Skip to main content


Showing posts from September, 2014

Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso likes caves

Julia Mancuso has more Olympic medals than any other female American Alpine skier but when she's not racing down a mountain at 85 mph, she is free diving and diving in caves. "I love to collect shells in caves and holes on the North Shore [in Maui] where I live," she said. The deepest she's ever gone for a shell so far is 65 feet, which took a total of 40 seconds, counting both descent and ascent.

Read more:

Alexandra David-Néel (1868 - 1969)

This Belgian-French explorer, spiritualist, Buddhist, anarchist and writer began traveling in India, China, Sikkim and Tibet in 1904. Later she lived in a cave for two years and apprenticed with a Tibetan Buddhist teacher. Her mastery of the language and culture of Tibet allowed her to travel, disguised, throughout the country. Following a long, arduous journey, she finally reached the capital, Lhasa, in 1922, along with her disciple Lama Yongden. It was an amazing feat because at that time Lhasa was closed to foreigners. Back in France, Alexandra wrote dozens of books and continued to lecture and travel until well into her nineties. Her book My Journey to Lhasa, became an instant adventure travel classic when it was published in 1927.


McConnell Preforms Oct. 4 at the Franklin County Library

McConnell and Dean Smith, two acoustic musicians and one an Extraordinary Woman Caver featured in this year's EWLS publication, will be entertaining visitors Oct. 4 in the Mountain Spirits Series author event at the Franklin County Library. Make sure and get out to visit them!
Read more: here

Missy Shields and Elaine Digges are conservation leaders!

These two amazing ladies 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. Several others in the event were not mentioned. Some include Linda Gentry and Corey Collins are on rope in the picture. Elaine took photos. Nice work to everyone!


Fantastic Caverns and Luella Agnes Owen

In 1867, twelve women gathered around a dark, mysterious abyss in the rugged Ozark hills. With ropes and flickering lanterns they climbed down into the unknown darkness of what would one day be known as Fantastic Caverns.

The twelve were the first known explorers of the cave which had been discovered by a farmer some five years earlier. He wanted to know what was inside, but had no desire to go look for himself. He placed an ad in the local paper seeking cave explorers. No one imagined it would be a group of twelve women from a Springfield athletic club that would answer the call. Far from today's ride through cave, Fantastic Caverns in the 1860's wasn't even a walk-in cave. The only known entrance was a small hole in the bluff that made entering the cave a tight squeeze. We don't know how long
these twelve explorers stayed inside the cave, how far they explored or if they ever made a return visit. Yet, their names are inscribed on a cave wall and can still be seen by …

1867 Missouri Women Cavers Make History

In 1867, twelve were the first known explorers of the Fantastic Caverns, a cave which had been discovered by a farmer some five years earlier. These women left their mark in history and, in
doing so, joined a group of pioneers in what was largely a man's world. Their names are inscribed on a cave wall and can still be seen by visitors today. From geologist and explorers to cave owners, Missouri women have played an important role in the history of caves for more than a century.


Melelani Correa, HS Senior and Lake Shasta Caverns Volunteer is Inspired by Caves

This high school senior working at Lake Shasta Caverns, and her fellow guides likes to fantasize about the shapes made by mineral-laden water dripping onto cave walls. Donald H. Harrison, a reporter for San Diego Jewish World explains that caves have inspired stories since the beginning of time. He writes "Legends about caves have been around for thousands of years, and as serious Jewish scholars will tell you, not all of them have been fantasies ... On the scripted tour of Lake Shasta Caverns led by young Correa, visitors get a sense of why caverns and caves, mysterious and beautiful as they are, have continued through the millennia to be irresistible to visitors, spelunkers, and story tellers."


Youth Leadership Director Needed

Barbara Loflin Contributes to Cave Education in VA

Barbara Loflin, lead staff, who helps run the gift store at the Grand Caverns in Grottoes, Va. also leads tours. She knows the cavern’s features and can explain geological theories about formations within. Loflin explains that an additional 2.8 miles of caverns were discovered in 2004 — nearly double the current cavern’s size. This section is not open to the public.


McConnell Represents VA Caving

Marian McConnell, one of our nine Extraordinary Women Cavers featured this year in our annual publication was also featured last month in the VA newspaper Richmond Times. The article spoke about the variety of stunning show caves in the state and McConnell advised about those interested in wild caving. “In the Appalachian Mountains and west, we’re sitting on giant Swiss cheese,” said Marian McConnell, president of the Blue Ridge Grotto caving club. “I call it ‘hollowed ground.’ ” Most of the caves in Virginia on private property that can be explored by experienced cavers. She said people who want to learn about caves should first visit one of the show caves for tourists, then check out such places as Blue Ridge Grotto.


International Co-Ed Team Discovers Neanderthal Game that Leads Researchers to Believe that Neanderthal Intellectual Abilities Have Been Underestimated

The pattern, which bears a passing resemblance to the grid for a game of noughts and crosses, was inscribed on a rock at the back of Gorham's Cave. Mounting evidence suggests Neanderthals were not the brutes they were characterised as decades ago. But art, a high expression of abstract thought, was long considered to be the exclusive preserve of our own species. The scattered candidates for artistic expression by Neanderthals have not met with universal acceptance. However, the geometric pattern identified in Gibraltar, on the southern tip of Europe, was uncovered beneath undisturbed sediments that have also yielded Neanderthal tools.


Lindsay Eaves

Lindsay Eaves, accomplished student, research assistant, and cave diver, has produced numerous reports and publications about anthropology for the University of Iowa. Eaves has been active in freelance writing and copy editing and is particularly interested in using writing to reach out to younger audiences. This fantastic woman has caved in Iowa and Missouri and has as a background in wilderness response and rock climbing.

As an UI graduate student, she is currently completing her doctoral dissertation in the UI Department of Anthropology and has been hand chosen because of her highly technical skills and small stature to join an international team of researchers this month to excavate early human fossil remains in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site (COHWHS), just north of Johannesburg, South Africa. The National Geographic is tracking the excavation—dubbed the Rising Star Expedition—on its blog.


Shannon Galpin says growth doesn't come by playing it safe

She's not a caver (at least not yet), however at EWLS we think great personalities empowering women anywhere on this Earth are worth paying tribute to. And Shannon Galpin is one of them. Galpin started a revolution. She is the founder of Mountain2Mountain, a non­profit working across the globe to create a voice and empower women and girls in conflict zones. Her mission is to minimize Afghanistan's gender divide and change perceptions through sport, art, and music.

With the Afghan culture strongly against women riding bicycles and her own passion for mountain biking, Galpin knew it was the perfect tool to ignite change. In 2009, Galpin became the first woman to mountain bike in Afghanistan and in 2010 the first person to ride across Afghanistan's Panjshir Valley encouraging local women to follow suit. Galpin was recognized as National Geographic's 2013 Adventurer of the Year and shows no signs of stopping.

To feel happier, resilient and empowered, this amazing woman ha…

Steph Dwyer

Steph Dwyer, a chemist by day, is a 10 year cave explorer, co-ordinator for the Ario Caves Project and faculty member of Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician Institute (WEMSI). She is an active caver and has caved all over Ireland and Europe; she teaches rope work, rescue rigging and regularly brings novices caving. She is a member of the core team for the Irish Cave Rescue Organisation as a wilderness medic and rescue rigger and is currently the organisation's first aid officer. She also leads expeditions for the Oxford University Cave Club. In 2013 she lead a 6+ month expedition to Picos de Europa, a cave in Spain after attending a 3 month expedition there the year before and continues to share her knowledge through numerous conferences and trainings. Great work Steph!


Ruth Hoppin

Ruth Hoppin was an educator, botanist, and naturalist. Hoppin School in Three Rivers was named in her honor. S. I. Silliman in "St. Joseph in Homespun" called Hoppin, "St. Joseph County's greatest gift to the development of the State of Michigan." Ruth Hoppin came to Parkville in 1846 with her parents and always saw the area as her home. In an era when few went to high school and educated women were almost unheard of, she graduated Oberlin College (Oberlin, Ohio) in 1856.
She was perceptress and teacher at high schools in Three Rivers and Ann Arbor, and taught at Ypsilanti Normal School from 1867-1881. Hoppin was chair of Botany and Biology at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, 1881-1884, and received a master's degree from the University of Michigan in 1891. Hoppin came to southwest Missouri to recover from health problems, but while in the area she explored Sarcoxie Cave, then known as Day's Cave. She collected insects, mollus…

Anita Sarkeesian harassed as an industry minority

Although gaming is not directly related to caving, it does represent an industry considered traditionally male. Like all hyper masculinized industries, women are suffering extreme abuse without justice. Please read this statement from blogger Andrew Todd to learn more about women and other minorities in gaming like Anita Sarkeesian: "... there are rampant issues with sexism, homophobia, and racism within the gaming industry. There are too many examples of misogyny from employers, readers, or fans to count, but a prominent, representative example - now ballooned to ludicrous proportions - is the continued harassment of video blogger and media commentator Anita Sarkeesian. Sarkeesian is the creator of webseries like Feminist Frequency and the excellent Tropes Vs. Women In Video Games, which critically examine the games industry's treatment of women in its products. As a result, she has suffered literal years of online abuse like denial-of-service attacks, rape threats, Web van…

EWLS Reporters Needed

The EWLS Team is Growing!

Please welcome Adriana F. Sanchez as our first EWLS Regional Coordinator! Adriana will be managing events and concerns for Mexico and Canada and can also help EWLS patrons who speak English, French, Spanish, and Italian. We are so glad to have you. Welcome to the team!

Kristen Anderson

Kristen Anderson, U.S. Deep Caving Team member and spacecraft test engineer, started caving when she was in college in small, tight Massachusetts and upstate New York caves. Since then she has moved to the DC area and is currently involved in the West Virginia Germany Valley exploration projects. She joined the USDCT in 2013. Outside of caving she also enjoys hiking, kayaking, and trying new things.


Rachel Krieger was the winner of this year's annual guacamole contest!

Thank you Rachel for making the delicious treat for all of the hungry cavers at camp and also for being a trip leader on both days! Photo by Lisa Bauman