incident at Skull Cave

ACA 1973 page 13
19th Aug 1973
Skull Cave
New York
Incident type
Difficulty on rope
Primary cause
Secondary cause
Insufficient equipment
Group type
Group size
Aid type
Underground aid
Incident flags
Data status

Injured cavers

Name Age Sex Injuries Injured areas
Brandner, Jeoff 25 Male Not recorded Not recorded
Twardy, John 22 Male Not recorded Not recorded
Robinson, William 25 Male Not recorded Not recorded

Incident report

New York, Skull Cave

Sunday, 19 August 1973

Three Connecticut cavers, Jeoff Brandner (25), John Twardy (22), and William Robinson (25), entered Skull Cave at about 11:00 a.m. Entry involves descending a 20-foot drop and then a 30-foot drop, both of which can be climbed with a belay. Five New York cavers, led by John Mylroie, met the Connecticut group at the bottom of the entrance drop at 6:45 p.m. The New York cavers ascended first and had left the area by 8:00 p.m. The Connecticut group had more difficulty getting out. With the help of his companions, Brandner got out by 11:00 p.m. He called the State Police, and eleven troopers rescued the other two cavers by 2:30 a.m.

Analysis: "At no time during the 30 minutes the two groups were swapping tales at the bottom of the 30-foot drop did the Connecticut group suggest that they were overly fatigued, unfamiliar with the drop, or in any way in need of assistance. They seemed expertly equipped, with wetsuits, slings, Gibbs ascenders and other ordinary cave gear. However, after looking back at the incident, the New York group remembered that the Connecticut party had rigged both drops with 3/4-inch manila rope-hardly the "in thing" in vertical caving these days, not to mention the difficulty in getting a 3/4-inch rope into a Gibbs ascender. "Fortunately, there were no injuries, and perhaps it was good sense on the part of the Connecticut group not to force the issue beyond their abilities but to call in the state police despite the possible bad publicity. A little less pride on the part of the Connecticut group and a little less haste on the part of the New York group would have avoided the situation entirely." (John Mylroie)

Sources: Report by John Mylroie. The Knickerbocker News-Union Star (20 August 1973). New Britain Herald (Connecticut) (20 August 1973). Mylroie, John. (1973) "Troopers Rescue 2 Trapped in Metroland Cave." The Northeastern Caver. p. 95.


3/4 in rope and Gibbs. The Knickerbocker News-Union Star 8/20/73. New Britain Herald (Connecticut) 8/20/73. The Northeastern Caver p95.

This record was last updated on 18th Nov 2023 at 00:30 UTC.