Showing posts from June, 2024

Break testing my homemade caving harness

I use a homemade harness for caving, rather than any commercially available one. This tends to alarm some people, as one's harness is a critical, single-point-of-failure piece of life support equipment. It tends to alarm more people from the rock climbing world than from the caving world, as caving has much more of a DIY/homemade gear culture due to its niche nature, with fewer large gear manufacturers mass-producing any and all gear that a caver could ever want. The other week, back in May, I had the chance to pull my harness to failure and determine its breaking strength. AKS Tower Supply , a local business selling rope access/work-at-height equipment in Albuquerque, has one of these break testing machines, and opened it up to the public for one night for members of the New Mexico Mountain Club to come and break test all of their old, worn out, or otherwise questionable gear. I was super eager to test a bunch of my old and worn out caving gear, especially the homemade gear,

Caving in the Grand Canyon: Silent River Cave

This past Memorial Day Weekend (May 24-28), I went on a caving trip in the Grand Canyon. We had 8 people: Jason Ballensky (who organized the trip), Rachel Saker, Justinn James (JJ), Stan Allison, Hailey Galit, Robin Thomas, Sam Marks, and myself (credit to all of them for many of these pictures!). We backpacked in the afternoon of Friday the 24th after meeting up at midday at the north rim of the Grand Canyon, camped above the cave and caved for 3 days, and hiked out the morning of Tuesday the 28th. Many people are surprised to hear that the Grand Canyon has caves, since people associate the towering red cliffs of the Grand Canyon with sandstone, not cave-forming limestone. But in fact one of the major cliff-forming rock layers of the Grand Canyon is the Redwall Limestone, which is naturally grey but is stained red by layers of red shale and sandstone above it. The Redwall Limestone is a great cave-forming rock—it is from the Mississipian era, the same geologic era as other cave-form