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Showing posts from July, 2014

Caves to Come at 2014 AGCT

Check out these photos of caves we will see at this year's event. Sign up today at!Taken by Kim Luper @1999

Sarah Kennedy Creates Mural for Bats

Nice work Sarah Kennedy on this mural for Bat World Sanctuary! SOURCE: Bat World Sanctuary Facebook page

Woman holds Cave Sim Record at Convention

An unnamed woman reportedly holds the record for the fastest time completed with no damage by navigating in 1 minute, 35 seconds in the most popular exhibit at the convention; the cave simulator, designed by engineer Dave Jackson. Constructed within a trailer, the educational outreach tool contains zero light, plastic rocks, dripping water, and a mechanical bat which the cavers must avoid in order to reach the exit. Fine arts salon curator Carol Jackson, who, along with her husband, teaches children how to cave, says it's safer than motorcycle riding.

Photo by Phil Barnett and Bruce Hutchison

Agnes Milowka

Milowka (23 December 1981 – 27 February 2011) was an Australian technical diver, underwater photographer, author, and cave explorer. She gained international recognition for penetrating deeper than previous explorers into cave systems across Australia and Florida, and as a public speaker and author on the subjects of diving and maritime archaeology. She died aged 29 while diving in a confined space.
She received her graduate degrees in Maritime Archaeology from Flinders University (2007), Bachelor of Business, Marketing and Event Management from Victoria University (2008), Bachelor of Arts, History and Australian Studies from University of Melbourne (2005), where she was a president of the Melbourne University Underwater Club (2003–2005). She participated as the researcher and diver in a series of qualitative underwater archeology, fieldwork and research projects. In the effort coordinated by Victorian Speleological Association in 2009, she and James Arundale explored Elk River stream…

Cheryl Pratt goes vertical!

Cheryl Pratt from Oak Ridge, TN climbed 30 meters in 2 minutes 54 seconds in the climbing competition at the 2014 National Speleological Society Convention in Huntsville, AL July 14-18, 2014 with 950 cavers from across the US & around the world. Congratulations Cheryl!


Photo by Bob Gathany |

Patricia Brown

Bat biologist Patricia Brown has been following the resident colonies of the California leaf-nosed bat for over thirty years, noting population size and health, recognizing hazards to their livelihood, and advocating on their behalf. This year she led and organized a handful of volunteers and BLM staff gather for this twice-yearly event where bats are surveyed.


Stephanie Rubio build work for the NSS headquarters

Stephanie Rubio, NSS office staff, learning how to use the hydraulic hammer.


Lisa Nance Uses Caves as an Inspiration for Art

When Nance was a teenager growing up in the North Carolina piedmont, she wanted to be a pilot. But she simply wasn’t that good at flying, she says, and it was an expensive pursuit. She had much more natural aptitude for art. As she started researching NASA and astronauts, she was drawn to Grissom’s story because many of his missions failed. “I was a cursed pilot stuck in the art field. I identified with him as a failure,” Nance says flatly.

But Nance is far from a failure now—particularly on the local art scene. At such a young age and in a city full of artists, she’s managed to land solo shows of her paintings at venues like West Asheville’s Harvest Records and the PUSH Gallery downtown. Lately, she’s been collaborating with friends on projects like murals and album covers. Last spring, for her friend Ross Gentry’s band Villages, she made album art using photos of caves and stalagmites as a reference for the abstract forms she created. “I was trying to interpret it without sticking …

Lee Boop passes the golden carabiener to new KRG Preident Jackie Sampson


Jill Haynie

Haynie, a stonemason from Bat Cave, has been working with rocks for some 26 years. She says she almost always envisions her work in dreams. “That’s just how these things come to me,” she says. “I go to a client’s house, see their space and say—let me sleep on it.”

Last fall, the YWCA of Asheville was looking to spruce up  and re-think the playground behind its downtown Asheville facility, where as many as 50 young children play five days a week. An Asheville landscaper put the organization in touch with Haynie, who creates rock sculptures, walls and other stone structures for residential and business clients. After she sized up the project, Haynie decided to donate her time and labor to building a fountain and rock-ringed sandbox for the YWCA, which got grants and donations to pay for Haynie’s materials. In total, Haynie estimates the project would have cost around $15,000.

For a week in late April, Haynie and a crew excavated some 20 to 30 feet in the side of a hill behind the YWCA,…

Missy Shields

Missy Shields holds a masters in Business and Geology and she has made sure to contribute these abilities in caving. You can find her efforts easily on line as early as 2005 when she helped in a volunteer effort at the annual Horse Cave sinkhole cleanup where two dumpsters were filled in four hours. This highly active member of the Kentucky Speleological Survey was mentioned in the 2013 newsletter for her contributions as a Cave Creek Survey team member in 2012. Last year, she also was in the newspaper for her amazing volunteer work in what Heart Country Newspaper News Herald claimed was the largest dump cleanup in the state since the 1980s. In this work she had to repel 10 minutes to a cave dump underground. The effort recovered literally tons of construction wood, metal, garbage, and chemicals polluting the cave! Nice work Missy! Thank you for being another extraordinary woman caver!

Kentucky Speleological Survey Newsletter April 2013…

Bridge Day 2013 Official Poster by Caver Amber Lehmann

"I wanted to create something that would express to the public the adventure that is Bridge Day," she said. She has experienced the thrill of Bridge Day firsthand herself, as a rappeller from the New River Gorge Bridge last year. The poster contest was a natural fit for Amber, both as an adventurer and as an artist. Designing as a hobby for nearly 10 years, she now manages a design production team in Washington, DC. She is also an avid caver.

"I wanted to learn vertical caving from the very beginning," she said. "When I saw a friend's pictures of Bridge Day online, I said to him, 'Now, THAT'S what I want to do.' And 2 and half years later, here I am." When she rappelled from the bridge last year, it was the longest rappel she had done so far. She'll be descending into the Gorge again this year. Her posters will be for sale, and since she'll be taking part in the Bridge Day action, she will sign them ahead of time.

Conservation leaders remove thousands of pounds of garbage from one cave

Linda Gentry and Corey Collins are featured on rope where many people participated in group of cavers last September that geared up each day and made the 10-minute descent to the mound of material waiting for them below. The cavers hand-picked the dump, loaded the materials into large canvas bags and hoisted the recovered materials out of the cave. A crew on the surface then sorted the material. Over 26,000 pounds of metal was recovered, along with 360 tires, 58,000 pounds of household garbage, 15 tons of construction wood scrap, assorted farm chemicals and a large amount of plastic. Cavers say they estimate the dumpsite had been used for 50 years or more, with the top layer dating to the late 1980s.


Alexandra Crosby

Alexandra Crosby has a masters in Critical Studies from the Maryland Institute College of Art Baltimore and a Bachelors of Fine Arts Painting & Minor in Women’s Studies. Her stunning paintings have been showcased in exhibits in New York, Maryland,  and Vermont. This educated, talented woman explores and surveys lots of caves. In 2013 she was part of the Exodus Passage Discovery Scott Hollow in WV and the Tanglefoot Cave Survey Team in MD. In 2012 she helped complete the Ankeney Cave Survey too.



Katie Dunn

In 2009 Dunn was the program director for The American Adventure and Service Corp (TAASC), an Asheville program for children ages nine to 18 that combines outdoor adventure—including caving, rock climbing and paddling—with service, like doing stream cleanup for RiverLink. Every week, Dunn and her colleague, Greg Gillett, meet with students who learn wilderness skills along with communication and conflict-resolution skills. Students then put these to use in weekend adventures, where the focus is on personal responsibility and good decision-making.

TAASC takes students of every age group on at least one caving adventure, and Dunn has made ten visits to date. Older students actually spend a whole weekend in the cave. “You’re in another world,” Dunn says. “Your senses are heightened in the darkness. You lose a sense of time.” Though the trips don’t include more technical caving gear or skills, the experience provides students with the opportunity to be completely out of their usual envir…

Which image inspires you to ski?

For the past three decades study after study has revealed that newspaper and TV coverage around the globe routinely and systematically portrayed male athletes' athletic exploits while offering only hypersexualized images of female athletes. "Sex sells" explains Nancy Augustyniak, who was polled by without he knowledge as sexiest female soccer players.

For example, the sexy image you see here is a Sports Illustrated ad portraying Lindsey Vonn, downhill gold medal winner at the as a sex object. Rather than emphasize her singular athletic talent as in the second photo, here she is in sexy swimwear (I didn't share the even more sexualized image used in the 2011 publication because I didn't want it on my page).
To investigate, Mary Kane, reporter from The Nation, conducted an experiment. Participants were shown photographs of female athletes ranging from on-court athletic depictions to soft pornography and were asked to indicate which image…

Amber Lehmann

This caver is an accomplished writer, editor, and marekting professional. When she is not volunteering for the Virgina NSS Region , Blue Ridge Grotto, or OnRope, she works as the Manager of Production and Editing at ESI International. Recently she won the logo competition for the Cave Conservancy of the Virginias and the Bridge Day 2013 Official Poster contest.