Author Topic: Mystery Falls, TN, USA  (Read 3751 times)

Offline Amata

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Mystery Falls, TN, USA
« on: May 07, 2012, 08:05:50 pm »
This past weekend I got to visit an amazing cave. There is a few hundred feet of passage in total but the major thing is a HUGE in-cave pit of 296ft. Single pitch. None of your silly rebelays or deviations required. Heck, no rope pads even required for our rig point off some bolts (yes we use bolts sometimes :P ) Approach line, reach around rig in, swing out, and go!

I got to go with two amazing friends (well, one is more-than-just-a-friend hehe) of mine, Brian and TinY. Anyone in long rope prolly knows or has at least heard of TinY. We were joking I am actually 3rd generation TinY...he trained Mark (our grotto's current trip leader), who trained Brian, who trained me. Well, we are all still learning things of course! Never stop learning and training, and then practicing what you trained on! We actually had 300ft brand new PMI Pit Rope to use...mmm a wonderful virgin trip for it. Although it's not so white anymore!

Rigging Mystery Falls by Sunguramy, on Flickr

While they worked on rigging, I checked out the upper passage. There are some pretties...

Mystery Falls upper level 3 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

Mystery Falls used to have a show cave aspect...using a different rig area that at one point was open to the surface they would lower people in a metal bucket, which is still sitting at the bottom, rusting away and making you think "how they hell did anyone ever trust their life to being lowered in that tiny thing!?!"

Mystery Falls lower level 1 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

The waterfall has been deviated through some piping to fall further out inside the pit so you can shut it off to just a trickle (until the upper level floods so you have to release the plug) and so it is best to have someone up top the whole time. TinY rappelled first, and I followed. Once down we radioed up to release the falls! it takes a few seconds which seems like forever but then you hear and see WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH as the water pummels down making a hurricane at the bottom! It is very cool to watch.

Brian had his new sodacan sized 3000lumen light that he shined down from the top on us as the water fell, it was amazing made it look like an openair pit almost, ha! The right side here is the water coming crashing down.

Mystery Falls Pit 2 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

I of course wanted to try out some lightpainting with this monster. So, TinY headed back up the rope with my flash gun, stopping every 40 feet or so to fire it off. It dissapears into the abyss at the top for the last 150-ish feet as just a speck of light =) The water only shows in a few of the frames since it was back to the trickle.

Mystery Falls Pit 1 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

Once back up, TinY sent Brian down with the light. We had a lot of fun with some light painting shots as we went around the bottom of the chamber.

Mystery Falls Pit 3 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

He was ready to climb back up then, so off he went, me still with the 3000lumens. (I think he didn't want to carry it back up the rope :P)

Mystery Falls Pit 7 by Sunguramy, on Flickr


Mystery Falls Pit 6 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

He turned his light off enjoying my shining of the 3000lumens, climbing in the darkness between shots with the sound of the rushing waterfall behind.

Mystery Falls Pit 5 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

TinY came back down then and we set off to explore the lower level a bit more. Brian and I had found the bucket and some flowstone, but there was some passage up higher over some breakdown we climbed up to. There were more formations up that way.

Mystery Falls lower level 6 by Sunguramy, on Flickr


Mystery Falls lower level 2 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

And there were these vertical thin slabs of something that seemed other-than-limestone. All seemed natural and this one was holding back some water behind it. It was quite interesting, if anyone can comment on what this is, I'd be most interested!

Mystery Falls lower level 3 by Sunguramy, on Flickr

It was a blast of a trip and I can't wait to cave more with this group! Well, I get to cave with Brian all the time but TinY lives about 700 miles away.

Before by Sunguramy, on Flickr

Sunguramy, my cave photography and blog website

Offline AA Speleo

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Re: Mystery Falls, TN, USA
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2012, 08:25:55 pm »
Great post and excellent pics  :clap2: well done. AA  :beer2:

Online Fulk

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Re: Mystery Falls, TN, USA
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2012, 08:37:09 pm »
Thanks – looks like one helluva pit.

Offline Brains

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Re: Mystery Falls, TN, USA
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2012, 08:53:25 pm »
Looks really good, even if I did misread it as "Mystic Falls" and was half expecting something else!
As for the thin sheets of stuff, the colour seems to indicate either a high manganese content or organic content. The initial appearence makes me think gour pool, but degrading as the top edge is very ragged, formed from Mn rich deposits and calcite mix, however I am probably quite wrong!
Do you always coil your big ropes, I find this puts in a twist and makes me spin while in free space, as opposed to chain linking or a lap coils which is also easy to carry?
The last video in this link shows a rapid way of doing this
http://www.outdoorinstruction.co.uk/category/videos/
« Last Edit: May 07, 2012, 09:07:22 pm by Brains »

Offline Amata

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Re: Mystery Falls, TN, USA
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2012, 09:08:30 pm »
Butterfly coils put lots of kinktwist into the rope and make rappeling jittery. Got a new (used) rope PMI maxwwear pit that was in a butterfly coil from the prior owner and it took a few rides down it to get the kinks out and get the rappeling smooth again. Can't daisychain long rope like this...it's stiff shit we only daisychain webbing. We always use the cavercoil (or as some say when it gets to be huge...wagonwheel!)

Yeah it does seem by colour to be high Mn. It was in veins could see it in the walls and other areas jutting out, this was just the one I took the photo of as it was cool how it had trapped water behind it.

Lots of shots to take when I return...it's a pit I'd definitely do every weekend even haha. Definitely my favourite vertical cave to date. I can't wait to do Surprise Pit (400ft) and Ellison's Fantastic Pit (600ft, largest in-cave pit in the US) later this year with the same crew =) And keep in mind all these are single pitches...we don't do the silly rebelay stuff  :tease:
Sunguramy, my cave photography and blog website

Offline Burt

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Re: Mystery Falls, TN, USA
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2012, 09:12:51 pm »
Awesome pics, well done Amy! :clap2:
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Offline Amata

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Re: Mystery Falls, TN, USA
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2012, 09:19:47 pm »
Thanks Burt!

Brains - saw your edit on the reload after I posted - BWAHAHHAHAHAHHA yeah that would never work on our ropes liek that. 11mm extremely static...have you ever managed PMI max wear pit rope before? The butterfly I was thinking of might have been a bit different, I can't remember exact how it was but it didn't quite look like that. It looked like a typical climber coil type, like a big figure 8 and then wrapped around the middle. The rope in the video looks like nice loose flexible rope and thinner than 11mm...the little bight where he finds the middle of the rope is way smaller (1/3 smaller?) than a forced bight (forced, not loose like on the video) on the 11mm max wear PMI pit rope is.
Sunguramy, my cave photography and blog website

Offline Brains

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Re: Mystery Falls, TN, USA
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2012, 09:29:28 pm »
Hmm, I have found spiral coil puts a lot of spin, but you find the lap/butterfly coil to put in kimks and cause uneven dangling. Reckon it must be down to the rope! Stiff 11mm is not very popular here because of its weight, awkwardness and stiffness, rope down as far as 9mm are fairly prerferred, which goes hand in hand with avoiding rubpoints by rebelay and deviation.
I guess the rope ib the vid is a 9mm dynamic/climbing rope, very soft and flexible  ;D

Offline Amata

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Re: Mystery Falls, TN, USA
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2012, 10:11:59 pm »
Hmm, I have found spiral coil puts a lot of spin, but you find the lap/butterfly coil to put in kimks and cause uneven dangling. Reckon it must be down to the rope! Stiff 11mm is not very popular here because of its weight, awkwardness and stiffness, rope down as far as 9mm are fairly prerferred, which goes hand in hand with avoiding rubpoints by rebelay and deviation.
I guess the rope ib the vid is a 9mm dynamic/climbing rope, very soft and flexible  ;D
Indeed. This is why I say stops don't work worth shit here...30lbs rope weight on this rappel (it's like 7-8 lbs/100ft, but with wet and mud easier just figure 10lbs) extremely stiff (most static made basically, there is an old PMI rope called Highline which is even stiffer, but it's no longer made) I dunno if you could even get a stop or simple threaded onto it at the top, much less move! Alpine SRT and TAG SRT are two very different things. Racks were developed here (by a NASA engineer no less!) for a reason!

Oooh hey a new cavegirl comic....the stiffer the better! hehe I need to write that down somewhere.
Sunguramy, my cave photography and blog website

Offline Amata

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Re: Mystery Falls, TN, USA
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2012, 10:49:49 pm »
Actually, when I come over there again, I'll try and bring 30ft of our 11mm PMI max wear pit rope to rig up to your practice tower, let you rappel on it. Then the fun part of adding about 30lbs of weight at the bottom to simulate the 300ft of it like I delt with for this pit. I'm guessing you'll hate that on a stop, if you can even move at all! :P And I'll bring my racks over too. I have a longframe micro, standard 14" (but not one like I bet you've seen, since we don't use the 5bar petzl thingie), and a long frame 18" one that I'm training for my 365m single pitch (no rebelays or anything, straight 365m) on.
Sunguramy, my cave photography and blog website

Offline Brains

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Re: Mystery Falls, TN, USA
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2012, 10:56:41 pm »
Sounds like you will be able to unfold it, prop it against the tower and just shimmy up and down it!

Offline Amata

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Re: Mystery Falls, TN, USA
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2012, 11:21:00 pm »
LOL almost...think more of a cable stiffness I guess....compaired to your rope a cable!
Sunguramy, my cave photography and blog website

Online Fulk

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Re: Mystery Falls, TN, USA
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2012, 09:07:12 am »
Good for climbing avens – poke it up and do an Indian rope trick. ;D