveyed with an additional 2,537 feet of resurvey.
John Lyles and Peter Bosted co-lead an expedition to the Western
Borehole from November 8-15. Mark Andrich, AndyArmstrong, Jenny and
Garry Whitby Robin Barber, DanielChailloux, Paul Fowler, Brian
Kendrick and John Stephenson participated. Work focused on the Paris,
Texas area located underneath the Western Borehole near Huapache
Highway. One particular passage had numerous deposits of
Tyuyamunitewhich is a yellow crystalline deposit that is slightly
radioactive prompting the name Transuranic Highway. This passage led
toa room 40 feet wide, 100 feet long and 10-15 feet high filledwith
raft cones. Continuing the naming theme, the groupdubbed this room
Nuculer Winter, poking fun at the grammar of a certain well-known
Texan. A trip was made to theZanzibar area so that Robin Barber could
field proof the excellent map she produced of this area. A total of
4,218 feetof new survey was accomplished on this expedition along
with 2,711 feet of resurvey.
Garry Petrie led a trip to the Southwest Branch December 12-17. Work
focused on resurvey in the Voids to assist Gary in drawing a quad map
of the area. Group participants were: Edd Keudell, Mark Lassiter,
Kris Green, Bill Putnam, Paul Fowler and Steve Maynard.
Steve Reames coordinated six day trips to work in the North Rift area
to continue work on the quad map Steve is drawing for this area.
Participants were: Robin Barber, Paul Burger, Amy Bern, Carl Bern,
Tom Dotter, Jeff Goben, Stuart Marlett, Bruce Albright, Barbara Smith
and Skip Withrow. A total of880 feet of mainly resurvey was
accomplished in these trips.
The following survey, inventory and exploration trips wereapproved
for Lechuguilla Cave in 2004: Hazel Barton 6-person trip to continue
work on the Chandelier Graveyard quad. Art Fortini/Ron Miller
8-person trip to explore beyond the Nativity Chamber and other tasks
in the West. John Lyles/Peter Bosted 12-person trip to do quad work
inFar West. Simeon Warner 4-person trip to work on the La Morada
quadin the Far East. LEARN 6-person trip to work on blunders and quad
tasks inthe South. LEARN 4-person trip to pursue climbing leads.
Aaron Addison/Peter Jones 6 day trips to perform quad map work in the
Rift. Steve Reames 6 day trips to perform quad map work in theNorth
Rift. Exploration and survey expedition proposals for 2005 are dueby
December 31, 2004. Permitted expeditions will beannounced February