incident at Elkhorn Mountain Pit

Publication
ACA 1973 page 6
Date
1st Feb 1973 approximate
Cave
Elkhorn Mountain Pit
State
West Virginia
County
Unknown
Country
USA
Category
Caving
Incident type
Difficulty on rope
Primary cause
Insufficient equipment
Secondary cause
Inexperience
Group type
Other
Group size
4
Aid type
Surface aid
Source
Unknown
Incident flags
     
Data status
Incomplete

Injured cavers

No injured cavers recorded.

Incident report

Four people. all novices including one 12-year-old, were told about the pit by a local resident. They had been informed that the pit was 90 feet deep when it is actually 140 feet deep. Because of their misinformation, the group rigged with a rope which was too short. When the first rappeller realized the rope was not reaching the bottom, he quickly braked to a halt burning the skin on his hand. He tied himself off but had no ascending gear. The people could not pass equipment down to him because of the many ledges in the pit. After an hour, the group asked the Dorcas Volunteer Fire Department for help. A party of about 12 finally pulled him out.

Source: Report by Bob Thrun

Incident analysis

The group had no contact with organized caving groups from whom they might have learned the basic vertical techniques. It is shocking that they would consider rappelling into a pit with evidently no forethought on how to get out. In spite of the man's inexperience, he did use enough caution to avoid rappelling off the end of the rope, and he then tied himself off. One should always rappel slowly and be ready to stop should an emergency arise. For all but the shortest drops, all rappellers should have ascending gear ready for use and should be able to change over from rappel to prusik. This is especially important for the first person to go down a rope.

Notes

Report by Bob Thrun

This record was last updated on 25th Nov 2023 at 07:02 UTC.