Trip leader: David Hunter
Attending: Christina and Joe
This trip report on a trip to Buckman Cave was written 9(!) years after the trip took place, making the author feel quite old indeed. This was not the first, and hopefully will not be the last NMT Caving Club trip to Buckman Cave.
Buckman cave is an easy vertical cave formed by a large split in the surronding basult. Sections of the split are covered at the surface forming a cave. Large rocks jammed inside the split form a central level, and the bottom of the split forms a lower level. The cave is normally accessed by walking in the side to the central level or rapelling in from one of the skylights. The lower level suposedly has an access crawlway, but this was a vertical trips and ropes ware used.
Show here is the ceiling of the cave, looking up from the central level.
Buckman Cave is located on public land near a rock climbing area and is also not very far from a dirt road. The warning sign should be taken serisouly. It is a safe and enjoyable cave for properly equiped groups that know what they are doing, but it is not a good place for clueless people to wander around.
A few feet from the broken bottles (at the top of the above photo) is a 10ft dropoff which lands on a short, steep, slippery slope. That slope ends in this dropoff which is estimated at 40ft. There is, undoubtly, a proper map of the cave but a copy was not avaiable for this trip. If a drunk fell off the initial drop they would not be able to avoid going over this one. This is not a good place to get drunk. The NMT Caving Club does not allow members to enter caves when intoxicated; that is just stupid.
Accessed properly, this cave is quite safe and enjoyable. It also serves as a good first vertical cave once a caver has had vertical training (trip leaders, of course, must be experienced vertical cavers). A rope is rigged from one of the skylights and the cavers rappel down to the central level, landing near the bottles but a safe distance from the next drop. If a caver is has problems or finds themselves unable to handle the cave they now ahve a chance to just walk out via the side entrance. Assuming that everybody is doing well, the cavers can then repell down the aforementioned drop to the lower level of the cave. The rope, to which the photographer was safely attached, can be seen in the lower left of this photo.
The lower level of the cave has numerious boulders and cracks to explore. Groups generally spend an hour or so looking around.
The group then exits the cave using ascenders. Which is why cavers have to have trained on thier use prior to exiting the cave.