McFails Cave, NY

July 16th, 2017.

McFails cave, the longest cave in New York. I was hoping to make it just a bit longer! This was without a doubt one of the most brutal approaches to any sump I’ve ever explored. Navigating to the upstream sump requires about 3hrs of crawling, each way, and the entire time you’re at least half submerged in 47 degree water. Oh yeah- you and your sherpa team have to haul all of your dive gear all that way… Speaking of, huge thanks to my usual crew for their support on this epic. Nathan Roser, Joey O’Reily, Trenton Witham, Will Fancher and Tyler Baldino all have my sincere gratitude.

Here’s what I had to say after the dive:

6hrs of flooded crawlways in 47 degree water to push upstream McFails. Didn’t add much in the way of linear penetration, but did reach a max depth of 38 feet (that’s quite interesting for a NY sump). The sump took me three directions. The first (in the direction the canyon before the sump trended) end in a mud plug with no flow or way onward. The second and third went directly back under the canyon, and bifurcated at about 35′ deep. One was a bedrock tube about 12″x8″, the other a bedding plane with coarse gravel and almost zero silt. Water in this tube was clear and cold, and it was evident that this was the way on, and saw a LOT of flow. Unfortunately the gravel comes within about 6″-8″ of the ceiling. An attempt at digging resulted in immediate replacement of material moved. 


The entrance drop in McFails, around 70′ high. Teddy Garlock illuminates a descending caver as Tyler Baldino makes the photo.


Unfortunately there wasn’t really anywhere to gear up at the sump, aside from a 1.5′ ledge, where everyone else was fighting for a spot to stay dry.


Teddy Garlock preparing to dive, hypothermia pending


Trenton Witham (left) and Teddy Garlock (right)