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Friday, May 30, 2008

April 28, 1978--Hanging Around at the Caverns Entrance

Just barely over thirty years ago when I was half my present age and twice as smart, strong, and as handsome as I imagine that I am now, legendary Andy Komensky (why is he legendary? ask around) rappelled into the cavern entrance for the benefit of a New Mexico Media group that was visiting. Mr. Leon Navarette performed the important job of holding the belay


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This picture is very hard to adjust for brightness because of the way Andy and Leon's positions against darkness and lightness of the picture. Andy, with the white helmet, is easy to see. Then trace up to where Leon is kneeling down. Two years earlier in July 1976 caver Tom Rohrer with a crew that included the caverns Ron Kerbo climbed into area over The Bottomless Pit. In the early 1980s, Kerbo and others climbed over 200' upward to a ledge in Main Corridor in a climb known as the Balloon Ballroom Climb. In the 1985 climb Ron Kerbo, Michael Queen (I saw Dr. Queen at Chili's on 5/17/08; he told me that he has been coming to the caverns since 1972), and Jim Goodbar climbed 255 feet into an area in the Big Room ceiling subsequently named The Spirit World. In 1986, cavers broke through the 90' deep passage at Lechuguilla Cave in a first step that over future years would yield over a hundred miles of passageway, descending over 1500'.

In almost closing, I want to note that explorers at the caverns, whether going up, down, or sideways over the years, have exhibited courage, creativity, and tenacity as central characteristics. The floating of balsa wood hoops with helium-filled balloons to stalagmites in the ceiling as in the case of the Balloon Ballroom and Spirit World expeditions still amazes many people, including me. Tom Bemis solved a final problem of getting the hoop over the stalagmite using inflated dry cleaner bags. Bemis, the long-time caverns explorer and unceasing thinker and innovator, figures into much of the caverns exploration history. He even explored the alarmingly tight-spaced Bemis Chamber.

The other night I assisted a young woman in locating a book while on duty at my part-time bookstore job. As we talked, the topic of the National Park Service came up and she volunteered that her Dad was Tom Bemis. I volunteered that her Dad was one of my favorite people at the caverns, a man not only admirable for his association in the history of the caverns, but as a man with a delightful sense of humor.

As if meeting Tom's daughter was not amazing enough for one night--about a half hour earlier a young woman with her adorable one-year old daughter, accompanied by her own Mother, asked me if I used to work at the caverns. She was the daughter of Jason Richards, another important contributor to caverns' history. She reported that Jason and his wife Barbara are doing great at Cabrillo National Monument.

Over the years, caverns explorers, starting with Jim White himself, have proven that the Carlsbad Caverns is huge. Surprisingly bumping into family members of former or current caverns employees, on the other hand, reiterates the old cliché: it is a small world.

I will catch you hanging around in it.










































































This picture is very hard to adjust for brightness because of the way Andy and Leon are positioned against darkness and lightness. Andy, with the white helmet, is easy to see. Then trace up to where Leon is kneeling down.

Two years earlier in July 1976 caver Tom Rohrer with a crew that included the caverns Ron Kerbo climbed into area over The Bottomless Pit.

In the early 1980s, Kerbo and others climbed over 200' upward to a ledge in Main Corridor in a climb known as the Balloon Ballroo Climb. In the 1985. Ron Kerbo, Michael Queen (I saw Dr. Queen at Chili's on 5/17/08; he told me that he has beencoming to the caverns since 1972), and Jim Goodbar would climp up 255 feet into an area in the Big Room ceiling that became known as The Spirit World.

In 1986, cavers broke through the 90' deep passage at Lechuguilla Cave in a first step that over future years would would yield over a hundred miles of passageway descending to a known depth of oveer 1500'.





In almost closing, I want to note that explorers at the caverns, whether going up, down, or sideways over the years, have exhibited courage, creativity, and tenacity as central charateristics. The floating of balsa wood hoops with helium-filled balloons to stalagmites in the ceiling as in the case of the Balloon Ballroom and Spirit World expeditions still amazes many people, including me. A final problem of getting the hoop over the stalagmite in The Spirit World was solved by Tom Bemis. long-time caverns explorer, using inflated dry cleaner bags. Tom, the unceasing thinker and innovator, has figured in much of the caverns exploration history. He even explored The Bemis Chamber.





The other night I assisted a young lady in locating a book while on duty at my part-time bookstore job. As we talked, the topic of the National Park Service came up and she volunteered that her Dad was Tom Bemis. I volunteered that her Dad was one of my favorite people at the caverns, a man not only admirable for his association in the history of the caverns, but as a man with a delightful sense of humor.





As if meeting Tom's daughter wasn't amazing enough for one night, about a half hour earlier a young lady with her adorable one-year old daughter, accompanied by her own Mother, asked me if I used to work at the caverns. She was the daughter of Jason Richards, another important contributor to caverns' history. She reported that Jason and his wife Barbara are doing great at Cabrillo National Monument.





Over the years, caverns explorers, starting with Jim White himself, have proven that the Carlsbad Caverns is indeed huge. Unexpectantly bumping into family members of former or current caverns employees, on the other hand, reiterates the old cliche: it is a small world.